Archive for September, 2009

Odd times…

Posted: September 30, 2009 in General, NHL, Prospects, Uncategorized

2MontoyaCrawford02-24-07Among the many things that I and many other bloggers have talked about besides Robbie Schremp (I might have been the only blogger not inclined to devote ANOTHER full blog to Sugartits), are the interesting times.  I wish I had tons of time to go over them all but these are the things that I have found strange this preseason.

Malhotra signing on the cheap.  A cup is nice but $1.8 million vs. $700K is nicer.

Moore and Betts still unsigned.  I expect Betts soon.

Skoula signing cheap in Pittsburgh after a good year, two other camps in Florida and Columbus.

Players you expected to make teams waived…and young ones too…Lashoff, Bourque, Cal O’Reilly, Al Montoya, and now Corey Crawford (Who I think is better than our back up in Edmonton).  Of course many more have been on waivers but some of these young players are a surprise.

As for the Oilers, Reddox goes, along with Schremp.  At some point we lose either Pisani or Nilsson to make cap.  MacIntyre is still on a team with two guys, Stortini and Jacques that can fight.  Gagner is on the fourth line, and we still don’t have a shutdown/faceoff/PK centre on this team.

Yep…odd times.


And in defense….

Posted: September 17, 2009 in Uncategorized

peckham-theo090216Part two of the design of the Edmonton Oilers is almost a mirror image of the forwards, but there are zero jobs available on the blueline.  Sure, it is possible that Theo Peckham plays so well that the Oilers have no choice but to put Jason Strudwick on waivers.  Taylor Chorney, could, and I use that term loosely, could figure out all three zones and attempt to force management’s hand into keeping him with the big club. (Judging by last nights exhibition in Calgary, he still has work to do)
The chances are zero and zero.  The defensemen the Oilers have on one way contracts are…

Sheldon Souray

Lubomir Visnovsky

Tom Gilbert

Denis Grebeshkov

Ladislav Smid

Steve Staios

Jason Strudwick

Peckham is the first call up and I am sure that Chorney sees some games with the big club this year.  I believe that we might see some movement next year, figuring that Peckham takes a job next season, and if Chorney progresses quickly enough, we might see Grebeshkov in new digs next season.  Ideally, I think, one of Visnovsky or Souray are moved so that salary can assist our forward depth. (After this season, any savings are going to go to Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano)  This year is going to be a huge one for Chorney, because if he doesn’t start to step up, he can start looking over his shoulder at Jeff Petry or Alex Plante trying to steal his place on the depth chart.

So, sorry to those that think there might be some battle for jobs, there isn’t.  Which makes me a little annoyed at Steve Tambellini and his insinuation after signing Comrie that players are fighting for jobs.  Most of them are fait de complit.

Schremp hs I remember watching Jani Rita, Tony Salmelainen and Todd Marchant skate together in camp, I believe it was 2002.  They were fast, skilled, and in general, since I watched as many public sessions of camp as I could, I believed they were the best line on the ice.  (If memory serves me correctly it was the same camp that Jason Smith beat the living snot out of Ryan Smyth.)

I was aghast at the play of Ethan Moreau, and even moreso, my whipping boy of the camp, Dan Cleary.  Cleary was slow, his puck skills were terrible, and he didn’t seem to do much of anything effectively.  Much to my own personal chagrin, when cuts were made, Jani Rita, who I thought made the team with his camp was disposed to the AHL.

Not much of a big deal to your average hockey fan, but to me, a disparage to a player good enough to be on the big club.  How could this be?  He was at the minimum….at the absolute worst better than two or three of the incumbents?  Why are we not playing our best players on the ice?  Who paid off the coach?

Whether it was some fluke or knowing to look in the right place, I soon figured out that you don’t really need much of a camp to decide on opening night roster.  Mostly you need to look on whose agent/or play has garnered a player a one way contract.  I know it may come as a shock to you, but when it comes to forwards, there is one spot available.

On one way contracts and shoo-ins for a spot on the big club for forwards….

Shawn Horcoff
Dustin Penner
Ales Hemsky
Patrick O’Sullivan
Fernando Pisani
Robert Nilsson
Ethan Moreau
Sam Gagner
Mike Comrie
Andrew Cogliano
Marc-Antoine Pouliot
Zack Stortini
Jean-Francois Jacques

All of these forwards have one way contracts.  The only spot that is available would be the one that presently has been suggested that might be occupied by Gilbert Brule.  Could the Oilers manufacture a trade?  Yes.  But not likely.  As much as we as fans think it is easy to call another GM up and move out your excess baggage, there are a scant few deals in the NHL.

I suppose this means one thing.  If Brule or Schremp gets the spot and the other goes on waivers, whoever draws the short straw leaves town.  Even worse…if the team decides that Steve MacIntyre is an important cog on the team, then they could conceivably both find themselves working in another jurisdiction.

I am sure this is disheartening to the Potulnys, Reddoxes and Stones of the world, but if I am looking at the pythagorean theorem, a + b doesn’t equal a job.

Bettman-Balsillie and Desert Dog…

Posted: September 4, 2009 in General, NHL

balsillie_vs_bettman_480_400There are tons of things that bother me about hockey fans.  At times when we are members of a larger group, we tend to overlook the deficiencies of other members simply because we don’t want to bash our own.

Well,  the number one peeve that I have is the disdain for Gary Bettman.  I suppose I should qualify that.  The misdirected disdain for Gary Bettman.  If you hate Bettman because he is a hardliner, has small man syndrome, shakes when he talks, doesn’t have a long established hockey background, those are all valid complaints.  Is he disingenous in regards to his reasoning to attempt to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix.  Very, very likely.  That being said, there are some things in this situation that strike me as odd which I will get to later.

As far as Gary Bettman goes, the issue I have with hockey fans is that he is anti-Canada.  I don’t believe that to be the case.  In situations in Quebec and Winnipeg, zero local ownership, or lack of a viable arena were the reasons the teams moved.  Period.  The Jets had above league average attendance twice in their history.  The barn was terrible, no one wanted to buy them, and they moved.  Period, end of story.

Quebec had zero ownership choices, and the province didn’t want to buck up to subsidize the team. 

When it came to the financial troubles of the other Canadian franchises, Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa all had their share of monetary issues, in which Gary Bettman defended all those teams.  I asked Darryl Sutter personally how he felt about Gary Bettman when I was writing for McKeen’s during the lockout.  He gave him a rousing endorsement.  He said they (the Canadian teams) totally backed what he was doing.

Ultimately it is a few Southern Ontarians, with a lack of understanding of all the issues, fundamentally driven to hate Bettman because he won’t let a team move to Hamilton and owned by someone that wants to be painted as the good guy.

Balsillie is not the good guy here.  Neither is Bettman.  They are two business adversaries fighting for control of a business which is basically a hostile take over move.  Balsillie doesn’t want to play ball and kiss the appropriate derrieres to get into the exclusive club.  Bettman doesn’t want to be undermined, as little Napoleon’s generally don’t. 

In my opinion this is about Toronto and money.  Toronto may fight for territorial infringement.  If that were to happen, that would upset Bettman’s apple cart.  He doesn’t give two shakes about Phoenix from what I can tell.  It is keeping the Leafs happy number one, and the possible multi million dollar expansion/territory fee that would come along with putting another team in Southern Ontario.  Balsillie would have a team if he didn’t keep trying to put one in GARY/MLSE/BLUEWORLDORDER’s backyard.  Sure it would make tons of money.  But the Leafs and the NHL want that money, not to give it away to Blackberry Jim.

Balsillie tried to undermine process, constitution, and glad handing.  All necessary in pro sports ownership.  Fraternities are like that.  They also like to maximize their money.  Any owner that says, I want all the money, and don’t want to share is going to be put in the “has too poor character to be an owner”.

Regardless of all that, the funniest thing I have read about the whole thing is from today’s Globe and Mail.  As a business person, I understand that selling ice in a desert can only work if it doesn’t melt.  When it comes to the Coyote’s they are a tough sell, no doubt.  But when this is the latest…

 “Moyes has been a co-owner of the Coyotes for about eight years, but that doesn’t make him a hockey fan. He’d never been to a game before buying part of the club in 2001, and when asked by lawyers last month if he was a hockey fan, Moyes replied: “I jokingly say I don’t know how to spell ‘puck.’” He said he attended about one-third of the Coyotes’ home games last season, and visited the team office “two or three times.”

Businesses require leadership.  This guy isn’t committed to his investment, so obviously it failed.  They have had terrible management, terrible coaching, terrible player development and zero success on the ice.  Translation, why would anyone cheer for an absolute Mickey Mouse organization.   Sorry Wayne, someone had to say it.