Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Out Of This World



 Paris?

 Paris was, for us, better than we ever imagined. Loved it. Absolutely loved it.

 My favourite moments involved the kids. Taking a boat cruise on the Seine when suddenly around a bend and there the Eiffel Tower looming over us, our oldest's eyes widen and mouth gapes and she whispers 'Wow'. At a cafe on Rue Cler, the boy ordering confit de canard, the man size portion, finishing it all, loving it. Our youngest dragging us around the Louvre (we're not big art museum people, we tend to see the big stuff and get out for a drink) from hall to hall, especially exited by 'the Stinx' in the Egyptian exhibit.

 And for me, wandering the streets, day after day. An espresso here, a glass of wine there, wandering the streets of Paris with my family. Trip of a lifetime.

 By the way, the ruse worked. Jenn, though slightly suspicious (she knows me well), was convinced it was Barcelona, so much so that she had a Spanish/English dictionary, borrowed from a friend.

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Returned from France vaguely aware of some of the goings on with the Oilers that had come to pass, the two wins at the end of the road trip and Dubnyk rebounding being two positives, the Hall injury being the major negative although it appears he may not be out for four weeks, which is great, although the season is likely already doomed by the poor start.

Getting a fourth for Mike Brown was a stroke of luck or genius, I respect the guy for carving out a career but he's waiver wire fodder and paying a fourth for him originally was really stupid but that was Tambo through and through, he pulled the same shit when he acquired Smithson and Fistric. He will never be a GM again and its a career path well earned.

 I get the frustration of fans, if the Oilers miss the playoffs this year then it will be eight years out, only Florida has had a longer run amongst franchises that still actually exist. I figured them for a team with a legitimate shot at the postseason this year but its likely that dream is already over, they need to go on a massive run and while anything is possible, its probably not going to happen. The season has been sunk already and its tough to take and while the team has taken strides forward on the ice for sure, it cannot be ignored that they have deserved better based on the run of play in their games, the bad goaltending and defensive lapses and brutal special teams have done them in. If its not one thing its another and the team already has the look of one on a death march.

 What will probably happen is they will pull out of it. They will get some bounces. Dubnyk will return to normal. Hall and Gagner will be healthy and some pucks will start going in. They will fall short though.

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 Fans are freaking out and WANT SOMETHING DONE NOW but dealing from a position of weakness is stupid and giving up on Yakupov or Schultz who have ~ sixty NHL games under their belt is something that Mike Milbury would do. Same with firing Eakins. He has to figure out the PK and he has to figure out the lapses in defensive coverage and I am pretty confident that he will. Ignore the media snarkiness about him. For the most part Edmonton sports media are a perfect explanation as to why newspapers are dying, sadly many of them are involved in TV and radio as well and so we'll never be rid of them.

 LT took a look at MacT's moves this summer right here and basically I agree. He added a lot at minimal cost but the problem, as RiversQ has pointed out numerous times since last spring, is that he was starting from so far back that it was impossible for him to make up the lost ground. The work that Tambo and Lowe did to put this club in the ditch was so thorough, so scorched earth, that MacTavish was stuck from day one unless he could convince clubs to part with quality NHL players for futures, a Coburn for a second type deal. I thought this might be possible based on the cap crunch and the fact that summer 2012 saw two legitimate top four guys moved for just that. It didn't happen though.

 The other issue is that unlike Chicago, for example, who brought up Pirri from the AHL and installed them as their second line centre or even Toronto, who has supplemented their injury riddled forward corps with guys who have been able to take a regular shift, the Oilers depth on the farm is almost all on the back end and not yet ready. The departure of Hartikainen and Rajala left their forwards in OKC that much thinner, with only Pitlick, now hurt, and Lander looking to be guys who might be able to contribute in some way in the NHL. There is no Pirri in OKC. What you see in Edmonton is what you get and when the injuries hit, as they have, then you have Denis Grebeshkov playing in your top nine. Not a recipe for success.

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 So, as LT says, what does it all mean?

 Don't fire the coach.

 Don't panic in any way.

 What do the Oilers need? They need top four D men. If Dubnyk is hurt longterm then they need a goaltender. They need some guys up front like Gordon, bigger guys who can play.

  Nobody is untouchable but the kids and anyone of value really, the core of what is going on here, and I am including Nurse, Klefbom and Marancin in this, cannot be moved for fliers, possibilities, stopgaps, ten cents on the dollar. If you are going to move any of these guys it has to be for equal value or better, similar to the Paajarvi move. You cannot move Yakupov for a goalie because there is no goalie who can bring the guaranteed long term value that Yakupov may bring. You cannot move any of these guys unless it is a sure thing.

 You know what happens when you repeated send out NHL value for lesser value? Then you end up with what we have now.

 A few years ago the Oilers forward depth was Horcoff, Penner, Hemsky,  a few kids with promise and some garbage. On D they had Souray, Visnovsky, Gilbert, Smid, Staios, Grebsehkov.

 Not too bad on the blue right?

 Now Staios got old and Smid is still here but Souray they railroaded out of town and for Visnovsky and Gilbert they have nothing to show. All three are still in the NHL, all three are playing top four minutes on teams better than the Oilers, though in Florida's case this is a marginal difference. Still Tom Gilbert is playing nearly 22 minutes a game and is an even player on a garbage team, basically the same as he did all of his years in Edmonton.

 Three top four defencemen. Gone for nothing. Brodziak. Gone for nothing. Pitkanen. Gone for Cole who was in turn traded for nothing. Cogliano. Gone for nothing.

 On such moves are disasters created. Calling for more of these types of moves will only add fuel to the conflagration.

 Do you want to blame someone for this mess? Blame Tambo if you want but he will get his. He got his shot and botched it and he will be remembered as a terribly failed manager, a punchline.

 No sir the man to blame, the one who has survived all of this, the coaches and all of the players come and gone, the changes in scouting, the changes on the farm, the change in ownership and the changes in the training staff, the one guy left standing, the architect of this disaster, our Bob Pulford, is Kevin Lowe.

 His is the only head left to roll and as we saw during his performance last spring when he sputtered indignantly about knowing about winning he lacks the self awareness to step aside or he would have done so years ago.

 Lowe's departure would not change a thing but to gladden our hearts and clear our minds somewhat in any case. The die was cast when they traded Pronger and didn't replace Spacek and Peca and then when they shipped Smyth out months later. Seven years of bungling cannot be turned about in the matter of a few months, not when you are dealing from weakness.

 And so we must still abide and hope that MacTavish and Eakins are the right men for the job. A dozen games does not say that they are not. Here is hoping that a year or two down the road does not prove that they are not. If this is the case then we are well and truly fucked.


6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oilers don't actually pay Kevin Lowe a salary do they?

Pete. said...

"Lowe's departure would not change a thing but to gladden our hearts and clear our minds somewhat in any case."

Indeed, and well put. The bed that is the Edmonton Oilers organization has been thoroughly shat in over these past many years, and the departure of one entitled jackass won't fix anything, presumably, but it would just make me feel better. And at least he couldn't do any more damage.

The Lowe thing is depressing. He's pretty much destroyed his (once excellent) legacy in Edmonton, in my eyes at least. Ever since that tone-deaf arrogant press conference I've just hated the guy (that was the last of many straws), and he used to be a huge personal favourite. I wish he'd just move on, but it seems unlikely.

Agreed about the fact that the current regime needs more time to clean up the messes created by the last one, but I'm not so certain that's there's a lot distinguishing the two regimes. Did Tambo have any real authority, or was he just a figurehead and the public face of the tankjob? Easy to use a clown like that as a patsy and throw him overboard when it's winning time again, and hope that the media and fans will blame him and him alone for the wasted years.

So now there's a new regime, but Lowe's still here, and still pretty involved, I fear, and Katz is still the owner, trying to re-live his 80s vicarious wet dream. So does the presence of MacT (who I have faith in) and Eakins (who I'm wishy-washy on) make a real difference? Or is it really just the same clowns driving around in the same tiny blue and orange car?

Bruce McCurdy said...

Good read as usual, Pat. Splitting hairs, Oilers do have a Pirri comp in Mark Arcobello, who did in fact fill in at 2C in October and produced in the role. Both he & Pirri were top 5 scorers in the AHL last season.

edc said...

Their record is scary. Things were less scary when Tamby was around and we could blame him. Lowe is still around and I guess we could blame him (e.g. this blog post), but - like you said - that doesn't seem very helpful or fair.

I just don't know. Maybe Eakins is not the right fit. Maybe it's just bad puck luck. Maybe it's bad injury luck. Maybe it's a bit of all of those things. It's bad though. If they don't turn this around soon, then they will quit. Losing is not fun; it's demotivating; teams need motivation to win. Cycle of failure.

Yikes.

Jana said...

Fantastic post! There is a lot of unhappiness in Edmonton right now. We, as fans, cannot believe these Oilers are WORSE than the after the lockout team. They should have been better this year; their power play and penalty kill should NOT have gotten worse. We want to keep them all and have them win together but the best player we could trade at this point is Hall. He has value, will bring back good value and will probably never play a full season. He's too reckless. Love his heart but hate these endless injuries.

Swabbubba said...

Sounds like a perfect getaway from the shit show that the Oilers are going through. For once I would like 2 months of no injuries just to see what we actually have