Sunday, September 23, 2012

Losing



A couple of weeks ago we had what passes for a tough couple of days for us in our house. We've had a good run of luck is what I'm saying because this is what we call bad times

On the Monday night I played for Capsule in our summer league playoffs. We had a decent year, not bad, not great, 8th out of 10 clubs, a few points out of fourth, so in the middle, as we usually are, a goal here or there would have meant a jump in the standings. Can't complain. Blown out twice, on both occasions played the top two teams with less than nine skaters. So pretty good.

The week before we happened to be short again and so we had lost game one to a quality team of kids, man they could skate and pass. We kept up for a while, went up 1-0 and then the old legs betrayed us. The way the playoffs in our league work is that its two games total points. So even though we lost the first game all we had to do was win the second game to force the series to a sudden death overtime tiebreaker.

We had ten skaters, they had eight this time around. They came out flying (they're the better team no doubt and even with eight guys they have the legs) and there were about a dozen minutes left and they were up 4-1 and while we were pushing things weren't looking so hot for the good guys.

 And then we scored one and then they began to sag and within three minutes the game was tied and they were on their heels. They were tired and my line hopped over the boards and my winger took a beauty stretch pass and went in alone and was stopped. And then I was coming up with speed and the dman hit me in full stride at centre and I blew by the defenceman at their blue (you know buddy was exhausted ;) ) and I was in all alone, cut to the right and tried to slide it five hole when he came with me and failed.

 And our next shift, just a few minutes left now and we have to win, and the D pushes the puck up to me at centre. My back is to their net and I have a second and I see one of their guys in front of me, far to the right and, figuring I may have someone right on me and only one of our D between me and our goal I make what I think is the right play.

 I bank it off the boards back to our D.

 Except he sees what I don't see which is that we have numbers going up and I have time and so he is jumping up and so my pass goes not to where he is but to where he was and to where that winger on the far side has suddenly sped, picking up a gift and going in alone.

 Yeah you know what happens.

 We push but we need two and we're out of time.

 And that was it.

 Fuck me.

 Gutted. I'm a guy who plays smart and safe and prides himself on it.

 Fuck.

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The next night the boy had his soccer semis. We had a very good year in every way. Kids all got better, we won more than we lost, every kid but one scored at least a goal. Lots of fun.

 They roll the schedule so there are no standings and our first game was up against the next team we were set to play, the team that just happened to be the one team that may have been better than us, if only slightly so.

 They had three kids who were excellent, better quality than any of ours but we had the better team top to bottom. Played four times. Spit the games down the middle. Win this and while there was no guarantee the truth is we would be in good shape to win it all.

 We came out the first half and pushed the play and did a fine job. We were shutting down their big guns for the most part and about halfway through the first we scored, we have a little fellow who can score, man he's one of those guys who just has a nose for it, and so he slotted one home and when it came to half we were up one and in fine form.

 The second started and they came out strong and slowly but surely we began to give. Our little keeper made a save and then another and they began to push and some of our guys began to tire from the chasing and then in one sequence our goalie made a save and then another and then they hit the post. It was coming and all we could hope for was for time to run out.

 And with five minutes left a shot that couldn't be stopped and it was a deserved tie and when the clock stopped it was a shootout.

 Well they had three guys who could put the ball where they wanted and you can imagine the result. Our second shooter was stopped and their third stepped up to win it and put it top corner cool as can be and that was it.

 These are six and seven year olds so there was some confusion. The little goalie, the player of the game by any measure, came up to me and asked me if he could shoot next and I had to inform him gently that we had lost. As we gathered everything up I looked over and saw his mom taking pics of him holding a ball, tears streaming down his face. He wasn't the only one.

 A damn good year, just a hair short.

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Last night we were at a wedding in Midland, a small town a couple of hours north of Toronto. A bit of a hike but we had a good time. Some guy who looked an awful lot like Shawn Horcoff was there and when they played Rasputin he shouted 'Is my song Komrades!' in a distinctive Russian accent and then proceeded to take over the dance floor. Crazy times but I digress.

I was checking my phone when I saw the Oilers twitter account reflect the management of this incompetent joke of a franchise with an absolutely ridiculous tweet, discussed here.

I've written a number of times here about Bill Wirtz who along with his lackey Bob Pulford basically destroyed hockey in Chicago. Incompetence writ large and a refusal to pay any Blackhawk star once it was time for them to get paid resulted in a generation of awful teams, empty arenas and a decimated fanbase that booed Dale Tallon when he eulogized Wirtz after he died.

Awful awful stuff.

Every franchise has its own history and, how do you say, personality. Some, especially the newer ones, might blend into each other. For others there is a stark and unique character that separates them from all others. The Edmonton Oilers are one of these clubs. I talked about this at length this past winter when the Oilers were going to move Ales Hemsky until Taylor Hall said he didn't think that was a good idea and suddenly things happened.

There were the wonderful clubs from the dynasty era. There is the franchise's inability or unwillingness to keep any players of note in Edmonton. And there is the almost constant threat of relocation from Edmonton by the franchise and their water carriers in the media.

Oilers' ownership and management has been smalltime for a long time now. From the reported incident when they blocked in a media vehicle because of comments critical of the franchise to the incompetence of Lowe and Tambellini as they have put the on ice product into the ditch to the club sponsored media smear campaigns of players who are about to be run out of town, its an amazing thing to behold. There are other professional sports clubs with management that is incompetent or loathsome but here, like in the draft lottery the past three years, the Oilers take the gold.

This latest though, the negotiations over the new arena, well here the club has sunk to a new low.

Now Katz is a businessman and business is business and he and his henchman, led by the disgraceful Patrick LaForge, are trying to get the best deal possible for the club, the deal that brings in the most money for them. That's fine, that's business and that's their prerogative. And I'm not a citizen of Edmonton. I've been there once and I think its a wonderful city but whether or not their elected representatives want to pay for a new arena, in part or in full, is up to them. I know folks in Edmonton who believe its a terrible idea and I know folks there who think its great and in the end if the city agrees to some sort of deal well then they will have to live with it and hopefully the money spent will be worth it. I'm not going to comment on the whole idea because reams of internet have been killed on the topic elsewhere not because some supporters of the idea, while using studies and quotes from anyone outside of Edmonton to prove their point, will stamp their feet and point at me and say 'NOT FROM EDMONTON' if I do.

Here's the thing though, you have folks who oppose the project or want less public money spent on it and you have folks who support it and some of the reasons proposed are valid and some are not but people have opinions and they are free to express them and defend them. Whatever. Its a free country. You're not hurting anyone, say and do as you please and try and do so with respect for others.

But the people driving the bus on this, the Oilers and their water carriers in the media, well it may be negotiations and all but it was telling that as soon as city council rejected the latest Katz ploy out came the usual suspects and the first word whispered by all of them was relocation.

And if I was in Edmonton this is what I would think. I would try and put aside the history we spoke about above and I would think Hm this is strange, employees of the Edmonton Oilers and a handful of Edmonton media say that relocation is an possibility. Obviously the Oilers have everything to gain from a sweeter deal and for those media guys, well for them its access. We know how the trade off works although we may believe its not the case - media need to sell papers and airtime - access to the biggest game in town helps do that, helping out the guys running the game, its a simple equation. Media love to pretend there's an objectivity there but this is a town where the local club holds nights to honour local media guys.

So this makes sense, that these guys would whisper 'relocation' as soon as the Oilers might not get their way.

And yet, and yet, there are people from outside of the city, people who do not have a dog in this hunt at all, who react to the threat with disbelief and incredulity. There is Forbes Magazine that estimates the club to be the fifth most profitable in the NHL despite not having any playoff revenue. There is Corey Pronman from ESPN who says:

Fairly ignorant on the EDM arena, but if Bettman could find an array of owners for PHX, I cant see how a top 5-10 profitable team moves.

James Mirtle and Bruce Arthur basically said this would never happen. Now I'm sure one of the crack journalists at CHED or the Journal will say 'TORONTO' because that is their response to any criticism but here is my question.

If everyone outside of Edmonton does the math and knows that this club makes money hand over fist despite their incompetence on the ice and the Oilers dispute this and are saying they need to move because the arena deal isn't sweet enough then who do you believe?

The people with nothing to gain in any way from this or the business that is trying to make as much money as possible from this?

And further to that what does this say about the people who run the Edmonton Oilers, the people who refuse to open their books to scrutiny? I may not be from Alberta but where I am from, a small northern Ontario town, if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to hide. Show the people of Edmonton the numbers. After all its a community and partnership that you are happy to trumpet when it suits you.

And one more thing, you don't act like a dick. When I was growing up if you acted like a dick you got punched in the mouth. The Edmonton Oilers remind me a of a kid I knew back in school. He had some swagger and he was a fair size and he had a mouth on him and one week he decided to ride my best friend, a big goofy good natured kid who was the biggest kid in school and never bullied or said a bad word about anybody.

This went on for a couple of days until finally my pal had enough and said 'alright after school' because that is how things were settled back then and so after school we all went to a path that cut between houses from street to street, this is where we went to fight when we had to fight. We all crowded around, probably sixty of us, and your man is talking big all the way there and they put down their books and step forward and my buddy grabs him by his jean jacket and he hits him right in the face and then again and buddy goes down blood streaming from his nose and then he gets up, tears streaming, and runs away home.

And that was the end of that.

Mayor Mandel should call a press conference and say that the city has offered Katz an excellent deal and if the Oilers think they can get a better deal elsewhere then they should go away, thanks very much. Bullying and blackmail won't play in Edmonton and if the Oilers want to play that way then go away but oh yes your name and colours will remain and the next tenant of the arena we are going to put up will certainly love to make a ton of money while Daryl Katz whiles his time away in Seattle or Kansas City.

Just please make sure to take Tambellini and Lowe and LaForge with you. And Stauffer and Tencer too.

Good bye.

That's what I would say.

4 comments:

Travis Dakin said...

You used to be so positive and nice.... hahaha


Black Dog said...

Ah I'm still positive and nice, not just about these clowns.

uni said...

I just wish the Edmonton City Council would grow a pair (ovaries/testicles) and just tell Katz to go F himself if he thinks he can find a better city.

Pull the whole damn deal off the table and let him come back and re-negotiate when he's ready to reasonable. The current deal in place is pure BS to begin with.

Bar Qu said...

I've watched several great movies (The Man Who Knew Too Much, awesome, awesome film) & spent more time being less concerned with hockey already. And with the announcement that they'll likely cancel reg season games coming, all I can feel is a shrug coming on. The combo of Katz& the lockout is making me very apathetic to all things NHL, which ain't a bad thing IMO.