Thursday, June 30, 2016

Grieving about Taylor Hall

 #Oilers #OilersNation
As we lament on the loss of this gem of a player, work with me as we go through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  I went through stages 1 to 4 yesterday.  Today is 5.

After getting the 1st Star, Taylor Hall throws pucks over the boards for endearing fans.  My photo.

1. Denial
I was in a meeting when a good friend texted me the news. I couldn't believe it. I went to my computer and it was confirmed. Everyone in the office was in shock. Then Subban for Weber and the two Habs fans in the office joined us in the denial. This morning, everyone woke up and wondered if it was a bad dream.

2. Anger
The anger was apparent in the media's questions to Chiarelli and even he seemed irritated. My usually cheery wife was upset all evening and she asked me if it was real.  I was pissed because of all the years of bad scouting and drafting, this was a sacrifice.

3. Bargaining
I started wondering if there was a three way deal in place that we'd get Subban from Nashville for Larsson and Yakupov or something.  A friend of mine told me that when he was at a local pizza joint, Chiarelli himself asked him what he should do and my friend said a three way deal is the only way it could happen. So, I started believing that.  Then I heard Larsson was on Stauffer's show and the three-way belief ended.

Then we all started looking at Larsson's stats to find a silver lining beyond what Chiarelli was selling us. Not a single pundit and blogger I've read thinks this was a good deal for the Oilers.  We are being sold on selling a proven player for potential.  Not that Larsson is a bad player--he's not.  He's a good, solid, young defender with a huge upside. He'll play top minutes with fellow Swede, Oscar Klefbom (if he's fully healthy).

4. Depression
As some of you know, at the Oilers Signature Event, I had Taylor sign my Gretzky/Messier-signed Titan hockey stick.

Those were my last words to him: "You deserve it."  Now my wife thinks the stick is cursed because all those players got traded after it was signed, and my friends said they'll shoot me if I try to get McDavid to sign it too.

Reading Connor McDavid's comments about how Taylor mentored him and took him under his wing really hit home--it was as if #4 died in an accident or something.

“I want to express thanks for all that he’s done for me because he’s done so much. I’ll never really know how I can repay him, or if I’ll ever be able to, for what he’s done for me this year.

“He’s a guy who took me under his wing right away. It’s hard to explain how much that means to me.”

We were nearly in tears, I shit you not. As we turned in for the evening, our hearts were heavy.  The Hall jersey that I bought my wife which she had signed by him laid on our bed before we hung it up in our window as a memorial to him. I then read Taylor's twitter post about how he cherished being in Edmonton.  

"Thank you to the city of Edmonton, the fans, and most of all, my teammates throughout my time with the Oilers. I will always cherish my time there and the memories that came with it."

And my reply:  "Because of you, my wife became a big fan and enjoyed coming to Oilers games with me. I can't thank you enough for it. #Hall4Ever"

Hall worked hard every game. He trained to his maximum and was in superb shape.  He was the face of the team for 5 years.  I feel bad for him, but he appears to be excited to play for the Devils.

I was hoping to see three scoring lines led by Hall, McDavid, and Nugent-Hopkins--like the Blackhawks and Penguins have.

I went to bed then had nightmares that he got traded like some bad groundhog day.

5. Acceptance
When Hall was drafted at #1, I said to my friends that the Oilers were going to be a totally different team. (I don't think I knew as much about hockey as I sort of do now.)  Well, they really weren't. Maybe more exciting because Hall is a risk-taker but a damn exciting player.  With pushing young players to play against stronger veterans, Hall saw many injuries (enough to have a whole separate blog post about it.)

Now, I'm telling myself these things to accept the fact he's not an Oiler anymore:

  • When Hall was put on a line with McDavid, the chemistry wasn't there. How is this possible? 
  • Eberle thinks he's a bit of a puck-hog.  Well, he does shoot more than anyone in the league
  • Hall is only as good as his centre is.  When Draisaitl's play dropped off in the new year, so did Hall's game.
  • He wasn't selected to be on Team Canada
  • He was born in Calgary
  • He has an attitude problem.  (I actually think he's simply a hard competitor)
  • He was a cancer in the locker room (although McDavid doesn't think so)
  • He's #4 and so was Kevin Lowe
  • Oilers needed a top-4 right-shot defenseman and this IS the price to pay to get one (although adding a 2017 2nd round draft pick would have been nice)
  • Larsson will work out.  Larsson will work out and be a stud d-man. It took a while for Hedman and others to develop into top defensemen and Chiarelli is confident that Larsson will work out.  Larsson will work out.

Goodbye, Taylor.  Thank YOU for the multitude of memories and excitement on the ice.

My wife's Taylor Hall signed jersey

Taylor Hall Statistics 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Globe and Mail article equates hockey on outs with Strombo

 #nhl #hnic #cbc #oilers
John Doyle from the Globe and Mail writes a seemingly convincing article that hockey is on the outs where baseball, basketball, and soccer are in because no one at the bar he was at was watching the Stanley Cup final between Pittsburgh and San Jose.

Ron mclean and george stromboulopoulos
He further equates the demise of hockey with Hockey Night In Canada's host George Stromboulopoulos, assumingly hired because he could appeal to a younger crowd, getting re-replaced with elder hockey statesmen Ron MacLean who Doyle implies apparently doesn't appeal to a younger crowd, although everyone knows MacLean knows 10000% more about the people and players in the sport than everyone else combined.

He even makes the reach and blames Harper's Conservative government for latching hockey to Canadian patriotism and because conservatism is old and on the outs with the kids, so is our national winter sport.  How Liberal of him!

Nevermind the Olympic hockey gold medals.

Nevermind that all the Canadian NHL arenas (except Vancouver obviously) continually sellout their games.

Nevermind that no Canadian teams made the playoffs for the first time in a long time.

Nevermind that the drop in the Canadian dollar and sluggish economy has had an effect on Canadian small market teams like Winnipeg and Ottawa being able to afford to pay top free agents.

Nevermind that maybe a lot of hockey fans just stayed home to watch it.  I did.

While I'm not saying that baseball, basketball, and soccer are not "in"--they are more so in the bubbly centre-of-the-universe that Doyle further exemplifies for the T Dot world, where these teams reside, but maybe, just maybe Doyle should branch out to other parts of this great country, away from a couple big city Toronto bars and thinking that award shows matter for most fans who haven't really cared about anyway, to see that hockey is most definitely alive and well in every other town, small and medium-sized, in every nook and cranny, and more importantly, in the hearts of the majority of Canadians.

And if he bothered to mention or perhaps watch Rogers Hometown Hockey, he'd see that its lovable host, one Ron MacLean, is doing just that.

This article was written without even having mentioned Connor McDavid.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Countdown to Draft Day Nonsense

. #Oilers

Whoa whoa whoah. Wait a freakin' minute here. The Oilogosphere has been going nuts this past week with trade rumours of mostly nonsense and it's getting really annoying.

Edmonton Oilers Nail Yakupov is happy for some reason.
Image courtesy of National Post
Everytime we hear so-and-so is going to be traded for such-and-such, it pretty much never happens and Oilers management does something out of the rafters that no one was expecting.  Maybe they're intentially deflective rumours, but that play is usually saved for politics, not sports. Only when you hear a guy from TSN like Dreger, Freidman, or Mackenzie say there's a possibility of something happening or Bob Stauffer tweets, then you should actually take it to heart.

These Taylor Hall trade rumours are crap and have no basis in anything. Oh sure, but the website URL you say is or something that Jerry, your 15 year old neighbour's son is misspelling about Tayler and Seth Johns?  Well, you got me there, you insider, you!

Then there's the mazillion suggestions of who remains for right-shot defensemen, like they're some pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow tunnel mountain waterfall paradise chocolate beer rock concert featuring all of the reincarnations all the god-like musicians who've died this past year with Gordie Howe as lead elbow security.  "Messiahs" like Sami Vatanen and Tyson Barrie are off the table because they got resigned.  Let's just hope Chiarelli doesn't pull a MacT and go to the KHL for options. We know how well that worked out.  I hear Anton Belov and Cam Barker are having a hell of a season in Kamchatka and Stalinland.

That said, do we bloggers read a bazillion blogs and tweets about the Oilers and NHL and try to put something together? Of course we do. It's that or watching a 0-0 tie match in the EuroCup between Estonia and Bosnia. If you ask me, I favour Narnia.

Ok, ok, out of the wardrobe and back to reality... (see what I did there?  If you did, then read on. If not, then you can still read on.)

We've all posted a million times and had a thousand beers on what the Oilers need in personnel to get to that next level.  To recap, in case you don't know by now:

1. 1st pair RD (because Kevin Lowe)
2. 2nd pair RD (because not Mark Fayne and because Kevin Lowe)
3. 3rd line C (because Letestu is a 4th line centre, plain and simple, and although Nuge can do it, it's not ideal for a Steve Austin player ("$6 million dollar man" if you didn't get the obvious reference or that you are way too young to remember that awesome TV show) to playing on the 3rd line although the Oilers can afford it under McDavid's and Draisaitl's ELC)
4. Backup goalie (because Brossoit needs to improve more)
5. Top 6 RW (to replace Purcell, you dummies, it's not a natural position for Draisaitl)
6. 3rd line RW (debatable, Kassian can play here if he improves)

To get #1 and #2 above, the assets I believe in play are (some in package deals, some not required):
#4 2016 pick
RW Jordan Eberle (because good return for D)
C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (because very good return for D)
LD Oscar Klefbom (swap for an equal RD)
LW Benoit Pouloit (because he was already in a deal with Yak for Maroon and Vatanen that fell through)
RW Nail Yakupov (because no defense and he wants off the team)
LD Griffin Reinhart (because he has potential)

Players who need to be off the team
Again, you don't see it?  You don't know how terrible the following players are?
- LW Lauri Korpikoski (because because because bad signy sign and bad player)
- RW Nail Yakupov (the Daryl Katz experiment is over, let's move on)

UFA/RFA signy signs that need to happen:
RD Eric Gryba (because big semi-skilled RD guys are scarce)
RW Iiro Pakarinen (because he's a big all-effort 4th line right-shot guy)
LD Jordan Oesterle (because he was a fantastic call-up, go 2 years)
RD Adam Clendening (because we need right shot defensemen in the system)
RW Tyler Pitlick (already happened for a year so there)

This leaves the current roster with an ideal lineup of, with depth (*call up)

Hall - Draisaitl - ?
Pouliot - McDavid - Eberle
Maroon - Nugent-Hopkins - Kassian
Hendricks - Letestu - Pakarinen
Khaira* - Lander - Pitlick

Klefbom - ?
Sekera - Fayne
Davidson - Gryba
Nurse* - Clendening
Reinhart* - Oesterle*


Many may argue against having Pouliot with McDavid and not Maroon but the stats don't lie.  I'm not sure having both Maroon and Kassian on the same line makes sense, but it could work.  Nuge needs a strong skilled partner there and Kassian can do it if he works at it.  Yak was never that guy.

Upcoming Potential Scenarios
  • Oilers sign a 3rd line UFA centre like David Backes, then you can bet he's trading Draisaitl or Nuge for a defensemen.
  • Oilers trade for top 4 defensemen like Kevin Shattenkirk ($4.2m). The Blues will want a defensive prospect in return making less money so Davidson maybe?
  • Oilers sign a top 6 RW UFA like Kyle Okposo, then maybe that puts Jordan Eberle in play for a top defensemen, although the Oilers don't have depth at top 6 right wing.
  • Oilers trade Taylor Hall for Shea Weber.  Not. Bloody. Happening.  Caught you there for a sec, eh?
All in all, at the end of the day, when it's all said and done, when the chips are down, and it's neither here nor there, it is what it is, so there you go, because that's the way the cookie crumbles, folks, and life's what you make it, so the story goes, what is and what shall ever be, as the more things change the more they stay the same, so we'll see since change is the only constant, so what are you gonna do. you know what I mean?

And so, my friends, that above sentence is about as cliche as all the trade rumours and proposals that are out there.