Monday, December 29, 2008


What an idiot.

His team has only won 2 in their last 10. They're in LAST PLACE in the division right now. He can't develop youth (Koivu? Who the **** is that anyway?). His team just can't win the big game. Again - LAST PLACE IN THE DIVISION! What the **** is wrong with this team? Clearly he's lost the dressing room. He overplays pluggers all over the place. Andrew Brunette on the PP? WTF? That's not even getting into Benoit Pouliot. Who the hell does he think he is, Brunette? I mean, the guy has 5 ****ing goals this year and he keeps getting ice time.

This is just unforgivable.

As a closet Wild fan, I am beyond disgusted. If this team had a real coach, one who could coach youth and fire up the troops while playing a system I can understand while drinking a 6 pack... well THEN they would be leading the division.


Now, how many of you would agree with that?

... now, go back, and sub the word "Lemaire" for "MacT" and "Wild" for "Oilers."

I'm not saying, but I'm just saying.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Crosby to all and to all a Crosby night. Crosby!

Via the pervs at Four Habs Fans, here's Sidney Crosby giving wickedly-named Atlanta Thrasher Boris Valabik a little something I like to call "the stocking stuffer."

Have a merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a kwaazy Kwanza, a tip-top Tet, and a solemn, dignified, Ramadan.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I was all set yesterday to write a snarky post this morning about Trevor Linden night here in Vancouver. Linden was a class act for a lot of years, but he never won a thing and he certainly will never be counted in the pantheon of All-time greats. Yet he’s a god among men around these parts, which says a lot about the kind of teams that have come and gone out here on the west coast.

But I can’t muster much snark for the Canucks after last night’s back alley abortion at Rexall. The whole thing reminded me of playing NHL ’94 on the Genesis back when Roenick was an unstoppable, pixelated force and the Oilers were absolute garbage (I think the top line had Klima and Ciger on it). Last night Joel Q. and the boys were playing the computer with the offsides turned off.

Kane and Toews (anybody know if he’s related to author and fellow Manitoban Miriam?) are for real, certainly more so than the young “talent” the Oilers are mustering. I took a lot of shit at HF last year for saying in one of my frequent fits of pique that Ganger is going to top out as a second liner, but he’s making me look like Nostra-fucking-damus thus far this season. Seems to me that if you’re going to run with as many infants as the Oilers are this year either they need to be world-class talents or have a veteran supporting cast that can mask the folly of youth. Edmonton has neither and the results pretty much bear that out.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Getting the message across via media

Interesting words being channeled through the media in recent weeks.


Bolting college early for fat pro paychecks is the preferred option for many top draft picks.

It's also one that Nash wants to leave hanging for now.

"It's a tough answer," Nash said. "I'm not going to go just when they (the Oilers) ask me to go. I don't feel I need to go and bounce around in the minors for a few years. Cornell is a nice place to be."


"Was I surprised he didn't make it? Not really," said Prendergast. "He was a longshot. They've got (John) Tavares and (Zach) Boychuk as their top two guys, and could move (Angelo) Esposito. Riley can't play the wing.

"Riley had a good second day of camp, but was ordinary in the other ones and you can't have that at a short camp. Not playing enough games at Cornell hurts him."

It's no secret the Oilers feel Nash isn't progressing at Cornell. They don't feel that school plays enough games (Nash has played in only eight so far this season), but even if Nash were to leave after his sophomore season, putting him in the American Hockey League for a short time for a trial-run might not work, either. He's pretty slight.


The Oilers' slippery situation

Different NHL teams have varying opinions on NCAA hockey, but it's safe to say that all prefer one aspect of the Canadian junior leagues -- the amount of games they play.

In the NCAA, teams generally play in the neighborhood of 35-40 games, though Ivy League schools can end up playing as few as 31. The three major Canadian junior leagues play 68-72 games in the regular season, plus a more expansive playoff system.

That's why the Oilers say they are essentially making the best of a not-so-ideal situation.

"Given the amount of games that Cornell plays, and there's not a lot of high-end games on the weekend, there has to be consistency," said Kevin Prendergast, Edmonton's assistant general manager. "It's a mental thing. He's got to be the best he can be every week. He's got tremendous hockey sense -- it's one of the reasons we drafted him. But there are things that go with that, and we've had a long talk with him about that."

Such as the aforementioned consistency and physical development, which the team has emphasized.

But Prendergast said the issue of where Nash is playing isn't something he harps on. In fact, Big Red coach Mike Schafer said that members of the Oilers organization he's talked to are "ecstatic" with Nash's development.

"You know, it's his decision," said Prendergast, who added he's "happy" with Nash's progress. "We'll back him up whatever he decides to do. ... We're not going to interfere with education. If that's the route he wants to go, we're prepared to wait. But if he decides to stay at Cornell, we're going to do everything we can to make him a better hockey player while he's there."

It will be interesting how this plays out. While going the education route is admirable, these are key years in his development stage. I can see the Oilers position.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Canadian Polar Bears enjoying the fabric of Canadian culture

William Houston reports that the NHL is cherishing exceptional numbers North of the 49.

Two months into the NHL season, national audiences for hockey telecasts in Canada have shown considerable increases.

At the CBC, the Hockey Night in Canada viewership has grown in all time slots, with the pregame show making the largest gain. It's averaging 527,000 viewers, for an increase of 56 per cent over last year.

The Game 1 audience is 1.348 million, up 13 per cent.

Game 2's 763,000 is 19 per cent higher than last year.

The late night wrap-up, After Hours, is watched by 281,000 for an increase of 53 per cent.

TSN's NHL telecasts have an average audience of 496,000 viewers, up 21 per cent from last year.

RDS is averaging 773,000 viewers for Montreal Canadiens games, available nationally, up 21 per cent.

Audiences for the Calgary Flames (130,000) and Edmonton Oilers (145,000) are up 11 and 29 per cent respectively.

Any theories for such spikes?

Enquiring minds would like to know.

Gloria in excelsis Deo

For unto us a Schremp is born, unto us a son is given: and the team shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Hockey Jesus, Sugartits, Robimus Prime, The everlasting speedo, The Prince of Popcorn.” - Isaiah 9:6

BONUS: Great moments in speed reading

I was over at OilerNation reading Brownlee's game day article on Schremp Year Zero and came across this bit that seems lifted straight out of a gay porno script:

Sitting with a big dip in his mouth, Schremp and I talked about this being the right time for him. He was almost at ease.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Is your blog on the sidebar links?

If not, please inform us immediately and you will be added.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Everything hits at once

For the past few years, I would have considered myself a soft supporter of Craig MacTavish’s work behind the Oilers’ bench. The man has never run a PP to save his life, but he’s got a good hockey head on his shoulders and has done as well as can be expected with the crap he’s had to work with during his tenure, so I’ve been willing to give him some slack.

Well, that shit is over as of now.

That the Oilers aren’t getting results is one thing. I’m used to that, I can take it. That they don’t seem to give a shit out there is a whole different story. I’m here to be entertained, goddamnit, not watch a bunch of guys making millions of dollars half-ass their way through another dull, mistake-filled loss to some mediocre club like Columbus, Toronto or L.A. I watched a good chunk of the game prior to last night’s shit show against the Kings (a 3-1 Montreal win over Detroit) and saw two strong skating teams shooting the puck, great goaltending, playing disciplined and sound positional hockey. Thirty minutes later, as Denis Grebeshkov nonchalantly poked the puck on to the stick of Anze Kopitar for the King’s first goal, net, the line separating the contenders from the pretenders couldn’t have been clearer. These goldbricking, slack-ass motherfuckers just don’t give a rip.

Granted this team isn’t exactly underperforming. Despite the early season hype, this was always a team that needed everyone to play to their full potential just to have a hope of contending for the NW title. Instead, damn near everything that could have gone wrong has. The veterans have struggled (notably Horcoff and offseason pick up Erik Cole), the kids look completely lost (Brodziak is stuck in the PB, Ganger is drowning and does Nilsson even play for this team anymore?) and the goaltending…sheeeeeiiiiit. A lot of this was probably foreseeable, but that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow, especially coupled with the aforementioned lack of effort.

Something’s gotta give. MacT, it’s been widely observed, looks and sounds like man in the late stages of a terminal disease who is willing to try any treatment, no matter how radical (putting Smid on the wing, say), to save his ass. But you’d have a better chance of curing cancer by eating the pituitary glands of Mexican orphans than winning games with the effort these dinks are putting out there. Obviously, not all that is going to be on the coach but it sure looks like a group that’s either tuned the gaffer out or is just not responding well to his methods. Something’s gotta give.

Tying a can to the coach at this point is probably the best option for a short term boost. The team is close enough to .500 that they can see daylight, but not so comfortable that another three or four losses in their next five won’t fuck them good and proper come spring. Time is not on our side here. If nothing else, firing MacT would go a long way towards settling the debate over whether the problem was him or the players, and that alone makes it a worthwhile experiment to try.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

MacT gives you wings

Above: Erstwhile defenseman Ladislav Smid shares a prescient Red Bull with former Oilers goalie Mathieu Garon during happier times.

In a bid to add some jam to the toast that is his forward lineup, MacT has pulled the surprising move of sending d-man Ladi Smid to the wing for tonight's game against the Failing Big Three automakers Red Wings. In some circles this move is being looked at as the latest sign that the gaffer has lost the plot and/or his marbles. But I think people are forgetting that MacT has a track record of success when it comes to playing guys out of their natural position:

Ladies and gents, I give you Toby Petersen, former Oilers stalwart who moved from his natural position in the pressbox to the blueline, filling the key role of "warm body" on a injury depleted team back in '89 or something.

This Smid thing is a little different in that the Oilers' training room doesn't currently look like the triage ward in M*A*S*H, so it's not a move born out of necessity. Personally, I like it. It makes sense when you consider he'll be seeing limited minutes on the fourth line and will be looked to to provide some size and defensive zone awareness, so it's pretty low-risk/low-reward. Now, some may chirp that the Oilers should bring up a forward like "Creme" Brule or The Bust Formerly Known As Rob Schremp, but the ongoing three goalie situation has limited the team's options in that regard. Smid has grown on me with his calm and willingness to make his opponents smell his gloves after the whistle. But what I really like about this is it's abject lunacy. Either MacT is convinced it'll work, he's gone insane or he's flipping the bird to the management team. Whatever, the reason, I can't wait to see it. Oh wait: it's another fucking PPV. Er...nevermind. GOil.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Losing My Religion

Yawn. Another night, another Oilers loss. I dunno, I've been spending some time reading through the gameday threads at LT's and it's like Groundhog Day over there every fuckin' night: "the underlying numbers are good, this team is fun to watch...whoops they fucking lost again."

Maybe I'm missing something here, but how is this team any different from every other sad sack bunch of dinks we've seen sporting the Drop over the past, I dunno, 15 years? Better question: when was the last time it was actually fun to be an Oilers fan? April 2006? May 1990? Nineteen-fucking-eighty-four?

Ain't fun the point?

It's probably easier for those lucky/miserable sods back in Edmonton who are-ahem-covered in Oil. If you can't just flick on the TV or mosey down to your local and catch a game, fandom requires a bit more effort and commitment, more than most busy 30-somethings with jobs, girlfriends, interests etc can probably squeeze in.

Example: Tonight I went for a nice dinner and a couple of drinks before coming home and flicking on Sportsnet's ticker to see the score, which reminded me what a good decision it was not to crouch in front of the computer and squint at a shitty little streaming video feed, or make the trek across the creek to the expat bar for the game. Not that I needed it, because nothing I've seen or heard from this team so far has convinced me they are worthy of more than a dilettante's passing interest. In short: I'm having a few commitment issues around this team right now.

I wish it were otherwise. I would like to believe, but these peckers are making it difficult with their up and down routine, the three-headed goalie monster, the plucking psychos off the waiver wire, the continued mediocrity of guys like Horcoff and the gallingly decent play of personal whipping boys Souray and Moreau. Etcetera, etcetera.

Don't get me wrong: this is not a cri de coeur or a letter of resignation à la Berry and Winters. I'm just a little frustrated by the fact that it doesn't seem to matter who steps on stage with these guys: the song remains the same.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Old friend, Joffrey Lupul, in Hot Water

So reports Tim Panaccio

Joffrey Lupul is pretty much beside himself, after getting dropped to the fourth line at today's pratice.

The thing both myself and Tim Saunders of WIP noticed about Lupes is that when he is not being physical on the ice and not hitting, his game is off. He admitted much when I asked about his mere 13 hits in as many games this season vs. 34 in 13 games from a year ago.

But the look of frustration on his face both on and off the ice today convinces me that he is very unhappy with this move even though he said to us, the he would "suck it up."

“I’ve been up and down,” Lupul told me today. “Some games I didn’t play as well as I could. It’s different playing 12-13 minutes than 20. I’ve got to simplify my game. When I’m out there, maybe play a more physical game.”

Nothing much to say. Pretty self-explanatory.

A Change is Gonna Come

Speaking of change, the JDD head of the Oilers' Cerberus-like goaltending creature gets the call against the Blueshirts in NYC tonight (his second in a row). This goalie merry-go-round shit is crazy, but given that none of the trio have really sack'd up and grabbed the starter's job, I can't see what else there's to do. Regardless, I anticipate another L for the Oil tonight because, frankly, this team kinda sucks at the moment.
Also on the "change" front, I see Mike W is the latest CinO contributor to pull the chute on his blogging career. Read his poignant final missive here. Good night, good luck, GOILERS!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Good weekend

Two afternoon road games in a row, two points from each. Hemsky with two goals each as pretty as any you'll ever lay eyes on. And much-maligned Old Man Roloson gets both W's. Not bag, not bag at all. Could it be that the sleeping giant that is the Vaunt is starting to stir? We'll put that to the test Wednesday when the Oilers visit Columbus

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Five and counting

Wow, this team is (to borrow a phrase from one of the CinO boys) kicking the care out of me a lot earlier than usual.

So what now? Fire MacT? Or is this lot just not as good as people have been saying they are? Help me out here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rexall Place is Inadequate



I mean, the team only generated 11.8M in operating income, 7th in the league despite the fact they were not recipient of any playoff revenues.

That is, Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. The Oilers are [were prior to Katz purchase] debt free so that potentially could put them in even a better financial position than comparables.

It is also interesting to note how quickly the Oilers paid off their debt in recent years. I'd imagine from a cash flow perspective (which many accountants argue to be the a better tool to evaluate financial performance), the Oilers are doing even better than a few teams ranked above them.

Yeah, that Literally. Crush Rexall place is really inadequate.

Now excuse me while I sign a Cheque to Mr. Batman Daryl Katz quickly, so he can expand on his 7 8 figure business income.

I wonder if the payment will trigger in being recipient of a charitable donation receipt which I could then use to minimize my personal income taxes?

Monday, October 27, 2008


"Hey Caaahrey! The Price is fahhkin' WRAAAHNG, ya faaahg! AHAHAHAHA!"

The Oilers take on the Massholes tonight and are looking to snap a three game skid. They haven't played the B's since Cam Neely could walk, they're home at Literally. Crush. and OG6 games are always fun. So naturally it's another goddamn PPV. Will the responsible authorities please eat a bag of dicks? Thanks.

So it looks like it'll be me and Gossip Girl tonight and if you have to ask why, well, that's your problem.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday morning coming down

The good proprietor of BDHS should be happy today, with the sad-sack Spurs sacking their manager, assistants and director of football and then picking up their first win of the season against Bolton. Such is life in a results-oriented business.

When I was in London a couple of weeks ago, I took in a match at White Hart Lane, a 1-0 Spurs loss to the improbable Hull City Tigers. Afterwards, I popped into one of the pubs near the ground for a pint and was forced to show the large men at the door my match ticket to prove I was a home fan and not some away fan there to stir up shit. I think a policy like that is one that needs to be embraced here, because after taking in last night's stinker of a loss for the Oil against the fucking Canucks at the local Edmonton expat bar, I was ready to glass the first person I saw in a Luongo shirt.

But who am I kidding? The real culprits aren't the smug bastards who cheer for a franchise that has accomplished somewhere between dick and squat in its 40-plus years in the league, but the sad fucking crew wearing the oil drop. Garon, Grebeshkov and Gilbert in particular deserve a sound paddling for their work last night and I'll throw in a few choice words for Hemsky as well. And, to bring it back to the news from north London, when is it time to follow Spurs' example and take a hard look at the men behind the bench? MacT arguably has the horses to at least make a run at the NW title this year, but seven games in and this team has yet to play a complete game. Can you lay some of this on the coach? Is it MacT's fault that Grebeshkov is total chaos or that Garon is looking more and more like a Andre Racicot? I'm pretty skeptical about how much effect coaches actually have on the game outside of setting line combinations and working the match ups. I've heard criticism from some corners that the Oilers' efforts or lack thereof attest to a lack of preparation or inspiration, which seems fair enough, but how much is on the coach and how much on what's between the ears of each player? These are questions I can't pretend to answer, but I hope someone does. Because a few more games like the last three and the rumbles of discontent are going to swell to a crescendo.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fuckin'-A Friday Post

Weekend's here. How about some rock?

New Lines

Per Tencer (a "good" blogger who doesn't work blue), the Oilers will go into tomorrow's game against Vancouver with the following combos:

Nilsson - Horcoff - Hemsky

Penner - Cogliano - Gagner

Moreau - Pouliot - Cole

MacIntyre - Brodziak - Stortini

I like. Cole returns to his natural position at RW, which Ray Ferraro says is a good thing, and who knows more about hockey than him?

Defenseman Theo Peckham was returned to the Springfield Falcons of the AHL following last night's game; it's expected that Steve Staios will return to the Oilers lineup tomorrow night following a 2 game absence.

Sadly, the return to action comes to late to bolster Staios' prospects in the Hot Off.

How about the Canucks? I reckon Gillis or Nonis or Burke or whoever the fuck is running that clown show these days was pretty blindsided by Pavol Demitra's injury. You just can't predict these things.

Falling Loonie, Patrick LaForge, Dan Mason

Interesting article here

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Downhill from here?

Let's see if Ales Hemsky and the rest of the Oilers can pull their heads out of their asses against Colorado after last night's laugher in Shytown. Yeesh.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Young folks

Tonight's game should be a good 'un, pitting the peach-fuzzed Oilers against a gawky-after-a-summer-growth-spurt Chicago club that's trying hard to impress their new stepdad, Joel Quenneville. Or something. What I'm trying to say here is there's not many players on either club that lived through the Reagan presidency. One of the few old-timers, Sheldon Souray, is, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, injured, though Sam Gagner will be there to bring the median age down even further. Old Man Roloson gets the nod in net for the Oilers: believe me when I say I have a thematic joke in my back pocket on that tidbit, but I really don't want to get sued. Game's on PPV, so tune in to your wireless set for the dulcet tones of Rod Philips instead.

On an unrelated note, I see the Oilers website (your one and only source for Oilers content anywhere ever) is doing some hard-hitting stuff like this feature on pest and "disgusting hockey player" Zack Stortini. Hopefully a "Who'd You Rather" feature won't be too far behind (example: Mrs. Sheldon Souray or the Big Ľubowski's special lady?).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In ur pressbox, disrespecting ur d00ds

The Dave Berry saga continues to send ripples through the Oilogosphere. This has been covered quite extensively (mudcrutch has a post on the subject here that blows the pants off of anything I could come up with), and I've not much to add. My short take is that the Oilers have a right to dictate who gets to sit in the PB and who doesn't, but their handling of the situation was pretty bush league. What's most interesting about this whole affair is how it betrays a stunning level of ignorance of the new realities of communication on the part of the team. But that's an issue for others to tackle: we've people to mock.

First, OilersNation blogger and radio journo Jason "He's hip, he's cool, he's 45" Gregor strokes his chin and clucks his tongue at the rank social irresponsibility of bloggers these days, and manages to come off like a damn fool.
Most (bloggers) are nameless, faceless people who write their opinions, but unfortunately there are too many false facts in blogs. I understand the next generation gets most of their information from the Internet, but unfortunately lots of it is horribly written or inaccurate. Kids read this stuff and they believe it. I don't think bloggers truly understand the strength of their message, and also the damage it can do. What about writing an article on the damage that bloggers do? They all seem to think that because they "care" about the team, that their messages are helping the team. Well that might be true, but no one in blog world ever talks about the negatives. And it seems that well-written, factual and insightful blogs are rare. For every Lowetide there are 15 horrible bloggers. Kids read the Internet more than the paper, and while we think they should be smart enough to decipher the good from bad, any parent will tell you that isn't the case.
Yeah, he actually went with the "think of the children" line. Fuckin' embarrassing.

But the real good shit comes with Oilers' PR flack J.J. Hebert's attempts to clear the air.
Edmonton Oilers media relations director J.J. Hebert says blogger Dave Berry of Covered in Oil was temporarily banned from the Oilers press box last week because of the "disrespectful and embarrassing" content of Berry's live blog commentary on the Oilers' home opener.

"It was disrespectful, it was embarrassing and we simply do not need it," Hebert says.

What triggered it initially was the content," adds Allan Watt, vice-president of communications for the Oilers. "It was profane."

If we've learned nothing else from Pat Laforge-and I think we haven't-it's that disrespectful and profanity-laden comments about players will only be tolerated once said players are traded (right Doug Weight, you big pussy?)

Having read the live blog in question, I find the particular criticism to be interesting to say the least. I count a single use of the word "fuck" in there, but beyond that, the post is pretty vanilla. One thing it is not is uncritical, so it's easy to see why it would get the flack's knickers in a twist.

Hebert goes on to say that problem with treating bloggers the same as members of the MSM, aside from their potty mouths, is there's just so gosh darn many of them.

Hebert says the Oilers will not give accreditation to any independent blogger right now. There are simply too many bloggers at this point for the Oilers to try to pick and choose and accommodate any of them. "Our players are just inundated with requests, as well as phone requests, every day. For us to say yes to Joe Blow's blog, there's 300 more of them out there.

"You can't open the door to one guy and then say no 250 others. You can't."

Which would be fair if it were true. Fact is, though, picking and choosing who does and does not get accreditation is something Herbert and his ilk do on a daily basis. Hell, one might even say it's part of their job. On the great media totem pole, some hack from the St. Albert Gazette is going to be further down than a Dan Barnes and I trust people like Hebert are capable of making the distinction and justifying it. So why not apply similar tests to bloggers. It's been done: there are NHL teams (notably the Washington Capitals) that provide bloggers with press passes. In fact, Caps blogger Eric McErlain at one point drafted a set of guidelines for granting press credentials to bloggers. Clearly it can be done, and in suggesting otherwise Hebert is either being totally disingenuous or he just isn't very good at his job.

What's the upshot here? I dunno. I'm sad that Dave has quit blogging, I'd like to hear more about these "basement threesomes" Alan Watt thinks are a driving force behind blogs, and I'm happier than ever not to be in a position to give the Oilers' organization one thin dime of my cash.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Not dead yet.

Just a quick word to say we haven't pulled a Pleasure Motors and packed it in. I've been out of the country for the last couple of weeks (and have thus missed the Oilers storming out of the gate with three straight lopsided marginal victories) and God only knows where the other people who "work" here are doing with their time. Probably more important things than blogging about hockey. Tonight's another edition of the BoA and I'll be glued to MotherCorp, wearing my Flames-hatin' pants and cursing the tiny tyrants with small dicks who make up the Oilers' PR department. Goilers.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Last night, the Oilers got blown out 4-0 by their provincial rivals from Calgary (spits). Seeing as how this was a preseason game, the natural reaction for many is to freak the fuck out.

I didn't see the game, but it sounds like a real stinker, with the Oilers managing something like 19 shots against the guy who's going to open the door to the Flames's bench this year.

Mac T doesn't sound happy, and who can blame him? The team is starting the season with a tough schedule with 12-15 on the road and need to get their shit together before then. Me, I'm inclined to think it'll actually be good for them to get away from the slush of Rexall and the clearly insane fanbase and focus on playing hockey. If not, well, it's better to burn out than fade away.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's "Captain" Lou to you

Snark here. I just wanted to post the picture.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

They don't make them like that any more.

Submitted with minimal comment: a fine example of sportswriting as a craft.

This Observer piece on rising rugby union star Danny Cipriani. Best read with a clipped british private-school accent in mind. Or David Attenborough. Sorry: Sir David Attenborough.

The archetypal English player is rugged and fearless, not afraid to mix it up. Their approach is caution first, keep it tight, get the three points in the bag. They prided themselves on being the first nation to embrace professionalism, bringing a new physicality to rugby. Think of the heroes of 2003: Martin Johnson, Lawrence Dallaglio and Jonny Wilkinson - is it my imagination or did they, after years of battering, even start to look alike? Their heroic jaws jutting out, expressions glowering and taciturn, their faces like 'a Christmas present from Easter Island', as Philip Larkin memorably described Ted Hughes. Certainly, these are the men whose shadows loom large over the game in England.

The flip side is that you can almost count the number of flamboyant English players on one hand. There was Prince Alexander Obolensky, whose family fled the Russian Revolution in 1917, before settling in Muswell Hill, north London. 'The Prince' made his England debut in 1936 in a 13-0 victory against the All Blacks, the first time New Zealand had been beaten by a home nation; he scored two tries, including one individual effort that covered most of the field and may be the greatest ever scored in England colours. Sadly, he would win just three more caps, and the flying winger died in 1940 at the age of 24, when his Hawker Hurricane crashed in Suffolk. They don't make them like that any more.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Oilers vs Panthers - Post Game Thoughts

What a boring game. I usually won't say no to free tickets, but from now on will have to re-consider. We ended up leaving at the 2nd intermission.

The highlight of the day was seeing a couple buy two 46 oz popcorn ($4.00) buckets instead of sharing one 86 oz ($5.25) buckets.


- Trukhno has some skill; thinks the game well
- Pouliot did a great job battling in the corners
- Chorney will be ready sooner rather than later
- Strudwick certainly isn't anything more than press-box/7th D material
- Like Smid's game
- Brule certainly hasn't shown much; he'll be spending the season in the AHL.
- No atmosphere whatsoever at Rexall; for all the right reasons

Feel free to add your thoughts.

15 down

The Oilers announced another round of cuts today, sending 15 hopefuls packing

Assigned to Springfield were:

Goaltenders (1): Andrew Perugini

Defence (5): Sebastien Bisaillon, Josef Hrabal, Jake Taylor, Cody Wild, Bryan Young

Forwards (8): Hans Benson (RW), Justin Chwedoruk (RW), Garet Hunt (LW), Bryan Lerg (LW), Colin McDonald (RW), Sean McMorrow (RW), Ryan O’Marra (RW), Geoff Paukovich (LW)

Right winger Jordan Eberle, the Oilers’ first round selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, was returned to the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League.

Not many surprises there. O'Marra's looking like a bust. McDonald was my underdog favourite this camp. I hope Paukovich refrains from drilling his cab driver with a shot from behind on his way to YEG.

This blog post is presented in part by LolCats.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Stream of Consciousness.....

First Period Stream of Consciousness:

20:00 Game is starting off a little scrambly here. Hodgson wins a draw and has a pass picked off, and from there about 4 or 5 are picked off as the Oilers try to gain the zone.

19:15 Canucks are applying a little bit of pressure now, but Roloson looks sharp as he snags a puck out of the air on a long point shot. I hate John Garret... annoying voice and he brings nothing to the table.

18:45 The biggest problem with the feed for me is it's nearly impossible to make out a lot of the numbers... so I can't put this on mute as badly as I want to. Sorry for any mistakes on names...

18:00 McDonald and Brule work very well together to work a cycle together... nice shot from Grebeshkov and McDonald and Brule both crash the net. Big save by Luongo on McDonald, but a good start for two guys who have to impress.

17:30 It's not too often I haven't heard of an Oiler prospect... but I have no idea who Jake Taylor is. He just broke up a cycle down low though.

17:00 Truhkno just got cranked, and then Grebs did... excellent hustle by both of them to make plays though, and they both bounce up. Garret will make it sound like the hit is the big deal, and it's nice for the Nucks to send a message, but the bigger point is that the Oilers got the puck and kept the play alive. Nilsson just set up Cogs on a good chance as well... sublime pass.

16:30 It took Roloson only 3:30 to get pissy in net. Nice. Garret talking about random bullshit... goalies records? Christ.

15:45 And here comes the PP after Burrows gets his stick into Grebs hands. I hate this faceoff rule... just absolutely retarded. Oilers start with Grebs, Gilbert, the kids and Truhkno. I'm really liking the way that Nilsson is seeing the ice early here... he's hitting passing lanes quickly. He'll have a helper tonight. This PP is moving the puck MUCH better than we did last night... hopefully the team takes note that we can't just rely on Souray's bomb, and instead need to use the bomb as a reason to be able to move the puck around a little more.

14:19 ... Brodziak with a weak shot on net and it ends up in the net. Nice start for Jesus Luongo. Potulny may have got a piece of that.... love that he crashed the net there. He's another guy in the mix for that 12th forward spot. Looking at that I'm pretty sure Potulny got it. Good for him. Even if he doesn't get it, it doesn't happen if he doesn't haul ass to the net.

14:00 Does it ever show how young this team is when Brodziak has an A? We left just about everyone back in Edmonton....

13:44 Roloson makes a great stop in tight on Demitra. He looks sharp.

12:37 ... Stortini killing a penalty? And he smokes someone in the defensive zone while on the kill? Awesome for all the wrong reasons. Gotta love the preseason.

12:00 I've never been much of a fan of McDonald, but I like what he's done so far. He's cycling the puck and moving it North in a hurry. These are the types of things MacT is all over, and rightfully so. He's also getting the puck on net whenever he has a chance.... little things like this lead to winning a job instead of riding a bus in the AHL.

11:20 ... #21? Looked like he just had a chance to plaster someone and let up. I'll check on the number in a minute, but you have to make that hit, especially in a preseason game. .. Looks like it was Potulny. Loved his hustle to the net, and he doesn't have to kill the guy there, but unless you're Ales Hemsky you have to throw the body and seperate him from the puck.

11:00 And here we go. Huxley drops 'em with Brown and they're hugging it out. Huxley is Stortini 2.0 apparently.

9:30 Roy takes a penalty because Bernier is a shit and going after Cogliano. Zero issue with that, and it should've been even ups.

9:00 MacT is playing pretty much everyone on the PK early... this is a big tell. You have to be smart and positionally sound to play on the PK. During the regular season, it's a compliment to your game, but during the preseason it's a test. I like it. And as I type this out Roloson makes the world a better place and punches a Canuck in the face. He's having a solid game, I like when he has some fire in him like this because he tends to play better and ends up pissing off the other team and gets them off of their game.

7:15 Cowan last night... Hordichuk tonight? Brutal. Taylor made the right play, Cogliano lost his man for a second (Burrows?) allowing him to make a pass, but given it was on a PK and he didn't want to over commit this is forgivable... and then Young just made a terrible play in front of the net on Hordichuk. Not Roloson's fault... Young has to be better than that.

6:15 Nilsson is buzzing, but his linemates just seem to be invisible thus far... I'm half expecting the blender to be whipped out here. The Oilers are in a funk and a lot of these guys have played together in Springfield so they have experience and a lot of options..... I haven't heard Eberle's name once yet?

5:00 And there he is with a weak shot from a Brodziak pass. Tough not being able to see the numbers.

4:33 Nilsson with another solid pass to set up Cogliano for a scoring chance.....

Luongo doing what he does best - KEEPING IT ONE ONE. Sorry, but that is absolute literary gold. I don't think it was intentional at all, but the way that was implied was just plain awesome.

4:20 ... poor point shot by Taylor. Ripped it into the shinpads when he could've thrown it into the corner where we had 2 guys.

3:20 There's some maturity from Stortini. He blows up a Canuck and draws a penalty and then gets into a fight. The fight itself has been pretty sad... Stort's got the helmet off, and I guess the decision goes to the Canuck, but that's what Stortini needs to do to be effective.

3:00 This game is getting chippy. Can feel the hate. I like it.

2:00 ... great play by Brodziak to split the D and get a good shot on Luongo while drawing the penalty. He's having a heckuva game.

1:37 We're still relying on the point shot too much. We have a lot of skill between the forwards, lets let them make some plays, we don't need to always rely on a rebound or a screen for a PP goal.

1:00 Truhkno makes a nice move to get a shooting lane, but the puck takes a bad bounce on the rebound and gets cleared by Vancouver. Shame.

:12 Truhkno just made another nice play, setting up Potulny in front of the net all alone.

My favourite part of the period has to go to Garret though.... "How many talented guys can you fit into a lineup?" You know you've been a Canucks fan for too long when...

Second Period:

19:55 Nilsson sets up Cogliano again. He is just absolutely flying out there. Loving it. Between him and Brodziak the Oilers future is shining bright tonight. Nilsson just took a slash now and looks hurt... can I jinx it or what? Hope to see him back on the ice soon...

19:00 Bad break for Brule on a high stick penalty... Roloson bails him out on a Hodgson attempt.

17:10 Gilbert makes a bad pinch... Nilsson gets caught on a 1 on 1 and is burned, and Young is left doing nothing again in no mans land. 2-1 Canucks. The good news of all this is Nilsson must be okay if they sent him right back out for a PK.

16:00 Looks like someone talked to Potulny, as he just did exactly what he should've done in the first... McDonald is driving possession again and throwing everything at the net, but that all started because Potulny separated Brown from the puck. Brule showed some fire there... you can tell guys are doing their best to get noticed.

14:30 Another nice cycle by the kid/Truhkno line. He's passed Schremp tonight by my estimation.

12:45 Brule just came back to break up a scramble... and again his line (Mcdonald/Potulny) move the puck North in a hurry. These guys are gaining all kinds of points for their play tonight.

12:12 Eberle shows up for the first time all game with a couple of nice chances... I like his ability to find the soft ice and get his shot off quickly. The kid has a long way to go, not all 18 year olds are Sam Gagner, but he's a beaut.

11:00 Truhkno's compete is through the roof. He just won a battle to get the puck to Nilsson again... who again set up Cogliano. Absolutely loving his game, he looks like he is here to win a job.

9:52 this is the difference between Nilsson this year and last year. He just turned the puck over on the halfboards fairly weakly.. but then he takes off and forces back pressure to get a turnover.

9:15 Brule having an ice shift here... cycling well and plastered two Canucks. He's a little ball of hate.

7:25 Strudwick makes a nice play to stop one of the Van kids on a rush, moves the puck forward and Roy gets a nice chance. Good play all around.

6:15 Again the Brule line is driving possession... I'm not paying attention to who they're playing, but this line has moved the puck north all night. Just excellent work by a trio of guys trying to crack an NHL roster.

4:30 And you know what? McDonald just rang one off the bar as the Brule line was ONCE AGAIN driving possession. These three along with Truhkno are making life for Rob Schremp and Marc Pouliot a lot more difficult.

4:10 Roloson is definitely having a solid game... big save on Grabner in tight on a 2 on 1.

3:40 I think Cogs is getting a bit frustrated... he had Nilsson open at the blueline and instead tried to dispy doodle. Sign of a young player, but not one we can afford too often given just how many of them we have.

3:05 Gilbert just about had a horrendous turnover, but he saved it at the last second... not loving his game thus far. Been pretty happy with Grebeshkov though, especially on the PP.

2:50 Round two.. Huxley and Brown. There are punches this time! Huxley is giving it to Brown... got him with a few good shots early and landed a few glancing shots at the end.

2:40 This game just can't end fast enough for Young. Victimized on two goals and now he takes a penalty....

1:30 Nilsson and Cogs on the PK again, and almost pull it off.... pass was just a little too far ahead by Cogs or Nilsson is going roof daddy there all day long.

0:10 Brodziak just led a nice rush... his hand eye looks fantastic.

Third Period:

19:45 Again the Oilers are showing nice puck movement on the PP... I really hope that this becomes a trend on all of our PP's, as we'll be a much more dangerous team on the PP if we're moving it around before we hit Souray, at the very least.

18:31 5 on 3... lets see what they do. Please something other than a point shot! 20 seconds to go and Eberle is on the ice and coughs it up at the blueline. Grebeshkov with a horrendous pass to Gilbert as the Canuck comes out of the box to pick it off... but Roli has to bang his stick sooner there. Just some preseason rust that guys like Grebeshkov can afford to have... if it's still there in G7 and G8 when they're 4 or 5 games in, we have a problem, but in G2 when they're 1 in I'm not gonna sweat it...

17:20 Roloson just ROBBED the Canucks on a 2 on 0.... and now the Oilers have two penalties? Never mind, Roli made the save and then gave Hansen a shot as Hansen crashed into him... fine by me. Roli isn't a happy man, and it looks like he means business as he's been very, very, good tonight.

16:50 ... is Truhkno playing the point? I don't think he is, but he sure seems to be there on the PP a lot. I'm pretty sure Grebs/Gilbert are both out there. Wish I had this on a TV or was there so I could figure this out... the miniature screen is killing me.

15:50 Canuck just got blown up. No idea who by though.... I'm cursing this feed as much as I'm loving it. The Canucks (crappy) broadcasters aren't helping here as they're busy talking about all kinds of useless crap like this day in Canucks history (1980? 1994? Was there anything else? What kind of franchise would actually want to talk about their history when they've never won... ANYTHING!? Christ....)

14:00 Hordichuk just made Grebeshkov look bad.... man a lot of our "vets" are rusty. The important thing with those guys though is to see where they're at for games 7 and 8....

13:30 Truhkno is just forechecking so well tonight. Absolutely falling in love with his game.... he forced a turnover and Nilsson had another solid opportunity.

12:30 Another giveaway by an Oilers D... not sure who it was, couldn't make out the number for my life of me... may have been #43.... Strudwick? If it wasn't him it was Roy. I know you can never have enough defensemen, but I don't think it's teh end of the world if we risk one of these guys on waivers come opening night.....

11:00 Another chance for Brodziak. Guy is just doing everything right. Can't wait to see where he ends up lining up in the roster....

10:30 Truhkno just made ANOTHER play... almost sprung himself on a breakaway by breaking up a pass back to the point. And then he makes another nice play to get Cogliano the puck. Robbie Schremp, meet your worst nightmare; Truhkno is here, and here's to play so far.

9:15 Beer Break.... new rule that tehy don't go to commercial for an icing? I like that. A lot. Bernier being a knob? Not so much.

7:50 As McDonald moves the puck North for the millionth time tonight, the Oilers draw a PP... they have to make this one count.

7:20 Oilers have a nice chance off the rush as Nilsson and Cogs work a nice give and go.. that line really deserves a goal. Hell - so does the Brule line.

3:40 Been a bit distracted... girlfriend got on MSN. Truhkno makes his first mistake of the night for a penalty.

3:20... nervous play by Strudwick as he tries to outright stop a shot with his stick. Haven't liked his game much tonight.

2:30 As usual with MacT teams... we just kick ass on the PK. Always a pleasure to watch his PK, nevermind once he gets his horses....

1:40 Brodziak just made an UNREAL play on the PK to deflect a pass for a one-timer to Salo on the PK. One hand on his stick and he flings it up to deflect the saucer pass. Just a fantastic play to spring a 2 on 2 out of hte zone and get a change.

Game over. Nucks win 2-1.

Game thoughts are pretty simple....

Brodziak, Truhkno and Nilsson were the three best Oilers. Roloson played well, as did Cogliano. Grebeshkov played decently, I liked a lot of what Potulny and McDonald did, and the rest of the D left a lot to be desired... didn't notice a whole lot from the bottom 6, which should be expected given who was there. Hopefully some cuts some quickly so we can start tuning up for the games that matter.

Outside of that:

Is Robbie Schremp feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders or what?


I thought the Canucks were going to be a "fun" team to watch this season? Ha...

Exhibition Game 1: Canucks 4 Oilers 3 (SO)

Above: Memory, all alone in the moonlight...

Some quick niblets from last night's first exhibition game:

Sheldon Souray looked really good. I still expect him to get beat wide at least twice a game, but he was physical and quicker than I remember. Decent point shot, too.

The Big Visnovsky had some ups and downs, strikes and gutters. He can make things happen, but I wonder about his two way play.

Laddy Smid looked bigger and more poised. Skated out of the zone well and made a few good outlet passes. Might be ready to take a step forward.

Penner: didn't notice him much after the first frame (have to check his TOI), but he seems to be gelling nicely with San Fernando and Moreau.

Cole showed great hands on the 2-1 goal, has speed to burn, but seemed a beat out of synch with Horcoff and Hemsky, both of whom seemed a touch off (I had no idea Horcoff had two points until I read the summary this morning). Don't think there's much else that needs to be said about him.

Ganger: Better than Viagra.

Schremp: Hustled and made some crisp passes, but he's running up hill. It's time to shit or get off the pot for Sugartits. I don't think he makes it.

Garon: Up to his old Gumby ways. I'm not worried about goaltending.

Didn't like the deja vu of losing a lead in the last few minutes of the third and I am sick of shootouts. The rubber match is tonight on Sportsnet Pacific.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Method to the Madness.....

Erik Cole is a beauty hockey player. Just is. He's one of those guys that gets it. He drives to the net with wreckless abandon. He gets the puck moving north-south in a hurry. He can finish, both with the puck and with his shoulder. He's a leader in the room and a leader on the ice. Basically...

He's Jarome Iginla-lite.

Now, while I'm not going to focus on the long-term effects or anything like that, it appears that MacT has figured out two very important things early on at this camp, and it's in a direction that I'm not sure anyone saw him taking. He's figured out how to run one of the best power lines in the league with Cole - Horcoff - Hemsky while still having a a third line that can pick up the rest of the slack.

The answer to the question, of course, was the hero from the '06 run. San Fernando. Early at camp he's been moved to center between Moreau and Penner on a line that very few would've thought of... and early returns are that it's working out well. This isn't the first time MacT has tried to move someone to C - I'm sure we all remember the Ryan Smyth "#1 C" experiment a few years ago, but this is a move that looks brilliant early on. Pisani is a guy who can move the puck North-South in a hurry while Penner and Moreau are both strong along the boards... while I don't want Penner (or Moreau, for that matter) running around in our own zone against Iginla or the Sedin's.... the fact is Pisani is a guy who'll break the cycle and get the puck out... and Penner and Moreau are both guys who can muck the game down low and kill the time.

Will it last? Tough to say, shit happens, guys get injured, guys like Brodziak and Pouliot will have to step it up as time goes on, etc. However, for now, I am damn excited by the prospects of a top 9 that starts with the power line, moves to this mucking line and finishes off with some razzle and dazzle from the kids.

The first preseason game is tonight boys.

Keep your head up and buckle up, it's gonna be a fun Winter.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

That's what I call marketing

As exciting as it is to talk about the Oilers' rookie camp (read: not exciting at all), here's something better: scantily clad dames.

That's the Dallas Stars "Ice Girls" frolicking about in bikinis and such. They are waiting for your call right now: pick up the phone!

Real training camp countdown: T-minus 32 hours.

(glove tap Four Habs Fans)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Car crash

Hey, anyone read any Oilers blogs lately? Hoo boy. What seems to have started out as a debate over the value of some of the new statistics the Oilogosphere has produced (see: here, here, here, and here) has degenerated into a veritable shit fight at the monkey house. Check out some of the comment threads here, here and here, and try to remember that some of these cats are the same people who deride the folks at HF Oilers for being immature drooling retards, which just goes to show that age and education is no defense against being a total fucking asshole.

Now, I'm no stranger to online pissing contests, but as someone with no dog in this fight beyond my interest in the fortunes of the mighty Oil, I find the whole thing ridiculous even by the gutter standards of internet discourse. So forgive the misuse of this space, and though I know no one has asked and no such advice will be heeded, I thought I'd get this off my chest.

Ain't nobody getting paid for this. For most everyone who writes, reads or comments on the Oil blogs, this is a hobby. The differences seem to be between those for whom following the Oilers is a way to while away the winter hours and an excuse to knock back a few beers and those who, like furries and diaper fetishists, seem to live and die by it. The stats business is a good example. I'm certainly sympathetic to the aims of those who want to push things forward in terms of how the game is analyzed and understood so that shit like "Joffery Lupul is a one-shot scorer" won't be allowed to stand, but a little perspective is needed. I'm sure the stats-heads like to think they are doing the game a service, but I have to wonder what the real world application for some of this stuff is. At best, it's an academic exercise, which is in and of itself worthwhile, but not something to get one's tits in a twist over. A good rule of thumb is: if something someone has written on the internet prompts you to utter a threat against them or their family, you're in too deep. And you probably need some therapy.

Personally, I can take or leave the stats stuff. It's great to have some quantifiable data in hand for winning arguments on the internet, but what matters most is the community, the social aspect, the fact that people from Edmonton to Toronto to Vladivostok and all points in between can be united by their shared love of the game and a team: The Passion That Unites Us All, to borrow a slogan from some minor-league softball team. It's not an exclusive club and it's nobody's personal domain. It's funny as hell to see some of the old-timers complain about the growth of the 'sphere in terms that sound strikingly similar to those used by the gatekeepers in the mainstream media to deride this whole blogging thing back when it started to take off. On the Oilogosphere, there's crap and there's quality and sometimes you have to work through a lot of the latter to get to the former, but that's the price of success. Most of the time, the quality shines through, which is why my posts get three views and Lowetide gets 10 jillion.

The real point here is that we're still a few days shy of training camp in what rightly or wrongly is one of the most anticipated seasons in recent memory. As such, it'll be nice to read and talk about actual hockey again and fuck the rest.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Erik Cole

"Bank Shot" did some research, and raised a good point over at Lowetide's (link to the right). How much was the "Southeast" division a factor in Erik Cole's overall performance?


Erik Cole posted 24 points in 28 games against Southeast division foes; 27 point in 45 games against all other NHL teams.

It's been well documented goaltending and defense was a considerable issue in the SE division last season.

Erik Cole did some other things quite well; he was physical, drew penalties (tied for 2nd most in the league), and shot the puck 216 times, which would have lead the Oilers last season (Leader: Dustin Penner, 201 SOG).

On the contrary, Cole’s numbers have fallen since 2005-2006 season; since the lockout, he has missed 20, 11, and 9 games respectively since the lockout. He turns 30 in November.

I don't think there is doubt that Erik Cole will help this team win hockey games. At the same time, Erik Cole may not provide full value in his next contract. I acknowledge it's prudent for General Manager, sorry, President of Hockey Operations, Kevin Lowe, to play out the season before deciding whether or not to bring Katz suitcases to the negotiation table.

However, this begs answers to the following questions: Why did Kevin Lowe pursue a player who he has doubts about, and is one year away from unrestricted free agency? Especially given the fact Joni Pitkanen kept his head above water with a EV +/- rating of zero playing difficult opposition. Was Erik Cole the best value in the trade market? Was it the good trade?

David Caruso is investigating.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Fightin' words

Over at OilersNation, Robin Brownlee asks a few questions about the Oilers’ quest for an enforcer.
  • Is willing but much-maligned Zack Stortini enough of a deterrent to prevent ruffians from taking liberties with Hemsky, Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson if he can get some back-up from newly acquired Jason Strudwick or veterans Steve Staios and Ethan Moreau?
  • Would a tag-team of Stortini, who dropped the gloves 23 times last season, and J.F. Jacques do the trick if Jacques can overcome wrist and back injuries and finally deliver the physical and fistic contributions expected of him?
  • Is there an NHL-calibre enforcer in the bent-nosed bunch of minor-leaguers the Oilers have invited to camp who’d be ready and willing to throw down for 500-large on 30 or 40 nights this season?
Fortunately, I have the answers to all of the above. Actually it’s really a single, all-purpose answer:

Who gives a shit?

To my mind, there’s no better example to be found of the parting of ways between conventional wisdom and reality that exists in sports than the value placed on enforcers in the NHL. Having a tough guy to protect teammates and settle scores is regarded as essential by everyone from armchair GMs up to, well, actual GMs (as evidenced by the Oilers’ pursuit of fan favourite and league heavyweight champ Georges Laraque). The idea, sayeth the gospel, is that tough guys not only punish evildoers for their transgressions, but also act to deter the cheap shot artists of the league from taking liberties with star players. If the Oilers had a tough guy, the reasoning goes, Ales Hemsky would never again have to worry about Robyn Regher using Hemsky’s face to apply Turtle Wax to the dasher boards at the end of the rink.

Advocates of the nuclear deterrent theory point to the fact that, since Laraque’s departure, the Oilers have been racked by injuries to key players (Moreau, Souray, Horcoff and Hemsky all missed time last year and, at one point late in the season, the entire 2007 team was in ICU at the U of A hospital). Problem is, correlation is not causation. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll see how the assertion that tough guys prevent injuries is actually baseless.

Below is a (small, shitty)table that compares the official man games lost to injury (MGL) totals (via James Mirtle) with’s rankings of total fighting majors by team (FM). For ease of comparison, I’ve clustered the top, middle and bottom thirds of the man games lost together to see how they correlated with fighting majors.

Squint and you can see that four teams in the top 10 in FM were in the bottom of the pile in MGL. But four other leading FM teams were among the league leaders in MGL, with the pugilistic Canucks just missing the cut in that regard. Overall, in this sample, there doesn’t seem to be much of a correlation between how often a team fights and the number of severe injuries they incur.

Granted, this is a simplistic analysis using a rather small sample size and missing out on a helluva lot of variables. But let’s appeal to common sense here: of the myriad major Oilers’ injuries over the past couple of years, how could reasonably have been prevented or deterred by an enforcer? I can think of two: Moreau fucking up his shoulder trying to slap Danny Markov in ‘06 and Souray blowing out his pitching arm in a tilt against the Canucks' Byron Ritchie last year. Theoretically, an enforcer would have prevented these two injuries by taking the burden of scrapping off Moreau and Souray’s shoulders (get it? get it?). But with 33 and 29 career NHL fights respectively, neither Souray nor Moreau are, for lack of a better term, pussies. Both are gritty players who are regarded as leaders on the ice: probably not the kind of guys who will outsource their dirty work on the off chance of a freak (or, in Souray’s case, entirely predictable) injury. Which brings me to another point: outside of the extremely rare one-sided beating or any fight in which Todd Fedoruk is a combatant, most hockey fights end with no harm done to either pugilist. Given the relatively low level of risk involved, it’s hard to see how fighting is any kind of deterrent, particularly for those players whose job description includes regular blows to the head followed five minute stays in the box.

This is nicely illustrated by the photo above. That’s Derek Boogaard about to drop some sweet science on Le GG himself. The same Derek Boogaard who, since rampaging through the Oilers roster a couple of seasons back, has had Oiler fans waking up in a cold sweat whenever a game with Minnesota draws nigh. The Boogeyman is 6’7” and 271 lbs. His career fight card reads like a who’s who of NHL enforcers, with Laraque, Shelley, Godard, Parros and Brashear all making appearances. Clearly, having an enforcer of your own is not going to deter a guy like that because fighting the other team’s enforcer is Boogaard’s entire raison d’etre. It’d take an I.E.D. to stop that motherfucker. That said, Boogaard’s status as both heavyweight and wrecking ball make him an aberration. What about cheap shot artists like the aforementioned Robyn Regehr: surely he would pass up the chance to cripple Sam Ganger if he knew the Oilers had a true tough guy giving the stinkeye from the end of the bench, right?

Well, no. Just as heavyweights tend to fight other heavyweights, punks like Regehr tend not to fight at all (RR had three fights last year against titans like Jason chimera and Dustin Penner). They hit and run. If they do fight, it’s with players in their weightclass. If outmatched, they hang on, or turtle: no harm done. And certainly no compelling reason to pass up the chance to murder another team’s star player.

To sum up so far:

  • The correlation between an enforcer and team injuries is weak at best, non-existent at worst
  • Guys who are paid, in whole or in part, to fight aren’t going to change their style of play because of the possibility of getting into a fight.
  • Guys who are paid to take liberties with others won’t fight an enforcer, thus enforcers carry no value as a deterrent.

So what’s left? Why are guys like Ales Hemsky and Kevin Prendergast, fellas whose knowledge of the game (hopefully) greatly eclipses my own, still grumbling about the need for an enforcer? The only answer that makes any sense is that the importance of an tough guy has become part of the culture of the game, a treasured myth that, while completely lacking in any supporting evidence, is nonetheless repeated, circulated and passed on through the generations as cant (see also: Europeans are pansies, “big goals”). These are things we believe to be true, though all the evidence before our eyes tells us otherwise: enforcers are important. Tough guys prevent injuries. They help teams win.

As “just-so” stories go, that’s all well and good. But when a team like the Oilers with literally more NHL-ready prospects than they know what to do withstarts talking about giving up a roster spot and cap space to some meathead whose job is to act as the human equivalent to those obnoxious Jumbotron exhortations (“Make some NOOOOOOISE!!!), well, it perturbs me.

I’ll close this off with a relevant quote from Mirtle, who did his own analysis of NHL enforcers last year:
At best, they're not a liability. At worst, they cripple their team, allowing somewhere in the neighbourhood of two goals per 60 minutes more than the rest of their team while generating almost zero offence or shots on goal.

If I'm a coach or GM, isn't there a better option at the bottom of the roster?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

An Uneventful August

August was a slow month at PunjabiOil & Company. A mere 6 entries (0.20 Posts/30). Sometimes, there just isn't any value added discussion to be brought forward. Unless, of course, you are Lowetide - the Wayne Gretzky of the Oilogosphere.

Hopefully, September will change. I will be limited in number of posts for the next few months, but I'm sure you will see great 'value-added' discussion from blog co-owners in PDO, LittleFury, and prospect AsiaOil.

With that said, I leave you with this:

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Ranger....

... has died.

He spent his whole life drinking ice cold beer from the glaciers, hanging out with gorgeous women and fighting off the Sasquatch.

May he rest in peace, because today is a sad, sad day.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My heart will go on

This dawn found me in a sentimental mood, so I spent some time going through the dusty archives of the Battle of Alberta and Covered in Oil from a time back when the Oilogosphere was young, San Fernando strode the world like a pre-colitis colossus, the acronym CFP stood for little more than Certified Financial Planner and the Calgary Flames were bowing out in the first round (plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose).

Those were heady times. Hockey enjoyment was, for me, at an all time high. The world was our oyster. Then it all came crashing down. The ‘06 summer exodus, the Pronger-for-magic-beans trade, the Smyth trade, the Dive for Five, and two straight seasons out of the playoffs all combined to kick the shit out of this Oilers fan. I’d love to share the optimistic outlook for '08-'09 of my blogging compatriots, but it’s tough: I’m pretty much a beaten dog at this point, cringing every time Kevin Lowe raises his hand.

The Oilers head into the new season (now an agonizing two months away) with arguably fewer question marks than anytime since the lockout. But for me, the big question mark this season is: can I learn to love again?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Do ya think I'm Stolli?

Ex-Oiler Stoll, Ex Mrs Rod Stewart engaged.

Clearly, Ms. Hunter was not put off by her hubby-to-be's whopping three ES goals and -23 rating last season.

Equally apparent is the fact that we're still a long way from hockey season.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

City of Edmonton accused for Hiding facts RE: Arena review


"They're going to spin it in the best light possible," said University of Alberta sports economist Brad Humphreys.

"It's sort of as a piece of propaganda, I think. That's the way to think about it.

"It's not the whole truth. There is useful information in there, but there's also information that should be out there that's omitted — just like any other propaganda piece that you might expect out of people that are seeking taxpayer dollars that is primarily going to be used by private enterprise."


Andy Grabia does a good job covering this on his site.

Enjoy the readings.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Blue Skying.... Reasonably?

This is Jessica Biel. She isn't Scarlette Jo, Jessica Alba or Jennifer Aniston. She isn't even blonde. She's not an A-list celebrity. However, she's still smoking hot, gorgeous and rich. Any guy would kill to take her home, but no one would confuse her with Scarlette Jo. It's the end of the long weekend for most, but mine is just beginning, as I had today off and have the next two days off as well. Drunken debauchery will certainly take place at some point over this time, but for now, I'm just thinking about the Oilers and blue skying about next season. I'm making sure that we're not bringing home Scarlette Jo, but I can't help but think we have a shot at Jessica Biel, especially if we buy her a few glasses of an expensive wine she's never heard of.

I'll start off with some boxcar numbers. The first dead giveaway that I'm blueskying is that I'm assuming we have no injuries, no benchings, and no suspensions. However, as LT was criticized for averaging the last 3 seasons for each player, I'll just assume that they're all in the best shape of their lives and don't suffer any bad luck what so ever this season.

Last Name, Goals-Points

Cole (42-80) - Horcoff (30-82) - Hemsky (30-94)
Nilsson (24-50) - Gagner (20-70) - Cogliano (26-50)
Penner (32-56) - Brodziak (15-40) - Pisani (21-45)
Moreau (12-25) - Pouliot (12-24) - Stortini (7-14)

Visnovsky (18-70) - Staios (7-19)
Gilbert (10-35) - Grebeshkov (5-25)
Smid (2-10) - Souray (22-38)

Garon (.910 SV%)
Roloson (.900 SV%)

Division Champs
There. Now, that team would score 335 goals. That's not happening, and everyone here knows it. What is interesting though, is that if I threw those numbers out towards anyone, the only one I may get called on is Pouliot. Anything else there isn't all that outlandish to say. My guess is the one that's furthest from the truth is Cole at 42, however I can't help but think a line with Horcoff, Hemsky and Cole on it just has too much speed and too much skill to not be dominant. Ales Hemsky is that good, and Cole and Horcoff are both excellent options for him to hit on the fly and both are willing to crash the net and score the ugly ones.

I'm of the opinion that Ales Hemsky is an elite player in this league. He is without a doubt a top 10 RW, and I think he's going to get the bounces this year, finish in the top 5 in his position for scoring, and finally be considered just as good as he is - because right now he very well could be the most underrated player in the league. Last season, after a slow start, he took off, finishing the last 60 games at a PPG pace. There was a 30 game period in there where he was dominant, followed by another 30 games where he continued to score despite playing most games with an anchor like Jarret Stoll. Desjardin's likes him, his PPP/60 numbers are disgusting, and with the edition of Visnvosky and a "healthy" Souray to his utilization, I can only imagine that it's going to improve. I expect Hemsky, along with Cole and Horcoff, to take the toughest minutes. I also expect career seasons for the trio. In a blueskying role, I hope that Cole takes to loving the atmosphere and the players here, and signs an identical extension to his last one - $12,000,000/3 years. Frontloaded, just so he gets a few more bucks from Mr. Daryl Katz.

Moving on to the kids, the most likely one for a fall back to Earth is Andrew Cogliano. His shooting % was out of this world, and many of us can still imagine several 5 star chances he had where he looked much more Todd Marchant than Butch Goring. That said, I think all of the kids are in a good position moving forward. They all have at least one aspect of the game that they absolutely excel in (Nilsson - Hands, Gagner - Vision, Cogliano - Speed), and they're around a group of veterans that will instill a work ethic into them, and hopefully keep them from getting into too much trouble. All three will force their way onto the PP at one point or another, and you have to imagine that Gagner could very well force himself onto the #1 unit if he can keep up his play from last season. Again, I can't help but continually picture a PP that involves one of Horcoff/Cole/Penner in the high slot ready to crash the net, Gagner in the corner, Hemsky on the halfboards, Souray in the Spacek spot and Visnovsky in the Pronger spot. It's just disgusting on paper, and there's no reason the PP shouldn't be top 5 in the league this season. One of the kids will most likely falter, but to pick any one of them to build upon what they did last year surely isn't out of this world insane.

Down to the 3rd line... that's where the question of just how good this team can be really needs to be answered. How will Penner react to playing with Brodziak and Pisani? What kind of shape will he show up in? Will he have been given the Clockwork Orange treatment, while being forced to get into the kind of shape that guys like Horcoff, Staios and Moreau are known and praised for? Will he have found that extra stride and that extra glare? If he does, all bets for this season are off immeadiately, because players like that come around to an organization once in a generation, and if he can be anywhere near what Bertuzzi was for the Canucks from '98-'02, we're in for one hell of a treat. That's not the only question though, what can we expect from Pisani? Can he continue to play the game despite his illness? Will he remain an outscorer, able to play against anyone and put up results? And if both of these players show up, how good does Brodziak have to be to pass as the 3rd line C? Clearly the organization loves him - he was at the Indy party and the Katz presser. If he's in shape and can find an extra gear, will he be good enough to be on the ice against Iginla? Gaborik? You have to imagine the organization believes it, and if he does he'll have a $3,000,000/2 year extension in his future.

The fourth line is also very interesting. Stortini, that beautiful man, took all kinds of strides forward next year, and sometimes he even did it without falling! He played a very simple game that allowed him to be on the ice against quality, he got under the other teams skin, and he laid a few monstrous hits along the way as well. He's never a guy you'll want to play more than 10 minutes, but he's a guy who can give you 7-9 very, very, good minutes where he leaves everything on the ice. Captain Moreau had all kinds of bad luck last season, and despite his track record I honestly do expect him to be around for most of the season. If he is around, we know he'll be a rock on the PK, we know he can play against quality players, we know he brings a physical edge to his game and we know he is absolutely fantastic in the room. Finally, we have Poo. What a terrible nick name. However, he has shown, time and time again, that he can be on the ice and have very few pucks end up in the back of his net. This is a very good thing, and something that is going to be extremely useful, as with the kid line intact, we're going to need to be able to rely on our fourth line to survive against some decent players. Hopefully they can, at least in short spurts, as they certainly all have the pedigree to.

The Oilers have the least amount of question marks coming into this season that they've had in as long as I can remember. We're not asking who the #1 C is. We're not asking where the goals will come from. We're not asking who can play defense. We're not asking who will be in net.

One thing we are asking though, is how good can Denis Grebeshkov be? Will he be the guy who showed up in the first half of the season or the second half? The guy called Garbagekov, or the guy who appeared to be a dominant force, and had many saying he was at least one of the top 3 Oillers in terms of raw talent? I'm not positive just how good he can be, but after seeing what he did for 40 straight games, who he did it with and who he did it against, I am convinced that he can be a player this season. He'll be able to play at both ends of the rink, eat 20 minutes of ice, and chip in offensively. Along with Tommy Gilbert, he is an absolutely huge part of the future of the Edmonton Oilers, and if he can show some consistency this season I have every bit of belief he'll receive a contract identical to the one that Tommy Gilbert has, and the Oilers will be much better for it moving forward.

Still though, I haven't mentioned the Oilers biggest acquisition of the Summer - Mr. Visnovsky. He's coming off of an extremely disappointing season, with only 41 points and a whopping -. However, his shooting % dropped into the toilet, and Crawford was recently on the Team suggesting that his scoring chances were nearly identical to the two previous years; he just had shit luck. If he can regain the 20 goal, 70 point prowess that he's shown the previous two years, the Oilers have added an absolute stud to their blueline. Compounding the matter is Sheldon Souray. He's a one trick pony, I don't think many will argue that... but man, it is one helluva trick. He's going to get a lot of PP time, and he should be able to score a boatload with said PP time. We also know that he's fairly good on the PK, and should help out with the physicality as well. If he can stay healthy, he certainly adds value to the team. $5,400,000 value? Not a chance, but we're a better team with him in the lineup than out of the lineup. His health is certainly a legitimate question as we enter camp...

Finally, we have Steady Steve and Laddy Smid. Steve will do what he always does... play the majority of the games, give a solid 20 minutes, help a boatload on the PK and play against quality players on the other team. Smid though, is again, a bit of a card. Will he look lost, as he has so many times over the past two years, or will he be the pitbull that seemed like he was on the verge of grasping his positioning down the stretch? Will he ever find the Tommy Albelin in him, or is he going to become a guy who was pushed too fast into this league? Time will tell, but I think as a bottom pairing defenseman, especially if he keeps on the grimace that helped him steal a job from Matt Greene, he'll be another guy who can add to the roster, and hopefully set himself up to be a future top 4 defender.

Finally, we have the two guys in net. The signing of Matty Garon was widely complimented around the Oilogosphere and HFBoards, and he lived up to it last season, posting a .913 SV% along with being absolutely dominant in the SO. You have to imagine Edmonton management would be very happy if he could simply show a repeat performance while starting 60 games instead of 47. I imagine if he does repeat a similar season, he'll get a contract very similar to the one that Dwayne Roloson inked just over 2 years ago. Speaking of Roloson, he had one hell of an up and down season last year. Going from starter, to being supplanted by Garon, to having to go back in net, and doing well, when Garon was injured late in the season and the Oilers were making a legitimate push for a playoff seed. I'd assume that if he can pull off an average SV% and be a calming factor in the room the Oilers would be very happy with that, and it would show in the standings as well.

On the whole, there's a lot to be positive about. We have a lot of guys who are just entering the prime of their careers, and we have a few guys around to do the real heavy lifting and ensure the kids have good role models as they move forward in their hockey careers. We're not a team built to win the cup today, but we very well could be a team thats built to win a cup in a year, depending on what we do this year. Ideally, we'll win the division and have a heated playoff series against a rival - Anaheim, Calgary, Vancouver, Dallas. Pick your poison, but either way, so long as the Oilers pulled it off and then fell to a superior team the following round, there would be all kinds of things to be optimistic about moving forward. A young team that wins a playoff round, has a brand new owner, and has players like Horcoff committing the heart of their career there is going to grab UFA attention, and maybe we're not so far off from being the guys that sign Hossa to a one year deal well below market value.