Saturday, September 17, 2011
Each family has its own rhythm, its ways that make days, months, years similar to the others in passing, even as the kids graduate from diapers to two wheelers to all that will follow. Our family is the same and its in the fall of the year that the rituals and traditions and events that mark each year announce themselves loudest of all. A little of this is because its the opposite of the relative anarchy of summer which contains annual trips out east and up north and then not much else but a freedom from constants. Its always busy as hell but there is little that happens every summer except for our vacations and the birthday of our youngest.
September and October, on the other hand, see the calendar filled up once again. Hockey season starts for me and summer soccer turns into indoor for my wife. The kids start school and their activities, swimming and ballet for our oldest, swimming and skating for the boy, gymnastics for our youngest. We celebrate three birthdays in less than a month and there's Halloween which is a big deal and every autumn Jenn's parents come for one of their two annual visits. And there are family trips to pick apples at an orchard north of the city and to select pumpkins for carving for Halloween.
Those last two little traditions are dear to my wife's heart especially and we have a picture from every year we've been to the orchard, taken at the same spot, our family growing and growing up in a series of snapshots.
One day I am sure we will have to fight with teenagers to join us on these outings and I don't look forward to those days, not because of the arguments themselves (I can hear my daughter's laments already) but because when those days come it will mean that our little family will be closer to the day when we will be left alone and our kids will strike out on their own. Its a long time coming but our oldest will be eight next week. She's nearly halfway out the door already.
If this sounds melancholy its not meant to be. Its the way it goes and there's nothing that can be done about it. We talk about the future and I tell the kids that when the day comes they can go away to school and my wife gives me the stinkeye and they insist that they will all stay home when university comes. I smile and nod and know that when the time comes they will most likely be eager to get out and that's fine, its all a part of it and in my heart its what I want them to do, to get out and start their lives on their own and make their own way. When they do so I know we will have done a good job or so I hope.
So we are finding our own rhythm once again, each day is busy and most evenings we have something going on. On top of that Jenn and I try and continue our own little tradition we started about a year ago, each month we get the kids to bed and then one of us cooks a nice dinner, prepares dessert, the whole deal, and we stuff ourselves and drink a couple of bottles of wine and have some fun. It keeps us young and connected and gives us a break from the rush that our lives can be.
Tradition and rituals are important although some of my efforts to introduce new ones to the calendar have met with resistance, notably Oral Wednesdays, Lemon Gin Sunday Mornings and Hobo Wrestling on the third Thursday of every month.
Maybe some day .....
Speaking of tradition, training camp is opening and Ryan Whitney apparently didn't even finish off his first on ice session and while they are saying its just for precautionary reasons it looks like another tradition will also be renewed this season. Actually a couple if Whitney is unable to start the season - the loss of this club's most important players to injury, which has been going on for years now, and another terrible season for the Edmonton Oilers, which is likely anyhow and guaranteed if the big defenceman misses any significant time.
I've already said that I think this camp will have little drama, although this will change if the injuries begin to mount. The guys who might surprise, youngsters like Lander and Hartikainen, have their possible roster spots blocked by the plethora of forwards. I have no issue with this, I'd rather these guys make their bones in Oklahoma playing a ton of minutes than having them sit on the bench and play spot duty in Edmonton. Both will likely get their shot as players get hurt through the season anyhow.
Sounds like Nugent Hopkins is going to be flanked by Smyth and Eberle to start camp and that's a nice place for the rookie to be and a certain sign that he will be given every chance to make the club as expected. Gagner gets the golden opportunity between the best two players on the club and Horcoff will play shepherd to the Swedish kids to start. Meanwhile Belanger centres Eager and Jones. This could all change tomorrow but unless the kid centre crashes hard that's your starting lineup opening night, with Hordichuk and Brule in the pressbox. Its a young group but also the deepest forward corps since the 2006/2007 season. At least until Hemsky and Smyth go anyhow, continuing another Oiler tradition of trading away their best players. Been going on since those dynasty days and even now that they have the money they keep on keeping on with it. Its one tradition I would like to see end this season but I'm sure Hemsky will follow every other quality player the Oilers have had out the door.
As for the D well if Whitney is gone then there may be some drama. You have Barker and Gilbert and Smid, Peckham and Sutton. You have to think Petry getting a shot with Whitney to start camp is a tell as well. I think Petry should make the club over Chorney and Potter but I guess those two are in the mix and if someone like Teubert excels well then you never know. Remember Gilbert surprising everyone by making the club a few years back, passing a whole bunch of guys and getting his spot.
We'll see what happens. I don't see a Thoresen or Brodziak in this group, no underdog who will emerge as a feel good story. I think the roster is set. The main thing for this club is to stay healthy and after that the biggest story is Ted Nugent and whether he can be a legitimate player right out of the gate.
Posted by Black Dog at 2:50 PM