Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Monday, November 27, 2006

Five Months in the Making

The devil returns to Edmonton tomorrow night. I was going to review all the articles and media coverage concerning Pronger's return to Edmonton, but I've been beaten to the punch. Thanks Andy! Check out the long long list of articles that he mentions (Edmonton Journal, another Edm Journal story, Edmonton Sun, TSN, Sportsnet, Globe and Mail, and so on). I'm going to comment on a select few.

The media is really stoking this fire, and yet are asking for the fans to restrain themselves. Yeah I'm sure you want that. If we did, you'd have nothing to write about. So the media tells us to be respectful, restrain ourselves and don't get carried away. Umm, stop throwing wood on the fire. By admonishing the fans, you're making them angrier. You can't tell us how to feel.

The general consensus in most of these articles is: booing Pronger is the equivalent of being a schoolyard bully. Seriously? Oh and it's immature. I pay my season ticket (it ain't cheap) and if I want to boo some whiny cheating bastard who didn't have the balls to stand up and be a man about this whole fiasco, it's my bloody business.

In today's NHL, players change teams all the time, but this was more painful than all others combined. It was days following losing game seven, his agent leaked the info to the media before contacting the Oilers, Pronger was off in Mexico, refused to comment for weeks, and when he did, it was via a conference call where he refused to answer why he wanted out. Oh yes, and this happened following the signing of a five year deal. Oiler fans finally could attract the big names, and be able to afford to keep them. Years of losing players because of money was over. Pronger stated, I woudln't

I take issue with one man in particular, Kelly Hrudey. Now, I used to absolutely hate him and that damn rag he wore on his head when he played. However, he became an excellent commentator on HNIC. Actually, he became one of my favorites. No longer is that the case. Kelly has waded in on the Pronger issue and comes off sounding like an ass. The excellent Battle of Alberta has commented on this already, so check it out. The most hilarious part is his attack on the blogging community, which something he readily admits that he knows nothing about. Yeah Kelly, way to state that expert opinion, which you admit is baseless.

I did enjoy Kevin Lowe's comments. Basically, trading Pronger is going to be an advantage. Without trading him, there would be little money for the Hemsky's and Smyth's on this team. He makes an excellent point. He freed up a lot of money by trading the devil, and sure, they lost some skill on the back end but by keeping the young core of this team, he's giving this team a real chance.

There's a bit of Kevin Lowe that wants to boo, too.
"I can understand how people feel duped,'' he said. "They warm up to a player quickly. The player has a hell of a year. The team has a great year ...''
The Oilers appear to be taking the high road as Pronger arrives today, but Lowe said that's not because of any team policy.
"I'm not afraid to bad-mouth Chris Pronger,'' said the GM.
"And I'll tell you I still don't understand it.

Well said Kevin. It's still shocking.

I'm very disappointed with all the media coverage. Most of it is supportive of Pronger and his decision to demand a trade. They want to feel morally superior to the average fan, and ask us to take the high road. Puhleeeze. Stay on your knees boys, I'm sure Pronger appreciates what you're doing down there and won't clam up on you (or zip up). It's all for the interview. You can't bash a "superstar" and live to talk to him.

The game will be on pay-per-view, brilliant move by the Oilers. They should rake the money in from this game. Oilers must win. MUST.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

November 22, 2003

Three years ago today, I was lucky enough to experience the greatest hockey game in history. It was the Heritage Classic Outdoor hockey game in Edmonton, where the Edmonton Oilers played some other team. It was truly a remarkable day.

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It was also a typical November day in Canada.....freezing!!! Brrrrrr!!!!! It was -25 Celcius and being outside for eight hours, yes yes yes it was cold. However, it was worth it! We even had a streaker. Yup, a streaker in -25 degrees Celcius weather.

The Legends game saw the return of the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, finally back in an Oilers uniform, plus Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Grant Fuhr, and the greatest player ever, Mark Messier!!

I grew up in Manitoba and saw the Oilers as often as I could in Winnipeg. Unfortunately, I never got to see Gretzky play until November 22, 2003. Plus to see Messier and Fuhr, my two favorite players, back in Oiler blue was fantastic.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Lock Him Up!

Steve Staois has signed a 4 year contract extension worth $10.9 million. He gets paid $2.9 million for each of the first two years of the extension, $2.8 million in year three and $2.2 in the fourth year. Overall, it's a 2.725 hit to the salary cap. This is about what I expected Stevie to sign for. Personally, I was hoping for something closer to $2.5/yr for 3 years. Especially considering he is getting long in the tooth. He's 33.

Next up, the Magical Mullet. Get that boy signed....asap!!!

Speaking of the mullet, Colorado's John-Michael Liles was FINALLY fined by the NHL on his dirty knee hit. Basically it's pocket change and another example of how teams in the West are treated. If that hit had occured to a player from the East, a suspension would have been handed out.

UPDATE: Oilers beat the Flames 2-1. Boring game to be completely honest. I almost fell asleep in Rexall tonight several times. Ok, that might be some slight exaggeration but seriously, both teams were not very exciting. It also wasn't until middle of the second period that I realized, hey Iginla plays for Calgary. He was invisible tonight. Sykora, one of our two favorite Czechs scored twice, nice. Otherwise, Zzzzzzzz. Oilers, get it together. More giveaways as usual.....poor communication led to Calgary's goal. Roli was a god again. We might as well just deify him now.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Tale of Two Teams

I just got back from Rexall Place, and an Oilers victory 4-3 in the shootout.

The man with the world's ugliest goatee is out of MacT's house, for now. Raffi played a decent game, a goal in regulation and the winning goal in the shootout. I'd like to see a more physical game from Torres, but he's very hestitant to hit. We all know he can punish the opposition with his hard hits, but is such a streaky player. I think the Oilers should create a position within the organization: their job would be to poke the bear, get in Raffi's face on game day. He needs to get that edge and be angry to play aggressively.

Other musings on this game:

- Another disjointed effort. Horrible second period, with only three shots on net. But it wasn't just that, the Wings pinned the Oilers in their end for most of the period.

- Too many giveaways. I wouldn't be surprised if there was at least 20 turnovers in tonight's game.

-Bergeron took another step back on his even strength play. I wish they'd stop putting him and Greene together. They do not compliment each other, unless you count their endless giveaways. BOTH were guilty tonight on many occassions, along with more players than I can name

- There must have over a dozen occassions that Oilers were thrown out of the faceoff circle, with Stoll taking half of them. This is not new to tonight's game. I've noticed this so far this season, especially Stoll getting thrown out ALL the time. I'm perplexed as to the reason.

- Roli is a god. If you disagree, check this out and eat your words.

- The Oilers have abandoned their physical play apparently. It wasn't until the middle of the second period until the first big hit (by Jason Smith).

- Goals/Points from Lupul, Horcoff and Torres tonight (and Thursday against St. Louis): slumps over?? Not quite yet, but we'll know once the homestand is over.

- Detroit is a dirty team that gets the benefit of the doubt. Non-calls led to two of Detroit's goals yet the refs don't hestitate to raise their hand on Edmonton. Come on, just call it fair.

- It must have taken over 15 mins to review Detroit's first goal. Now, what the hell took so long? My feeling is that if it takes that long to review a goal, then it can't be conclusively called a goal. I just got home and saw the replays, but it doesn't look definitive to me. Imagine that, a call going Detroit's way. Hmmm.

- Oilers almost blow the game, letting Detroit tie up the game with 3 seconds left in the game. But win it in the shootout (which I hate, hate, hate. Please get rid of it).

- And lastly, the best sign of the night: "Retire Already Chelios." Yes, not clever but a great message.

So overall, a decent win for the Oil. They need to stop snoozing in the second periods. It's become a bad habit. Just say no. Say no to a nap! This team has a multiple personality disorder. One moment they a hard and fast-skating team, playing physical and creating chances. Other moments, they can't skate, don't forecheck and are sloppy in their own end.

Oh, on a completely non-Oiler related note, the Senators beat Buffalo for the second time this week. Is this team finally turning it around? I hope so.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Magical Mullet

How long will the Edmonton Oilers and their fans be able to see Ryan Smyth in an Oiler jersey? He will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. Will he resign with the Oil ??

After watching that dirty hit on Smyth by the Avs' Liles, and possibly losing Smitty to a season-ending inury, it just makes you appreciate him even more. I think we all gave a collective sigh of relief when we heard it was a charley horse. Right now, Smitty (along with Roli the goalie) is the best Oiler. This team can't afford to lose him right now, or ever!!

Will he stay?

According to the Edmonton Journal, Smitty turned down a 3 year, $12 million offer at the start of the season. He's making $3.5 million right now, so obviously a raise is in order. Especially since he had 36 goals last year and is on pace for maybe 40 this year. He's playing the best hockey of his career (don't players always seem to do that the year their contract is up, hmmm interesting. Not in Smitty's case, he also played great last year). So you're probably looking at $4.5-5 million/yr to keep him, right?

The Journal also said:
There is a perception out there that Smyth would take less money to keep playing in Edmonton and Meehan said it would be Smyth's preference to finish his career as an Oiler.

I would love that to be true. Do we think it is? He has already turned down $4 million/yr. Is he looking for more money (all players do), or is it the length of the contract (wants a 4-5 yr deal?)?

Do we give him whatever he wants? Is he worth $5 million/5 years? I would say yes. With idiots like Tanguay making over $5 million a year, the bar has been raised (way to go Calgary, you bunch on inbred hicks). By the way, he has only 3 goals thus far. Good pickup Calgary!

So Kevin Lowe, give that man whatever he wants (obviously try to get him for as low a price as you can).....the magical mullet must remain in Edmonton!!!!

Monday, November 13, 2006

I want blood

Good news: Oilers beat Colorado tonight.

Bad news: Knee-on-knee on Smitty by John Michael Liles of the Avs. DIRTY!!! It was intentional and he should be suspended. And who gives a fuck if he's not typically a dirty player. That means nothing. It was a dirty play, and the league needs to take a look at the play all by itself.

Smitty had trouble getting off the ice, couldn't put weight on his left knee so it looks very serious. He had two goals tonight, a powerplay goal and a shorthanded (the Oilers first this season). He's having another excellent season, so this would be horrible if he's out due to injury.

So it just makes you think: what else could possibly happen to the Oil? I have a bad feeling about Smitty. The Oil have no luck lately, so Smitty is probably out for the season. I really hope not. They need him so much. Roli and Smitty are the two best players on this team right now.

(okay Sportsnet just said Smitty has a charley horse in the left knee, so that's good news. Whew, I was really nervous. Did the Oilers luck just change? They might actually have some good luck finally coming their way)

UPDATE: Liles will not be suspended, according to TSN. Is this because Smitty is not hurt badly? The resulting injury should not be taken into account with regards to a suspension. Punish the action not the result. NHL, another mistake on your part.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Rock Bottom

So Roli sat out today's game and Jussi played. All I can say, I miss Roli.

Jussi was horrible. Bad goals. Period.

Torres, where are you? And why do you stop skating in the neutral zone? No wonder the Oilers can rarely gain the zone when Torres (and yes, numerous others) stop skating in the neutral zone. You boys are fast, one of the fastest skating teams in the league. Get skating!!!!

I abandoned my "Greene Experiment" sometime in the first period. He was rarely on the ice and I couldn't be bothered to keep an eye out for him. He barely played much time in the third period too. Have the Oilers finally realized this kid needs less ice time to be effective? Also, Bergeron sat out again. I'm assuming he's a healthy scratch again. Hedja got the start again, and I don't notice him much so that's probably good news.

So the boys lost to St. Louis.......bottom of the barrel. Good news: there is no other way to go but UP!

So how do they get out this slump? When Winchester is your best player, you know things are not good. He's been the best player on this road trip (along with Smitty). What the hell is wrong with everyone else???

I don't even want to watch the game tomorrow night, but with Roli back in net, they will stand a better chance than they did today. It's very disheartening to watch this team right now.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hell Hath Frozen Over? Maybe...

I can't believe I'm about to say something nice about Calgary.....okay here goes nothing.

Calgary, you guys don't completely suck.

Whew, that was hard to do. I almost feel dirty uttering those words. My hate for Calgary is only eclipsed by my hate for Chris Pronger. I never thought I could hate anyone or thing more than the Calgary Flames but yes I do. So obviously hell has frozen over since I can now say one nice thing about Calgary.

Pronger, who was booed by the (Calgary) fans every time he touched the puck, had his point-scoring streak brought to an end at six games.

So it was nice to see the Oilers finally win last night. I had forgotten what it felt like to watch the Oilers play good. Please don't make me forget again!!!

Smitty and Roli are the two best players on the team right now. Lowe, forget about getting Staios resigned right now. You should be devoting all your time to Ryan Smyth! Get him signed first, then move on to the secondary players. Smitty is your core.

Bergeron sat out last night. I'm not a fan of that. Bergeron already has confidence issues, and this will not help. I thought he has played pretty good of late. He has been carrying the puck more, taking more shots (hello, you have a monster shot, use it) and really stepping up defensively.

One thing I am perplexed about.....Matt Greene. The Oilers love this kid. I am completely in the dark as to why. Do the Oilers like his giveaways, defensive breakdowns, or getting beat wide per shift?

So the next game up for the Oilers is St. Louis. I'm going to do a mini-experiment. I'm going to watch Matt Greene, and document every time he gives the puck away, gets beat wide, is out of position, etc. I will also document the positives: hits, checks, good positioning, and so on. I think St. Louis is a good team to do my experiment with, cause they suck big time. So a team that is as bad as that, the Oilers should have an easy time. Therefore, Greene "should" have an easy time. I believe Greene will have more negatives than positives

Oilers will win on Sunday vs. St. Louis 5-2. Sykora and Hemsky get two each, with Horcoff getting out of his drought for the final goal.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Magoo is at it again!

Snagged this video from HERE. Thanks!

Is there a worse call in the history of hockey?? I don't know, but damn, that was horrible. Magoo is behind the net, yet has x-ray vision. He sees through five people. Don't you think if it really was a hand pass, the other ref or linesmen would have seen it?

Oh yes, Magoo was apologetic following the game. But too late!!

It was a blown call on my part," he said after the game. "It was poor judgment on my part. I thought he had his hand on the puck on the face-off but it was his stick. My judgment was poor on the play.

And to put icing on the cake, MacT gets fined $10,000 for his comments following the game.

"It was a retarded call," Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish snapped. "There is no other explanation for it. I know he is a veteran official and at times I have found his antics humorous. But if this is the product of that there is a problem.

"It was a ridiculous call. I had no idea what he had called. Nobody saw the hand pass on the play because quite clearly there wasn't one. It's beyond reason.

"He should be suspended.

Okay, so a disallowed goal and a goal by Dallas that should not have been allowed (poor Roli was interferred by baby Lindros). A tough game for the Oilers. Sure, they didn't play great but also not bad. They had a bad first period, but dominated the second and came out hard in the second half of the third.

Did they deserve to win? Who gives a fuck!! It's not about deserving to win or lose. It's about battling hard, coming back and putting yourself into a position to win. The Oilers did that. That's Oilers hockey. They battled hard, got back into the game and tied it up.

One question: why is Magoo always our ref? He seems to ref A LOT of our games. My guess is each ref is given a certain division or conference to ref. Is that accurate??

Magoo needs to be fined at the minimum. I think a suspension is due. His punishment needs to be public. I'm tired of the refs being reprimanded behind closed doors. No more!

A public hanging is all I'm asking. Is that too much to ask???

Now what should be done with the NHL's officiating problem? There is a problem. I've heard talk about following what the NFL does, where the officials work together. Maybe we can have a bit more of that. Or bring in challenges. A coach can challenge a particular call, one that is not "reviewable" such as face-offs. Obviously, put a limit to the number of challenges but I don't see why this would not work? Sure, refs make mistakes but the rules are set up in a way that if a mistake is made (that is not goal-related), they can't review it. This needs to change.

Refs need to be make more accountable for their actions. Too much is dealt with behind closed doors. No more. I think if you make such a blatant mistake as Magoo did, there needs to be repercussions. I mean, you have a ref, who has a very well-known reputation of phantom calls. He's in the corner, behind the net, there is ten seconds left in the game, and he calls a hand pass on the face-off. He was obviously looking for something, anything. You have the linesmen and other ref in a better position that yourself, and yet you're confident enough to make the call??? Sure, no bias at all.

So how are the Oilers going to respond? They are heading off on a road trip, playing five games in seven nights (yikes). Are they going to respond, use this as motivation and get back their edge? I say YES! Maybe it's wishful thinking but I just feel this is a huge motivator. It has to be.

Update: Magoo will not be fined nor suspended. I am very disillusioned with the NHL right now. This is a big mistake. BIG!

Update: The boys at Battle of Alberta have set up a MacT Relief Fund to help pay for his $10,000 fund. Go on over and contribute!!!