Thursday, August 20, 2009
A few weeks ago, on the eve of our trip up north, I managed to get out for an evening with two old friends. We've known each other for over twenty years now, since early on in our university days. Lots of good times. Lots of beer and cigarettes. Some recreational drug use. Road trips. Chasing women (well two of us anyways). You know, the usual shit that young guys get into.
We all live in the city now. Two of us have kids. We all have pretty good jobs. We've done well. We've been lucky. Two of us play hockey together and so we see each other weekly. The three of us try and get together every few months. Our nights out are always trips out to a pub and over many pints we shoot the shit until we wobble boozily off into the night. Pretty sedate really but always they are fine times, really fine.
So on this evening we met up in the Annex at our buddy's new place. We sat on the porch and had a couple of beers while his kids wandered in and out of the front door. His wife, whom we have also known forever, sat with us. It was good conversation. It always is. We talked about our travels this summer, future plans, the kids, gossip about mutual friends.
And through the conversation a dark thread dodged here and there. My father in law's issues (he's doing very well these days btw), operations and travails of aging for our own parents, a good friend of mine's divorce, friends of another separated, a work colleague battling cancer, an old friend doing the same, the passing of a friend's mother. A lot of bad news in the past year. A lot of tough times. And finally I turned and remarked to Sharon that maybe, just maybe, this was the new normal for us, that at our age this was something we might need to get used to. And we laughed a little at that, fully knowing that maybe there was some truth to what I had said, though we were hoping that it was just a run of bad news.
We wandered down the tree lined streets to Bloor and ducked into the Victory Cafe where we sat at the bar and drank some IPAAAAA and a stout or two. Stories about crazy travels and school days and jerking off and hockey and then we hopped in a cab and headed over to Ossington to check out a new joint that two old friends just recently opened up. We hadn't seen them in years and as we piled out of the taxi into the rain soaked street, warm night, laughing people we immediately saw him outside of his bar, hugs and claps on the back and smiles for long lost friends and then into the dark beauty of the bar, art and music and lovely young women and generous drinks on the house and so pints of Guinness and then outside for cigarettes (reformed smokers all of us but one and he the one, the social smoker, who brought sweet sweet tobacco) and then back in and here she is and now shots of whiskey and more pints and then Irish Car Bombs and outside into the warm damp and back in again and more hugs and the roaring of laughter and then with midnight long past and work staring the two of them in the face and a long drive for me this new day we finally staggered out into the night and went our separate ways. And this wonderful night, glorious, we knew it would be one to remember as we smoked our cigarettes on the sidewalk, warm with the booze and holding onto each other tight, because this is what its all about, with all that we are facing, the tough times here and now and those to come, and who knows when they will come for you, when those cells deep inside of you turn on you or that guy in incoming traffic has had himself a dozen beers already today and so you had better hold on tight and go man go while you can. Yes you had better.
So damn serious, huh? No not really. Its the plain truth of course, you never know when your time is up so you had better make something of your days. Nothing too fancy deep about that. And of course this is a hockey blog after all, in the end and its about a diversion and fun and those damn Oilers.
We've been waiting for four summers now for the shit and while there have been some good days there have been a lot of bad days and most of all there have been days where we've just wondered if anything was ever going to happen to address the holes in the roster. This summer has seen an expensive old goalie come to town and Kotalik and Brodziak leave and other than the pursuit of Heatley pretty well a whole lot of nothing.
With Kotalik and Brodziak leaving the forward corps is smaller and amazingly even less experienced than before. I look at this group and it just doesn't work.
Is that it? I like the back end. I really do. Its not a bad blueline at all. I don't know if we are going to see the good or the bad Khabibulin and even if we see the good one I have no faith in his backup.
But that forward group leaves me cold. Your fourth line, if that's what it is, is a far cry from that group two seasons ago. O'Sullivan has come out and said that he is not interested in playing centre but whether or not it is him or Pouliot or Cogliano centring Moreau and Pisani that is not a line that's going ot be able to handle much in the way of tough opposition, imo. Horcoff, Hemsky and their LW will be just fine but does anyone believe the kids, whatever kids they are, will feast on the soft stuff?
But its becoming pretty clear that our expectations that something is going to happen are not going to be met.
Lowe has painted this club into a nice corner with his past moves as there is very little room to add any salary. Tambellini hasn't helped his own cause by adding O'Sullivan and Khabibulin. I like O'Sullivan but he is redundant on this roster unless they move someone else out. As for Khabibulin, well they could have had someone and a better backup for less, I believe.
Now all is not lost. I think that they have to move one of O'Sullivan or Nilsson. There isn't the room on the roster for both and I am thinking they can dump one of them to a club that is looking for offence.
And then they'll have a little more room to play with and they can bring in a true tough minutes centre and hopefully a winger too. At this point the guys who are left on the market are starting to sign and they're not getting a lot. Read the article on Comrie today and I think a lot of these guys are thinking about Jeff Friesen and Tony Amonte and Anson Carter and a whole lot of guys who have been in the NHL one year and in Germany or retired the next, just quietly fading away. So yeah they can get Dominic Moore or Malholtra or Betts or whomever they would like and once you get rid of the guy that they are replacing then there won't be a huge jump against the cap.
But having said all that while Matheson and Barnes et al say that a defenceman will be moved or help will be on its way when I read quotes from Tambellini and Quinn about staying the course and essentially going with the same roster this season as last all I can think is oh shit here we go again.
Time for a pint and a smoke. Or a dozen of each please.
Posted by Black Dog at 9:35 PM