More Mills Brothers than Allmans

Did I ever tell you the story of “Jessica?” Jessica is the name of a beauty song by the Allman Brothers Band. It’s an instrumental and people my age will say “No, I don’t remember that song” but as soon as they hear the guitar line they smile and nod. It’s a terrific song, released maybe 1973.

Anyway, in 1973 or thereabouts I was still in school but was making money, enough money to buy stuff. One Saturday my parents were going to Lloyminster shopping and I asked my Mom to pick up the Allman Brothers Band and their album that had Jessica on it.

I remember because it was a Saturday and I spent it picking rocks (have you ever picked rocks?) in a field. Boring work. I got home that night to find my album in a brown paper bag.

It was NOT the Allman Brothers Brothers and Sisters. It was the Mills Brothers Greatest Hits. The difference between the Allman Brothers and the Mills Brothers is about as wide a gap as you could find in the mid-1970s. One was a 40s-50s vocal group (Mills Brothers are excellent by the way, but not when you were hoping for the Allmans) and the other was a rock and roll band who kept losing members at intersections. I don’t know about modern Moms, but Moms of my generation often did stuff like this and then played dumb because they didn’t like the music but after years of angry accusation on my part it appears she really just didn’t know (hey it’s my Mom, what can I say?).

In the spring, we were told Craig MacTavish would be more involved in the player procurement side this summer. Looking at the list of players acquired versus those sent away since G7 SCF, I’m wondering if there’s a disconnect here. I would define a Craig MacTavish type player as someone who is as good without the puck as with it, which is to say great with the leather and the wood. Good range factor, can make the throw from deep short with some zip on it and can chip in on offense too. That kind of guy.

On the team that went to the finals, MacT types were everywhere. In Game 6 of the SCF, here’s the rundown (in EV minutes) by position for the Edmonton Oilers (with career GP):

Defense

  1. Jaroslav Spacek (13:55) (496)
  2. Steve Staios (13:47) (619)
  3. Dick Tarnstrom (13:28) (258)
  4. Chris Pronger (12:44) (802)
  5. Jason Smith (10:46) (786)
  6. Matt Greene (9:59) (27)

Pronger and Spacek played huge PP minutes (10 and 8 minutes respectively), Bergeron wasn’t in the lineup that night. Now, let’s do the GP with the current group.

  1. Steve Staios (677)
  2. Sheldon Souray (506)
  3. Dick Tarnstrom (258)
  4. Joni Pitkanen (206)
  5. Matt Greene (105)
  6. Ladislav Smid (77)

The GP comparison season-to-season is interesting (2,988 for the Cup final team to 1,829) and the Cup team was far more sound defensively. The Oilers have plenty of puck moving depth now, with as many as 5/6 on that list able to pass or carry it out (exception: Greene) but there are guys who can be beaten wide (Souray), there are guys who are still learning (Smid, Greene) and there is a lot of duplication on the roster (Tarnstrom, Souray and Pitkanen are good or better PP options). I would have guessed MacT would have liked a Jason Smith type over one of the puck movers for balance (and that may come to be) and at least two veteran and trustworthy pairings. Something like Pitkanen-Staios and Souray-Smith, that kind of thing. More traditional combinations of puck mover with stay at home type. Suspect we’ll find out that the Oilers agreed they could address this during the season (we heard exactly that about 06-07).

Center

  1. Rem Murray (9:34) (560)
  2. Mike Peca (9:22) (693)
  3. Jarret Stoll (9:08) (154)
  4. Shawn Horcoff (8:51) (347)

Horcoff had 6PP minutes and Peca was over 5 minutes on the PK. Now let’s do GP with this year’s centers:

  1. Shawn Horcoff (427)
  2. Marty Reasoner (383)
  3. Jarret Stoll (205)
  4. Marc Pouliot (54)

The GP numbers favor the Cup run team 1,754 to 1,069 and I believe the Rem Murray pickup is pretty indicative of MacT’s style. When Pouliot went down with mono it may have sped up the process, but they were extremely likely to add a veteran center at some point (just as they will imo if there’s anything up with Reasoner’s level of play or Stoll’s concussion problems return). The style of play at center is less a question (MacT has had very few one dimensional centers, Comrie and name another one) and if healthy this is actually a pretty nice list.

Left Wing

  1. Ryan Smyth (9:09) (717)
  2. Ethan Moreau (9:04) (678)
  3. Sergei Samsonov (8:40) (533)
  4. Raffi Torres (7:38) (193)

Smyth played almost 8 minutes on the PP, Torres almost 5 and Samsonov played 4. Moreau was on the PK for 5 minutes that night. Now this year’s:

  1. Geoff Sanderson (1,063)
  2. Ethan Moreau (685)
  3. Raffi Torres (275)
  4. Dustin Penner (101)

SCF team has 2,121 gp and the current roster has 2,124. Pretty much equal. Which depth chart looks more MacT to you? There isn’t really an EV difference maker at LW, although Raffi has put up solid results for awhile now. Suspect they’re done at LW.

Right Wing

  1. Radek Dvorak (13:42) (746)
  2. Todd Harvey (7:11) (671)
  3. Fernando Pisani (7:09) (191)
  4. Ales Hemsky (7:02) (211)

Hemsky had 8PP minutes and Pisani was on the PP for 4:41 and PK for 2:40. The current team:

  1. Ales Hemsky (275)
  2. Fernando Pisani (268)
  3. Patrick Thoresen (68)
  4. Robert Nilsson (57)

SCF team (1,819) towers over current roster (668). The RW portion of the roster has some terrific players. Ales Hemsky is a central part of the team, Pisani’s a MacT type personified, and this Thoresen kid has a clue.

So, the SCF had how many MacT types? Pretty much the entire roster. Some of the end-of-the-roster guys (Harvey, Murray) were late additions and or marginal factors. Still, a veteran blueline plus Horcoff-Peca at center, Smyth and a veteran bunch on LW (with Torres playing like a demon) and Pisani-Dvorak (plus Hemsky) on RW is a lot of depth and line matching options.

Now? Well the two kids who played some last year (Pouliot, Thoresen) both look like MacT types when they start helping their team win, which may have to happen this year if the Oilers are going to get anywhere. The blueline has some veterans MacT isn’t going to be able to handle like he has Smith and Staios over the years, and the situation at LW is crying for Raffi Torres to turn into Ryan Smyth.

I think the Oilers may be planning a return to the checking line days of Marchant-Moreau-Grier. They could use Pouliot at center, maybe Moreau on LW and Pisani on RW, athough Pisani is very good on the Stoll line too. Perhaps Mike Johnson gets signed.

Still, it looks more like the Mills Brothers than the Allmans.

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11 Responses to "More Mills Brothers than Allmans"

  1. Showerhead says:

    A whole new generation of people are going to love Jessica because of its inclusion in the Guitar Hero 2 video game. It’s far and away one of my favourite songs to play in that game and I think I drove my residence floor crazy with it last year…

    It seemed every time my girlfriend came to visit I was playing that song in our lounge and so she heard a lot of “where is he? oh.. um.. he’s making love to Jessica right now… don’t worry, it usually only takes 6 minutes or so!”

  2. Art Vandelay says:

    Does that mean if Cher doesn’t like Edmonton somebody’s gonna demand a trade out of town?

  3. Daryl says:

    Have picked rocks many a time, and also quite coincidental to read about picking rocks and taking the money to Lloyd to spend! Blast from the past, man. Where were you from?

  4. Lowetide says:

    showerhead: There’s a real nice youtube video of the Allmans and Jessica. If you google it there’s another good way to spend 6 minutes. :-)

    art: Cher would at least enjoy the mall. :-)

    daryl: Grew up near Maidstone, out toward Turtleford.

  5. Kyle Kosior says:

    I am a little young to remember Jessica, but I vividly remember picking rocks. Tons and tons of rocks that would miraculously reappear every spring.

  6. Julian says:

    Picking rocks and catching chickens are by far two of the worst farm jobs i’ve ever done.

    Anyway…. great analysis LT. GP doesn’t really mean everything, but if there’s one thing i’ve learned from reading your blog and from this past season, it’s that young players rarely help you win games, and having a roster full of them is never promising for the immediate future. Unless you’re the Penguins, i suppose.

  7. Ryan Budney says:

    LT exposes himself as an old fogey. The “Top Gear” theme song is a variant of Jessica, too. If you want some cheap entertainment do a YouTube search for “Top Gear Ford Truck”, “Top Gear Toyota Truck” and compare.

  8. Andy Grabia says:

    “Jessica” did come out in 73, LT. Brothers and Sisters was the band’s first studio album without Duane Allman and Berry Oakley. Both died in motorcycle accidents within almost a year of each other (Oct. 29, 1971 and Nov. 11, 1972), in almost the exact same spot in Macon, Georgia. The album is really Dickie Betts’ coming-out party. In addition to “Jessica,” the album features classics like “Southbound,” “Pony Boy” and “Ramblin’ Man.” A year later, Lynyrd Skynyrd put out Second Helping (featuring a little ditty called “Sweet Home Alabama”), and Southern Rock was born. Astute viewers will also catch “Jessica” in a scene in Field of Dreams.

    LT exposes himself as an old fogey. The “Top Gear” theme song is a variant of Jessica, too. If you want some cheap entertainment do a YouTube search for “Top Gear Ford Truck”, “Top Gear Toyota Truck” and compare.

    Speaking as a guy quite a few years younger than LT, let me note that The Allman Brothers are required listening for anyone wanting to call themselves a fan of rock n’ roll. Or a member of western civilization, for that matter. Rock n’ roll didn’t begin with the Joshua Tree. Do people know that the opening lick on “Layla” is played by both Clapton AND Duane Allman, for example? I love Guitar Hero, but if they really wanted to be impressive, they’d put the Fillmore East version of “You Don’t Love Me” on their game. If someone can replicate The Skydog for 19 minutes, they have my respect.

  9. MikeP says:

    Without going into the hockey content of your post (hard to say much more than you have already), picking rocks has got to be the most boring thing I’ve ever done in a summer, and I’ve raked blueberries, picked strawberries, and sat in a hole in the ground I got to dig myself, to name 3 other things.

  10. Mr DeBakey says:

    A couple of years ago I picked up the CD version of Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue”.

    The liner noted had an interesting reference to Mr Allman

    Playing gigs at the Fillmore East during the sixties made it easier for you to get in and catch other bands, even if tickets were sold out. As a young saxophonist in a rock band, I played there several times and attended numerous concerts; the one group I never missed (unless I had to be on the road) was the Allman Brothers Band. More specifically, I went to see their guitarist, Duane Allman, the only “rock” guitarist I had heard up to that point who could solo on a one-chord vamp for as long as half an hour or more, and not only avoid boring you but keep you absolutely riveted. Duane was a rare melodist and a dedicated student of music who was never evasive about the sources of his inspiration. “You know,” he told me one night after soaring for hours on wings of lyrical song, “that kind of playing comes from Miles and Coltrane, and particularly Kind Of Blue. I’ve listened to that album so many times that for the past couple of years, I haven’t hardly listened to anything else.”

  11. Showerhead says:

    Apparently Jessica was on an episode of The Simpsons not too long ago as well! Taken from my Facebook wall:

    “Duuuude! Did you watch The Simpson’s on sunday? I think it was a new one. They played “Jessica” in one of thier montages! It was unreal. i nearly creamed my pants, and then thought of you (Yes, in that order, don’t get ahead of yourself cowboy) Anyways, how’s your summer man?”

    (note the frequency of college level humor in my Jessica references)

    PS – I watched that video and all I can say is that I’ve never seen a rock band look so much like cowboys and hippies so simultaneously before! I have the album that Jessica is on in mp3 form but this is the first time I’ve ever actually seen the band. Thanks for the link!

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