Thursday, February 16, 2012

Great Day Or Greatest Day

We're riding out what passes for winter these days pretty well thank you very much. Its been about the last five years I think that things have started getting a lot easier. I remember it was around four years ago that we had about a half dozen fantastic storms even before Christmas, we're talking serious snow and wind no matter where you are from. Funny thing was it took a dusting on Christmas Eve to give us a white Christmas. In between storms the rain and warmth washed everything away.

Since then there's been little in the way of good winter storms and you could count the cold days on one hand each year. Part of me doesn't mind it I have to be honest but its pretty sad when the kids have been sledding once all winter. My favourite winter memories (lately anyhow) usually involved emerging from the Communist Bar, belly full of beer and the odd whiskey, feeling that fine warm four pint night feeling, saying goodbye to my good friend and wandering home through the blizzard, the flakes enormous, the night muffled and slightly out of focus from a combination of light diffused by the falling snow and the pints just enjoyed.

Get home and the big fellow waiting eagerly for me despite midnight having passed and taking him out and down the street to the park where we romped in the newly fallen deep snow, him plowing through the drifts and knocking me over like he did when he was a puppy on the Island many years before.

Grand memories those ones.

Instead we have grey and rainy and mud.

These days are hectic, I used to have plenty of time for writing but home is busy, in a good way, and so is work. I used to be able to steal a few minutes here and there but business is good and while I certainly can't complain about that sometimes it would be nice to breath, you know? And unlike LT I can only come up with so many stories on another shitty year for the Oilers, even though there are a few more bright spots this year and the team has been more fun to watch.

So last week was a bit more heavy duty than usual, even for us. Jenn came home Tuesday evening from work a wreck and was laid low by the flu for the remainder of the week. Now with three kids there's more than enough work for both of us and when one part of the team is down well things can go off the rails pretty easily. The two older kids did their part and from the moment I got up to late in the evening I was going hard. I always am really but now before I went to work I was preparing breakfasts and school snacks and packing bags and when I got home it was making dinner and cleaning up the after school mess and doing laundry and then getting the three of them to bed.

So when Friday rolled around and she was on the mend and we decided to go through with our dinner plans (she worked Valentines Day so this was our dinner out) we had one of us coming off a drag em out flu and the other (that be me) pretty well done. Dinner was good but not too lively and soon after we got home I dragged myself to bed.


Weekend mornings when we are off we take turns getting up with the kids. Our oldest two are self sufficient but the youngest is a pistol, in the past few weeks she has cut her own hair, played in the toilet numerous times, locked the cat in her room just before we went out for the day, you get the picture. She is not to be trusted. So one of us will generally get up when she does or a few minutes after. Jenn had said that she would get up this day and I told her that if she still felt under the weather I would do so.

Well our youngest woke up and my wife called to her to head downstairs and then as we laid there she turned and reached for me and we had my favourite type of sex, the sex which I have perhaps once or twice a year, and never initiated by her, that is, the morning sex.

God how I love the morning sex. Glorious. And to have it sprung upon me unawares. Seriously ....

As a wise man said I could have stayed in bed then and it would have been a fantastic day.

As we lay there afterwards, flushed and satisfied, she laughed and said that perhaps we should get a lock, reminding me of the Modern Family episode where the kids walk in on their folks and after they have raced downstairs the boy exclaims that 'whatever they were doing it looks like Dad was winning'.

Correct son.


From there the day unfolded, well, perfectly. Spurs are in position for a Champions' League spot next season but after a fairly easy stretch of their schedule that they murdered they've hit a tougher patch. Survive this and they're likely in like Flynn, barring a monumental collapse. They started with a draw against Liverpool and then Saturday they faced a Newcastle squad that's pretty good and they destroyed them. The goals came fast and furious and by the half it was 4-0 and nothing left to do but run it out - 5-0 the final. And soon after the Oilers played the Sens and it was an entertaining game as the Oilers' games often are these days. Lovely Ales Hemsky gaveth and then he tooketh away and then he gaveth again and Horcoff scored and Hall finished it in overtime and so it was a fine result and a good way to end their roadtrip.

And immediately after that my best friend arrived and we went down to the ACC for our annual pilgrimage. We had a fine dinner and some pints and then down to the rink. We've happened to be there for Wendel Clark night and a night honouring the 67 Leafs (also known as the Marc Pouliot penalty shot game and the 'Good Indian' game) and so tonight it was Mats Sundin night. I always liked Sundin and thought he rarely got his due - as an example I work with a guy who always complained that Sundin wasn't that great because he never lifted the Leafs to a Cup. Me I thought he played for a lot of good teams that just weren't good enough. The list of greats, even all time greats, who played for clubs that did not win it all is a lengthy one and you can start with Ray Bourque with the Bruins and go to the 60s Hawks who had both Hull and Mikita, two of the best ever, and yet only won the Cup once.

So it goes.

Sundin gave a nice speech, hitting the right notes, but most impressive to me - the reception he got was overwhelming. It blew away the cheers for Wendel imo, which I never thought I would see, perhaps its that Mats is of more recent vintage? Anyhow it was a nice night.

And then the Leafs got cranked. Now my feelings towards the Leafs have mellowed over the years. I found in the 80s that their fans were insufferable considering the mediocrity of those squads and I disliked the Quinn clubs based on their personnel - Tucker, Corson, Green, McCabe, Domi - all of these guys and others, the incessant ref baiting by Quinn and whining by the players, it was just such an unlikable group and every year they fell short I enjoyed quite a bit.

But the present group is easier to cheer for - guys like Grabovski and Kulemin are fantastic players and there are comeback stories like Lombardi and some old pros mixed in there and its not a bad group, despite the presence of Phaneuf and Kessel. And after years of suffering with the Oilers I think I feel a bit of sympathy for Leafs' fans. I mean after all, 1967? How shitty is that.

Still I have to admit old habits die hard. Pete and I laughed when the Habs weathered the early storm. He turned to me and said I can see this ending badly if Toronto doesn't score soon and sure enough Reimer whiffed on Cole's shot and then it turned ugly and by the time Eller undressed Phaneuf the crowd was unhappy and we chortled into our massive overpriced cups of beer.

Yes it was a great day, perhaps one of the greatest of days.


Oh you Oilers.

Its never dull.

Spent some time on twitter arguing with fans who feel that Hemsky is done or that he is a bad apple (body language!) and while I can understand those who worry about his ability to stay healthy I really have no time for those who feel that he is done or who have bought the garbage being spewed by Spector (Cam Barker is a top 3 NHL defenceman) or Stauffer (can't wait for Petry to mature so they can move Gilbert) or the majority of the 'journalists' in Edmonton who don't like Hemsky because he's not quick with the bon mot. He is 'enigmatic' (European), right?

He's a goner of course. Just like everyone who was every going to get paid under EIG, same boss as the old boss, except now he doesn't fit the rebuild because he's over 21 I guess. I'm not sure why this franchise (and many of its fans) don't get the idea that having lots of good players is a good thing and that having a top six of Hall, Eberle, Ted, Gagner, Hemsky and either the newest kid or Smyth or Paajarvi or whomever, a top six with five legitimate top six players, is not a better idea than having a top six without Ales Hemsky who, recovering from major surgery, is starting to get his game back. I think it was the wonderful Loxy who remarked the other night that she hoped that the Oilers trade him and that he then went on to win multiple Cups. I don't want to cheer against the Oilers but I will surely cheer against their management and for Ales Hemsky who was been quite often the only thing worth cheering for on this sad sack club before the arrival of Hall and Eberle.

Tambellini is out of his depth and Tyler Dellow showed why again with his look at the Sutton deal. Healthy scratch one night, paid almost twice what he'd get anywhere else the next. And as always the fans who think everything is just peachy say hey man its nothing, just another little deal, what's the big deal anyhow but of course its just another little deal in a long long list of them going back six years. You could justify nearly every one of them if you were in a vacuum but outside of the vacuum is the worst franchise in the NHL and that lies on management, nobody else.

This year's scapegoats are Hemsky, the best player on this club for a decade, and Renney, who they are greasing the skids for already with all of the talk of the team being better than its record. And when the Oilers' own greasy little mouthpiece, Dan 'I have a mortgage and a passport' Tencer starts grousing about Renney you know the fix is in and come spring he'll be taken into the woods, just like MacT and Quinn before him. From on high the word has come and little Milhouse, who is as independent as a baby squalling in its shitty diaper, is doing what he always does, act the shill for those who pay his way.

Can't blame a guy though, he's set until the revolution and hell by the time that comes (if it ever comes) he may be able to retire.

With all of that said a bit of positivity please. If management only had a brain things really could look up a bit. Paajarvi appears to have woken up and Gagner is playing his best hockey in years and of course Hall and Eberle are two beauties, never mind Ted. I'm a cynic when it comes to this club but those who compare these kids to Cogliano and Nilsson are barking up the wrong tree, imo. Only time will tell what these guys become (likely Cup winners in some other jersey after getting run out of town) but Cogliano and Nilsson couldn't hold their jocks.

And Gilbert is back playing sweet music and by my eye Whitney is improving and Petry looks like he may be ready to take the leap. And of course Smid has been wonderful.

So while I don't hold out much hope for the future, I really don't, at the very least this club is entertaining and the building blocks are there if they would only flush Lowe and Tambellini. I'm afraid it will be a couple of more years for the latter and likely five or six for his likely successor Mr. Lowe, but the batch of kids who replace the current group will likely be wonderful as well. ;)


Loxy said...

Such a story teller, you are.
A good one at that.

Happy trails to Hemsky. Seriously, it was me on Twitter you saw. He was a step off when he came back from injury and now he's just a half-step behind. I imagine he's about 10 days away from full go. Just in time for the trade deadline.

As an Oiler fan who put up with the last 10 years, I wish him well. I have no qualms with Horcoff, but Hemsky is the only magic left from '06. And he is real magic.

- Go Smid.

mattwatt said...

Think Loxy said it best, Hemsky is real magic.

When something like that leaves, it is never easy to swallow. Also the fact whatever the Oilers get in return, it will not be Hemsky's equal in quality or talent.

It didn't have to come to this, but in true Oiler fashion it did. Take care out there Ales, you were all that we wished for.

Woodguy said...

Nice post Pat.

I get the feeling a monumental fuck up is coming with the Oilers.

Not resigning Hemsky is bad to very bad.

I think they might do something like Gagner for Jack Johnson, sending away a good young player for a bad young player on a long contract.

You can just feel it coming, can't you?