Thursday, June 30, 2011
Have been a little nostalgic for the relatively old days lately. Some great threads, including a few here, with comments from Dennis King, Vic Ferrari, LT, Tyler Dellow and RiversQ. Just like old home week if only Grabia, Loxy and the CinO boys would grace us with their presence.
I love this picture. In my hometown if you go into one of the malls you will always see collections of retired miners from Inco or Falconbridge, hanging out and drinking their morning coffees. My parents' neighbour, an ancient Greek fellow with a million health issues, still treks up to the New Sudbury shopping centre every morning, has been doing do for a quarter century now I'm sure.
I remember a buddy of mine, we were in our early twenties I think, telling us how one time he was at the mall and espied a quarter on the floor near the food court. Quite excited, because like all of us he is a cheap greedy bastard, he bent over to pick it up but it would not budge. He began to work at it, picking at it, kicking it, until he heard snickering and saw a band of oldsters laughing at him because they had glued the quarter to the floor.
Amongst the themes in these meandering conversations was aging, with that popping up a few times, and these days I’m feeling it a bit. Every once in a while I have posted a picture of my son from the last time the Oilers made the playoffs. He is eight months old in the picture, all fat face and toothless grin. Yesterday he finished kindergarten and in the fall he will start grade one.
Last night we took the kids out to celebrate a very good school year. The oldest two are both very bright kids and very good students and so we went out for Chinese. It was a lot of fun although the food was mediocre and expensive, not a good combo. On the way home the radio is on and a song comes on and my eldest who bought her first CD the other day (it was Justin Beiber and she bought it with her own money) asks if we can turn it up.
Well the song is garbage. Its somebody who keeps saying that their name is ‘K’ and so I say to my wife who the hell is this and she says are you being an ass and I say why would you say that and she rolls her eyes and I say no for once I am serious and she says yeah right and I say no I am and who is singing this and she says who do you think, listen to the song, her name is K.
And now I’m really feeling like my old man because I say that is absolutely ridiculous and I think that you are joking me and she says well why would she say she is someone else in the song, that’s just goofy.
And I answer well when Mick Jagger was singing “Can you guess my name? the answer wasn’t Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney is not actually a walrus and what is wrong with kids nowadays anyways!
K. Shut up and go away would you?
Now have a seat over there and I’ll tell you how I singlehandedly took that trench at Vimy, wiped out a whole platoon of Jerries with nothing but a can opener, a urine soaked handkerchief and the onion on my belt.
The day before the free agent frenzy and its looking more and like this could be absolutely mental.
But for different reasons than normal.
There is one marquee name out there. Brad Richards. After that its a bunch of middling players. There's some decent ones out there but after Vokuon I don't think there's even someone you would call an upper echelon player. Ehrhoff is the next best I guess and what was he, the fourth best defenceman on the Canucks?
Now don't get me wrong - there are some useful players out there, guys like Belanger and Gagne and on and on, but more and more players are extending their contracts with their present teams. Carolina was supposed to lose a boatload of guys, they just signed Jussi Jokinen, he joins Pitkanen and Larose, who signed yesterday.
So the supply of players has shrunk and will probably shrink further. The demand is higher than usual with plenty of teams needing to get to the salary floor. Florida, even with Campbell and Kopecky signed, need to add over twenty million in salary still I believe. Khabibulin likes warm weather, right?
So what's going to happen tomorrow? Well its going to look a lot like the trade deadline. There will be a blockbuster and then a whole lot of signings that are the equivalent of Brent Ashton for a fifth rounder type deals. TSN is going to try and get folks excited about the whereabouts of Steve Montador (and as I write this I see that Montador is off the market)and Joel Ward.
As an Oilers' fan its going to be an interesting day because we will see if the Oilers are going to add more "Ryan Smyths", that is, useful players, or if the plan is to add more Colin Frasers.
In other words are they going to start trying to climb back to respectability or are we looking at another tank job.
The biggest problem? These perfectly serviceable players are going to be getting ridiculous terms and monies. Do we want Vern Fiddler and Jan Hejda? Sure, they'd help a lot. Will we be able to sign them for a year for 3 million, as Tampa did with Roloson? Unlikely.
Do we want Vern Fiddler for four years at three million per?
So there is that and with today's trifecta of Oiler news we are reminded AGAIN that management in Edmonton is pretty well the worst, the bushest in a league so bush it reminds me of a centerfold in a seventies Penthouse.
Sheldon Souray and the last year of his ridiculous contract bought out, after spending a year getting paid over five million bucks to play in the AHL.
Ladi Smid gets an enormous raise for ... scoring no goals? Being decent? I like Smid and all but check the thread at Lowetides. Its the best. And I paraphrase:
Lowetide: 2.25 million? Hell of a deal although I feel bad he took a pay cut.
Lowetide: Wait a second. 2.25 million per year! FUCK ME!
(Note that LT did not actually say FUCK ME! That's artistic license. I'm sure he was thinking that though.)
And exhibit three the drama around the Smyth acquisition continues as apparently Fraser, like Brule, is also damaged goods. Apparently the Oilers' team barber was too busy giving Hemsky a good bleeding to properly diagnose, well, anyone.
So while I want the Oilers to shore up what needs shoring up, and its a fair size list:
Third line centre who has size, can win draws, PK, check. (if Cogliano gets moved/bumped to the fourth line)
Fourth line centre with the above attributes if Cogliano sticks and maybe even if he doesn't.
A couple of fourth liners/extra forwards with size and a clue. Of course one of these needs to be a goon because thats the way the Oilers roll, even though the SMac deterrence factor was, again, lacking.
A defenceman who can play in the top four and PK.
A veteran goalie who can share the load with Dubnyk.
That's a long list and its not going to be filled via UFA but my guess is there probably will be a couple of moves. The Oilers have Hartikainen and maybe VandeVelde who can step in this fall but that's about it.
It will be interesting. Few teams win in the frenzy and I'm pretty sure that Tambellini will be stepping up before the mic, staring off into the distance with that glazed look in his eyes and stammering that the Oilers have, yes indeed, signed Zenon Kenopka to a four year ten million dollar deal.
And a nation will turn its lonely eyes to the liquor cabinet and realize that they do not have enough booze in there to kill the pain and rage and because its Canada Day the only option will be to actually break into the liquor store in an attempt to steal a truckload of alcohol with the added bonus that the cops will arrive, thus giving us Oiler fans the opportunity to commit suicide by cop, thus ending our misery.
Monday, June 27, 2011
There are a lot of cynics in this corner of the Interweb. Even the most optimistic blue skiers, like myself, have been worn down by years of managerial incompetence. So imagine what guys who are a little more pessimistic in outlook are thinking these days.
And so its a measure of what Ryan Smyth means to the Edmonton Oilers and their fans when one reads the reaction of guys like Tyler Dellow. Giddy might be understating it a bit. We're talking about guys who greet every announcement to do with the Oilers with a scowl or a smirk drinking and dancing and shouting their celebration. I know of at least one fan who promised his wife that they would make a baby if it came to pass. I presume the resulting bundle of joy will be named Ryan.
Being a sports' fan is an odd persona to inhabit. The only thing I like to flog as much as my salami is that book by Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch. Well, I mean not as much, right, but quite a bit anyways. An interesting and entertaining read and his insights on being a fan are pretty well spot on.
Sports is entertainment, its a product, more or less, and yet no other product asks us to spend our money and give over part of our emotional being to it. Companies want us to be branded but I don't go to the pub and cheer when someone orders a decent local pint or a Guinness nor do I stomp their asses when they get a pint of Rickards. (As I tweeted once, having a Rickards is like getting fucked in the ass by Flavour, big Jim Flavour, the guy up the street who just got out of the joint. Holy fuck is it swill.) You won't see me highfiving the guy next to me in the supermarket when someone buys my favourite pudding or hugging my buddy when I'm over at his place and he pulls out some quality Ontario produce.
You get the picture.
And yet with sports, despite the labour disputes and the money and the media revealing that our heroes (Ryan Giggs, seriously?! I wonder how Mickey Mantle would have fared in this environment) are (gasp!) real people with real foibles and real desires, we still give ourselves over to it. (BTW, seriously, imagine being wealthy beyond your wildest dreams at the age of 22. Now, imagine that when you go out beautiful women throw themselves at you and you can get ANYTHING you want. Yeah, right. Best to stay single until you retire I think.)
We still spend the money and the time and cheer for the team regardless. Hell, look at us masochists and the Oilers. We know these guys have feet of clay and we know its ridiculous and yet there we are. And there's nothing wrong with that. Its fun. Its entertainment.
Times have changed, as mentioned, and one of the ways it has changed for worse is when it comes to player movement. A few years back I think it was Matt Fenwick who posted something on this and I took a look at a random club, I believe it may have been the 1973 Chicago Blackhawks, to see if I could prove a point. I can't remember exactly what it was but what I found was that on that club, which was a good team that might have won a Cup or two if Tony Esposito had been wearing glasses when Wild on Jack Lemaire took that slapshot from centre, the vast majority of players who had a decent career either spent the entire time or the vast majority of it in Chicago. I think around half never played for another team and another large group either played a year or two somewhere and then came to Chicago or played their last year or two elsewhere.
As an Oilers' fan this is an especially poignant anecdote for a couple of reasons. First of all prehaps the greatest team ever assembled might have won double digit Stanley Cups except that it was broken up. And secondly no Oiler of any note has spent his entire career as an Oiler. Randy Gregg was close. Pisani was close. Horcoff may do so but there's a long way to go on that.
Ryan Smyth should have been that guy.
The guy requested a trade to the Oilers and apparently he refused to waive his NTC to go to Calgary. (At which point the Flames gave Tanguay a five year contract extension. WTF!) Seriously. Nobody requests a trade to Edmonton.
And in his presser he basically says that he hopes to extend. My guess, if Edmonton doesn't want him, he may hang them up.
Now I am fully aware that its a two way street when it comes to negotiations and Smyth does not escape unscathed from the fiasco of spring 2007 but in the end this was a leap of faith that management should have made. If the Pronger deal removed the backbone of that club then the Smyth deal removed its heart and five years later the franchise has still not recovered. While management's expectation is that Oiler fans will have faith in the club and support the club financially through thick and thin (mostly thin these past twenty years) the fact is that at some point the club needs to pay back in kind. Ideally it would be in wins and championships. Failing that then there should be a brand of hockey that is entertaining. And if not that then you have to give us what we want. We never wanted Smyth to leave and all one needs to do is look at the outpouring of affection this weekend to see that we always hoped he would return.
The relationship between Oiler fans and Smyth reminds me of the relationship between Leaf fans and Wendel Clark. For both clubs the player arrived after the glory years. During their first tenure the team often struggled but there was some success and they were a big part of it. Neither will be in the Hall of Fame but their impact and appeal to their fans far surpassed their on ice talents. For Clark it was his wrist shot and his bodychecks and his fists that made him beloved. Personally I always thought he was somewhat overrated (I'm sure tonight my house will be reduced to ashes) but he was a good player and living here during his rise I can understand the love that Leaf fans have for him. Smyth was the better player, the classic two way winger who could PK and win puck battles and who played on three best on best Canadian teams, winning an Olympic gold medal and a World Cup. And there were the world championships and the world juniors' club as well. He would go to the dirty areas and score goals and he played with enthusiasm and he was a big part of the community.
Anyone who says that Smyth can't help these kids can lick my fucking ass, let me just say that. Just fucking pucker up and start licking.
So the deal got done and while of course there was drama, because there is always fucking drama with the Oilers, there is absolutely nothing to dislike about this deal. His salary is lower than his cap hit and they need that hit to get to the salary floor anyhow. He would have led the Oilers in scoring last year. He played in the top six on a playoff club. He can PK. He can fit into the top nine and the only guy who may lose icetime? Ryan Jones. If you think Ryan Jones is part of the longterm solution for this club (and I like Jones btw) well then, I don't know what to say. And considering the injury issues the Oilers have had over the years I think we know Jones will get his at bats anyhow, if that worries you. For some reason.
Mrs. Jones. Because if you're worried about Ryan Jones losing icetime to Ryan Smyth or think that he's a quarter of the player then you must be Jones' mom. Or wife.
And Tambellini did a good job with this. Really. Sure he had them over a barrel but how many times have the Oilers been bent over? He got it done and he got it done for nothing plus he dumped Fraser. Christ he almost dumped Brule. Tambellini makes me mental but he needs to get credit when its due. He made a great deal. He brought in a good hockey player for less than nothing and for that he deserves credit. Now we'll see if he can do anything else.
What remains to be seen this week is whether or not the Oilers bring in more vets from the Smyth tree, that is guys who can help the team win games. Not guys from the Fraser and Strudwick tree. Guys from the Smyth tree. A centre. A dman. A goalie.
Is it time to do this? Some would say no, go for another lottery pick, and if they do nothing that is a good bet, maybe last overall one more time. Others would say how many more top picks do we need and isn't it time to help these kids out.
What's the right tact? Well I'm tired of losing personally and I'd like to see this team begin to play meaningful games and maybe make it back to the playoffs sometime soon. I think that when Taylor Hall says a vet or two would help then maybe you might take notice and yes his job is to play not to manage but he is the future and I think you want to pay attention. Kid wants to win.
Smyth is going to help that happen.
But its not my call of course and I'm not saying its the right way. I'd like to see it happen but another year of sucking ass might be best longterm. The next week will tell us anyhow,
This may be a short run for Smyth but its Dennis King and Tyler Dellow who have said that they'd love to see three or four years down the road and the Cup being hoisted and the captain of this club, whether it be Horcoff or Whitney or Hall, lift it up and roar to the approval of the screaming throng and then pass it over to a sweaty stringy haired gap toothed sobbing Oiler from Banff.
Wouldn't that be something? Wouldn't it be the best thing?
Welcome home Smytty. You never should have left but now that you're back, welcome back.
When it comes to the draft I leave it to Lowetide and speeds and others to give me the lowdown.
I know the top guys but that's about it and really like most fans I couldn't give you much more than to parrot what I've heard from other sources. Other than the kids who played at the WJC - Larsson, Landeskog, SC, Armia - I haven't even seen any of them play.
I subscribe to the general wisdom I guess. Always pick best player available. Play the percentages that say you should try and accumulate as many picks as you can in the higher rounds (well duh) but you know what I mean. Two second round picks is better than the 28th pick - you're more likely to get a player. Don't pick a goalie in the higher rounds. Don't pick guys who project to be goons or fourth liners or spare parts until much further along. You know the dime a dozen guys that you can pick up for minimum wage any year.
When it comes to the Oilers and drafting its either feast or famine it seems. The glory that built the dynasty was followed by a decade of absolute shit. Once the great club was broken up there were hits (Smyth) and misses (Bonsignore, Kelly) but mostly misses. Financial constraints had a lot to do with the Oilers' struggles over the years but so did their scouting. When the best goalie you have drafted since Fuhr and Moog is Jussi Markannen then you have problems.
When it comes to Stu MacGregor the consensus is that he is fantastic although two fellows whose opinion I value quite a bit, Tyler Dellow and RiversQ, are a little skeptical. I tend to lean towards the former opinion although of course the tale will not be told for years.
MacGregor has been lucky enough to have two number one picks and consensus number one picks at that. Years from now I don't think anyone can blame him even if Hall or Nugent-Hopkins turn into Brian Lawton or Alexandre Daigle. And Paajarvi pretty well fell into his lap. I think he gets marks for selecting Eberle. The gap toothed CLUTCH PERFORMER was in the range when they picked, it certainly was no reach, but they made the right pick and when you make the right pick you deserve the plaudits.
So lets say he's two for two on first round picks, we'll disregard the two number ones. Here are the eight number one picks before he came on board after Ales Hemsky was picked - Niinimaki, Pouliot, Dubnyk, Schremp, Cogliano, Gagner, Plante, Nash.
Dubnyk looks to at least be an NHL goalie and the jury remains out on what Cogliano and Gagner will be (and their development has been handled atrociously imo) but Niinimaki was an awful pick and Schremp and Pouliot are barely hanging on. The story remains to be told on Plante and Nash.
To be fair Pouliot was not a reach and injuries derailed him but compare him to a bunch of guys picked after him and its tough to take.
Overall that's pretty poor and of course that's part of the story too. When you compare MacGregor to what has come before he's going to look pretty good, especially considering his one pick outside of the top ten looks to be a better player that each of those eight guys.
In any case where MacGregor's reputation has been made so far is in the later picks, from the second round onwards. The reality of the situation is that at this point its still up in the air although the skies look like they may be clearing.
In those six drafts prior to his hiring you've got two pretty good players in Stoll and Greene, a useful player in Brodziak (picked in the seventh round - yowza!), three guys who I would bet on making it in Peckham, Petry and Omark and a handful of guys who have gotten some games in but are doubtful as NHLers - Stortini, Reddox, McDonald, JFJ, Chorney and Vande Velde.
And of course there's the rub when it comes to this whole drafting thing. We're still waiting on guys who were drafted four and five years ago. If Petry, Peckham and Omark all become good NHLers then the previous regime looks a whole lot better. If Dubnyk becomes a quality starter, if Plante makes it, if Gagner and Cogliano establish themselves all of a sudden the pre MacGregor era looks pretty quality.
As for the MacGregor era itself, well its early. Does our prospect pool look very good? Absolutely. Are many of his picks after the first round tracking well? Again, absolutely. Abney was a reach and other than Hartikainen nobody else from 2008 looks like they will amount to anything but after 2008 there is a long list of kids who look like they have a shot. Its promising and this past Saturday brought more of the same.
(And I relaize Musil is the real deal but this Simpson pick, seriously? The Oilers are the ultimate old boys' club within the ultimate old boys' club.)
In any case the Swedish defenceman and Musil and some of these other kids look like they may have promise and that's what its about.
Is MacGregor magnificent? His kids are on track but we have to wait three or four years before we will know for sure. I'm hopeful of course because that's my nature but healthy skepticism is okay too.
Friday, June 24, 2011
The silly season started in earnest yesterday with Los Angeles and Columbus both getting a lot better and Philadelphia remaking their club dramatically while rumours flew about Ales Hemsky's nemesis shuffling off and Oiler icon Ryan Smyth maybe coming home or maybe becoming ... a Flame?
Mike Richards and Jeff Carter are both very very good hockey players and the teams that acquired them have to be considered a true contender (the Kings) and a playoff contender (the BJs) with these acquisitions. Rumours about how the boys enjoy the nightlife are pretty rampant but they are going to make a big difference in their new homes.
As for the Flyers ... well it was an insane day. The bounty of kids they brought in was fantastic - Schenn, Simmonds, Voracek, a high first round pick. The problem of course is that they just sent out two guys in their prime from club with a bunch of key players - Pronger, Timmonen, Briere - getting older.
But its the Flyers. So the other shoe was (and is) yet to drop. They paid huge money for a goalie, ridiculous money in fact. Its probably not going to work out well but if there is one club you can't blame for spending on a goalie it would be the Flyers after all. And they will be after Brad Richards and if they fail there then they will use some of their newfound youth to acquire someone else I would bet. The Flyers are always in there and while some people laugh and say well it does them no good they are usually in the mix and if you aren't the mix then you ain't going to ever win.
So we will see what goes on tonight and over the rest of the weekend and week leading up to July 1st. This has become THE time when things happen. They don't happen during the season and not much of note happens at the deadline anymore. Its all now and as yesterday proved anything can happen.
As for the Oilers well they will pick Nugent Hopkins first overall. He's the consensus guy, just as Hall emerged as the consensus guy and my guess is he will probably be a very good player. Rumours of Weiss and the third coming our way are interesting and I'd be pretty interested if Weiss were signed for longer than two more years. But he's not.
And of course the rumours will fly about the Oilers trying to move up, as they always do (the rumours flying I mean) and those who think the Oilers have a shot at another lottery pick must note that they really have nothing to get them that pick, right? Its kids the other clubs will want, most likely, with the couple of chips who could get us something decent (Hemsky, Whitney) coming off injury and frankly, too valuable to deal off. And no, Gagner or Cogliano aren't going to get it done. As to rumours that next year's first round pick might be in play, considering that this club has finished dead last two years running, that there is nobody coming over the hills to the rescue and that Nugent Hopkins is not Crosby and may be back in junior, well, do you think that's a good idea?
Tambellini gets a lot of flack in these parts, much of it deserved, some of it not but frankly when it comes to fairness and judging Oilers' management I don't really care too much for those who complain that management gets a rough ride.
The Smyth stories from this week have opened fresh wounds for many and they should. It was six years ago that Chris Pronger was traded and the dismantling of a pretty good hockey club began. A guy who should have been an Oiler for life was next out the door and its been downhill ever since. Five years out of the playoffs and two consecutive last place finishes. The man who blew the team up (and did so inadvertently, this is the funny thing about it, all of those shitty years he was spending tons of money and trying to compete!), Kevin Lowe, still has a job and is still involved. Smyth's money spent on Souray and now Souray is in Hershey. The money offered to Nylander whose wife rejected the idea. The offer sheet to Vanek. The offer sheet and money and picks for Penner who came and is now gone himself.
Its so awful in its awfulness its hard to believe.
Tambellini's plan is to accumulate kids and right now the plan is chugging along on schedule although once the train arrives in the station I have little faith that Tambo will know what to do. I'm skeptical but its a skepticism well earned.
Tonight and the next week will tell us what next year is going to bring for us. More losses as we send the kids out to the wolves night after night? That's most likely. I see Tambellini making no moves or further steps backwards (the idea of dealing Gilbert makes my stomach turn) with the idea of garnering another lottery pick.
Or will he step it up and begin acquiring players who can help the kids start to win now, ending this slide into the abyss and starting the long climb back?
Doubtful but one can dream.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
As further info leaks out on Ryan Smyth I think that the Oilers are kind of stuck here. The story is undoubtedly true and the desired return for Lombardi apparently is minimal, a mid round pick. Based on the chatter there seems little doubt that the idea of Smyth returning has excited the fanbase, a fanbase that has had little to cheer about since he departed.
There really no arguments against bringing him back. The cost is minimal. He will plug into the top nine. Its up to the coaching staff to get Hall and Paajarvi their minutes and that should be no problem. It means Jones may get less icetime, big whoop. He can still play and he provides that veteran leadership that this club sorely needs. His cap hit brings them above the floor and his actually salary is less than that hit although considering this team spent a ton of money to bury Souray in the minors last year I think its pretty clear this should not even be a consideration.
Frequent commenter Matthew Watt contacted me yesterday asking if I would be willing to post something he has written on the possibility of Smyth returning. Here is what Matt has to say on it. I have left it unedited except where he libels the entirely deserving Patrick LaForge by calling him a *^#&#%*&#(#^&@ &*#*@**@.
I think that Matt's point speaks to why the Oilers are in a tough place. They may want this to go away but they are going to take another PR hit if they do so, especially if Smyth posts another year where he would have led the Oilers in points while the local club shits their collective bed for the sixth year running.
For a girl I know, it's Mother's Day
Her son has gone alee
And that's where he will stay
Wind on the weathervane
Tearing blue eyes sailor-mean
As Falstaff sings a sorrowful refrain
For a boy in Fiddler's Green
Invoking, stirring, inciting emotions in one’s body is the goal of many an artist. Artists hope to move their audience, get those seeing and listening lost in whatever art is being presented, take them to another land that seems foreign to where they are. Many attempt to do this, try to ignite these feelings in others, but end up missing the target one way or another. Reason is simple; achieving this objective is far from an easy thing to do. Very few can.
This is why not everyone is an artist. It is also why those that can do it, can do it oh so very well.
Mr. Mclean has mentioned on this site here previously that The Tragically Hip know how to lay some kick-ass tracks. I agree whole-heartedly. As a youngster I was raised up to what many would consider “good music”: Stones, Beatles, The Who, The Guess Who, Bob Dylan, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline, etc. My parents loved them all and I did too. One should love these acts; it could be said that all listed above are seen today as “artists.” Then, like so many before and after me, the sound in my world changed when my brothers started listening to music outside of my parents’ spectrum: Green Day, Hootie and the Blowfish, Snoop Dogg, really anything other kids were listening to. Not all of it was good, that goes without saying, but some of it was, and to sound cliché, I was opened up to a whole new world of sound.
Leading the charge of these tunes outside my norm? The Tragically Hip. At the time I did not know of their relationship to Canada, the cultural institution they are revered as (their reach goes far beyond being just icons) or how enduring their sound is. I just knew they kicked ass, and all I had to do to reaffirm this belief was listen to the intro for “Blow at High Dough” 10 times in a row. A pure, beautiful, driven sound that makes me want to head down to the pub, grab a Molson and shoot pool on a table with questionable cushions. Canadiana at its finest. Powerful stuff, considering I don’t really like Molson either. I will drink the shit, but you could feed me bath water with alcohol in it and I will still take swigs, just doesn’t mean it is my favorite.
Like with any great band though, where many of their songs stand out, I started to find that one really struck me whenever, wherever I heard it. Now in my brief twirl around the Al Gore, the fable of “Fiddler’s Green” goes back some time, as a mythical land where many a good sailor goes to rest when their time is done; or that is at least what Wikipedia told me. And in the lyrics of The Hip song you get the sense that this is the land they speak of, the place where the lost soul in the song lies. But like many a good tune, there so much more; a mother’s grief, maritime imagery, sorrow and anguish, heartbreak, and a life which has been taken far too soon from this world. I have heard the song numerous times, and yet still do not understand it fully. Just that whatever it is the The Hip are trying to convey in “Fiddlers Green”, I can feel it, which is the aim of any good artist.
The Tragically Hip. To quote hockey-speak, “just a couple of beauties.”
Bob McKenzie has mentioned today that Ryan Smyth asked for a return to Edmonton. Now I would not believe it if it came from anywhere else, but since it is McKenzie I think we can all agree that some credence must be given. Man is anti-Ekhlund, or should I say anti-shit spewing. Now the article is not without its funny moments, specifically this gem:
“Adding $4.5 million to the payroll, with a $6.25 million cap hit, for a 35-year-old forward, even one with the local marquee value of Smyth, isn't a slam dunk unless the Oilers can offload some salary.”
Off-load salary? To quote Airplane!, “Surely you can’t be serious?!” Then again, this is Oiler management we speak of so they will likely reply with “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.” Smyth is a free-agent at the end of next season, after his current $6.25 million hit runs off in a year were the Oilers will a ton of cap space. Why is cap-space so valuable for the club next season when the current roster has little chance of succeeding? Since he also stated he wanted a return to the city, do you not think there is a chance he will sign a favorable contract moving forward? There is also the fact that Oilers management is “luke-warm” to his return. Why? Because this team has way too many NHLers to speak of already? That this team is trying to do all they can do for another 30th place finish? As noted in the McKenzie article, Smyth still produces points (47 this past year) and is third on the team for forward ice-time. I have not checked advanced stats on this one, so please correct me if I turn out to be wrong, but I doubt that his underlying number are bad. The man can still play at an NHL level, and likely will for three to four years, so how can this be a bad thing?
As noted on this blog and others, Oilers have had a horrendous history of late, comical really, of trading away NHLers for non-NHLers. It shows when seeing the product on the ice. Things are turning for the better, but there is a long way to go to get out of this basement. The bottom six has been a joke and will continue to be unless something changes. The easiest of fixes for this is by placing those that can play hockey into these slots. Getting Smyth means the Oilers have more hockey players, meaning those in the bottom six are likely to hold their head above water, meaning the Oilers will resemble more NHL and less AHL. And for those who have said that this will take away time from the youngsters, please reconsider your point. Show me the study that states the only thing youngsters need to be NHL players is time. Yes, time helps, but so does protecting them in the line-up, putting them in positions to succeed and surrounding them with players that can actually play the game. Time most of the young Oilers are logging, also known as “lambs-playing-against-bulls-time”, is not the type of time so many of these young players need.
Then there is the ownership. As Lowetide mentioned today, ever since Smyth left the fans relationship with those in charge has never been the same. Yes we still come to the games, but Katz and Co. are doing a hell of a good job at trying to stop us. From a botched arena development that involved trying to strong arm the fans and the city that supports the club, to icing a product that is questionable at best, to employing the man who puts the “ass” in “class” in Mr. Patrick Laforge, everyone in Oilers operations should be ashamed. Oilers are no longer a club who name invokes whispers of greatness; instead it instills mediocrity. Now this view won’t change overnight, and with the management group currently involved it may never. But trying to get Smyth would be a start. Listen, the fans will understand if the Kings ask for far too much. Yet if you can show that you at least tried, that you at least care about how we feel about this club, it would allow us to instill some faith in you, no matter how small it may be. To not do it shows us that you likely never cared about the fan, nor never will. This is not the imagery you want to have prevailing amongst us.
So please, try to go out and get Ryan Smyth. As you can see from the recent media reaction, the mere mention of his return get all those who follow this team going. He brings out something in us that very few can, which is why we love him.
To quote hockey-speak, “the guy is a beauty.”
Monday, June 20, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
I feel bad for a guy like Sami Salo who may have just had his best chance at it. I feel bad for my cousin and frequent commenter Billy and the Canucks' fans who wanted this so badly. There is a huge douchebag contingent when it comes to the Canucks' fanbase, as demonstrated by the riot and by the keyboard warriors who called Theo Fleury a faggot and mocked his battles with addiction or who threatened guys like Bruce Arthur and Pierre Lebrun with violence. But they are a small minority really, compared to guys like Tom Benjamin.
Its tough. I remember June 19th 2006 and it still makes me wonder what might have been. If anything though I envy Canucks' fans for two reasons. In 2006 it was quite clear what migh thave been. The Oilers might have won games one, four or seven with a bounce (of course they might have lost games three or five too). They were inches away from a different outcome.
The Canucks lost four games by a good margin and I don't think there can be many sleepless nights about what might have been. The Bruins were the better team.
The second thing is that the Canucks will be back. Gillis is a pretty smart guy, imo; sure he inherited a lot (who doesn't) but he made some very good moves. He won't blow this up (imagine if Boston had done so after last season) and likely the Canucks will be back next season. If you're a Vancouver fan you have that. They will be back. The window remains open.
So ends another season and of course now the silly season begins. Buyouts, the draft, trades, free agency. Its Edmonton's time, our only time (sob). Can't wait to see what that old fox Tambellini has up his sleeve. (Loads gun) I'm sure he won't move guys like Gilbert and Hemsky for futures. (Pulls trigger).
I mean if Vancouver and Boston proved anything you certainly don't need a good veteran core and solid depth to go far. Right?