Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In This Country


Pulled into the driveway just after midnight this morning after two straight 1100 km days.

You don't know discouraged until you look at the clock, its coming on dinner time and you've only put about 500 kilometres behind you.

We stumbled out of the van like POWS getting out of the hole after the camp has been liberated. Staggering, gaunt, hollow eyed, the stench of urine and feces and most of all desperate fear.

And that was just me.

Yesterday morning we piled into the van after a night spent in Berthierville and my eldest announced that the van smelled like underwear.

Since Thursday we've driven 3000 kilometres.

But we made it. And the amazing thing is that after this the 1700 km back is going to seem like a piece of cake.
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Northern Ontario is one of those parts of Canada that should be seen. You have your standard Canadiana that everyone sees or knows about - Vancouver and the mountains, Banff and Jasper, the Stampede, West Edmonton Mall, the Falls, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, PEI, the Cabot Trail, the Bay of Fundy, your great national parks, Ottawa.

You have the places that most folks make it to or experience - St. John's, Halifax, the endless Prairies, Vancouver Island, the Okanagan.

And then you have those that bubble underneath. Places that have to be seen to be believed but that are often overlooked due to distance or size or just pure anonymity. Cities like Winnipeg and Edmonton (a friend of mine has been across most of the country and rates Edmonton after Montreal and Toronto as his favourite town), the Gaspe, the outports and interior of Newfoundland, the Yukon, the Kootenays, the south shore of Nova Scotia, Acadian New Brunswick.

And Northern Ontario.

We were in Goulais for two days and when there you can see what those crazy settlers saw in it. Nestled on the shore of vast Superior, the cliffs of the rugged Highlands behind it, pine and spruce and the enormous sky. Its beautiful. From Goulais we rushed east along the north shore of Huron, over three hundred kilometres until Sudbury, the forests and rock cuts interspersed with some farmland and scrub where long gone homesteads once rose from the Shield and a dozen tiny towns, all but Blind River home to six hundred folks or less. In all but the smallest there is a war memorial and a chipstand. The next biggest would have an LCBO and then the largest would have a rink as well and more then one chipstand, of course. In many there are tiny museums that tell of the loggers and miners and farmers who arrived in the middle of nowhere two centuries ago, from Scotland and Ireland and Finland and Germany and all over Europe and the States, all to carve out a new life in the wilderness. And between the towns trading posts selling moccasins and Indian crafts and on the reserves the small stores advertising cheap smokes.

East of Sudbury its old French settlements and neat farms as the highway wends east past Verner and Warren and then Sturgeon Falls. More trading posts and more chipstands with fresh cut fries and sweet pickerel battered brown and poutine drowning in gravy and then great Nipissing extending into the distance south of the highway as you come into North Bay, perched on the northeast corner of the grand lake.

This is my country, of course, and so I am biased through and through, but a week spent wandering the forests and lakes and tiny towns uninterrupted in Northern Ontario is something each Canadian who wants to know their country should do. Even all of the nothing is truly something.

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Now I have a ton of reading to do. I haven't the foggiest about the draft other then the Swede and the Brodziak trade.

Not sure about that move. A third and a fourth for Brodziak and a sixth is a decent return but on a club that was inexperienced and weak up the middle, on draws and on the PK trading a centreman who was over 51% on draws and was on the PK and had a couple of years under his belt strikes me as a bit odd especially when I read that his spot may now be Brule's to lose. I guess they plan on bringing in a centre who can play tough minutes, PK and win some draws because if not Horcoff will never come off the ice.

I liked Brodziak and its a shame to see him go. Remember two seasons ago when he and Glencross and Stortini had that nice run eating up the other clubs' dregs? And now both Glencross and he are gone, both to division rivals, both for reasonable dough and likely Brodziak, like Glencross, to take on a bigger role.

Oh well, we'll see, I guess. Not much has happened but its not just the Oilers who are running in place. Some small signings and a typical bold move from Sutter. Say what you will about the guy (and I think I'd be grumpy too after thirty years of answering inane questions from the likes of Terry Jones and Pierre Maguire) but he never leaves anything on the table - he is not afraid to go out there and try and improve his club.
In general though we're talking about the calm before the storm, I think. There will be some movement overnight and then tomorrow the madness.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dispatch From The Woods


After living in the concrete jungle all of these years I'm always amazed by mosquitos. The little bastards. You don't see them in Toronto but of course you get north of the 401 and dusk hits and they'll carry you off if you're not careful. Apparently Toronto is slowly seeping into my being but I think the next few weeks will cure some of that.

The Oilers pick up Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson in the draft. The usual noise about moving up and the usual non results but they were going to get a nice pick at 10 and probably weren't blown away enough by anyone other then the top three to push for a jump.

I know little about the Swede other then what I have read the last week or so but a lot of folks more tied in then me liked him a lot and that's good enough for me. Big and skilled is a nice combination and he plays LW which has been a sinkhole once they started breaking up the '06 club.

So a nice start. As noted by Ykoil, Howson made a nice move and so did Philadelphia. And do I understand this correctly? Basically the Ducks got three years of Pronger at value and a Cup for a second round pick in the end?

Even when I'm on the other side of the moon Lowe makes my blood boil.

When we make the Island I'm going to have a ton of reading to catch up on. Hopefully Tambellini will have a good next few days.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Into The Heart Of Darkness – Goulais Goulais, Goulais Goulais



Uno, dos, one, two, tres, quatro
Matty told Patty about a thing he knew.
Dani Heatley will cost you Gilbert too.
Goulais goulais, Goulais goulais.
Goulais goulais, Goulais goulais,
Goulais goulais.
Patty told Matty, "Let's don't take no chance.
Let's not be L-seven, don’t ruin the defence."
Goulais goulais, Goulais goulais.
Goulais goulais, Goulais goulais,
Goulais goulais
Matty told Patty, "It's the thing to do.
No guts, no glory, do you like to lose?"
Goulais goulais, Goulais goulais.
Goulais goulais, Goulais goulais,
Goulais goulais

Thursday we pick up my eldest from her last day of kindergarten and hit the road.
Man are we hitting it.
To Sudbury and then Friday to Goulais for a gathering of the clan.
Here’s three things you don’t know about Goulais River.
Hell, who am I kidding? Here’s the first three things you’ll learn about Goulais River.

1/ It was founded in May 1878 by Frederick and Sarah Tilley who sailed across Lake Huron, into Lake Superior, looked around and decided that nobody would ever ever ever find them here. No word on whether they were wearing Tilley hats when they made their voyage.
They were wrong because soon a small trickle of settlers also concluded that the Bruce peninsula in the early 1880s was not isolated enough for them.
"TOO MANY PEOPLE!", they likely shouted when the mailman came by during his rounds. "WEREN’T YOU JUST HERE THREE MONTHS AGO?" (shakes fist)

2/ The actual Goulais River comes tumbling down out of the Algoma Highlands and then wends its way through the granite and spruce until it empties gently into Superior, passing under a bridge that allows the TransCanada to pass. On either side of the river a road takes off of the highway and heads down towards the lake and the town lies along these two roads. Near the mouth of the river a bridge joins the two again. As you drive along the northern road you pass a cottage here and a modern home there, the odd church and a ball field and then a beautiful ornate sign that reads "Welcome To Downtown Goulais River".

And there is a general store and then you have gone through downtown.

3/ People from the Soo call people from Goulais "Gouligans". And the Soo is a pretty tough town.
We’re up there for the weekend and then sometime Sunday, depending on the degree of hangover, we will begin the trek east. Its times like these that one wishes one lived in Belgium, a country that you could cycle the length of in a day. Of course there is a reason that the Germans and French and countless other hordes of invaders always rolled right through Belgium but never quite were able to do the same in the Russian steppes. Thousands of miles and you’re still not even halfway there. Canada too. What a country! The entire trip is going to be just under 5000km when all is said and done, 800 of that from Toronto to Goulais, 2200 from Goulais to the Island. And then the trip back once we’ve recovered from the journey out there. ;)
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We’ll be in the Soo for the draft and I might even be able to do a quick post Saturday morning – here’s hoping anyhow. Sunday and Monday we’ll be on the road so for selfish reasons I hope Tambellini doesn’t put the pedal down until the 30th but likely he will get something done before then.

This could be an amazing two weeks and at the end of it we could be looking at a vastly different league. The list of players who are free agents or rumoured to be on the block is a who’s who of NHL talent – the Sedins, Ohlund, Cammelleri, Pronger, Smyth, Gaborik, Frolov, Marleau (and any number of other Sharks), Bouwmeester, Vinny L., Hossa, Havlat, Kovalev, Koivu, Tanguay, Komiserek, Kessel, Briere, Gionta, Spezza, some guy named Heatley etc etc ad nauseum.
Not to mention the guys who we don't know about who teams may move in order to take runs at the aforementioned.

And rumours swirl. The latest, as noted by PDO in the last thread, has Horcoff going to Ottawa and Mike Fisher coming back along with Heatley.

Seems like pretty well everyone is in play.
I grew up when players played for one team, maybe two. Matt Fenwick did a post some time ago about players playing their entire careers with one club. This is rare now of course. And in the comments of that thread I brought up the Chicago club from '71, iirc. The majority of players on that team played for only Chicago in their careers. Another large group of them may have started or finished their careers elsewhere but usually (like Tony Esposito) it was a cup of coffee - these guys played a decade or more for the Hawks.

I miss that but of course that is also why I would be an absolute failure as a general manager. You think Lowe handed out beauty contracts to his veterans or hangs onto obviously failed prospects for far too long?

If I were in charge Marchant would still be centring Grier and Moreau and Floppy Neck Murray would be on an airplane back from Finland or Glasgow or wherever he's playing right now. (Outer Mongolia?)

That's my problem. In my mind these guys are like my beer league team. They're all terrific guys who are good friends and are fun to go out for beers with after the game. Trade one of them? Even if it meant getting better?

Shut yo mouf!

Having said that I draw the line at Horcoff.

And Fernando.

You don't want to see me beg, do you? Its an awful sight. Just ask my wife.
Ba dum ba.

Heart of Darkness, indeed.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Madness


Its about to begin. The draft. July 1st. Trades.

Two weeks from now the Oilers' course for next season and beyond will be set.

And for a good part of it I'm going to be on the road.

Toronto to Sudbury. Sudbury to Goulais. And then, wait for it, Goulais to Charlottetown.

Road tripping. 3000 kilometres with a five year old, a three year old and the baby, a couple of weeks shy of her first birthday.

The horror.

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The draft is easy enough. Pick the best player available. Now I know little about who is out there. As usual there is a separation. Apparently there are three and then there are six and then there's the rest of the lot. And the Oilers are picking tenth.

I defer to others when it comes to rating players - check out what speeds and ykoil have to say and of course LT has had thoughts on the available kids for quite a while now.

Its been referred to many times in these here parts but if you're interested at all in the whole draft schmaft check out Gare Joyce's Future Greats and Heartbreaks. Besides the inside dope on the draft year when Joyce was embedded with the BJs the thing I found most interesting was his description of the process itself. We have all seen the lists and rankings out there - once again, check out YKOil for a nice snapshot of what's out there. A guy like Kadri in three top tens and then not even top fifteen on the other lists. Pa-Svensson anywhere from fourth to tenth. Ek-Larsson from fourth to thirteenth. And so it goes.

And each club has its own list. The Oilers will get one of the consensus nine, if there is such a thing, even if they stick at tenth. They might be able to move down and get their man. I'd say after the top three and Kane, who seems likely to go fourth, its going to be pretty fluid.

Based on how last year's draft looks so far (and yeah its early of course) I expect the Oilers to do well. For that matter its been a couple of pretty solid looking drafts in the last couple of years.

There might be fireworks but I don't expect much from the Oilers on draft day, to be honest.

Its revamping this three time loser club for next season that is Tambellini's first priority.

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Here's the latest, as per Jim Matheson.

Bad

Bouwmeester is not in play. I don't get this at all. The only argument I have heard against signing Bouwmeester is that the Oilers are stacked on D already.

Except he would be their best defenceman immediately and he is twenty five. With him, Gilbert and Grebeshkov you'd be set on D for years. Just as in the draft you take the BPA so you should now. Not sure if its because he's not as sexy as Heatley or Hossa but Bouwmeester is supposed to be interested in playing in Western Canada and we know Katz won't be outbid. I said it two weeks ago and I haven't changed my mind. They need to be after this guy. If they aren't interested, which seemed to be Matheson's gist, then they aren't too smart. And this whole idea that he may have already given signals that he is not interested in Edmonton? When's the last time an agent narrowed down the field when it came to creating a market for his client?

Good

It doesn't look like Cogliano is in play on the trade market. I hope that this is true. I'm thinking your little speedster scores upwards of twenty five this year. He certainly has more upside then O'Sullivan or Nilsson, I think.

Bad

Gilbert and O'Sullivan for Heatley, for starters. I'm not sure about Heatley still. I'd be a lot more interested if the Oilers didn't have eleven players (Penner, Horcoff, Hemsky, Moreau, O'Sullivan, Nilsson, Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Souray, Visnovsky, Staios) under contract this season and next for a total cap hit of ~ 42 million dollars. That's a big problem, see?

And moving two young guys who actually might outperform their contracts leaves you a roster spot short and doesn't give you any cap relief.

The Holy Grail. Sigh. Katz wants to make an impression. And hell, we want a playoff club. Right? Its been too long. But a playoff round or two for what?

Moving kids is not good management. And the Oilers already have too many untradeable contracts.

And Matheson himself made the point about the Pronger return. If Tambellini gives up two honest to goodness quality young NHLers for a guy who hasn't the impact of a Pronger (who was on a far better contract) there's going to be some road rage happening, let me tell you. Somewhere around Riviere De Loup.

Good

Roloson is looking for a raise and is likely out the door. I love Roli, I do. If Ladd hadn't of crashed into him back in G1 then his name is probably on the Cup along with Ryan Smyth, Fernando Pisani and Rem Murray ;). But there's a glut of good goaltenders out there. Tambellini can probably get two quality veteran goalies for that four million bucks. And I think he will. Do you see him betting a playoff spot on Deslauriers being able to provide quality backup work? I don't.

So that's what we have for starters.

Its going to get crazy.

Tambellini has to shed some contracts and of course the problem is that so many of these contracts cannot be moved without taking equal money back. Which means that they have to move guys who make money who we don't want to move - guys like the top four defencemen or Hemsky or O'Sullivan.

And a guy like Ales Kotalik, who might be a nice option in your top nine, probably doesn't get much more then a cursory offer because you haven't the room for him.

Add what Lowe left for Tambellini in terms of the cap situation as another part of what is looking more and more like a legacy of failure.

If Tambellini can improve this team and escape this cap bind then you can colour me impressed.

Now excuse me while I go pack. Unfortunately there might not be much room left with my skepticism - it takes up most of the luggage it seems.

NOTE - long overdue, ykoil is now on the blogroll on the right - terrific stuff

Friday, June 19, 2009

He Builds Things


This is my father in law Brian with our youngest.

We almost lost Brian this spring. It was touch and go for quite a while and my youngest daughter almost did not get the chance to know the man that her sister and brother call Poppy.

The irony of it all is that it was his heart that betrayed him. Those who know Brian know that the strongest thing about him is his heart. That and his character.

He grew up in Greenwich, in the northeast of PEI, on land that had been in his family for generations. In the cemeteries near Greenwich rest countless Sandersons. This is their land, where they lived and where they passed. Just like Goulais, where our McLeans settled, Greenwich is a part of the old Canada, a Canada of small towns and farms, of life in isolation, surrounded by immense and silent beauty. The Sanderson farmhouse where he grew up is gone now, the dunes and great peninsula that was his father's land a national park. A plaque marks where the old house stood and in the middle of the winter when the storms came howling off the Gulf of the St. Lawrence that homestead must have felt like the other side of the moon.

Brian grew up like my father did and shares so many of the traits of that generation of men who were raised before the flood of modern conveniences changed everything and everyone. Understated and underestimated he is a smaller man in stature but possesses what friends of mine and I called 'Old Man Strength' when we gathered in bars back in the day.

What has this man accomplished? A man you'd pass on the street without a second glance? What strength lies underneath?

He and Sandra raised two daughters with love and tender care and they grew to be women of tremendous character and strength, successful in all that they have pursued.

He is a man who upon the passing of his own beloved father in law, put aside his own grief to do the heavy lifting that surrounds someone's passing, making the arrangements that had to be made.

He has put up more then one ceiling by himself, aided only by a 'dead man'.

He has cuddled his infant grandchildren deep into the night, allowing their exhausted parents a few extra hours of sleep.

In our house he put in a window and laid carpet, created a terraced garden that is the neighbours' envy, put down floor and pulled wire, drywalled and built cabinets. When he comes to visit our friends ask him to come over and advise them on their own projects.

He loves to sail and he knows more about computers than I do (sadly enough my own profession ;) ). He loves lobster and cold beer and a whiskey as a nightcap.

He reads to his grandchildren and he is beloved by the dog. Dogs know what is right in their ancient hearts.

He bites his tongue when he is angry so he doesn't say the wrong thing.

When he does something he learns everything he can about it. He measures once, then again and then one more time to make sure that he has it just right.

He builds things. Homes. Families. Communities.

Broad shoulders and powerful hands. A curious sharp mind and a sense of what is right and wrong. Most of all, a heart of gold.

Happy Fathers Day Brian.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Journey


My old man turns 77 this Friday; its really hard to believe. Luck is with us right at this moment as he and Mom are doing alright. They’re slowing down a little, Mom is hobbled with some arthritis but its settling now with the warm weather and there are the usual aches, pains and senior moments that come with age but overall they are not complaining at all.

What they are doing is living. No boat trips to Superior in the plans but the clan will be gathering at Goulais next weekend. We will be attending, packing up the van and wandering up the shield along Georgian Bay and then the north shore of Huron, blue deep waters, endless forests of spruce and pine, red granite and then past the Soo and Superior looming, the road winding and climbing into the rugged Algoma Highlands.

There will be plenty of food and plenty of drink and most of all there will be laughter as the descendants of Neil McLean and Margaret Bell gather. I’ll likely wander along the Goulais, stopping at the cemetery, the resting place of so many McLeans, and then down to the mouth of the ancient river, where the original homestead was. Most of those who come remain in the north of Ontario but some will come from far away, including my Dad’s youngest brother who will fly in from British Columbia.

Dad’s generation is greying now. He lost his best friend a number of years ago and then one by one his old moose hunting party passed on, including the greatest blow of all, his brother Don. Don’s wife passed late last year, followed closely by another old friend.

Its tough times when your generation passes but Dad’s eyes remain clear and his back is not yet stooped. Broad shoulders and confident powerful stride, he walks for miles each night in the northern dusk of my hometown. In the winters he curls three times a week and while he has a snow blower finally he will still shovel for the most part. He still has his big boat although its getting tougher to handle it. How long should I keep it, do you think? he asks me, and I answer that as long as he can handle it he may as well keep it for the pleasure he gets from it and he smiles because that is the right answer. My wife is away and Mom and Dad drive down and run the house so I can work and by day’s end the kids collapse into bed exhausted and Dad cracks open a beer for each of us and talks about how the kids enjoyed a proper “six freezie lunch.”

From Goulais we will begin the long trip to the Island. We will be three weeks there and then when we return we will head back north to the woods to meet with my folks and our friends for our annual week at camp. The big fellow will be there – he is staying with them while we go East – and in August he will be twelve. It may be his last birthday. He is grey now and he is slowing but he remains true, as only a dog can. He sneaks into the dining room and the baby giggles and drops food to the floor for him. He repays her with kisses when he can and while all of this goes on my wife simmers in disapproval. The oldest two roar around the house, bouncing off the furniture and climbing the walls. (Literally – the oldest has figured out how to climb up a doorway by bracing her legs on either side and then shimmying up. Usually brings gasps from unsuspecting guests, much to her delight as she hovers eight feet in the air). The baby is near walking but for now she charges after them on all fours, screaming with delight, while your man Ben barks and I laugh and my wife rolls her eyes and wonders what happened to the nice quiet genetics that were prevalent in her family.

Slaughtered in the streets by naked howling clansmen, I warrant.

So some journeys are just beginning. The baby is about to turn one. As for the rest of us, well they are all going to end sooner or later.

Just doing our best to enjoy the trip.

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With the Pens (Crosby.) hoisting the Cup the Oilers are about to embark on a journey which has proven to be less then successful the past three summers. Instead of a week in Dublin or a roadtrip to Montreal they’ve been visiting their crazy great uncle in his rooming house downtown, his apartment walls brown with cigarette smoke, burn marks in the couch, bottles of sherry scattered about the kitchen. He hasn’t been the same since he crashed headfirst into the boards back in ’53.

The Lowe era ended with a whimper. It built into the crescendo of the spring of 2006 and then in three subsequent summers the good will was squandered as the club shed veterans, left gaping holes in the roster and spent money like a kid who has just won the lottery – after years of watching every nickel the Oilers couldn’t handle being a have and spent like they were educated at the Glen Sather school of team building, Rangers edition. The results have been predictable.

And so another summer is here and in a little over two weeks this club’s future will be altered, for next season, and far beyond. The draft, the UFA silly season and a frenzy of trades are all looming and we will see if Tambellini is made of better stuff then his predecessor.

Will he go for the big fish again and will he be successful this time? Bouwmeester is on the radar and Heatley as well and of course there is talk of Jagr and there will be plenty of big names up for grabs through trade as clubs try and shed salary in order to take a crack at the new crop of free agents (Philly/Rangers) or to just try and shed salary (Tampa, Phoenix, Dallas, Anaheim, Florida, the line starts here and ends who knows where).

Will they be able to shed salary in order to get their finances in order? If they add a Heatley then their problems become pretty serious. Even if they move guys like Moreau and Staios and Nilsson they will have to begin to move some pieces they probably do not want to move, especially next summer if the cap falls. Otherwise they risk losing some of the kids.

Keep in mind that my summer projections are usually horrible but here is what I think will happen. Some of it is pretty obvious shit. I think that Tambellini has to get this team to the playoffs. That is his mandate from his boss. So far I’m pretty happy with what he has done, as minimal as that is. His moves at the deadline were fine. Twenty games of Cole for O’Sullivan is slick. The second for Kotalik left some people cold but its reasonable. I liked the coaching moves. His deliberate approach to Springfield leads me to believe that he will fix that too. So all that remains (!) is the big club.

1/ They will address the goaltending. Roloson will not be back. Sounds like he wants two years. There are plenty of equivalent keepers out there. I think the Oilers will go in a different direction, either trading for Halak or Harding or picking up a UFA. I think they will go with a veteran backup. Risking a playoff spot on Deslauriers? I doubt it.

2/ Peckham, Smid and a cheap vet will make up the bottom three of the blue. If Souray is moving along, as rumoured, then the next move will depend on Bouwmeester. If they land him then Staios will move too. If not then I think he gets top four minutes. Yikes!

I know I am going to rue saying this but if Souray goes then Lubo, Gilbert and Grebeskkov all stick. If he stays then Gilbert may go. A big mistake to move him I think.

3/ The bottom six ( I say this in the traditional sense) will be revamped. What Traktor called ‘vanilla’ players over at Lowetide’s – guys like Pouliot – will be gone. I think Brodziak and Stortini and Pisani remain, Pisani because he is useful, of course, and also because his expiring contract is valuable. Better to have him with one year left then Moreau with two.
I believe Moreau will be gone. I hope he will be gone. I think he has some value and now is the time to move him and replace him with someone making half as much as he is. If he were making a million I would keep him. But he is not and so he needs to go.
Jacques will likely have a spot and so they need a centreman and a LW and then they have to figure out the extra guy or guys they will carry. The first two will be cheap vets they will bring in. Brule and a darkhorse (imported or from the farm) will be the spares.

4/ Pencil in Horcoff, Hemsky and Gagner. One of Cogliano or O’Sullivan will also remain. The other one will go out to bring in your fifth forward who fits in this group. Your sixth man will be Penner or someone new and it will be interesting to see if they dump him or if they give him another shot, this time under Quinn.

And Nilsson? Gone or buried in the minors.

I think Tambellini is going to be aggressive. He has money and he has license to spend it and if worse comes to worse he will bury guys in the minors. I think this club will be bigger and more experienced across the board come the end of the summer. I would say that I worry about next summer except I’m not the worrying type.


Its not in my bones and I come by that naturally. Summer is here. Last night we sat in a pub and the front was open and the warm air surrounded us as the street hummed. Another summer begins. Lets hope it’s a good one for all of us and for the Oilers as well.


Steve? Fix it already.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hockey Hockey Hockey


Entirely satisfying end to an excellent playoff year for the NHL, right down to the tradional shower of jeers raining down on Bettman and the whole mess in Phoenix which overshadowed everything, showing once again that the NHL cannot get anything right. Hockey is like Canada – its absolutely brilliant in spite of the people in charge. That’s not a jab at those presently in power, by the way; arrogance, dishonesty and sheer incompetence paint broad swaths across all party lines. And right into the offices of the NHL.

I called a Wings’ victory with the caveat that if Datsyuk or Lidstrom missed any significant parts of the series that the Pens might pull it off. (Who’s playing politics now?) Of course everyone is banged up by this point but Datsyuk really only had one game where he looked like Datsyuk and that likely cost the Wings the series. Zetterberg had to take more on and he wore down and Hossa missed his centreman and so it went.

No wonder Babcock groused about the short turnaround. The road through the Western Conference obviously took its toll on his club and while this series went the distance keep in mind that the Pens had awful puck luck in the first two games on top of everything. It might have been over pretty quickly.

For me the most enjoyable part of the whole ride is the final chapter when you see guys explode in joy as they raise the Cup and for sure the Pens had the better stories there. The Wings have all done it before with the exception of Hossa and a couple of kids but for the Pens it was nearly entirely new. And so a long list of veterans got to lift the Cup for the first time. Sergei Gonchar, a wonderful defenceman, who played through a badly injured knee and, in a sweet moment, reflected on the victory in the dressing room, alone but for his young daughter. The towering Hal Gill and his partner Rob Scuderi who held the fort in the final minute. Miro Satan, who must be a gigantic pussy considering how his teammates marvelled again and again at how he, wait for it, blocked a shot. The classy veterans Phillipe Boucher and Pascal Dupuis. The not so classy Matt Cooke. Mathieu Garon, rescued from a disaster in Edmonton. And two guys who have won it before, both former Oilers – Bill Guerin, picking up his second Cup 15 years after his first, and the wholly engaging Petr Sykora.

Great stuff, although I preferred it far more when the players actually skated around the rink then this ridiculous skate for ten feet and back set up.
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Who would you rather be, Sidney Crosby or Eugene Malkin? An amazing moment to me was a shot of the Pens’ dressing room – Crosby being followed by a mob of reporters and cameras, Malkin sidestepping the rush and wandering, by himself, to the near end of the room. Gonchar wanders by, also unmolested by any media.

I think I’d prefer to be Malkin, even though it would mean trading in my handsome mug for that ogre face.
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One has to like the Pens’ chances to return to the big stage a few times in the future. With their strength up the middle (so much for trading Staal I guess L ), a solid and relatively cheap blue, a quality young goalie and the ability to plug in cheap veterans on one year deals or from the trade deadline to fill out the roster and augment their younger muckers – the hero Talbot, the quality runt Kennedy and the versitile Adams – its hard to bet against a club that has come out of their conference two straight years and has nearly every important piece signed for the near future, at least.

As for the Wings, probably best not to bet against them yet. Their depth will take a hit this summer but I would bet that they find a way to sign Hossa. Guys like Stuart (man was he awful), Holmstrom, Samuelsson, Chelios and Maltby will be dumped and replaced by some of those prize kids and Hudler may also be moved as well. Shedding vets isn’t a good way to move forward but Lidstrom is not going to be around forever and this club has to figure out a way back to the top of the mountain. A little youthful enthusiasm, provided the kids can play, probably would help.

Plus they should probably dump Ty Conklin – your man has a little black cloud hovering over him.

--------------------

What, if anything, can the Oilers learn from this year’s finallists?

Well first of all there is no substitute for good quality veterans who can play the game. The Pens especially had a long list of guys, most of them not making a ton of money, who could make the smart play, be hard on the puck, be relied on to get in front of the shot, be on the right side of their man, not make the rookie mistake. Crosby goes down and while Malkin and Staal took the brunt of it you could also see Adams and Talbot and Dupuis step up. Guys like Kunitz and Guerin didn’t score a lot but they kept the puck moving in the right direction against Zetterberg and his wingers. Fedotenko, who will be available again this summer if the Pens do not sign him, provided solid allround play.

And having said that you still need the kids – both of these clubs are loaded with homegrown players, drafted and developed. Lord knows I’ve raved enough about the Wings but the Pens have their kids too besides the big boys.

The Oilers have a long way to go though, that’s the sad thing. They have no goaltending, holes aplenty up front and far too many big contracts that give them not enough bang for their buck. Compare that situation to Pittsburgh and Detroit and ask yourself how it gets to that point. Not every team has a Crosby and a Malkin, sure, but there is no excuse for spending to the cap and not even making the playoffs.

Lowe's legacy is truly a poor one.
-----------------
Edit - note the link to The Hockey Symposium on the right - Speeds always does terrific stuff and is a must read heading into the draft. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Strong. Muscular. Thighs.


Somewhere Pierre Maguire has just embarked on a month long bender. He's naked. And he's fully erect.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

How Call Display Ruined Everything


When Stomping Tom was a boy, phones were black and they had a dial on them. They didn't have anything fancy about them.

There was no display window of any sort on the device that would show you any information at all, including an incoming number. There was no such thing as Call Display back in the day, kids, and as a result you had many who practiced the now lost art of prank phone calls. You don't have to go that far back. Stomping Tom came to my hometown in the late 80s and the phones were simple and so were we and the results were astoundingly awesome.

I have a very good friend who I have spoken of before here quite a bit. Frank’s parents’ house was our gathering place for many summers back in the day. The juvenile pranks and needling that occurred during those years are legendary in our circles and Frank was usually the lead trickster fox.

The jokes range from the very simple yet still hilarious to the complicated stings that ensnared everyone in his web.

A sampling.

- he called my wife one evening at 2am after we had been drinking for a dozen hours and woke her out of a dead sleep (she had to work a 12 hours shift early that morning) and pretended to be a DJ from Vancouver telling her she won a prize. Luckily for me I was at his house and not our house when this went down.

- he sent an alumni magazine that was doing profiles on graduates a mock profile in a buddy’s name, going so far as to create an email address to send it from. Said profile included references to gymnastics, interpretive dance and the joys of living alone, except for one’s cats

- our local paper had a contest when Stomping Tom Connors came to town – people who submitted the best verses for Sudbury Saturday Night could win a myriad of prizes including concert tickets to go see the legend his own self. I woke up one Saturday morning, hauled my sorry 21 year old ass out of bed and opened our hometown rag to find that not only had nearly everyone I knew sent in entries for the contest but so had I. It went something like this:

On Saturday nights
We go to City Lights
That’s our dancing heaven
We like to dance and dance and dance
And then we like to prance
On A Sudbury Saturday Night

Quality.

Of course there were repercussions. Live by the sword, well, you know. He answered the phone one drunken night and was told to come into work immediately. He laughed and hung up. The phone rang again. Once again he was told to come in. This time he told the caller (whom he figured was a friend Nick, another noted prankster) to eat it. The third time the phone rang was when he realized that he shared his given name with his Dad.

Nick himself was humbled, at least briefly, when Frank had a girlfriend’s cousin who happened to be a cop call him and ask him to come into the station to discuss complaints about prank calls. Again there was the disbelief and then the realization that he was actually talking to a real police officer. When he called the station and was told that yes there was an officer so and so there, he shaved, put on a shirt and tie and was heading out the door, shitting his pants, when the phone rang to call off the dogs.

Yes I grew up in the company of asses. I was one of the lead donkeys. No need to say anything. I understand.

So one evening a long long time ago (1994) the phone rang and I picked it up. On the other end was a girl.

Is Pat there?

This is him.

Hey, how are you?

And from there she talked about how she had seen me in the video store and she thought I was a pretty funny guy and that I seemed nice and she was wondering if I would like to go out for coffee to get to know each other better. Now I have no idea who she is and she's flirting like mad and its making me crazy. I ask her her name and she tells me that she wants to surprise me but that I will definitely recognize her when we meet. So I'm going nuts and finally we agree to meet and just as I am about to hang up she says:

Oh, one more thing.

Yeah?

Is it true that you have enormous balls?

A roar of laughter in the background and I would have loved to have seen the look on my face as I realized that I had truly been had by Frank and his accomplice, his girlfriend out in BC.

FRANKKKKKK!

By the way I do have enormous balls. For our wedding Frank flew into the Island from California and got up to speak before the gathered mob and proceeded to read "Ten Things You Don't Know About Pat". Going against all speaking etiquette he read ten concise mysterious phrases (I still have the list somewhere) which left everyone scratching their heads except all of my assembled buddies who were killing themselves as I squirmed as my bride's eyebrow raised with each statement. One of those, the one that my friend the Communist said made him shit his pants, was "The Longest Ball".

------------------------------------

All of the talk is of Heatley over these last couple of days and knowing Katz's attempt to make a splash last summer and Tambellini's desire to make over this club and also the names that are possibly available either by trade or in free agency - Vinny L., Havlat, Gaborik, Briere, the Sedins, Hossa, Smyth, Marleau, Spezza, Kovalev, Kessel, Kovalchuk - I think we may see a very interesting few weeks after the Cup is awarded Friday night. The Oilers want to make a splash, you can smell the money burning its way through Katz's pockets, there are going to be all of these big names available.

Its the perfect storm.

There are a few problems. The Oilers are already tight against the cap and have a number of contracts that they cannot dump. The cap is going to remain stagnant and may decline slightly. Next summer it may fall even more. Its not the best time to pick up big longterm contracts unless the names at the bottom of them are Datsyuk or Crosby or Zetterberg or Malkin - you get the idea. If you are going to blow a load of cash you had better make a good bet.

Now its unlikely that the Oilers can get into the position of Montreal or Vancouver or Toronto - clubs who have tons of cap space and who have the money to spend. Its too bad because these teams are going to be able to pick up a lot of terrific bargains imo. A lot of clubs are going to dump useful players and a lot of guys are going to be had for nice rates in July so its a great summer to have money to spend.

If I were the Oilers' braintrust this would be my plan for the offseason. I'm going to try and write a little something something about each of these.

1/ As detailed in the last post sign Jay Bouwmeester.

2/ Now working from a position of strength on the blue I would move one of the veteran blueliners, even just to move the salary.

3/ Do my best to move contracts - on my hit list - Nilsson, Staios, Moreau, Penner if possible.

4/ Keep the three little people - O'Sullivan, Cogliano, Gagner - unless I get a can't miss offer. Keep the four kid blueliners - Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Smid, Peckham.

5/ Keep away from the big money guys who are injury prone or aging or incomplete or have question marks - so most of that list above. I would love to have Gaborik for one season but that is not going to happen so I'm not going to go after him. I want to spend my big money on as sure things as I can. I do not want a guy who has quit on two teams and who can only do one thing, even if that one thing is scoring goals. The Oilers aren't good enough to carry 7.5 million dollars of one dimension.

6/ Identify the bargains and go after them. Gill or Scuderi for the third pair maybe. Moves like Sutter made for Bourque and Glencross.

7/ Go after Jordan Staal.

Lets start at the bottom and we'll return to the others in the upcoming week or so, if I can find the damn time.

Is Jordan Staal going to be available? Maybe not but looking at the Penguins they have a bunch of holes to fill this offseason. The aforementioned Dmen, Garon, Guerin, Fedotenko, Sykora, Satan - all are free agents.

I love how Shero is working the Pens. Its really terrific. He has the two big stars, a good young goalie and going into next season he will have two thirds of a well rounded blue. On top of that he has guys like Kunitz, Kennedy and Talbot under contract. Can't remember Cooke's status.

Anyways to me it looks like Shero is going to ride Malkin and Crosby year after year, fill in their supporting cast (their wingers especially) with one year deals and trade deadline pickups and then roll the dice come the spring. Its a good way of doing things. Satan was a bust but Fedotenko has done well, Guerin too. Easy to convince a veteran sniper to come in for a one year deal - hey come in and play with Crosby or Malkin for a year. If you play well you're going to rack up the counting numbers and you have the best shot at a Cup run outside of Detroit. Finallists last year and this, maybe champs this year, still to be determined.

Jordan Staal is going to start a four year contract next season at a hit of four per. If he played the wing he'd be going nowhere but you'd have to think the Pens have to be thinking of moving him. He's playing with pluggers and there's not enough ice to go around after the two other kids.

If I'm Pittsburgh I'm signing a cheaper alternative to play on that line, to PK and win draws and play the toughs. And I'm moving Staal for a kid like O'Sullivan or Cogliano and maybe another kid who is a few years away and maybe a throwin like Pouliot to act as bottom six filler.

Maybe that's too much to ask for? I don't know but Staal is twenty years old. He has scored over twenty goals twice (his rookie year with an unreal shooting % granted) while playing with guys who aren't to be mistaken for anyone with any serious offensive talent. Give him top minutes at ES and on the PP, give him linemates like Hemsky or O'Sullivan or Penner.

He scores thirty plus easy.

He's a big man up the middle. He can play in any situation. At twenty he has been to the final twice.

I say call Shero after Friday night and make that deal happen.

But if the phone rings and the caller display shows a 613 area code? Let it go to voice mail.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Isn't It Amazing You Can Do Anything?


Was outside of the city for the first time this summer this past weekend at a cottage just down the road from Bobcaygeon. Good times had by all but it was certainly capped by a Saturday night playing darts, drinking port and listening to the Hip after the womenfolk and the little people were all tucked away. It was seriously fucking quality.

We ran through enough CDs including Phantom Power, which after Fully Completely may be my favourite, although I'm partial to Up To Here and Road Apples. Phantom Power has to be the most underrated Hip as far as I'm concerned. Something On, Emperor Penguin, The Rules, Thompson Girl, Bobcaygeon, Escape Is At Hand For the Travelin Man ... all terrific shit. And probably my favourite two lines out of any Hip song are in Vapour Trails when Downie roars:

I pulled the car on over to give you a ride
but there's nothing uglier than a man hitting his stride

My favourite song off the album is Fireworks with its reference to walking home the long way and the goal that everyone remembers.

If there's a goal that everyone remembers it was back in ol '72
We all squeezed the stick and we all pulled the trigger
And all I remember is sitting beside you
You said you didn't give a fuck about hockey
I never saw someone say that before
You held my hand and we walked home the long way
You were loosening my grip on Bobby Orr

Isn't it amazing anything's accomplished
When the little sensation gets in your way?
Not one ambition whisperin' over your shoulder
Isn't it amazing you can do anything?

Listen to that when you have a bottle of anything in you and you'll be up and at it.
---------------
Gord might say that nothing is uglier than a man hitting his stride but I have to disagree. The boy is hitting his stride now and its something to behold.

Now of course I'm sure many of you are saying 'oh no, here we go again about the boy, blah blah blah, he can do no wrong' but the reality is I am not one of those parents who turns a blind eye to his kids' faults. The boy is terrific but he's stubborn and cocky and it takes him ten times as long as anyone else to do something. He's deliberate and methodical and he will not be rushed. He already spends a half hour taking a dump, as discussed previously, and he eats his cheerios one 'o' at a time. While other kids at his birthday party ripped through the cake he sat and savoured each bite, still eating long after the rest of them were bouncing off of the walls downstairs from the sugar bomb.

Last night we put them all to bed and we could hear him talking on and on while his older sister was trying to get to sleep. My wife threatened him with getting moved out of their room into our room and when he ignored her he was taken away, protesting loudly and plopped into our bed. As she walked to the door he cracked "If I keep talking now, where will you move me?"

"Outside!", my wife snarled.

The boy has always acted like an Allied airman shot down behind enemy lines when confronted with punishment. Name, rank and serial number only. A trip to the step for a timeout leads to a swagger over and a sprawling sneering arms folded do your worst to me you'll never break me aura. I half expect him to light a cigarette and put on a Bowery accent.

'Do your worse copper, you'll never get me to talk'

Of course he's a sweet little fellow, all hugs and kisses and he treats his baby sister like the goddess that she is. He's a generous soul, a good man through and through.

Here's the thing. He has the knack. Everyone remarks on it. He has IT, whatever it is. I don't have it. I know people who do but I'm not one of them. He sits at a friend's piano and he doesn't smash the keys like most little kids (and his old man) - he plays the notes and listens to what he is doing. He sits at a drum set and within a minute he is pounding out a rudimentary beat, looking like he belongs there.

He always looks like he belongs there, wherever there is.

A few weeks ago he stepped onto the playing field for the first time. He's one of the youngest ones out there, an October 3 in a league made up of 3 and 4 years olds. Its a riot really, a herd of little people all chasing the ball, this way and that, slowly one by one they drop off and wander away until the end of the game usually involves a half dozen and no more. And the boy always sticks it out until the end, running endlessly, charging into the pack, getting knocked down and knocking down, taking the ball and racing away with it. (The fact that he often leads the pack onto adjoining fields does not in any way take away from his accomplishment! ;) )

He loves it and next year he will be the boy on his team like the little guy in the hat who does what he wants when he wants this summer.

I was never that boy.

He picks up a bat for the first time and hits line drives. At the beer store he tells me that O-p-e-n spells open. He saunters up to the older kids in the schoolyeard and gets himself included. He leaps from the pool deck into the water without an ounce of fear. He struts down the stairs in his T shirt and tie when he accompanies his sister and I to ballet.

What's with the tie, pal?

I'm wearing it to ballet.

Um, ok.

And as he pulls on his boots:

I think the girls are going to like my tie.

And when we get there he takes off his jacket and walks over to where the girls are playing tag and he leans against the wall and smiles.

He is the boy. He is a star. And he knows it.

----------------------

Lowetide has been doing his usual plethora of posts regarding the upcoming draft and the present depth chart for the Oilers and where Tambellini might take the team this summer. Nobody knows whether there will be a bloodletting or minor surgery, whether they will try and hit the home run or try and bring in some established depth guys to help hold the fort while we wait for the kids.

Next year's team will be bigger and it will be tougher, we know that.

Robert Nilsson is certainly the best bet to be a goner.

Other then that, who knows? I would believe that they should move Moreau and Staios because while they have a lot of what this team needs (experience, grit) the roles they play now can be done for cheaper, probably better and I believe both have value around the league. Jacques and Stortini and probably Brodziak will help fill in the end of the roster. Horcoff, Hemsky and Pisani will probably be a third of the top nine and likely Penner will join them.

A lot of the debate is revolving around the other young smallish players on the club. Gagner will be back but is there room in the top nine for both Cogliano and O'Sullivan?

I look at Detroit and they aren't all that big; then again they're just so damn hard on the puck. But O'Sullivan and Gagner are listed (yeah I know I know) at 5'11 190 and Cogliano is at 5'10 184. Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Hudler, Helm, Draper - all 5'11 or smaller. So it can be done.

All things being equal I'd rather big talent over small talent but I'd rather small talent over no talent and I think Traktor's comment in a thread at Lowetide's the other day that Cogs is a good bet to score 25 this season may be a tad low if he has the right linemates.

Really though for me its all about July 1st and this guy specifically.

Damien Cox remarked in his mailbag just recently that Bouwmeester and Edmonton might be a marriage we could see. Cox is not the first to mention this idea. In fact its been a number of months that the idea, once considered a pipedream, has had legs and its gotten play from various media, including a lot of guys who are very connected.

There's no better guy for the Oilers to go after, imo. He's huge. He's mobile. He's durable (19 games missed in seven years). He adds offence and he plays the toughs and he could anchor Edmonton's blueline for a decade because he's twenty five years old. I love Hossa, as you know, but he'll be nearly 31 when next season starts. A great player but while the Oilers could offer Bouwmeester a cap friendly contract that takes him late into his thirties, any offer to Hossa is going to be a cap killer and the decline in production is likely to come relatively soon.

Add Bouwmeester and you have three defencemen in he, Gilbert and Grebeshkov who can give you quality on the blue for years. Plus the kids Smid and Peckham. And the vets Souray and Visnovsky.

And then you can deal from the strength on the blue to add a little of what they need up front. Trade Gilbert without Bouwmeester and suddenly you go from strength to one injury away from having a second pair of Smid and Staios. Sign Bouwmeester and trade one of your quality blueliners and you still have two nice pairs.

Who knows what Jay Bouwmeester wants to do this summer? For years he had no interest in going home but now there is smoke. The Oilers HAVE to chase this guy and if there is interest they HAVE to make it happen as long as the contract isn't ridiculous.

He's serious quality.

Friday, June 05, 2009

I Know Nothing or How I Slept My Way To The Top


After I graduated university I wandered for a while. I'd love to be able to say I wandered the planet in dusty sandals and a cordurouy coat but the wandering was mostly confined to the streets of Toronto. They were good times despite the lack of money. I was a skinny grimy little guy with a big head of hair, little to my name and an overwhelming lack of ambition and direction. In winter I worked and watched movies and went to the rink and in the summer I wandered in the heat and I drank when I could and wrote what I could and managed to find some women here and there as well. It was awfully fine.

I had a decent job the summer that I graduated but it was just for the summer and when it was over I started a five year stint where my bank account never bumped out of the three figure range, except for maybe once or twice. Living paycheque to paycheque but I always made my rent and learned to love toast and pasta. I worked as a driver and in a video store, as a tutor and in a warehouse. I did data entry on a contract and planned a charity event. I worked on films and in construction and was THE WORLD'S WORST SALESMAN. I was a rodeo clown and a soldier of fortune, a pro wrestler and a stunt dick.

OK, I made that last part of.

I was a vagabond and a bum and a derelict and it was fine. Many of my friends were in the same boat, times were tough, and I hadn't a lick of direction so I just floated where the current pushed me. I coached hockey for three of those five winters and each summer my attention was taken. In 92 I went home as my mother battled cancer. In 93 I had a crazy passionate fling with a grad student in Montreal. The year after that I fell in love for the first time, with a girl from Chicago, and passed up an opportunity to move to Vermont to be a kept man. And in 95 and 96 I was with the girl from Rawlins Cross and trying my hand at film.

So it wasn't like I was completely fucking around. ;)

And as 1996 wore on I got a couple more movies under my belt and some of my coworkers, the serious film folks, began to encourage me. There was real money to be made and I was pretty good at what I was doing but in the end the life wasn't for me. When you're on a film your outside life is on hold and months on end in a bubble weren't my style.

And it was just then, the end of that summer, that the uncle of the girl from Rawlins Cross asked me if I wanted to do a little work for him. He was a terrific guy and he owned an optical software company and he saw something in me, I guess, and so I met his sales guy to go on a local install. I got in your man's truck and he handed me a laptop and said 'start that up and I'll teach you a little on the way to Guelph' and I looked at him and smiled and told him I hadn't the foggiest.

I didn't even know how to turn the damn thing on.

Must have done something right because a few months later when her and I parted ways I kept on working for him and still am to this day.

Customers ask me what my background is and its neither optics or computers; I have an English degree. I slept my way to the top.

Or at least my way in the door.

-------------------

Just getting back to the hiring of Quinn and Renney. Its summer right? We have three months to talk about these things.

A buddy of mine got me the Bob McCown book, the hockey arguments one. I like McCown. He's a contrarian, which makes me a little mental at times, but your man's show is quality.

The book is fair to middling. In the preface he talks about one thing that is true about hockey - you take one hundred people who watch a game and each one of them will have a different opinion, wildly divergent opinions in fact.

Oh really? I never would have guessed.

All you need to do is read any thread over at Lowetide's - Wednesday night was a doozy as the battlelines were drawn and here we go for another summer of name calling and insults.

Only what, three months left to go until camp opens?

I like Tom Gilbert a lot but there are plenty of folks who would ship him out in a heartbeat. You know who they are. Oilers could win a game by five goals and Gilbert could score all five and they run him down at the end of the night for not taking a guy's head off at an opportune time.

Every guy on the team has his fans and his detractors and in the shrinking middle are those who actually attempt in some way to be objective.

If the Oilers had won in 2006, remember they were a break or two away from it, then would Shawn Horcoff be a true number one centre?

Of course some would say if he were a true number one Cam Ward would not have stopped him on the doorstep late in game seven. ;)

And so it goes up the line as well. If that clearing attempt in the first minute gets out or that seeing eye shot doesn't get through or if the clear on the PK bounces out instead of not or Kaberle's shot hits Jussi in the chest or Pisani cashes late in the third or the puck bounces just a little this way or that in game one or game four or game seven then is MacTavish suddenly a great coach? Or even a good one, for those who think he's terrible.

Is Kevin Lowe on MLSE's short list when they go looking for a GM?

Objectivity is a difficult thing to find and I am not immune. When Pat Quinn and Tom Renney were named as possible candidates for the Oilers' job I was not impressed. Something about Renney just doesn't sit with me and no I can't explain it. As for Quinn well as coach of the Leafs he earned nothing but my scorn. Just the way it goes. Can't help myself. It was soon after I moved to Toronto that I was at a party and needled some knucklehead Leaf fan about Clark and how overrated he was to the point where your man wanted to punch me in the mouth. It was beautiful and oh so easy and since then I've just been unable to help myself when it comes to the Leafs. Maybe its Tony from Woodbridge and his incessant talk radio claims that the Leafs will win the Cup and the Leafs should trade the rights to Eric Fichaud for Crosby and Malkin.

So yeah I didn't like Quinn so much although after Salt Lake City I warmed to him a little and after the World Cup it got better still. Torino didn't help our relationship but it improved after he was fired by the Leafs and then improved even more with his recent work with Hockey Canada.

So what can I say? I'm open to the whole idea. I think Tambellini is an oldtime hockey guy which means he is inherently conservative. Combine that with this being his first kick at the can and you knew he was going to go with a safe hire.

But he threw a curve at us, didn't he? Two experienced guys. That's pretty good. I love the idea of Scott Arniel but you know Tambellini wasn't going to let a guy cut his teeth on his watch. Failure might mean the end for him and his first coach.

What I find amusing though is how so many folks came out against the hire because both men were part of an old boys' club, that Tambellini happened to have worked with them prior.

Hockey is a pretty incestuous society. I would guess that the degrees of separation between most involved in the game probably goes no higher then two with few exceptions. In hockey and in "real" business most of the time your foot in the door is the fact that you know somebody except in hockey I think the reality is that everybody knows everybody.

When I reflect on the hires I really have very little problem with them. Quinn has not won a Cup but if the Pens win does Dan Bylsma suddenly rank as a better coach then Quinn or Lindy Ruff or any number of guys who have not won? Is John Tortorella a better coach then Pat Quinn? Would Ray Bourque's career have been unfulfilled without his Cup in Colorado? Is the Cup in Montreal vindication of Denis Savard's greatness as a player?

I like the Oilers' coaching staff. I liked MacTavish but everyone who reads this blog knows what I thought of his work this season. It was time for him to go. The fact that Quinn and Renney have not won a Cup does not bother me. The fact that they have connections with Tambellini even less so.

We all know the guy who got the job because he was the owner's son. We have a customer where two of the owner's kids worked in the business. We replaced their server three times in six months because the boys were surfing porn and gambling sites. When they take over, if it ever gets to that, the business will go under. They might not even make it that far.

That Quinn and Renney knew Tambellini and worked with him previously obviously helped but its not like they don't even know how to turn the damn computer on. And even if they didn't when they first got their foot in the door many years ago, they must have figured something out.

You might sleep your way in the door but to get to the top you have to rely on more then that at some point. That's just the way it is.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Someone Likes It, Er, Ruff


Crazy busy with work and life these days plus it is the offseason for the Oilers, at least for another week or so, but I do have some shit in the hopper, its true.

Had to post a link to this bit of brilliant reporting I read on the way into work this morning on the subway.

An interesting story but I especially love the last line.

He says two other Furries who met Whitson witnessed the animal sex and turned him in

What's that, boy? Timmy's fucking Lassie up the ass by the old well again?
You can't make this shit up.