Friday, September 30, 2011

Be Careful Out There!

As you get older your shit starts to break down. My wife's fighting a hip problem as she trains for a half marathon and I have a bit of a bad back these days. A couple of weeks ago I slept a bit off and ended up with a sore shoulder for a few days. And with another season of Capsule hockey starting I look forward to those mornings when I get out of bed and hobble around like a little old man. Its the freakish stuff that is the most annoying though. A few winters ago my old man yanked at a shed door that was frozen shut. He ended up tearing his bicep up which ended his curling season early that year. He healed up okay only to find out that somehow while he had his bad arm he managed to damage his shoulders some way, probably to do with compensating for his arm. Ended up fighting that through the whole summer. He was not impressed.

I had my own freak accident last summer. I was upstairs and got a little worked up, as I tend to do, might have seen a pair of the wife's underwear in the hamper or something (it doesn't take much), and so with the entire family around and the actual opportunity to have sex then and there impossible I was forced to take manners into my own hands.

So to speak.

I can't remember why but what I did was lay on the bed with my legs over the edge, I think figuring that if I heard someone coming up the stairs I could stand up quickly after putting my Magic Johnson away. Like the Dunphys we don't have a lock on the old bedroom door.

It didn't come to that but a word to the unwise, not a good idea as I ended up pulling a muscle, well another one, in my upper back as I was playing the back nine.

Bastard hurt like crazy for two weeks.


The Oilers have been a poor team for the last five years now, mostly because they have employed a lot of bad hockey players and because management has been screwing the pooch but there has been another contributing factor to this disaster - injuries.

Some of it has been attributed to the team not being tough enough and some of it has been freakish and some of it has been the result of the Oilers employing guys who tend to get injured.

Much has been made of the team 'getting their show run' and the Oilers have had their share of guys who have had their bells rung over the years by opponents who don't seem too concerned about retribution. So Stoll was driven into the boards head first and Hemsky takes an enormous amount of abuse every time he steps over the blueline and of course they have been a smaller team these last few years and so bigger clubs take some liberties. First team toughness was supposed to take care of this but of course we've seen Ethan Moreau, Sheldon Souray and Taylor Hall all get injured fighting so ... maybe not so good. They then hired the biggest baddest goon they could find because it was after Laraque left that this all began. Problem is the biggest goon couldn't play hockey and he didn't really act as a deterrent anyhow. Every year MacIntyre played with the club there were still the same situations. Guys getting picked on, gooned, concussed and so on.

So this year we see the third option, the addition of Eager and Hordichuk and Sutton to augment Peckham and Peckman, guys who can, mostly, play a bit and whose job will be to fight the other team's goons (see Hordichuk v Fedoruk the other night) and prevent guys like Mike Duco from going after the franchise kids. Oh wait, that didn't happen?

This is the problem with the whole deterrence argument. Sometimes it doesn't make a lot of sense when it runs into cold hard fact. And there's also the fact that the most successful team in the league these past number of years, the Red Wings, have not employed a goon in ages. They fight less than any team in the league. And when Chicago won it all they didn't employ a goon. Nor did Carolina.

So ... we'll see how Eager and Sutton are going to make this work. They're the guys who are going to be riding the range, looking for that ... chuckwagon, so lets hope their presence makes a difference. I do seem to remember that teams didn't generally fuck with the Oilers when Gator and Le GG and Moreau took regular shifts, so maybe there's something there.

The best way to stop the other team's goons is to fill the net on the power play but of course we know how that goes in Edmonton. Maybe this year it changes.


No ... seriously.

As for the other issues well when you employ guys like Sheldon Souray and Ethan Moreau and poor old Fernando Pisani then likely you're going to have holes in your lineup at times. And it looks like Horcoff (age and chronic issues), Hemsky (getting pounded and chronic issues) and Whitney (chronic issues), are becoming those guys, although Whitney came to Edmonton with a bit of a reputation as being brittle iirc. With all that said I remember Saku Koivu having a rep for being brittle for years and then suddenly he got healthy and stayed that way. Sometimes guys run into some bad luck and then they end up ok.

The ironic thing was one reason folks were against signing Smyth was that they figured he'd be hurt a lot. Except for one year he has been healthy for nearly the entire contract. I'm sure that will change this year though.

In any case when it comes to the Oilers they only have themselves to blame in a few of these cases. Everyone knew that Souray and Khabibulin had injury issues so its no surprise that they were and have been hurt a lot. And the fact that the ice at Rexall may be contributing to this as well, well if I had millions of dollars invested in hockey players I might want to make sure that working conditions are the best possible that they can be.

And of course there is just the plain old run of bad luck. Pubitis and broken hands and shoulders thrown out suddenly and Souray's spill into the boards and Gagner getting his hand sliced open - shit just happens and it seems to have been happening to the Oilers a lot. Hell Laddy Smid is a one man MASH unit out there, remember when he drove himself into the boards?

But sometimes this is the way it goes. I remember the Habs having a run of a number of years where they had tons of injuries and Vancouver's D has had a couple of years with the same situation. And remember how Les Sabres had their Cup run derailed by an unbelievable run of injuries and ailments that left their blue in their game seven staffed by Brian Campbell and a bunch of guys named Mo?

Sometimes shit happens and that's all there is.

Training camp is coming to a close pretty soon and Whitney, Gagner and Eager are the question marks. Looks like Gagner is out for a while so its possible Lander gets a look at 4C although more likely Brule gets that slot and keeps it warm until Gagner returns or Lander is a little more ready. Eager and Whitney remain question marks for opening night too.


If Whitney misses little time and he, Hemsky and Horcoff can stay healthy (along with everyone else of importance) then even with the shaky blue I'm thinking the club may actually be out of the lottery this year. Not far out but improved.

Crazy? No because there are other teams that are going to get ravaged by injuries also. It always happens and if other clubs get crazy bad luck on this front or even lose a couple of key guys then all the Oilers will need to do is stay healthy and they'll pass them by the side of the road.

Baby steps.


spOILer said...

If Brule was suffering from depression last season then I suspect that confidence is a major issue with him. I can see his career coming off the rails very fast.

He'll need to be given a very structured role that he can succeed in, I think, to get things back on track.

I don't have very high hopes though, partly because standing still with this tsunami of youth coming up behind him is usually a recipe for drowning.

rubbertrout said...

The word I hear was Bi-Polar disorder and he wasn't cool with taking his meds. If that is sorted out he could be due for a rebound.

Black Dog said...

Poor guy is in tough. As spOILer points out, he's getting squeezed out. You have Ted getting at least nine games, Belanger coming in and of course Horcoff and Gagner with Lander coming up behind.

And RW is even more crowded - Hemsky, Eberle, Omark, Jones, Hartikainen coming.

He needs a few guys to get hurt, he needs to stay healthy and he needs the proper linemates.

Raine Snow said...

Remember the years oilers were always matched up against Dallas in the playoffs. Those years every commentator use to always say the oilers would battle so hard that if the opposing team did make it past them (which they often did) they wouldn't make it too far as thwy'd be too beat up by the Oilers.

Team toughness and heart seemed to be the identity of those Oilers team. I don't recall the Oilers being too injured to play then either.

I think we might have some of those components now.

spOILer said...

rubbertrout said...

The word I hear was Bi-Polar disorder and he wasn't cool with taking his meds.

I'm surprised that this was able to be reported to the league then as post-concussion depression.

Anonymous said...

I am glad to see a 'hands-on' story, but is it just me or is it weird that you talk about injuries on the same day the Oilers have something gruesome happen?

- Matt Watt

Jay said...

I think we might have some of those components now.

Hmmm I don't see it to be honest. But maybe it's because those Oilers teams are what made me a fan in the first place - people like Smytty and Weight and Bucky never gave an inch.

Pat - you've talked before how you were a Hawks fan growing up, if I'm not mistaken. Well I was a die hard Jets guy. Now that they're back, I find myself switching allegiances. This is especially easy for me since, although the Jets are most likely going to be terrible for the forseeable future, it's an excuse not to root for this Lowebellini franchise. I guess my question is - how did you avoid switching allegiances back to the Hawks?

P.S. no matter how deep into the Jets I get I will keep coming back here. You have a way with words and I enjoy your blog very much.

Black Dog said...

R.S. - well psrt of the reason the OIlers have been easy to play against (and bad) these past few years is they dumped so many guys who were hard to play against as you said. Veterans who won puck battles sent out and replaced by small skilled guys who don't play D, don't play physical and don't win the puck. Recipe for disaster and that's what we have.

Matt - I know, very weird. The good news is that other than Smid we are talking about two guys who were going to the minors anyways. The whole Fedun thing is just horrible though, I feel awful for that young man.

Black Dog said...

Thanks for the kind words Jay.

When it comes to the Hawks, the Wirtz years left me cold for quite a while until I basically lost interest in the club entirely. It was nothing too dramatic, one night I was watching the Hawks play the Oilers, who had sort of been my 'second team' since the glory years, I had loved the way they played and had become a fan of Smyth and the way they played. Anyhow I realized that I was hoping the for the Oilers to win that game and realized that I was no longer a Chicago fan.

I was really happy when they won the Cup and when it comes to teams who I would like to do well in lieu of the Oilers I certainly cheer for them along with Buffalo but I can't really go back I think. Unless it were just to happen but it would take a couple more decades of poor management by the Oilers, if that. And by that point I'll be grey and probably won't care so much anymore.

Julian said...

As you get older your shit starts to break down.

Oh man, as soon as I turned 30, bam, my body started falling apart. Two months ago, I'm sitting on a chair at the cottage eating lunch, stand up, and my lower back starts hurting so much I can barely bend over. No idea where it came from. Still hanging around, some days better than others, but... damn. Hoping yoga goes a long way....

Black Dog said...

Wait until you're 40 Julian. !!