Saturday, January 21, 2012
Was at a surprise birthday party for one of Jenn's friends last night and as I was at the bar buying drinks a woman said 'Are you Pat McLean? You used to coach my brother Ryan.'
I looked at her and after a dim moment realized who she was, the younger sister of a kid I coached for three seasons twenty years ago.
You're a lot taller than the last time I saw you, I remarked.
Caught up for a while, turns out that life had been good to her, her brother, their Mom and aunt, they lived just around the corner from us in High Park all those years ago and I got to know the family quite well. Also at the party, another young woman who I also remembered, they were still friends after all of these years. This one remarked how she had a crush on me way back in the day.
Very funny. Very weird.
Grinding out January, winter has finally arrived although the cold and snowy stretch of days we see here and there are almost immediately followed by a couple of days of rain which leave everything grey and muddy. There is a part of me that likes my winters wintery but then I think that we are nearly through January and we've had three really cold days so far and I cannot complain about that.
We're laying low, recovering from the holidays, but the next few weeks things look to be ramping up again. I haven't played hockey since before Christmas but I hit the ice with Capsule again tonight and I've been playing shinny Wednesday nights. Of course the kids are busy and so its back to to hectic everyday chaos of our lives.
Our youngest is a real handful. Lately she has taken to getting up quietly after we put her to bed, turning on her light and then 'reading' or doing puzzles until she is discovered. So she's a bit tired as a result and a bit under the weather and so she is even more of a challenge than usual.
The other day Jenn was taking the kids to school and found the side doors of the van frozen shut (we drive a Honda, have had them forever and love them, but this flavour of van has this problem which is annoying - its a good thing we don't live somewhere actually cold). So she muttered some curses and opened the back hatch and the two oldest kids clambered in. She had our youngest in the front and turned on the van and blasted the heat and our baby (she is three now) jumped at the sudden roar of the air. She looks at my wife and says:
That fucking noise scared me.
My wife's jaw dropped, the other two kids' eyes popped out and she said 'What was that?' And so our baby replied:
I said that fucking noise scared me.
Lol. Thing is my wife has nobody but herself to blame. I have an awfully foul mouth but have always kept it in check around the kids. She has a little more difficulty in that area.
At least she used it in the proper context though. Another smart kid.
The Oilers' descent, once again, has included the usual freakiness. The team was sliding long before the injuries hit, which hasn't stopped the narrative from being 'its the injuries' from some quarters and it looks like last place may be in the offing. Again.
The injuries themselves have been ridiculous, coming fast and furious. Eberle injuring his knee (thank God not badly) in an innocent looking spill. Ted stumbling over the blueline into the boards (looks like Smid has passed on that particular 'skill'), Gilbert getting run through the boards by serial douchebag Daniel Carcillo, the end result being the latter's year ending injury. Considering how little Carcillo adds to the game, being one of these serial rats that the old school guys talk about, one hopes that it may be a career ended as well. He's a guy who adds so little, a lost step or two might do him in. We can hope anyhow.
And then just as Eberle gets ready to return the most bizarre and cruellest cut of all, Hall's scary experience in the PREGAME WARMUP of all things.
As the young man said he was both unlucky and lucky and he's right on both counts. That might have been it for him right there.
And so Oiler fans look at another strange run of injuries and there is talk of karma and no luck but bad luck and of course its all hooey. You can blame the Oilers for rushing guys back from injury, a lot of teams do so of course but these guys have a particular affinity for it, but for the most part these things, the cut to Gagner's hand last season, the repeated injuries to Whitney and Horcoff and Hemsky are either the result of acquiring guys who have a history of breaking down or who are, quite simply, breaking down from age and abuse by the Reghyrs of the world. The Habs went through the same thing, it was about a decade ago. Koivu was the guy who got hurt constantly, amongst others, and of course his illness was in there as well but it just happened to be a bad run. Funny thing was that Koivu ended up becoming quite durable once that run ended. The Kings were another club that went through this a few years back and now it looks to be the Pens' turn.
I always find the karma talk to be funny though. If we want to talk about karma earned and owed does anyone not think that the Oilers very likely might wander in the wilderness for generations more? For a decade or so they had the greatest club ever assembled and if money hadn't reared its ugly head the Cups probably would have numbered in double figures. They had the greatest offensive player ever to lace up skates and his SUPPORTING CAST included Messier, Kurri, Coffey and Anderson, not to mention the quality soldiers behind these guys. Andy Moog was the flipping backup for Christ sakes.
So Edmonton is owed nothing and of course throw Pocklington into the mix and the subsequent owners, including the present one, crying poor at every turn and the media being castrated and never saying a discouraging word and the fans baaing like sheep (not to mention the politicians throwing hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars at a billionaire) and one might say that Edmonton is getting exactly what it deserves.
Of course karma has nothing to do with it. The injuries are bad luck but at the end of the day it comes down to management. Folks like to look at the Chicago model but they forget that after Mike Keenan left town the Hawks wandered in the desert for nearly two decades under the grim ownership of Bill Wirtz and the dour management of Bob Pulford. Pulford was the Hawks' Kevin Lowe for over thirty years. He was coach and GM and neither but he was always pulling the strings and so it was no Cups despite two lovely clusters of talent in the early 80s and then again a decade later. When Keenan was fragged by Pulford the Hawks slowly and surely dumped veteran after veteran for, ready, prospects and picks. Steve Larmer and Jeremy Roenick and Eddie Belfour and Chris Chelios. All discarded and three of the four would play major roles in winning Cups elsewhere.
I was a Hawk fan in those days and when these players were moved the reaction was one of outrage. No matter the picks and prospects and players these guys brought back (Chelios returned a can't miss young Dman named Anders Eriksson (lol) and two first round picks) fans knew they were getting fleeced and the reality is the moves almost killed hockey in Chicago and put the club in the shitter for over a decade. Eric Weinrich and Patrick Poulin could not replace Steve Larmer and the return for Chelios could not replace him and the return for Roenick and Belfour was equally forgettable.
What's amazing to me is that when the Hawks moved vets there was outrage and yet here the Oilers are about to move Ales Hemsky and the collective response is a yawn. A rumour on twitter was that it was Renney or Hemsky and while I like Renney he's by no means irreplaceable. Most players are not either but when you've been out of the playoffs for six years and you have almost NO TALENT on your roster, you might think that keeping what you have might be a start. Instead the outcry is not to keep the Oilers' best player from the past decade but rather an outcry as to what the Oilers are waiting for. And so it was in the response to this particular rumour. Renney or Hemsky? No brainer - dump the top six forward.
Hemsky has had a bad year but he's been quality for so so long. Doesn't matter though. I'm not sure if its the fact that so many great players wore Oiler silks many years ago but its never good enough for fans these days, never mind that Hemsky scored the biggest goal for the franchise since Marchant zipped by Ledyard and put a knife in the Stars. Of course the other biggest franchise goal of the past 15 years was the one that Horcoff scored to stop the Sharks from taking a 3-0 lead in that series and we all know what the fans think of him.
Its not the fact that there is disappointment in Hemsky's game falling off or Horcoff's decline, its the rage and contempt for these two players from the fanbase that is sad and disappointing.
In any case they will soon get their wish and its probable that Hemsky, freed from the sinkhole that this franchise has become, goes on to star for another half dozen years. The team will be weaker, again, because no prospect or pick is going to be better than Hemsky is right now and may never be. See Smyth, Ryan, and the 3 first rounders that came back for him five years ago. One is in the minors in Russian, another is in the AHL and the third is a career minor leaguer who is having a cup of coffee right now.
Its awfully sad to see him get shipped out of town with the crowd cheering the move and its another reminder that this franchise is heading nowhere fast. Six years out of the playoffs folks.
Posted by Black Dog at 3:15 PM