Wednesday, December 19, 2007

oh Yeah, my excuses

I mentioned that I would have excuses ready as to why I don't post very often:

1- I'm not a "blogger" - I do this just in case I feel like posting something. It's fun.
2- Started a new job. Actually, I've started three new jobs in the past six months or so. I like the newest one the most, luckily.
3- Have you ever played internet Scrabble? Everytime I sit at the computer, that's all I want to do - not posting on the blob.
4- Others do this better. Being lazy, I'd rather occassionally post, have a few laughs and let the really good blobbers cover the Oilers.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hockey Tradition Abandoned!

First of all, I haven't posted in quite a while and the dozens (at best) of people who would stop in on the blob have probably abandoned this little site by now.

Excuses to follow after this little tidbit.

I haven't been able to attend as many games (see why when you read my excuses for not contributing the odd bit to the site) as I used to and I have missed all the home games that made it to overtime (I believe there have been five - either way, I was not at any of them).

A good friend pointed out to me that this season the Oilers have abandoned what used to be one of those hockey staples (not David) as tried and true as the Smooch Cam, the Hockey Song and beer.

I heard that the Oilers are no longer playing TNT just before OT.


Normally I don't really care what music the Rexall/Northlands/Skyreach guy plays. I don't go to hockey games for music. I don't go to movie theatres for food. I don't go to pubs for martinis.
Frankly the music is incidental to the entertainment package on the ice. Trooper songs are strangely entertaining at a hockey game and nowhere else.

But AC/DC's TNT is SUPPOSED to be played just before the puck drops at overtime. It is also supposed to be played loudly.

I WILL get to the bottom of this.

Are there any fans who have noticed this? Am I the only one who finds this irritating?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Good News/ Bad News

Bad News:
Did you watch the game tonight?
Good News:
I got this in the mail today.
Cool mug, eh?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Monitor Your Children's TV Viewing

This afternoon, the baby (OK, as she reminds me, "not baby, Pepper" - so toddler) and I were sitting on the couch watching some TV.
We're both a bit under the weather so it hasn't been a fun couple of days for us.
Poor kid looked up at me today and threw up all over herself and the couch.
I should have been more careful as this was on the TV.
No wonder she threw up.

NOTE: The game is about to start. For good measure, I put her in bed.
Hopefully tonight's result doesn't have a similar effect on me.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Another week of crapola

It's funny how only a few games can change the mood of Oiler fans. I've been listening to Stauffer's show (TEAM 1260) on the way from work to pick up the baby at daycare and Coach MacT is already on the firing line from the callers.
I personally like the job Craig MacTavish has done, I really liked him as a player. He was one of those players people respect who worked harder than the others and overachieved. A blue collar player.
That said, sometimes a coaching change for the sake of change isn't a bad thing. The team has to think differently and new ideas come in. Stauffer threw out the concept that players can "tune out" a longtime coach who expects players to be defensively responsible and to overachieve - not unlike MacT's own career.
The same thing happened in Calgary and, while I don't recommend looking south for inspiration, Sutter pulled himself out.
I think MacT's job is safe for now. A few wins in the next four or five games will help keep the dogs away - for now.

Here's this week's In The Box

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In The Box is back!

Check out the latest issue.
Also read this one which is probably the best Haiku music review column ever. Hats off to TB for this batch of Haikus. Especially the Loverboy review.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


It's not original or really ground-breaking, but I enjoyed the angriest man on the computer's Five Word Previews for the upcoming season.
Some great stuff and not nearly as full of acid as this or this classic.
This guy is angry but very sharp. One of those people who says what is on his mind. Lucky he uses a great pseudonym.

I thought I'd take some teams into one of the many Internet Anagram Generators and see what wisdom spews forth.
(In order of finish)
Colorado Avalanche
Calgary Flames
Vancouver Canucks
Edmonton Oilers
Minnesota Wild

Anaheim Ducks
San Jose Sharks
Dallas Stars
Los Angeles Kings

Phoenix Coyotes

Detroit Division
Detroit Red Wings
St. Louis Blues
Chicago Blackhawks
Nashville Predators
Columbus Bluejackets

Atlantic Div
Pittsburgh Penguins
New York Rangers
New Jersey Devils
Philadelphia Flyers
New York Islanders

Centre of the Universe Div
Ottawa Senators
Buffalo Sabres
Boston Bruins
Montreal Canadiens
Toronto Maple Leafs

Apathy Division
Tampa Bay Lightning
Carolina Hurricanes
Atlanta Thrashers
Washington Capitals
Florida Panthers

Holy crap, that was a lot of work for little reward. Reading lists and lists of anagrams really gets tiring.
Thank God nothing really good was on TV. But Arrested Development is on now.
I'm done.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Captain C

The Oilers are set to name their new Captain/Post-game Defeat Apologist tomorrow afternoon.

Jason Smith was just named Philly's new captain and goes from following in the footsteps of Mark Messier, Doug Weight, Kevin Lowe and (snicker) Shayne Corson to following in the footsteps of Peter Forsberg, Keith Primeau, Rick Tocchet and Bobby Clarke.
They made the right choice. He's a natural leader and seems to have that "guy in charge" vibe down pat. He's like Andy Travis on WKRP. A grassroots, blue collar, no-nonsense leader.

Who should be the Oilers' captain?
Let's go through the options:

Tough despite a very not-tough first name.
Injures himself in a fight with one swing; misses 75 games. That's tough.
Gets his brother (Chad and Ethan - sounds like two Yale grads on a yacht) to come in and make other players tougher by making them work out and learn Ultimate Fighting.
Tends to be the best player on the ice when the rest of the team plays worse. This year he will likely play better quite a bit.
Bad part of naming him captain: He's not on the ice as often as other forwards or defencemen. And he may hit a teammate like Moose (reportedly) did.
Odds of getting the C. 70%

Has been a forward (for a few moments) and a defender. Sees both sides equally.
Is involved in charities and seems to be genuinely interested in being a community-minded hockey player. With Smytty, Gator and Georges Laraque (all mainstays of Oilers charity and personal appearance work) gone, someone has to care about us lowly real people and not just how much to pay the nanny and dentist.
Was a captain. But that was in Atlanta.
Has a website.
Odds of putting the C back into Macedonia - 20%

Touted to be a future captain since he learned to skate in Yorkton.
Wore the GOOD KIND OF C for the Kootenay Ice and a World Junior team.
Almost wore the BAD KIND OF C despite being drafted by Calgary. He refused to sign, showing taste and judgment - definite leadership qualities.
In last year of contract; making him Captain would not only help sway him to sign a deal but could also raise the price.
Still too young.
Odds of Captaincy: 4%

Is the NHLPA rep. His loyalty is to the Union. Can't make your Union Guy Captain. His heart may be Oil, but he is conspiring against The Man behind closed doors.
Is on the ice quite often. Powerplay, possible first line shifts, penalty kill.
Odds: 3%

Most talented player.
That's about the only reason to consider Ales. Maybe an "A" could happen.
The C may stand for Czech but not Captain - 1%

He's a veteran, a leader and is almost always on the ice. Yells and winges to refs anyway.
But Rule 6.1 of the Rulebook states "no playing Coach or playing Manager or goalkeeper shall be permitted to act as Captain or Alternate Captain."
That's what the "A" stands for - except in the case of Steve Downie, Todd Bertuzzi or Sean Avery where it could be interpreted to mean another A word should they ever wear one.
Odds: 0% - Stupid Rulebook

Sheldon Souray gets 1% of the remaining 2%.
The rest of the team (except for that Dick Tarnstrom) share the remaining 1%.

We'll find out tomorrow.
I want Chopper to be Captain.
C for Chopper.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Good luck to Buffalo

The Buffalo Sabres and the NHL have announced they are holding their own Outdoor Hockey Game on January 1, 2008.

Good for them. Loved the game but the aura surrounding seeing Gretz, Mess and the older Habs stars stole the show. I wonder if they'll trot out old Mario.


Name the current Oilers who suited up for the Heritage Classic in Edmonton.

Hint: There are nine.
Other hint: Screw you, no more hints.

Prize: you look smarter than others and it's right there in the comments for all to see. Priceless.

Just like an asshole...everyone has an....


IN THE BOX would love some quick opinions on how you feel about this year's Oiler squad and some predictions from an Oiler-centric POV. Some of them could be included in this year's first In The Box for the 07-08 season.

Send your diatribe. Try to keep it short so we can fit it in. Three to five sentences should encapsule your own version of the truth.

We'd love to hear from some real Oiler fans who read Vue regularly.

Email to and send some good stuff. From your asshole to ours? Man, I hope The Boy doesn't read this.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Since everyone else has an opinion

Don't get the partial armband.
Looks slick but a bit too much like a practice jersey.
The colours are OK. I hope that's orange and not the copper.
Isn't better than best jersey re-tools (Boston, Nashville) or as ugly as the worst (Vancouver, Long Island).
Too bad the code RBK inserted on the NHL 08 vids was cracked. I was anticipating seeing the new kit in full, live colour on Sunday.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Back to the Vault

The prediction/start of season/Oilers-are-undefeated-and-at-the-top-of-the-standings-because-the-season-hasn't-started-yet issue of Vue Weekly's In The Box is coming (SEPTEMBER 27th issue).
I'm excited about writing about the Oilers (and Oil Kings too - what the Hell?) for Vue.
The column has managed to slip talk of NHL hockey into a weekly entertainment paper full of rock stars, left wingers who aren't Ales Hemsky, artists, artistes (there is a difference), restaurant reviews and the film-snobbiest reviews of movies in the city (and that's a good thing). But it always surprises me that, in this city, the culture vultures are also Oiler fans. It seems an odd match (millionaire hockey players cheered on by bohos) but that's Edmonton.
We can mix our high-and-low brow. It's hockey and the art gallery. Wine and rye/Cokes. Tom Robbins and Stompin' Tom.
Mixing the hipster sensibility and Oiler news is a delicate balance but its much more fun to write.

Anyway, here's last year's Oiler season predictionsand how they played out. It was an interesting mix of rose-coloured glasses and some real bad vibes.

Excerpted from last year:
Fearless Oiler Predictions

Dave (ME!!!!): The team will make the playoffs.
Starting with game one against Calgary, at least six people in (blech) Flames jerseys will get kicked out of Rexall during each of the Battles of Alberta.
One veteran Oiler will suffer a season-ending (and potentially career-ending) injury.
Ethan Moreau - sucks to be right.
Goals will come in buckets,
Make that vomit or stomach lining
but no single Oiler will be in the top 15 in scoring.
Right again!
At least four Oilers will be in the top 30 in scoring, though.
Top Oiler scorer (Sykora - 110th place) Smytty finished 51st but he doesn't count.
The powerplay will strike often, but will give up too many shorthanded opportunities with forwards on the point and what’s-his-name gone.
The Oilers only allowed four shorties - second best in the league. Considering that they had the fourth worst PP% other teams got a lot of chances with two full minutes to score. Wrong again.
MacT will keep getting funnier in post and pre-game interviews.
He is funny. March and April didn't give him much to laugh about though.
We’ll find out who the real fans are this season as the playoff bandwagon party becomes a regular season rollercoaster ride. DY

TB: Ok, I know that everyone in Oilerville is wondering how we’re going to do this year without old what’s-his-nuts on the blueline. Sure, Pronger played a lot of minutes, and hard ones at that. But if the Oil had gotten just four less points last season and missed the playoffs, no one would be saying boo about him leaving town. We may not be flush with Norris trophy candidates per se, but it’s not as if MacTavish is just stuffing hobos into jerseys and hoping for the best, either.
That didn't happen until February or so. Although he played surprisingly well, Mathieu Roy has a hobo beard. If any hobos had shown up at Kevin Lowe's door and could skate backwards, they would have played by March after the injuries.
If everything does start to go horribly wrong, I don’t think we’ll have to wait long for MacT to pull the trigger.
Or take sleeping pills?
We’re deep up front
on paper we wereand
in goal, and it shouldn’t take more than a month for some teams (the Leafs!) to realize that they’re just playing out the string. As for predictions—what I’m actually supposed to be doing here—watch for Lupul to shine,
the pine - during powerplays anyway
Smith to get meaner, Bergeron to mature
all the way to Long Island
and Hemsky to make goalies bleed out their eyes. TB

More Fearless Predictions From The “Experts”

“I don’t feel that they will make the playoffs. When Jason Smith and Steve Staios are our main d-men they won’t make the playoffs. And (Daniel) Tjarnqvist is on the number one pair? Tjarnqvist? They have too many question marks this year. I went to a pre-season game and the defence was mostly rookies—they were all over the place letting in goals. They looked terrible.”
Brent Oliver—local musician, promoter (Brent Oliver Presents) and President of the Green Pepper Hockey League.

Brent, dirty stinking musician type that he is, nailed it. He gets another go this year.

“I think they’ll do good like last year. Now they have more fast players and better scorers. They’re missing Chris Pronger, though.”
“The Boy”—Kai, age 7. New hockey fan.

He's 8 now. Must be weird to think of the last Oiler Stanley Cup as ancient history. Kind of like how the Leafs were revered when I was 8.

“Ales Hemsky will have a breakout year, scoring over 85 points
53.. but he did miss 18 games - and was an Oiler in February, March and April. That doesn't help
and making his first all-star team. Joffrey Lupul will lead them in goals, Hemsky will lead in points
nope and nope - I don't know what Lupul's goals were but I hope he realizes them in Philly - boy, did he get a rough ride and as a team they will finish in the top five in goals scored.
...or the bottom. Count from the bottom and he's right.
The Battle of Alberta will be a battle for first place in the Northwest with the Flames winning by less than four points. The Oil will finish fifth or sixth and Rexall will once again be a madhouse in April and (hopefully for Oilers fans) in May as well.”
Jason Gregor hosts “Just A Game” weeknights at 9 PM on Team 1260 Edmonton Sports Radio.

“Things just wouldn’t feel right if the Oilers failed to start the season with at least one glaring, potentially team-crippling question mark—last year it was goaltending, this year it’s defence. Still, our offence looks pretty scary
it did, but not in the scary-to-opponents way
and Roloson is great when someone isn’t breaking his knee, so I think we’ll do all right. But a deep post-season feel pretty damn unlikely unless we pull off a trade for a veteran offensive presence on the blue line.
We got one - but not until July
Smith-Staios is just not going to cut it. Cautiously optimistic predictions: Oilers win all eight games against Calgary this year; Hemsky scores 40 goals.”
Oooops. Cautiously optimistic indeed.
Chris!—Covered in Oil co-Blogger (

“I predict that the Oilers will break the Cup-loser-misses the playoffs curse and finish in eighth. No higher because I can’t see Roloson doing what he did in the playoffs over a full regular season and the numbers 4-6 d-men are real question marks. Calgary and Edmonton will play for Western Conference Championship. Belinda Stronach will date a prominent Oiler, who will then ask for a trade for personal reasons.
That would have been fun....something other than hockey...anyone see her with Smytty?
Oh, and to the IMPORTANT stuff ... Leafs ... finish … last ... in ... East ... win draft lottery.”
Close but no draft lottery
Steven Sandor—co-founder In the Box, former Oilers Zone editor, author of the Battle of Alberta (Heritage House) and current sports editor, 24 Hours in Toronto.

“With three killer lines up front, the Oilers have all the firepower they need and nothing to worry about on the attack.
Except reality kicking in....
Awesome acquisitions in the off-season should pan out big time. Sykora and Lupul are already fitting in nicely.
Remember this was just after pre-season....
The big question is on the blue line. Do the Oilers have the defence they need to get to another Stanley Cup final? I say yes.
Why couldn't you have been right? It's Kory Read's fault. Kory Read's fault!
Veteran D-man Jason Smith has some promising young talent to paint copper and blue.
they looked more black and blue last season - nice analogy though
His leadership, along with a solid coaching staff, and a proven set of goalies should be enough to take us in to another strong playoff run. Bring an extra loonie to Rexall Place this year. Beer went up one dollar to $7.50 ... ouch!”
Kory Read—Sonic 102.9 news/sports guy. He won his job in a contest—and he kept it.

“What the Oilers have is confidence. The confidence that comes from just about winning the Stanley Cup. This club can score right out of the gate and fight from behind. They could be fighting for first or second place in the division. It’s going to be a great year for the Oiler fans.”
I like Billy. He's seen more hockey seasons and hockey games in real life than I've seen on PS2.
Billy Warwick—played for the New York Rangers from 1942-44, founded “Billy’s Guide” in Edmonton

Just some of my own pre-season

It's starting to kick in. I think after the highs of the '06 playoff run and the short off-season with no shortage of excitement (Pronger!) and an interesting first half of the season and one of the most dreadful final 30 games in Oiler history I quite enjoyed thinking only occasionally about NHL hockey.
My damn PS2 broke down as well and I couldn't even play online against fat kids and shut-ins.

A few notes to get ready for the first In The Box of the season (September 27th issue, BTW).

-Lines - Everyone is wondering what rookie or upstart will jump into the second line RW position vacated by Poor Pisani - the man who used all his luck up in playoffs. That line is supposed to be Stoll and likely Torres - two muckers and shooters - so Nilsson or Gagner or, at the other end of the spectrum, Sanderson have pretty tough company. I think Nilsson could do the most as the second liner.

-The Joey Moss Cup - I might go check this inter-squad scrimmage out. The lure of seeing the new jerseys (god, they better not suck) is tantalizing.
I remember attending the rally at City Hall when the Oilers unveiled their Copper and Blue jersey designs and liked the kit.
I was also one of the first people in the city to parade the Todd-McFarlane jersey down Whyte Avenue on the morning the jerseys were sent to stores. The pub I worked at finagled an early delivery of the jerseys and I ordered one.
Then I recycled it to my brother as a Christmas present. I like hockey jerseys but rarely wear them.
He's already gotten three jerseys. I should get him one of the new ones I suppose.

3- Go Canada! Flipping channels, I notice that the Women's World Cup (Canada 1, Norway 0 right now) is on.

That's it for now. A little dry. No style; mostly substance. More to come as I get warmed up.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Worst "Hiatus Over" Ever - Indeed

So I got a little overexcited and figured it was time for blogging again. The column is on hiatus but soon to be back up again.
I started a new job and have also become more responsible for the kids than before.
But Oiler-itis is starting its annoying little itch and compulsion to plan my week around something as important as a game once again.

Some quick hits on the summer's action:
1- NEW LINEUP - Seems like a promising cast of characters. Souray will no doubt make us all curse the odd defensive flub - the difference being he'll be sworn at in English now. It might sound different coming from riggers out of Leduc or Cold Lake than Montrealers.
Pitkanen could be good but seems pretty enigmatic.
Sanderson is our new Dvorak. Fast and will fill different roles.
Penner has an odd mix of hands and size and seems like a character guy as well.

2- Smith and Smyth gone. With these two building blocks of the team out the team will truly be starting anew. I'm curious to find out how the Oilers Community Foundation will replace these community-minded players. With Smith, Smyth and (the season previous) Laraque gone, personal appearances and charitable endeavours in this town will need some more spark from more than just Ethan Moreau and Steve Staios.

3- New jerseys. Please. Understated and classy. No piping. No frigging piping. No municipal or provincial flags.

4- Pisani. Hard luck for Fernando. Screw all the criticisms over his raise last year. He provided quiet leadership and the playoff run was something to remember. Last year he had health issues with his newborn baby and struggled through that. Now we discover he has colitis. This may explain the season he had last year and the pained, white-as-a-sheet look on his face all the time. He was in severe stomach pain.

5- Rivals. We now hate Anaheim (Stanley Cup, "Burkie"'s whining, Pronger), Calgary (duh), Colorado (division rivals and Smytty) and Vancouver (making the playoffs in our place again). Who will be added to the list this year?

Nice to be back.
More to come soon.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


To all fifteen regular readers of IN THE BOX - THE BLOG.

Our self-imposed hiatus from the blog is over. The Stanley Cup now has DUCK ready to be etched on it - better than MIGHTY DUCK - and the next season is ready to start.
Frankly, since the last half-hearted blog entry in early April there wasn't enough Oiler-related news to go into without bitterness or kicking of dead horses.
The end of the regular season couldn't end quickly enough and I'm pretty excited about this summer.

Let it begin. Trade at least one of the three first-round draft picks, dump some baggage, add some new faces, surprise us a little with a blockbuster trade and we can move on.

On to June 22nd.

Friday, April 06, 2007

It's official. Smytty traded to Islanders

I saw it on my PS2.
And some guy (14-year old kid maybe?) scored on my Oilers twice with Ryan Smyth in Islanders gear and beat me 8-2 online.
It's real.

Until a day or so ago, I could still see Ryan Smyth in Oiler colours (I guess he still is - considering the colour scheme in Long Island) while playing online PS2 EA Sports Hockey.
I could pretend the trade was not made and see Smytty score a goal or two with his Oilers. The online version of the game has a set roster that can't be changed or updated so you're stuck with EA Sports' best guess as to rosters and lines as of the beginning of the year and the game launch.

Well, at long last, EA Sports has updated NHL rosters for nerds such as myself who play online hockey late at night. My excuse: kids are in bed, wife's at work. I can't be anywhere else. Might as well get my ass kicked online a few times.

Up until the rosters were updated, Ryan and MAB were still Oilers.
But Dick Tarnstrom was still around. So was Rem Murray.

A few interesting notes with the updated Oiler roster:
- Petr Sykora is on the fourth line. He is now wearing #71. At the beginning of the year he was wearing Jari Kurri's retired #17. It didn't look or feel right.
- Denis Grebeshkov is on the first d-pairing with Jason Smith. He is also really fast and has a great shot.
- Raffi Torres is on the default first scoring line with Horcoff and Hemsky.
- Robert Nilsson is on the team. He's fast, has a decent shot and gets his ass knocked to the ice really easily.
- Laddy Smid and Norway's own Patrick Thoresen aren't on the team. I heard that EA Sports can't add players until they are officially NHLPA members by playing an NHL game. Neither player had yet seen NHL ice when NHL 07 was unveiled.
- Brad Winchester is on the roster when you download it, but didn't make the cut for the default online starting roster. Even in the virtual world, the pixellated Craig MacT still scratches the fake Winchester.
- Tjarnqvist is wearing #33 which has been worn in the past by Jiri Dopita and Marty McSorley (twice).
- Grebeshkov is wearing Kevin Lowe's #4. No other Oiler player has ever worn that number.
-I still suck but I can't stop playing. I'd probably win more if I used Nashville or Colorado like everyone else (they're that good in the virtual EA world) but, hey, I'm an Oilers fan.

"I Don't Wanna Play in Edmonton"

This whole "(Lauren) Pronger wanted out of Edmonton, no one wants to play in Edmonton" debate is getting pretty tiresome.
This city, more than most, has the biggest insecurity complex I've seen. We've got one major sports franchise that had some remarkable and amazing years and anyone who grew up in this city knows that most people around the world over 30 connects the city of Edmonton with the dynasty Oilers.
It gives us a common hook to hang our civic pride on.
People in Edmonton that I grew up with had this weird love/hate thing with our city.
Most of them would rather live in Detroit or Spokane (probably because early cable TV brought those cities closer to home than they should be) or wanted to be Torontonians or Vancouverites.
But we could always brag about our hockey team when we wanted to justify to the big-shot urbanites from the rest of the country why we didn't get off our asses and leave.
The city has far more loyalty and pride now luckily. People in this city seem to have a newfound pride in the city they were born in or grew up in. Probably because most of the "lucky" hometowners who shot off to Hogtown/Montreal/Vancouver/even Calgary for better jobs, more glitz, etc. found the life too expensive and came back.
We don't really have a hockey team to brag about anymore. At least not this year. We got a taste of the 80s arrogance last year and we all wanted it back for good.

Anyway, why do Edmontonians get so bent out of shape when a Pronger/Peca/Spacek/other asks to leave/signs a contract with another team?
So an NHL player doesn't share our love for this city and wants out or doesn't want in? Big deal.
Not every player will. Most of the other NHL cities seem like a lot more fun, don't they (Nashville, Columbus, Minneapolis aside)?

Then this little ESPN survey comes out and only one player picks Edmonton as the team he'd rather get traded to and other perceived slags are included in the same survey.
Big deal.

An NHL player will play for the team that offers him the most money or the best contract (ie. usually the most money). They really don't care what city they are in.

Ryan Smyth did not want a "hometown discount." Fair enough. Unfortunately for Edmonton and unlike every NHL team in the United States save Detroit, Minnesota and Boston (and the New York teams to a smaller extent) this city actually has players in the NHL that call Edmonton a hometown. A smaller contract in Nashville is chosen because it was the best contract available or for reasons other than the total at the bottom (length of contract, bonuses) but I don't think any contract offered to a player in Nashville will ever be laughed off or considered a hometown-discounted contract. They don't make hockey players in Nashville. Or Florida. Or California. Or Colorado. Or Dallas. Or Atlanta. You get the picture.

The bad news?
Today's post-CBA NHL is going to be more like the NFL insofar as player movement will be found in free agent contract signings over trades. The younger target ages for full free agency and the subtleties of working under caps or budget caps will see NHL GMs using free agency pickups more and more often and trades will happen just that much less.
A traded player has to play for you (barring the odd player who sits out or demands an immediate trade). A signed player has to choose to play for you.
That means that wooing players will be of a new importance. GMs, team presidents, team alumni and current players will all be partners in making your team more attractive than the team down the road. Offering more money will help too.

Edmonton has crappy travel needs, tough opponents, unpleasant winters, high expectations from fans and an old-boy's-club mentality in the office that could be tough to crack through.
Edmonton also has passionate fans who care, community support and one of hockey's truly great legacies.

Here's my list of the type of player who would likely not play in Edmonton, assuming he had a choice and an equivalent offer from another team was on the table; in other words, money will not be the issue. I'm using nothing more than blanket statements, assumptions and stereotypes.

-Young guys who grew up in small town Canada. As far as Edmonton goes, been there - done that. I want to see LA. Hell, even Florida would be great.

-Guys who want to win. Today's average NHL player hitting some level of free agency is usually around 28 or 29 years old. That means he was born in the late 70s or early 80s. The dynasty Oiler teams were a memory before this crop of players hit puberty. When I grew up, I heard that the Leafs were really good once but I never really saw it. We know how great our Oilers were; kids today have to read about it. This new generation grew up seeing Dallas, Colorado, Detroit, New Jersey and a few other teams succeed over and over again. Hockey players are competitive. They want to be part of a winning team as much as fans want to cheer for one.

-Guys who want to play, go home and not be noticed, cheered or jeered. This city ranks with Montreal and Toronto as one of the league's pressure cookers for NHL players. Even the casual fan knows what you look like and if you won last Tuesday. In most of the American rinks, the football players, baseball players, actors, newscasters, basketball players, college athletes, senators, weathermen and local downtown crazies are more well-known than the NHL players.
Not everyone wants to be recognized in the pisser. Most hockey players tend to be shy and humble and approach the job with some work ethic. They don't like the spotlight, don't interview very well and love the game more than the glitz. Ironically enough, those that do love the attention want it on a bigger stage than Edmonton would provide anyway. I imagine Jeremy Roenick would much rather be recognized the A-list in LA than everyone in greater Edmonchuck.

So what kind of player would happily sign (and stay) in Edmonton?

-Guys who love hockey as much as we do. Ryan Smyth was one of those. If he didn't get signed to a pro contract back in 94, he'd be a season ticket holding, beer swilling, late night rec hockey playing, face painting hockey dad rig pig just like the kind you see in the stands. He's gone now.

-Euros. Janne Niinimaa loved Edmonton. Petr Sykora loves Edmonton. Hemsky says he loves Edmonton. To a guy from across the pond (usually from Finland, Sweden, Russia) the weather in Edmonton ain't that bad and the money is just as good no matter what city the cheque is cashed in. And they're in the NHL and in North America. I went to Europe once in my life. I wanted to go and didn't care what city I was in as long as I could see another part of the world. A kid from Pardubice signs in Edmonton but he is in North America and rich. He gets to see California. He gets to travel to Florida and New York. He's busy enough during the season that leisure time is sparing anyway and they travel for at least half of the year. During off-season, he can go anywhere he wants.

-Family guys. I'm nearly a two-year member of the New Dad club. And I got an earlier start with a stepson. Instant family. Nightclubs, nightlife, glamour and other matter little compared to knowing that I'm in a nice, safe neighbourhood, the schools are decent and the future looks great. This is still a great place to raise a family, stabbings aside. Steve Staios and Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani all preach the gospel of the value of living in this city with their families. I suspect Ryan Smyth will live here this summer too. (Someone should see if a "for sale" sign has hit or hits the front lawn, especially after July 1st.) Find those classy veteran players and get them to see the attractiveness of signing in Edmonton and finding roots.

Where the hell was I?
Oh yeah. Every team in the league loses players.
Stop taking it so damn seriously just because some millionaire punk would rather play somewhere else.
Love your city and don't look to others to validate your choice of a hometown.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Raised On Oil

Since the day-to-day news on the Oilers hasn't been that much fun lately, I've taken some time to reflect on what it means to be an Oiler fan and even what it means to be a hockey fan in general.
This will be a first part of a few recollections. Better to retreat into memory than sit through this.

Growing up in Edmonton it really is part of the landscape to cheer on the Oilers. My parents were also sports fans and active in sports (Dad played baseball - my mother played sports growing up and was even a baseball umpire for awhile) but not sports "fanatics". Hell, they even met for the first time at a work curling bonspiel - how much more Western Canadian can you get?
We had Grey Cup parties and would watch the odd game on TV and most playoff games.
Back then, you could see a few games on TV on HNIC or a handful of games on ITV or whatever local carrier would carry the games.

I liked hockey (played for about half a year, had a bad leg and had to quit) and cheered the Oilers. I remember Gretz's 50th goal in 39 games and wishing I joined the throngs downtown during the 80's dynasty Cup wins. I remember where I was when I heard on the radio that Gretzky was sold/traded (back shop of the warehouse I worked at on the west end) and got to break the story to the salesmen out front. I liked Linseman, Tikkanen and Grant Fuhr the best (two shit disturbers and a goalie from Spruce Grove - my hometown) and I think I had an Oilers shirt or two. I saw only about half a dozen games live in the 80s and was awed by the speed of the game and the crowds.
As fans go, I was about a five out of ten. A casual observer and impressed by what was obviously the best show on ice right here in our little town.

Then I went to college (Broadcasting - it seemed like fun) in Lethbridge in 1990. Suddenly, as one of few Northern Albertan/Edmontonian/Oiler fans in a hotbed of Flames fans, I had to re-discover the home team.
Because of my competitive nature, the casual observer became the die-hard Oilers fan. I had to keep up. Most of the guys in class were sports nerds and wanted to be the next Darren Dutchyshen (or whatever knucklehead Calgary had in his place). Because of competitiveness, I went from quietly listening to the stats and info fly across the bar tables to studying hard, subscribing to Hockey News and getting to the point that I could not only keep up with the banter, but lead it. Screw you, sports nerds.
The 1991 playoff series between Edmonton and Calgary was probably the best playoff series that I can recall. It should have been the Stanley Cup Final, not the first round of the playoffs. It had some of the hardest hitting, best scoring and highest intensity of hockey that I remember.
The series went to Game Seven and Overtime.
In a basement in Lethbridge surrounded by the dirty Flames die-hard fans it was hard to suppress my joy when Tikk scored in OT.
Then, shortly after, hardcore Flames fan Neil Fraser (we were at his folks' place) turned up with his autographed Esa Tikkanen hockey stick and threw it at my feet. He said he'd rather I had it as he couldn't keep it in his home without wanting to burn it. And he couldn't burn any piece of hockey memorabilia without feeling guilty.

Then I went home. About a half hour after I retired to bed, the phone rang. Neil called. He said he felt guilty. Not about giving me the autographed stick, but about egging and soaping my car.
It was getting cold and he offered to help clean my rusty old Celica off as he was worried about the eggs and soap freezing to the car overnight.
Good times.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Latest In The Box

Just working on watching the game here at home.

Kevin Quinn summed up the Oiler situation quite accurately while describing the play.

"Young and Greene on the blueline for the Oilers."
That about sums it up.

Here's the newest "In The Box".

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Can't talk about the Oilers right now.
Gonna talk about ME.

Nice to have a really, really common name.
But I'm not on "the list" yet. What do I have to do? Be a wrestler or a mad bomber or a bishop?

Nope. I imagine I probably won't be Wikipedia material. Oh well.

Monday, March 05, 2007

I Say It's My Birthday.

In my life I've seen all five Oiler Stanley Cups and I've seen the Eskimos miss the playoffs twice. This year and the year that I was Zero.
Happy 36th birthday to me.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I'm not dead yet.....

Brad Isbister played his third game of the season tonight. He even got a goal a few days ago.

Bill Masterton trophy candidate, no?

Dirty Agents. No Wonder Tom Cruise Played One....

I will try to avoid taking the easy way out and pointing the finger too squarely in a direction that I'm not entirely sure it should be pointed, but the more I think over this Lowe/Smyth deal, the more I look at Don Meehan and wonder if Ryan Smyth, the person, is really a priority for the super-agent.

Anyone who saw how torn up Smytty was at the airport yesterday knows that they saw a player truly sad to be leaving the town and team he loved.
Anyone who has seen Ryan Smyth conduct interviews or do public appearances over the years also knows he's a shitty actor.
There were real teardrops and he left a pretty classy list of people to thank on the way out.
Smytty was careful not to leave anyone out and capped his list of thank-yous with Joey Moss - THE REAL heart and soul of the Oilers - especially now.

"There is no crying in the white zone." Apparently not.

Those were not the tears of someone who feels he stood up for himself in negotiations and made a point by not agreeing to a deal. While Ryan Smyth is the client and uber-agent Don Meehan the employee, I'm sure that Meehan (who counselled Mike Peca to sit out a year of hockey once upon a time) was trusted to do the best for Smyth.

Did he? We'll see. We are just a year and a half or so into a brand new CBA and the first big batch of post-CBA contracts are going to be signed this summer. Rumours were out there that fellow NHLPA brethren were also a third party in this showcase deal urging Smyth not to settle too low. Another hometown discount for a 30-goal scorer, All-Star, Olympian and class act would be disastrous for the bevy of free agents also shilling for big contracts come July.
How many of those FA's are also Meehan players? I'll have to dig that one up. Anyone?

Smyth's contract would have been one of the contracts that other players, other agents and Don Meehan himself would use to set the bar for July's offer sheets. And arbitrators will also see that deal. Do you think that there wasn't some pressure from both the PA and other Meehan clients to avoid lowering the bar?

It seems that Meehan was looking to July as the time to really cash in and felt that negotiating with just Kevin Lowe wouldn't be good enough. The open market will likely help Meehan make Smytty more money. And it will help Meehan make even more money for the rest of his stable.

Come July, we'll see if Meehan's decision (on behalf of his client, I'm sure) to refuse Kevin Lowe's generous-but-not-outrageous offer pays off for Ryan Smyth. He could cash in come July. Hopefully the team that gains Ryan Smyth appreciates what they get.
Some so-called hockey markets out there may not have the city-wide appreciation for a guy who grew up cheering for the same team that the fans love. Charities in that city will find a great contributor as well. I hope they appreciate that too.

Then again, he may be back here once again. I wonder if a few months away will find Smytty revitalized or cynical?

Creepy-looking, isn't it?

I still never thought I would see Smytty in any uniform other than the Oilers uniform or one with a Maple Leaf on it. At least the colour scheme is close enough not to burn the eyes.

A Maple Leaf surrounded by Red, not Blue.


Found a link to this article on the HF Board. Found it a refreshing insight into the goings-on of an NHL GM.
Part of the reason I've always found trade deadline time fascinating is trying to imagine the strategies and the conversations that go on between these 30 guys who are all trying to build, rebuild, reboot or fix their teams.

Brian Burke's trade diary is a refreshing peek into some deals that got done and some that stalled on the line.

I especially enjoyed "talk to Florida assistant GM Randy Sexton about Todd Bertuzzi, and he tells me "the guy we like is Perry." I offer him profanity. If you are offended by profanity, it's difficult to make a trade in the NHL."
Funny guy, Burke.

It was odd to see how forthcoming he was on discussing names of current players on his team that he either defended from being traded or considered letting go.

Quite a neat bit.
I'd be curious to know from readers if they've seen a more in-depth "anatomy of a trade" article that has ever been done where an NHL GM has gone through the steps involved in pulling the trigger on a deal and everything from the scouting to the brainstorming to how the idea is presented to other GMs.

And so it goes.....

One period into Ryan Smyth's first game of his post-Oiler career, he has already assisted on a Mike Sillinger goal for the Islanders.

Odd how Ryan Smyth, one of the few players to stay on the team that drafted him for 12 seasons, teams up with Mike Sillinger, who has played for 12 different teams in his career for his non-Oiler NHL point.

The Islanders traded for a player who was almost considered "an Oiler for life" (until this season) and kept perennial trade-day headline Sillinger.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Could this be any tougher right now?

...Now what?
I like Kevin Lowe. I've been impressed with how well he has handled retiring from hockey, learning how to run a team and then taking the reins of what is likely the toughest team to steer in the NHL. That's just behind the pressure cookers of Montreal and Toronto, I'm sure.
He has made some great deals (getting Pronger last year) and had some challenges (Pronger asking to leave with the ink still drying on a six-year deal). He had to manage a small-market team that simply couldn't afford to keep any great players.
This year is another challenge as the new CBA and salary cap system is now into its second full year and deals are becoming harder to make.

Right now, Lowe's team has put him in a tough spot: They're still a small stretch away from grabbing one last playoff spot and not out of it by any means. But they are still a distance away. Making the playoffs will require effort, luck and timing.
So, decision and deals made right now will either increase the team's odds of seeing post-season play or scuttle it. Toughie.

Pick an option:
1- Make a couple deals. It is trade deadline time after all and as far as I can see, it's the most exciting time to be a GM. And Lowe has usually been a player at deadline time. I can't imagine he will do little or nothing. He's a competitor. Deadline day is a big day for GMs to show their stuff and make a difference. I can't picture Lowe just sitting on his hands and not getting the same hands dirty.
He can dump some salaries (Sykora, Markkanen) to make room for contract negotiations (free agents in July and Smytty) and maybe make a couple deals to change the dressing room. On every team, there are always leaders, followers and troublemakers. We don't know where every Oiler player fits, but the coaches do. This is also a time to shape the dressing room and address any personnel-ity issues.

2- Gut the team. Dead weight is out. Prospects and picks are in. Hope that the remaining core of the team has enough tools to continue with the momentum built in the last few days and a playoff run is still in the cards.

3- Do nothing. Hope that Smytty can be resigned - maybe he knows it will already - and work with what the team already has. Make the deals after the season is done and find other GMs, under less pressure, will give more up. Sign some free agents.

The fact that the team will be about 10 points out at worst or as close as three points out by Tuesday changes everything. Then, right after deadline day, the Oilers face Minnesota and Calgary at home. Those games will be even more important than this road trip has been.

So, we know Lowe's options. What would Dave do? Here's my plan. Obviously I don't have 29 other GMs on the phone or Don Meehan so a lot of assumptions are being made.

1- Ryan Smyth situation. Sign a deal. The only way you could call a Ryan Smyth deal an overpayment would be if no other GM would do it. If Edmonton has to pay Smytty $5.5 million a season because other teams are willing to do the same, take it. If the rest of the league considers Smyth worth that much, it's not like the Oilers will be stuck with that contract. He can be traded later on if it seems too heavy a commitment. A signed Ryan Smyth (especially with a long-ish term contract) has more trade value than a Ryan Smyth without a contract.

2- Trade Jussi. I suggest Montreal or Tampa - two teams who are in or near the playoffs and need a decent backup goalie. Get a third round pick and a middling prospect. Then bring up one of the young goalies and let them play a few games in the playoff run. This experience will pay off later on.

3- Trade Sykora. This frees up money for the Smytty Kitty and will likely net a decent return. I'm guessing that Dallas, Detroit or even Jersey or Carolina may bite, although New Jersey are up to their nads in cap spend already and would have to unload salary to fit anyone in. Carolina just added Anson Carter and Jim Rutherford has proven that loading up before playoffs has paid off for him. Get a young player in return. Someone cheaper and someone to build with.

4- Trade Winchester. Because he obviously isn't playing. Get a fourth/fifth round pick and/or another equivalent player that Lowe and MacT don't hate. A lateral move at best.

With the exception of the Sykora deal, none of these decisions would do too much to distinguish the Oilers as either outright buyers or sellers. There really is no reason that the Oilers couldn't go on a competitive run without Sykora or Markkanen. The play of Pouliot, Thoresen and Reasoner especially (the rookies and character players) has shown that energy and determination will not be missing. Even Smid is showing new fire and determination.

These deals should not slow the little flash of progress we've seen on this road trip, yet will help set things up for the off-season and next year.

Oh. And once 1:01 PM has come around on Tuesday, go sneak off with Moose and crack open a few beers before the game.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Bergeron = Err(or) Be Gon(e)

The trades are starting to heat up.
Maligned scapegoat du jour Marc-Andre Bergeron, an undrafted free agent, has been traded to the Islanders for Russian reverse-defector Denis Grebeshkov.
I wonder if Garth Snow had much to do with it or if he just rubber-stamped the deal and went back to sleep in the GM's comfy chair? I haven't been following that shitshow of an NHL office since that crazy-ass move on a crazy-ass team (retiring a goalie and naming him GM).

Grebeshkov is currently playing with two-time Oiler Igor Ulanov, Oiler-for-a-millisecond Alexei Mikhnov and another player who appeared twice with Edmonton - Brett Hauer - in Yaroslavl Lokomotiv. He chose to play there rather than bounce up and down in the minors with the Islanders.Will he appear with the Oilers this year? With the Russian transfer system so goofy, we'll have to wait and see. We should know soon.

Grebeshkov was drafted in the 2002 cattle call 18th overall with the LA Kings' first pick. This was the same draft that the Oilers drafted Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene. The Oilers actually picked Jesse Niinimaki two picks ahead of LA's choice of Grebeshkov with the 16th pick.
The 2002 draft was also the year that Anaheim selected Joffrey Lupul.
Grebeshkov was the 18th pick and the 6th defenceman picked that year, behind blueliners like Jay Bouwmeester and Joni Pitkanen (both coveted by Oilers fans and possibly already courted unsuccessfully by Kevin Lowe - might as well head further down the list).

The Russian should be an improvement on Bergeron - at some point. He is 22 and is said to have great puck skills and some aggression.

So...that's the facts. My opinion? I'm sure everyone is waiting for this. You never get opinions in the Oilogosphere, do you.

I'll miss Bergeron's shot. You know, the one that worked. The shot he takes from just outside the faceoff circle. That one seemed to be struck from the right distance to allow the puck to rise to a height just under the crossbar. If he shot from the point, the puck was usually too high if it made it to the net or a defender or blocking forward would be lucky enough to catch it on a shin before it would make it to the net at all.

I'll miss the fact that a guy who was overlooked in his draft year managed to distinguish himself enough to be considered a real NHL player. I love the underdog.

I'll miss having a speedy player on the team. The Oilers are just a little slower as a team right now. Toby Petersen is now the de facto speedster.

The Oilers also gave up a bargain basement player. His low-ish salary, combined with the fact that he is capable of scoring made him useful. The depth chart, unfortunately, required the team to overuse Bergeron and more ice time just unmasked his faults. When he started with the team, he provided some energy, some speed, a decent shot and one really kick-ass open ice hit on Brenden Morrow. Bergy also will require all those minutes replaced by someone. I imagine Mathieu Roy will fill in on the roster, but who will be on the powerplay? More Petersen?

I will not miss his passes to no one or his passes to the opponents or the fact that he had speed to spare but wouldn't use it when it was needed. Didn't seem to have the judgment to come with the speed.

This trade seems like it could be the first step in Kevin Lowe's series of deals Version 2007. Lowe is reported to be meeting with Don Meehan today and then flying to Naples, Florida for a round of GM meetings.
I imagine that deals have been brewing for awhile and the GMs are waiting to see who moves first. The big deal between Nashville and Philly for Peter (Foppa) Forsberg may have cracked the dam a bit. In between golf games and Everglades tours, I'm sure a lot of kicked tires could result in deals down in FLA.

We'll see what happens next. The Ryan Smyth contract is probably holding up other decisions. The Oilers losing two of three road games so far is probably forcing some decisions.

NOTE: While researching Grebeshkov's numbers in Yaroslavl, I noticed that Mikhnov has three goals in four games so far.

NOTE 2: 8 of 51 respondents to our poll (who will be the first Oiler traded?) selected Bergeron. Time for a new one....

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Nothing to do with hockey...


But pretty damn hilarious. Thanks to mi amigo TB for pointing this out.

Unless, of course, this is really Glen Wesley with sunglasses.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Enjoy this week's latest issue of Vue Weekly, featuring everyone's favourite Oiler column found in an entertainment paper - In The Box.
A little bit of excuses for some maligned Oilers are featured this week.
As well, an interesting stat about the Oilers and Canucks that I think none of the "big guys" found.
Next week, maybe TB and I will temper the apologies with some tough criticism.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Two-Headed Monster Slays Oil

Crap. After a pretty good first period, those dirty Swedes owned us. Daniel netted 3 goals and 2 assists, while Henrik got 4 helpers. And Torres. Sweet Christ, what the hell was he thinking? Twice? Although I would have been OK with his shenanigans if he at least beat the living shit out of Cooke. Wow, that guy is gutless. But effective.

Here's some basic stats to depress you:

Assuming 93 points is a bare minimum to get to the playoffs, the Oilers need to accumulate 37 points in 28 games. That means winning better than 2 out of every 3 games.

So, who you pulling for when the playoffs come??

Monday, February 05, 2007

"You know, when Young gets back from injury, I'm sure he'll help the club. I think. He hasn't played in a while, though."

Team: While I'd prefer to be an Oiler due to Being-Born-And-Raised-In-Edmonton-Itis, it would have to be a team desperate enough to need me, poor enough not to be able to sign someone better and good enough not to get an early draft pick.
Uniform number: 71 or 77. Used to like wearing #7 until Jason Arnott tarnished the number.
Position: Usually in an agitator role. Kind of Tikkanen speaking English, "The Rat" but better looking or Buchberger but more erudite.
Nickname: Who's that? Game Day Decision. Write-In. Emergency Call-Up. Not him. Dave Young (knee) Dave Young (upper body injury) Dave Young (concussion)
Dream linemates: Someone good enough to pass the puck off my ass into the net, a la Gretzky/Semenko. Gretzky is retired so that won't happen. Someone tough enough to finish the fights I start.
Rounding out the PP: Someone fast enough to catch the players that strip the puck from me. Someone smart enough to notice players streaking past me and check them.
Job: Opening the door on the bench when needed. Or not opening the door when needed. Making the really emotional players (Torres, Hemsky types) mad at me and start playing with emotion. Above all, basically finding a way to get on the team and then doing all I can to avoid actually playing and getting found out, thus ending a brilliant career.
Signature move: Tying up opponents at our blueline hoping for an offside call. Signing charity autograph items for the star players for beer money (signature move, ha ha ha). A limp. Subtle enough to suggest that a return is coming soon. Strong enough to keep me off the ice.
Strengths: Fierce determination, funny comments to opponents hoping to throw them off, learning to do fake Russian, Czech, Swede accents hoping to anger Euros. Having such a lopsided shot that goalies have no friggin' idea where or how the puck will come off the stick, thereby fooling them. Getting into fights I have no hope of winning to fire up teammates (and also keep me off the ice - the less time on the ice means the more time on the team - don't want to be exposed too quickly).
Weaknesses: Not actually believing it when the coach lets me hit the ice ("You're kidding Coach!).
Injury problems: Not staying injured long enough or seeming too injured and being written off. Perhaps a disease of some kind can "happen" so if and when I have to play again, it will be with huge fanfare and low expectations.
Equipment: Determined ferocity. Cane.
Nemesis: Anyone who thinks "talent" or "skill" or "ability" make them better. Trainers and doctors who know what they are doing.
Who I’d face in the Stanley Cup Finals: Whoever else is in the press box. "Cory Cross?! You're still here?"
What I’d do with the Stanley Cup after our victory: Beg the team brass to let me get my name on it too. Then pay off selected media hacks to do the same.
Would the media love me or hate me?: I'd be iconic - and usually available in the press box faking a limp and carrying an (completely unecessary) cane or something. (You know, to stay on the roster but off the ice.) Keeping my name out there (doing every interview, going to every team function or photo-op, being the NHLPA rep) will make fans and team brass assume I should be there just through constant visibility and repetition - I'll create my own mythology. Like Tie Domi did.

Alright. Tag received. Now I'm handing off to Art Vandelay and Sideshow Raheem of OSHL Hockey.

Can-openers, cherry-pickers and turning right

Looks like I've been tagged by Chris! at Covered in Oil to do the hockey blogger chain-letter thingy. It's Monday, so I've got nothing better to do...

Team: Cleveland Barons ("Best Logo to Include a Map of Ohio" as voted by the logo-voting media)
Uniform number: 10, after boyhood hero and chain-smoking beer-guzzler Guy Lafleur (see earlier post)
Position: Rover
Future Considerations, Floater, Cherry-Picker, Mr. Opportunistic, Pud (from the Bazooka Joe comics)
Dream linemates: Chris! and Pleasure Motors (Called, of course, the PMTBPC! line. This shit writes itself...)
Rounding out the PP: U-Boat 55, Spaz
Job: Getting the crucial seventh goal in an 8-1 drubbing (a la Anson Carter). Filling the water bottles.
Signature move:
Waving stick in the air at opposing team's blueline, yelling "I'm open, I'm open." Mis-handling puck on breakaways. Getting off the ice when the puck goes into our zone to avoid bad plus/minus rating.
Strengths: Strong skater (in a straight line or turning left). Master of 17 different variations of the "can-opener"
Weaknesses: Shooting, passing, positioning, turning right.
Injury problems: None. Tend to avoid corners, front of net, slot, and any other place with high traffic.
Equipment: Yes.
Nemesis: Head coach, line-mates, whoever does the music at Rexall.
Who I’d face in the Stanley Cup Finals: The 17th hole at Sawgrass.
What I’d do with the Stanley Cup after our victory: Buy an engraver and add Pocklington to the end of every winning team,
Would the media love me or hate me?: Hate me on the outside, but love me on the inside, because I'd refer to Don Cherry as "a badly-upholstered know-it-all loud-mouth only-one-game-playing no-point-getting jerk", because we were all thinking it anyway.

And that is what they call that. I hereby tag Young D In The Box.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Pictured is Petr Sykora and the scoring line that he was part of when the Devils won the Stanley Cup in 2000.
Sykora is the only Oiler on the roster right now that has a Stanley Cup win in his hockey resume (or CV - he is a Euro).

I forgot about that Cup win - mainly because it was an Arnott winning goal that won the Cup for Jersey - and the interesting story about Sykora from that series against Dallas.
Petr was not playing in the winning game six as he was in the hospital after a dirty hit by - who else? - Derian Hatcher knocked Sykkie out of the game by stretcher. Larry Robinson and Patrick Elias draped Sykora jerseys over their shoulders while celebrating the Cup win. Then they brought the trophy to Sykora in the hospital.

TRIVIA QUESTION: Before Sykora joined the Oilers this season, who was the last player with a Stanley Cup ring (won before he joined Edmonton, not after) to play on our Oilers?

A little hint here: The last season that the Oilers had an actual Stanley Cup winning player on the roster (before Sykora) was also the last season that the Oilers had a member of the 1990 Stanley Cup winning squad suit up for the Oilers.

Extra Trivia Question: Who is the last remaining active NHL player who has won a Stanley Cup with the Oilers?

I was a bit surprised how little Stanley Cup-winning experience has been on the team in recent years. Small-market teams can't buy Cup winners, can they?

Apologies if my late-night research was flawed and I missed someone.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


I was going to do a pros/cons good/bad positives/negatives list on tonight's game and the general state of Oil-fairs.
Today's list will be more cons/bads/negatives I have a feeling.

-Roli looks off. Way off. He looks mad, off his game and not like a leader. Jussi has looked better - at least Jussi has a two-game win streak. But Roli is capable of better. Jussi will have to overachieve.
-I'd like to think that Toby Petersen was being shopped tonight and his play was adequate - what with 18 minutes playing time and about eight minutes of PP time - but coaches don't put players out on the ice to support some master plan of the GM. He did get a goal.
-Bergeron had a good game last night (against Columbus) but looked shaky tonight. The Oilers need someone on the back line who can keep the puck in the zone on the PP. Start with that. Peterson was no better.
-Stoll got hurt but should be OK. Took a shot to the head and he was still ringing after getting his nose broken earlier.
-All the wrong teams are winning. Eight place is getting further away.
-Is Kevin Lowe just hitting brick walls when he tries to make trades? Is he still waiting? Will we see one soon? Will there be a deal tomorrow or after the Saturday afternoon game? Will there be a deal?
-Can Lowe politely ask Mess to visit the Oiler dressing room and start punching lockers? Or players?

-It's nice to see young Marty - he's 30? - Reasoner get some ice time. He did all he could tonight to prove that he deserves it. He will be this year's Fernando Pisani - if the Oilers make the playoffs. I've always liked Reasoner. The reliable players have always been my faves.
-Laddy Smid is still having problems finding a way to prevent opponents in his own end from scoring or nearly scoring, but he actually got a little pushy-shovey with Matt Cooke tonight (not the first NHLer to do that) and showed a little flash with his huge foray into the Canucks zone resulting in a Toby Petersen goal.
-Lupul got a goal. The rest of his game, however.........

No more.
Too disappointed.

This week's Actual In The Box Column

Here it is. In The Box.
We tried something a little different this week. Something a little more ADD-friendly.
Enjoy. Don't be afraid to check out the rest of the longtime weekly entertainment paper that saves some space for the hockey fans along with the music geeks and the movie geeks. I think there's room for a little of each in all of us, isn't there?

Watching the Oiler game right now, BTW, Marty Reasoner came soooooo close to scoring a shortie. Rang it off the post. He's so unlucky and works so damn hard, young Marty.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Type 'n Watch

Figured I'd watch tonight's game and type as I go.
Sean Burke? One of only a few players older than I. Good luck to the Oilers. Couldn't they get the Japanese guy instead? Horrible helmet. I would have thought it cool when I was in junior high, though.
Great first shift by Hemsky, Smyth, Horcoff. Moving the puck well.
Goal by Ryan Smyth. Nice to see. The Oilers are so good at keeping a lead at home.
Nedved sitting. Staios back.
Oh. Mark Lee (don't like his play by play too much). Drew Remenda is a pretty good colour guy. I don't like the timbre of his voice, but he is learning when to speak and what to say. He does know his hockey.

How come I probably won't like GHOST RIDER as much as I want to? Cartoon movies tend to disappoint (Daredevil, X-Men especially - both should have been much better). I remember going to see the first Spiderman movie in the theatre with a friend of mine. All the young kids who were new to getting Spiderman marketed to them weren't half as excited as the two of us were to see a good Spiderman movie finally. Waited about 25 years for that movie. Go Spidey.

1st period....13:20 on the clock.
Nice steal by Stoll. Just like last night, he's got no deke as he rumbles in with a hard-earned breakaway.

Staios in on the net....not much of a deker either. He does like to sneak in once in a while.

Couldn't go to the game last night. Kinda glad. I was busy hooking up a brand-new big screen projector up at RATT - shameless plug. The new one looks way better than our old dinosaur and won't shut off during a game. Apologies to the Battle of Alberta gang for that - but that night paid off with the perfect reason to upgrade. Hockey games will be that much better up there now. If only the Oilers would look as good as the big screen now does.

Fukufuji!!!!!!!! Let's hope he will need to play.

Next break, I'm going to skip the Home Depot ad (probably)and get a beer. A nice bottle of Guinness will do.
There. Beer open. The new Guinness bottles serve a great stout. You can't beat a real pint poured out of the keg into a pint glass, but for home drinking purposes the bottles are better than the cans.
And, in case any young U of A students are reading do NOT order Guinness in a jug. I've never seen so many inexperienced drinkers ask for that in my time bartending as I have in the past couple years. IT'S NOT DONE. DON'T DO IT. DON'T EVEN ASK.

Rumours of Blake to Edmonton....nice, but I'm not convinced we'll see that. He would fit well. He's like the Chris Pronger with some personality. A savvy and huge Canadian blueliner.

1st period. 8:08 left.
Where is our Anze Kopitar?

So I checked. Sean Burke, Rob Blake and Roli are the only players out there tonight older than I. This calendar year marks the year that anyone turning 18 years old after January 1st was born in 1989. That was the year I turned 18. You may have gathered that I work at a bar. This means that I will ask young snotnoses (I mean valued customers) for ID, they'll complain, and then I can tell them that I was 18 when they were born. Hand it over, kiddo.

Nice setting up on the powerplay. Bergeron doesn't look bad.
Hey guys. Help Markkanen out please. Someone head back? LA nearly scores a shortie.

1st period. 3:47 left. PP over. No goal.

Where's our Frolov? Maybe Hemsky? When Ales shoots?
Keep it up, Jussi. He really doesn't get much respect. He's a solid backup goalie. I figured at the beginning of this season that Edmonton had the best pair of goalies in the Northwest Div with Roli and Jussi. Still think so, although our backup never plays.

Crap. Goal by Cammalleri. Couldn't get out of the zone. Gave one up. Remember when I said the Oilers were good at holding a lead at home. That was, of course, sarcasm.

More to come. Period over. 23 shots in the first period between the two teams. Hm.

Hemsky scores! Within the first minute too. He seems to always score at the tail end or beginning of a period. Gotta check that.
Markkanen ain't looking that bad. Keep it up, Jussi.

FYI......Edmonton is 4-6-0 on Saturdays so far this year.
LA is 5-7-2.
Edmonton has 3 wins, 2 losses, 1 OT loss and 4 ties on January 27 in only ten games since entering the NHL on January 27th.

2nd period. 13:06 left.
Oilers kill a 2-man advantage despite two of the team's more aggressive penalty-killing d-men in the box (Smith and Staios) with slashing penalties. Dodgy one with Staios. Pretty obvious one with Smith.

Los Angeles have only won four games on January 27th in 19 attempts with games on today's date. They have only won on the road on January 27th twice - in their first NHL season (January 27,1968) against Pittsburgh and in 2000 against Nashville. A little history lesson. This Day In History. Let's see CBC come up with that little statistic.

Shite. 2-2. Goal by Patrick O'Sullivan. Googling on The Google shows that Patrick O'Sullivan shares a name (first and last) with an up-and-coming comedic actor and an Aussie Neo-Nazi.
Shite. 3-2 LA. Willsie? I hope he gives Matt Greene his wallet back. Stole the puck and buried it.
Time for another Guinness. Even though that guy with the Irish-sounding name scored LA's tying goal. I'll pretend I stole it from him.
2nd period. Another penalty. Laddie Smid in the box. I think he registered an actual facial expression. He's like the opposite of this guy - who has many facial expressions, most of which are crazy.
Second Period Over. One and a half Guinness gone. 3-2 Kings.
Maybe Kevin Lowe should trade for a puck-moving defenceman. I wonder if anyone has brought that up yet. Just a thought that struck me.
Oilers were outshot 16-5? I guess that happens when you are killing penalties all the time. Because of all the PK lines, we haven't seen much of Stortini either. I liked the way he bounced around against Calgary, stirring things up. Did what Jacques was supposed to do.
Yay. 3-3.
Goal by Horcoff after a quick slapper by Ryan Smyth. Nice pass by Hemsky as well. Hemsky's monkey on his back/piano on his ass must be a little lighter. He's been waking up lately.
Some fun end-to-end hockey just finished with a great save by Jussi, falling on his ass to slow things down.
3rd period. 15:38 left.

Ryan Smyth with another goal!!!! 4-3 Oilers.
That means this is his eighth multiple goal game. He has 19 of his 25 goals in just eight games with seven two-goal games and one hat trick.
.....If it isn't called back. Come on refs. It didn't get kicked in.

.......IT'S GOOD. Another ugly and completely necessary Ryan Smyth goal in Ryan Smyth style. Hemsky has four points tonight already and is looking great.

I love that tight-lipped, constipated look on Marc Crawford's face when he's down. He's coached Colorado, Vancouver and now LA. Always a pest to the Oilers. You'd think from the way Oiler fans have always seemed to have had reasons to vilify him, that he'd be a bad guy, but he's quite engaging and friendly in person.
I suggest to the curious that you visit the downtown Sherlock Holmes on Oiler hockey nights (I hope to God there isn't a parade of deadbeats, then again, I don't work there) as a lot of visiting coaches and staff, as well as media guys and officials visit the old pub. That's because most NHL visitors either stay at the Westin or the Hotel Mac. Most of those hockey people are great to chat with - just don't be annoying while they're enjoying their pints and time with their pals.

Time for another beer. This time a Lowenbrau - up 1% in alcohol content from Guinness. From 4.2%alc by vol to 5.2%. Giddy up.

I just Wiki-realized that Lowenbrau is pronounced as "lervenbroy" if you pronounce it properly. As snotty as that is (remember the PAPIER-MACHE episode of Seinfeld?) I think I'll use that from now on.

3rd period. 3:18 left.
Yes, the game is still on. Oilers are playing smart with the lead so far. That Sykora, Petersen, Lupul line is doing well but I don't like that combo. But the goodl old reliable Horcoff, Hemsky, Smyth line looks great tonight.

1:45 left.

Dear Ales Hemsky. More of this please. Way more. You'll make that jump from talented youngster to player to watch with more games like this.

EEEEW. Mark Lee just said "undresses Sopel." Yuck.

1 minute left.
I love Mark Lewis' voice. He's the Oilers longtime PA announcer. That voice is as attached to Oilers lore as Joey Moss.

Jason Smith just looks scary when he drops his head and glares during faceoffs.

Now time for some EA Sports PS2 online hockey. Yes, I'll be the Oilers. Yes, I'll lose, probably to fat 15-year old shitheads.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

WOW. How did I miss that one?

While I was searching the interweb looking for a picture that would accompany a little rant I'm working on (that will have to come later) I found this little quote from Mike Modano:

“Basically, we were on our own as far as arrangements, flights, hotels, tickets. Normally, that’s something you don’t have to think about. That’s something that should be taken care of so we don’t have to worry about it and can focus on hockey and get ready to play."

This was posted during the Olympics. Apparently this was Modano's excuse for the American hockey team's poor showing in the Olympics.

I know this happened a year ago, but What The Hell? Pro athletes really do live in a different world than you and I, don't they?

Booking a flight and hotel caused you to lose? Hello? You can't pay your dog to do that for you? This is, after all, the same man who was faced with the option of playing in the minors during the lockout and the salary of about $400/month was thrown out.
And Modano says "$400 a month isn't enough to feed your dog."

Saw that little Olympic quote and was surprised I missed it. Kinda glad I missed it too. Comments like that make me question why I watch pro sports at all. They (the athletes) for the most part aren't like us.

This week's issue of In The Box, y'all.

All-Star break is over. Here's the latest In The Box which can be found every week in Vue Weekly.
We could have used the little break in Oilers hockey to talk about "THE STATE OF HOCKEY" like a bunch of other Oiler blogs did, but we were lazy.
In this week's column we discuss the YoungStars, Rexall ice and the new uniforms.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Read it.
The actual column that spawns this wee blog of leftover ideas, stuff that wouldn't fit in the column itself and random musings.
This week features Dave's favourite recent pun.

While you're at it, read the rest of Vue Weekly. Some good stuff, including TB's Haiku CD Reviews.
Very funny stuff each week.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

GIVE SMYTTY #94 (.....and a contract extension?)

It's been reported that Phoenix Coyote Yanic Perreault will be wearing Ryan Smyth's #94 in the upcoming All-Star Game.

Tradition dictates that, when two players both hold the same jersey number, the veteran player gets the choice.

Ryan Smyth will be wearing #93 instead of his traditional #94.

Perreault has played in 773 career regular season games and 54 playoff games. That equals 827 games.

Smyth has played in 752 regular season games and 68 playoff games. That equals 818 games.

Perreault was drafted by Toronto in 1991 and entered the NHL in the 93-94 season.
Smyth was drafted by Edmonton in 1994 (hence 94) and entered the NHL in 1994 (hence 94).

So Perreault has the edge in games played by 21 regular season games and 9 regular season and playoff games combined.

He has been in the league longer.

But Perreault only wore #94 for 326 regular season and 21 playoff games. He did not adopt the jersey number until he joined the Habs in 2001. Before that, he wore #44 with Toronto and Los Angeles and Toronto once again.

Ryan Smyth has worn his reliable #94 for all but three games of his NHL career. During his first season in 1994, Smytty wore #10 (other Oilers to wear that number since - Falloon, Czerkawski and now Horcoff).

So, while he has a slight edge in NHL seniority, does he really have #94 seniority?
Ryan Smyth has worn the number much longer. He's worn it for Team Canada as well.

Give Smytty his number, Perreault.
Or maybe a faceoff contest for it. Check that. Rock, paper, scissors?

Come on, Oilogosphere. This has to be a technicality we can explore. Or whine about.

Ryan Smyth wouldn't look right wearing a different number on his jersey.

He also wouldn't look right in a different NHL team's jersey. But that's another rant.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Cinderella Story - Looks More Like "Sleeping Beauty" Today

The Hangover started about a month ago.

Remember those heady days of winning playoff series against the Mighty Wings, the Mighty Sharks and the Mighty Ducks. Hockey fans like myself got to see some great playoff action that didn't involve an early exit against the Mighty Stars or the Mighty Avs.
I am old enough to have been around to cheer on the Oilers in the 80's, but do you think I saw any games in person? Back then it was expected for our team to not only make the playoffs but to push their way through them and win another Cup.
This past Spring was special.

But by the time the Finals ended and Whyte Avenue was swept up and bar staff and cops had cashed their overtime cheques we forgot one thing:

It took a last-minute goal (and what a goal) from Ales Hemsky with 34 seconds left in GAME FRICKIN' 81 to allow the Oilers to squeak into the playoffs. Last team in. Had the Canucks not dropped one too many games themselves we would have been the only Canadian team (oh yeah, only Canadian team other than the LEAFS) on the outside looking in, like Canucks fans were.

In fact, at this point last season (January 16) the Oilers were sitting in fourth place in a tight race in the Northwest Division (four points behind Calgary in first)and were stuck in a 3-4-1 sinkhole after sitting atop the Northwest at Christmas.
Goaltending was still a major concern and fans were questioning Kevin Lowe for not addressing the team's serious need for a legitimate starting goalie.

Oiler fans and players are still trying to get over a great playoff run, creating a boatload of new memories and highlights and now we're all awaiting the next sugar rush. Unfortunately, just like last year, the team has to get there first.

To beat this little analogy to death. The playoff run was a Lost Weekend times ten. The thrill of that little experience left everyone a bit numb.
You ever woken up from a night or weekend of drinking/entertaining and everything felt kinda good the next morning? That's because you were still drunk.
That's how the team, fans and GM started the season. Still drunk. Ears ringing. A bit giddy. You know.
Then the Hangover stage kicked in.

Keep in mind that the core of this team just experienced not only their collective career highs but they also have to swallow what could be considered their biggest career disappointments. They surprised everyone, including themselves, by rolling through Detroit and the West Coast and then nearly winning the Damn Stanley Cup. But they didn't.

Yes. The team needs a "puck-moving defenceman." In fact, when did Oiler fans ever give a flying fuck about a "puck-moving defenceman" before? When a pretty good one (Jaro Spacek) was acquired last season, most fans went "who?" or "how many goals has he scored?"

Yes. The team needs it's scorers to step up. We used to be quite happy seeing our plugger forwards rack up 10-20 goals. Now we want Pisani to score more and Lupul to score more and Horcoff to score more. Hopefully they do. But we also have Smytty scoring enough to price himself off the team.

Yes. Kevin Lowe already knows all of this. He knows a little about hockey and I'm sure we all know a deal is on the way. When will it/they happen? Will it/they work? Who knows? Lowe ran the risk of loading up on the front (Sykora, Lupul) more than we've ever seen an Oiler GM do in a long time and let his experiment with rookie (Smid, Hejda) and rookie-ish (Greene, Bergeron) blueliners run wild. He knows they aren't cutting it. He also knows that fixing it may not be as easy as we all think. Hell, Lowe is pretty competitive. Check that. He's not pretty. He's extremely competitive. He will do what it takes to give his team a crack at the playoffs once again. He's probably stood in front of the mirror himself after some games and wondered if he should suit himself and Huddy up and show the kids a few lessons in clearing a path in front of the net.

Hangovers hurt. You puke and have a nasty headache and you swear that you'll never have the strength to drink again. Then you feel better and go out to the pub.
The Oilers are at the headache stage. I think we did a lot of puking (as fans) over the last month.
The pub is still open and the team is still welcome to tip a pint.
So far, anyway.
Analogy stretched.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Be Aloof or Be a Jerk?


There has been an ongoing debate in the sports world about celebrating on the field/ice/pitch as long as people have been paid to play games for fans.
I was just reading an article on Nashville Predator rookie Alexander Radulov. The rookie has brought with him a reputation for being demonstrative when scoring goals.

Watch the video and see a few highlights of the Russian during his time in the QMJHL. He drew some fire in his time for twirling his stick in front of the opponent's bench and using his stick like a sword, but when your coach is this guy classy play and concern for your opponent's feelings aren't always high on the priority list. The Russian music helps too. (Russian National anthem? I'm not sure. It's been awhile since I've seen Nikolai Volkoff walk to the wrestling ring) That music can make the most banal acts seem way more dramatic and grandiose than they really are. I should use Russian music in my day-to-day life.

"Raddy" has tamed his celebrating somewhat, but he is still known for being fun to watch after scoring a goal, which he's done 11 times so far this season (finally - I picked him in one of my crappy hockey pools).

The article mentions that Preds veteran Steve Sullivan has cautioned the young Russki to remember to "respect the opponent."
That means not looking like clowns on the field and remembering that it's not always about you.

In hockey, fans tend to fall into one of two camps: the "it's a game, they should have fun on the ice" camp and the "look like you've been there before" camp.
I definitely fall into the first group.
Take Wayne Gretzky as an example. One of the first things I appreciated about Wayne, after realizing we were watching history being made here in Edmonton due to his unprecedented talent, was the fact that Wayne always looked like he loved playing the game. Whether Wayne scored a goal or one of his teammates scored, Wayne always looked like he was happier than any fan in the building. He never looked cocky about it either.
Then again, when you're cheering for the Oilers and an Oiler player scores and celebrates, you don't really care. To a fan of the opposing team or an opposing player, an overenthusiastic goal celebration either pisses them off or fires up the adrenaline of the opponents.
If you ask me, there should be joy on the ice when someone scores a goal. It is a game. Screw looking like a professional. If my team scores a goal and all the players do is nonchalantly tap their sticks together, it makes me wonder if they really care or not. We do. They should be happier than the strangers who hug each other in the stands or exchange high fives.
Mario Lemieux always bugged me. He would score a highlight reel game winning goal and then quietly skate off the ice while his teammates and fans revel. Lemieux had said much later in his career that he wanted to appear humble and professional after scoring goals. He was just trying to be classy, but to me he always looked arrogant and indifferent.

I'm curious to hear what others say about goal celebrations in hockey.
I think today's athlete seems to either be too cold and indifferent after a big moment or far too arrogant. Usually the arrogance comes in American football, but it does creep into hockey occasionally.

Here's my take on some of the Oilers' goal celebrations.
Marty Reasoner: My favourite. It doesn't happen often enough, but I love when Marty celebrates a goal. Usually he pulls his fists to his arms, grins the biggest shit-eating grin (never understood that idiom) and opens his mouth like the MGM lion. His enthusiasm is great to watch.

Fernando Pisani. I don't know if others have noticed this, but when Pies scores he usually bugs his eyes out like he's afraid or confused, then sucks his cheeks in so he looks ill and skates to the Oiler bench for some high fives. He's very soft-spoken and humble and I think he is trying so hard to look humble and calm that he looks scared.

Smytty Used to look more excited than he does now, but he has more goals under his belt all the time. Still looks thrilled after big goals, whether he scores or a teammate does. It is hard for Smytty to celebrate some goals, especially when they bounce off his ass and he doesn't even get credit for the goal until later in the game. It was neat to see it was Smytty that ensured the puck was retrieved after Jan Hejda scored his first NHL goal - the OT winner against LA.

Petr Sykora Always looks thrilled to score. "Hockey Happy" - his own phrase he coined earlier this year. Looked thrilled, amazed and relieved after his goal against Minny Friday night.

Jason Smith Doesn't score much, but when he does he looks crazy, with predatory eyes and a 4 o'clock shadow. Oh wait, he always looks that way, goal or not.

Laddy Smid Who knows? If it happens, maybe he'll burst into flames. Oh, yuck. I said Flames.