Wednesday, September 10, 2014

El Pistola

 Our youngest was conceived on a night of passion, fuelled by pints and wine and liquor and I have always joked that her personality reflects her origins. She is a wild child, a laughing, shrieking. mischievous little liar who is in many ways the soul of our family. Not that we're a bunch of lying liars who lie mind you.

 Our oldest two kids are absolutely wonderful, smart and funny and good hearted and they will find trouble along the way I am sure but they are like Jenn and I through and through, they will be the ones who like to party but do it on the sly, they will get good grades and do well and their wildness will be private.

 Our youngest? She has already pronounced how so so much she loves boys and she cuts holes in the blinds to let the sunshine in and she teaches the neighbourhood toddlers how to unlock baby gates set up to prevent them from coming to harm.

 We're in trouble here do you get this? Threats to cajole proper behaviour do not work nor does reasoning nor any other sort of carrot or stick if it is not in her interest to agree. Tried and true practices used on the other two - identify what matters and take it away to punish, keep them off balance, set reasonable goals and boundaries with them and make sure they understand the why and how - these do not work or not at as much as we hope.

 So it's work, a lot of work and likely down the road some worries. But of course it is more than worth it. Everyone we know loves her, quite often conversations go like this 'We love all of your kids of course but there is just something about her' and we get that. She is the life of the party, a cheerful, energetic little imp whose smile lights up every room and whose giggling makes everyone laugh. She's enthusiastic and spirited and her head is in the clouds. She is a unique little soul and we happily remember that night we threw caution and planned parenthood to the wind and got down to business time.


 Last summer we were up at the lake and while we were out on the paddle boat our youngest announced that she wanted to swim to shore. She had not yet started taking swimming lessons but of course she had her life jacket on and we're I don't know, forty or fifty feet from shore (I'm terrible with that sort of thing. It was less than a mile anyhow.) and so we said sure get on in, we'll follow you in the boat and so she slips into the water and starts dog paddling in and we laugh and say how cute and we begin to paddle to follow her and discover that the paddle thingy on the boat, I don't know what you call it, anyhow it has jammed.

The rope has gotten into it and gotten wrapped around it and just at this moment it has tightened so we aren't going anywhere. And of course now the wind picks up and begins to push us across the bay toward the neighbour's.

Now everything is fine except my eldest, the vegetarian (she is now a full blown vegetarian, yes, read my last post for the cause of this) begins to panic about her younger sister. There are tears and yowling and our youngest, now standing on shore, turns and says of course that she will come and save us.

 And so we call to her telling her to stay put as we blow across the bay and Jenn turns to me and says that one if us has to go into the water to make sure the little one a) does not come into the lake after us or b) wander into the woods and she isn't wearing her swimsuit and so off comes my shorts and shirt and into the water I go in my boxers.

 Now I don't like the water and did I mention that like Martin Short I am not that strong a swimmer? I dabble. Basically I splash in the shallow end. I mean I can dog paddle but come on. So into the water I go and I'm thinking who the hell is going to rescue me.

 Of course I get to shore just fine and then into the woods in my gitch like some sasquatch who has just killed a camper and put on his fruit of the looms for a gag to show the other sasquatches and after I towel off and put on another shirt and shorts our youngest and I wander down the path to find Jenn at the neighbours having a drink laughing it up.

 Starting to suspect I know where part of this impish behaviour comes from.


 Hockey. Right. I remember it. And the Oilers. It's been a while.

 My own hockey starts Sunday. I had to take the summer off after I hurt my MCL in our last playoff game last season. Knee felt fine during the Kostka Kup and so I am ready to go. The boy starts two weeks after, full time as a goalie this year, holy shit. So I am excited about both of those seasons starting definitely.

 As for the Oilers I am cautiously optimistic. I think MacT has had a pretty good two years. The whole goon squad pursuit after Gagner went down didn't make me happy and I didn't like the Smid deal at the time but it sounds like our man Ladi struggled mightily in southern Alberta.

 The Hemsky move was a killer too. More of the old 'good players out for nothing' deal that turned the house into a paper clip in the first place. The reality is that Ales was probably not signing here again and who would blame him of course. Not sure why they thought playing him with Gordon as a checker was a good idea when it came to pumping up his value. Oh well. And I suspect Petry is next to go and I don't like that either.

 On the other hand what MacT has done is the opposite of what Lowe and especially Tambo did. He has brought in veteran players, mostly for nothing. Scrivens and Fasth. Ference, Nikitin Nikitin. Fayne. Boyd Gordon. Pouliot. Hendricks. All in for picks or cash. And when he shipped Gagner out he got Purcell in return. So imagine that, guys who can play. Some of them make too much money but damn it I'm not one to quibble after years of watching Ryan Jones fall down while 'hustling'*

*(whereas hustling means blowing the zone looking for the breakaway pass and other wise doing little but looking busy)

 So for the first time in years the Oilers actually look like an NHL team up and down the lineup.

 Two reasonable options in goal. (I didn't mind the Dubnyk/LaBarbera tandem to start last year, both had been decent in those roles but wow what a disaster.)

 On the blue you have Fayne, Petry, Marincin, Nikitin Nicotine, Ference and Schultz younger and Klefbom, Nurse and Gernat on the way. Is it a Cup calibre D corps? Lol. It's not even a playoff quality D corps. But you have four guys with experience and a kid who looked great last year and then the golden boy Schultz who maybe Ramsey can get through to.

 Forgot about Ramsey. Nice hire.

 Up front there are more men to help the boys and Hall is all world. The team looks pretty deep on the wings but oh man they are thin up the middle unless the kid Draisaitl or Arcobello can step up. I suspect not but ... but here is the thing. Every year since, well since 2005/2006, the club has gone into October hoping and wishing and not just here or there but almost everywhere. They NEED everyone to stay healthy and they NEED kids to step in right away and they NEED guys to bounce back from awful years and if all of that falls into place and they get some luck then maybe they will be in the range come spring.

If Ladi Smid and Shaggy can play top four D they will be ok.

If Khabibulin can provide true number one netminding they will be fine.

If Nilsson and O'Sullivan can play in the top six and Schremp can make it and Cam Barker can bounce back and Sam Gagner can play some D and so on and so on and so on then the team might be mediocre. Maybe.

Things are better.

 They need either Draisatl or Arcobello to handle a top six C role and that is probably the deal breaker right there.

 They need Nicotine Nikitin or Ference or Schultz younger to handle top four minutes with Fayne. Or Klefbom to make the leap and do the same. I think the odds are that one of them may be able to do this. Maybe not. But we're not talking Cam Barker here. These guys are NHL defencemen.

 They probably need Yakupov to get it together and become an NHLer.

 Now what will all of this get them? Probably nothing yet, even if all the chips fall their way unless they explode I don't see this team making the playoffs. But they need to take a step forward and I think they can do that. I am cautiously optimistic.

 Have I said that? I am cautiously optimistic.

 To me they need four things to come out of this year. Your mileage may vary but if it is all about winning the Cup and that is exactly what it is all about then the following has to happen.

 Hall has to feel that the franchise is on the move. He is the franchise. He hates losing. Taylor Hall has to, in April, look back and say 'We're on our way I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. If he asks out then the club is looking at becoming the Islanders. This is the most important thing, bar none. The talent has to be happy.

 Yakupov has to be salvaged. I think this kid is an all world talent and I think that he can become an NHL superstar. They need to figure him out and he has to figure them out.

 Marincin and Klefbom have to establish themselves or get on the road to being proven top four Dmen. I honestly am not worried about this in the least. The weakness of this team is on the blue line. Not for long.

 I know Eakins is not everyone's favourite guy but I think it is paramount that he establish himself as an NHL coach with the Edmonton Oilers. The constant turnover is Mickey Mouse but then again so is the franchise or lately anyhow. I think he can coach. He needs to prove it this year.

 I think if they stay reasonably healthy that they are in the race until mid March and by in the race I mean they are one of those teams that doesn't really have a shot but the way the NHL points' system works they hang around within striking distance until they lose two or three games and fall eight points out on St Patrick's Day. Not really in it but better than they have been.

 Excited for camp and cheering for Tyler Pitlick and Anton Lander to make the team and become regular NHLers.