I would get the papers after school—maybe 3:45—from the Sears on the highway. The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix provided two bags and I would put about 30 in each—they gave you extra, but my Dad always subscribed anyway. In summer, later in July, I would do the north side of town and then the east and then come downtown to Rexall Drugs. If the July Hockey News was in (and I would have been checking for a couple of weeks), all I had to do was deliver main street and then head home past the post office, credit union and the Co-op.
The July edition of The Hockey News had all of the trades, and complete draft coverage. I remember the 1974 edition best, they drafted 247 players that year and by midnight of the first night in my hands I had memorized the Bruins and Seals picks. To this day, I can tell you things about some of them I bet you do not know:
- Boston drafted Mark Howe, who at that time (1974 summer) was coming off a 38-goal season with the Houston Aeros of the WHA. He would never play in Boston, instead entering the NHL in 1979 as a member of the New England Whalers. He was a LW in 1974, and a great one, too. By 1979 he was a dynamic defender and a future Hall of Famer. He suffered a horrible injury in 1980 when he slid into the pointed metal center of the net and cut a five inch gash in his upper thigh. He was essentially impaled by the metal, and the injury, which nearly ended his career, prompted the NHL to change the design of its nets so that there would no longer be a center portion that jutted up toward the goal line. He never played for any of my favorite teams, but Boston drafted him and I liked him for his entire career because of it.
- Boston drafted Tom Edur that year. Edur became famous (for me) as one of the few famous Jehovah’s Witnesses of my young life—he actually retired from the game in order to minister his faith to others. It was a pretty big story at the time (this was later in the 1970s), but I knew who he was because I had memorized his name from that 1974 Hockey News.
- California drafted Charlie Simmer, I knew his name in July 1974. He didn’t become really famous until 1979 as a member of the Los Angeles Kings, but I followed his career as a Seal prospect for several years. Simmer came into pro hockey at a time when good young players were losing a chance to develop due to finances. There were some (I could find the stories in old HNs) were entire leagues were cutting down to survive—gas shortage, bankruptcy, God knows what all. Simmer was signed by the Los Angeles Kings after the Cleveland Barons (the Seals moved there in the 1970s) in the period after the Barons released all of their prospects in an effort to save money. All of them.
- Ron Chipperfield was a very famous prospect in 1974, I thought he would go No. 1 overall on the strength of scoring 90 goals for the Brandon Wheat Kings in 1973-74. He went late in Round 1 (skating issues) but for me it was extra reason to cheer for him. When Chipperfield landed in Edmonton as an Oiler, I had about six years of intel on him—and extra heartbreak when he was traded to the Quebec Nordiques at a difficult time for him.
Prospects. I have always followed them, their careers and their travels. So, when Anton Lander was drafted in 2009, I did what the Hockey News used to do for me—gathered all of the intel available and started a file on him. Lander is pretty close to an ideal Lowetide prospect—smart, two-way center, maybe a little shy offensively but carrying other things that give him value. I think Lander was mishandled at times during his Oilers career, but he has also had periods of poor or inconsistent play that helped get him here. In my mental file, Anton Lander is as important as Tom Edur and Charlie Simmer and all of the others who have come along over these many years. I think that is, at the heart of things, the reason I am a fan. Caring about players based on their story, the story you place around them combined with on-ice feats you witness. I care about Anton Lander, today. I hope things go well for him, and I will think of him—as I did of Ron Chipperfield when finding out about the wildly unfair circumstances surrounding his life at the time of his trade to Quebec—and wonder about him as his life rolls out, here or in another town. It is the people and their stories that breathe life into the relationship between fan and team. The Anton Lander file has reached a fork in the road, but it will not end, today. Godspeed, Anton Lander, and I hope you find your place in the sun.
ROSTER CUT DOWN DAY!
- Anton Lander, Kris Versteeg and Matt Benning are on the outside looking in currently. That could change for one or more today.
- Waivers (as we discussed yesterday) are possible and RW, C and D are available who could help. It is late in the process to add a player, but we will see.
- Players who we would not have picked at the beginning of camp as locks: Matt Benning, Tyler Pitlick, Anton Slepyshev, Drake Caggiula.
- Jesse Puljujarvi looks like a roster player for opening night, lots of upset people about this decision. I will tell you that he does not look like a fish out of water out there (good at marking his man, very physical, can win battles) and that he is probably one of the four best RW options at this time. I think expecting anything more than a goal every four games or so is unreasonable. His RE is here. It is reasonable to expect JP to play in Edmonton and Bakersfield this season.
- Leon Draisaitl is a key player for this team. Placing him on RW confirms (imo) the Oilers are worried about offense sans Taylor Hall for the line that goes over the boards after McDavid. Vital that 2line scores regularly, I think 50+ goals is a reasonable goal for Pouliot-Nuge-Leon.
TOWER OF BABEL
Back when I was a mod for HFboards, it became clear to me that there was a generation gap—and I was on the old man side of it. It took me some time to understand that younger people (HF’s posters were universally younger than me) had no trouble using hyperbole or what I would consider inflammatory words in normal conversation.
So people would get timed out or banned by me for things that weren’t really worth banning. To this day, I will say ‘this player is perhaps unready’ whereas the 2001 HFboards member might say ‘the guy is crap’ and what has changed is that I have learned to live with it. When chatting back and forth with the yutes of 2001, sometimes I would give my ‘more flies with honey’ speech and they would politely listen and then go on with their lives—which is probably what I would have done at the same age.
Fifteen years on and the conversation hasn’t gotten as far was many of us hoped, and I think part of that comes from the generation gap mentioned above. There are discussions that can be had, one side to the other, but the math folks grow weary of re-explaining things and the older set gets pissed at being patronized. And so it goes.
I have no answer, and increasingly find myself isolated from both msm and the entire math society. Never an insider in either arena, I kept sifting through what was available (and what I could understand) for one true thing. When I found it (varies, but for defensemen it is Corsi for RelTm 5×5), it became my default position until further notice.
What I find now is a lot of men and women in the field, miles smarter than me and each it seems with their own Bible. Back in the day, the way things usually worked went like this: Vic or Tyler would write a post (or someone else) and the group would chime in with ideas, eventually reaching a conclusion or growing another arm or statistic. That was the deal, kind of like a melting pot.
Now? Tower of Babel. I have no answers for you, remain hopeful that WoodMoney gets published and wait for Tyler Dellow to land somewhere in media and find a larger platform. In the meantime, I do gather what I can, ask questions of those I trust and look forward to another period of enlightenment.
For what it’s worth, here is what the numbers I value tell us about Kris Russell:
- Mark Giordano 2.6
- TJ Brodie 1.7
- Dougie Hamilton 1.7
- Jyrki Jokipakka -1.8
- Derek Engelland -3.7
- Dennis Wideman -3.7
- Kris Russell -4.7 (also includes Dallas numbers)
That is CorsiFor%/RelTeam at 5×5, and gives us a good look into Kris Russell as a player. I spoke to Kent Wilson the other day, the impression I got of Russell was as a third-pairing blue who could be deployed on the second power play. That seems completely reasonable to me, although the shot blocking verbal sometimes implies we are looking at a defensive defender. Again for what it is worth, allow me to publish the Oilers numbers from last season:
- Brandon Davidson 4.1
- Oscar Klefbom 1.9
- Eric Gryba 1.2
- Mark Fayne 0.6
- Andrej Sekera 0.1
- Griffin Reinhart -2.9
- Darnell Nurse -4.8
For Sekera and Fayne, we need to remember they were playing tougher opposition, but then again I have read many places where Kris Russell is manna from heaven because he can replace Mark Fayne. Bottom line: We all evaluate things differently, and in other spots on the internet (twitter is now a snake pit) people are no longer talking to each other, rather across each other. Blocking someone means failure, not success. We would do well to remember that, and for men and women who are my age we should also remember that aggressive verbal from a younger person does not mean their words have no value. It is a very difficult time to be an adult learner, and I find myself distressed at how so few people are open to new ideas—or to the possibility their language and Bible may not be the truth and the light. Hail Mary, full of grace.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Scott Burnside, ESPN. Sidney Crosby’s concussion isn’t good news for anyone.
- Jonathan Willis, Cult of Hockey. Oilers waivers, final roster set.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. Crosby, mlb playoffs, CFL weekend.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!