Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Letting Go



We've had a busy busy busy September. Jenn has been working a ton and she had some dental surgery that knocked her on her ass for a few days and today she took off for a conference, back on Saturday. Its been a grind.

September is always a hectic month as we get thrown back into the routine of school and activities and all of that good stuff. I've written about how for me I really look at Labour Day as the beginning of the new year rather than January 1st. I think it has to do with the rhythm of life I picked up in university. I never really got out of it, even though I'm years out now, and the arrival of our kids and their entry into school has strengthened that backbeat. With September comes the kids in school but it also marks the beginning of the kids' activities and for that matter, our own. A new Capsule season started last weekend and the two sports I follow, NHL hockey and European soccer, both get underway in the fall. Summer is fading away (although autumn in southern Ontario is the best season here, crisp cool nights and usually sunny warm days run right into October) and the snow will fly soon enough.

This September has been a bit bittersweet for us. Our youngest has started her second year of kindergarten and thanks to genius Dalton McGuinty she is spending the full day at school so for the first time in a decade there are no little ones around the house during the day. Its strange. All three are in school from 9 until 3:30. We will never have a kid at home again. Our oldest turned ten in a few days and while she is still a kid in so many ways she is growing up. She is a sweet sweet kid still (although the hormones are kicking in a bit) but often after school she heads to her room after her homework is done, closes the door and draws or reads with the radio on. The boy is nearly eight and he too likes his privacy, so much so that Jenn asked me if I thought he was pulling the goalie in there. Now you know me, if masturbation were an Olympic sport I'd be Paavo Nurmi but I just laughed, the boy might be a chip off the old block (and he is) but I'm pretty sure nothing's going on in that department quite yet.

He's become his own man though. He had hockey school the last week of August and they were off and on the ice numerous times so he had to learn how to get himself changed. The first morning I tied his skates, that sfternoon camp staff took care of that and the next morning when I asked him if he needed me to do his skates or anything else he just gave me a laconic shrug and said 'naw I'm ok'. When Jenn took him the next day he not only declined help but when she leaned in for a kiss good bye he gave her the 'jeez mom' look and fled into the sanctuary of the dressing room. This has carried over to the beginning of school and his mom is taking it pretty hard. I miss the goodbye hug and kiss myself but I understand it and he's still affectionate at home, although for how long its hard to say. He'll come back some day.

 I had a conversation about this on the Twitter with Mike Forbes a couple of weeks ago, he was experiencing similar issues with his oldest. Mike is a terrific guy, he really is, I'm glad to have met him through the magic of the interweb and so we compared notes on the inevitable, our kids are becoming everything we want them to be, independent and strong and their own people, I am confident that my guys are going to be finest kind some day and I think Mike feels the same way, It doesn't make it any easier though. You teach them to be everything that you want them to be and part of that means that they will pull away from you and go their own way.

I work with a guy who has one daughter, two weeks ago she started university. A few days before he moved her we were talking and he was joking that in some ways he was happy to see the drama go away, it had been a challenging eighteen years, being a parent is a lot of work. After Labour Day I was talking to him and he was full of sorrow, he said, he realized when he and his wife got back home that his daughter was gone. She would be back for holidays and summer for a while and then one day she would not even be back for a lot of that. She is gone, he said. It will never be the same.

He and his wife had done a wonderful job.

 But he wasn't feeling all that wonderful.

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 Oilers' camp is progressing and so far its, well, its training camp. Its a necessary evil and its dull. Someone on Twitter the other day remarked that essentially camp was to decide the last spot or two on the roster and of course he was right. He wasn't referring to the Oilers but for most teams this exercise is exactly that. Unless you are horrible and have a pile of spots open and a bunch of kids coming up not much exciting is going to happen this month. The guys who surprise and grab that last spot are often exposed pretty quickly and back in the minors come November.

 Its not always true of course. Sometimes there are surprises and when they happen its pretty exciting. The one (only) positive about the Oilers sucking ass this past seven years is that camp often leads to positive surprises. In 2006 Patrick Thoresen came out of nowhere to grab a roster spot early in camp and Jan Hejda joined him as well. A couple of years later Kyle Brodziak roared into camp, grabbed a fourth line spot and never looked back, although like Hejda he became one that got away. And then there was the fall that Tom Gilbert impressed enough to not only grab a spot but to grab a top four spot at that.

Its a different club this fall. There aren't many spots open. Oscar Klefbom and Martin Marancin, two guys who might have challenged for spots in past years when the club had nothing going on, are going south for sure, unable to crack a defence corps which includes eight actual NHL defencemen and a guy who most consider to be the best defenceman from the KHL. Up front there are no kids rising at all and the only questions revolve around the spots at the end of the roster. Will Will Acton beat out Anton Lander? Will Omark make it or Hamilton? Eager or Brown? Does it matter? Not really. The guys who don't make it will be back when the inevitable injuries happen and the guys who make it aren't likely to make an impact, with only Linus Omark possibly being more than a scrub. Not to say that there aren't interesting stories. Belov is intriguing. Can he be more than a third pairing guy? Maybe, the KHL isn't shit, and if he is then things look pretty bright. And what of Joensuu? Again maybe nothing more than a borderline guy but interesting all the same.

Things will become clearer in the next week or so as guys get let go but there isn't much drama and really, for the Oilers, it probably represents a step forward.

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