Sunday, January 24, 2010
We try and balance out things with our kids. We like to keep busy, my wife and I, but not too busy. I play hockey and write a little bit. She plays soccer and she runs. In terms of actual commitments we have the hockey and the soccer and that is all.
With the kids we try and do the same. We want them doing shit, we want them active but we believe that they should spend most of their time being kids. Going to the park, riding their bikes, colouring, playing games (the boy and I got a table hockey game for Christmas, our eldest got Perfection, which she has already mastered), pretending that they are pirates or dogs or whatever comes to mind, the little weirdos, watching movies and the TV (they're into the Roadrunner right now).
So for now they have two activities scheduled a week except for the summer when they play soccer until Canada Day and then they don't do a damn thing but hang out. We have them in swimming and will have them in swimming until they can swim and they can choose another. Since they were tots they both did gymnastics (and the baby just started that, btw I highly recommend it as a way to teach your kids balance, get them coordinated and aware of their physical abilities - I swear both of our older kids are daredevils but absolutely know their limitations because of gym) and our oldest has taken ballet and this winter they are taking skating lessons.
A buddy of mine asked me why I paid for lessons rather than do it myself and the answer quite simply is that while I have years of experience coaching and am entirely and absolutely a man of infinite patience I learned last winter that the one thing I cannot do, at this time anyhow, is teach my son how to skate. I haven't the patience.
Our oldest is tough as nails and persistent and driven. She hit the ice two years ago and had never really done so and within a minute she fired away the chair that was given to her and she was toddling around no problem. When her classes end Saturday morning she asks if we can go to the park to skate some more. She loves it but she also wants to get better and is willing to fall and get up and fall and get up to do it.
Now as for the boy. Well he's still pretty little and his lessons last winter were a disaster. Essentially he laid on the ice and bawled for the entire time, the poor little bastard. Learning to skate is hard and unfortunately for the boy this is the first time he's run into a roadblock. He has never really had to deal with adversity, other than his sister picking at him, he's a damn natural at everything, the little bugger, soccer, swinging a bat, playing the drums or a harmonica, whatever it is he gets it easy as pie.
But skating .... a different situation and his first reaction when pushed was not to push back but to have a seat.
So this year we got him the skate buddy and we steeled his will and I took him out for his first lesson two weeks ago and we listened to the coaches and then I watched him as he basically held onto his skate buddy and didn't move an inch. Still, it was progress.
The following week the wife was working so I had all three kids at the rink. I still managed to get on the ice and after five minutes one of the kid coaches comes over and says that's it we're dumping the skate buddy. Well, there was a look of panic but the boy handled it okay and by the end of the half hour he was able to stand without any help.
And so this week my wife takes them for the first time and I'm worrying I have to admit, because, well, he just hasn't pushed back yet.
Its silly I know. He's the sweetest little fellow and he breaks my heart he's so wonderful and don't get me wrong I'm not one of these guys who pushes his kids like a madman but you want your kids to overcome obstacles and most important, I think, you want them to learn that sometimes you have to put your back into it.
And so they get back and I ask how it went and my wife says that they told him to get rid of the skate buddy right away and he pushed it away without a second look and he was skating ten feet at a time, no problem.
Just like that.
So I guess the little bugger has some sticktoitofness after all.
He can skate.
I give him another week or two before he can teach Strudwick a thing or two.
For the second straight year Strudwick has the coach in his corner. He got plenty of icetime in crucial situations last year, I certainly remember being a little frustrated with his presence out on the ice during overtime a few times that predictably (slow as mid skater out in 4v4 against other club's best players) ended up with him in the box or the puck being fished out of the Oilers' net or both.
And Friday night, not for the first time, Strudwick was out in a crucial situation and, not for the first time, it ended in disaster for the Oilers.
Now by all accounts Strudwick is a terrific guy. He's a great teammate and the sort of guy who does whatever is asked of him. He fights, he plays hurt, he plays forward or defence.
The problem is that he is a pretty poor hockey player. The Oilers have a lot of poor hockey players but probably none worse. Maybe Jacques.
Why does Strudwick get the icetime that he does? Well on a team of floaters and head cases, of dummies and softies, Strudwick is one guy that the coaches know what they are going to get when he is out there.
He's shit you mean, you might ask, and while that is the truth, the fact is that they know that Strudwick is going to take care of his own end, he's going to clear the front of the net, he's going to take the man. In other words he's going to play defence.
Now he's terrible but I do believe that Quinn looks at him and figures well at the very least he's going to be in position and he's going to give it his best and that's more than he can expect from the majority of the players on his club.
I'm going to be on my own for a couple of weeks come February 5th so I hope to write a little more frequently and will be taking a look at next year. (Wait til next year!)
I have no faith in Tambellini at all so I think we're looking at more of the same next season. I think we're getting more kids (sell Hope!) and the contracts that need to be moved cannot be moved so we're not going to see many new faces who can play this game.
Ideally we'd see a guy or two who can play in his own end. Guys who take the body and play their position and clear the front of the net would help.
Guys better than Strudwick although if I were a betting man I would say he'll be back and we will be left wanting again.
Posted by Black Dog at 12:30 AM