I’m currently reading Ken Dryden’s book on Scotty Bowman, a fascinating look into a beautiful mind with an all-world memory. It’s weird reading Bowman explaining Punch Imlach and filtering it through my memories of what my parents and grandparents said about the 1960’s Maple Leafs. Bowman’s descriptions of events from 50+ years ago are incredible, and his accurate portrayal of Imlach and others is outstanding. I have other books on Bowman, none like this one.
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.
- New Lowetide: What if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins doesn’t sign with the Oilers?
- Jonathan Willis: Left-side logjam will force the Oilers to make a choice, and perhaps a sacrifice
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s 2020 Oilers offseason report card
- Lowetide: Theodor Lennstrom is the Oilers’ latest European bet on defence
- Lowetide: Why Anton Forsberg could win the Oilers’ backup job in 2020-21
- Lowetide: The 2020-21 Oilers finally deploying elite talent in the right places
- Jonathan Willis: Team Draft vs. Team Trade: Which collection of all-time Oilers is better?
- Lowetide: Seattle Kraken expansion mock draft 5.0: Who could the Oilers lose?
- Lowetide: Oilers prospects off to impressive starts worldwide
- Lowetide: Why McDavid and Nuge together could be key to Oilers’ playoff success
- Lowetide: Projected training camp roster for the 2020-21 Oilers.
- Jonathan Willis: Will the Oilers repeat their power play magic in 2021?
- Lowetide: How many ‘peak seasons’ can Oilers fans expect from Connor McDavid?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ increased focus on drafting skill is key to future success
- Lowetide: Why Dave Tippett’s training camp with Oilers will be so compelling
- Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations for 2020-21: The results
- Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations for 2020-21: Goals against
- Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations for 2020-21: The Goals
- Lowetide: Oilers Top 20 prospects, post-draft edition.
HE WAS TROUBLE AND A HEADACHE
One of the things Bowman talks about in the Dryden book is Imlach’s ability to make use of flawed players. Here’s a quote from the book: “As far as Imlach was concerned, you see what you have and you develop it into something. You don’t focus on what you don’t have, and give up. He would (do this) with Kent Douglas, another career minor leaguer, a defenseman who couldn’t play defense well enough but on the power play could make plays and could score. He was trouble. He was a headache. Everybody thought Imlach was crazy to go get a guy like that, but he got a lot of hockey out of him.”
Ken Holland and Dave Tippett have solid track records in finding incomplete players and making them useful. In their first season in Edmonton, plenty of playing time landed with players who weren’t established as NHL players but had something to recommend them.
When Daniel Cleary lost his job in Edmonton to Fernando Pisani, he caught on with the Phoenix Coyotes. Then came the lockout, and was followed by Cleary signing with Detroit. He played a depth role for the first couple of seasons and then emerged as a useful middle-six winger (he spent 10 seasons in Motown).
Antti Miettinen was a seventh-round pick by Dallas Stars in 2000, five years later he was doing solid work to Tippett in the NHL. He was a fine skater and two-way player with a great deal of utility, and hung around the NHL for years in that role.
THE 2016 DRAFT
I always put song names or movie titles on this blog, it’s a thing. The 2015 draft was “Hallelujah” and has remained so, in fact it’s Hallelujah on several levels now. The 2016 draft was “Lucky Star” on draft day but has morphed into “Carry On, My Wayward Son” in recent seasons.
There’s still time, and Jesse Puljujarvi is making his Atlantic crossing as we speak. I always wait five years for a draft and 2016 has some promise despite a development road that comes straight from the Alps. Here are the current numbers and NHLE’s for each Oilers pick (if they aren’t playing this year, it is noted):
- Jesse Puljujarvi (Liiga) 16, 7-5-12 (27.8)
- Tyler Benson (Swiss-2) 15, 2-17-19
- Markus Niemelainen (Liiga) 14, 0-3-3 (7.9)
- Matthew Cairns (NCHC) 8, 0-4-4 (18.0)
- Filip Berglund (SHL) 11, 1-2-3 (13.3)
- Dylan Wells (AHL)
- Graham McPhee (Austria) 19, 1-3-4
- Aapeli Rasanen (Liiga) 17, 3-4-7 (20.1)
- Vincent Desharnais (AHL)
Most of these men are signed, with Puljujarvi and Benson trying to make the NHL roster for 2020-21. Niemelainen, Berglund and Wells have contracts, Cairns is spiking for the first time since the draft and Rasanen is enjoying the Finnish air. McPhee looks like an outlier and Desharnais is on an AHL deal for this coming season.
It’s Keith Richards birthday and since this blog is about sharing things I wanted to pass along something about him that you may not know. I take my Rolling Stones seriously, even though they have some galling habits (credit Gram Parsons for Wild Horses you bastards!). If you listen to this version of Gimme Shelter you’ll hear the cleanest, most beautiful guitar Richards ever played. He plays lead (the video confuses lead and rhythm midway through but you’ll recognize the Richards sound by then). The guitar he played it on (here) gave him a different sound, it’s just so amazing. That song has a great riff, Mick Taylor’s brilliant rhythm guitar complementing the Watts-Wyman rhythm section, a brilliant lyric and vocal from Jagger and Nicky Hopkins incredible piano.
Richards understated guitar, even on the solo, is just magic. The funny thing is all the boys were put to shame by Merry Clayton’s beyond God vocals that represent the song’s climax. Toward the end of that isolated vocal track you can hear Mick say “whoa” reacting to what he just heard. Whoa indeed.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we kickstart the weekend and for some the holidays with a fun morning. Steve Lansky from Inside the Truck podcast will regale us with World Junior stories from the past (broadcast booth and truck edition). Matt Iwanyk returns in time to talk NHL 2020 possibly all in America and the NFL weekend to come. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!