Saturday, June 19, 2010
The kids started their soccer season a couple of weeks ago. Its the third year for my oldest and the second year for the boy and they've both been looking forward to it for a while. My daughter was a little ambivalent about it last summer but she wanted to play again this year and she has been practicing in the backyard and in both her first practice and her first game she was right into it. She's full of confidence, this one, and she's quick and she's got a sense of what to do, of getting to the right place, of timing, she's an athlete in other words and while she's more of an individual sports girl she has a couple of buddies on her team and so I think that she's going to have a good season.
The league that they play in issued the uniforms last week, they're World Cup kits and her team wears the white jerseys of England, right down to the crest with the three lions on it.
The boy played last year and while he was playing against kids a year or so older than him he did quite well. He had that single minded determined personality that a lot of athletes do - like Taylor Hall for example - he would see the ball, he would chase the ball, he would get the ball and run with it. He is absolutely the opposite of his father as a child. As a boy when it came to sports I was small and passive. I worked pretty hard and I was a smart little player, I could read the play and I was a good playmaker but I never had the personality to go after it, as it were.
Little kids playing soccer is basically a pack of them chasing the ball, elbowing and trampling each other as they pursue the object of their desire like a pack of wolves after a stricken whitetail deer. Its about as ugly too, the only thing missing is the splayed entrails on the pitch. And then you have your wandering stragglers who are checking out the clouds, roaming over to the sidelines to chat with their folks and stopping and sitting down and picking the clover as the game rages about them.
And the boy was also outfitted with an England uni.
In his first game against 'Germany' he and his teammates ran wild. It was a slaughter. There are a half dozen kids on his club who are aggressive and fast, who want the ball, who need the ball and so they spent most of the game charging through the hapless 'Germans' in a way that the real English team could only dream of in their wildest and wettest of fantasies.
As for the boy well, he was a bit of a revelation because, well if I may boast a little, he gets it. When one of his teammates took the ball the wrong way he was calling out directions. When the other team threatened it was he who rushed back first and moved the ball out of danger. He came off for a quick break and grumped that 'nobody here passes the ball'.
He's got midfielder written all over him, a guy who can control the game at both ends of the field. He's not going to score the most goals, he's not going to be the sexiest player but he's going to be the guy who makes that engine hum.
The real Three Lions could use a guy like that, eh?
We're right into the World Cup over here. So far its looking like a lot of the old favourites may be fading away but I've seen this story before and until the round of sixteen begins and a handful of the old powers of the game are gone then I won't hold my breath. Still with the cheating French not even bothering to show up (seriously, they should have just allowed the Irish to come, at least they would have shown some try) and the English reaching a new low and the Italians looking absolutely underwhelming this may be an interesting tournament. Only the Argentines have looked really good so far. I'm hoping that we might see some newer blood do well - the Dutch, the Danes, the Ivory Coast or the Mexicans, the Slovaks or my favourite underdog, the Slovenes:
Slovenia greatest country in the world.
All other countries are run by little girls.
Slovenia number one exporter of potassium.
Other countries have inferior potassium.
The Frigging English though. Aren't they something? They are like us with hockey except they haven't won a damn thing since 1966. Haven't even been close. They're like the Leafs! ;) Seriously though this one is the worst of all. They cruised through the qualifying and for once they looked good but when you have guys like Rooney saying before Algeria that they could win at less than their best well then you know the problem right there. As Sather once said about Jimmy Carson, if I recall correctly, you can have all of the talent in the world but it doesn't mean a damn thing if you haven't got the ticker.
So what does this all have to do with the Oilers? Well the silly season has started in earnest and so far we have seen Halak moved to the Blues and Hamhuis and Arnott shipped out by the Predators. Also Patrick Thoresen has been waived through the league by the Flyers as he returns for his second goround in the league. Go Patrick Thoresen!
As what passes for debate (Seguin sucks! Hall sucks!) these days rages around us we wait for Tambellini to make his moves. Bob McKenzie tweets that the Oilers will be busy and I think that they will be. Its interesting to see the moves that have already happened and it has become clear that good players can be had. They can be had for very little. Indeed they could have had Patrick Thoresen for nothing.
Because it always comes back to the same thing or at least it does with me. You need good players. You have to accumulate good players. The Oilers had a lot of good players in 2006. Then they got rid of nearly all of them and didn't replace them.
Here are the Chicago Blackhawks, this is the roster that won the Cup plus a couple of their spares and Kim Jonsson:
Toews, Hossa, Kopecky, Ladd, Sharp, Kane, Bolland, Versteeg, Byfuglien, Brouwer, Madden, Eager, Fraser, Burish, Keith, Seabrook, Campbell, Hjalmarsson, Sopel, Boynton, Jonsson, Hendry, Niemi, Huet
How many Oilers could make that club? Here are the Oilers right now:
Horcoff, Penner, Hemsky, Gagner, Brule, Cogliano, Moreau, O'Sullivan, Nilsson, Stortini, Pouliot, Jacques, Jones, Potulny, Stone, Whitney, Gilbert, Souray, Smid, Chorney, Peckham, Khabibulin, Dubnyk, JDD
That is one heaping pile of stink.
If you were Stan Bowman and you could pick over that roster how many guys would you take to replace the guys on your club? Very few I would say. Very very few. The Oilers don't have a long way to go. They have forever to go right now.
So please Tambo, no overpriced players, no players who are famous for being famous, no sizzle without the steak. Bring in those guys who can play the toughs, guys who can score, guys who do the little things, guys who are hard on the puck, guys who can play.
Guys who can play.
Like the boy. ;)
Posted by Black Dog at 10:15 PM