Tuesday, September 20, 2011
It was just after the turn of the year in 1997 that I parted ways with the Girl from Rawlins' Cross, almost exactly two years after the sparks first flew. Things had crashed to a halt the previous spring and then come alive again. We had a good summer but as the weather turned cooler it all began to splinter underneath and so a few days after New Years I put us out of our misery. It died with some sadness on both of our parts, some relief, mostly on her side but also on mine, and a good dose of bitterness that was mine alone. A couple of weeks later her uncle called me and asked if I wanted to go to PEI for a few months to work. It was a million miles away. I jumped at the chance.
Landed on the Island on a bitterly cold February Sunday and got to it. For a few weeks I was holed up in a suite at the Best Western and my life was working, followed by watching TV, smoking and drinking until the night was over. Its hard to keep a good man down though and so soon I was getting out and about and while there was a bit of a gaping oozing wound going on I did my best to stop the bleeding with some laughs, a lot of beer and cigarettes and soon, because I'm devilishly handsome and I have the libido of, well, something with a strong libido, some casual sex as well.
Winter bled out and then spring passed and what was supposed to be a three month stint was extended to six months and then six months became a year. Shortly after I had arrived I had begun to count the days until I'd escape but it wasn't long before I happily was signing up to stay longer. I'd made some tremendous friends and Prince Edward Island in the summer is beyond glorious and so I settled in, beer and smoke and cock in hand, hands?, for a longer haul.
Summer was just beginning when one of my new found pals told me that his girlfriend had a friend who might be right up my alley. Their reasoning was sketchy - I remember him saying that the fact that we both liked to play pool and smoke were the reasons behind the setup. Slim logic there for sure and neither of us did the setup game so I declined and she, unknown to me at this time, did as well. Besides I had a little something something going on with one of the local girls, one of those splendid arrangements where we were having the casual sex, and while I suspected it was going nowhere I also wanted to confirm that this was the case before I started running around with someone else.
It did end up going nowhere and so I became a free man and one night we lads were out on the lash and at some point your man Adam says to me that maybe we should take a run to Peakes' Quay.
Things have changed in Charlottetown. When I was there you had two bars in winter and twice that in the summer and nearly every summer night ended up at Peakes' Quay so I had no idea that the fix was in. (Nowadays you can crawl across Charlottetown and hit a pub around every corner.) We arrived and at about the same time his girl arrived from wherever they were at and so we were getting ready to play pool and suddenly in walk two girls including one with long lovely legs and flashing green eyes.
Her first thought? What's with his hair (big and bushy) and why isn't he wearing a belt (Belts, umbrellas, watches and cellphones never touched this person back in the day and even now I have only the last plus a belt I'll throw on if we're going out fancy like)?
Can't remember what I thought except that she was obviously a bit of a pistol.
Certainly there was no moment where time stopped and the heavenly hosts sang.
But it was the start of some love story.
Last spring I wrote a little something about young Hartikainen, if you're too lazy to click on the link and read what I said the jist of it was that if the Oilers are ever going to be good again in our lifetime then they need the young Finn and others like him, that is, lower round picks, to shine.
Hall and Paajarvi and Ted Nugent and Gagner ... these top ten picks aren't shoo ins but there's a good chance that they will all have long careers in the NHL, hopefully very successful careers with Edmonton. The key for the Oilers are the Hartikainens, the Omarks, the Landers and the Martindales. Bunz is the key. Gernat is the key. Musil and Pitlick and Hamilton.
Its the guys without the pedigree or with less pedigree that are going to turn this thing around. Right now the Oilers have some nice things, especially up front. They have a lot of kids tracking nicely, as LT says, at every position. But its still wobbly. Injuries, bad moves, prospects failing, all of these things happen. I'm bullish about the kids but the kids are a long way away yet.
And preseason doesn't help. Some kids are going to shine against the other clubs' scrubs and kids and then we will see the Oiler fanbase's weird, almost creepy love of kids emerge again. Maybe its because the Boys on The Bus went from being kids to becoming the greatest club of all time and there is some of this in every fanbase (maybe because so many of the most pathological fans are kids themselves) but nobody beats Oiler fans for the belief that you can replace experienced NHL hockey players with teenagers right out of junior and win doing so. Actually scratch that ... the teenagers would win if it weren't for the remaining veterans HOLDING THEM BACK!!
Of course its not just the fans, I swear on twitter the other day after a rookie tournament game where Bunz shone, someone of adult age floated the idea that they should KEEP HIM IN THE NHL if he continues to do well. Help me out here, I swear I saw it. Anyone else? Fucking madness. Keep a 19 year old goaltender up as part of a three headed goaltending monster. Yeah that will work wonders for his development.
God fucking help us.
lolz as the kidz sayz
So if Pitlick pots a couple tonight then we will hear the calls to dump Horcoff, Gagner and Belanger (preferably all three at once and immediately!) and if Musil has a nice game then expect calls for the heads of Gilbert and Whitney and probably Smid too.
So there's that to look forward to ...
All kidding aside though how the franchise handles this next ten months or so will determine a lot and tell us if Tambellini is up to the job.
What do we know?
1/ Right now the Oilers have some depth up front, actually I think you could say they have three legitimate top nine players in each position.
2/ The defence is awful. They have two top four defencemen at this point. One has pretty serious injury issues.
3/ They don't have a legitimate number one goalie right now. Dubnyk may prove to be this guy but not now.
4/ Two of those top nine forwards are UFA at the end of the year and I would bet on both being traded by spring. In return the Oilers will get prospects and/or picks, just as they did for Penner. They are not going to get an NHL ready top four defenceman or starting goalie back because contenders don't trade these players
5/ The Oilers have some fine prospects on D and in net but they are mostly a long way away from the big leagues.
6/ They have some nice guys coming up front. A couple of those, specifically Teemu and Lander, may very well be ready.
7/ Having said they may not be ready and the best thing for them is probably a ton of icetime in OKC rather than fourth line duty with the big club.
8/ Unless the Oilers plan on being shitty for a long time sometime soon they are going to shore up their weaknesses. Most likely this will happen via trade rather than through free agency.
Those all make sense, no? Now as we all know around here we believe in accumulating good players. Keep the ones you have, get more of them. Its a very simple concept that has escaped a management team that likes to shed good players of all types, all the while replacing them with callow kids, plugs, thugs, hasbeens and neverwillbes.
So right now the Oilers actually have found themselves in a nice position. They have some good players and it looks like they may have some more on the way. So ...
1/ Sign Hemsky and Smyth if the price is right. Even at his age Smyth is probably the third best forward on the club and Hemsky is still the best. Maybe not for long but he is a very good player. The injuries suck and the price has to be right but if you dump him then your RW depth chart suddenly has Eberle/Omark and some kid farmhands. Sign them if you can because you need to keep your good players.
2/ Until you see how situation number one plays out and you see what you have in Hartikainen and Ted Nugent you hold onto the guys whose names are bandied about as trade bait, that being Gagner and Omark first and foremost. Especially Omark. Those folks saying that he should be moved for a dman now are banking on, well I'm not sure what they're banking on.
We've been patient while management has bumbled and fumbled their way to this point.
Trading a kid RW when your #1 RW may be gone in six months and the only other options there have barely had a cup of coffee in the NHL is beyond impatient, its plain dumb.
We may have some real finds here with some of these guys and if we do then things are looking way way up and indeed in a year maybe young Teemu can slot in as a top nine guy and Lander shows that he can play too and if they do well glory be but we need to be patient and not put the cart before the horse.
Or something like that.
Posted by Black Dog at 4:10 PM