Monday, August 20, 2007

Identity



Busiest summer in a long time, work is crazy and to top it all off no internet at home since Friday.


But September approaches. Hoorah!


I have always been Mr. Positive when it comes to the Oilers but after last season I guess you can count me amongst the skeptics for the upcoming season. I'm thinking no playoffs but I'm also thinking that it won't be a huge disaster, which is what I was leaning towards earlier.
One reason for THE REAWAKENING OF HOPE is my belief that this season is going to hopefully see a return, in some ways, to the Oilers of old. For years this was the little team that could, the "young Oilers" who battled for a playoff spot year in and year out, sometimes getting in, sometimes not, but always leaving no doubt that they had left everything out on the ice. Dallas may have knocked them out when they made the playoffs but they always gave them a little scare. In the end the kids couldn't get it done but they were alright. Even in their run of 2006 they did their best work as underdogs. After Lowe loaded up at the deadline the team struggled, unsure of what to do as they now had actual expectations. Barely sliding in as the eighth seed was more to their liking and then they went on their beauty run.
Go back to last fall and you had a new team and new expectations. Roloson, Pisani, Stoll, Horcoff, Hemsky, Moreau and Staios all cashed in. Guys came to camp after a summer of basking in the glow (Stoll and Torres both admitted to not being ready for the season). Trying to remake the gritty team of 2006 with softer skilled guys failed. For the first time in fifteen years the team was fat and happy, with the exception of Smyth who was playing for his contract and a handful of veterans who you could never see getting fat or happy.
And so here is an intangible reason for believing that this season will be better. Reports from California have a large number of Oilers working their asses off in preparation for the season. They have already been written off, by and large. On paper they look like a team full of holes but looking back over the past ten years (check the roster of the team that beat the Avs) there were a lot of teams with more holes then this one who fared ok.
I still don't like the Souray deal at all (Lowe is another example of a GM who has done poorly now that he has the restraints off it seems) but I'm thinking there are a whole whack of players with a lot to prove this season. A burr in their collective saddle may give this team the identity that they seemed to lose last year.




9 comments:

Loxy said...

I'll email you in the next day or two to set up a podcasting time. :)

Big T said...

I'm cautiously optimistic as well and expect the team will not be out of the playoff hunt until the last weeks of the season.

Ken Hitchcock was on NHL Home Ice today and since he's a Edmonton resident the guys asked him about his feeling towards the apparent lack of UFA's wanting to play for the Oil.

Basically, he said he just laughed at the thought and commented how foolish it was to rule out playing in Edmonton. Had another beauty comment as well regarding how odd it was that seemingly hockey players didn't want to live in hockey weather.

At the end of the interview he had a couple comments regarding the team and how much it had been remade in the off-season. Said what a different team they would be and how they would be a fun team to watch and expected them to have success. Finished off by saying how he thought they'd be a tough team to play against because their transition game would most likely be so good. The inflection in his voice also made me think that he held back from saying that he thought this could also make them vulnerable.

Hitch is a smart hockey guy but I have to think he was a little softer on the home team than what he really feels. Most interesting to me was his comments regarding the back-end. That he sees the transition game as being important and driven by the defenders as opposed to the forwards. Made me consider whether forwards are the ones driving the bus or not. Still unsure of this.


T

uni said...

I'd say more of a combination of the two.

If you don't have the D to get the puck out of your own zone and trouble, and they lack the skill or creativity to get the puck to the forwards; nothing the forwards do will matter very much, unless the forwards start getting the puck in their own zone and breakout themselves.

By the same token, you can have a team of all stars on the back end that make the sweetest beauty outlet passes you've ever seen, but if the forwards have stones for hands, lead for feet, and bobbins for brains then odds are they're not going to do much with it but turn it over. Unless of course you have Bobby Orr back there and he just rushes end to end.

Also ditto Black Dog, you're starting to resemble that wide-eyed optimist from last Summer.

I still think Mikhnov is going to show up at camp even if he's not coming this year and dominate...well maybe not that so much but another 8th seed finish and march to the finals would be nice. Puppy dogs and blue skies.

Andy Grabia said...

Try and beat cock muscle, Pat!

Black Dog said...

Whenever I get some privacy Andy.

Oh wait ...

Andy Grabia said...

Man, it took me about ten hours to get my own joke. I raced back here to comment on it, but of course you beat me to it. Well, not beat, but, uh...whatever.

grease trap said...

That's one of the best photos of Horcoff I've ever seen.

Andy: as long as he doesn't talk about you in congress with a bag lady, I'll be happy.

Andy Grabia said...

He's a congressman?

Black Dog said...

The Senator slept with a hobo?