Thursday, April 11, 2013

Failure Plus A Lesson In Parenting From A Veteran

When you have a four year old you have to take the good with the bad and one can follow the other in the blink of an eye. They are mental, absolutely and completely insane, that's the way it is and there's no way around it. I remember when our two oldest were toddlers and in each case the 'terrible twos' weren't too bad and then a friend of ours laughed and said wait until the 'fucking fours' for some real fun and games and she was right on with that one.

 Of course the other side of that is at four they are really coming into their own, they're making those leaps and bounds when it comes to learning, real learning, in the past few months our youngest has learned how to skate, she has started swimming lessons, her drawing has taken a huge leap forward as has her counting and we're starting to see that maybe, just maybe, she will be reading soon as well. (She's behind both older siblings in that case, third child and all, poor kid, she's really on her own).

 But with all that there is still the innocence, even with this one, who with the influence of an older brother and sister comes out with remarks loaded with snark and pop culture references already. The other day she went on a school trip down to the university to see a play which was based on the three little pigs. I picked her up at school and she said that she enjoyed it very much but that she was disappointed that neither the pigs nor the wolf were played by pigs and a wolf but by people.

 Now on the flip side of that it was later that night that she threw a massive tantrum, mostly due to tiredness. We're talking lying on the floor kicking and screaming over something ridiculous. I kept my cool admirably throughout, came up with a nuclear option to end it all and dropped that bad boy, leaving her picking up the pieces, acknowledging that for one night at least, I was her better. I asked her to make a choice and she stubbornly refused and so after repeated requests I told her that I would make the choice for her and then I did so. At which point she told me that she was not happy with my choice which I followed up by calling her 'a little knob'.

 Quality parenting there folks. You can use that any time.


 And so in a week the Oilers have gone from having a shot at the playoffs to having that faint hope strangled, chopped up and buried. Seven years out, are we having fun yet?

 I think that after 2006/2007 this is probably the most exasperating season of all. That one was awful, mostly because the Oilers were essentially the same team as they had been the autumn before. Peca and Dvorak were gone but Roloson was there and it was obvious that losing Pronger was a massive blow but it was also very clear that bringing in one or two capable top four NHL defencemen would not replace CFP but it would probably mean playoffs again. That was a good team. But Lowe did not do that and so when the patchwork D corps (Smid in the top four my God) fell apart when Tjarnqvist and Staios went down the season went south and then Smyth was shipped out and so began the first of many death marches we would endure as Oiler fans.

 That summer Gator was shipped out as well and it was pretty clear what needed doing. The best two defencemen, the best forward plus Peca and Dvorak were gone. It was time to rebuild with the three first round picks, the second round pick, Smid, Pitkanen, Gagner, Nilsson and O'Marra. (I know I know lol) But really the writing was on the wall. Time to start over. Except Lowe signed Souray and offer sheeted Penner. One step forward, one step back and so it was. Both moves were overpays although I ended up liking both players but the bigger issue was that the Penner move cost three picks, including a first, and by adding both players and not shipping out other vets while they had value Lowe delayed the formal rebuild and doomed us to a couple more seasons of terrible hockey with lineups pieced together with too many kids, too many plugs but just enough vets to make the team just a bit too good, if you know what I mean. And so it went until they finally blew it up.

 We've known for years that this club's management is garbage. Lowe is our Pulford and like Chicago our club is going to be garbage as long as he's around. It took Bill Wirtz DYING to resolve that issue in Chicago. We're doomed.

 Because here we are, seven years out of the playoffs, with three #1 overall picks plus three more top tens in Smid, Gagner and Paajarvi plus Eberle, Dubnyk, Justin Schultz, Petry and Hemsky and still management has shown that they have no idea how to build a team.

 Not a single clue.

 That is an awful lot of talent right there and yet this season has gone to waste, another one thrown on the scrapheap and no help coming from the farm except probably Teemu but who would know considering his roster spot this year was taken by useless facepunchers like Hordichuk and Eager and Brown and never will bes like Jones and Petrell. And maybe maybe Anton Lander, who sits in the pressbox in the NHL rather than playing somewhere, anywhere.

 What an absolute disgrace.

 The thing with Tambo and Lowe is its their body of work, it is so absolutely damning. You can argue piece by piece why this guy had to go or that guy had to go but the proof is in the standings. Over the last seven years there has been no worse team in the NHL. And still Kevin Lowe is employed.

 Two legitimate top four NHL defencemen. After Smid and Petry they gambled that a raw rookie, a fading veteran and a guy who can't turn anymore could fill the other two slots. And like nearly every other bet they have made it didn't work out.

 Every GM has bets that don't work, even the best ones. This club's management has almost none that do work.

 Picks traded for waiver wire garbage - Smithson, Brown, Fistric

 Absolutely nothing done when the team was devastated with injuries at centre.

 Contracts doles out like candy to players who pass through waivers with no takers.

 But worst of all is the theme of this past seven years, the overwhelming issue, that is management's inability to recognize good players and, in turn, their predisposition to remove good players from the roster without replacing them. Every team makes mistakes but the Oilers literally have a half of a roster of them, players who have been sent away for nothing or for returns so rapidly diminishing that the mind boggles. Indeed they have sent so many good players that there would not be enough room on the present club for all of them.

 Imagine an Oilers' roster with the following players on it. So the present roster plus these players:

 Tom Gilbert, Joni Pitkanen, Sheldon Souray, Jan Hejda, Matt Greene, Kyle Brodziak, Curtis Glencross, Andrew Cogliano, Jarret Stoll, Raffi Torres.

 What do all of these players have in common?

 They were all let go for nothing or for what turned out to be almost immediately less value. They were all, with the exceptions of Glencross and Hejda, under contract to the Oilers when they were sent away and in those two cases the players, from anecdotal evidence (and the fact that neither signed for a king's ransom elsewhere) could have easily been had. They all play for teams much better than the Oilers with the exceptions being Glencross and Hejda this year. Greene and Stoll won a Stanley Cup. Torres was a bottom sixer on a Cup finallist. Cogliano and Souray play for one of the top teams in the league this year. And on and on it goes. The only guys sent away for anything worthwhile were Stoll and Greene but Lubo Visnovsky, now playing for another playoff team, was turned into Ryan Whitney, who, like Brule and O'Sullivan and so many other Oilers of recent vintage will soon be out of hockey altogether. Oh you know who one of Lubo's teammates is? Colin McDonald. Remember him, cast away. He's played 37 games, has 7 goals and nine assists.

 Going to the playoffs. Way to go Colin.

 And yes on Twitter the other day when I brought this up someone replied 'Well its only Colin McDonald, what does it matter, how could they have known' and of course he was right, Colin McDonald on his own, who cares, except Colin McDonald has turned into a useful NHL player and he is one of a long list of them. Colin McDonald by himself doesn't matter. Raffi Torres, on his own, had to go. But when they are two of many who have been shipped out for NOTHING then yes they matter. Body of work.

 You can excuse one of these, you can make a case here and there but that's a damning list, a half roster of players let go for nothing. So many players that even if you quibble about a couple of them we could still fill out the Oilers roster:


Paajarvi/McDonald/Jones/etc etc

Pitkanen/J Schultz

That's amazing. Its absolutely unreal. And yes maybe this guy had to go or that guy was not a fit but the real issue, the jist of this, is that all of these players were let go for nothing. Its the opposite of the guy who turned a paper clip into a house. Lowe and Tambellini have turned the house into a sack of garbage that has been ripped open and spilled into the road, stinking and useless.


Anonymous said...

Spot on.

Unfortunately Daryl's only friend is Kevin Lowe.

Would you trade Edmonton's first round pick 2013 for Adam Larsson?

Anonymous said...

Do think Tambo and Lowe know at some level they are failures. Or do you think they continue to drink the Kool -Aid.

If I were in their shoes I would be embarrassed and resign. They are a disgrace.

If they were fans of the Oilers they would quit. If they are fans of their salary they say nothing.

Black Dog said...

Thanks Anon.

Would I trade the first rounder for Larsson? Depends where they finish first of all and secondly I don't really know enough about Larsson to comment. Sorry, copout I guess ;)

Tambo and Lowe probably blame it on bad breaks would be my guess. Just bad luck...

Pete. said...

Haha, well, that was certainly chipper and upbeat.

I've given up watching for the remainder of this season - what the hell is the point? I'll probably catch a game or two, but it's certainly not a priority.

I was brooding about this last night. This team, going into next year, basically needs a top- and a bottom-pairing D, plus a couple USEFUL fourth liners and a half-decent back-up goalie who's not 60 years old. That's really it. With any kind of remotely competent management, all those items should be acquired in the summer. The only problem is the top D: to acquire one, you'll open up a hole elsewhere. But you'd have to think an average NHL management team could deal with the relatively small list of players required to make this team a legitimate playoff threat.

Unfortunately, we're not talking about an average NHL management team here. Not even at, say, the 25th percentile. So I have great doubt that the relatively simple tasks facing them this summer will be handled at all well. I would expect, instead, to see Khabibulin signed for another year, Smyth and Brown retained, Klefbom brought over and put on the top pairing immediately, a bottom pair of Potter/Fistric/Peckham/new garbage, and a couple of new and utterly terrible fourth liners signed, as if having half a dozen sub-NHL calibre players is somehow useful ("Maybe if we play them all at the same time they'll equal three good players!!").

We'll see though. I've long since quit giving these clowns a penny of my money; the next thing I can do is walk away - quit watching on TV, quit reading these blogs, care about my hometown team as little as I do about some obscure college basketball team from Missouri. I really hope it doesn't come to that. Might not. We'll see.

Peebos said...

Though it makes me a bit sick to my stomach to read that "what-if" lineup, you're bang on in your assessment of the job being done in assembling a team. These guys just plain suck at identifying and acquiring talent.Then for some reason they're too dumb to realize that when they have some useful players around, they should actually hold on to them...


Oh, and I enjoyed your parenting bit there too..

Black Dog said...

Thanks Peebos. Yeah managing is about acquiring good players and keeping them, Oilers do neither well. So they lose.

Pete - yeah they don't need a ton for next year and with the cap going down bargains should be available, that is some decent players can probably be had for picks even.

But the same could have been said last summer too and nothing happened.