Wednesday, February 09, 2011
We've had what one would call a regular winter here in Toronto. When I first moved here, twenty five years ago this fall coming (btw saying things like that make me feel old as hell), the winters did not compare to where I came from but they were what you would call a real winter. By early December you'd have plenty of snow on the ground and it was here to stay until the end of March, maybe later. It was cold and windy, a damp cold, as they say, not as brutal as what I was used to or what you'd see out west, but cold enough that even having moved from Sudbury, where I was used to minus twenty to minus thirty on a daily basis, I didn't like it. A damp cold sneaks into your bones.
Right up until I moved away in February of 1997 the winters remained lengthy and poor. I think back and I remember when the girl from Rawlins Cross and I first hit it off and also when it all ended, the first was a December, the second was a January, and I remember lots of snow and cold that makes your boots squeak, your lungs hurt and your spit bounce when it hits the ground.
The truth about Canadian winters is that, like life, it can always get worse, so mind what you say. I'm from Northern Ontario and it only took a couple of winters here before I found the weather in my hometown to be unbearable and this was only at Christmas time, not in January and February when its an aching never ending brutal trudge, day after day of enormous snowbanks, vicious winds and grinding cold.
Now I thought that was tough and then I spent a year in PEI. I worked for a company that had shops in pretty well every fair sized town in the Maritimes and Newfoundland and every week once December came until March we ended up with at least a couple of them closed down due to storms. In Moncton and Amherst this happened pretty well every week and I was caught in a few nice blizzards during my time there. This was before the bridge opened too so I experienced a few days where the entire Island was what they call storm stayed. No planes. No ferries. No way in or out.
A Maritime winter needs to be experienced to be believed and yet in my own experience I've never seen anything to compare to my ten days in St. Johns Newfoundland. It was February and it was truly awe inspiring. No wonder I was able to afford the flight. ;)
I have not mentioned the West because my experience out there is limited to a few November days in Edmonton but I know the winters out there are awful as well. When my old man was a young man, nearly sixty years ago give or take he worked in Uranium City in northern Saskatchewan. Dad is a northerner, the furthest south he ever lived was North Bay. He grew up in Wawa and Franz, which was a couple of hours north of Wawa.
Look at a map. They don't have all inclusive resorts in Wawa and Franz. They's pretty far north yo.
So Dad knows winter. And whenever the subject comes up (and Dad channels the weather channel basically so it comes up frequently) he talks about that winter he spent in Saskatchewan, no contest the coldest damn winter he ever lived through.
We used to have a customer in Edmonton. He was a terrific guy, a little guy who had come over to Canada from Vietnam, one of the boat people. He had lived in a refugee camp for quite a while and then had made his way to Canada and settled in Edmonton.
A neat story. When he was in the camp he used to sketch to make time pass. Now I cannot remember what he drew in particular this time but in any case he tacked a drawing onto the wall at his bunk before he left to start in his new life.
A few years later he was at a gathering in Edmonton, it was a little event where those in the Vietnamese community could get together and make contacts and socialize. He met a young woman and they hit it off. They talked about their experiences and it turned out they had been at the same refugee camp. As they talked about their interests he said that he enjoyed drawing and used to pass the time doing just that at which point she pulled out from her purse a worn and well travelled sketch that she had found at her bunk when she came to the refugee camp.
Pretty cool huh?
So this was years later now and our friend is a smart guy and a hard worker and by this time he has built a thriving business (he would later sell it and make a mint) and he is married to the same girl and they have a family. We're talking away and as if often does the conversation turns to the weather and its January and its brutal here and of course that means its ten times as brutal there. And we're laughing about it and suddenly he says:
You know Pat, people here they complain all of the time about the weather. It is too cold, the winters are too long, it is awful. But you know that to me this is the best country in the world. This is what we complain about. You think about that, a country where this is the problem, how cold it is. Where I am from we could only dream that we could complain about the weather.
Pretty smart guy. Pretty lucky guy. Of course one usually goes with the other.
Yesterday TSN was all atwitter as it were about rumours about a big kid defenceman from Atlanta, Bogosian. I saw the Jets play Toronto the other night and can't say I noticed him but then again when you are a kid defenceman that's probably a good thing.
That night I had a discussion on Twitter, as much of a discussion as one can have in 140 characters or less, with a guy named Ty, not Ty Dellow, but another Ty who goes by the name of Rosscreek Nation, I think that's it. Ty basically put out a question - would you trade Hemsky for Bogosian?
The majority of replies I saw were firmly in the yes camp, including a few who were beyond the yes camp (that is they said the Oilers would have to throw in a sweetener to make it work).
And there were a few no votes, of which I was one. I was under the impression that with Byfuglien and Enstrom that Bogrosian wasn't playing the toughs and had a nice minus sixteen to show for it but the data seems to be conflicting. Ty tweeted showing that the kid is playing tough comp and is starting a ton in his own zone. I also read however that he's in the second pair with Oh Johnny I Will Do Ya and the aforementioned are taking the heavy sledding.
I've already made my thoughts on Hemsky and Penner made known and the news that anyone who has come calling for either veteran has grumbled that the price is very high is heartening. The price should be high.
Now we have heard rumours that Hemsky would like to stay and today Robin Brownlee posted on a conversation that Penner had today. Of course its all going to come down to contracts but if the numbers are good then I think that first thing Tambellini has to do is get these two inked.
Keep your good players. Acquire more good players.
Right now the strength of this club is on the wings. The Oilers need, in no particular order, a centre, a defenceman and a goalie. I think the way things suss out is that this summer they draft either a Dman or a centre, if they can. Landeskog is the wildcard of course but I'd have to think its a Dman or a centre. A goalie can be had pretty easily. So that will leave one spot to fill and that is when we see a winger may get moved, unless we get a curve thrown at us and its Gagner who gets dangled.
When it comes to Penner and Hemsky I say sign them if you can. Now if they cannot then they need to move them for as much as they can. Obviously I'm not in Steve Tambellini's shoes so for all we know Bogosian is way beyond what he can imagine getting for either guy.
But here's the thing, they need to get a sure thing if they can. Absolutely need to. They traded Smyth and all they have left are a couple of maybe prospects and one of those is never going to amount to much more than a role player. They traded Pronger and the centrepiece of that deal is on his fifth team today and we are still waiting on Laddy Smid. (And yes I am aware they got picks as well and that may be the saving grace.)
Those trades destroyed the competitiveness of this club. Years later we're still shitty.
I think this is where I differ with Rosscreek Nation. We really are on the same page when you get down to it. He said he'd trade Penner or Hemsky if it meant making the team better. I said hell I'll trade anyone to do that. He said we need a stud Dman and a centre and I agree, we do.
Where we differ is he thinks Bogosian is that Dman. I have my doubts. Now apparently the kid has had conflicts with the coaching staff (Torchetti, MacKenzie said) and he has been healthy scratched and he has played forward this season.
So maybe its politics. And of course we all know that young players don't develop in a straight line. And if Bogosian lives up to his pedigree then years later we might rue a trade that was never made (if such a trade is actually being considered.)
And for all I know maybe a stalled (imo) prospect is the best they can get and if they cannot sign Hemsky and that's the best you can get then you have to do it.
But maybe Bogosian just is not that good. And in any case you don't trade a good player if what's coming back isn't a sure thing. Lupul was a surer thing back then than Bogosian is now.
Has to be a sure thing. Has to be a trade that when it happens we lament our guy moving on but look at the return and say wow that's terrific. That's what we need.
A guy we know can play.
Someone said what about Penner for Z. Michalek the other day and everyone was saying no way, why would we get a guy like that.
That's exactly the type of guy we want imo, if we can get him. A guy under team control for a number of years. An established NHLer albeit a relatively young one. A guy who is ready to step in and contribute right now.
We don't need Tambo to be lucky. Luck can go either way.
We need him to be good.
Posted by Black Dog at 8:00 PM