Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Lucky Man

We've had what one would call a regular winter here in Toronto. When I first moved here, twenty five years ago this fall coming (btw saying things like that make me feel old as hell), the winters did not compare to where I came from but they were what you would call a real winter. By early December you'd have plenty of snow on the ground and it was here to stay until the end of March, maybe later. It was cold and windy, a damp cold, as they say, not as brutal as what I was used to or what you'd see out west, but cold enough that even having moved from Sudbury, where I was used to minus twenty to minus thirty on a daily basis, I didn't like it. A damp cold sneaks into your bones.

Right up until I moved away in February of 1997 the winters remained lengthy and poor. I think back and I remember when the girl from Rawlins Cross and I first hit it off and also when it all ended, the first was a December, the second was a January, and I remember lots of snow and cold that makes your boots squeak, your lungs hurt and your spit bounce when it hits the ground.

The truth about Canadian winters is that, like life, it can always get worse, so mind what you say. I'm from Northern Ontario and it only took a couple of winters here before I found the weather in my hometown to be unbearable and this was only at Christmas time, not in January and February when its an aching never ending brutal trudge, day after day of enormous snowbanks, vicious winds and grinding cold.

Now I thought that was tough and then I spent a year in PEI. I worked for a company that had shops in pretty well every fair sized town in the Maritimes and Newfoundland and every week once December came until March we ended up with at least a couple of them closed down due to storms. In Moncton and Amherst this happened pretty well every week and I was caught in a few nice blizzards during my time there. This was before the bridge opened too so I experienced a few days where the entire Island was what they call storm stayed. No planes. No ferries. No way in or out.

A Maritime winter needs to be experienced to be believed and yet in my own experience I've never seen anything to compare to my ten days in St. Johns Newfoundland. It was February and it was truly awe inspiring. No wonder I was able to afford the flight. ;)

I have not mentioned the West because my experience out there is limited to a few November days in Edmonton but I know the winters out there are awful as well. When my old man was a young man, nearly sixty years ago give or take he worked in Uranium City in northern Saskatchewan. Dad is a northerner, the furthest south he ever lived was North Bay. He grew up in Wawa and Franz, which was a couple of hours north of Wawa.

Look at a map. They don't have all inclusive resorts in Wawa and Franz. They's pretty far north yo.

So Dad knows winter. And whenever the subject comes up (and Dad channels the weather channel basically so it comes up frequently) he talks about that winter he spent in Saskatchewan, no contest the coldest damn winter he ever lived through.


We used to have a customer in Edmonton. He was a terrific guy, a little guy who had come over to Canada from Vietnam, one of the boat people. He had lived in a refugee camp for quite a while and then had made his way to Canada and settled in Edmonton.

A neat story. When he was in the camp he used to sketch to make time pass. Now I cannot remember what he drew in particular this time but in any case he tacked a drawing onto the wall at his bunk before he left to start in his new life.

A few years later he was at a gathering in Edmonton, it was a little event where those in the Vietnamese community could get together and make contacts and socialize. He met a young woman and they hit it off. They talked about their experiences and it turned out they had been at the same refugee camp. As they talked about their interests he said that he enjoyed drawing and used to pass the time doing just that at which point she pulled out from her purse a worn and well travelled sketch that she had found at her bunk when she came to the refugee camp.

Pretty cool huh?

So this was years later now and our friend is a smart guy and a hard worker and by this time he has built a thriving business (he would later sell it and make a mint) and he is married to the same girl and they have a family. We're talking away and as if often does the conversation turns to the weather and its January and its brutal here and of course that means its ten times as brutal there. And we're laughing about it and suddenly he says:

You know Pat, people here they complain all of the time about the weather. It is too cold, the winters are too long, it is awful. But you know that to me this is the best country in the world. This is what we complain about. You think about that, a country where this is the problem, how cold it is. Where I am from we could only dream that we could complain about the weather.

Pretty smart guy. Pretty lucky guy. Of course one usually goes with the other.


Yesterday TSN was all atwitter as it were about rumours about a big kid defenceman from Atlanta, Bogosian. I saw the Jets play Toronto the other night and can't say I noticed him but then again when you are a kid defenceman that's probably a good thing.

That night I had a discussion on Twitter, as much of a discussion as one can have in 140 characters or less, with a guy named Ty, not Ty Dellow, but another Ty who goes by the name of Rosscreek Nation, I think that's it. Ty basically put out a question - would you trade Hemsky for Bogosian?

The majority of replies I saw were firmly in the yes camp, including a few who were beyond the yes camp (that is they said the Oilers would have to throw in a sweetener to make it work).

And there were a few no votes, of which I was one. I was under the impression that with Byfuglien and Enstrom that Bogrosian wasn't playing the toughs and had a nice minus sixteen to show for it but the data seems to be conflicting. Ty tweeted showing that the kid is playing tough comp and is starting a ton in his own zone. I also read however that he's in the second pair with Oh Johnny I Will Do Ya and the aforementioned are taking the heavy sledding.


I've already made my thoughts on Hemsky and Penner made known and the news that anyone who has come calling for either veteran has grumbled that the price is very high is heartening. The price should be high.

Now we have heard rumours that Hemsky would like to stay and today Robin Brownlee posted on a conversation that Penner had today. Of course its all going to come down to contracts but if the numbers are good then I think that first thing Tambellini has to do is get these two inked.

Keep your good players. Acquire more good players.

Right now the strength of this club is on the wings. The Oilers need, in no particular order, a centre, a defenceman and a goalie. I think the way things suss out is that this summer they draft either a Dman or a centre, if they can. Landeskog is the wildcard of course but I'd have to think its a Dman or a centre. A goalie can be had pretty easily. So that will leave one spot to fill and that is when we see a winger may get moved, unless we get a curve thrown at us and its Gagner who gets dangled.

When it comes to Penner and Hemsky I say sign them if you can. Now if they cannot then they need to move them for as much as they can. Obviously I'm not in Steve Tambellini's shoes so for all we know Bogosian is way beyond what he can imagine getting for either guy.

But here's the thing, they need to get a sure thing if they can. Absolutely need to. They traded Smyth and all they have left are a couple of maybe prospects and one of those is never going to amount to much more than a role player. They traded Pronger and the centrepiece of that deal is on his fifth team today and we are still waiting on Laddy Smid. (And yes I am aware they got picks as well and that may be the saving grace.)

Those trades destroyed the competitiveness of this club. Years later we're still shitty.

I think this is where I differ with Rosscreek Nation. We really are on the same page when you get down to it. He said he'd trade Penner or Hemsky if it meant making the team better. I said hell I'll trade anyone to do that. He said we need a stud Dman and a centre and I agree, we do.

Where we differ is he thinks Bogosian is that Dman. I have my doubts. Now apparently the kid has had conflicts with the coaching staff (Torchetti, MacKenzie said) and he has been healthy scratched and he has played forward this season.

So maybe its politics. And of course we all know that young players don't develop in a straight line. And if Bogosian lives up to his pedigree then years later we might rue a trade that was never made (if such a trade is actually being considered.)

And for all I know maybe a stalled (imo) prospect is the best they can get and if they cannot sign Hemsky and that's the best you can get then you have to do it.

But maybe Bogosian just is not that good. And in any case you don't trade a good player if what's coming back isn't a sure thing. Lupul was a surer thing back then than Bogosian is now.
Has to be a sure thing. Has to be a trade that when it happens we lament our guy moving on but look at the return and say wow that's terrific. That's what we need.

A guy we know can play.

Someone said what about Penner for Z. Michalek the other day and everyone was saying no way, why would we get a guy like that.

That's exactly the type of guy we want imo, if we can get him. A guy under team control for a number of years. An established NHLer albeit a relatively young one. A guy who is ready to step in and contribute right now.

We don't need Tambo to be lucky. Luck can go either way.

We need him to be good.


Olivier said...

The thing is, Hemsky may be fragile. But then again, he's tough, so he may be Saku-Koivu fragile; small man playing too much of a big-man game, finally learns to thread the line at 27 and then clocks in 70+ games a year for the next 8 as a tough minutes outscorer. I think you can see that in a player if he keeps improving past 25. Dunno about Hemsky, but Koivu was getting gradually better all the time. And he beat cancer, so the comp may not be nice to him :).

Anyway, I'd keep him just in case.

Bogosian is, by my guess, on track to become a somewhat better version of Regher. Dunno about his PP upside, but he most likely is going to be a first rate ES/PK player for the next 15 years [he's 20 and was in the league at 18]. Because he doesn't generate offense, he won't get paid big bucks for another, what, 3 years?

I cannot fathom an organisation in the Thrashers position would trade a guy like him to get Hemsky. Really, why bother with the risk?

This trade, to me, makes no sense for both organisations. But it's Edmonton and Atlanta, so it'll happen sooner than later, I guess :).

macaotim said...

I can do without Hemsky. The injuries worry me. Penner is the safer bet. Throw some coin his way and deal with Hemsky after you have sorted out the Penner situation. If you have money, and Hemsky is a reasonable contract then ok. If not, get what you can for him.

Good Muckin' Tonite said...

Why risk giving up arguably one of your top players for a maybe...again. Bogosian's actually getting some tough minutes as a 4D but we won't see what he's got for another few years. He's 20. D need at least to 24, give or take, to fully judge. A move that sends a quality guy out of town for another "potential" player is ludicrous. It's similar to trading for a 1st round fwd pick in June. Need to find a way to sign both and take a step forward.

Kish said...

"And in any case you don't trade a good player if what's coming back isn't a sure thing. Lupul was a surer thing back then than Bogosian is now."

Without getting into whether that's true or not (the latter, not the former), invoking Lupul illicits a knee jerk "NO" from me.

My personal opinion on the proposed trade is, if Bogosian is Regher-esque, then it has to be part of a larger series of moves. Deleting Hemsky for a young dman leaves the Oil terrible thin at fwd for too long (i.e. until the kids figure it out regularly)

Arcanas said...

Just to validate your comments on the weather in Saskatchewan. It sucks. Only here can you go from -45C (with the wind) on Monday, to +4C on Thursday, and back to -38C on Monday. And today it's -4C. Screwy as hell.

Black Dog said...

Kish - lol, its true though, at that point Lupul had a couple of good years under his belt, Tyler Dellow didn't like him much but for the most part the response was relatively positive, albeit a bit disappointed because there had been some juicy rumours floating about.

But he had scored 27 or 28 goals the year before. We knew it was against soft opposition but I think expectations were high and for good reason.

Bogosian hasn't even gotten there yet. Of course he's only 20.

Black Dog said...

Agreed GMT

Tim - keep them both if you can, keep them both. If you want to make Penner the priority thats fine but get them both signed.

Olivier - lol; especially with Atlanta's financial situation I think you are right but who knows. There's politics there as I said. Apparently he and Torchetti have issues. You'd think in that case the coach gets gassed but if he and Dudley have a history who knows.

And I do think Hemsky is getting better, I would say Havlat is a good comp, right down to the injuries.

Arcanas - we're splitting the difference, its been like -20 all week, I think we're getting your warm weather this weekend though

David S said...

See, the problem is alot of the people all hot to go for guys like Schenn and Bogosian come from the EA Sports "Plug and Play" mindset. What makes it worse is that Taylor Hall is living up to his billing, something that doesn't happen too often. These same people forget that Eberle and PRV are projects too. So naturally, it's no problem for them to consider a trade for a prospect as long as he has some sort of low number by his name, because those guys are locks, right?

The only thing to do is sidestep those conversations, which more often than are no more than ridiculous high-school conversation trade proposals. It's the only way to stay sane.

Black Dog said...

lol David

I do agree to a point though and you are absolutely right that Hall has made it worse for this sort of thing. People forget that for every Hall and Eberle you have a Paajarvi and Omark, a Peckham and Dubnyk, a Pouliot and Jacques, a Niinamaaki (sp?) and Mikhnov.

The idea that these kids spring fully formed from junior is a fairly recent one. Before Crosby and Ovechkin did it only five players (besides Gretzky) scored 100 plus points in their rookie year.

But people think it just happens.

The people who say trade these guys for picks make me even crazier. At least with Bogosian we know he can play in the league at some level.

spOILer said...

I think Penner is the more likely to go, just because of the sheer critical mass of LWers in the organization and because he's likely to garner a larger return.

That said, I am pro keeping them both and would rather see us deal the 2012 1st or a good prospect than a top end player already on the roster. Guys like Hamilton, Marincin, Martindale, Pitlick would be in play for me before Penner or Hemmer. Maybe not Marincin, but hey if it means a Weber or Seabrook coming back, even him.

I'm a Gagner fan, but I would also prefer to trade him than either Penner or Hemsky, despite the black hole of offense at the C position on this squad.

spOILer said...

With regards to your prior post, Pat, I"m not so sure the 4th line theory holds. The teams you're describing were SC champs. I don't expect to have a 4th line like those till we're legit contenders and in the meantime, I expect the 4th line should be somewhat developmental...

All except for 4C. You can get away with a lot on the 4th line w.r.t. kids playing there if they're playing on either side of a vet. This allows the team to roll the 4th a little more and give them more minutes.

And I would bet money that Hartikainen is the Drop's 4th line LW next year. He seems made for the role.

Let Hamilton play big minutes in the A.

spOILer said...

Oh and we're having a lovely winter here in Cochrane, near Calgary. The number of + days in 2011 so far has been astounding and we might hit +10 tomorrow.

Black Dog said...

spOILer - no kidding eh? Its been bitterly cold here all week. Unpleasant.

I know what you are saying about the fourth line and I suspect that you are right in that we may see at least Hartkinen there. Probably O'Marra as well. They have to make room in OKC for Hamilton and Pitlick and Lander.

I prefer my solution of course. ;)

You also bring something up that I think should be on the table next season. They have a ton of kids. There's not room for all of them. I'd rather keep Penner and Hemsky and start looking at what they can get for a pick and a kid.

And yes I would put Gagner into play as well.

spOILer said...

Yeah, I don't know how aggressive the Oil will be in adding draft picks this deadline as eventually they're gonna run out of room for their prospects.

Guys likely moving to the A next year:


Davidson (I think they'll leave him in the Dub)

rpk said...

Was in Vietnam this year. Was strange having a 20 dollar scotch in the 5 star hotel bar when the guy serving it makes 5 bucks a day. You should of seen the waiters face when I tipped him 5 bucks doubling his salary....I know they are still two very young fellas, but we need to look at moving cogs and gags over penner and hemmer at this point, cap aside. Just poor overall performance this year IMO, no step forward...particularly on the dot. Trading the two of those with a basket of odds and ends (JFJ please?, foster, fraser) for a serviceable draw man and a solid D and other odds and ends and maybe a poick or two sounds like the sane thing to do.
penner and hemmer will cost us serious cap, but can the Oil be taken seriously without them or their equivalents (i.e. real NHL hockey players)? Not for the next 4 years they won't. If you toss hemmer for a bag of prospects, then its time to clean house and collect 2 or 3 more high first rounders...perhaps thats the master plan...
Denver has been snowy lately, but it ain't will be +12C tmrw and holding steady the next ten days

Black Dog said...

spOILer - good point, there's a bunch of guys coming and only so many spots, unless they go awfully young there next year then there have to be some kids moved I think

only a couple of true prospects down there now though so maybe they'll move guys like Vande Velde and such

rpk - good story, its a different world

I think if they pick a centre this summer then one of Cogs or Gagner gets moved, perhaps Gagner, then Cogliano will get another year until they see what they have in Lander

I could see it. I certainly do not believe that moving Penner or Hemsky is the best thing for the org. longterm.

jmo of course

Garnet said...

Pat, it's off topic but ... did you know the Victory Cafe has been bought? Don't know the full details but the staff are not pleased by the new guy and a couple of 'em at least have given their notice. Troubling news for us discerning barflies.

Black Dog said...

I did not hear that Garnet.

Damn. I hope buddy realizes what makes that place great. If I go in and there are big screens everywhere and the blackboard says 'Coors Light' I may have to move on.

There's a relatively new place a couple of blocks west of there on the north side. Can't think of the name but I was there in August and it was a reasonable spot.

Garnet said...

I may have to track that place down. At least that would move the action fractionally closer to my place ...

Black Dog said...

A few streets west of Markham. Bar is just north of Bloor, a door or two down I think.

Patio. Prices are dirt cheap. Beer selection is above average though not Victory level.

I've only been once but pal goes frequently and likes it quite a bit and he's a good judge.