Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Campbell Thoughts and Picks



Really enjoyed the first round of the playoffs. Too much actually. Despite not having a dog in the hunt I've been watching game after game, staying up past my bedtime, accompanying my viewing with a few drinks here and there so that after two weeks I look like Doug Gilmour in those famous pictures from back in 93 except I have my teeth, plus I'm getting fat and I'm a borderline alcoholic. Other than that we look EXACTLY the same, all pasty and exhausted like.

Giving the kids shit the other day for getting up with the birds my wife made the mistake of telling them that their rising early was making us tired (a bald faced lie anyhow - we stay in bed when the two oldest ones get up, they're pretty well ready to go out into the world now, plus the inlaws are here to do the heavy early morning lifting, we even had morning sex the other day, God how I love and miss morning sex) and our eldest chirped that maybe Daddy shouldn't stay up half the night watching hockey if he was so tired.

Smartass. Oh well, apple, tree and all that.

Part of the enjoyment of this spring is that the kids have been watching games with me and the boy especially has been getting into it. He asks a thousand questions which makes me a little mental until about my fourth drink when everything starts getting soft around the edges and he's still figuring it out but I can use the PVR to slow it down for him and he digs it. Seeing as one of the strongest memories I have from being a kid is watching HNIC with my Dad, staying up as long as possible until sleep took me away and he lifted me into his arms and carried me to bed, its something that I enjoy a lot, even as he asks me for the umpteenth time when the team with the foxes on their shirts are going to play Team Canada.

And part of the enjoyment stems from the fact that the hockey has just been wonderful. After watching terrible horseshit for 82 games (with the Olympics breaking the monotony long enough to remind us what really good hockey looks like), watching this opening round has been like some sort of sexual reference that I can't just come up with. It feels good though. Use your imagination. There. Isn't that nice. Or really dirty, depending on what you are into. Pervert.

No lead has been safe. Excellent goaltending. Bravura performances by Crosby and Halak, Chara and Henrik Sedin, Datsyuk and Zetterberg, Craig Anderson and Joe Pavelski. Scares thrown into San Jose and Chicago and Vancouver. The upsets in the East and the game seven tonight where the Habs try and finish the Caps, which will absolutely finish my hockey pool.

Great stuff.

Five and two after the first round with the Flyers, who I thought about going with on a hunch, and the Bruins prevailing over my picks.

So here's round two picks for the West along with a few thoughts on the series just completed.

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San Jose v Detroit

San Jose had their way with Colorado everywhere but on the scoreboard, thanks to Craig Anderson, some bad luck and, dare I say it, for I know I invite derision, the fact that some San Jose players just don't get their shit together in the playoffs.

I know I know, territorial advantage favoured Thornton and its a small sample size and so on and so on but here's what I think. Luck plays a factor, sure, I get that but at some point that luck should even out, should it not? At what point after repeated annual poor performances do we say that there is something there. This was the Colorado Avalanche who were basically the Edmonton Oilers with goaltending. A couple of very good young players surrounded by young players who are either not ready for primetime yet or who are just shitty plus a handful of vets who were ready for the glue factory years ago.

And Thornton, Heatley and Marleau scored a total of one goal. Huh?

Now maybe they'll tear the cover off of the ball against the Wings but I'm thinking if they couldn't score against the Avs they're going to get their asses handed to them by Datsyuk and Zetterberg. One of those guys will get Pavelski and one will get Thornton and the Pavelski matchup will be a good one to watch and Thornton is going to get his ass handed to him.

The Wings had a tough tough first round matchup against a solid Yotes team and I think they've got more than enough to take out the Sharks who have a lot of talent but by my eye don't have the defence or goaltending that Phoenix did. Of course they have the edge over the Coyotes up front but I'm thinking they are going to spend most of the time defending. And Thornton was a minus four against the Avs. He's going to get eaten alive and a lot of Sharks are going to lose their jobs with this club this summer.

Wings in six.

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Chicago v. Vancouver

This is a sweet sweet matchup. Both had good but not great first rounds. The Canucks looked pretty good taking out the Kings. Their depth up front showed through and the Sedins and Samuelsson were excellent. Luongo got better as the series went on. They could really use Willie Mitchell on the backend though and I'm not sure if they can rely on Niemi to be as bad as Quick turned out to be.

Chicago got a bit of a scare from a tough Nashville team who seem to be channelling the Oilers clubs that used to lose to Dallas every year. Tough, fast, hard skating but they always fall short. What a terrific young defence though. And Rinne played very well. They blew it though. A goal lead and Hossa in the box and they not only lost the lead but did nothing on the PP. Epic failure.

Chicago didn't look great to me. Niemi was solid enough and while I think they'd be in better shape if Jonsson returned, the addition of Campbell will help. The Hawks really didn't look in sync for most of the first round, not sure if it was nerves, but they looked slow and uncertain at times. Key mistakes by guys like Kane and Brouwer led to goals and a few of the kids looked a little overwhelmed.

Having said that I'm picking them over the Canucks in what will be the best series of the second round. I think it goes seven and while I would not be surprised to see the Canucks take it I think the Hawks just have superior depth up front and on the back end. They can throw out three lines that can attack and defend very well and this is with Brouwer struggling and Byfuglien playing on the blue. I think the Canucks are a little bit weaker up front and a little weaker on the blue line and that will make the difference. If Luongo is on the top of his game which is entirely possible then the Canucks will do it but I'm going to go with the Hawks in seven.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cleaning House


Our inlaws are in town for the next couple of weeks which means good times for us. My father in law busies himself with little projects around the house, my mother in law cooks and cleans and we get to go out the odd time, we get to sleep in together the odd time and we get a bit of a break from our usual hectic lives.

My mother in law is an extraordinary housekeeper. I'm talking you can eat off of the floors when she's around. She's a bit of a zealot, mind you. If you walk away from a coffee cup for thirty seconds its dumped, washed, dried and put away before you're back in your seat.

My wife used to talk about this and I didn't really see it until one of the first times they came to visit us after we bought our house. I wandered downstairs on a Saturday morning and there is my mother in law, on her hands and knees, scrubbing the kitchen floor. I mean seriously scrubbing and scouring. I immediately asked her not to do that. It made me a little uncomfortable to be honest. I mean, damn, if you want to clean then do so but use a mop, that's totally fine.

You don't have to do that, I said.

Oh no, its fine, its fine, I don't mind at all.

And then I look out the window and there's the big fellow, cavorting in the backyard, which just happens to be a sea of muck thanks to the April rains.

Oh Jesus, the dog's just going to make a mess of this now, he's just filthy out there.

Oh no mind, she says, I'll just do it again.

The look on my face must have been one of total disbelief because she chuckled.

Don't worry now, she said. I can't help myself. Its just my nature.

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Never ever a dull week with the Edmonton Oilers. Ever. Never. Ever. Ever. Never.

You get the picture.

So this week we saw Tambellini dump four people from the organization, one, Kevin Prendergast, who has had a lot to do with the success and failures of the club over the past number of years. And the training staff.

Now Tambellini can't win. He really can't. He's the San Jose Sharks of NHL management. The Sharks are through to the second round but its going to take a conference final, maybe even a Cup final, for them to lose the reputation of massive chokers. A win over one of the worst clubs I have seen in the playoffs in recent memory isn't going to cut it, especially when it took them six games.

And for Thornton, Marleau and Heatley the fact that they scored one goal total in six games means that they have to do something this round or their collective reputation is going to sink even further, if that's possible.

Point is that Tambellini is in the same boat. He can't win in the court of public opinion until this franchise turns it around in a meaningful way and its probable that he won't be around when that happens, even if he is the guy who effects the turnaround.

The fans want change. Well, not change per se. They want heads to roll. Its been four consecutive poor years and Oilers' management is finally hearing the distant threatening drums. Last year MacTavish and his staff took the bullet as management, for the fourth consecutive summer, misjudged the quality of their personnel. A new coach and a new goaltender, Tambellini figured, would make this club a playoff contender. Instead they finished way up the road.

So somebody else had to pay. Prendergast was an obvious choice. A guy with actual responsibilities, the head of the farm club, responsible for development, well he's a guy who is high profile enough to satisfy the bloodlust a little bit. Sure injuries played a part in Springfield's failure and really even more than that is the fact that a whole bunch of youngsters probably would have been better served by doing their apprenticeship in the minors instead of the NHL but when you are the worst club in the NHL then really nobody's job is safe.

But what about the training staff? Well it says a lot about these guys when the situation gets a lot of airtime on HNIC but for me its really a tempest in a teapot.

I don't care that they have been with the club forever or that they were part of many national teams. That's great but neither is a reason for them to stay employed at all. People acting all offended and getting up in arms because these guys are institutions - well Kevin Lowe gets a free pass from a lot of people because of the same reason. Now being the GM and sharpening skates are two different areas of responsibility - one guy makes or breaks the team and the other guy sharpens skates - but telling me that buddy should have a job for life because he's been there since the glory days doesn't matter to me. Its not like these guys sat around a fire with Gagner and Cogliano on their knees telling them stories about the old days.

As for how he described them - hard working, excellent, blah blah blah - well that's what people say when they let people go. Its typical corporate BS. Heck I worked for a company where a scumbag upper management guy had to be let go for being a scumbag, essentially. It was announced as his resignation, thanks for his great efforts, wish him well etc etc. Not a bad word about him at all. Thats the way of the world.

I think that Tambellini and Quinn wanted to make a change. They've described it as part of a culture change, whatever that means, as Dave Hodge said this morning. I think that there may be politics involved. Tambellini is showing that he is the boss and he wants Kevin Lowe's guys out of there. In fact I think that may have a lot to do with it. In any case they wanted to make a change and that's their right.

You could argue that time had passed Ken Lowe by and the flu bug that ravaged the Oilers but no other club in the league raised my eyebrows a little bit. Not sure how that falls on the guys who sharpen skates and hang jerseys in the stalls but maybe they figured they'd move them all out at once.

Anyhow when it comes down to it I think we can conclude the following:

1/ Tambellini wants to make changes. Some will affect hockey operations. Others, not so much. Its within his right to do so. He's the boss.

2/ Now we have seen the coaching staff, the assistant GM and the support staff fired over the past two summers. Next we're going to see players moved out, many by being bought out. People want to see blood. Tambellini is going to give it to them. Some innocents are going to be collateral damage (I'd argue that Pisani should be brought back on a one year deal but probably will not), some are going to deserve the axe.

3/ The guys who are most responsible for this disaster are Kevin Lowe and Tambellini and they are the two guys who are safest. No doubt that Kevin Lowe is the guy people want horsewhipped in the centre of town but Tambellini can't fire him and unless Katz decides at some point to purge the entire organization we're not going to get the satisfaction. As for Tambellini well he's been unimpressive in his time here but he's going to get his chance to turn it around even though his tenure this far has shown that it doesn't look like he's up to it. He just hasn't a grasp of the club and the true worth of the players on it.

His failures so far make people skeptical and as a result even the least of his moves are derided as the work of someone hopelessly out of his depth.

I don't think he has what it takes to turn this around but even if he does its going to have to be an unqualified success before he ever gets a modicum of credit and while that is a little unfair, maybe, he certainly has done little so far to earn even the slightest benefit of a doubt. So while this entire uproar has been a bit silly and the flak he has gotten way over the top the fact is that he has earned it because nobody has any confidence in him and for good reason.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Situation Remains Fluid


Mondays and Tuesdays my wife works twelve hour shifts. She leaves before anyone is up and comes home after the kids are in bed. I work from home and my days look something like this:

Get up and get kids breakfast, get the dog out, dress the baby, wash faces, brush teeth, pack snack for eldest, ensure backpacks and diaper bag are ready.

Drop baby off at daycare and kids off at school.

Pick up boy at lunch and drop him off at daycare.

Pick up eldest after school and bring her home.

Pick up boy and baby after work and bring them home.

Supper.

Ready for bed. Etc etc etc.

Its pretty busy.

So last night we finished supper (beans and toast - quality, hey at least the beans were homemade!) and then I suggested a walk over to the ice cream shop. Although this was met with quite a bit of resistance, as you could imagine, I managed to convince them, mostly with threats of violence and a major temper tantrum.

Last summer and fall were pretty shitty but the winter here was absolutely ridiculous. We had maybe one cold day and pretty well no snow, by far the warmest winter in memory for me. And the spring has been just fantastic. Its been ice cream weather for almost a month now. Unbelievable.

So the kids get milkshakes and I get a cone and we hang out and enjoy the sunshine and then we head home, its just a two minute walk or so, we get in there and as I'm wrangling everyone in the door suddenly the boy comes out and he's looking a little pinkish, like he has pink on his lips (he had a cotton candy milkshake) and all of a sudden here it comes and the front mat is now pink, not black.

He's a little traumatized by this, he keeps repeating that it was his first cotton candy milkshake and there's a bit on his shoes and the baby and the dog are looking at this with interest and he's wailing on the front porch and so I drag the dog away and get the baby away and into the care of her six year old sister and I take care of the mess and the boy and we're back in business.

Now we've been experimenting a bit with staggered bedtimes. We get the kids to bed early (7pm) but the oldest ones generally stay up talking and playing for an hour or so and our oldest (she's six) is probably okay to stay up later now we think and even the boy can probably handle some later nights here and there. So over the weekend they stayed up and watched some hockey before going to bed and the end result is that the oldest is fine but the boy is a little out of gas so last night he was in bed at seven while I hung out with the girls and watched some of the Crosbies.

The baby wandered off and then my eldest went to get something and came back and said that something stank in the kitchen and that was where the baby was so of course you know what that means. I called for my youngest and she came running and I could smell her from ten feet away so I asked her if she needed her diaper changed and she said no.

Thing is she has her yes and no confused, well she actually does not say yes, so if you ask her if she wants some milk she will say no and then you give her a cup of milk and she will thank you profusely.

So no means yes is what I am saying. I get that but its confusing for, well, everyone else.

So I grab a diaper and some wipes and I unzip her sleeper, one of those deals with feet, and I see right away that its a little runny and actually its run out of her diaper and its on the edges there.

Poo poo, she says.

You bet.

And as I begin to remove the diaper I realize that this is the atomic bomb of shits. Its everywhere. I mean everywhere. I send my oldest to get a bag and my God she is a huge help, seriously, and she brings a plastic bag and holds it open while I put the diaper and about fifty wipes in it because basically the sleeper is full of runny milky shit and my youngest is covered in it from neck to toe.

And its just fucking vile, something created by some gastro bug, the entire ground floor stinks of it (my wife smelled it as soon as she walked in an hour later despite the window being open and a healthy dose of Febreeze being sprayed).

Bathe the baby and she's to bed and I'm so traumatized its a heaping helping of Pernod to kill the pain and numb the senses.

Waiting on the big fellow to follow up on this as in the middle of the chaos (situation #1 that is) I was trying to get the compost out and left it unattended long enough for him to chow down on a chicken carcass, bread crusts and brown beans.

Luckily I am at work today.

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I have been watching way too much playoff hockey this spring. My head feels like its going to explode. Plus its contributing to sleep deprivation and alcoholism.

First round always ranks up there in terms of entertainment though, doesn't it?

I've been watching this shit forever and there are three truths I have found to be evident about the first round.

1/ The underdog very often wins the first game. This year was the same as always as favourite after favourite fell and lost home ice advantage. Some clubs didn't play all that well (Pittsburgh and after a strong first, Washington), some ran into hot goaltending (Chicago), some had bad breaks (San Jose). Some ran into more than one of these issues. It always happens in game one and people start talking about upsets.

2/ There are always, almost always, upsets. Some are mild, some not so much, but its very rare that the top four seeds advance, if ever. Remember 2006 in the West when all four top seeds fell? Now sometimes like 2006 the bottom seeds are a lot better than their regular season results (San Jose, Anaheim and Edmonton that year). Sometimes its all on a hot goaltender. Sometimes guys are hurt. Sometimes its a luck thing. In any case even in a year like this one where it seems pretty clear who the favourites are, so much so that few upsets have been predicted at all, presently the favourites trail in four series and are even in two others. This leads to my last point though.

3/ The series isn't over until one team wins four games. Its always interesting to me how fans and the media jump on the idea of momentum. A team wins a game and the other club is in trouble. A club goes up three games to one and its over.

Fact is quality does not always win out but for the most part it does and my guess is that when round two comes calling most of the favourites will have advanced.

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I've been watching series in a bit of a scattershot fashion and so my comments will be presented in a similar manner.

Interesting to see some favourites find their footing after struggling for a game or two while others still are having a tough time. The Capitals looked dead near the end of the second in game two and then again with just minutes left in the same game but then a combination of poor goaltending (Halak), poor decisions (Gomez taking himself out of the game for five minutes) and sheer talent (Backstrom) saved them. The Habs have looked better than I thought they would but my guess is that they are almost done. They have to be near perfect and Washington has to struggle and the goaltending has to work out in their favour. I can't see this happening.

Pittsburgh is also overwhelming the Sens. The Ottawas were in a tough position anyways with their injury situation. The fact that they actually had a negative goal differential was kind of a big red flag too. Anyhow they may be game but their goaltending has not been good enough and the Pens are looking like Stanley Cup champions, much like many others have in the past. A so-so regular season has given way to a pretty impressive looking run here and Crosby! crosby CROSBY (STRONG MUSCULAR THIGHS) has been just phenomenal.

Its early early but with Jersey and Les Sabres struggling I would put money on a Caps/Pens conference final.

I almost went with Philly but I did not and with Pronger channelling his 2006 self the Flyers are in good position. They have to close the deal and with Boucher in net and apparently Gagne and Carter out for game five I would not say its over yet but Brodeur has looked rather pedestrian again. Can't see the Devils winning three straight with that goaltending. Plus I fucking hate the Devils so screw them. Seriously. Three Cups, one of the best teams of the last 15 or more years and do you know anyone who is a Devils' fan? I don't and there's a reason for that.

Buffalo and Boston bores me. I thought Buffalo would take care of business but the loss of Vanek has hurt them and while Miller is terrific I forgot about Rask. Nice trade Leafs!

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Chicago got a bad bounce in game one but their biggest issue has not been their goaltending. They just haven't looked right. Part of this is Nashville who have really been terrific. They have had great work from Rinne and some good luck but last night's game had very little from the Hawks who seem to have fallen into a funk. Their best players look mediocre - I would think that unless Toews and Kane get going this may end up being a short postseason for Chicago. Still early though.

Same with the Canucks and Kings although this one is looking iffy for the Canucks who looked like they were going to be up two nil in game two. Then the wheels came off and now, like Chicago, they don't look like they can do anything right. Quick has been fine and while Luongo has been fine as well, for the most part, he has not been better than that and this is the issue. Just like last year when they got ousted by Chicago its not all on him but another save or two would go a long way. Unlike Chicago if the Canucks go down three to one I don't really see them coming back. The Kings have some serious quality out there.

Detroit and Phoenix has been fun. it really does look like it will be up to Jimmy Howard now. If he can play well then I think the Wings can finish this but if not then the Coyotes will move on in a mild upset. Not sure if the Wings have what it takes this year though. Its really weird. Each series happens in a bubble. Hard to say what happens if they move on.

And finally there are our friends the San Jose Sharks.

Now first of all this series has been really one sided. I watched game three and it was ridiculous. As pointed out at Copper And Blue where they are doing scoring chance counts for this and the Canucks/Kings series, the Avs did not generate a good scoring chance in the third period or overtime yet they still won. Crazy.

Three games decided in overtime and the fourth in the last minute.

Pretty entertaining. And the best moment of the playoffs so far when Anderson got that standing O after Game Three.

You know what though? The Sharks deserve a lot of the scorn they get though. Sure they've run into a hot goalie and they've had some rotten luck but this happens every year and there are a couple of contributing factors. Nabokov generally makes a mistake here or there that really costs them (stick on the ice!) and their big guns don't score. Now these guys might go off next game or the game after but Thornton, Heatley and Marleau don't have a damn goal yet. Not one.

Is it bad luck? Maybe a little. And the Avs are quick and neither Heatley nor Thornton has an extra gear. And would you drive the net maybe once in a while?

But at some point you'd think that they have to do something, no? Its one thing to talk about bad luck but after a while there's a reason you keep having bad luck, at least in sports.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Sex Talk




The other night the wife was out for a run (not as in ran out of the house screaming, an actual run, because she's mental) and I was wrangling the Lollipop Guild into eating their vegetables when all of a sudden our eldest asked me where babies came from.

And so began the first sex talk.

I sat down and steeled myself and then I told the boy to go downstairs and get me a beer. Because if you're going to talk about sex then alcohol should be involved some how. Its just apropos.

I took a swig and then I got right to it with the old 'The penis goes into the vagina' thing, which they both thought was hilarious, as do I. When we stopped laughing I mentioned that oral wasn't a bad idea, not necessary, but certainly enjoyable and appreciated. As for anal, well I couldn't help them with that but they might talk to their Uncle Mike and Auntie Sue about that.

I kid I kid, those people don't even exist.

Anyhow, penis into the vagina and all that jazz and then the man squirts liquid out (I called it goo, I mean they're six and four, see?) and the sperm swim to the egg and away you go. The boy had actually taken a book on the body out of the library so I was able to show them where everything goes and all of the little parts and all of that. There was even a picture of sperm. So they got the full idea. Some of the questions asked and comments made:

Is this goo like jello?

No, not at all, more like tapioca.

Does the sperm hang onto the penis with its tail?

No, Explanation follows of how there are millions of them etc, greatly aided by the boy's book.

I'm going to make a baby with Mommy,

No. They do that in Kentucky. We don't live in Kentucky.

So I can have sex with a friend from my school then.

Not until you're twenty five. And maybe not even then.

I also emphasized over and over again that Mommy and Daddy made their baby sister in one shot and probably the boy in one as well. Our oldest took probably two, maybe three rolls to get it done.

In other words you can make a baby very easily. Based on your parents' record of achievements you might want to be very very careful.

Anyhow it was pretty straight forward and not very painful. I grew up without getting taught a thing, learning about sex from Penthouse Forum and my buddies who had older brothers. Even today everytime I'm in a hayloft with a distant cousin or a babysitter or a neighbour I get a little bit horny and weird. Its true. Ask anyone who knows me.

Sex crazed weirdo. Chronic masturbator. Always hounding my wife for a little bit of the ee-ee ee-ee.

This is just the beginning of course. The wife came back from the run and I told her and she began to grill me. Did you tell them this? Did you tell them that? My God they're going to tell everyone at school. And the boy?! He's only four. You told him it was fun? He's going to be trying to have sex with everyone.

Like father, like son.

Yes, I said, he's going to be having sex with everyone because he always has a lot of alone time with little girls. HE'S FOUR!!!

Lots of work yet, lots of questions to answer but I think Dad did alright.

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Steve Tambellini didn't do as great a job the other day. Now he's working from a position of weakness here, first of all. I'm flipping from game to game here and have watched a lot of playoff hockey these past few nights. Its been really terrific. Just now Crosby has put the Pens up two to one with a ridiculous display of puckhandling that ended in a Letang goal. On top of this he has scored a goal and swept one away from his own goalline. And this is pretty standard stuff. So when I see that only three teams have not experienced the playoffs in the last four seasons and the Oilers are one of them it kind of makes me a little sour.

And he's not Senor Charisma either. And that does count for something in one of these deals. Any emotion seems forced. He's not a good speaker. And based on some of what he says he is either not being completely truthful or he believes things that are, well, a little frightening for an Oilers' fan.

When I was talking to my kids I wanted to be a number of things with them. I wanted to be honest with them and with myself. I wanted to be clear. I wanted to make sure that they understood.

If I was Steve Tambellini I'd want to try and follow those principles. Now I don't expect him to spill his guts up there. The idea that an NHL GM should always tell the truth is a naive one, I think. Its not in the best interests of the club for him to be so.

But right now this club has a problem. Four years ago they were a goal away from winning the Cup and since they have bled NHL players at an alarming rate. There has been all kinds of playoff turnover and a coaching change and all that has happened is that the team has gotten worse.

All of this rests on management. Nobody else.

Oiler fans are patient. They love their club. There are still a few out there who are doing the old 'Ha ha' when they look down the highway. 'Look at Calgary', they say. What a disaster!'

Of course this is absolute foolishness. The Flames have gone off the rails but I have a hard time criticizing a club that made the playoffs five straight years. They didn't win anything but neither did twenty four other clubs. Its hard to win the Cup.

You know how its really hard to win the Cup? When you never make the playoffs. If you make it, you have a shot. If you don't you don't. So you might want to make the playoffs if you want to win the Cup. Its just a crazy thought. And criticizing franchises that get that shot regularly while ours does not at all. Not too bright really. We're the bottom of the barrel here folks.

Anyways Steve, you can pick any model that you want but you should pick one and then get on it.

Derek Zona looked at a lot of what Tambellini said in great detail and he and Tyler and LT do a far better job than I could in parsing out what he said.

The biggest issue for me with Oilers' management is that I don't believe that they know what they are doing. I feel this way because of the past four summers and the past four seasons and I think that my skepticism is pretty well earned. I'm an optimist by nature but these guys have worn my optimism to a nub.

And this was the problem with the press conference. I cannot say that Tambellini was dishonest because I don't think that he was at all. I just think that he was confused and unclear and the whole muddle that he muttered makes me think that he just does not get it.

I don't care that he talked up Khabibulin. What else is he going to do? That's his signature move so far as GM.

I'll wait until there are moves in management before I try and read into his comments about development and drafting and all of that. I've liked the drafting recently with only a couple of exceptions and I haven't liked how they have handled their youngsters for the most part so I guess we'll just see who he throws under the bus.

What worries me most is that this team this year is the team that he built and just like last year's club their evaluation of what they had was way off. By trading for Lubo and Cole two summers ago it was clear that they thought they could compete. Why trade a second round pick to rent Kotalik if not? And then last summer the pursuit of Khabibulin and Heatley shows that they believed the same.

If Hemsky and Khabibulin and a couple of other guys had remained healthy this would have been a mediocre team again and there would have been no talk of a rebuild. A lot went wrong for this club to finish thirtieth and as Ty says, what happens next season if they win a pile of shootouts and get some luck and finish a strong tenth? Do we see kids shipped out for vets again? More whale hunting?

They have not had a clear vision of where this club is at in years. This is a huge problem.

That was my biggest problem with the presser. The waffling. It was injuries. It wasn't the injuries. The need for size and grit and someone who can win faceoffs, same as last season. The need for a culture change. The need for change. Weasel words. Political words. The need for depth, same as last season.

I'm not from Missouri but show me, Steve, show me that you know what you are doing because I don't think that you do.

You know what this team needs? Same as it did last summer and every summer since June 19, 2006.

You remember that team that almost won the Cup? You know what they had? A lot of good players.

That's what the Edmonton Oilers need. Draft them. Trade for them. Sign them. Good players at every position. There used to be a ton of them in Edmonton and some of them didn't sign and some were traded for picks and some were traded for flawed prospects and some were traded for bad players. Some were just allowed to walk away even though they wanted to be Oilers.

Good players.

Show me that you understand that. Come this September have more than three or four forwards who can play in both ends of the rink. Do you get that? Never mind guys who can win faceoffs or guys with size and grit or guys who can kill penalties.

Get some good fucking players. For some reason you boneheads can't figure it out. Its pretty simple. Stop mumbling and get on it. Start getting some good players.

Like sex its complicated but not really when you get right down to it.

Now fix it! Its that simple. Fix it or stop your mumbling and get the fuck out of town.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Campbell Picks


As is often the case the first night saw four upsets in four games. Despite that I'm still going with my original instincts, here are the Western picks.

Sharks v. Avs - San Jose's playoff history since the lockout makes the Sens work earlier this decade look sparkling in comparison. For the third straight season the Sharks are expected to make a deep run. Unlike last season when they faced a tough match in a veteran Ducks' squad this year's opponent is the callow Avalanche who basically had an extraordinary October, aided by a lot of puck luck, that gave them enough points to hang in there the rest of the season which was pretty mediocre.

A lot of theories about the Sharks' failures. I read somewhere yesterday that its going to depend on whether or not Marleau and Thornton want to win or not, which is kind of a weird thing to me. I'm pretty sure that they both want to win although both are known as playoff chokers, as is Heatley, despite his work in the Sens' deep run a few years back. The biggest issue for Joe Thornton to me is that buddy just isn't that fast. It was certainly noticeable in Vancouver and I think that makes a difference when the competition gets stiffer. Personally I think that if the Sharks lose this series then the team gets broken up but a lot of clubs over the years had to lose before they won. The Wings fell short a number of years before 1996 and while the Sens never won a Cup they did finally get that deep run after a number of years of failure (and remember one year they were a goal away from the SCF as well even in those early years.)

You need a lot of things to go right for you to win. Even with the loss last night I expect that the Sharks will take out the Avs in six games, quieting their critics until, well, next round.

Chicago v. Nashville - The Preds remind me of those prelockout Oiler clubs. Lots of heart. Hard working. Squeezing every last bit of talent from a bunch of kids and also rans but always falling short. I expect the same this year. I'm unsure of the Hawks overall chances to go all the way, I'd certainly feel better if Campbell and Jonsson were back and healthy. Having said that they are so deep, especially up front, that I expect them to take down the Preds relatively easily. Six games.

Vancouver - LA - This is the one pick that many are making for an upset in the west. I'd feel there might be a chance if Quick wasn't shitting the bed these past few weeks. I don't know if the Canucks have the horses to go all the way (strangely enough I wonder this about all of the western contenders - someone has to do it) and LA has some serious quality but I think Quick is the difference maker here and not in a good way. The Canucks in six, maybe even seven, but they get the job done.

Detroit - Phoenix - Should be a great series, game one last night was a lot of fun. Datsyuk was flying, Doan was hitting everything that moved. The Wings looked lost earlier this season. They have been shedding players for years but last summer was especially tough on them and then they were plagued with injuries. Yet here they are, probably the most dangerous fifth seed in memory. They still have that quality D and while they are thinner up front one must remember that they won the Cup two seasons ago without Hossa so while the club is older its not really much different from that one.

Not sure if I'd pick them to go all the way, which many are doing. Funny that folks are questioning the goaltending in Washington, Vancouver, Chicago and San Jose but not in Detroit. Of course if Lidstrom and Datsyuk had been healthy last spring they'd be looking at a threepeat after two Cups with Osgood so maybe that's why.

Anyways Phoenix is serious quality but switch the shootout records and its a different story for these two. Whatever. The Yotes are tough and they have quality between the pipes but I think the Wings drop them in six, maybe seven.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

If I Had A Million Dollars and Making Bruce's Day


I don't play the lottery. Never have. May as well light your money on fire as far as I am concerned.

Of course you can't even do that anymore, not with the coins and such.

Work's been crazy for the last while for both of us so when we had our week off just a couple back, when I was in Dublin getting fucking loaded (WHOOOOO!) and she was wrangling the freaky midgets (not so WHOOOOO!) it was a welcome respite, even for her.

Anything is better than work, sorry, even though we do both like our jobs. So we both returned to the regular world with trepedation and a couple of days later as we sat exhausted on the couch I looked over and told her that her pessimism was costing us a place in the sun, if we had it my way we'd be investing everything we own in the lottery.

And I do mean everything.

Every once in a while we chat about what we would do if we won the lottery that we never play. We have a friend whose mom and step dad have won significant amounts of cash twice, enough that they are set, and I have a buddy whose parents have done the same. Not a crazy amount like forty million bucks or something but a million or so once and then a couple hundred grand another time. Not bad luck, eh?

The wife says that she would keep working even if we hit it massively but of course that's because she's mental. I'd give notice and I'd be sitting on the back deck with a coffee and a paper before you could say Jack Robinson. I'd always thought about opening a pub but I think the hassle and pitfalls would be just to much so if I ever needed something to keep me occupied I think I would crack open a little secondhand book store, staff it with redheaded grad students dressed in black and pound away at a novel there when I could. That I could see myself doing.

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Tonight the Oilers will find out if they pick first or second. They can do no worse than second and thank dog because its a two man race for top pick. Now ten years from now we may look back and see that the twelfth pick overall ended up being the top pro or that Hall ended up being Alex Daigle but right now neither pick is a bad one and both project to be very good pros I think.

I prefer Seguin for a number of reasons. He's a centre. He sounds like he's already quite well rounded as a player. He's posted his big year in only his second year in the league (Hall took three seasons). Articles about the kid portray him in a very very favourable light.

Having said that your mileage may definitely vary and I wouldn't blame you one bit. I won't shed any tears if they select Hall.

Its win/win.

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In a thread over at Copper and Blue the other day there were some questions about our man Zach Stortini, specifically whether or not he had played centre in junior in Sudbury. I emailed a pal of mine back in my hometown who is a pretty astute hockey guy and asked if he could fill us in a little bit. Here is what he wrote back:

Stortini is probably the only guy on this year's team that I routinely enjoyed watching. It's been kinda cool watching the Wolves tie-in with the Oil over the last number of years. I've actually met the guy on a few occasions, back when I was running the boxing training centre. His dad had him come in and do some boxing training for a month or two over the off-season to improve his balance, footwork and abillity to throw bombs faster. Absolutely great guy. I actually work with a guy who's either related to him, or his wife is related to him somehow - so I get updates pretty often. When the new NHL 2K10 game came out and TSN did the feature on how the game consulted with big Zach for their new fighting details, the clip went around the office quite quickly.

I caught a bunch of games in his final 2 years (with the Wolves), and saw the playoffs in his last one too. He had a great playoff and did play centre in Jr, but they'd throw him out there on the wing sometimes too, depending on who he was matched up with. Foligno (Nick) was sorta in the same boat. They both played a gritty centerman role, both probably in the high 50% on face-offs, and I'd have to say the big man was their most effective player in the playoffs that year. If the Oilers can continue to develop this guy into a player and not just a scrapper, he's really capable around the net on the PP, in a Holmstrom role, and he can win some faceoffs, for a team who has centremen that I could beat with a ringette stick. To me, he seems to be a really coachable team guy who'll stick his nose in front of the net or a fist to help win.

Thank to Joe for that; he's asking around to see if he can pass along any anecdotes but I figured that Bruce at least would enjoy that information.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Souuuuu-raaayyyyyyy and Playoff Predictions for the Prince Charles Conference


Well to say that the Oilers went out with a whimper would be the understatement of the year. My God what a travesty. ADD is brutal brutal brutal and the club gets absolutely whipped with Chorney picking up a minus three, for starters, so basically there's two things that tell a good part of this season's story.

Although if you want to talk absolutely bizarre O'Sullivan ended up a plus two on the night to finish a solid minus 35 on the season. Read somewhere today that Jeff Schultz, I believe, was a plus fifty. So SCHULTZ!!!!! was on the ice for fifty goals more than POS. And to think I wrote about Billy Conn when the Oilers picked up O'Sullivan. Sigh. How sad is that.

And just plain weird - Stortini finishes at plus three for the season, Penner at plus six. The only other Oilers in the black were injured (Hemsky, Smid, Stone), newcomers (Whitney) or had cups of coffee (Plante and McDonald). Somehow these two played the entire season with the club and managed to finish for the good. Impressive no matter how you cut it.

So the disaster ends in disaster and its likely we have seen the last of plenty of these guys in Oiler uniforms - Pisani, Nilsson and O'Sullivan will likely all be gone, Moreau too if they can find anyone to take him. Personally I hope that Strudwick and ADD are goners as well although I have my doubts. And Chorney needs more seasoning. I might suggest Capsule. We could always use a Dman.

And then there's one other guy who won't be back. He has ensured that he will be traded by throwing management under the bus.

Problem with Souray getting moved is the same as the problem with Moreau, O'Sullivan and Nilsson. He isn't going anywhere without the Oilers taking an equivalent salary/problem back. So look around the league and find someone who is getting around eleven million dollars over the next two years and make a note. He's coming our way. And he's probably going to be either injury prone or crap or both.

So there you go.

I don't read as much into the whole Souray thing as many do. Souray wants out and he's probably frustrated at the fact that he's been on a brutal team for three years running now. Tough to take. He's bending the facts a little bit, after all he's the guy who said the Oiler offer came out of the blue three summers ago. It was almost a month after Canada Day that he got signed. Teams weren't knocking down the doors to get him under contract, no matter what he says. He was given a ton of money to come to Edmonton and for the most part he was disappointing, mostly because he was hurt, which anyone could see coming. His first season he got hurt early on and missed most of the season. Last year I must admit he had an excellent year and really earned his money but this year he got hurt early and often and really he never recovered from that concussion.

I hated the Souray signing because that was Ryan Smyth's money. Smyth was a better player than Souray, he was more consistent than Souray and he was more durable than Souray and while he has been hurt a couple of times since that summer Smyth has played almost sixty more games than Souray. Plus he was Ryan Smyth. Superstar, no. Really good player who should have gone wire to wire as an Oiler, yes. He's still quality and he's Ryan Smyth and a LW depth chart with him and Penner would be a nice start.

What made me crazy was that all of the reasons the org. sold the Smyth trade on, age, durability, player quality, were turned on their ear when they signed Souray.

So I was sour from the beginning on the big defenceman. Another year or two like last would have changed my mind but hey, the guy is injury prone, what can be done.

You can call Souray selfish, as some are, or question his motives, but the one thing that he points out, the thing that I have been saying all along, is that its management. Its not the city or the fans, its the fact that this club is terrible and has been for four years now and it falls on management's shoulders. Tampa misses the playoffs for the third straight year and everyone gets canned. The same is going to happen in Calgary by the sounds of it, after one year out. One year!

In Edmonton its business as usual.

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A hilarious story from Damien Cox (I know, I know) today about how earlier in the season a number of Leafs planned on chartering a helicopter to take them into Manhattan to party the night before a game against the Devils before Ron Wilson caught wind of it and put the kibosh on it. All of those in question were moved along by the deadline apparently.

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And now to playoff predictions. Generally I do pretty well at these as long as I don't go off the board and try and prove how smart I am. I think I did so in 2007 and my picks went right off the rails. Other than that I usually come in with around eleven or so correct picks so I do alright, certainly far better than my regular season picks.

There really is a separation between contenders and pretenders this year imo. Of course injuries can always throw a wrench in things but I think this year things are going to go according to Hoyle in both conferences.

Out east the difference is really pronounced as far as I am concerned. Montreal, Philadelphia and Boston all struggled just to get into the playoffs and all three clubs are pretty flawed. As for Ottawa, the fifth seed, they actually have allowed more goals than they have scored. Not a recipe for success.

Washington really looks head and shoulders above everyone else at this point and on top of everything they get a decent draw in the first round. They'll get challenged down the road but I think they have to be the heavy favourite coming out of the east. They have goaltending questions but their goal differential is outstanding and they win without Ovechkin in the lineup so its not like they are a one man team. Any team can beat any team but the only one with a chance against the Caps I think are Les Sabres and that is solely on Ryan Miller. of course they do have to play the games. So out east:

Caps v. Habs - The big question for the Caps is goaltending but Theodore's save % is better than Fleury's, as an example, and no team has the offence that Washington has. Seven players with over twenty goals, including Semin's forty and Ovechkin's fifty. Backstrom, like Ovechkin, over one hundred points. Five more players in double digits in goals as well. They are big and they are young and they have all kinds of depth up front, guys who can score, guys who can check, guys who can hit. Halak may steal one but I'm not even sure if he can do that. The Habs are smalltime compared to these guys. Caps in five.

Devils v. Flyers - remember what I said about outsmarting myself? Well I'm tempted to pick the Flyers and really there's no good reason other than they are supposed to be better than they finished. That's all. They have a lot of famous players but the truth is that while the Devils' mystique faded a long time ago they have had a solid season from beginning to end. Brodeur is fading but he'll outtend Boucher, the Devils' top end talent up front is better than the Flyers' top end guys and I never bet against Wild on Jack Lemaire, even if he no longer is Wild on Jack Lemaire. Devils in six.

Sabres v. Bruins - the Bruins can defend but they can't score and they are facing the league's best goalie. I like the Sabres to get to the conference final and while they don't make it easy on themselves usually they have a raft of solid quality players and they will get it done in six.

Pens v. Sens - the Penguins are not the club that won the Cup last season, at least not yet, but I think they have plenty to take out the Sens. Cherry trumpeted Crosby v. Spezza on Saturday night but seriously? Crosby has just finished a brilliant year and his biggest problem is surpassing what he has just accomplished. I think that the Pens aren't going back to the Finals a third consecutive time but they have more than enough to knock off the Sens in six.

Boring, huh? All favourites. But I do think there's a gap there.

Tomorrow or Wednesday we'll look at the Campbells plus the lottery.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Superbad


My first exposure to Judd Apatow was a TV show called Undeclared. I never saw Freaks and Geeks, his debut on TV, although I've heard a lot of good things about it. Like some film folks Apatow has a group of actors who tend to show up in production after production and many of them appear in these two television shows. Seth Rogen is in both. Jason Segel and James Franco were in Freaks and Geeks and Segel was a part of about half of Undeclared's episodes. Jay Baruchel and Carla Gallo were the stars of Undeclared.

I really liked Undeclared. It was quirky and funny and well written and so of course it was cancelled before its first season was even finished.

Apatow landed on his feet though. As a matter of fact he has been ubiquitous over these past few years, showing up as a writer, producer and director on movie after movie after movie. The 40 Year Old Virgin is one of the great movies as far as I am concerned and Knocked Up was excellent as well, even though I can barely stand Catherine Heigl. It seemed that every comedy that came out had Apatow's name in the credits and Rogen, Segel, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Elizabeth Banks, Baruchel, Bill Hader, Franco, Gallo and Jonah Hill could be found here there and everywhere as well.

And most of the shit has been good. Even the ones that are kind of meh, like Pineapple Express, have a lot of funny moments, and when they hit the mark they are right on.

The one movie from this group of clowns that didn't really work for me was Superbad. Now in this case it may have been the hype that did me in. Everyone I talked to said it was great and so I had pretty high expectations and one night the wife and I sat down to watch it.

I like Michael Cera and I can handle Jonah Hill in the right role but spending an hour listening to Hill talk about his dick was a little much. We nearly turned it off it was so awful but we stuck it out and I found the second part of the movie was pretty decent but my wife couldn't bear it at all. Overall it was pretty disappointing.

So we do the PVR now - we rarely rent movies anymore but this was back when we had a membership at the Blockbuster that we used pretty regularly. Anyways it was a while later that my wife went to the Blockbuster to rent a couple of movies for the week. She gets the DVDs and heads up to the front and the girl rings her up and informs my bride that it is a cool thirty bucks or thereabouts. Pardon me says my wife. Yes says the clerk, it seems that you never returned Superbad.

Now we're not sure what happened but there is a second Blockbuster that is near us and what probably happened is that we dropped it there by mistake.

So you see my wife has a bit of a temper and she's not afraid to express herself and so she tries to explain to the girl that it was returned and the girl says well there is no communication between the stores (which I can barely believe except Blockbuster is one of those big soulless corporations that really are the reason that communism still exists, I mean they embody evil, imo) and so my wife begins flinging her crap like a gorilla and the girl just sits there and takes it and my wife is ranting and raving because we now basically own Superbad.

And so she goes on and on about how ridiculous this is and the worst part of it is that Superbad is an absolute piece of shit of a movie and fuck you very much and when she finally stops her tirade and silence falls over the store and she looks at the clerk for her response to this grave injustice and the clerk looks absolutely stunned and replies:

You didn't like Superbad?

And my wife turns and looks at the lineup behind her and everyone is looking at her like she has eleven heads, not because she just tore a strip off of this girl but because she ... didn't ... like ... Superbad.

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Dubnyk steals a win today and now there is only one game left in this awful season, the worst in Oilers' history. Oh sure they have two points more than the 92/93 club but that club didn't have the benefit of extra Bettman points and they also weren't a cap team.

Make no mistake. This is the worst team in club history.

And it rests on management. Interesting to note that down the road in Calgary after a streak of five straight seasons in the playoffs ended this spring it looks likely that the GM, the coach and the team president may all be taking the gaspipe.

Meanwhile in Edmonton it will be business as usual.

Is there any reason for optimism for next season? Well in Tom Gilbert and Ryan Whitney it looks like they have a quality pairing to anchor their D. Gilbert had a tough go earlier this season but he's been just terrific and looking at his stats from last season one notes the PP production and wonders if increased time with the extra man this year might have brought his numbers close to last year's totals. In any case they have a nice pair back there, if not much else going on after them.

And Penner has really had a terrific year anyway that you look at it. Regardless of who he played with he produced and to be a plus player on this joke of a team is astounding. Next season he might play power v power or maybe he'll try and kill the soft with some kids but he is perhaps the one player who can look back at his season and be satisfied with what he has done.

What else? Well Gagner looks to be able to take on a tougher role and I would like to see his production with a couple of quality wingers on his flanks. Brule can shoot that puck and he's still a kid so I would say that he will get better. Cogliano certainly looked better once he had quality on his wings himself although I would guess that he will be a goner this summer. If Seguin is the Oilers' pick then you can bank on it. If Hall is the choice then maybe he gets another shot with Edmonton.

Overall though there wasn't much. Poor Fernando looks done and Moreau was awful despite a fairly strong finish himself. O'Sullivan was a disaster and Nilsson, well Nilsson is Nilsson. Buddy is a dogfucker. He looks terrific and then he disappears forever and he's not a kid anymore.

Potulny was useful and good for him on hanging around a full season. Pouliot looks like he may finally have gotten it. Jones and Stone look to be useful role players and Bruce McCurdy Junior actually looks to be a plus player at the end of all of this. Stortini plays the dregs and so on but you know what, a plus player on this club no matter what the situation is something and he has played almost every game so good for him.

Who else? Well I love Horcoff but good God we need a better season from him next season. Hopefully he will be healthy and will get a couple of quality wingers and he will bounce back. He has finished strong so lets hope it carries over.

I would guess we see Comrie back, especially if POS and Nilsson get dumped which is likely and Eberle is in the AHL next season. On a one year cheap deal he adds enough to be useful.

On the back end we will see how Smid does without Lubo. Right now he and Souray are the second pair. Oh my.

And God help us if Strudwick is back.

With the playoffs coming I'll be posting my predictions in the next few days and then I'll grade the Oilers for this absolutely forgettable year. Superbad is not strong enough an adjective for this mess.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Too Much Time On My Hands


Besides being a cracking Styx song, the title of this post also refers to many glorious wasted days in years gone by. I'm one of those folks who believes that life is indeed short and it needs to be enjoyed but I also think that that doesn't mean that you need to go a million miles a minute, that one of life's great pleasures is in doing absolutely nothing. That might be an afternoon nap or an evening watching bad TV or wasting a few hours catching a crappy hockey team. Luckily for me I am set with the latter. ;)

Once you have kids there's a certain pleasure that doesn't come into the equation anymore. Back when I was in school and then on weekends once I was actually in the workforce many days were spent sitting on my ass. It might be a day after a night of drinking, lounging about with pals, shooting the breeze, killing time until we started at it again. There were Sundays when I lived in High Park with my best friend, sleeping in after our Saturday night out, waking up and drinking some coffee, watching football until we both dozed off, waking up again, more football, asleep again. There were Saturdays laying about the apartment with a girlfriend or the girlfriend and then wife, reading the paper and then back into bed and then a little lunch and then back to bed, a nap, lazing about and then back to bed.

Nowadays our rare times without kids are out of the house usually, out for dinner, or after they are abed and while we have some fun its not that long stretched out layabout we used to have years ago.

And so while my trip last week had a lot of things to recommend about it including a lovely day in old Dublin town which included pints in three of my favourite pubs and then a wonderful Irish wedding in a tiny village it may have been the Good Friday afternoon that was my favourite part of the whole damn thing. I got up late in the morning and grabbed some lunch and then wandered out to the lounge just outside the pub where one of the groomsmen and another pal of the groom were sitting and shooting the shit. As I said it was Good Friday and on Good Friday you can't buy a pint in Ireland, the only day of the year if you can imagine, but we had an in at our inn, so to speak. The hotel was in a little village (we're talking a blink and you miss it deal) and was built around a pub that had been there forever (current proprietors in charge for fifty years, mention of the pub in a ninety year old newspaper clipping telling more of the tale) so while anyone looking to get in from the street might find a locked door, we on the inside were told early on that the Guinness would be flowing that night because Leinster and Munster had a big rugby match.

So while we waited for them to get the show on the road we sat and we shot the shit. We talked about the night before and about Ireland and Canada and South Africa. We talked about having kids and getting married and travelling and buying houses and work. We talked about drinking and smoking and eating and Dublin's roads and roundabouts and cars and trains in Canada and rugby and surfing and hockey. We talked and talked and we talked some more and people came and went and pulled up chairs and pushed them back and went for walks and ordered food and went to their rooms for quick drinks or outside for a smoke and then they came back and talked some more. For hours we talked and then at five we went into the pub and watched some rugby and drank some pints and talked until eight when we went for dinner and then we ate and drank wine and talked until it was time to get to bed.

A great great time.

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This long awful season is almost over and then the braintrust (hahahahahahahahahahaha) will have time to go over what has gone wrong this season, another lost season, the worst one in Oilers' history in what will now match the longest playoff drought in franchise history.

Four years out after coming within a break of winning it all. Four wasted years. A cap team with not a lot of room for next season either, dead last and in a big big way.

Oh God.

The positives are so very very few, oh its so awful, the kids have been chewed up and spit up, left to sink or swim, mostly sinking. The D which looked so quality has been disbanded. The goaltending remains in the hands of a broken down guy with an anchor of a contract. And up front there's not a lot going on, a bunch of bums for the most part.

Is there anything positive to look at? Well both directly (Tambellini insisting that Eberle will stay in Springfield all season) and indirectly (Matheson's column on Sunday basically carving up the Oilers development of youth at the NHL level these past three seasons) it looks like the Oilers will not be bringing in MPS and Lander and Eberle and Petry and Hall/Seguin and Omark and any other player under twenty two with a pulse to start next season and that's a start especially based on the mess made of the team and of individual players these past three years using that tactic.

What was the plan for Andrew Cogliano anyhow? Winger or centre? Soft minutes offensive guy or tough minutes two way player? It changed from week to week and month to month and while its hard to say if Cogliano will amount to much its likely that a year in the A and then a defined role playing with veterans might have better served him than the mess they have made of it.

Anyways this team is dead last and so a lot of guys are getting moved along, as it should be. The Oilers will probably be poor next year, they just have too many holes to fill, but I'd expect some of the young redundant guys will be dumped, hopefully to clubs willing to send a cagey vet the other way. A team willing to take a shot at a guy like Nilsson might be willing to move a vet with one year left on their deal, a guy who can play in the corners and along the boards, maybe move the puck the right way for a change, maybe a little overpaid, a salary dump.

Or maybe not. Still the Oilers need to add a few Malholtras and Betts types, just to help do the heavy lifting and help the youngsters along (and make no mistake there will be youngsters, just not as many as we are used to). They'll still be crappy, the Oilers that is, they just don't have enough good players, its as simple as that, but adding a few vets won't hurt, no matter how they need to do it, just as long as those contracts will be expiring.

So here's hoping that Tambellini and the rest of the geniuses have been talking and talking and talking and that its not just idle talk. That sort of shit is a lot of fun but I hope this summer that for the first time in years we see some semblance of a plan, something more than 'Holy mackeral we have a lot of defencemen' or 'We want you Nikolai, just name your price' or 'Plan A was Heatley, um, there was no plan B' or 'We will shed as many NHL players as we can without replacing them'. Of course the last has been the plan for four summers now so maybe that's the new mission statement or something.