If you left the country for the weekend, this is going to take awhile. Pull up a chair, take a good stiff drink and then another. Don’t worry about the time of day, you need some liquid courage to get through this.
MacT dealt Laddy to the Flames for that kid goalie we watched win games for the Oil Kings (Laurent Brossoit) and the one Flames 4th liner I liked (Roman Horak) plus some cap room. I thought this would set up a secondary deal, but nothing came to fruition that night and now I’m wondering if they’re thinking about keeping Hemsky. I’d cry a river of happy tears if they did it.
Igor Larionov is coming to Edmonton because emails and phonecalls aren’t helping. I imagine he’ll huff and puff and bbbbbbbllllooowwwww the house down, but if he can’t make 3 fit into two he should hold his breath. Nail Yakupov is behind Hemsky and Eberle, and that’s a fact. Now, he might be able to help with some PP suggestions, but I think Nail did that himself with the cannon shot Sunday night. What the Oilers really need is an Igor Larionov center-as-mentor for the gifted Russian. I will say this: if the Oilers ruin Yakupov I’ll never forgive them. Seriously–that’s a deal breaker.
The likely outcome of this is exactly nothing. Eakins will say “we’re working with Nail and he’s showing progress, but we’re 4-13-2 and also trying to win games” and then Nail will say something sweet and sincere and it’ll go away. One day though, people will turn on Yakupov if this continues and that’ll be a shame. However, he’s 20 and frustrated so this. Larionov’s going public is a massive red flag in dealing with him, as disciplined as he was on the ice he does appear to be a loose cannon as an agent. Too bad, he needs to help this young man and this will complicate things–no matter how much you want something to work out, when there’s some guy gumming up the works it tends to work its way through.
Marco Roy had to overcome an injury before getting his QMJHL season underway, but he’s doing fine now! He’s 5, 2-8-10 so far and among the better stories for Edmonton from the 2013 entry draft. Others include Darnell Nurse (#1 on my winter top 20), Bogdan Yakimov and Greg Chase. They won’t get 4 players out of this draft (the last time Edmonton had 4 guys who played 200 or more games in their careers–from one draft– is 1980, Coffey, Kurri, Poddubny, Moog) but the top end is looking very nice so far.
I’m going to post the top 20 over a longer period this year, I’ll have another one either later in the week or weekend. I want a little more time for some of these kids to play more games (some of the college guys have barely started) but it’s an interesting list with lots of movement.
MICHAEL, DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT JAPAN?
I love my kids, they’re awesome. I don’t often tell stories on them here because it’s not fair to them, but there’s one story that fits in with the current ‘Gagner as C’ situation we’ve been discussing since he came back from injury. Years and years ago (probably 7 or 8) I got home after work and my wife and son were at the kitchen table cramming for my son’s test. I could hear in my wife’s voice some real frustration–it’s not easy studying with kids when they’re not really paying attention–and I yelled up to my son to smarten up and listen to his Mom.
I put my coat away, placed my briefcase in the closet, and went up to change. A few minutes later, I come out of the bedroom and hear the words that are funny to this day:
- Mom (frustrated): Michael, don’t you care about Japan?
- Michael: No, Mom. I don’t.
Absolutely sincere, didn’t care. I was too busy laughing to help poor Mom out, but for me that’s kind of the problem we have with the Oilers young Sam Gagner. It’s as ridiculous as asking Sam Gagner if he cares about covering that lonely center in the middle of the photo above. Of course he cares! He just wasn’t paying attention!
How do you get the attention of daydreamers? Take things away. Time on ice is a thing players value. Playing center is something Sam Gagner values. Well, a solution (I’m just saying) is having him sit for a game or two, or moving him to wing (more likely).
I’ll say this: we took away the computer (Japanese, no doubt). Worked pretty well, he’s a damn Japanese encyclopedia these days! I think he may also be playing through considerable pain and it might be a case where he’s taking hits during the game that are impacting that jaw.
NOTHING BUT A BRYZ
I knew the Oilers were going to get a goalie, cheer for a team long enough and you kind of get a feel for things (except trading of Czechs–no idea!) in moments of great joy or sadness. For instance, any other team would fire Eakins once they reached 30 games and still had 4 wins, but the Oilers will:
- Bring back Ralph Krueger as co-co-co-co-co-co-asst-coach with big font.
- Hire Igor Larionov to count the number of passes that are sent to Yakupov.
- Send Mark Messier to Russia to spread the Oiler logo and make trade deals.
I still think Dubnyk ends up with the starting job but this will be an interesting distraction in a season that’s going to need them.
It’s weird to see something you lived through trampled on and spewed out for digestion in front of you. One would think people would wait until we’re all dead to make outrageous claims, but in the case of the Fred Shero legacy there’s a question that’s been asked many times this week and remains unanswered.
- Question: Fred Shero is regarded as being a truly innovative, great coach. However, he won his 2 Stanley cups with a bunch of thugs. Which is it? Genius coach? Thugs?
First, a litte background. During the expansion era, the 6 new teams had a massive talent gap every night. St. Louis (under Scotty Bowman) found out early if they played a physical style fans would respond and they could get opponents off their game. It was not entertaining (I saw very little of the early expansion games, they didn’t make it on television much and when they did it wasn’t good) but they survived.
The Flyers got killed early but went to the 1969 Amateur draft looking for size/physical players. They left with their franchise player (Bobby Clarke) and two wingers who were tough and could play (Dave Schultz, Don Saleski). I think people don’t understand that these guys could play–take a pass, make a pass–and the tough stuff was part of the intimidation and they were a very punishing team. They won the 1974 Stanley against the Bruins by hitting Orr every chance they got, but they could play:
- Dave Schultz scored 20 goals in a season once, Saleski three times. Saleski was a solid penalty killer, too.
- Bob Kelly played the wildest, shortest shifts in NHL history to that time. That’s something about Shero no one remembers–his teams had shorter shifts and because of it had more energy. That was a monster item.
- They had terrific skill. Not just Clarke & Barber and MacLeish & Leach, but guys like Gary Dornhoefer, Ross Lonsberry, Orest Kindrachuk, Simon Nolet and others. The Flyers had two or three legit HOFers (Parent, Clarke, Barber) and then a couple just below (Leach, MacLeish) but miles and miles of useful guys.
- They were deep and they all played a regular shift.
- The blueline was very tough and could handle anything, but they could also pass the puck. They were good NHL players.
- He was the first–I believe–to roll penalty-killing duos up front and rotate (often the 10-11 F’s would PK). Terry Crisp was an excellent penalty killer. He’d have three sets of two forwards–and at that time NHL teams sometimes ran the same forward for the entire two minutes.
- He had 4 good centermen in an era where many teams had two (Clarke, MacLeish, Kindrachuk, Crisp and then Clement during Stanley run).
- He adjusted very well to the talent given. Although he valued 2-way players highly, he ran two extreme ‘offense first’ players heavily (MacLeish, Tom Bladon).
- He was always adding. The second Stanley team added Reggie Leach, but also Ted Harris–an end of the road veteran who was done (they had a need because Barry Ashbee’s career ended the previous spring, and they weren’t yet convinced about Larry Goodenough).
Shero was an innovator, and he was a winner. That’s a rare item.
A team cannot create the tempo of a game with just one line. Some coaches will try to favor one line over the others, thereby giving the other lines a sense of inferiority. I can put Kindrachuk’s line out against Esposito’s line and not worry about it, because all of our lines are good and all are capable of playing against any line in professional hockey today. Boston will play the Esposito line for a 4-minute shift and we’ll have three lines against them during that time. Thus, by moving our lines on a 1-minute shift we can create a faster tempo during the game. We don’t tire as much as the opposition and we always have fresh players on the ice.
Finally, Fred Shero did not invent the idea of being physical and intimidating through chaos. Consider this item between the two best teams of the early 1970′s, Montreal and Boston. This exchange happened about one year before Shero arrived in Philly:
Having big tough men like Hammer Schultz was the cost of doing business in the 1970′s NHL. Pat Quinn’s first Flyer team had twice as many penalty minutes as Fred Shero’s first Flyer team. Shero won because he had the horses to at least stay in the game with Montreal, Boston, New York and Chicago, and because his shorter shifts, goalie touched by God and other tactics were enough to win the day. Shero’s dead, it’s our job to make damn good and sure that the record is set straight. If we don’t do it, we’re going to pass on history that doesn’t reflect the facts. The NHL doesn’t give a damn–they really don’t, that league doesn’t give a rat’s ass about history–so the fans have to do it. Fred Shero did all kinds of things, like using the neutral zone for counter trey, that were unusual and innovative for the time. There were no Steve MacIntyre’s on the 1974 Flyers, and that is a fact.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
10am, TSN 1260, I have no idea how we’ll get to everything. Lordy. Scheduled to appear:
- Tyler Dellow, mc79 hockey. Larionov/Yak, defensive coverage, Gagner to wing, why is this so bad?
- Travis Yost, Hockeybuzz. Senators coming together, why didn’t they trade for Smid?
- Ryan Batty, Copper and Blue. Smid trade why? Bryzgalov in the house and Eakins way.
- Eric Rodgers, Tend the Farm. Bryzgalov makes his Barons debut this morning.
10-1260 via text, @Lowetide_ on twitter. This will be epic!