Friday, January 18, 2013
Other guys we knew? There was Dwayne Moulton, Dave Burnett, the Shute brothers (Darryl and Dennis, there were more of them too). We played hockey with Norm Pilon and Denis Pelletier and of course my buddy Doug had his brothers Norm and Dave and my buddy Pete had his brothers Rich and Jim and then Steve had an older brother Mike. We also played hockey with brothers Mike and Marc Larcher, Tim Stiller, John Lister (brother Norm) and Danny Scott. My best friends in university? Mark (brother Dan), Mike (brothers Rick and Chris), Todd (brothers Rob and Jeff), Rob (brother Rich), Dave (brother Chris).
And in my summer job in uni I worked with Jim, Jeff and Dale. And when I partied on the weekends it was with Frank, Mike, Mike, Dan, Dean, Dale.
And a bunch of Italian guys. A few of them were named Dan and Rob.
Get the picture?
So I'm telling my kids some of these old stories and they're killing themselves. Not because of the story when I came to Frank's house after a night of boozing, proceeded to fill a huge bowl up with everything I could find in the fridge and put it under his bed, where it remained undiscovered for weeks. Not because of the girl I saw for a while who was nicknamed 'Iguana' or because we used to tape my boss' smokes together so that when he pulled one from the pack they all came out.
Nope, they were killing themselves because of the names of the people I knew when I was a kid. They thought Doug and Dwayne and Wayne and Gary (two more oldies but goodies) and Dwight and Norm and Darryl were the most hilarious things they ever heard.
I kid you not.
Of course they don't know anybody by any of these names with the exception of a few Michaels floating around. And these aren't names like Brayden or Hayden or Jaden or Taylor/Tyler/Jordan - you know what I mean? Hugely popular trendy names that a cohort of about a decade will have and then thankfully the name will disappear from history. For the most part names like Doug and Steve and Jeff (or their more formal versions) were around for a good century before they disappeared in the 1970s.
Or is it just a Toronto thing? It could be. My kids go to school (thankfully) with every race/colour/creed going. In terms of acceptance of others and exposure to the world they are already where I didn't get to until I was in my mid twenties. Its fantastic but Doug and Wayne aren't hugely popular names in Bangladesh and Angola I'm taking it.
So what's the story out there? In Edmonton and Moose Jaw and St. John and the Soo and Trail and Flin Flon are the kindergartens still teeming with the hoser names of my youth? Are roll calls for Joanne and Jim and Michelle and Steve and Jennifer and Jerry, Gary and Barry? (Not to mention Larry?) Do Tracey and Rick (or is it Richard or Rich) make googly eyes at each other during quiet time? Do Rob and Wayne eat paste while Kelly rolls her eyes? And on the local rink do Doug, Darryl, Darren, Dave, Dwight, Dwayne, Dean, Dennis and Dale get together for a D-lightful game of shinny (seriously though parents in the 60s and 70s liked their D names eh?)
Or are the MacKenzie brothers now named Ruso and Jupiter?
Say it ain't so.
Have been reading a lot about parity in the NHL these days and how 'any team' can win the Cup and while the gap between teams has narrowed considerably (with the exception of the truly horrible) I don't buy this narrative at all. There's parity but when it comes to playoff time the cream still rises to the top.
Of course this was all spawned by the Kings winning the Cup as an 8 seed except that if you looked at the Kings' roster they were no more an eighth seed than the 2006 Edmonton Oilers were. Whereas the Oilers were done in by bad goaltending for the majority of that season the Kings had some bad luck and underperformed as well but 8th seed? Really? Look at the roster. Brown, Kopitar, Williams, Carter, Richards, Penner, Stoll as their top seven forwards. Doughty, Mitchell, Scuderi, Voynov, Greene on D. Very good young goaltending. I remember being leery of their depth, especially on the bottom half of their roster but the top six were so good that the bottom six just had to play to a sawoff (and of course when King got hot they did even more than that.)
Put it this way. If Mike Richards and Jeff Carter are on your SECOND LINE you're a pretty good team. And no Melnyk, the Sens aren't even in the same league.
Well I mean, they are, but figuratively oh fuck never mind.
With that said what will we see this year? Honestly I have no idea. Its a sprint and a slow start like LA had last year could doom a team. A jump out of the gates, some luck, good health early, could mean a playoff seed for a team that otherwise does not deserve it.
Not as much time to work out the kinks which should make for a few more surprises.
So what do I think? Well if you were to ask me who could win the Cup right now I would go with the following. Its a long list, or longer than it would have been a few years back (that's the parity) but in three months I would guess that probably half of these clubs will be out of the running due to injuries or because while they are good clubs they have issues which might do them in pretty easily. There are no dynasties here folks. Thanks Gary.
Prince of Whales
Rangers - they're a favourite pick and why not? Eastern champs last year, third best GA in the league, tons of great youth up and down the lineup. I'm not a huge Nash guy but he's going to help. I'm more of a fan because of their great young D plus I like Tortorella a lot.
Bruins - The issue for Boston is whether or not Rask is up to the job. If he's good then they will be in the mix again. If not then they have problems. Shit division means they pile up the points regardless, a little more margin for error.
Penguins - Health for Crosby and Malkin plus ton of young talent bubbling under, especially on D. Not a Fleury guy though, not at all.
Flyers - Great up front but goaltending an issue here as well. Sooner or later you're not going to be able to outscore your opponents in the playoffs.
Rangers are best team here but the big thing is winning the Patrick or whatever its called. Win it and you get a patsy first round. Finish fourth or fifth and you get a war.
Best of the Rest
Caps - Washington is better than they showed last year. If Oates can be a decent coach I think they're a team that could be a contender, especially with those goaltending issues mentioned. Rangers falter and suddenly its wide open.
A lot of shit out east. Isle of Misfit Toys in Florida. Tampa is somewhat intriguing. Buffalo too if Miller can bounce back. And if the Leafs get goaltending I think maybe playoffs for them ( picked them last year I think, meh). But overall a lot of dull faceless squads. Including Jersey. Losing Parise is a kick in the nuts for them. Maybe a playoff team again but nothing more.
Kings - lots of rest for the defending champs. Mitchell is out longterm apparently and he is a big part of this club. Kopitar too. Still would expect them to be in the mix.
Blues - like the Rangers a sexy pick, like the Rangers they don't score a lot, unlike the Rangers I don't think they score enough to go all the way
Canucks - for these guys I think the window is starting to close a bit but still a great team and certainly a Cup contender no doubt. They're at the level where with a bit of luck (same as the other big boys) they could easily win it all. No real weaknesses.
Blackhawks - Chicago could easily run away with it if their latest cohort is ready. Could be still a year away but if the likes of Saad, Shaw, Leddy can give them the depth they lost after '10 then they're the favourite imo, especially with their top end talent. That's a big if though and so is Crawford in net. If he bounces back they're there. There.
Best of the Rest
Coyotes - I don't think Phoenix has the offence or the talent, quite frankly, to go all the way but again, if eveything falls their way and the big boys go by the wayside or run into trouble then they could make a run especially if they can get a favourable seed to start the playoffs.
The west is the weakest its been in a long time, we're not talking Chicago in the 8th seed anymore. Nashville will be there because they are always there, Suter or not, and I think the Wings have just enough to get a playoff spot (though barely and maybe not) but if either club did not make the playoffs it would not be a huge shock. After that you have the Northwest clubs coming on strong - the Avs, the Wild and your EDMONTON OILERS!!!!
Not having O'Reilly in there sets the Avs back out of the gate thank goodness. The Wild have some terrific kids on the way but I think they are a bit top heavy especially on the blue. Suter or Gilbert go down and its a problem. As for the Oilers, well they're a Smid or Petry injury away from disaster but a healthy Hall and Hemsky, the additions of Yakupov and Schultz and a full year of Dubnyk in the net ... lets just say that this is the best Oilers' club since 2006/2007. They actually have a bit of depth up front (they'll resolve this by dumping Hemsky asap I am sure of it) but as I have said with some luck and good health I think they compete for the playoffs. I'll have a detailed post on the Oilers this weekend but that's what I think.
As for the rest of the west well San Jose is another year older and I can't take Dallas seriously. Ducks? Falmes? BJs (lol BJs)? Lottery territory imo.
Let ... the games ... begin.
Posted by Black Dog at 9:00 PM