Sunday, September 20, 2015

Savant

OH HI!! HOW IT'S GOING? (as my Czech friend Gregory says)

Good summer? Yes? Well a few days ago someone mentioned that I was the second oldest active blog amongst the once prolific Oilogosphere and I figured that maybe I should write something because ... well ... it's been a while.

We had a lovely summer, yes we did, just trucking along here at Chez McLean. Everyone is healthy and happening and we're back to the grind of school once again. Grades seven, five and two.

Isn't that mental?

So the other day I slog home from work, let me tell you I've been a good boy after the incident this spring, it's been a bastard but I'm not worrying about it, anyhow I get home and the kids ambush me, they ask me to play a game with them and so I say sure and we sit down to a game of Clue.

 Remember Clue? Colonel Mustard and the rest of the gang? Good shit. Of course some genius marketer at headquarters decided it was a great idea to replace the original characters like Mustard and Professor Plum and so on with a generic bunch of new suspects with late 20th century names like Ashley White, who is a You Tuber or some shit and, like the rest of the characters, has the bland good looks of a Big Brother contestant and the 'biography' to match.

 And yeah I know I'm getting old man, I'll bitch about anything.

 So we're playing a little Clue and it's pretty obvious right from the get go who the doer is and what his weapon of choice is and so we're racing to try and figure out where it happened. They give you a little pad so you can make notes and scratch off the people/places/weapons as you eliminate them from contention.

 Now I'm no dummy and my oldest is pretty damn smart and the boy, well the boy is smarter than his parents already. He's well rounded which I am happy about, I have a pal who knows a six year old who went out for Halloween as an element, I can't remember which one, the kid is, well he's a nerd is what he is. He's a genius and he can't say hello. He's like one of those guys from that show I never watch, you know the one. About the nerds.

 NEEERRRRRRRRRDDDDDDDSSSSSSS!!!!!!

 Anyhow the boy is smart, bear with me as I brag on him. He tested for gifted last year and aced it and all that and we looked at the placement options, in the end we didn't bother for a number of reasons but yeah he's a bright one.

 Now that all said he may have competition in the house. Our youngest is a free spirit, a wild child and before grade one we figured that she might do well in school or not, It was hard to say. We knew she was smart but she could be lazy and we figured she might find it challenging to sit still and learn.

 And then we went to the first teacher interviews and were told that she was a model student and ahead of the grade and we looked at each other and smirked and figured that the teacher was taking the piss but she wasn't. Unreal.

 So back to the game, we're playing and things are getting narrowed down and then our youngest announces that she has solved it and she has done just that and she's pretty tickled because she's the youngest and she doesn't win a lot in this house, not unless the game relies on pure luck anyhow.

 And as we're packing up I notice that while the rest of us have our little sheets with notes and checkmarks and exes to denote what was happening, her own sheet is blank. And when I ask her where she marked her clues she just looks at me and shrugs and smiles and says that she just kept it all in her head.

 So now I have two kids who are smarter than me apparently.

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  Oscar Klefbom signed long term with the Oilers yesterday. We knew it was coming, it had been rumoured for a while. Seven years.

 When the rumours first started I opined on the interweb that it was crazy to me that a guy could get a seven year deal after playing less than eighty NHL games. I still believe that but of course this is the way of the league right now. I remember after the Oilers' Cup run, a couple of years after, and there were rumours of discord in the dressing room and I thought at the time that I could see why. You had guys like Moreau and Staios, guys who had ground it out in the league for nearly a decade before they got paid and in their case those paydays came in at around two million per and then you had Robert Nilsson who basically fucked the dog for three years and then rode a good eight weeks or so to a three year deal at just under two million and then immediately went in the tank again.

 That would piss me off I know.

 But as noted this is the way the league works now. Teams invest in youngsters, not the guys who are on the wrong side of thirty. In some cases the gamble doesn't pay off. In others - for example Hall, Eberle, Nugent Hopkins, you end up getting very good players locked up through their prime at an excellent rate.

 Is the Klefbom contract goofy? Sure it is, it's a roll of the dice but the dice are weighted in the Oilers' favour. Oscar is what I call a player. He has his struggles but they are the result of inexperience and once he gets more games under his belt he will be a top four, probably even a top pairing defenceman. He has the physical gifts but more importantly he can play the game. Tom Gilbert was the same when he made the leap to the NHL. So was Jeff Petry. So was Martin Marincin. They made mistakes and of course they weren't Chris Pronger or Duncan Keith but they all stepped in and knew what they were doing right away.

 This of course why we worry about Norris Schultz. He still doesn't have a clue three years in and it's probable that he never will. He pinches at the absolute worst times. He finds himself on the wrong side of his man constantly and when he has his man in the slot (which he often doesn't) he invariably doesn't tie him up.

 Last night the boy's team got knocked out of their playoffs in the semis. The boy is a try hard in hockey but soccer is his game. He gets it and he can play any position as a result. He's a player. He was wasted on D in the playoffs (he's best suited as a midfielder because he is a tenacious effective defender but also a deft passer and dribbler) although I can see why the coach put him there. The team was thin on talent and the boy being on D gave them a stopper back there. Anyhow last night they took an early lead against the run of the play and then in the second half the other team's rotation put two little speedsters up front and within a few minutes they were down one and that was that. The boy had the other team's best player in check the whole game but on both goals his partner came wandering over to 'help' and the ball ended up in space and his man, left alone, ran onto it and put it into the net.

 It is what it is, houseleague soccer, but there was the difference. The boy knew his position, didn't panic, stayed with his man, kept him outside. The kid never got a shot on net. But the other fellow got reeled in a few times and that was that.

 Reminds me of a guy who might be one of the most overrated players of the last twenty years, Bryan McCabe. Talk about a guy who got by on sizzle rather than steak for years. Big guy, big shot, rough and tumble and a ten cent head. If I had a nickel for every time he left his man open in the slot to venture into the opposite corner where Kaberle was engaged with his man I would be, well, a nickel is a nickel but we're talking a couple of nice steak dinners with a bottle of wine at least.

 Anyhow to get to the point to play D well in the NHL you need three things. You need the physical skills. Some guys are too slow or too small but Oscar Klefbom is a big man who can skate like the wind. You need experience which he will get over time. And you need to have the instincts to play the game. He has those as well and because of that I think it's a great bet by the Oilers. It's crazy, sure, but it's the way of the world and now they have another piece tied up for a long time. Good deal.

4 comments:

BustedSoulO said...

Welcome back.
Glad you enjoyed your summer.
And of course your offspring are 'up there'... lol
The Man said: 'Go forth and multiply'.
As long as we leave this world with children that are smarter, stronger, faster, kinder and more understanding than ourselves then we have accomplished our primary responsibility.

OilfaninVic said...

Glad your back from summer hiatus. Get NHL players and keep 'em I think is your principle. And the Oilers now have a bald GM who does just that. Not hard to project a top 4 of Klef Sekera Nurse Reinhart by the end of 16/17 season.

Bruce said...

Oilers signed Tom Gilbert to a 6-year $24 MM deal after 92 NHL GP. The Klef deal isnt so different.

Black Dog said...

I agree Bruce.

Thanks Vic and yes I can see exactly that top four.

Agreed, BustedSoulO!