Monday, August 23, 2010

The Little Things


Here is a picture I took on a beach in PEI of a pretty girl getting photobombed by a homeless man.

Just got back from two weeks on the fair island and in the weeks prior to that I was in Fernie and Sudbury so essentially I am back in the saddle and out of vacation. Have to win that damn lottery although I guess it helps to play it to win it.

A number of months ago I wrote about how life is mostly comprised of small moments - you have your weddings, your births, graduations, buying a house, all of that good stuff of course - but for the most part your day to day is made up of little things and once you are settled down and you have your family you are pretty well looking at these little things for years, at least until your own kids start to make their own lives.

And so this past two weeks was made up of many of these wonderful little things. Going with Jenn to the family cottage to overnight without the kids. Having lunch and a pint on a patio with a good friend. Taking the boy to a lighthouse and climbing to the top with him (shitting my pants all of the while I might add). Swimming in the ocean with the kids. Taking the father in law out for lobster for his birthday. Making a campfire on the beach. Drinking a cold beer before noon.

Did I mention the eating and the drinking?

Back at it now, just a little fatigued. Did 1150 kilmoetres on Saturday and while that made for an easy drive to finish it off I think the downside is that its going to take a few days and plenty of alcohol to make things right.

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Very little has happened with the Oilers in the last little while. We are still waiting for the Souray issue to be resolved and it would be nice to see Gagner and Cogliano get signed sometime soon I think. I don't think there is any doubt that this club is going to be pretty fucking shitty again this season and I will post on that in the next week or so. I am going to have plenty of time to myself as Jenn pays the piper for going on vacation with numerous shifts in the next little bit. Also for those who have been following our little project here I have the G3 data from Julian and hope to watch the game in the next few days and get that up and then G4 and G5 are done (thanks to Colin (Mr. Debakey)) and they will go up immediately afterwards.

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I did want to say something about Fernando Pisani's signing with Chicago. First of all I am not surprised by the money. Here is a guy who has been wracked by illness and injury for the last few years and I thought he would be lucky to get an offer at all. Of course the fact that he is making less than a guy like Strudwick, for example, is ridiculous, but you could run through NHL rosters and find a couple of hundred players who are getting paid far too much or too little I would say. Fernando looked pretty well done last season. Once again he fell ill and on top of that he had a bad back to deal with. He may very well be finished and its disappointing that he wasn't the first to begin and end his career as an Oiler. When he was stricken with colitis back in the winter I wrote the following:

Some frightening news today. Fernando Pisani has been sent home halfway through the roadtrip as his colitis has flared up again.

Now I'm no doctor, although I play one on TV, but I would presume that if its serious enough to send him home then its pretty serious. And what this means is that the end is probably in sight for Fernando Pisani. Even if its just a minor flareup the red flag has been raised and in a bottom line business its unlikely to me that he will be able to get another contract next season. Its difficult to see any club signing an aging winger with health issues that can knock him out of the lineup at any time.

Fernando seems to have been around forever but as Scott Reynolds has pointed out he actually has not yet qualified for his NHL pension yet, just over thirty games short of the four hundred needed. Its a little sad to see this as until his first major bout with the disease two seasons ago Fernando was the poster boy for reliability. From 2001/02 in the AHL to 2006/07 he played 76 games or more every season, providing around 15 goals a year - 26 in the AHL, 17 in the AHL and 8 in 35 games in Edmonton, then seasons of 16, 18 and 14 with the Oilers. Even in 2008 when he came back from colitis he scored 13 in 56 games and then last season he scored 7 in 38 games, limited by a broken ankle.

Consistent.

Reliable.

Underrated.

It may be early to eulogize his career (I certainly hope so) but Fernando will be remembered for two things, maybe three. The last remains to be seen.
First of all there is the type of player that he was. He was a guy who would chip in those fifteen goals but his role for this franchise was one that they sorely need today. He was a guy who could check and outscore the best players on the other team, a guy who could win puck battles and forecheck very well, a guy who could separate his man from the puck, an outstanding penalty killer and a guy who was extremely low maintenance. He was the ultimate 'bottom six' guy, as conventional wisdom calls the guys who don't score a lot of goals, but on every Oiler team he played on he was a top six guy in terms of helping the club win, which is the point after all.

And of course there was the wonderful run in 2006. The two goals to even up game six against the Wings. The shortie to win game five gainst the Canes. The goal and then the near miss in the third period of game seven. For two months Pisani scored and then he scored again. BIG goals. CLUTCH goals. ;) If he had stuffed that shot past Ward late in game seven and the Oilers had gone on to win he likely would have won the Conn Smythe. There have always been 'regular' guys who have gotten hot for a series or two, guys like John Druce or Chris Kontos, but nobody from this family of players ever went on a run like Fernando Pisani. And all of this while doing the heavy sledding.

What a player.

And if this is it for our man from Edmonton he will be the first player of any note (and Reynolds and I have this argument all of the time but I stand by my case - a guy who has played his entire career with the organization, seven seasons (or parts thereof) with the big club, a playoff hero is a player of note) to have played all of his career with the Oilers. Randy Gregg almost did before he came out of retirement for a short twirl with the Canucks but Fernando would be the first.

An eighth round pick, a local boy, a guy who showed great dedication coming back from his original bout with this awful disease.

Here's hoping that it is just a minor flareup and that he will be back next week. I hate writing about a guy using the past tense.

But if not and this is the beginning of the end then its right to recognize an underrated guy who has never sold the fans or his teammates short in any way. Here's hoping for good health for Fernando Pisani.

So of course it turns out that the third did not come to pass.

Fernando Pisani symbolized a lot about the Oilers this past decade. He was a longshot pick who developed into a guy who could play the other team's best, shut them down and outscore them back when the club had no money (or no willingness to spend it). Tough minutes winger, outscorer, damn good hockey player. Call him what you will. He did all of the little things well, the things that win you hockey games.

And when the club had that sweet sweet run he was the guy who was a major part of that success.

And then he got paid, paid too much probably, although if he had stayed healthy he may have covered that bet. Problem is he did not and as his body broke down he became another bad contract on a club with plenty of them. When he was signed Duhatschek wrote that the Oilers saw him as a possible thirty goal man which may speak to the hockey acumen of those in charge of course although it would have been nice to see a healthy Pisani playing with Smyth and Horcoff or, say, Penner and one of the offensively gifted kid centres. We may have seen a little more then.

No matter. Its past now.

And as vets and guys who could play were moved along Pisani was asked to do what he always did. The heavy lifting. And so he did his best, even as his body failed him. I don't blame the Oilers for moving on although I think he could still help this team, if even in a fourth line role. He is better than a few players on this roster. And at that price its not much of a gamble. Having said that they probably had seen enough missed games and decided to move on.
You can add another word to those I mentioned above. One that gets thrown around far too often about athletes and sport but it does apply here.
Courageous.

Last season I hoped for two things, knowing that it was another lost season for Edmonton. An Olympic triumph for Canada. And for the Chicago Blackhawks to end their drought. Both came to pass.

Here's hoping that the hockey gods will smile on me and grant one last wish for me this season. A Chicago repeat and a chance to see Fernando Pisani play a meaningful part in it.

Good luck and the best of health to you and thanks for the memories.

13 comments:

Downright Fierce said...

Have to win that damn lottery although I guess it helps to play it to win it.

Funny, the Oilers won the lottery by not playing at all!

*rimshot, groans*

Welcome back to the grind, sir. Nice words as always and I'm also in the Chicago repeat camp for ol' Fern's sake.

Coach pb9617 said...

Nice to see Tom Berenger still pulling hot ass at his age.

Bruce said...

Welcome back, Pat, I was afraid we'd have to invent a time machine to go back to 1972 and rescue you from that time warp.

its disappointing that he wasn't the first to begin and end his career as an Oiler

Actually, Kevin Lowe meets these criteria to a T. I'm surprised nobody rates him for that.

Black Dog said...

Ah Bruce that is true but its those games in between that Lowe played in New York. I wasn't clear though. ;)


lol D.F.

Derek - you bet pal. I'll tell her so, she won't mind that at all.

uni said...

It seemed that everytime a big goal was scored Pisani-Peca-Torres was out there in 2006. That was a helluva run, and since I started following the team in 1999, it's the only deep playoff run I've ever seen the team have. God I hate Dallas, Modano, and Zubov.

I wouldn't mind at all if Chi-town did the repeat and Pisani is right there manning portside on their 3rd line.

spOILer said...

Chicago repeat?

Screw that, Oil all the way!!

Okay. I suhhhpose on the off-chance the Oilers aren't in the Holy Grail, I suhhhpose I wouldn't begrudge Pisani a Cup. But just one, that's it. Not one more.

Bastards.

uni said...

Alright, spOILer has a point. I revise my hope for the upcoming season.

The Oilers pull off a stunning trade with the Islanders, sending away Souray in a package for something or other.

They march into the season and slowly become a cohesive unit and with Omark posting a near PPG pace along with Eberle and MPS on the new 'kid' like, Hall blazes along with Hemsky and Horcoff. Brule-Gagner-Penner make sweet music together (not that kind) and take all kinds of leaps forward in outscoring tough comp. The truculence/PK/energy guys do their thing.

Gilbert and Whitney both emerge as legit #1 defencemen and tear the league a new one. Foster turns out to be not a complete liability on defence and Smid stays healthy and moves along the path to shutdown D. Meanwhile Strudwick is suspended for the rest of the season pending review after decapitating Robyn Regs after he takes a run at Hemsky. Some people complain that the sentence isn't stiff enough since Regehr no longer has a head attached to his body. Vandemeer then gets a legitimate wily veteran defender playing out his string...let's say Willie Mitchell.

At the deadline on the bubble Tambellini does a small swap for Pisani to shore up the depth.

Oilers squeak into the playoffs as the 8th seed. Too young and inexperienced (or stupid) to know they should lose they fight and claw their way to the finals. By some freak coincidence they run into Carolina again and go to a game 7 after Pisani once again channels Lafleur. This time he scores the tying goal on a breakaway, then gets the winner in OT on a feed from Horcoff after a yeoman effort digging the puck off the boards.

Everyone celebrates. Scarlett Johanson deeply confused after the following events have occurred somehow shows up at my door. I also win the 44 million lottery jackpot although I don't buy tickets or attempt to play it. Good times are had by all.

Black Dog said...

Looks like Uni's shipment of peyote finally arrived. ;)

Alice said...

I hope the peyote comes with a Goaltender, [ or Scarlett... ]

Alice said...

Since I'm here, let me add my thanks for all your work on the 72's, it's outstanding and much appreciated.

Your customer-sleepover story brought back a memory here too. Once upon I time I did computer installations for small municipalities all over Ontario, and of course the most memorable were the North Shore towns, Terrace Bay, Marathon, Red Rock, Wawa. But the best was Ear Falls. I doubled up on the trip, hitting Balmertown the next day. But wrapping up, the admin there - Paulette, still remember that - she says come over for dinner. And they put it on, her husband BBQ's a bunch of steaks, we have some beers, relatives show up, we watch a playoff game, it must have been April. Now I'm ready to head out, there's a motel booked. They wouldn't hear of it - drive up there in the dark, hit a damn moose? Forget it, you're staying right here. And I did. I know you have an affinity for northern ontario, and you know it ain't the rocks and scenery. Great people.

Black Dog said...

Great stuff Alice. I have a half baked theory. I think of people living up there, on the Prairies, the outports of Newfoundland, Cape Breton, the farms of PEI. I've written about my family up in Goulais and how isolated they would have been when they settled there. Well in that situation you need to be able to rely on your neighbours to survive - the winters, the crop failures, the fishing boats floundering and seal hunt disasters and mine caveins and all of that awful stuff that came with what must have been an awfully tough life at times.

Not a earthshattering revelation I know but I would say a lot of truth to that and how people responded to it is what we see, even today.

uni said...

Alice, Scarlett usually comes after the peyote. Unfortunately she's always gone by morning and then I have to wash my pillow sheets.

Swabbubba said...

for what Chi has shipped out and limited stuff brought in. I just don't see a repeat. These days it is about lightning in a bottle. You get shot... maybe the Caps this year. If there was sure thing they would not play the games.. Go Oilers