Tuesday, January 03, 2012

When I Was 43, It Was A Very Good Year


Am drying out now. Realized the other day that in the last two weeks of 2011 I had been out for pints or at friends or had friends over a total of eight times. My liver is crying uncle. On the plus side I have little boobs I can now play with as I sit on my couch.

As an aside if I were a woman I would never get a damn thing done. Just sit around playing with my boobs all day long.

So New Year's Eve was a quiet one and the first few days of 2012 have been dry ones. Just going to take it a easy for a bit, try and rejuvunate the body and the bank account.

This past year was a very good year as any folks who come here often would know. 2010 was by turns wonderful and awful and was marked by those big events that are interrupt what life generally is, a series of quiet days and small events. 2010 saw trips to Dublin and Fernie for weddings but it also saw the passing of my old friend, Ben, the inspiration for this blog. Three friends of ours lost loved ones in the space of about six weeks in the fall and overshadowing all of this was a strange illness that put my Mom in the hospital for five months and left her in a wheelchair.

Here's the thing about life. Nothing is promised. You can make your own luck by working hard and living well but a string of bad luck doesn't mean things will get better just because and a charmed life doesn't mean that some cruelty isn't lurking just around the corner. Life is what it is and part of it is death. Its just the way it is and its best not to think about it other than to make the most of your time here. Pretty simple really.

The shittiest thing about aging of course is the fact that as you get older your chances of rolling snake eyes go up and, worse still, you start losing the people who are older than you or even around your age for whom the die do not fall. Its a tough thing to get a handle on.

So after last year I have to admit I was a bit, well, on edge.

But we were lucky. We had a great year. The kids are growing like weeds and doing all of those wonderful (and exasperating) things that kids do. Jenn and I celebrated ten years of marriage by going to the Dominican and eating and drinking and sexing and otherwise doing a whole lot of nothing. She ran a half marathon and has become passionate about running. I am still playing hockey and while I'm getting older (44 in December) I'm still feeling pretty good.

I have a dear uncle, one of my Dad's brothers, who had a pretty serious health scare in the fall but he pulled through it and his road, while tough, is looking pretty good right now. And a cousin is fighting health issues as well. But Jenn's Dad has bounced back from his own scare a few years back to be his old self but better, imo. And on top of that we've had a few friends add little ones or get pregnant and of course that is the best news of all.

And the biggest news has to do with my Mom who has gotten strong enough that she is now doing physio and has started driving again. She is going on a cruise to Europe in the spring and the biggest news of all is that walking, once thought an impossibility, is suddenly on the horizon. She has gotten to the point where she can stand unaided and at Christmas her and Dad had a little waltz around the living room.

So yes 2011 turned out to be a wonderful year all around.

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For the Edmonton Oilers, well, 2011 was an awful year and 2012 looks to be starting off on on the wrong foot with Ted and Tom Gilbert going down last night. If both are out for any length of time the lottery is a certainty (it may be anyway) - if Gilbert is hurt seriously then we're probably looking at a third straight number one pick.

It hasn't been all bad news for Edmonton. Despite a similar record to last year this is a better team, the goal differential is much improved and the holes to fill are becoming less. The Hemsky question looms and we need prospects (some if not all) like Hartikainen, Pitlick, Lander, Hamilton and others to turn out and guys like Paajarvi and Omark to bounce back. Nugent Hopkins is a special talent though and so is Hall and Eberle may be the best of the bunch. Seriously. And of course Ryan Smyth returned and has turned back the clock (that goal against Chicago was just terrific - vintage Smyth) and Ryan Jones is proving his doubters wrong and Horcoff has been healthy and pretty damn good. Most important of all - Tom Gilbert and Ladi Smid look like a legitimate top NHL pairing. Taking on the tough opposition with this club and barely a minus. They are serious quality.

Now we just need four more NHL defencemen!

And this is the story of a rebuilding club. A number of positives but a lot of negatives too. Whitney looks crippled and so as usual its a bunch of 5s and 6s after the top pair (although Teubert's decent play in callups merits a positive mention). Khabibulin has been good but Dubnyk does not look like a guy who can carry a quality team. And there is Hemsky and Belanger's lack of offence and the awful fourth line and the fact that the club is again near the bottom of the league. And the step back taken by Paajarvi and possible waste of Omark are particularly worrisome. If this club is to be built through the draft then this club better know what to do when developing the kids. There are a pile of nice looking ones coming. If the club blows it with them then its going to be Islanderville for us.

Its tough to take for fans and one thinks that Renney is not going to survive the summer. Thing is this is the third coach who will be unable to make something quality of the unbalanced lineups management gives them and so one wonders if Katz may look at Tambellini and think that he has to go too. Problem is that Lowe, the guy who started this mess, will still be around when all is said and done.

That's not cool.

What does 2012 hold? Looks like another top ten pick, perhaps in the lottery. Hemsky will probably get moved. He is playing hurt I would guess but the media is greasing the skids and the fans love their picks and prospects, damn the fact that you need quality NHL players to win and until this season he has been just that.

And this summer will be the one that makes or breaks Tambellini and, I believe, this club for years to come. I don't have a lot of faith in old Sleepy but here's hoping I am wrong.

Best wishes for a healthy and happy 2012 for all of you!

9 comments:

BombKengartner said...

Maybe my favourite blog I "discovered" in 2011, Simply terrific storytelling. Thanks, keep up the great work, and all the best to you and the family in 2012.

RossCreek said...

Happy New Year, Pat. As a 31 yr old new Dad living in 'Oilerville', I find your blog among my must-reads. Funny, inspiring & smart. May your 2012 be awesome, and your Oilers terrible... eternally ;-)

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

It's a puzzling thig this year. Our special teams numbers look great, especially compared to last year. 5-on-5 numbers aren't bad, but we just keep losing.

I agree though, it all starts on the blueline. We are terrible in this area. And it affects the offence dramatically when you never leave the zone with speed and the puck on a stick.

- This team is not mean enough. our bangers are too nice. We lack a guy like a cluttebuck who will go out there and start shit on a Tuesday night in January against the Lightning..wakes the team up, brings them into the game whether they like it or not.

The other issue is Renney and his lines. True he has some issues with a high number of small skilled guys, but he needs to figure it out. Build a bonecrushing antagonizing 4th line that can chip in (Harti,Eager and maybe Belanger or Lander). Have a solid checking line that can go against any team (Jones-Horcoff-Belanger/Lander), and roll 2 solid scoring lines, whatever they may be. other thoughts are:
- Hall plays better 5-on-5 when away from Eberle and RNH. He needs guys to create space for him, and I look to Hartikainen to be a linemate down the road.
- Hemsky is still awesome, but is getting zero opportunity. Instead of punishing the player with limited icetime, why not push him hard and throw him out there constantly, especially now with RNH out.
- I agree, I'm not sure Dubie is the future in nets. But a lot of teams have goaltending issues and it's quite rare to have a #1 play 70+ games anymore. If/when the time is right, i wouldn't mind seeing if we can ship Khabi out and bring up Danis to ride out the year with Dubie.

Black Dog said...

Thanks Bomb.

Thanks Tyler, right back at you but of course substitute Flames for Oilers. ;)

Anon - I agree with a lot of your points. I'm not a big fan of Hordichuk myself and find that Eager has struggled, he can be better. Certainly the fourth line has been pretty lousy overall.

My issues, other than the D which is a lost cause with Whitney hobbled, include the following with Renney.

square peg - round hole with Belanger. Having him on the PP has not worked. Having him centre guys like Gagner and Paajarvi has made no sense. Play Gagner at C. Play Paajarvi and Omark with him or another centre. Have Belanger centre Eager and Jones.

That is how I would have run the bottom six from day 1 but of course Gagner was out and Hemsky too and then the team was winning so I can see why Renney was loathe to tinker.

But I'm not a fan of how he's handled matchups/lines at times.

Of course he can only do so much. He'll be gone but its management's fault. Again.

Unknown said...

Hey Pat,

Just sayin', I'm kind of a former 'sphere reader, busier now myself with kids and women and work, and just want to say that when I check the standings and me Oilers ain't where they otter be, I come here to get the scoop.

Andrew Coyne's column showed up today in the Postmedia papers, in which he asked for, as a writer, my time and it got me thinking about you. I've always appreciated your breadth of perspective, your warmth and cheer, and if I say vivaciousness, I hope you take it well. I'm glad you're still here.

Happy New Year to you and thank you (and Jenn). This is good.

Black Dog said...

Thanks very much Unknown, I appreciate it!

Dennis said...

I'm not saying I don't value your opinions on our mighty Oil but I've figured that crowd out so long ago that I don't think anyone's able to teach me anything about them:)

But I love your life stuff and and the last part about your mom and dad having a little xmas waltz made me tear up a little.

Note: listening to Sabbath's "Changes" while reading your post certainly didn't help as well:)

Dad will be gone 12 years this coming March and Mom's really slowing down now but many a time did I slump into the living room on a Sat or Sun morning to see Mom and Dad "fast waltzing" as we called it back home:)

Wish I could see it one more time but I'm glad that you still have that opportunity:)

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Black Dog said...

Thanks offshore web designer! Coming from you that means a lot!

Hey Dennis, thanks for the kind words, I'm glad you get a kick out of it.

It was a special moment, lets just say that, and I loved every second of it.