Merle Haggard’s Mom and Dad moved from Oklahoma to California before he was born. This was the dirty 30’s (my Dad told me so many stories about that decade I feel like I was there, although thank God that’s not true). The Haggard’s barn burned down 1934, they hit the road to California, grapes of wrath. His Dad died when he was eight, brain hemorrhage. Merle and his family were dirt poor and he got into a lot of trouble. If he’d been any damned good as a robber, maybe Merle Haggard would have taken another path. As it was, his brother Lowell gave him a used guitar and that’s all she wrote. Merle Haggard songs have always been there for me whenever I needed them. Merle takes melancholy and straight talks it sober. Townes Van Zandt wrote the line “desert’s quiet, Cleveland’s cold” but it’s a throwaway without Merle’s phrasing. How he got that gift, there ain’t nobody knows. The gift came from Oildale, California (about five miles from Bakersfield) and it came from the dirty 30’s of Oklahoma, the hardest place to make a home. From the toughest of times comes the strongest steel and that’s a fact. Sing me back home, Merle Haggard, and keep that melancholy away from me.
STRAIGHT TALK FROM BAKERSFIELD
Edmonton has a chance for a second dynasty but will need a steady stream of Charlie Huddy’s and Steve Smith’s over the next decade. That means getting the max from the system and this fall it means some decisions have to be made. Below is the ‘primary points’ graph for Bakersfield (Edmonton) and Stockton (Calgary) forwards in 2016-17:
- This is 5×5 primary points for both teams (forwards).
- I think we’re safe in naming Jesse Puljujarvi the best prospect on this list.
- How many of these guys are going to have NHL careers? Man that is a difficult answer.
- From the Edmonton side, I think Puljujarvi and Slepyshev are close to sure things, probably put Jankowski and Shankurak in there from the Calgary side.
- Laleggia, Klimchuk, Khaira and Hathaway are in the “with a little luck” category in my estimation, love to hear your thoughts.
- Andrew Mangiapane is a favorite of mine, let’s see how this plays out.
- Below that, I think we can make the call on these fellows. Kent Wilson and I have had fun over the years yelling “Hunter Smith-Mitch Moroz” at each other, those times appear to be gone and we were both right. No joy in it, though.
I think we’re probably entering the window for Leon to sign with the Oilers. The offer sheet question basically answered, the questions now surround bridge or long. The fever is broken, now it is time to negotiate. Leon is a fantastic player, as a 2C he can be counted on to deliver more offense than last year’s No. 2 center (RNH):
- At 5×5, Leon scored 2.23/60 alongside Connor McDavid in 2016-17.
- At 5×5, Leon scored 1.79/60 without Connor McDavid in 2016-17.
Nuge was 1.45/60 a year ago, I think 1.79/60 for Leon is a decent line in the sand (if he stays on a line that doesn’t include McDavid). I have LD at 84 points playingwith McDavid 70 percent of his season, and estimate 62 points without him. Suspect that is very fair.
I don’t spend much time with twitter hockey these days, there is little of interest at this time. I did see a lot of reaction to someone (don’t know who) ripping on Darnell Nurse as an NHL player. The gist of it (I read Oilers Nerd Alert’s reaction, don’t know what he was riffing off) was that some now believe Darnell Nurse isn’t an NHL player. When things get ridiculous, it’s important to go back to what we know. With that in mind, allow me to give you three pieces of information:
- At age 21, Oscar Klefbom averaged 22 minutes a night and was around 50 percent in possession. At age 21, Darnell Nurse averaged 17:01 a game and was 51 percent in possession (48.1 percent without McDavid). Source
- In 2015-16, Nurse was unable to play a feature role successfully. In 2016-17, especially early, Nurse showed he could be a productive third pairing defenseman. That doesn’t mean he’ll stall there, experience may allow him to become a productive top 4D. We aren’t there yet.
- His offense at 5×5 was solid to good, that was something we were worried about in year one. Nurse isn’t going to be a strong power play guy, but should be able to post some crooked numbers with his ability to rush and pass the puck. He also has a very good shot that can beat goalies clean. The passing needs to be smoother, suspect this will occur as the game continues to slow down for him.
If you’re reading articles about Darnell Nurse as a failed NHL player and believing it, well that’s on you, folks. If you’re reading articles that suggest he is on the same path as Oscar Klefbom, that’s also incorrect. Somewhere in the middle lies the truth. Darnell Nurse is not yet the complete package we’ll know for the next decade plus but the image is coming swiftly into view. I’m going to guess Nurse ends up being a solid 4-5D and his mobility should make him an effective 4×5 player. We don’t know what we don’t know. Nurse will have had five seasons after his draft next summer, it will be interesting to see how well he does in these games without Sekera. A big test straight ahead. Arguing over Nurse as an NHL failure is silly. If you want something to write about and have people worry and fret, try having a lash at the next Darnell Nurse contract. That’s the giant worry on the horizon.
Word this morning Kenny Shields has passed away. He was the lead singer for Streetheart, basically the house band for the city of Regina when I lived there. The band had a long string of hits when I worked top 40 one hundred years ago. We used to joke that Shields opened for Elvis in the 1950’s, his career lasted a long, long time. Saw them live many times and that man could sing. RIP.