Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Edmonton's Image a mere product of Local Media and Citizens

Why does the City of Edmonton get a poor reputation around the league? You've heard it all. It's dull. It's boring. It's cold. It's basically an undesirable place to live, only ahead of Siberia.

The biggest cause of these false, completely ridiculous perceptions stems from the local media and the citizens of Edmonton itself. There strongly needs to be a change in the mentality of some Edmontonians dragging down the image of the city of Edmonton.

Hey, I'm not advocating we go to Calgarian's "rah rah rah, Calgary is the best...everybody that moves here wants to be here" that is quite prevalent in their media. Not at all. However, the city certainly can use some civic pride and appreciation of this very beautiful, very underrated city.

In hockey terms, this means Edmontonians should not resort to hysteria or question the city every time a player leaves via UFA.

This is the new NHL. There is a new CBA which allows players to jump to another ship at a much earlier age. More player movement is/was expected due to this CBA!

I'll start with some examples. First being, Doug Weight. His agent was quoted as saying, "If all other things being equal, I think Doug Weight would have been very happy to finish his career as an Oiler." Read between the lines. It's clear he is talking about the 40M/5 year deal Weight got from St. Louis. Personally, I never understood the grudge Oiler fans have had over Weight departing, many of them claiming Weight was a sell out. I don't think anyone with a right mind would choose a different path if they were put in Weight's shoes, and the guy after booed consistently over the past few years, and on the receiving end of a cheap shot by Patrick Laforge who compared him to a wimp, still has good things to say about Edmonton. An American - that loved it here.

So Weight left for more money - just like most NHL players. The rare time you'll find a guy like Ryan. Smyth that will take less than face value and has every desire to finish his career with his favourite team growing up as a kid. Anyways, money is one big reason players jump from one team to another. That doesn't mean they don't like the city they played in.

Money has landed cities like Columbus (Foote, Marchant), Pittsburgh (Recchi, Palffy,Leclair) , St. Louis (Weight, Ruchinsky, Guerin, Hinote, Legace, Mckee), Calgary (Amonte, Hamerlik), Carolina (Whitney, Oleg Tverdosky, Stillman) free agents. It doesn't mean these said cities have any more to offer than's just a simple fact that money wins free agents, regardless of whether the team will be competitive in the near future or not. So don't feel bad Edmonton. Weight, Guerin, Marchant, Joseph, Richardson, Niinimaa, Samsonov, Spacek were all players that loved Edmonton and playing here - they just left because of money and personal reasons.

Personal reasons. They also have an effect on free agents jumping ship. Like it or not, players are human. They have families, they purchase groceries, they love going out.

I'll start out with an example involving my cousins. My cousin (female, Masters dgeree at the U of A) married a man from California 6 years ago (P.hD Biochem). She moved there, and lived in a small town called Vacaville, a wealthy suburb of San Francisco for 7 years. Her parents live in Edmonton, and her desire of wanting her 2 sons to start school in Canada, the family of 4 moved to Edmonton this summer. Her husband is happy here, and it takes him 5 minutes to drive to work. The husband took a paycut, but he's enjoying it here as it took him over an hour to get to work in the Bay area. Just because they moved here, doesn't mean they didn't like the Bay area. In fact, they loved it.

Point being, like normal people, hockey players can have situations just like these. Just because Mrs. Pronger felt more comfortable in the States (read between the lines, it was her that promoted the move) doesn't neccessarily mean Edmonton is a undesirable city we are lead to believe by the Eastern media. Michael Peca is another guy who had good things to say about Edmonton, but preferred it out East. Why? In January, he claimed his wife had family back in the East, and the family was more comfortable there. He signed in Toronto, close to his home in Buffalo. Again, that doesn't mean the city of Edmonton is undesirable.
Nedved had to look for his wife's concern about being a model. Personally, he loved it here. Again, different situations for different people.

So why does the Edmonton media go hysteric when a player leaves? Hey, I'm not suggesting Edmonton is comparable to NY, LA, Phoenix, Miami in terms of what the city offers. I just don't see the need for the media to cry, "Nobody wants to play here." Let's take a look at the Vancouver Canucks. In the past 2 years, they have lost Anson Carter, Baumgartner, Malik, and Jovonovski. Money talks, Bullsh*t walks. Yet, I don't see a single article from the Vancouver media crying about players wanting out, or that the Canucks should focus more on developing their own players.

Perception/attitude by the local media have their share to blame. I don't understand they local media has to question recent free agent signing, Petr Sykora, on whether he really likes Edmonton or not. As Petr said, "Why wouldn't I like Edmonton?"

There is a long track record of players who have wore an Oiler uniform that love Edmonton. It's not the city for everyone, but which city is?

In Calgary, you hear the recent Flames fans propoganda: Every new player is happy, and loves the city, and are saying all the right things. These same fans compare to the situation of Edmonton, and arrive at a false conclusion that nobody wants to play in Edmonton. Um, not quite. Winning certainly helps the mood, but money is the ultimate factor UFA's leave. Just take a look at Craig Conroy. Speaking of Conroy, his wife was quoted in the Calgary Sun as "Some of the players wives don't like it in Calgary, particularily the American ones."

*Gasp* I thought it was only Edmonton that wasn't a fit for everyone. Difference is, the Edmonton media would make a big deal out similar comments if an Oiler wive said that, while those comments were discarded pretty quicky by the Calgary media. The Calgary situation is much different than ours. They haven't had any big name UFA's (other than Conroy) that they had to re-sign. Wait in 2 years, and we'll see whether all of Iginla, Kiprosoff, and Regehr who are bound to be UFA's, will say. Funny thing - when the team was missing the playoffs for 7 consecutive years, rarely was anyone in the dressing room "saying all the right things" about the city and the organization. I'd like to know when did Calgary become a tropical paradise after 2004, and how did I miss the shift?

With regards to the Edmonton media, stop creating a Armageddon every time a player leaves.

Doesn't opinions of players like Smyth, Stoll, Torres, Horcoff, Dvorak, Smith, Staios, Moreau, Pisani, Roloson, Reasoner, Sykora count for something? Or do we have to focus on the players that left for more money or found a city that is a better fit for them on a personal level?

As for the citizens of Edmonton that are complaining there is nothing to do here. These complainers are the ones sitting infront of their computer on summer day with beautiful weather, instead of going to world class festivals and places such as the Heritage days, Fringe Festival, Folk Festival, Capital Ex, Whyte Ave, International Street performers, Taste of Edmonton, etc. etc.

The image/perception of the city can be changed - by each and everyone of you

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Edmonton Fringe Festival

...starts August 17 and runs to the 27th.

Great event for the whole family. Lots of laughs, jaw-dropping, and cool acts.

Don't be a cheapskate. Drop a toonie when the tip hat is being passed around.

Funny lines the last time I went:

"Oooohh, 10 cents..would you like some change for that?" - performer referring to a small tip

"The more money you give me......the more money I'll have" - performer easing things up before passing an empty tip hat.

"Anyone here from Calgary?" *2 hands shoot up* "Damn, this means I'll have to go slower"

"5 ball juggling" (while having 3 balls in the air while rotating his hips)

Brian Leetch possibly Edmonton bound?

According to Darren Dreger from TSN Edmonton is a possibility.

Initial thought: Guess it's retirement on Edmonton for him.

The guy has had a poor plus/minus and has had some trouble staying healthy in the last 3 years (61, 72, 51 games respectively) and is a shadow of his past offensive acheivements. His 130 shots on goal was the lowest shots per game (SPG) average he's ever had in his career.

He is definitely on his last legs, and hasn't been able to find an interested party in the East coast - which begs the question, why should the Oilers be interested in him? This is the same guy that rejected the Oilers a year ago.

Preliminary rumblings suggest he's asking a 2 Million. Worth it? There is a good chance he will not play more than 50-60 games, and the 2M spent will almost definitely ensure that there will little room in the Oilers budget to address needs in mid-season/trade deadline.

Perhaps it's just Oiler fans getting a taste of unrestricted free agents signing in Edmonton (Pisani, Roloson, Sykora, Reasoner, Tjarnqvist) and restricted free agents signing long term deals (Horcoff, Hemsky) that gives them the urge to sign more.

Hey, I'm not shooting down the entire idea of Leetch signing here. It does help out the Powerplay, and he can play 22-23 minutes a night. That being said, Leetch has limited options, and I don't particularily believe he will bring 2M in value to the Oilers. I could live with a 1.3-1.5M/1 year deal with bonuses.

Don't discount the loyalty factor though. Perhaps Lowe might just get Leetch a pen - they were good friends and teammates in 1993-1994

18 years ago - A trade that shook a nation

I've never been a big fan of trading quality for lots of quantity.

Gretzky put up 90 points in his final years as a near 40 year old.

He took the Kings to the cup finals in 1993.

Would Edmonton have won another cup if Gretzky wasn't traded? Most likely.

So no, I can't say buy low, sell high works in this case. Thing is, IMO Janet Jones played a huge role in persuing Gretzky to go South.

Regarding Pocklington, I have a problem with money being used for his own investments. The fans can be seen as shareholders, and Pocklington did not act on behalf of the interests of the shareholders.