Sunday, December 04, 2011

Questions Questions

When you're a father you're expected to have all of the answers all of the time. About thirty times a day one of the two oldest come up to me and invariably, with a quizzical look, begin with a 'Daddy' that has little ????? built right into it. And this is without the third one getting in on the act yet.

Some of the questions require lengthy detailed answers like those about sex or the other day when the boy and I sat down for twenty minutes and talked about war of all things. Some I cannot answer and in these cases I refer them to their mother, their Poppy on his next visit or to our Great Father, the Interweb. Others are a little more straight forward - what is the capital of Belgium? Does that beer taste good? Why do you smell like marajauna? What type of wrestling were you and Mommy doing on the couch last night? Was that Greco-Roman style?

Its part and parcel of this Dad thing, the questions, and you know what, I have some of my own.


The Oilers are sliding a bit now and unlike many I'm remaining pretty calm about the whole thing. The team is coming along. Young players mean inconsistency and mind numbing mistakes and the nature of the game means that at times the team looks better than it is (earlier this year) and at times it looks worse than it is (these days). The club looks a bit tired and a bit full of themselves at times and of course they are still a bit thin everywhere. That's alright. They are young and they are getting better and if its a rebuild then we're going to take our lumps.

Here's the thing though. There are some questions that I would like answered and the problem is, as Vic Ferrari said many times, when it comes to the media Edmonton is Lawrence, Kansas. Lowe destroyed a good team through mismanagement - barely a peep. Tambellini brought in a veteran goalie because he thought the team was a winner, a terrible lack of judgement there, and yet when the rebuild is brought up, this is not mentioned. Oilers' management gets a free ride and I'm not even bringing up the absurd cheerleading for the new monorail led by the Edmonton Journal.

Someone (maybe Dennis King) said it best this week on Twitter, noting how many snarky comments Edmonton media have had for Penner since he left, far far more than any criticism of a management team responsible for the longest playoff drought in franchise history.

So do I expect any hard questions from the media? Not at all. Late last game Terry Jones remarked how Smyth's penalty had cost the Oilers the game. He received a barrage of questions then and snarkily replied that he was getting orders to ask questions and that he couldn't ask them under pressure of a deadline.

Now remember this is the guy who the Oilers had a ceremony for earlier this week. The same guy who also thsi week tried to paint the Pronger trade as Pronger for basically every good young player in the Oiler system right now. I almost expected him to include Messier and Kurri, circa 1981, in the deal. Later he said 'oh it was tongue in cheek'.


Here's the deal. If the big trump card for these guys is 'access' and they a)don't ask critical questions or b) let us in on anything that may be behind what we can see on the ice than what is their point?

I can go to the Journal or Sun and read a stale recap of the game. 'Then Gagner scored his first goal and he was happy' with the only opinions or analysis being backhanded slaps at players who will soon be out the door (watch for the hatchet job coming on Ales Hemsky) or unfettered praise for the geniuses who have run this club into the ground and lied (again) about the profits the team has made, even without a playoff date since 2006.

Or I can read Lowetide or Tyler Dellow or Ellen at Theory of Ice or others and get analysis of what is happening that is well written and critical. I wonder if people who run newspapers wonder why their business is dying? The answer is right there. I haven't bought a newspaper in years. I used to all the time. But when I go online and read Jones fellating Lowe or Allan Maki's error ridden analysis of the Oilers a few weeks ago in the Globe and Mail, I think, why would I spend a dime on this shit when I can get an article that is more informative, thought provoking and well written from 'some blogger in his basement'.

(As an aside does Feaster ever look like an ass. Hey Jay you dummy, you know where all of this Iginla talk has been coming from? Turn on the TV and go to TSN or Sportsnet. What an ass.)

Anywho, Terry Jones, maybe at the next scrum when you are not under pressure from your deadline, you can ask Tom Renney the following:

1/ Tom, almost immediately after Nugent Hopkins scored in the third period you had your fourth line out against the Iginla line and the result was the tying goal. What was your thought process there, considering this was a divisional game against your biggest rival? You're at home so you control the matchups. What happened there?

2/ Ryan Whitney is either still hurt, lacks confidence in his body or both. What is the story here? You said Ales Hemsky has to just get over the fact that he is still hurting. Are you taking the same tactic with Whitney even though he is just a shadow of himself right now?

3/ Why do you keep running Belanger out on the power play? Why not have Petry or Paajarvi out there?

4/ What is the story with Paajarvi? Why do him and Omark have to trim their sideburns while Hall, Eberle and Gagner have all had chances to play their way out of slumps? Theo Peckham too. Are the Oilers in the business of developing these guys or are some players more equal than others? For example why was Paajarvi given one game with 10 and 83 and then dropped? Why not give him a dozen games to see if we can get him going?

I'm not claiming to have the answers here folks but as a fan I would like to hear what Tom Renney has to say on these subjects and others. Unfortunately for me, as a fan, the guys who have access to Renney (and brag on it) won't ask the questions.

Very poor. Very very poor.


Doughboy said...

re Sideburns:

Total mismanagement of Swedes all around. Can't wait till Klefbom gets here.

Doughboy said...

(If by then he decides he still wants to come here)

Black Dog said...

Doughboy - here's the thing. Omark was not playing great and neither is Paajarvi. But Hall and Eberle didn't start well and Gagner was horrible but they were allowed to work their way out of it.

Even some fans already want to write these guys off. WTF. Paajarvi had a good rookie year. Its Renney's job to figure out the problem and get him back to that level. What is scratching him doing for him?

I'd like to hear Renney sit down and explain his thinking on both. Maybe he can give us insight on both. But we don't know because nobody is asking him!

Bar Qu said...

Ask tough questions? Are you off your nut? If the reporters annoy the team, then the team might not talk to anyone anymore. Its not like they rely on publicity to fill the stands. People will just show up, even if they have no idea about the team at all.

As far as I can tell, the media have the upper hand in this relationship, and the Oilers should be the ones currying favour with the media, not the other way round.

At least, that's how it works in a lot of other cities (ie Toronto, NY, etc)

Unknown said...

To be fair, you can't let everyone not playing well play out of it...or you'll get killed. But, when it's your time to get a chance to play out of it (like when MPS's # came up) you need a fair shake of the dice!

Your point about the crap news coverage is a good one. I have access to both papers at work and, for a while took to reading them. However, I barely look at the terrible stories inside. The only advantage to reading the paper(s) is that the writers have access and break stories sooner than you internet nerds. Otherwise, I think the bloggers are way more interesting to read.

I wonder what Brownlee's take on your post would be?

Ribs said...

I think you're probably expecting too much from Jones if you want him to ask tough questions. I've been reading the guy since I was a kid and most of his stuff is fun fluff. He writes a lot, and I mean A LOT. So getting a good article every once in a while is pretty good for him.

If you want some tough questions asked, try the Journal guys. You'll likely get a similar response, but I think they are in a better position to be asking them.

Black Dog said...

Brian - yes you are right on the point about guys not playing well but as you remarked, give MPS a fair shake with Hall out.

Brownlee has been more critical since he has become more independent imo.

FastOil said...

I see a couple of things. The Oiler brass become impressed with themselves easily. They like being the centre of attention having all these great young players and prospects. Like it's enough for them in reality. For all the talk of competition in the system they still seem to play favourites.

The media love being insiders and while the team is the city's darling they won't take chances with that. Both things are predicated by the fact no matter what happens the seats are full, the fans rabid. Poor attendance and typical financial trouble for a lousy team might change that a bit.

The erratic decisions Renney and ST make are disturbing. The crazy start caught them off guard I think and then the injuries screwed whatever plans they had. With Pajaarvi all that makes sense is that they are trying to get Gagner and Hemsky going so they can make a deal. And Jones is the teacher's pet.

I think the team is still a couple of lottery picks away from anything more than a yearly playoff scramble, unless ST pulls some yet to be seen trading or signing skills out of his keester. Maybe they are returning to the lottery comfort zone realising it takes some skills to do it the other way.

Black Dog said...

FastOil - agree with your first two paragraphs. Also I do think that all coaches/management teams have their favourites. I think this is normal.

I believe the start did surprise them and I also think that you are right when it comes to Gagner and this being a situation where they are going to move him and need to get him going. I think they have seen enough of Lander that the plan is to run Ted/Horcov/Belanger/Lander up the middle with Lander eventually replacing Belanger and then Horcov on the depth chart or so they probably hope.

I am usually pretty cynical about these clowns but I do think they are closer than you. The kids are growing and while they are not there yet I think they are close to being a borderline/low seeded playoff team. Maybe next season.

Lee said...

Some thought provoking stuff here BD. Possibly I'm not scouring the web to the extent I should be, but outside of SI, I've not seen a lot of good investigative sports reportage ala Woodward and Burnstein. Certainly it does exist, but from what I've seen, sports journalism doesn't emphasize real scoops nearly to the extent that hard news does. As you say, traditionally it's been a rehash of recent results and not much insight beyond that. It's a shame that Canada doesn't have an SI equivalent and that SI doesn't focus on hockey more than they do. When they dig (their recent investigative series on Lance Armstrong is a good example), few do it better.

Couldn't agree more about the need to stay calm during this stage of the rebuild. It's gotten to the point where I can't even look at the comments sections of some of the blogs as the tenor is so bi-polar depending on whether the team has won or lost. Perspective and patience are definitely good things.

Nanaimo Oil said...

Lee, you just said a mouthfull, couldn't agree more. Most of the blogs are filled with worry or stats based and frankly hurt my brain. BD you keep doing what your doing cause we likes it.

spOILer said...

1. This team is still who we think they are.

2. Brownlee more critical? Maybe. This guy ran an article earlier this week on Hemsky staying, relying solely on an interview he had with him a year and half ago and openly wondering if Hemsky felt the same way today... Really? Maybe have another interview with him. I don't know what Brownlee's set up is with ON, and maybe he is well within his purview, but to me that's not journalism.

3. Access means controlled access. You think if you ask the tough questions you get to keep sitting in the front row of the White House press room? Doesn't happen there, don't know why it would happen in other areas of society. Has anyone noticed what things are considered to be secret's now? The Establishment's reaction to the information and communication explosion brought on by the Internet has been the taking up the banner of opaqueness.

4. I don't rely on the corporate MSM for ANY information. Generally these entities have an agenda that runs counter to that of their readers. That's not to say that there isn't the occasional decent op-ed in the NYT or Bloomberg News, there is, but it is buried amongst a mountain of chaff and cacophony of noise.

5. As poor as the print media is, TV is far far far far poorer.

Black Dog said...

Thanks Lee and Brian, appreciate it.


1/ yes pretty well

2/ no that's not but I do find that he certainly is not afraid to opine on the club, certainly far more than any of the true mainstream guys

3/ maybe so but here in Toronto there are many members of the media who don't play that game, different market I know but its true just the same

4/ for the most part I would agree but I think you can read critically and get informed using these sources

5/ agreed, holy fuck, TV news isn't even news anymore - weather, car crashes, barely disguised advertising