Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Haven't seen any papers or blogs yet today. Learned about the trade in the thread over at the BoA, almost immediately after I posted with extraordinary confidence that it sounded to me like they had a deal with Smyth, Andy Grabia posted that there was a deal indeed.
For some perspective on where I am coming from before I continue let me say this. I grew up a Chicago Blackhawk fan and was until probably about 1999, I believe. Despite Bill Wirtz and Bob Pulford's incompetence I hung in there and in the early 90's saw Mike Keenan put together a fine team. And then watched as Pulford had Keenan dispatched in a power struggle and then slowly but surely gutted that once proud franchise. Believe me when I say that for those of you who hate EIG they have nothing on the Blackhawks' ownership. Nothing.
So, like pretty well every other fan of that once proud franchise, I withdrew my affections. A tough thing to do but also an easy choice in the end.
My favourite player at about this time was a young Ryan Smyth. His enthusiasm, his grit, his small town Canadian persona, his dopiness, his skill - he was an easy guy to cheer for and a fun guy to watch. One thing led to another and I became a fan of his club.
Without Ryan Smyth I likely would not have become a fan of the Edmonton Oilers.
So, as you can see by my last post before this one, I was slightly taken aback by what happened yesterday.
So, today, what do I think about this?
I wish Ryan Smyth was an Oiler for life. I am going to miss him and the team is going to miss him. I think the contract negotiations were botched and the trade may have botched as well, although the Leafs knew about his availability so the Islanders were not the only one.
I think the Oilers are doing what many have suspected all along (and Dennis at IOF said this last summer) - they are rebuilding. They are ahead of the curve - this isn't the Penguins finishing at the bottom of the league year after year - but they are rebuilding.
Having said that I think this year has been a disaster and a slap in the face to Oilers' fans. Not because of what happened yesterday (and why did they not trade Sykora or Markannen? Out with my buddy who is a Sabres' fan last night and he for one was very surprised at that) but because even in this rebuilding year they had a shot at the playoffs at least but Lowe failed to do anything to address their holes on the backend.
So, after all of that, you know what?
I think they were smart to trade him if they could not sign him. Getting two prospects and a first round pick is a good return. Will O'Marra and Nilsson pan out? Maybe not. But I like this trade more then what Forsberg brought the Flyers.
And, (big gulp), they may have been right not to sign him.
Look, I don't know the details of what was being offered and what he was asking. And everyone knows that I have beating the drum for him to be signed all season, 5 years at 25, I said. Do it.
But there has to be some point where you say enough. And 5.5, I think, was too much.
This is not about EIG being able to afford that. They could.
Its about building your team smartly. Chris Pronger made 6 million a year. Is Ryan Smyth worth 500K less then that?
I don't think so. Now, who is going to replace his goals? I don't know. And who is going to replace the intangibles, the fact that he was the heart and soul of this club? I don't know that either.
But I was at the Leaf game last night and watched the Leafs get absolutely crushed by Ryan Miller, the Buffalo Sabres' D and the Rochester Americans forwards.
Bryan McCabe who is under contract for four more years at 5.25 I believe, with a no movement clause, was booed every time he touched the puck after enormous gaffes on his part led to three straight Sabres' goals. Also on the ice at times for the Leafs - Kaberle (who is a terrific player) and Raycroft (who was pulled for the second straight game). Also Mats Sundin who will likely get a hefty extension soon. And in the pressbox - Pavel Kubina and the newly signed (4 years) Darcy Tucker.
Every single guy except Sundin signed longterm. Ad he probably will be too.
In 2011 Bryan McCabe will cost the Leafs over 5 million a year. He will be 36. And he will still be a lousy defenceman.
I looked at the Sabres. Young player after young player storming the Leafs' end. They might have won the Cup last season. They are favourites this year. After this season Drury and Briere are both UFAs and one or both will leave. And the Sabres will be in it again next year. I guarantee it. Why? Young players coming down the pipe to replace those who leave.
I have said it before. The key in the league now is to amass young and cheap players. Tying yourself to big longterm contracts for aging players is a surefire way to ensure that you will not contend.
And, yes, Moreau and Staios have been given longterm deals, I know that. But a 2M contract can be moved pretty easily. Even 2.7.
5.5 Million? Nobody is taking that baby on.
So, farewell Ryan Smyth. Best of luck to you. In an ideal world the Oilers would have signed you . In my fantasy they bring you back at the deadline four years from now, the last piece of the puzzle on a Stanley Cup contending team and you lead the boys to victory.
Here in the real world, I'll just say good luck and thanks for all of the great memories.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Monday, February 26, 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Got down to the ACC tonight to see the Oilers.
Had a couple of pints and a decent dinner with my best friend. He's a fair sized wig at Honda. We get out every year for a game, on them. This year beat it all - third row from the ice just to the left of the net - home end.
Pretty damn good. Right in the Platinum Club they call it. Walk down to take a leak and some guy is slicing roast beef. You can get yourself a 40 dollar sandwich.
I did not.
Before the game on the scoreboard and I am paraphrasing - "The Leafs - we have more fans then any other team in hockey" - something to that effect.
Now they might but that was just weird. Richard Peddie's fingerprints all over that one. We have more fans then any other team in hockey and also have gone longer then any team but Chicago without a Cup.
Saw the Roots guy, the one with the gigantic eyebrows but no other celebrities. A lot of Toronto establishment folk, much like European royalty - a lot of inbreds and more money then sense but that's ok, so it goes.
The opening ceremony was alright. Some of those old fellows look pretty vigourous, George Armstrong was most impressive. Bob Pulford took a break from destroying the Blackhawks (his work is pretty well done) to attend. Keon got a nice ovation but it was not what I expected. I thought there would be more to it but that's the Leafs' crowd. Allan Stanley came out with bright red hair. That was odd.
First period was pretty good. Smyth line had two straight two on ones. On the first Smyth likely should have passed to Hemsky but missed on the shot by inches. On the second Horc sent a beauty pass over and it hopped over Ales' stick. So it goes.
When you see it live as rarely as I do you forget how big the players are and how fast.
So with last change Maurice got out who he wanted out there but the Smyth line dominated all game anyhow - it was much like how Tyler described the Sabres game. They didn't have a lot of terrific chances but they were all over the Leafs at every turn. But after that well this looked like the Oilers of old, a lot of try but not a lot of talent.
And they're small - jeez the Leafs pushed them around. The Oilers didn't back down so fair play to them but man they didn't get a lot going on in the high traffic area in front.
Really noticed a lot of little things. Smith was just plain solid. Staios too, despite getting overwhelmed by Sundin on the fourth goal. Hejda as well, he just does the little things well.
A guy who impressed - Laddy Smid. He screwed up on the fourth goal with a bad pass - just left it there and the end result about thirty seconds later - a goal. But over all - the kid can skate, he has poise and he can move the puck. He had a good game.
Bergeron, meh. On the second Pohl goal he hung Nedved out to dry I thought. The better play was to get it out, to give it to a guy in front of the net with Kilger right on top of him wasn't too bright ... but that's Bergeron.
Greene - well classic Greene. He's behind the net in the second for about twenty seconds or so while everyone sets up and then I don't even know what the fuck he did but he pops it off of someone so suddenly its an odd man situation deep in the Oilers' zone. Everyone sort of said how the fuck did that happen? It was almost Steve Smith redux.
Well, its Matt Greene.
Toronto crowd is odd. The whole scene is odd. Go for a leak and there's the sushi bar. And of course just a quiet group.
Anyhow up front the Oilers are just missing too much. You have Peterson and Lupul playing with Sykora so nothing is happening there. Lupul will initiate contact but he is such a pussy. Anytime someone pushes back or initiates contact he folds. Early in the game he has the puck just inside the Oiler blueline, has to chip it three inches. And Pohl I believe it was outmuscled him and kept the puck in. For a contrast Reasoner fought off two Leafs at one point to get the puck out on the PK. And Nedved, Reasoner and Stortini bust their asses but they generate nothing. So that's two lines down.
But some hope tonight. Pouliot was terrific. Obviously there was the penalty shot and they also gave him the third goal though it looked like Smyth got it to me. In any case the kid can play. He made a number of plays at a high speed that were big time plays. And he can create something out of nothing. Early in the third on a two on two, I believe it was, he got over the blueline, stopped dead, and a a quick, accurate and hard shot that Raycroft had to make a nice save on.
Anyhow the kid looked great. Lowetide would have been proud. And Thoresen had a nice game as well. Same deal as Pouliot. Good sense, good skater, gets his nose dirty and plays at a high tempo. Had that chance in close. Looked at the sky right in front of us and let out a mighty "FUCK" - he's frustrated.
But there were a couple of differences in the game and likely why the Oilers will be on the outside and the Leafs may be in the playoffs.
The Leafs have six Dmen, of whom five can move the puck and move it well. The Oilers have, well, nobody. Staios, Smith, Smid and Hejda did ok tonight but that's ok, not good. The Leafs had five who did the job well.
The other thing - John Pohl scored two nice goals. Who? Right. When it was 1-0 it looked like the Oilers wouldn't even get the equalizer.
Thoresen and Pouliot were great, I thought, but when you have two kids showing better sense, better skill and more heart then the guys who should be picking up the slack - Torres, Sykora, Lupul - well, you're not making the playoffs.
Anyhow, if you made it this far, I'm not sure what they show on HNIC but they kept interviewing the oldtimers at the breaks. Keon, Bower and so on. Beauty moment, I'm talking classic, they're interviewing Bower and Red Kelly (the man on the right of the pic up top - eight cups I believe). So the final draw in 67, Stanley wins the faceoff back to Kelly who gets it to Pulford who gives it to Armstrong who scores the empty netter to clinch, right.
So they ask Kelly to describe it and he says " Well Stanley wins it back to me and I get it to Pully and of course he moves it real quick to Army and of course he's an Indian so he shoots it nice and straight, just like an arrow, into the net."
Beauty. Just a beauty.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Its a wonderful thing. Sometimes when the big fella and I are out for a stroll I daydream of what might have been if things had gone a little differently last June 19th or of an improbable yet successful run this spring.
Recent arrival to the scene, Katie O'D, made a reference to the little fellows on the left in her last post. They are the Backyardigans. My three year old digs them and, truth be told, so do I. I have actually watched this show when nobody else was in the house. And I don't watch a lot of any TV. My favourite is the little guy on the right, Austin. I think he's a kangaroo. My daughter's favourite is Uniqua, who is standing to Austin's right. She is some type of bug. Her clothing is the same pattern as her skin so I'm not sure if she is a type of cannibalistic bug but anyhow.
So the deal with these guys is that every day they go on a big adventure. It all happens in their backyards but they use their imaginations to create these wild and crazy worlds. They go surfing, to Mars, to Africa etc. They are Vikings, pirates, detectives ... every episode ends with someone's stomach growling. The background fades back into their backyards and they go for a snack.
The power of imagination.
With your Edmonton Oilers digging through three feet of snow to get into Buffalo tonight to play Les Sabres, two days after falling to the lowly Bruins, seven points behind Wild on Jack Lemaire and no return for Stoll or Pisani in sight, methinks maybe these guys might be needed to suit up.
I'm afraid its about up for our boys and its a damn shame. It looks like Lowe had his plan and it failed, whether by design or through a combination of bad luck and stubbornness. Who knows?
Its the damn dead of winter (yes, its finally arrived here in the Centre of the Universe - no sign of the Princess Pats yet but we'll see if we get more snow) and while we're getting by its too bad that there will be no dash for a playoff spot to cheer on this season. Other then that things are looking good. Going to see the Oilers play the Leafs on Saturday and will also be catching the Sabres when they come into town in a couple of weeks. We have discovered a babysitter on our street which means dinner and drinks on separate occasions next week (those with small children will recognize the ridiculous thrill that brings) and also that my summer hockey season which looked doomed (wife works same night) has been saved. Add to that my invitation to our club team's big Easter tournament for the first time and things are looking up all around.
Except for one place. I'd sure as hell rather be dreaming of a Cup parade in June then what Lowe is going to get when he starts to sell.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Friday, February 09, 2007
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Just like his team.
Big win today leaves them two up on the Avs and four back of the Wild and they could be in a lot worse position. It looks like it will be these three and maybe the Canucks fighting for the last two spots. The pretenders have all begun to fade. Post coaching change surges have mostly ended. If ten points out is your point of no return in terms of falling out of the race, well only the Coyotes are there now. If they lose tonight they're not even there.
Look out East and the 14th place team is 10 points out. Imagine. Ten points out but you have to get by six other teams to get that spot.
I've always been glass half full and that's why this whole argument that the Oilers have to get to 94 points to make the playoffs and therefore win 20 of their last 30 games has me a bit confused. Maybe its the new math. They have to catch one team. If they finish ahead of that team and the Avs then they are in. They have to win 20 games if the Wild win 18 and the Avs win 21. I don't think the Oilers win 20 but I don't see either of those happening either. Not with Fernandez hurting in Minnesota, that's for sure.
Now if Shaggy finally gets back then you're taking one of Smid, Bergeron or Greene out of the mix. Add your missing piece, whoever he may be, and then you move a second of those into the pressbox. Hell, add two and they're all out of the mix (and Bergeron is likely wearing a different uniform as well). A far different team then.
Having said that, and there's a reason Mr. Torres is pictured above, if Lowe trades Raffi or even Lupul for 25 games worth of Brad Stuart then I would hope he loses his job the morning after.
The name of the game now (and forever really) is amassing young, cheap assets who can contribute. Now neither Torres nor Lupul has set the world on fire this season but moving either of them , one season removed from 27 and 28 goals respectively, both under 26 years of age, for a rental, as has been rumoured, doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
Well, fuck the Boston Bruins if that's what they want. Fuck them up their stupid asses.
It was either Bob MacKenzie at TSN or David Shoalts at the Globe who said, essentially, that any team that would trade a decent young cheap player for a UFA to be like Stuart is likely a team that hasn't had a lot of success and is probably not going to have a lot of success because the GM is a dim bulb. In my opinion, if the Oilers were flush with good young forwards who could score in bunches or rattle some cages and they were on the cusp of a deep run, I might make this move.
They aren't in either case so I don't.
Now if Stuart or Brewer came with a newly signed contract with the Oilers or someone like Pitkanen or one of the kids from Chicago was coming the Oilers' way, well then, move what you have to, within reason. But for a pure rental? Use your head.
One last note - in Duhatschek's weekly column today he makes some comments on the Bruins and on the Oilers as well. He touches on the falloff in Sykora's play, the success of Smyth/Horc/Hemsky since being reunited, Stoll's breakout season, Pisani, Torres and Lupul failing to meet offensive expectations, the failure of the Nedved gamble. He also opines that Torres will not be moved. Even with his inconsistency he brings one thing this team lacks, especially with Moreau out, a physical presence up front.
And later on in the column: --- The Oilers started negotiations on a multi-year contract for right winger Ryan Smyth last week and the guessing is that the two sides will eventually come to terms on a deal for five years averaging $5 million per season.
So maybe things are about to get finalized there?
In this crazy year, one sign of sanity? (Although I know some will disagree.)
Friday, February 02, 2007
Anyhow, chain letter. Typical Friday night. Wife at work. Kids in bed. Beer in hand. Getting ready to check out some internet pornography.
So why not?
Team: Edmonton Oilers
Uniform Number: 28
Nickname: Shirley, Bob Marley, The Longest Ball, Crazy Legs, Dirty Old Man, Shitfuck, Peanut Butter Balls, Whackoff, The Shortbread Kid, Nice Head
Dream Linemates: Smyth and Pisani because I need all the help I can get plus that means we'd spend all of our time together and I love them both. Not in a gay way. Well, ok, in a gay way.
Rounding out the PP: Horc and Bergeron. Horc for the same reasons stated above. Bergeron because he would make me look good. Because he's bad. Get it?
Job: Energy guy. In other words, I'm the guy the crowd loves because I'm just thisfarabove their skill level. Also I'd instigate trouble and then hide behind Smith. "Just try him. Go ahead. Try him! C'mon, you stupid fucker, try him!" Comedic relief when team is doing poorly.
Signature Move: Distracting the other team by feigning a heart attack, thus allowing my teammates to run rampant. Or maybe having a real heart attack. Depends on the night, I guess.
Also smoking while playing.
Strengths: Lots of heart. Ability to raise the puck, well at least 50% of the time. Big hair. Corduroy coat. Ability to give advice to younger teammates. Large balls. Loves to drink. A lot!
Weaknesses: Dvorak like knack for blowing golden opportunities (alas, too true), the drink, loose women.
Injury Problems: Sore hair. Inflamed pubic area and other varieties of the clap.
Equipment: Throwback everything, Jimmy.
Nemesis: Tie Domi. He cries from my cruel mockery of his pathetic existence. Also punks like Maltby, Chelios, you know the type.
Scandal Involvement: Constant dropping of the soap in team shower, playing drunk, sleeping with Karen Percy, caught masturbating on bench, caught jerking off in the press box, caught pulling the goalie in the penalty box, caught playing the back nine between periods, caught slapping the salami in front of the net, etc etc. Also forced to retire after going Eddie Shore on Tie Domi and killing him by clubbing him over his stupid head. And then peeing on him.
Who I'd face in the Cup Finals: The Leafs. Because it would make me laugh to see them come so close. Did you realize they haven't even made the finals in 40 years? How sad is that?
What I'd Do With the Cup after We won: Melt it down, sell it and use the money to buy coke and hookers, thus ensuring that I would live in Infamy. (That's between Kap and Swastika, up in Northern Ontario for you Westerners).
Would the media love me or hate me?: They'd love me until they realized that when I invited them over for peanut butter balls at Christmas I would greet them naked except for peanut butter on my big wrinkly bag. Then they wouldn't like me so much. Except for Martine Gaillard.