Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dewey Defeats Truman

I simply do not have the words to express right now my complete and utter sense of disillusionment and dismay with the NHL, its players, and the once-proud Edmonton Oiler hockey franchise.

The mood in Calgary today is one of celebration and hope. While there is the expected amount of gloating, finger-pointing, and trash-talk going around relative to the polar opposite situations in which the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames now find themselves, one of the things that is really freaking me out is that there is also a lot of smug condescension, and even a large and genuine outpouring of sympathy for the Oilers and the city of Edmonton. Some of Flames Nation is laughing at us, but most of them seem to actually feel sorry for us.

Wow. This sucks.

Dispatches from Mordor Part 1

And I thought 2004 was rough.

It was.

In fact, the Calgary Flames improbable run to the Stanley Cup Finals that season likely took years off of my life.

It took nearly as many years off my life as the Edmonton Oilers similar, but heartbreakingly disappointing run to the Stanely Cup Finals two years later.

Now this.

So this is what feels like to live in the 9th Circle of Hell.

Jay Bouwmeester is now a Calgary Flame.

Next year he will be wearing the Flaming Gay C along with the likes of Dion Phaneuf, Robin Regehr, Jarome Iginla, and Mikka Kiprussoff. The Calgary Flames just took another step closer to winning another Stanley Cup. Just when I thought their small window was once again closing, Darryl Sutter found a way to keep it open for one more year.

OK, so apparently Darryl Sutter may have went golfing with Jay Bouwmeester's dad the other day, much like he allegedly did around this time last year with Curtis Glencross's dad. Hmmm...

Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province did a pretty good job the other day of summing up my feelings on Mr. Sutter's general approach of late to managing his hockey club. Although the piece is from primarily a Canucks POV, I think Oiler fans can certainly empathize or at least feel equally bitter. I do.

Yesterday on The Fan 960 Sports Talk Radio in Calgary, the hosts discussed Mr. Sutter's lack of popularity among other NHL General Managers dating back to several trades and free agent acquisitions ago, including the aforementioned signing of Curtis Glencross (or GlenX as he is apparently now known), the burying of salary in the minor leagues during the stretch run, and a slightly suspicious seemingly one-sided trade with New Jersey which allowed the Devils to move up in the first round last weekend (compensation for signing Brent Sutter as head coach perhaps?). During the broadcast it was mentioned also that several NHL General Managers have approached Gary Bettman and the NHL in the past few months to complain that the Calgary Flames are over the salary cap.

And perhaps the greatest irony is that the Bouwmeester deal apparently was consummated earlier this evening in Bouwmeester's hometown of Edmonton.

City of Champions?


City of Chumps might be more accurate - especially if Danny Heatley refuses to waive his no trade clause. What a humiliating mess that will be - the latest in what has been a series of many.

If the deal does go through, then the Oilers will have finally landed a sniper the likes of which has not been seen in Edmonton (playing for the home team anyway) since the glory years. If you go by the old and overused truism "whichever team received the best player won the trade" then the Oilers may well come out on top in this deal in the end, but they gave up an awful lot of youth and talent and development, leaving the fan base scratching their collective heads and maybe even feeling as if they have been sold a bit of a bill of goods for the past few seasons.

I can see moving Dustin Penner and his inflated contract, but it does amount to basically admitting failure with the forays into the RFA market a few years ago. Put another way, it essentially admits that Brian Burke was right after all, which really pisses me off.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. "Ladislav Smid is going to be a superstar." Watching him come into his own in Ottawa is going to hurt given all of the "development" Oiler fans have had to put up with for the past few years.

The one that absolutely kills me is Cogliano. So what if he can't win a faceoff to save his life. This kid is going to be great. He was a big part of the hope for the future we all bought into when we thought the team was rebuilding. Now he's gone.

Heatley had better be good. I mean really good. 100 points good. And Hemsky, too. And Heatley had better want to play in Edmonton. And Steve Tambellini had better prove to be some kind of evil genius wizard Jedi tomorrow in terms of having several things up his sleeve to address the salary cap, the Center position, goaltending, and winning NOW!

Bring on the Battle of Alberta, because winning now seems to be what the Flames are gearing up to do.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Magnuss Paajarvi-Svensson

Interesting. I think I like this pick. Tambellini and Lowe must have been shitting their collective pants with this kid, Ryan Ellis, Dimitri Kulikov, Jordan Shroeder, and others all being still available at #10.

This pretty much says it all:

More to follow...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Shakedown 1979, cool kids never have the time

On a live wire right up off the street

You and I should meet

Junebug skipping like a stone

With the headlights pointed at the dawn

We were sure we'd never see an end to it all

And I don’t even care to shake these zipper blues

And we don’t know

Just where our bones will rest

To dust I guess

Forgotten and absorbed into the earth below

Double cross the vacant and the bored

They’re not sure just what we have in the store

Morphine city slipping dues down to see

That we don’t even care as restless as we are

We feel the pull in the land of a thousand guilts

And poured cement lamented and assured

To the lights and towns below

Faster than the speed of sound

Faster than we thought we'd go, beneath the sound of hope

Justine never knew the rules,

Hung down with the freaks and the ghouls

No apologies ever need be made, I know you better than you fake it

To see that we don’t care to shake these zipper blues

And we don’t know just where our bones will rest

To dust I guess

Forgotten and absorbed into the earth below

The street heats the urgency of sound

As you can see there’s no one around

("1979", The Smashing Pumpkins)

Ah, 1979. Disco reigned supreme. Alien and Apocalypse Now played in movie theatres alongside  Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the Amiteyville Horror, The Jerk, Meatballs, and The Muppet Movie. Joe Clark was Prime Minister, and then he wasn't. 

A young Pat Quinn took the reigns of the Philadelphia Flyers for his first full season behind the bench as an NHL head coach. He would go on to win that season the first of his two Jack Adams Awards as the NHL Coach of the Year.

After appearing in only one game during his rookie season the year before, Steve Tambellini was working hard on his conditioning back home in Trail B.C. during the off-season in an effort to make the roster of the New York Islanders, the prevailing hockey dynasty of the time. He would go on that year to play in 45 regular season games, scoring 5 Goals and adding 8 Assists for 13 Points to go with 4 PIM and no playoff appearances, but good enough for a Stanley Cup Ring just the same. He would later be traded in mid-season in 1980-81 to the Colorado Rockies.

The Edmonton Oilers joined the National Hockey League for the 1979-80 season along with fellow WHA teams Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, and Winnipeg Jets. Of these four teams, the Oilers are the last one standing. The others are the forerunners of Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, and Phoenix Coyotes.

The NHL Expansion Draft took place on June 13, 1979 with the Oilers able to retain Wayne Gretzky via a priority selection. The 1979 NHL Entry Draft took place on August 9 (an interesting date for Oiler fans, to be sure), 1979 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Quebec. It is generally considered one of the deepest draft classes on record, featuring in the first round future hall-of-famers like Mike Gartner, Ray Bourque, and Michel Goulet. 

With the 21st Pick Overall in the 1st Round General Manager Glen Sather and Chief Scout Barry Fraser selected from the Quebec Remparts the first English-speaking captain of a QMJHL team, a blue-chip defenceman named Kevin Lowe.

In the 2nd Round of the 1979-80 NHL Entry Draft, Sather and Fraser traded down to acquire Dave Semenko from the Minnesota North Stars. The GM/Scouting tandem would strike gold again with the 62nd Pick Overall in the 3rd Round (from Minnesota) when they selected from the Saint Albert Saints of the AJHL  a solid two-way centre with a mean streak named Mark Messier.

In the 4th Round of the 1979-80 NHL Entry Draft, Sather and Fraser selected from the Burnaby Winter Club, the University of Denver, and the Canadian National Team, a rugged and speedy scoring RW named Glenn Anderson.

I was six years old in 1979. It is the first time I really watched hockey on television and followed the fortunes of my heroes in the newspaper and on the radio, as the speedy and skilled group of youngsters put together a dramatic late-season winning streak to make the playoffs in their first NHL season. My heart broke when they were swept in three games by guess who? Pat Quinn's Philadelphia Flyers.

A year later, I would again celebrate the Oilers fortunes as Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, and Andy Moog joined the ranks of my heroes, and Wayne Gretzky continued to set records as a teenager. The young Oilers would go on to stun the hockey world by sweeping in three games the heavily -favoured Habs, before pushing the New York Islanders Stanley Cup Champion Dynasty juggernaut to six games.

I'm not sure what any of this means other than here I sit, 30 years later, looking forward to this weekend's NHL Entry Draft and toward the future...  

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Calgary Flames general manager Sloth Fratelli named his brother Francis as the team's head coach on Tuesday. Francis, who left the New Jersey Devils earlier this month, takes over from Chester Copperpot who was fired in May after the Flames (AKA The Goonies) lost in the first round of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. He is the fourth head coach in five years for the beleaguered NHL franchise. Francis' appointment brings the number of Fratellis working in the Flames organization to four, including Ma Fratelli, Jake Fratelli, Sloth Fratelli, and now Francis, but Sloth said Francis' last name had nothing to do with him landing the job.

The new assistant coaches Mikey Walsh, Clark "Mouth" Devereaux, and Lawrence "Chunk" Cohen have virtually no NHL coaching experience, but Mikey was most recently the head coach of the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL, "Mouth" was the coach of the Flames top affiliate for the past four seasons, and "Chunk", a former Flames goaltender, has been working in the Flames scouting and player development areas.

The new coach with the familiar last name intends to have his new team back playing a familiar style of boring, clutch and grab hockey requiring little or no skill but ample grit and toughness. “Defensive hockey for a coach is the easiest part to teach, it’s about everybody being on the same page. Defensive hockey isn’t just about how you play in your own zone, defensive hockey is about how you play in the neutral zone, defensive hockey is how you play in the offensive zone, defensive hockey is a about puck possession time. That starts in practice and you need everyone committed to doing it,” said Francis Fratelli. “A good defensive team doesn’t mean you can’t be a good team offensively either… Players can still flourish offensively but there is high responsibility defensively when you don’t have the puck in how you do things. That’s their job to make sure it’s implemented.”

Flames General Manager Sloth Fratelli sat next to his brother at the press conference beaming, unable to hide his pleasure and optimism about the team going forward, at one point donning a pirate hat and brandishing a cutlass, he blurted out, “Heyyy you guys!" Later, at a pivotal moment, he ripped his outer shirt open, revealing a t-shirt with the Superman logo underneath, and indicated that the S stands for Sloth before screaming, "Sloth loves Chunk!" 

Friday, June 19, 2009

Armchair GM

So, let's just say for the sake of argument that the salary cap holds firm at around $56 Million per team for next season. Wouldn't it be great if the Oilers could ice a team that looked like this:

Heatley Horcoff Hemsky
$7.5    $5.5     $4.1

Cogliano Gagner O'Sullivan
$1.133     $1.625  $2.925

Moreau Madden Pisani
$2.0   $3.0     $2.5

J.F.J. Brodziak Stortini
$.525 $1.0    $.700

Bouwmeester Gilbert
$6.5 $4.0

Smid Grebeshkov
$3.0 $3.5

Staios Peckham
$2.7 $.600



It's time to purge the system. Package Nilsson and Penner with Schremp and one of Souray or Visnovsky to land Heatley and a 1st Round Draft Pick from the Senators. Move the remaining high-priced puck-moving D-Man plus your two First Round Draft Picks for a shot at moving up to get either Tavares or Hedman. Dump Horcoff, Moreau, and Pisani at the Trade Deadline or next offseason to make room for Tavares/Hedman, Eberle, Nash, and Brule, as well as new contracts for Cogs, and Gagner.
In this scenario, the future would indeed be very bright.

And if my aunt had balls she'd be my uncle.

Behold A Pale Horse

And I looked, and behold a pale horse:
and his name that sat on him was Death,
and Hell followed with him.
Revelation 6:8

OK, so I admit I've never really been sure what in the hell that means, but I have not yet commented on the new coaching staff, and to be honest, I'm not really sure what in the hell we have. 

Quinn is nothing if not a leader of men, and he has had a lot of success as a head coach. He has proven he can coach youth as well as veterans, and he has done well on the international stage, but he has yet to prove he can win a Stanley Cup.

Renney is obviously the heir apparent for when Quinn (who is not getting any younger) eventually retires or wears out his welcome. He is also an excellent tactician, and should help the PP and the PK, as well as overall player development. He might also prove valuable in luring potential free agents named Niedermayer and Jagr, although I'm not certain such players bring much at this stage of their careers or that they would be affordable.

Buchberger is...I don't know what Buchberger is. It felt like Quinn and Renney had maybe met and spoken to him for the first time in their lives right before the press conference, if at all. I'm not sure where he fits in, but the former Captain of some of the worst Oiler teams in franchise history is the last link among the coaching staff to the Oilers Dynasty of the 1980s, and he is sure to be Kevin Lowe's eyes and ears among the prevailing Canuck regime. If nothing else, maybe Bucky can slap the bejesus out of anybody who steps out of line in the locker room.

The bottom line is that Quinn and Renney are both good coaches, but so were MacTavish, Huddy, and Moores. What is needed is size, speed, grit, and leadership, face-off wins, puck possession, a forecheck, a powerplay, a penalty kill, a goalie under 40, and a complete attitude adjustment for some of the players.