Oilers at Flames, G10, 09-10

This is Frank Mahovlich. The Big M. Mahovlich was a unique combination of size, power and speed and easily one of the finest players of his era. Howie Meeker loved him, saying Mahovlich played the game as it should be played (as a young man, the Big M would race down the ice, belt the puck carrier, grab the puck, skate for a while, get belted, get back up and do the same thing over again) and until the Leafs traded him Frank Mahovlich was pretty much adored by English Canada.

They used to say “don’t wake up Mahovlich” because the best you could hope for is that the big man would become uninvolved , and that drove his coach (the redoubtable Punch Imlach) crazy. Imlach was an ass, cruel, nasty, vicious and small-minded. He would mispronounce Frank’s name on purpose to the media (“I didn’t like Mala-hov-ich’s game tonight”) and several accounts have the coach scheduling two-a-day’s so that the big M had to stay in the city between practices.

When they traded Frank Mahovlich, all the air left the Toronto Maple Leafs. They’d won the Stanley in spring 1967, but Frank had some ulcer/stomach problems and ended up in the hospital so Punch traded his ass to Detroit. English Canada was stunned, and many have never forgiven the Leafs for trading him.

When people compare a player–any player–to Frank Mahovlich, it should be considered an extreme compliment. His name is on the Stanley 6 times, and his most impressive playoff probably came with the Habs in 1971 (huge offensive spring, 14 goals in 20 games with 11 of the markers coming at even strength). His 533 goals rank him 30th all-time, although 21 of those 30 came in the following (and more offensive) era’s. Frank Mahovlich would have to rank as one of the all-time best left wingers, behind Bobby Hull, Ted Lindsay and just a very few from the years since he passed from the game (he tried a comeback with Detroit in 1979 but retired October 7th of that year).

Dustin Penner is one of the league’s leading scorers. He’s tied for 4th in goals and points, and hockey-reference says he’s 3rd in the entire league in goals created (behind Ovechkin and Kopitar). As an Oiler fan, it’s taking me some time to adjust to his impact on the ice this season–this is not Craig MacTavish’s Dustin Penner–but it is as deligthful as it is surprising to see Dustin Penner have this kind of success.

You could write a book.

The Oilers are winning but so is everyone else in the Western Conference. As day breaks the Flames and Oilers are tied for 2nd in the division behind the bizarro Avalanche and in terms of actual conference points both Calgary and Edmonton also rank in a 2nd place tie in terms of total points.

How long before I apologize to Kevin Lowe for all the venom over the Penner signing? Let’s start with Dustin Penner first and see how long that takes. If he can play at this level in even half the games this season the Oilers will have one of the very best LW’s in the game.

Time to work on a nickname, methinks. Sour Patch Kid doesn’t make it. How about Dustincredible? No. I think we need to call him Dustin Nath.

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