Tuesday, June 30, 2009

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.


  1. This is a ripoff. Why do players like CGY so much better than EDM? They're pretty much the same. It must be the administration itself that's scaring players off.

  2. I was born and raised in sunny Southern Alberta. I have been a lifelong fan of both the Oilers and the Eskimos, and I have had always a vitriolic hatred of the Flames and Stampeders. It has been my personal preference and choice as an adult to live and to work in Calgary after living in Vancouver for a few years to attend university. I like all three cities, with Vancouver having by far the most agreeable climate, and perhaps also being the coolest and most cosmopolitan destination; Calgary is certainly the most driven and focused of the three cities, possessing an almost-Darwinian competitive atmosphere centered around youth and success; Edmonton to me has been always a bit of a rough and rugged blue collar town with a lot of heart and soul and culture.

    My brother lives in Edmonton. I live in Calgary. I really don't think it would make much difference to either of us if we changed cities.

    Maybe players are scared off by the intelligent and hyper-engaged fan base and media in Edmonton that is perhaps too willing to hold everyone accountable at all times.

    Maybe Kevin Lowe et al have earned themselves a reputation as hard-asses or cheapskates or both.

    Maybe Edmonton is not as attractive a destination as some other places, but if someone were to offer me millions of dollars to play a game I supposedly love, I'd be happy to live almost anywhere on the planet to do so. And if one of my options was a small and quiet city with a rich tradition of winning championships, it would be likely at or near the top of my list.

    Maybe Edmonton and its Oilers need to stop trying so hard and stop trying to pretend to be something they are not.

    Maybe the city, the Edmonton Oilers, and the fans need to all embrace that it is a small market with a relatively quiet and perhaps less glamorous lifestyle, and seek out players who are looking for that very thing.

    The Green Bay Packers do not seem to have a problem attracting free agents, trading for great players, staying competitive, and continuing perennially to be a marquee flagship franchise and occasional champion in what is arguably the most successful and competitive professional sports league in the world.

    Maybe the Edmonton Oilers should take a page out of the Green Bay Packers franchise playbook and embrace the mystique of legends playing their game on the frozen tundra.

  3. That is probably the best response to that query that I have ever read.