Thursday, June 23, 2016

Happy Thoughts

Isn't that fantastic?

 As everyone here knows I love to travel and I had a six month stretch from November to April where the stars aligned, it will unlikely ever be matched to be honest. It started last spring when we decided that a trip was in the cards for me as Jenn had again been away. So I began to poll various friends to see who would accompany and I will tell you something, it was impossible. (Maybe it's me!, wait a second that never occurred to me ...) The only exception was my buddy who I had been to Berlin with the year previous who said hey we have a show in Budapest and why don't we meet there and man we were on like donkey kong as the kids say I believe.

 Except his work hemmed and hawwed and so really about six weeks before he told me I was on my own by the looks of it and I figured I was stuck ... except Jenn's parents were coming to stay while I was gone and they said why don't the two of you go and it is our fifteenth anniversary in 2016 and we do a trip every fifth anniversary and so away we went. I told Jenn we didn't have to go to Budapest but she said ah why not and there you are. Vienna was cool but Budapest blew us away, seriously if you can, you have to get there, what a wonderful trip.

 And then in February I was lucky enough to get to Dublin, which is where our head office is, and while it was a work trip, well I was able to get into town three times in five nights (!) and when I got to the airport I was astounded that I was able to order a Guinness as I felt that there should have been none left based on my hard work that week at depleting the stores.

 With our anniversary trip done we had decided on no travel this year, Jenn is going to school in the fall and we have braces coming for the oldest and so last fall we decided NO TRAVEL but I had a feeling and sure enough Jenn's running buddies said hey no anniversary trip in 2016 now? let's do a run and so they booked a trail run in Vegas and I said well I'm not sitting on the sidelines and so in April I went to Barcelona!!!!

 I have a good friend who had never been to Europe and he had shown a lot of interest last year but had been unable to pull it off. When I emailed him in the winter he said I'm in if we can make the dates work. Summer and fall were out and slowly but surely the weeks were eliminated until we realized that we each only had one option and they matched! Looked at flights and amongst the options (we looked for direct flights that arrived early so we could hit the ground running) were Istanbul, Brussels, Copenhagen and Barcelona. So Spain it was!

 What can I say about Barcelona? It was wonderful. We didn't book much of anything, preferring to let our feet take us wandering. We checked out the Sagrada Familia, which was outstanding, and we did a walking tour of the old Gothic Quarter and otherwise we walked here and there, eating and drinking and taking in the sights. We were lucky to have sunny days with the exception of one drizzly morning and we took advantage, sitting on patios when we could and watching the world go by. We would go back to our flat late in the afternoon, it was about twenty minutes walk from the main plaza, and we'd hang out there and drink wine and relax and then we would have dinner in a neighbourhood restaurant, which meant cheap but delicious food. Sangria with the Mediterranean just metres away, tapas lunches (the food was unreal) and wine and beer at little hole in the wall joints and brew pubs.

 Our first night went off the rails, albeit slightly, up for over thirty hours and both punchy from sleep deprivation and pretty loaded to boot we ended up in a dive joint right near our flat for what would end up being our nightcap, though we didn't know it at the time. (At 9 we went to bed, setting our alarms for 11 to head out for a late dinner and more drinks, we both screwed up our alarms and woke up at 8 the next morning, probably for the best really).

 The bartender knew a bit of English but none of the patrons, nearly all grizzled seniors, though nattily dressed, did not. Still they pointed and gestured and made sure we knew to try this cheese and that ham and yes these sardines floating in vinegar and then the most enthusiastic of them, probably in his eighties, in a fine suit and cap, grabbed Trev and dragged him to the back of the shop where the barrels of wine lived and soon we were staggering home with two bottles of wine and a bottle of vermouth, 1.5 litre bottles mind, purchased for the princely sum, in total, of five Euros.

 Oh it was a good time alright!


 I am thinking a lot of those sunny days in Barcelona with the silly season upon us. On Twitter today someone asked me if my feeling of upcoming doom was based on anything other than the beatings we received over the last decade from Lowe, Tambo and MacT and truthfully I said that this was the case. I don't love Chia but other than the Reinhart deal (I was hammered all draft weekend last year on a boys' weekend, thank gord, man I called that one a stinker from day one) and of course Korpsikoski he has done pretty good work. And his track record with Boston was pretty good as well.

 Now let's get one thing straight. I am not one of these guys who says you can't trade anybody. Other than McDavid anybody can be had as long as the return makes the team better. Which means that you can't really trade Taylor Hall, who yes is that good a player.

( Quick aside, if you're going to talk about the need to trade a youngster because of culture change or because he hasn't won anything or you don't want someone because they have never won anything then seriously get the fuck out now. Now. See you later.

 The Oilers' problem is not the culture it's the fact that they have had terrible players for years. Not enough forwards, not enough D, poor goaltending. Lowe and Tambo turned a house into a paper clip. Hockey is not a video game and it's not basketball, you can't win with a couple of stars. You need talent all through your lineup and if you think that Hall or Eberle or Nugent Hopkins are the problem, well, I hate to come off as a jerk, but grow up. And spare me the 'he's a cancer in the room' bs. Who got the loudest cheer from his teammates when he took his skate with the Cup? That's right, that guy with no character, that terrible person, Phil Kessel.

 Quick story - Robbie Alomar was the best player the Toronto Blue Jays ever had and the catalyst for those great teams in the early 90s that won two World Series. There was never anything but praise for the guy until his contract began to wind down. There were negotiations and they didn't go well and all of a sudden guess what? The papers began to publish columns bashing Alomar, not for his play on the field, which was still outstanding, but for his character. Nothing that was said out loud, just whispered allusions about how he was a cancer in the clubhouse.

 What had changed? His contract status. Nothing more. And in exchange for 'insider' info more than a few of the media gladly assassinated his character in print and over the airwaves so that as the season wound down some fans began to lustily boo the greatest player in franchise history.

 So when you read or hear about a player and how he is a cancer in the locker room consider the source. It is almost certain that the messenger has an axe to grind (remember Spector and Hemsky), is carrying management's water or literally (in the case of any fan who 'knows' the inner workings of a professional hockey team) knows nothing at all.

 So dumb.)

 Now ... that rant over with, nobody is untouchable and yes the Oilers need D and, well, a lot of everything if we are honest. And if Chia gets a call that will improve the team and it will cost them Hall well then he has to make the deal. But as noted that had better be a full on number one Dman, young and under contract, no fading vet on an enormous ticket like Weber or Seabrook. And if you make that move then you still need to fill in that suddenly enormous gap up front.

 Here is the issue for the Oilers. They need to start to finally make that move. Let's be honest, if they don't have such awful luck last year they are likely in the low twenties, say 21st or 22nd in the league. McDavid and Klefbom, Nuge and Davidson and Pouliot and so on and so on, they were ravaged by injuries and didn't have the depth to hang in there. But the time is now and they need to get better. Two top four D, a couple of solid bottom sixers, a quality backup. The Islanders added two top four D for a song so don't tell me it can't be done. Now if Chia has to ship someone out then so be it but the value coming back has to be there. No UFAs to be. No might be down the roads or were good once upon a times. Sure bets. Use the pick. Use prospects. Use guys off the roster when need be but remember that dealing Eberle means a hole to fill, dealing Nuge means a hole to fill, dealing Klefbom means the same. That's fine but if they can fill the holes without taking from the roster then all the better.

 All of those years where they discarded NHL players for literally nothing? (I still am not over Petry, my oh my they made a hash out of that). Well now is the time to reverse the trend, or to continue it really - Sekera, Talbot, Kassian, Maroon, Davidson. This is what they need to do.

 Here's hoping Chia can do it, it's been a long time coming. And yeah I am terrified that someone is going to be moved for ten cents on the dollar. I can't help it anymore. :(

 Think good thoughts, think good thoughts, think good thoughts .......


Murat said...

So far so good. My read on the draft is that Chiarelli had his contingencies and flow charts all drawn up - something with #4 was good to go - and then, when JP became available it was just a matter of following the "if CLB is dumb" path down the flowchart. I like this sort of planning. It speaks to a shit ton of homework.

Someone on Twitter posted the other day (I don't know when - it was in my "while you were away") to the effect that life looks wonderful except for everything that Matty tweets. Truer words have seldom been tweeted (twittered? twat?)

Anyway. Chiarelli has done well so far. The one concern is that, unlike Tambellini who was as low event of a GM as I've ever seen, Chiarelli is a bit more of a volume shooter. There are going to be moves and there are going to be more hits than misses but there will be misses. Lucic is fine even though I have all day for Pouliot but what of the D? I live in a world where Edmonton can be good with all of 97/4/93/27 under the cap - it's nice here, the wine is delicious and almost as cheap as what you found in Barcelona - so until the moves are made I will always be a little bit weary.

I can think of no other words to close this post than these: your travels! well played, you lucky bastard :)

Black Dog said...

ah back when we were young and naive my friend ;)