Monday, June 20, 2011

The World Is Upside Down

Word from Bob McKenzie that Ryan Smyth wants to return to the Oilers.

The franchise has never recovered from trading Smyth. Sending a top line winger away for magic beans was a harbinger of things to come. The Oilers have dumped NHL quality players for nothing for a number of years now and the result has been the basement two years running. No surprise.

And of course while I do not believe in karma (heh) selling the face of the franchise for futures over a hundred grand a year certainly could not have done much for the Oilers in the eyes of the (non existent) hockey gods.

Will it happen? It won't even though its the Oilers who, for once, are on the good end of a trade request. The Oilers are reportedly trying to move two of their very few remaining NHL players this summer - those players being Tom Gilbert and Ales Hemsky - so the idea of bringing in someone who might help the club win is sort of against SOP.

The reasons to bring Smyth back are myriad.

His cap hit would bring the club up past the salary floor, which they are now below. If they move Gilbert or Hemsky they will be even further below.

He is still a quality player. Last season he scored 23 goals and 47 points, which would have been good enough for tops on the Oilers.

Remember when he was traded how one excuse was that he was breaking down? He has missed a total of 47 games since he left Edmonton. He played every game last year and has missed twenty games the past three years. On the Oilers' roster that qualifies him as an ironman.

He is a veteran player who could provide leadership to the kids.

He's Ryan Smyth. If any guy should be an Oiler its him. He should have never been traded.

Unless the plan is to finish last again, which it very well may be, bring Smyth back and plug him into the top nine. Who's icetime is he going to be taking? Ryan Jones? JF Jacques?

To recap. A franchise icon, whose trade was called a mistake by the guy who traded him just months after the deed, wants to play in Edmonton. If you can bring him in without giving up much of value (and I do concede that this is key) then get it done already. Right the wrong.

Edit to add: Have to run the kids to soccer but I will be writing something at length on this later tonight or tomorrow. But one more thing. Whitney and Horcoff and Hall have all been quoted saying that adding veteran players is a must this summer. That's Taylor Hall, the future of the franchise. What are you saying to him and his teammates when you have a guy who is respected around the league, a quality player, a veteran who wants to play on your club and you are not interested in adding him?

At some point you have to start trying to win. How about now?


Vic Ferrari said...

This spring I was mowing the lawn at our cottage. 'Lawn' is a strong word, I have frightening machine called a brush cutter, a saw blade on a pole, really, driven by a powerful little two stroke engine. Every once in a while I use it to reclaim some of what the forest has tried to claw back.

Any road, I uncovered a flat rock with the letter 'S' on one end of it. I remembered it when I saw it. It used to say DEAD FROGS.

My daughter collected frogs when she was little. Just the ubiquitous wood frogs, we let the leopard frogs go back to the wild. I gave her a big Rubbermaid container to house them in, and she built a terrarium. Rocks, dirt, gravel, water, foliage ... it was a wonderland for those brainless little amphibians.

So she caught a bunch and started her own little community. By and large they were named after Scooby Doo characters. She had a blast. If you put your finger under a wood frog they will instinctively grab hold, like a baby grabbing a finger.

All was well until Daphne died. The horror, Pat, the horror. I've known people who've lost parents and experienced less grief. She was beside herself.

I don't know the cause of Daphne's death, the only thing I'm certain of is that it wasn't caused by lack of attention and handling. And people who've never had kids are sure to think this is batshit crazy (I know I would've) but I dug a grave and we held a small service. I let her mourn. I capped the grave with a flat stone and Anna wrote "DEAD FROG" on it in little person writing.

After that we started recycling the frogs, just keeping them for a day or a few then releasing them and catching new ones.

Maybe a week later, as I lay in the sun, she walks by me with a dead frog on a stick. She flicks the frog to the ground in front of the grave, prises up the rock with her stick and boots the dead creature under it with her little purple polka-dotted rubber boot.

I say nothing.

A minute later she comes back with a Sharpie. She puts an 'S' on the back of "DEAD FROG" and stomps it a couple of times with the heel of her boot. "nuther one died, dad" she says. Fair enough.

Ryan Smyth was my Daphne, and I've emotionlessly kicked so many fucking frogs under the rock since then I've lost count.

Woodguy said...


That was an amazing read.

Amazing in every respect.

rubbertrout said...

Wow. Fabulous. I'm speechless.

Travis Dakin said...

That was solid gold Vic. Solid F'n gold.

bradr98 said...

Kinda reminds me of Linden out in these parts. A captain who shouldn't have been traded but was allowed to leave. Then brought home to finish his career in the city he shouldn't have left in the first place (and not really by choice).

PS - BD, great stuff on Father's Day, my compliments and my appreciation. Haven't commented for a while, but I've been reading. And no...that was not me tipping over the police car last Weds.

Black Dog said...

Vic - amazing stuff

Daphne was the beginning of the end over at IOF, no? Here's hoping her possible return sparks your return, we need more Vic on the interweb.

Thanks for the kind words Brad.

Vic Ferrari said...

Yeah, I think the Pronger for Smid/Lupul was Dennis' Daphne, he stuck with the scoring chances and some commentary, but that was the end of prose from Dennis.

For me and RiversQ it was the Smyth deal. He had a great post called "And They Loaded Boxer Into The Van" or some such. You can never go wrong with Orwell references, but that was terrific, you could really sense the acceptance that Oilers management were both incompetent and destined to be here long term. I'm pretty sure that was his last poem as well.

Sorry for rambling on above. I've always taken the piss out of folks who write essays in comments sections. Somehow when I do it ... seems okay. On a completely unrelated note, my farts smell kinda neat.

Black Dog said...

Its a shame, a few months ago I was looking through some of the old work at IOF from Dennis, Cam and yourself, it was really terrific stuff, entertaining and educational, all that this internet stuff should be.

Spin those tales, every once in a while Dennis will pop up and talk about a girl he used to sleep with in his buddy's shed or up in a tree or down in a hole and how it ties into Judas Priest's later work and Mark Messier and the latest winter in St. John's, its always a nice diversion which is what this is all about, no?

Getting even further away on the tangent, apparently the eldest child has decreed that we are going out for Halloween as Scooby and the gang. The numbers are perfect and Jenn is going to be Daphne, looking forward to seeing that little purple dress.

nightslide said...

What can I say to BD's Scooby comments other than... "R'kay Raggy!"

Great stuff Vic, and BD, as always, great post.

Edit: Verification "readi" That HAS to it starts now, right?

Vic Ferrari said...

The Scooby Doo gang at Halloween. Sounds great at first blush, but that's going to be tough to pull off.

Black Dog said...

Well ... maybe maybe not. We actually have a Scooby Doo costume we picked up somewhere so that's for the youngest. After that its a case of getting the right colour clothing at the Value Village around the corner plus some hair dye or wigs.

We'll see, Jenn can get pretty focussed when it comes to this type of thing. She makes ridiculous birthday cakes for example.

macaotim said...


Best thing I've read on the internet...perhaps ever.

Sadly, it's usually porn for me, so don't get a big head.

Ha ha, I said head.

RiversQ said...

Truth is stranger than fiction. Back in 06/07, if you told me the general locus of the Oilers' yearly standings up to 2011, I would totally have believed it. Especially after the Smyth trade.

How we got here though?


That's just one.

Vic Ferrari said...


When I first heard about the Nylander deal, I thought, in my own mind, that it was intentional. I don't even know if I really believed it, but I let myself think that Lowe was intentionally trying to spend big money on a player who would actually make them worse.

Maybe, maybe, just maybe, I thought. Lowe is under pressure from the new owner to sign famous players, but he himself wants the team to tank. So he is intentionally orchestrating an idiotic deal, one that would surely be endorsed by John MacKinnon and the other toadies in the local media, but would seal the fate of the team as a cellar dweller. Not the route I would take, totally unnecessary. But clever in it's way.

Then that deal fell through, then he offered up the Oiler's future for Vanek.

At that point even the most creative optimist couldn't sensibly defend him. No train of thought made sense, and I was trying.

Acceptance sets in. Dennis had been right for a year. Lowe was a fool. Simple as that.

Vic Ferrari said...

By the by, thanks for the kind words above, this to those that said them.

And since Pat mentioned our old stuff at IOF, and likely only Pat, Dennis, Cam and me are still here: The thing I'm most proud of is the creation of the narrative surrounding the Corsi number.

This quote is actually quite compelling, especially if you'd been following that blog over the weeks previous and seen me drift to this seemingly inevitable conclusion:

"Sabres goalie coach Jim Corsi also spoke on the radio, just once that I heard, a very technical guy with the demeanour of a scientist speaking on CBC radio, and surely the source of all the wonderful data that Regier was bandying about."

Complete horseshit. Regier didn't have wonderful data and, as far as I know, Jim Corsi has never been interviewed on the radio in his life.

Shortly after Gabe Desjardins contacted me via email, saying he was going to use that stat on his site, and wondered how I wanted to be credited. I pretended to be befuddled "it's Jim Corsi's stat, why are you asking me?". I've kept the email, he obliges me, but you can tell he thinks I'm full of shit. Cool guy, that Gabe. He was right of course, I went to and searched the Buffalo coaching and management. I liked the ring of 'Corsi', and Corsi number was born two seconds later.

Flash forward a year and change and you can find tens of thousands of Internet references referring to Corsi as a stat developed within the game by hockey men. Then Don Cherry is bashing Corsi numbers on HNIC. Shortly after that Staples interviews Jim Corsi and the cat actually claims credit for it. Read that article if you get a chance, it's seventeen kinds of implausible. Absolutely beautiful.

I had a loose plan revolving around getting Colby Cosh to interview Jim Corsi, fully expecting a "watchu talkin' 'bout, Willis" reaction. At which point I would apologize profusely and rename it SDAN, in sabermetrics fashion. Pronounced Stan. The world gave me something so much better.

All that was after Nylander and Vanek. And not to toot my own horn, but if that's not performance art ... it's something pretty damn similar.

Black Dog said...

Damn I miss the old days.

Dennis said...

anytime I read a thread where the sentance ``Dennis was right`: is featured then you know I am all in!

Great story by Vic and as for why I stopped writing, I stopped caring enough To write; I dare say Cam stopped for the same reason.

I think Ty and I alternated 94 rants for the first couple of weeks after he was moved and then maybe I wrote a couple of things in the `08 season and then I was done. I cared enough to count scoring chances and hoped to move that along - that was later co-opted by Staples - but that was it. Young acolytes Willis and Renyolds had the desire and stomach to stick it out and dig deeper into the stats than I really wanted to and they sorta took the place of what used to be done at IOF; though it was done in a much drier manner and I think that`s the only thing that`s missing.

Ty continues to churn stuff out but he`s a cut above, IMO.

Still, for a long time I felt I was the only guy on the island. I was talking about Salo`s PCT and linematching at Oilfans back when few others cared enough to pay attention. Then guys like Cam and Riv came along and eventually Vic gave a couple of us a place to vent.

I`m trying to compare IOF to a band that never got off the ground despite having a lot of talented members that went on to have success elsewhere but one escapes me right now.

I dunno, I`ve felt more optimism today then I have in a long time and maybe if I see the right things being done then I`ll get back to contributing a little more. But for a long time Kevin Lowe`s maddening incompetence and the media`s swallowing of it had beaten me down.

I was Don Quixote and I just needed to rest:)

RiversQ said...

Lost in La Mancha indeed.

Good point on Vanek, Vic. I remember trying to rationalize Nylander as a significant switch in tactics - pull Hemsky with Nylander and have MacT spend all his time getting them matchups - but the contract just made no sense. They had to think Nylander was a decent player and that was a heck of a leap.

The Vanek offer sheet cleared up all illusions. Surely ownership was dabbling, but the hockey department had left the building anyway.

Black Dog said...

Dennis - well you're right there, its damn hard to write about these clowns, I get a laugh when a joker comes along and says I'm too negative or I have to be patient

Really they can lick my arse.

While I'm waxing nostalgic though I'll also mention the CinO boys, damn they were good.

The thing that makes me laugh is despite all of the evidence to the contrary including Cam's references just here, there are still folks who drink the koolaid.

I'm not talking about the people who are generally hopeful, like Lain and such, I'm talking about the dim bulbs who look at this management team and think they're just great.

Its really unbelievable

Dennis said...

Pat: there are people who hardly ever question authority.

Then there are those who don't want to believe that they care about and cheer for a team that's making wrong move after wrong move.

Black Dog said...

Yeah Dennis I know none of the former. Damn I'm alrady teaching my kids to question shit, its going to make my life more difficult but critical thinking man!

As for the latter I have no idea who you might mean. ;)

Bruce said...

Good stuff, Pat & Vic especially.

I've been an Oiler fan since inception and the only name that makes my blood run colder than "Tomas Vanek" is "Les Alexander". And not by much.

We would have been nine kinds of fucked if Buffalo didn't match.

Vic Ferrari said...

Like the failed band reference, Dennis.

For me, the thing that made me walk away was looking at the site stats after a post by Sunny Mehta. I mean I only ever checked on those a few times a year, but in this case there hadn't been a ton of traffic, and six of the last ten visitors had been NHL teams.

At some point you have to wonder who the hell you're doing this for.

Vic Ferrari said...

As well, just minutes before reading this I referred to CinO as a failed band. Seriously.

This in response to Pleasure Motors. I've had The Kinks in my head since Tyler talked about walking through North London from the Tube station to see Tottenham Hotspur play. They were brilliant before Ray Davies spun sideways.

Chocolate Genius' "My Mom" also put early Kinks in my head recently. Completely different, musically and lyrically, yet it would make perfect sense to find out that Davies had snapped out of his decades long funk and penned that.

Black Dog said...

No shit eh Vic? I always figured you just hadn't the time for the Oilers anymore.

My guess is if you were to start up again and post regularly you'd get more traffic, see if you could get Dennis to post now and then as well. You'd get folks in droves after a while, people are starved for good and informative writing.

The problem is finding the time and enthusiasm to post regularly.

Get to it would you? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Whoo whoo whoo.

Vic Ferrari said...

Just not moved to write about the Oilers, Pat. Traffic is not the issue. I'm like Tyler, I don't really care who reads. Though I'd prefer it wasn't NHL teams.

If you're writing for money, clearly the way to go is to be very prolific, better yet write on a site with several prolific writers and share the chore of finding advertisers.

That's just not me, though. I'm all about the music, Pat.

Vic Ferrari said...

As well, that Mehta post started getting linked a few hours later. Thousands upon thousands of folks read that post of his. What does it matter? Why were the NHL teams in there first?

Black Dog said...

Why not write about general hockey topics then? I remember after Smyth was traded you had some good shit about them.

Eh Spike? Eh Spike? Why not pal? ;)

Why were the NHL teams in there first? Because while some of them are the oldest style old boys clubs there are there are also those looking for any type of edge. We know Ron MacLean reads Ty and he probably read your site as well. It makes sense that there are probably some clubs that caught on. Maybe some read just for interest's sake, maybe some were looking to see if they could find something of value.