The Bruins were my team as a kid. The adults had the Leafs and their old timey haircuts, there were people who were Montreal fans (we didn’t see them much) and some Detroit Red Wings fans. I don’t remember a Bruin fan who had a real job, but man all the kids loved Bobby Orr. My Dad didn’t like the Bruins, they were “hoods” and “hippies” and “long hairs” and I had all of their hockey cards (Orr was way at the back, because the rotation was line 1 C-L-R, line 2 C-L-R, etc so it was Esposito-Cashman-Hodge; Stanfield-Bucyk-McKenzie and on it went. Orr and Dallas Smith were the first defensemen, then the rest of the D and Cheevers-Johnston). I love those old Boston black uniforms, they’re wonderful, although the Chicago red and the Detroit red are also very cool.
We’re going to see a devastating defenseman tonight. Zdeno Chara continues a tradition that has seen the Boston Bruins boast many great defensemen in NHL history (Eddie Shore, Bobby Orr, Raymond Bourque) and Chara is possibly the best defenseman of his generation. Among recently-active defensemen who are in a HHOF discussion, I would rank Chara behind only Pronger and ahead of Gonchar, Dan Boyle and Roman Hamrlik, Kimmo Timonen and Ed Jovanovski. I expect that Pronger, Chara, Gonchar and Boyle eventually make it in.
The Oilers have one defenseman (Coffey) and one goalie (Fuhr) in the Hall, but the heart of greatness in Edmonton was in the forwards (Gretzky, Kurri, Messier, Anderson). I think Kevin Lowe makes it in eventually.
Darnell Nurse is the great hope for the future, and he’s tracking very well in the OHL this season. His NHLE is 82, 7-19-26 and that’s a very fine number, plus the reports we’re hearing this year are positive. The WJ oversight is a down arrow, but for me this is a guy who the Oilers should think about leaving in junior for another season. Give the club a chance to develop Marincin and Klefbom (or trade them) and have Nurse arrive in the NHL when the Oilers have their stuff together. No hurry. It worked for Larry freaking Robinson.
It’s going to be a tough night for the Oilers, especially a young center like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The club they are facing is built to physically intimidate and to win battles, whereas RNH is about anticipation and finesse. When he’s 25 this will be a different fight, but tonight my friends this is unlikely to go well. If the Nuge comes out of this game -2 or less, that should be considered a victory. Sam Gagner could get lit on fire. Ordinarily, I enter a game like tonight with at least some hope, but after the Chicago game I think we have to agree that the next three games could be 0-3 even if the young Oil play well.
They’re not yet good enough. Full stop. You give RNH another two years, and more help? This thing is going to go big (providing they can find the right 6′s and 7′s and 9′s).
Andrew Ference is an interesting guy to listen to, he’s not just your average jock quote. Joanne Ireland had a nice write up on him yesterday, and it included a quote we should probably remember later tonight:
- Ference: “You see parallels (to Boston) here. Management has brought in a coach who is going to hold everybody’s feet to the fire and implement a system he wants played here. In my shoes, looking at it, I’m saying well hopefully this is the same process we’re going through. As long as we stick with it and have the right personnel, there’s no reason we can’t take the same path as the Bruins have.”
Not everyone who plays for the Oilers tonight will be here when the good times roll. The year Ference arrived Boston tried 5 goalies and 14 defensemen and turned over much of the roster in following seasons. Looking at that roster there are so many familiar names (Tim Thomas, Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci) but also a large number of castoffs (Marco Sturm, Glen Murray, Paul Mara, Shean Donovan, Mark Mowers, Jason York) it makes one realize many of the players skating for the Oilers now won’t be here three years from now.
Speaking of players moving, I keep wondering about the deadline and which players will be heading out. I keep coming back to the new GM/coach and what they’ve said and done in regard to the current players. Ales Hemsky was Dead Man Walking under the previous regime, I don’t think Steve Tambellini had much time for him and do believe Kevin Lowe was the major reason 83 still walks these streets. Does that mean Hemsky will get another contract? I think it’s possible. Would that mean trading another RW? Not necessarily.
- C: RNH, Gagner, Gordon
- L: Hall, Perron, Kulemin
- R: Eberle, Yakupov, Hemsky
I can see something like this happening, although Gagner’s wonky center play would have to be improved. Anyway, I’ve always felt Hemsky would be in play and that’s likely true now, but if you check out which way the wind blows it seems to me Hemmer is inside and Dubnyk is outside.
Dallas Eakins had a candid conversation with Terry Jones and the article is here. We’ve talked at length about the trials of bringing in a new coach and a rookie to the position, and Eakins basically says the same thing here. Good job by Jones.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
It’s a big night and a busy show this morning. At 10 on TSN 1260 I’ll be joined by:
- Rob Soria from Oil Drop. We’ll talk about Dubnyk and Gagner and their future in Edmonton.
- Alex Thomas from Oilers Rig. Oilers and Bruins, plus HOW does a guy from Woburn, Massachusetts end up being an Oiler fan.
- Sarah Connors from Stanley Cup of Chowder. We’ll talk Bruins and life after Tyler Seguin.
10-1260 via text, @Lowetide_ and Connor Halley will have the NFL picture.