Friday, April 11, 2014

Sail on Captain Canada....

I couldn't bring myself to post much this past year especially after the Oilers ditched my Ales Hemsky! I also went to Sochi to watch the Olympics and was there for Canadian gold in hockey and curling! But we have something to talk about....important news!

Ryan Smyth is announcing his retirement this afternoon and his last game will be on Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks.

I was thoroughly shocked. I did not see this coming; I assumed the Oilers would offer him another one year contract especially since Smitty has played well this year. There should be room for him on this team. Look at the fourth line? Gazdic? Hendricks? Arco? Lander? Hell yes there is room for Smitty: fourth line minutes and lots of PK time!!

My guess is MacT is giving him a shove out of the door. Another mistake for MacTavish this year which includes ditching Hemsky for nothing and watching him light it up in Ottawa while he gets minutes with good players.

With Smyth retiring and Hemsky receiving his freedom, the last link to the 2006 playoff run will be gone. Twitter also mentioned Smyth is the last active player from the Stars-Oilers playoff series in 1997. That is amazing.

From the 1994 draft, only Alfredsson and Elias have more points than Ryan. Another amazing stat!

Smyth has a pretty good resume: Captain Canada; winning gold at the world junior, world championships, and the Olympics. The only thing missing is the damn Stanley Cup. I really wished he had won it with the Oilers (or any team). He's the type of player and person who should have a Stanley Cup.

Memories - I don't remember when he became my favourite player but he was until February 27, 2007. I was angry at both Lowe and Smyth for letting a small amount of money get in the way of signing a contract extension.

I never thought we would see him in Oilers colours again. Then rumours started before the NHL draft in 2011 that Ryan Smyth wanted to return to the Oilers or Alberta. Tambellini almost screwed up that deal but a few days after the draft, Ryan Smyth was an Oiler again and all was right with the world.

My first Oilers jersey was Tikkanen: a xmas gift when I was a teenager. The first jersey I ever purchased was Ryan Smyth and that is the one I will be wearing on Saturday night as we say goodbye to a great player. He didn't have the best skill but man he was a fighter. He fought for every inch on that ice; played the tough minutes; took so much abuse in front of the net. No one plays like Ryan Smyth.

I grew up in Manitoba and didn't go to many games. I was at the playoff games in 1990 and a couple preseason games in Winnipeg where none of the good players showed up. My first great memory of Ryan Smyth came in 2001 when I made my boyfriend visit Edmonton for some playoff action instead of a golfing trip! The Oilers lost of course to the Dallas Stars but it was a helleva game and they lost by one goal.

I moved to Edmonton in 2003 and was lucky enough to attend the Heritage Classic outdoor game. I was more focused on finally seeing Gretzky in person but always remember Smyth in that game.

I became a season ticket holder in 2005 just in time for the magical run to the Stanley Cup final. One game away from getting Smitty his Stanley Cup. I was gutted that he never won a Cup.

On Saturday night, we hope to see one more powerplay goal for Ryan. He is currently tied with Glenn Anderson for most powerplay goals. Just one more for the fans, Ryan. After this year, the fans need something to cheer for that is not related to draft positioning.

I hope to see the Smitty slapper.....one more time!!

I hope Ryan will be wearing the C for the first and last time. He is the unofficial Captain of any team he plays on.

The tears will be flowing on Saturday night.



Ryan Smyth looking deep into our souls! 94 Forever








 

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Welcome to the Campbell Conference, Bitch!

The Jets have not played in Edmonton since March 29, 1996 (ignoring our recent preseason) and I'm quite excited to see them again. I grew up in Manitoba, cheering for the Oilers of course, but I have many friends and family who still live in Manitoba. I've been smacking talking my brother all day. Don't let me down Edmonton!!

Hemsky and his Oilers are going to put a few pucks behind Pavelec.

Welcome to the Western Conference, bitch (CAMPBELL CONFERENCE)! You are not in Kansas anymore. No easy games in the West anymore; it is a much tougher conference. It is going to be a rough season for those little Jets.

Let's remember the old Smythe division years (and a name that should have been resurrected for the realignment instead of the exciting name of.....Pacific) when the Edmonton Oilers played the Winnipeg Jets all the time. I like to refer to the Winnipeg Jets as the free spot on the bingo card. The free spot on the bingo card is BACK!

Oilers and their fans should be VERY happy the Jets are back in our conference. Unfortunately they are NOT in our division (the lovely named Pacific) but the Oilers will still play them several times this year.  Welcome to the Western Conference, Bitch! :)


One final note, Andrew Ference is now the 14th Captain in the history of the Edmonton Oilers. I would have preferred Taylor Hall but as I said on twitter, this probably is not a big deal. Everyone knows that Taylor Hall is the BEST and MOST important player on the Oilers. Hall doesn't need a C to lead - he does that every night ON the ice. 

Tonight - Oilers vs Jets. Let's bring it on.

Update: Thanks to Ryan Batty for setting me straight - it is the CAMPBELL CONFERENCE BITCHES!!!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Halleluiah, Ales Hemsky is still an Oiler

Halleluiah, Ales Hemsky is still an Oiler. I did not see this happening. Of course, I hope when training camp opens in a few weeks he is still here. Maybe I am a bit paranoid but I expect him to traded for a bag of pucks because the Oilers are stupid.

Do I dare expect him in the lineup on opening night?  I want this SO badly.

Dude can still play. Oilers need NHL players. It is a no-brainer that we MUST keep him. I know MacT wanted to trade him so I cannot fully get on board with the MacT-is-smart. Sure Hemsky remains an Oiler because MacTavish did not ditch him for some idiot third line checker. So yes, MacT is not a complete idiot but he did want to trade him in the first place.

Speaking of trades, I am sad to see little Shawn Horcoff leave us. While he was overpaid, he was a VERY useful player. The Oilers will miss his defensive play. He played those tough minutes, along with our Hemsky, for many years. His tenure with the Oilers should not be noted for getting one of the greatest contracts one could get for having a good year (points-wise).

The pre-season starts in a month and yes I am starting to look forward to hockey. Seriously, in the past week, I am jonesing for hockey BIG TIME!  Let's go Oilers, hook me up.

Opening night is set for October 1st when the Jets come to town for the first time in.....how long?  According to hockey-reference.com, it appears the last time a team from Winnipeg played in Edmonton was March 29, 1996. Oilers won (OF COURSE) 3-2.  Fun fact, Nikolai Khabibulin played goal for those Jets. Oh and Satan scored two goals for the Oilers. Good thing they traded him not long after for basically a bag of pucks.

My last game in Winnipeg was way back in 1995 (October 11) when I cheered on Mark Messier's Rangers. They did win 6-4.  The Moose had two assists and the players loaded the bus from an area blocked off from the fans so I could not snag an autograph. I did get a blurry picture....must find that somewhere.

Sadly, I may miss the home-opener because I have tickets to John Cleese's show, "Last Time to See Me Before I Die."  I cannot miss an opportunity to see Cleese before he dies.  His show kept selling out so damn fast, they added three more shows. I have a ticket to the first show. If I can switch my tickets, I will be in Rexall cheering on my Oilers over the Jets, just like the days of old in Manitoba.

I was born and raised in Manitoba and NEVER cheered for the Jets. I was the annoying kid in the stands cheering for the Oilers. And believe me, I was SUPER annoying.  I took a lot of pride in that.

So as I told me brother and several other Jets' fan when I was in Manitoba for vacation this summer (and hope it is true), welcome to the Western Conference BITCH!  :)

Last thing, check out my travel blog, The Travelling Historian. I'll be posting about my travels and giving tips. Plus I will post as we lead up to the Sochi Olympics.  I've been to Europe five or six times and am planning another trip for this upcoming February 2014 to Moscow, the Sochi Olympics and Prague.  I have been to the last two Olympics in London and Vancouver so I am ready to cheer on my Canadians one more time.

In particular, I am hoping to see both hockey teams win again. I was lucky enough to have tickets to both events in Vancouver and hey, I have tickets to both events again in Sochi. Women's and men's hockey, let's go!!!!!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Out of the Darkness

Do you ever wish that you were still in the dark?  I made that comment recently on twitter regarding the Oilers. It was partly in jest but I almost meant it. Sometimes I wish I did not know all that I know.

I know so much more than I did when I was a teenager living in southern Manitoba watching the Oilers on CBC, if they happened to show them. That was rare. In those days, there was one game on Saturday night and it almost never included the Edmonton Oilers. We all know who they showed; the god damn Toronto Maples Leafs. I lived in Manitoba but they would show the damn Leafs while people in Saskatchewan and West would get the Oilers game. It was frustrating to us Oiler fans in Manitoba. I remember writing letters to the CBC bitching about this and asking them to show my team more often. Then came the double header, I think in the 1990s. Finally, the Oilers were on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada regularly.

I remember a time when anything I knew about my Edmonton Oilers came from either the CBC Hockey Night in Canada people or from the local newspapers in Manitoba and later in Alberta where I moved. This was and is still considered the MSM (mainstream media). Bloggers did not exist. Fancy stats did not exist. The internet was in its infancy. We have come a long way in a short time. The amount of information available is incredible. Anytime we want to know something, let's google it and you will have it within seconds.

When did everything change? For me it was after I moved to Alberta in 2003. I was now in a hockey city again. The Jets had been gone from Winnipeg for around seven years and it just was not the same living in Manitoba without a hockey team (sorry minor hockey does not count)!  I came here for graduate school, picking Edmonton over Toronto, a decision I would still make today, but I was more excited about being able to go to Oiler games on a regular basis more than anything.

My first year in Edmonton: I went to Grant Fuhr's jersey retirement ceremony and then the Heritage Classic. It was the first time I had seen Gretzky play in person and I was excited. I was actually more excited for Messier as he was my favorite hockey player. I had seen him play for the Rangers in Winnipeg, the last Jets game I have been to, but was glad to finally see him in Oiler colors!

By 2004, I think this is when I started my blog. Not this one on blogger, I had one on MSN. It is now long gone. When I made the switch to blogger in 2006 maybe, I never went back to msn until it was too late and never saved my old blogs before they switched over to wordpress. I wish I had just to save one post where I called the 2006 Edmonton Oilers serious Stanley Cup contenders IF they found a decent goalie.

The Oilogosphere was born around this time. Dozens upon dozens of Oiler blogs popped up around this time. I will not name them all but there were some great ones. Some are now defunct, possibly due to seven years of mediocrity, but many continue. These blogs were fun and informative. Some blogs were super into stats, particularly new stats or expanding on current stats. No longer were you looking only for goals, assists, penalty minutes and plus/minus. Now there is the Corsi, zone starts, goals and points over 60 minutes and per game averages, quality of linemates and opposition, and scoring chances. 

So when the Oilers make a bad trade or signing, I know.  Or at least, I have access to more information to know that it is probably not a good trade. One example: when the Oilers traded Tom Gilbert for Nick Schultz, I know it is a horrible trade. In the preblog world, I would hear how tough and big he is, how gritty and physical he is from the media and not know that it was not entirely accurate. I would not know that trading a two-way puck-moving defenseman who is more physical than the stay-at-home tough guy was a bad trade.

I love that we have access to information. I wish more hockey fans would read these blogs and educate themselves. Do not listen to the MSM or radio people who work for the team. Read up, check the other stats and find out for yourself that adding more fourth line plugs maybe is not a good idea.  I know now that the Oilers management are completely incompetent, from Kevin Lowe to Steve Tambellini. I used to be a Lowe defender, saying he had no money to manage this team during the dark years and did the best with what he had.

After the first lockout, Lowe had a great run and made some fantastic trades which helped the team get to game seven on the Finals. What has he done since 2006? Whether it is him or Tambo making the trades (does Lowe have final approval? Who makes the decision? Is it by committee?), there is a LONG list of horrible trades and signings. From giving four years to Khabibulin or trading Visnovsky for Whitney who already had foot problems or trading Grebeshkov for a second rounder (then lamenting they did not have any puck movers any more), the GM's has mismanaged this team. Let's not even talk about the second Pronger trade which was absolute crap (funny enough former AGM Howson who has returned as a scout recently touted that trade, saying how you have to wait 4-5 years. What year are we in Scott? Yes year seven of no playoffs).

I know this. Complete mismanagement. Seven years of absolute crap. Outside the first overall pick (which were easy choices), the Oilers have botched almost everything else from the rest of the draft, pro-scouting, trades and signings. I sit here fearful that the Oilers will trade Smid for Jack Johnson or Hemsky for more dregs or prospects. If you want size and toughness, great, but do not forget to get skill WITH it. Enough with the plugs that are tough (Eager and Hordichuk who thankfully have been waived but both deals failing were foreseeable to everyone else but management); Oilers needs skill.

I have rambled enough and it is dark outside but not inside. Those days are long gone. Most days I am glad I know what I know.  :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Oilers Hockey is Back


We are a few hours away from the return of Oilers hockey. I admit that I am excited and as the NHL expected, the fans have returned. Have we returned completely? Probably more so than not. I did vow that I would buy less merchandise and beer; so far I have held up that promise. Although I am already regretting my 'less beer' stance.

This shortened season will be interesting. 48 games with many players not playing for months. The Oilers do not have this problem as many have been playing either in the AHL or in Europe. They should have a head start to the season over quite a few other teams.  Will the success in the AHL and Europe translate to the NHL? I imagine some of it will and there will be struggles as well.  Aside from an appearance in the Spengler Cup, Dubnyk did not play during the lockout. This is his moment to seize as he starts as the Oilers' number one goalie. He played well during the second part of last season and if he can continue, the Oilers will have a chance for some playoff hockey.

The forwards are the most game ready with Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov, Hemsky and Gagner all playing during the lockout and playing extremely well.  This is your Oilers top two lines and they are expected to light teams up this year. Last year, the team scored fewer goals than the previous season so the team must take a step forward and not back. They won more games last year but still finished near the bottom (29th if you do not remember). They had the fortunate luck of winning the draft lottery and picking the exciting Nail Yakupov who had a very good stretch in the KHL but underperformed at the World Junior's.  The OKC boys lit it up down in the AHL and Nugent-Hopkins continued his dominance at the World Juniors but that was not enough to medal.  Hemsky and Gagner played in Europe and while both did very well, Hemsky in particular showed he was back to his dangling self.  With two healthy shoulders, this should be Hemsky's year and if practice has showed anything, he has developed chemistry with Gagner and Yakupov and he may finally have a finisher on his line in Yakupov at the same time as being healthy.

The defense....what to say about it? With a hopefully healthy Whitney and the signing of Justin Schultz, they should be able to put up the points particularly on the powerplay. The BIG question is can they stop the bleeding in their own end?  The Oilers defense is their weakness and it has been for some time.  The other Schultz and Smid should help but this team does lack a bit of depth even with the addition of Fistric. With the offensive-minded forwards, the defense will need to step up if the Oilers wish to see hockey in May.

To predict where the Oilers will finish this year is difficult.  They finished 29th last year and added a Schultz, a Yakupov and a Fistric. Is that enough to jump from 14th in their conference into at least 8th place? That seems like a daunting task since the Oilers need to improve in almost every single area. The only great stat from last year is the powerplay where they finished 3rd and they will need to maintain that to have a chance. Their PK was an improvement last year but they'll need to take less penalties and improve the killing to top ten at least.  Oilers were a very penalized team last year so they must cut down on the number of penalties while improving the pk.

The other change has been behind the bench. Can Ralph Krueger take over from Tom Renney and lead this team into the playoffs?  One hopes so.

I think the Oilers are the hardest team to predict. From finishing 29th last year to having so many players kicking butt during the lockout, to having an iffy defense and unproven goalie, this is a hard one to see.  Many see the Oilers finishing 13th in the conference (so said the TSN dudes). I think they will finish more than one spot higher than last year but that defense will probably be their downfall.  I'll predict 9th place but they really do have an outside chance at making the playoffs.  The forwards look great!!!!  Let's hope they score like we are expecting they will (as we thought they would last year).  I am hoping for some playoff hockey. It has been TOO long in Oil Country!

I'm off to the pub tonight to watch with some friends but cannot wait for our home opener on Tuesday.  I will buy only one beer. I will buy only one beer. Maybe.

GOILERS!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Freddy's Back!!

Ralph Krueger (not Freddy) is the Oilers new head coach.  Do I like the call?  Not really.  Do I hate it?  No.  I'm more meh on the whole situation.  First the Oilers let Renney hang out to dry for a month before they fired him.  Second, it took the Oilers a month and a half to hire Krueger.  Normally that would not be a problem but when you promote someone from within your own organization, you would assume it would not take months to accomplish.  Third, Krueger comes with no NHL head coaching experience.  While that is not a prerequisite for a successful NHL coach, I thought it might be the way to go.  Or go after one of those AHL rising stars. 
The Oilers are pimping Krueger's successful stint as the head coach of Team Swiss and in particular, ONE victory over Canada in 2006.  Sure that was an upset but should not be the reason you hire him.  You can say he took a not very talented Swiss team and made them into a quasi-hard team to play against.  It was all defense.  Krueger states he won't coach the Oilers the same way he did with the Swiss because the Oilers have better skilled players.  That is a positive. 

Oilers are pimping his role in the improvement in the Oilers powerplay.  I believe he probably played a role in that but do you not think maybe it was more to do with personnel (such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in particular) than with the coaching? 

Oilers are pimping his motivational skills.  I have no idea if this is accurate or not.  If it is, then he never said anything to anyone last year in terms of team motivation (not including his possible role in improving the powerplay).  Apparently he wrote a successful book in Germany.  Okay?

TSN's Dreger says the young Oilers really like him.  Also he claims to make everyone accountable for their actions.  If true, that is another positive.

I do not believe the Oilers 29th place finish last year is all on Tom Renney.  The Oilers did NOT provide enough NHL players for him.  Did he make mistakes?  Of course (hello Belanger on the powerplay point) but he was not the sole reason for 29th.  He improved the young players immensely.  He did not seem to have much affect on the veterans so maybe Krueger can light a fire under them. 

If Krueger does improve this team, it will not be his victory only.  It will be partly due to Renney, improvement of the young players and partly due to Tambellini giving him better supporting players this year.  Tambellini MUST sign better free agents.  The first test if Justin Schultz.  Can the Oilers with Krueger tempt him to sign here?  Does hiring Krueger help the Oilers case to free agents?  That is a big question and one I'm not sure of yet.

I'm still meh on this hiring but hope to be proved wrong. 

GOILERS

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Renney goners!

I've been a bad blogger.  I'm going to try to post a little more often.  Today a quickie:  Tom Renney is fired and speaks to the media.  Part of me is fine with firing Renney as I didn't love everything he did with the team.  This includes playing certain players a bit too much (Belanger on the powerplay, Khabibulin in the net too much in the first half and scratching Omark almost every game near the end of the season).  However, on the other hand, he did seem to get quite a bit out of the kids.  Hall and Eberle developed nicely this year with Eberle flirting in the top ten of scoring for a chunk of the year.  He brought Nugent-Hopkins along slowly even though the media and fans were screaming for more ice team, he took his time.  He limited his defensive zone starts and ice time until he was ready to handle more later in the season.  He relied on Horcoff and Smyth for the tough minutes and played them against the best opposition since the kids were not ready.

One thing I despise about the whole process was it took Tambellini over a month to drop the hammer.  Everyone knew he was getting the boot but Tambellini wanted Renney to relax, draw up a plan and come back later to discuss it.  Renney was very classy in his presser and took the high road.  The Oilers need to improve their reputation.

Next up, NHL draft in a month where the Oilers have the first overall pick again.  Please let this be the last time.  All the experts are saying Nail Yakupov is the man to take so therefore the Oilers should take him.  Trading down to take a defenseman would be a stupid move.  Defensemen take forever to develop and the Oilers should be able to find decent options via trade or free agency (hopefully Tambellini/Lowe sign better ones this off-season). 

I'm thinking about doing a podcast with a friend this fall....will let you know if it goes ahead.  I'm thinking it would be fun to discuss the Oilers....we do it all the time anyway so might as well tape it!

Go Oilers

Monday, February 20, 2012

Getting ready to say good-bye

I do not remember when I first saw Ales Hemsky play for the Edmonton Oilers.  I do not remember when I became a fan.  I do not remember when he became my favorite Oilers hockey player.  I do remember more magical moments than I can count when Ales Hemsky was on the ice.

I remember game six verses Detroit in 2006 where he won the game with two spectacular tallies which clinched the series, the Oilers first in many years.  I remember that last second goal against Dallas when they missed the open net.  I remember Hemsky going to the tough areas every night and getting crushed from Regehr, Phaneuf, Kronwall, and so on.  I was in the arena on all of those nights and it was electrifying.  It STILL is.

My first year in Edmonton was 2003 and I became a season ticket holder in 2005 just in time for that magnificent run.  Hemsky has been the only player that made me jump out of my seat on a regular basis.  Could he have scored more goals?  Yes.  Could he have shot the puck more?  Absolutely.  However, you really need to appreciate him for who he is and he is a helluva play-maker.

If only he had anyone to pass to for the past decade.  Hemsky has not played with very good players during his Oilers tenure until this year.  He had almost a decade of linemates ranging from Horcoff to Smyth to Jacques to Pederson.  Personally I like and respect both Horcoff and Smyth as players but they have no business on a line with Ales.

Even with lesser teammates, Hemsky put up very good numbers.  Since the lockout, he is a 0.92 point per game player.  That ranks 29th of all players.  He is ahead of Rick Nash who sits at 0.89.  Nash has only one +70 point season while Hemsky has two.  Nash gets the edge on games played 438 to 360.  I'm comparing him to Nash simply because both are on the block right now and could be traded at the deadline next week.  They are both wingers but are quite different in playing styles.  Hemsky is a free agent this summer while Nash is locked in until 2018.  Hemsky's cap hit is $4.1m while Nash is $7.8m.  Hemsky is 28 years old while Nash is 27.

Rumors have Hemsky asking for a longer term deal (5 years) at roughly $5.5m.  Hemsky is making $5m this year while his cap hit is $4.1.  So do you consider the asking price to be high?  The amount is reasonable but term may be a bit high if the Oilers are hesitant due to injuries.   Has Hemsky been looked over by the doctors?  Are the shoulders completely healed?  Have you even looked into this???

Hemsky has been quite consistent over his decade-long Oilers career.  This is his FIRST major slump of his entire career but is coming off back-to-back shoulder surgeries.  It has taken him longer than expected to get comfortable again but considering this is his first major slump of his career, he still is putting up 0.56 points per game.  He is not on the first unit powerplay anymore, has not played a lot of minutes with Eberle or Nugent-Hopkins (Horcoff the most), is coming off shoulder surgery, is possibly a bit irritated the kids are getting all the attention (not sure I'm completely sold on that, Hemsky has never been a fame whore), playing the tough minutes and the toughest opposition so the kids can be sheltered....and all of this without a contract offer thus far after a decade of service.

The writing is on the wall.  Listen to most media and television commentators and they all seem to be promoting the party line:  Hemsky is lazy, injury-prone, does not care, is the first off ice in practice and is inconsistent.  When the folks at TSN start running him down, you know he is not long for this Oilers' world.

I think what irritates me the most is that the media cannot think for themselves.  You can disapprove of Hemsky due to the risk on injury but to call him lazy or inconsistent is blatantly untrue.  Until this year, Hemsky has been extremely consistent. Could he be more?  Most Oilers fans believe yes and that includes myself.  He has some mad skills and if he shot the puck more, his numbers would be even better.  But you have to accept the player you have (yes keep coaching him but accept this is, at the minimum, what you are getting). 

I want the Oilers to do their due diligence on this but considering that they had NOT had any contract talks until the last few weeks, I am not confident on that.  In fact, it took some media asking Hemsky point blank if there had been any talks and his reply was none to get the ball rolling.  The Oilers response was that they were talking to his agent about what he was looking for.  Make a god damn contract offer, don't "ASSESS" the situation to death.

This is why I believe the Oilers do not want Hemsky.  No contract offers have been made (as far as I've heard), it's a week until the trade deadline and the Oilers response to Hemsky via their media shills make it fairly evident.  Just do your job, find out if he will take a two or three year deal.  Make some actual contract offers and stop discussing things with his agent.  Give his agent a deal he can take to Hemsky so he can make a choice.  If he truly wants the moon, then it is goodbye to the most exciting Oilers' player of the past twenty years.  Just make sure he will not take a contract with less term.

Another reason why the Oilers do not want Hemsky?  Their eyes are filled with highlight reel goals from the kids.  The kids are being pimped on a daily basis and are promoted as the only future of the Oilers.  They will take the Oilers to the promise land.  They don't need Hemsky to play the tough minutes even though they are getting destroyed with the soft opposition they face already.  The Oilers must feel they do not need any secondary scoring.  The kids are the future.  That is all.  Nothing to see here folks.

The Oilers finished dead last two years in a row and will certainly finish in the bottom three this year.  Getting rid of NHL players is not what this team needs.  There is no one on the Oilers that will replace his points so you will have to get it by trade or free agency where you will overpay.  The Oilers under Tambellini have been HORRIBLE in pro-scouting and the majority of their free agent signings have been completely underwhelming (we're looking at you Sutton, Barker, Belanger, Hordichuk, Eager, Khabibulin just to name a few).  So if you think Hemsky is replaced by someone better during free agency:  either it will not happen because of management incompetence or if it does, it will be a giant overpay.

The Oilers have already resigned Potter and Sutton for next year.  Yes let's resign our current defensemen first before you get to the forward who has been on the team for a decade.  Yes the defense does not need an upgrade.  No need to overpay...oh wait they did for Sutton.

My eyes will be on Hemsky this last week and only Hemsky.  If the Oilers move him (I should say when), I hope he goes to a real contender and hope he returns to Edmonton this season and lights it up.  I NEVER cheer for players once they leave Edmonton (exceptions were Messier and Fuhr) but I will continue to show Hemsky the mad love and respect he deserves and hope he lights up the Oilers every single time.

The Prince of Pardubice has one more week in Oil Country.....just enjoy the show while you can.

Update:  Tencer (via Stauffer) tweeted that Hemsky is now open to a 2-3 year deal.  If that is the case, the Oilers cannot let Hemsky walk.  Hemsky is leaving money and years on the table.  He would easily get a 5 year deal this summer so this says to me he WANTS to be here.  This extension MUST happen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Return of Oilers Hockey

We are all excited that the 2011-12 season is almost under way.  Even Mark is excited.  Although I am not sure exactly how excited he is....as small as that towel is, it covers just enough (too bad)!

Training camp is under way and the first preseason game was last night in Edmonton and Saskatoon.  Split squads played the Hawks in Saskatoon and the Wild in Edmonton.  Toonville saw the Nuge, Smyth and Eberle while Edmonton was treated to the Swedish line and Hall.  I was at the Edmonton game so I cannot say how well the other split squad played but they nevertheless won the game 4-2.  By all accounts, Dubnyk played quite well.

At least one of our goalies had a good game last night because it was a dreadful 30 minutes of action for the one and only, Mr. Nikolai Khabibulin.  Three goals on seven shots in the first period.  We can give him a pass on the first goal that deflected off one of the defenders (Marincin I believe) but the other two were ugly.

Some quick thoughts from the game:
  • Musil and Marincin struggled along with most of the defense.  Try-out kid Tupulov had some shaky moments but you can see there is talent there but wow is it raw.   I would like to see the Oilers sign him to Oklahoma and see if they can work out the rawness.
  • Taylor Hall picked up where he left off last season.  He had several first rate chances and easily could have scored a hatty.  Bad penalty late in the game led to the winning goal by the Wild.  D'oh!!
  • The Swedish meatballs line played very good together.  Lander, Paajarvi and Omark obviously have chemistry and it'll be interesting to see if they play on a line together.
  • Will Lander make the team?  With that game, yes.  However, it is more dependent on whether Nugent-Hopkins makes the team out of training camp and stays up.  Lander will at the very least be one of the first call-ups and should play half the year with the Oilers.
  • Hordichuk?  I thought he knew how to fight.
  • Belanger can win faceoffs, except the one that led to the winning goal (oopsie)!
It's only one preseason game but you can see where the strengths and weaknesses of this team lie; weak defense and goaltending but getting stronger up front.  Hopefully Edmonton gets to see the Nuge at the next preseason game along with a few more of the regulars.

Go Oilers!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Return of a Team I Never Cheered For!

This picture is from April 4, 1990, game one of the divisional semifinals between the glorious Edmonton Oilers and the perennial loser Winnipeg Jets.  Winnipeg would win this game 7-5 and end up taking a commanding 3 games to 1 lead in the series.  However, Edmonton would not go down without a fight and they came back to win the next three games and win the series in seven games.  This is the last time the two teams met in the NHL playoffs and I was there for games three, four and six in Winnipeg. 

Two car loads of family drove from Minnedosa to Winnipeg with our CBC sign (Crazy Boyd Clan + Bruce), a two hour journey to watch hockey.  With my dad, brother, uncle, and cousins all cheering for Winnipeg, I was the lone Oiler fan and in my opinion, the voice of reason.  I refused to dress in white, would not participate in the charge of the white brigade but happily accepted my white pompoms and cheered mightily for my Oilers.  As my cousin recently told me last month, I was the annoying Oiler fan on the trip and irritated him immensely during these games.  Mission accomplished.

Winnipeg won games three and four, with one going into overtime.  I was devastated but my boys refused to die, winning game five and coming back to Winnipeg for game six and seven.  I was elated and very annoying to my Jets crew.  I took pride in how many people I could annoy.  I went to many Oilers games in Winnipeg and was sad when the Jets left town in 1996. 

Fast forward a few years and I'm living in Winnipeg getting my Master of Arts in history.  The Jets left several years before in 1996 and the only hockey I got was the occasional pre-season game (usually the Oilers) and a trip to Edmonton in 2000 for some playoff hockey.  Yes my Oilers lost again to Dallas but it was a close game.

I finally moved to Edmonton in 2003 and during the first year, I was lucky to gets tickets for Grant Fuhr's retirement (front row baby), the Heritage Classic (finally seeing Gretzky in an Oilers uniform) and several years later, I was able to buy season tickets just in time for their run to the Stanley Cup final. 

Fast forward six years, the Oilers are in a rebuild and hockey has returned to Winnipeg.  While I can never abandon my Oilers, I think I can cheer for Winnipeg as my second team.  In any case, I'm escatic that hockey has returned to my home province.  I go home two to three times a year so I am thrilled my family will be able to hit up hockey games once again.  I am debating about being there for Winnipeg's home opener and have told my family I will actually cheer for them (unless they play my Oilers).  It will bring back a lot of good memories.

One final thought, let's hope they are named the Jets.  I know it is not the same team returning and continuity will take a hit but Ottawa got their Senators name back (yes a longer break between teams) so why not the Jets?  People will still buy the merchandise even though they have Jets stuff.  But most importantly, a majority of the fans in Manitoba want the Jets so if you want them to ante up for tickets, you'd better keep a bit happy.  Also, I have not liked any of the other possibilities floating around:  Falcons, Polar Bears, Moose.  They do not work.

Welcome back to Winnipeg!  Hockey rules!!
There was an error in this gadget
There was an error in this gadget