Blood In The Water

Just when you thought it was safe to be an Oilers fan...

via three frames

With everyone's favourite non-Oiler in town, one look at our bloodied roster should have us preparing for a feeding frenzy. The Sharks of San Jose will be out for retribution after an embarrassing 7-2 loss to their closest competition for the Presidents' and the top spot in the West. What's worse is the aforementioned Heater will be riding a wave of 19 points in 18 games into Rexall.

Assuming they make it out of Friday's game alive, the Oil will be marched out to the plane and shipped West for another run at the Canucks, kicking off a six-game road trip. The last trip didn't go so well (4 points out of a possible 10) and this one could be even worse. Starting with a back-to-back likely means DD will be starting in Vancouver, so we'll be essentially icing a squad that's half-Falcon at GM Place.

Man Games Lost to Injury Watch: 146

With Hemsky out and awaiting an MRI, multiple players on day-to-day, and no timeline for the return of Comrie, Grebs, or Pisani, I'm prepared for this number to rise steadily over the next month. Clearly that does not bode well for our chances over the mid-season stretch, but hey at least we'll have the Olympic break to rest up. It's not like we'll be sending any players to Vancouver then.


Matt Dillon and Brian Burke: Like Two Peas in a Pod

Do you remember the movie Crash a few years back? Not the Cronenberg one, but the one by Paul Haggis? Damn fine movie. Near the beginning, we meet Matt Dillon's character, a cop in the LAPD, and we learn that he is not a guy to like. He's an abrasive, unfriendly, racist, sexually-assaulting-Terrence-Howard's-wife kind of a guy. His actions, and his prejudices, are inexcusable.

Later on in the movie, after we've gotten our fill of Brendan Fraser and Ludacris, we learn that Dillon's character actually has some depth to him, and he's not just the monster we're supposed to paint him as based on the scenes earlier on. While his actions on the job are despicable, he spends his time off-duty caring for his dad, who is very ill, and whose business has been very hurt over the years (or at least it has in Dillon's eyes) by affirmative action.

The point was, I think, that even though it's easy to condemn people for the stupid, ignorant things they say and do, we need to remember that there's usually more than meets the eye. I haven't seen Revenge of the Fallen, but I assume you come away with a similar lesson from that movie.

Which brings me to Brian Burke...

He's a moron, first of all. But I do have to give him a glove-tap for his comments to John Buccigross about his son (via Mirtle). It's a bit of a sad statement that having someone stand by and support their child can make you dramatically reexamine your own view of them, but I'm honestly not sure if that's more a reflection on how I see Brian Burke, or on the out-of-step attitudes we can usually find in professional sports.

Either way, Burke is slowly shifting in my mind from Matt Dillon at the beginning of Crash to Matt Dillon near the end of Crash. Next step: Matt Dillon in There's Something About Mary. As much as I still dislike the man, I do truly believe he could rock a fine leisure suit.


The Kissing Disease

News has spread like... well, mono that one Mr. Michael Comrie is out indefinitely with mononucleosis. The poor guy should only be knocked out for a couple weeks, but it's another unfortunate visit from the injury bug in an already busy year for the Oilers medical staff. The Organization is saying 122 Man Games Lost to Injury after 22 games, while James Mirtle (the only person who seems to compile these stats) has us listed at 105 MGLtI after 21 games. It's a bit odd for the numbers to not line up, so let's just take them in a min-max scenario.

Projecting from these numbers, we can approximate losing 410 to 455 games to the injury bug this year. How does this compare to the past few seasons? Now, I've been unable to track down the actual MGLtI for the Oil last year, so I'm going to have to go off of the projected numbers (once again, via Mirtle).

2005-06: 134 MGLtI
2006-07: 286 MGLtI
2007-08: 340 MGLtI
2008-09: 241 MGLtI*
*(projected on March 18, 2009)

Clearly the Oilers are outpacing themselves but, considering the law of averages, one must believe that our injuries will tail off towards the end of the season. Or will they?

As we can see in Mirtle's chart, teams like Philly and St. Louis still handily made the playoffs despite posting high MGLtI numbers in 2008-09. This doesn't mean that they lost less important players or that their injuries were less severe, the clubs simply had the depth and experience to handle the losses. Leaving us with the excruciating reality of the unbalanced Peewee team the Oilers front office calls an NHL-caliber squad. Maybe it's just me, but icing an undersized, inexperienced team with lack of depth seems to be the perfect recipe for an injury-dominated season.

While this early black-and-blue streak is bringing out the doomsayers in all of us, I think there still has to be some glimmer of hope. If the boys do get healed up and provide some artillery support for our outstanding first line, we could still be in fair shape come April. Unfortunately, without a major depth move before the deadline, Tambellini & Co. are not giving this team a fair shake. As gritty and determined as he is, the Red Ox cannot do it all alone.


Rexall Begins

Through our various connections in the film and television industry, Slow Fresh Oil is occasionally able to get our hands on inside information and other pieces of Hollywood gossip. It's pretty rare that these insider tips have any relevance at all to what we do, but when it does, we're always glad to pass it along to the Oilogosphere. So with that in mind, below we have an excerpt from a Darryl Katz biopic that was apparently abandoned in the early stages of production after its financing was pulled. Slow Fresh Oil is not sure of the movie's current status or if there are any plans to resume filming at any point in the future.

Stately Katz Manor


Katz Manor sits perched upon its riverbank vantage, looking down on the river below. Moonlight shines onto dark clouds in the sky.


The study is adorned with fine furniture and expensive-looking artifacts. Among them is a wooden bust that appears to be of Mark Messier. Near the entrance is an intercom system. A window along one wall looks out into the night. A fireplace burns along the adjacent wall. DARRYL is seated in a modern leather chair, reading the newspaper. He is dressed in slacks and shirt, with a tie draped over the back of the chair. Next to him, on a side table, is a conspicuous red phone, placed under a circular glass case.

Darryl peers over the top of his newspaper towards the window. Noticing something, he stands up and we follow him over to the window.


Outside, against the clouds, is a large, oil-drop shaped spotlight being shone from somewhere in the city's distance.


The phone RINGS.

Darryl quickly strides over to the phone, removes the glass case, and picks up the receiver.

Commissioner Bettman. What can I do for you this evening?
Yeah, I just saw it. What seems to be the trouble this time? Is it that Penguin again? I thought that we had already dealt with him and that he would be staying retired for good this time.
Who then? Kings? Sabers? Lighting? Whoever it is, just say the word and I'll take care of them for you.
Look, Bettman, just come out with it.
You mean...that two faced lawyer-turned-evil? My god. Alright, I'm on it. You just make sure that if things get ugly, there aren't any innocent fans around to get hurt. Goodbye.

Darryl hangs up the phone. He walks over to the intercom, and presses a button. On the other end, we hear the squeaky voice of KEVIN.

What is it, Darryl?

Kevin, get up. We've got work to do. It's Burke. He's out of control.

Holy overreaction, Darryl. Why should we care about what that guy says or thinks anyways?

Because, Kevin, it's not up to us to decide when we're needed. Because there are hockey fans out there in trouble. Because he's the GM Toronto deserves, but not the one it needs right now. Either you're in or you're out. I'm leaving in five minutes. Tonight, I think we'll take the plane.

Darryl releases the intercom button and walks over to the wooden bust. He lifts its head to reveal a large red button. He presses the button, and the fireplace slides away to reveal a pair of fireman's poles. Darryl walks over, grabs the pole on the right, and slides out of the scene.



Popping Collars and Mustachioed Men: A Blog Post

In the fourteen days since my last post, the Oil got worked up and down the ice in three straight divisional tilts, eked out a shootout they had no business going to, and then got trounced by three teams out of the East. In seven games we've been shutout three times and outscored by a margin of 14 goals. Compared to this time last year, we're in a very similar place:

November 6, 2008: 6-6-1, 34 GF/36 GA
November 6, 2009: 7-8-1, 47 GF/50 GA

While our offense has increased, our defense has become even less competent. The rest of the NHL has been treating us like a medieval surgery patient and the routine bloodletting hasn't yet shown signs of stopping. We simply cannot blame Nikolai, because any casual observer can see our ragtag band of lost boys is just not made up of "actual" NHL players.

If they were, they'd be inoculated well in advance of the unwashed masses.

But isn't that's what being a blue collar team all about? Suffering like the peasantry, ravaged by swine flu, while the bourgeois stroll into private clinics and have their families saved. Oh, the sweet succulence of moral highground. We may not be a high-priced team loaded with talent, but we're blue collar. We're crash and bang and bust your ass up the ice and hustle even harder back down. We don't take shit, but we dole it out by the ladleful. We look to our blue collar players with their blue collar six- to seven-figure salaries and say, "Why, you fellas are just like us." Gritty, respectable folk with mortgages and kids and drinking problems and septic tanks to replace. Folks that wait in line for their vaccines.

Look, if you haven't caught on, I'll pry my tongue out of my cheek and just say it: let's have a moratorium on the term blue collar, shall we? At least in reference to professional atheletes who are anything but.

Unfortunately, the Oilers are missing players to which the descriptor usually applies and they are paying the price. Quinn's "banger on every line, with extra jam and crust" strategy has fallen apart due to injuries that have stretched on so long, we're beginning to wonder if the concept was even working in the first place.

Meanwhile, we've got a five-game road trip against some tough customers coming up. Word from Quinn on the team site is that Shelly, Horc, and Smid will board the plane, though only Laddy will likely see any action. This leaves us as sparse as we've been in October, but maybe with a couple guys back we can steal a few on the road. Ideally, the other two will get their feet under them for the subsequent home stand and we can finally ice a (nearly) completely healthy roster.

That is, of course, if Brule doesn't pull something trying to take part in Movember:

That barely haired upper lip is a Perv 'Stache waiting to happen (or as we call it: the Crosby).

While there is sure to be plenty of impressive soup strainers on the squad by the end of the month, my early favourites are the future of our blueline:

Chorney's Push Broom is an instant classic and only further warms him to my already fluttering heart. Still, Peckham's has a certain je ne sais quoi that makes me wish we hadn't sent him down...

Ah oui, but of course.


Obligatory Lowetide Impression

He looked more like our fathers, not a goalie, player, athlete period. Smoke, half ash, stuck in that permanent smirk, tugging jersey around the beergut, "I'm strictly a whiskey man" was one of the sticks he taped up and gave to a nation of pudgy boys in beverage rooms. Favourites from Plimpton's list of objects thrown by Rangers fans: soup cans, a persimmon, eggs, a folding chair and a dead rabbit. The nervous breakdown of '68-'69 after pant-crap flights from LA, the expansion, "the shrink told me to change occupations. I had to forget it." He swore he was never afraid of the puck. We believe him. If anyone asks, the inscription should read, "My face was my mask."
Elegy for Gump Worsley by The Weakerthans

This is Lorne "Gump" Worsley, taking those Weakerthan lyrics a bit too seriously, in a photo that was clearly taken some time in the later half of the 1960s. Gump, so named apparently because of his resemblance to Andy from The Gumps, played in goal for the Edmonton Flyers for part of a season in 1952-53, more than a decade after my own grandfather spent a couple of seasons doing the same thing. That year he was called up to the big club in New York, where he would spend most of the next decade plying his trade. That year he was also apparently part of the
Hakoah de Montréal soccer team that made it to the Canadian Championship. Based on what I've seen and read about him, it sounds like the Weakerthans are right: there's no way Gump was ever afraid of the puck. With all the talk lately about 50 years of goalie masks in the NHL, I wish we would hear more about the men who said no. The men who felt that there were some things more important than avoiding pain and personal injury. The men like Gump Worsley.

Gump played his last game in the NHL more than 10 years before I was born, and played his last home game on Broadway before The Beatles had had their first number 1 hit. Since then, the Rangers have had some nice goalies, including the man who took over for Gump in New York, who everyone seems to be talking about these days. Continuing the tradition in net for the Rangers today is Henrik Lundqvist, who's off to another nice start this year (.918). Goals have been tough to come by for the Oilers lately, and going up agains Lundqvist isn't going to help. I was hoping that the Oilers had weathered the worst of their injury/flu-bug troubles, but with word Wednesday that Horcoff is out, and Hemsky may not be far behind, it looks like things are going from bad to worse. The Oilers have a couple of surprise players so far this season in Minard and Linglet putting up runs in AAA (7th and 3rd in AHL scoring respectively), but I'm not holding my breath that there are any answers in Springfield.

I don't want to sound too pessimistic, but if you've got tickets to the game, you might want to consider picking up a persimmon or two on the way to the rink.


Hey Laddy, Can You Pass Me That Water Bottle When You're Done...Errr, Nevermind

"Outside of a fever for a day-and-a-half, I felt better on the game day (Oct. 22 against Columbus) so I tried to skate in the morning and I felt good enough to play so I played."

Let this be a lesson to the rest of you lazy bones: H1N1 is no excuse for missing work.  So drag yourself out of bed, try to keep some liquids down if you can, and get down to whatever it is you do for a living (ending your team's scoreless streak at 7 periods, for example). And if you get a chance, swing by the big lineup outside the health centre on the way to the office, and let 'em know that #5 says what they really need is a vaccine for people overreacting.


From the plains of Cimmeria, he rides.

Stronger than ten men! Able to cleave a great serpent in two with a single stroke of his axe! He fears no man, yet all should fear him! The Unconquerable! The Brave! The Mighty Cimmerian!

Penner the Barbarian!

Here's hoping the big man puts up another multi-pointer tonight against the Flamers. If he can't get it done, we should at least have the pleasure of watching a fourth line made up of SMac, Strud, and Storts bash in some skulls.




Experience is a funny thing. It can teach us a lot of important lessons. Like how you should probably skip the fish fillet with cream sauce at that all-you-can-eat buffet. Or how sometimes, instead of asking someone why they think that a $12/hour job at a third-rate "bar" and a right cheek full of needle marks gives them any right to tell you how to dress, it's better to just take off the damned baseball cap. Sometimes.

The thing about experience, though, is that you can't fake it. You can usually get by without it for a little while, and if you're lucky and you find yourself in the right situation (like sitting in a stool next to a guy with a well-worn 49ers cap), you can sometimes get it without it costing you too much. But you can't fake it.

Take Mr. Smid. This year, everyone's favorite asset finds himself in the somewhat unusual position of being a 23 year old NHL defenceman with over 200 games of experience under his belt. We were there, so we all saw that getting to this point for Laddy wasn't exactly cost-free for the Oilers. But now, unless we're seeing a "MA Bergeron Actually Looks Good Right Now, Do You Think It Has Anything To Do With Being Paired With Pronger" style mirage, it's looking like number 5 may have turned that development corner. And it's a good thing, too, because right now the Oilers D is finding it's self just a little short on experience. Here are the career NHL games played for last night's D:

Visnovski - 557
Strudwick - 556
Smid - 210
Gilbert - 184
Grebeshkov - 184
Chorney - 6

That's an average of 283 games per player. Meanwhile, we've got Staios (842 GP) out with a concussion, and Souray (616 GP) out with a concussion, a broken heart, and a bad case of helmet-crotch. Between the two of them they have 46 percent of all the NHL experience in the Oilers top 8.

So far, Chorney has looked good (he was even with 14:34 TOI last night) and the Oilers keep winning despite being out-chanced, but you have to figure that it can't last forever. If Edmonton doesn't get some of that experience back on the blue, Chorney's on-the-job training will inevitably hit a rough patch, and Grebeshkov's turnovers will keep piling up. And just like with the fish fillet, we'll be learning our lessons the hard way.


Gameday: Canucks v Oilers (Round One... Fight!)

The 'Nucks are in town and word around the Northwest Division is that it is on. They're missing Sami Salo, we're missing Shelly. They're missing Daniel Sedin, we're missing Ales Hemsky1. So both teams are out their top D-man and their top goal scorer--

Wait. What? Hemmer isn't our top scorer? Well then who is?

Dustin. Penner.

Who woulda thunk it? I'll tell ya who thunk it. Nobody thunk it! Not one person thunk that DP would be our top scorer this year, least of all any schmuck at this blog.

But lo and behold, there he is: tied for 5th in the league in goals (neck-and-neck with certain people).

Speaking of surprising point-getters, one Mr. Comrie is looking like a terrific acquisition. Of more concern is that he finally trotted out his arm candy at RX1.

While The Duff seems genuinely pleased for her beau, one cannot help but notice that glint of hardened steel in her tastefully shadowed eyes. What the picture doesn't show is that gaze is leveled at Khabibulin's wife. I'd keep my head up if I were you, devochka, you are on thin ice around these parts.

On the topic of soft er... hands, Comrie's former teammate Georges Laraque is in a bit of trouble himself since the internet was set aflame by this little video:

Oh, Georges. I'm sure the big man had some inkling of what the makers of Octane 7.0 were going to do with the footage of him making an ass of himself amidst scantily-clad Sexoteque employees, but I doubt the poor guy knew he was going to get edited into a Satisfaction/Call On Me ripoff. He released a statement saying as much and, nearly a week later, it seems the world's most terrifying vegan is going to get off with a bit of "Aw shucks" and a tsk-tsk from NHLHQ (as he should, the money went to charity for goodness sake).

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we have to push the curves of the Octane Girls out of our minds and focus on the hard edge necessary to steal our second divisional win from the claws of Lulu & Company. Here's hoping the injury bug is biting them harder than us.

1Apparently Staios is out with the same flu bug. Wuh-oh.


Size matters.

6' 0.66999996" 1>6' 0.33" 2

1Average height of Edmonton forwards.
2Average height of Montreal forwards.


I Promised Mess I Wouldn't Do This...

It's always a sad day when the most talented hockey player to ever live leaves town. And now we've experienced it twice here in Edmonton.

Sail on, Robbie Schremp. Sail on by.


Billionaire Boys Club

As many of you know, the NFL season is in full swing. What does this mean for Oilers fans? Very little, except that Slow Fresh Oil was lucky enough to be the fly on the largest high definition screen in the world last night when a pair of billionaires mused over franchise ownership, new venues, and being rich as balls.

Arlington, Texas.
00:25 hours. September 21, 2009.

Jerry Jones and Daryl Katz lounge among the litter-strewn seats of Cowboys Stadium. They rest their feet on the seats in front of them and, at regular intervals, they pass what appears to be a cigar back and forth. The pungent smoke of Acapulco Gold wafts up towards the rafters as they talk quietly to one another. The following is a transcript of their conversation.

JJ: (inhales sharply as he passes the dutchy 'pon the left hand side)
DK: (accepts the blunt and looks admiringly at Jones) How did you do it, Jerry?
JJ: (while holding breath) I get Roy Williams to roll them for me. (exhales through nose and mouth, coughing violently)
DK: (also coughing violently)
JJ: (coughing)
DK: (coughing)
JJ: (coughing subsides, wipes tears from bloodshot eyes)
DK: (coughing subsides) No, no, I mean how did you manage to build this... This palace? (Katz motions to the enormous stadium)
JJ: 'This dump,' y'mean.
DK: (balks)
JJ: Ya seriously like this place? Hot damn, Katz, wanna buy it?
DK: (stops being fascinated by fingernails [as a concept]) Wait- what?
JJ: D'ya wanna buy Cowboys Stadium?
DK: But it's brand new!
JJ: Sure, for now. I've already started construction on an even bigger, more state-of-the-art stadium, with room for thousands more seats and innumerable amenities that you didn't even know existed.
DK: Like what?
JJ: Ever had a jet of air blown across the underside of yer coinpurse while you're drainin' the lizard?
DK: Can't say that I have.
JJ: Well, that feature's included in everyone of the in-seat toilets.
DK: In-seat toilets?
JJ: Damn straight, I know how sick people are of missing plays because of their mortal need to expel waste. My new stadium will make that frustration a thing of the past.
DK: Wow. Wow. Do you have any concept art?
JJ: Hell, I've got a Blackberry full of pictures. It's under construction out in orbit.
DK: Orbit?
JJ: Check it. (hands Katz his phone)

DK: That's no moon!
JJ: It's a space-station!
DK: Good Lord, Jerry. You're a madman...
JJ: Am I, Daryl? Am I? I'm funding the construction directly out of the maintenance budget for this hovel. Barring any unexpected wind storms, Cowboys Stadium will stand just long enough for me to finish the new one.
DK: It's like some grand, insane Ponzi scheme.
JJ: And how!
DK: Jeez... You're accomplishing all this... This... Majesty! And here I am, having a hard time replacing a 35-year old concrete eyesore. I'm an embarrassment to billionaires everywhere, Jerry.
JJ: Ya got that right. Those concourses are narrower than Tom Thumb's cornchute! My new stadium has an entire Costco in the concourse. On every level.
DK: Man... (begins to sulk)
JJ: (puffs on the blunt nonchalantly) Cheer up there, Katz. I'll let you in on my foolproof strategy for building enormous monuments to humanity's rampant materialism.
DK: Really?
JJ: (nods genially)
DK: Aw shucks, thanks Jerry! So what's the first step?
JJ: Well, I assume you've already leveraged the media into being your mouthpiece?
DK: Yep.
JJ: Good. Next step is to bide your time until the city elections, then contribute to the campaigns of each candidate. Whoever wins, you're set up to coerce them into publicly supporting your new arena plan.
DK: Easy enough.
JJ: I know, right? Then, all that's left is to bribe enough Councilors to pass public funding of the thing and you're on your way. Just make sure you lowball the initial estimates, so you don't have any immediate public outcries. By the time it's half-built, you've got 'em hogtied into finishing the work at any price.
DK: Whoa. That's it?
JJ: Simple as sweet potato pie, Daryl.
DK: I'm damn near halfway there!
JJ: Good on ya... As long as ya have the balls to finish it.
DK: No worries, Jerry. That city is my bitch!
JJ: Sure is a great feeling, ain't it? HAHAHAHA-
JJ: -HAHAHAhahahaha-
DK: -hahahaaaa-
JJ: -aaaah. Ha. Ahem.
DK: Whew.
JJ: (hands Katz the blunt)
DK: (takes a long drag)
JJ: You wanna go up to my luxury box and play Halo on the giant HD screen?
DK: Do I ever!

The two billionaires proceeded to race up the stairs, shoving each other playfully as they went. Much p0wnag3 and Master Chief teabagging ensued.

There it is, folks: another startling look behind-the-scenes of Oilers, Inc. brought to you exclusively by Slow Fresh Oil.


Pre-Season Haikus

Devan Dubnyk and
Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers:
Thirteen feet. No hands?

Horcoff to Comrie:
"Remember when we turned pro?
You were paid more then."

Memo to players:
"DO NOT say anything nice
About Rexall Place."

Steve Tambellini
Jerked awake at night screaming
"Khabibulin's Groin!"

"For the last time, Zack,
Viacheslav and Slava
Are the same person."

Mike Comrie's contract:
No payments 'til Twenty-Twelve
And no money down.

"Ees mighty eagle
Painted on mask, holding masks.
Get it? Ees a joke."

"You can't go in there.
Coach Quinn is having a nap.
Renny says you're cut."



The Mainstream Media has been taking shots at bloggers for years... And frankly, I've come to realize they were right all along. Bloggers are what is wrong with hockey coverage today. We are the terrorists of the sports journalism world.

Sure, certain individuals would have you believe that these MSM attacks are nothing more than sour grapes from a bunch of lazy hypocrites. Or that they're just misguided attempts to turn the clock back to a time when a J-School diploma trumped thoughtful writing and critical thinking. Or that they're nothing more than the last gasps from an industry that is teetering on the precipice of total destruction wrought by its own inertia, and that with every passing day these uninspired salvos from the grotesque rotting corpse that is traditional media outlets do less and less to highlight the very real issues surrounding the new realities of news content delivery, and instead only highlight their ever-growing hubris.

But no I say. It is those of us in the Oilogosphere who should really be looking in the mirror, before we've all been Pleasure Motored into oblivion. We need to start taking the criticisms from reporters more seriously. For example, one of the most common issues with us so-called "bloggers" is that unlike sports journalists, we're not accountable because we don't have to face the people we criticize.

Take, for instance, the latest blog post from anonymous Oilers blogger tommy-g. In the post he has the audacity to slander noted Oilers defenceman Tom Gilbert numerous times, suggesting among other things:
  • He spends his off-seasons desperately trying to re-capture the glee he felt in 2005 while watching Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in Wedding Crashers. To quote:
I've been to five weddings this summer but I’m not complaining... It only takes us about 45 minutes to get our dance going and then we’re on the dance floor for the rest of the night. We like to make sure everyone’s having a good time and we’re so good at it.

  • He doesn't even have the intellectual wherewithal to finish a thrilling read like The Sign by Raymond Khoury. From Owatjee, a poster on what appears to be a militant Lebanese Christian website's forum:
Set against a backdrop of ancient and modern religious conflict, this solid thriller from bestseller Khoury (The Last Templar) explores a number of current planetary preoccupations, from far-right political demagoguery to global warming. While in Antarctica covering the breakup of the continent's ice shelf, TV reporter Grace Logan and her crew are astounded to see a bright, shimmering sphere of light in the sky.
To suggest that Tom Gilbert couldn't or wouldn't get through a book like that is just typical irresponsible blogger drivel.
  • He is constructing what can only be described as a KAOS-esque world domination HQ in his basement featuring 6 television sets.
  • He is so full of hate that he openly muses about the failures of his teammates/former roommates:
Everyone is going to be so jealous, especially Sam and Andrew. They’re not going to be able to handle it... I know that after about week [sic] they’re not going to have any idea how to do anything and they’re going to be calling me all the time about how to pay the bills and stuff. They’re just going to be sitting at home, wondering where things went wrong.
Seriously, can you imagine if this 'tommy-g' clown ever had to look Tom Gilbert in the eyes and say those things about him to his face? Never in a million years. So let's all tip our caps to the legitimate reporters of the world, who have the guts to not to ask any of the questions we want the answers to. And glove-tap to tommy-g, who despite being everything that is wrong with bloggers today, is surprisingly literate for a Wisconsin-based writer.


Always judge a player by his cover

So: Patrick Kane is a felon.

You can throw around words like allegedly, exaggerated, and unconvicted, but we all know that those bruises on Jan Radecki's 60 year old mug came from somewhere. Luckily for the young star, Kane plays in the NHL, where off-ice indiscretions are preferred to be swept under the rug so that the game can continue to "grow" in the American market. This stands in stark contrast to other leagues where off-ice indiscretions are pretty much the only indiscretions that can happen. Bloggers, commenters, and journalists alike have been expounding on the situation since it broke, but Radecki's very intelligent lawyer Andrew Lo Tiempo has already begun the quieting down process, which can only mean one thing...

He's in EA's pocket.

Yes, we're all very familiar with the Madden Curse, but a little Slow Fresh Oil Investigative Journalism© reveals that an NHL Curse has been raging for the better part of the last two decades.

Peter Forsberg
By all accounts, the 97-98 season was another banner year for Foppa. The Swede put up 91 points, helping his team top the Pacific Division and coming in second in overall scoring. Sounds pretty great, right? But how would you feel if you accomplished all that, only to be ousted in the first round of the playoffs by a bunch of punks in copper and blue?

Eric Lindros
Coming off a dominating season (as many coverboys do), Lindros receives a series of concussions that would derail his career and nearly dies.

Chris Pronger
In similar fashion to Forsberg, Pronger has a career year, pulling in the Hart and the Norris, but the Blues are tossed from the postseason by a hapless Sharks squad.

Owen Nolan
Misses over a dozen games for injury and nearly a dozen more for this gem.

Mario Lemieux
After returning from retirement and leading his team to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2000, Super Mario followed that up by only playing 24 games due to his hip falling off and watching his newly-purchased team miss the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.

Jarome Iginla
Truth be told, not an extraordinarly bad year for Iggy, save an injury or two and some lagging production. But isn't playing for the Flames cursed enough?

Dany Heatley
I think we all know how this went.

Markus Naslund
Entire season cancelled due to lockout. Gee thanks, Markus.

Vincent Lecavalier
Nothing major, but Vinny came home from Turin sans-medal and squeaked the Lightning into the playoffs as an 8th seed. They lost out in the first round and watched some jerks levy the 8th seed in the West into a Stanley Cup Finals appearance.

Alexander Ovechkin
This schmo posted a career-low 92 points after appearing on the cover.

Eric Staal
at his own bachelor party, suffered a decrease in offensive production, and became part of the first team to miss the playoffs twice in a row after winning the Stanley Cup.

Dion Phaneuf
Career low 47 points and the whole having to be a Flame thing.

Patrick Kane
That leaves us with the mouthguard-chewing, cabbie-heisting Kane. If he does stay on the cover, expect to hear very little about the incident until the game is released. EA has as much interest as Kane, the Blackhawks, and the NHL in keeping this potential inferno in a controlled burn. Radecki reacted as anyone would to assault and robbery, and he will likely also react to the hefty settlement as anyone would: silence.

So spread the word! Warn your professional hockey-playing friends! Write your Member of Parliament! To appear on an NHL cover is an act of hubris that will result in the Hockey Gods' terrifying vengeance.


What are the odds?

Hark, dear readers, and find comfort in my voice, for I have returned from a BDHS-esque road trip down and up the Western states of the Union. Although my vacation lacked the serenity of twilit nights whiled lazily away with my young family in darkest Canada, it made up for it with big city nights, incredible food, California girls, and a jaunt down the PCH whose jagged cliffs, crashing waves, and pubic hair-straightening chicanes will be forever seared into my memory.

Exorbitant wireless rates and long stretches of driving kept me from imbibing Oilers news (or lack thereof) at the pace to which I have been acclimated, resulting in a severe feeling of withdrawal. However, the cold sweats gave way to a certain ease of mind I haven't experienced since our team officially fell out of playoff contention. For the first time in weeks, I didn't wake up thinking about Dany Heatley (thankfully a non-issue), the Bulin Wall (as divisive as ever), or Andrew Cogliano's feelings (unhurt, I assure you). Instead, I relished the rays of the angry sun and let my brain steam in its own juices, dulling the pain with unbelievably cheap beer. Imaginary rosters and swarming microstats evaporated and I loved every minute of it.

Until I got to Vegas.

It was to be the last stop on our trip that carried us through Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, SanFran, LA, San Diego, and LA again. 4 days of further debauchery to cap it all off, before striking out on the remaining 1500 miles that would lead us home. It started off well enough, with me and my compadre indulging in all the LV standards: giant margaritas in plastic skulls, mindless gambling, the Spearmint Rhino, food in ridiculous portions, and total disregard for the daylight hours. Despite all this, the Oilers fan in me urged me to hit a sports book and check out the futures board.

Big mistake.

One look at those odds, the bloated 50 dwarfing that tiny 1, and it all came rushing back. The uncertainty, the gaping roster holes, the vertigo brought on by the sheer face of competition that must be climbed to summit the mountain that is 8th place in the Western Conference. A week and a half of happy ignorance crumbled as the Mole Man of reality rent its surface with some nightmarish drill, powered on the hopes and dreams of Oilers fans and spewing out the black exhaust of our souls.

Sputtering on my Miller Lite, I braced myself against the swoon that pulled at the edges of my consciousness as my eyes stumbled up the list.

Nashville and Minnesota looked smugly down at us with their 40:1s, while Dallas, Colombus, and even Ottawa guffawed together like old chums, comparing the dimensions of their 35:1 chance of grasping Stanley's Mug. It only got worse from there. Three teams I used to circle as easy wins on the schedule (the Blues, the Sabres, and the Panthers) all sat 20 points up on us. Meanwhile, at 20-25:1, two teams with a Cup since the lockout, Carolina and Anaheim, hobnobbed with perennial post-season dropouts, the Habs and Rags. Calgary at 18:1 put a lump in my throat, the Human Rake's Flyers at 15:1 put tears in my eyes, and the Canucks at the same put me over the edge. My sobbing husk, heaped on the floor, was asked by a large man with a brushcut to bet some money or kindly drag itself off the premises.

It did the latter. As much as I wanted to pull myself together, pry a fifty out of my pocket, and drop it on the Boys in Blue and Orange, I just couldn't do it. I'd heard tale of loyal fans doing as much before the 2005-06 season and coming this close to a huge payout. How they bore the disappointment, I'll never know. Fifty bucks may be fifty bucks, but fifty bucks that's one enormous game away from $2500 would be too much for me to take.

Later on, swaddled in the high thread count of my hotel sheets, I reassured myself that I had made the right decision. I put myself through enough as an Oilers fan without having a dollar amount hanging like Damocles' Sword over the season. Odds are meant to be defied, but taunting Lady Luck is a harrowing pastime.


"Just Like Gretzky Used To Do"

With NFL training camps starting this week, I thought it would be a good idea to re-post this beauty from earlier in the summer courtesy of The Onion. If you missed it, grab your towel and flip-flops, because you're about to enter The Steam Room. And if you saw it when it came out, it's still worth a second look, I'd say. Make sure you catch all the proposed rule changes in the NHL press release. Enjoy.


Six Terrible Jokes About Saskatchewan

Originally uploaded by dullhunk

The Oilers announced their pre-season schedule today, and nestled among the 5 other don't-matter-except-that-player-x-proved-me-right-that-he's-horrible/great games is an outing on Sunday, September 21 in beautiful Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I wouldn't count on much work getting done down at the old wheat pool on Monday (1).

When Garth Snow answered 'Saskatoon, Saskatchewan' to Charles Wang's question about this year's pre-season neutral location, he was immediately fired under suspition of casting incantations (2), and promptly replaced as GM by Dwayne Roloson. Roli quickly cleared things up by drawing Charles a map of the province... Which was easy... Because it's a big trapazoid (3).

The location was chosen because, quote: "We're concerned that Tavares may try to run off at some point during training camp, and this way we'll be able to see him running for days (4)."

So dust off your good overalls (5) and break out the pils (6), 'cause NHL hockey is headed to Saskatchewan.


Go West! This is our destiny!

So the City of Oklahoma City and the Oilers have been quietly putting together a deal that will see Edmonton's dormant AHL franchise heading to the capital of Texas' Toupée (aka Oklahoma). Big Willis Style confirmed as much, and I've been musing over the move for the past couple days. The whole thing seems to be flowing very smoothly, setting it apart from the herky-jerky Oilers offseason thus far. Naturally, I got suspicious and started doing some hard-nosed investigating. As it turns out, my late night dumpster diving is good for more than just finding furniture and meeting singles!

There I was, thigh-deep in Pat Quinn's soiled Depends, and what did I see nestled between a half-eaten tuna melt and a heap of Dany Heatley Oilers jerseys? A document outlining the names they've been knocking around for the new franchise.

The following is a transcript of what the Slow Fresh Oil: Forensic Unit has been able to decipher amid the tuna splatter and cheesy grease stains:


Meeting Minutes
July 7, 2009

I. Call to order
Chairman Daryl Katz called to order the meeting of AHL Franchise Naming Committee at 13:30 on July 7, 2009 in the Executive Board Room located 20 floors below-- [illegible].

II. Roll call
Kelly Buchburger, Secretary, conducted a roll call. The following people were present:
Daryl Katz, Owner, Grand Poo-bah & All-Around Sweet Dude
Patrick LaForge, President & Chief Executive Officer
Kevin Lowe, Alternate Governor & President of Hockey Operations
[illegible, very large glob of tuna]
V. New business
i. Naming of the newly approved AHL franchise in Oklahoma City
Mr. Katz discussed importance of living up to the great naming tradition of Oklahoma City sports franchises. Mr. Katz proceeded to praise the rich history and the effective naming/branding efforts of such storied franchises as the Thunder (National Basketball Association), the RedHawks (Pacific Coast League), the Yard Dawgz (Arena Football 2), and the Lightning (Women's Football Alliance). Interrupting, Mr. Lowe asked for confirmation that all of the listed franchises were indeed real and not figments of Mr. Katz's imagination. Secretary Buchburger showed Mr. Lowe the Wikipedia articles for each franchise on his iPod Touch. Mr. Lowe poured himself a neat scotch and downed it rapidly--
[illegible, small-to-medium cheese stain, likely a sharp cheddar]
List of Suggested Names:

Oil Drops
PROS: Strong link to parent franchise; Strong link to oil industry of target region
CONS: Negative link to plummeting oil prices/struggling economy of target region; Sounds like a Peewee team name

Yard Dawgz
PROS: Strong recognition in target region
CONS: Already used by AF2 team in target region; Stupid name

PROS: Honours prominent Gaylord family of target region; Ending the name with -z, to quote Mr. Katz, "Totally makes it sound totally extreme..."
CONS: "...Wait. Gay-Lordz. Omigod. No dice, LaForge, you giant queer."
Note: Mr. LaForge insisted that the records show that he is all about the punani. Not that there's anything wrong with...[illegible]

PROS: Strong recognition in target region; Logo concept complete, see fig. 1.6 [image shows Unabomber police sketch with hastily drawn-on shutter shades]; See second PRO listed under Gaylordz suggestion
CONS: Negative link to the deadliest act of terrorism within the United States prior to the September 11 attacks; Shutter shades are totally out this year

PROS: Jetpacks are sweet; Star Wars is sweet
CONS: 4 people have read the Arms & Equipment Guide; 4 people!; EVER!
Note: Meeting delayed for approx. 45 minutes to allow for Mr. Katz and Mr. LaForge's debate over the best New Jedi Order novel. It was settled that Dark Tide I: Onslaught is the best novel.

Flaming Lips

PROS: Honours famous band from target region; Possible cross-promotional opportunities
CONS: Compromises planned sponsorship by Rexall-brand herpes medication; Possible link to Calgary Flames organization

Note: At this juncture, Mr. Katz proceeded to play She Don't Use Jelly at an excessive volume, ignoring the meeting. After lighting a marijuana cigarette, Mr. Katz informed all attendees that all "squares" would be fired and that he could "totally feel" the lyrics of the song. Mr. Katz then ate four donuts in rapid succession and fell asleep under the catering table.

Meeting was adjourned by Mr. Lowe, who deemed Mr. Katz incapacitated and incapable of fulfilling his duties as chairman.

Next meeting: TBD


There you have it! A thrilling peak behind the scenes of the fast-paced world of professional hockey franchise ownership. If all their meetings are anything like this one, I think the fans in both Edmonton and Oklahoma City can all look forward to a great new franchise.

I mean, it can't be any worse than Springfield... Can it?


Dog Days of Summer

Gary Larson's hilarious musings aside, there's a lot of uncertainty about when exactly man domesticated the dog. Was it the mesolithic age? The neolithic? The consensus in the archeological community seems to be that humans and dogs began their 'best-friend' relationship somewhere between 10 and 30 thousand years ago. That is why it is with great pleasure that I can announce that SlowFreshOil has obtained evidence that canine domestication began much, much earlier:

I can't quite tell if we're looking at Homo Habilis or Home Erectus here*, but based on these findings, I think we can all agree that we're talking early Paleolithic age. Probably 1.5 - 2 million years ago.  It's nice to finally put this archeological mystery to rest**.

*Grow up.

**And seriously, good on Zack for getting out into the community in the off-season and putting in face time for a worthy cause.


City of Chumpions

What is that sound high in the air
Murmur of maternal lamentation
Who are those hooded hordes swarming
Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth
Ringed by the flat horizon only
--T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland

It's been a wild couple of days in the NHL and the Oilers have been prominent as always. Unfortunately, prominence is an axe that swings both ways and, by most accounts, the Edmonton Oilers' very public inability to woo or keep any big ticket players (the most recent example being Dany Heatley) has branded the club and, by extension, the city as a post-apocalyptic no man's land where hockey goes to die. We must look quite the fools sending our leprous management team, dressed in crudely patchworked scraps of 1980s power suits, to convince actual hockey players to play for us. Even when we manage to reel in a star, it doesn't take very long for them to grow weary of the daily deathmarch over cracked earth to the mausoleum that is Rexall Place, thrusting up at the sky like a gravestone on these empty plains. Lucky for them, we, the fans, are much too down-trodden and wrapped up in our own self-loathing to notice them leave.

Everyone over at ON seems to be steeping in vitriol over this Heatley fiasco and they are sending out the call that we should pull back our tattered hoods, squint through the clouds of ash and pestilence, and look for the milky white dot that used to be a blazing sun of hope. And we will. We will rekindle that fire in our hearts that gets doused every off-season and we will work ourselves into that all-too-familiar frothing mob of loyal fans (last seen when the Oilers managed to string a pair of wins together). With or without Heatley, we're still lucky enough to have a professional hockey team in Edmonton. A team that bares its intentions for all to see and has the scars to prove it. A team that does not differentiate between desperation and passion. A team, God bless it, that will fly its three top execs to the summer home of a bonafide goal scorer at the 11th hour, just on the off chance they could convince him to end this madness and agree to score those goals for us.

So it didn't work. Yet. So we're all going to have to continue playing the waiting game. For now. So we're the laughing stock of the League. Fuck it. We're the goddamn Oilers and we're gonna do whatever we damn well deem is necessary to grab the bull by its short and curlies and, if we get shaken off, you can bet your ass we'll stand up and try again.

So, gentle readers, we're all in this together. We gotta hang on tight, prepare for anything, and hold onto what is really important in the midst of all this insanity:

Someone better remember to pick up Nikolai at the airport.


Are you smarter than a first-rounder?

Before we hit tomorrow's craziness (who's ready to get their Dominion Day on?), I thought I'd throw up a post about today's news out of Calgary. We've seen pending UFA's get traded in the past and sign before July 1, so it was no surprise to hear that convicted felon  Jay Bouwmeester is adding 'Calgary Flames defenceman' to his rap sheet.

Now that he's signed, I can already hear the chorus of tsn comment-thread commenters talking about how 'smrt it wus' [sic] for Darryl to trade for J-Bo's rights. I've even heard Oilers fans in the past couple of days say they wish we'd have offered Florida a better package for him. And I just don't get it. Any of it.

This has been discussed before, but as far as I can tell, from a purely economic standpoint, it doesn't make any sense for Calgary to make this trade...unless they think they're signing J-Bo for less than it would cost them on July 1.

It also doesn't make any sense for Bouwmeester to sign the deal (apparently 6.6 cap hit) either, unless he thinks it's better than what he'll get on July 1. That would mean:

1) that he thinks Calgary's offer is better than anything else anyone would ever offer (probably by a pretty wide margin, too, because if you hit the open market, there's always a chance of a bidding war).

2) that he thinks for some reason Calgary would take back their offer once free agency starts, otherwise why not just wait and see.

The argument comes up that the reason these trades make sense is because they're all a bunch of lying liars who have been secretly negotiating for weeks, and everyone knew exactly how it would go down before the trade ever got submitted to the league. There's probably some truth to that, but it still doesn't make much sense for J-Bo unless he's been secretly negotiating with all the interested teams, and if that's the case, then what the hell do we even have free agency for anyways? And then if Calgary had indications he'd sign their offer, why wouldn't they just wait until July 1 and save themselves some assets?

Seriously, if anyone can explain this to me, I'm all ears. I genuinely don't get it. But hey, at least this will keep anyone from confusing Dion Phaneuf with a top-pair defenceman.


Let the Right One In

Now that Draft Day and its accompanying hype have come and gone, it becomes easier to regard it in its true form: a crapshoot. All the speculation falls onto the shoulders of the young men brought in as prospects and we, as fans, sit and pray and hope and make sacrifices to our venegeful lords in the hopes that, when the dice stop tumbling, we're not looking at a pair of ones.

When it comes to assessing a new player to the Oilers organization, the Oilogosphere's analysis is as detailed as it gets. Unfortunately, any insight we feel we might have with a particular player is as good as having a hunch about a coin flip. How can we predict all the twists and turns of a young man's development? How do we account for that time little Magnus walked in on Papa Gunnar giving the ol' falukorv and lingonberries to his sweet Finnish Mama? It's all grasping at straws, but rest easy knowing that we here at SloFreO will grasp violently at those straws, rending them with our desperate, knobby hands.

Once our staff had been given "Warm Regards"-level clearance from the fine folks in Magnus' camp, we dove right in and combed every hair of his website in search of crunchy, nutritious nuggets of information. What follows is a series of excerpts that are chock-a-block with relevant and revealing divinations about our new import...

Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson was born in Norrkoping april 12 1991 - just three weeks before Mats Sundin scored the game winning goal against the former Soviet Union in the final game of the World Championship in Abo, Finland, just 116 weeks after the first game of hockey, just 10 weeks before the Calgary Flames took the third, yet most memorable Swede of the 1991 Entry Draft in Niklas Sundblad, and roughly just 727 532 weeks after the dawn of civilization in the Levant region of Western Asia.

Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson has appeared in every game for Timra IK in Elitserien during the 2008/2009 season except while spending time off-planet to play in the InterDimensional Laser Hockey Championship hosted on Zetaton-3, Horsehead Nebula.

Q: Do you have any personal rituals in the dressing room?
A: No, nothing. In fact, I demand total silence from all my teammates. This is essential for the completion of my blood pact with Hyrrokkin, Giant Hag of Winter Storms. O Wolfrider! Snap your reins, twisted serpents be they, and hie to my side! Lend me the strength of your terrible hand, O Giantess, so that I may smite each coward before me! [unintelligible grunts and wails] But no personal rituals to speak of at all, no.

Q: What did you dream of becoming as a child?
A: I always wanted to be a hockey player, all my life. There has never been anything else. I never dreamed of becoming a train driver, pilot or anything like that. I never had the insatiable desire to be the lone man at the helm of an unstoppable, hulking mass of steel. I never ached for the feeling of a vessel's controls rattling in my clenched fists, as it careens across thousands of kilometers at an incredible pace. I never longed to know the burden of being the last safeguard between thousands of innocent lives and the horror of a mangled, fiery death. Never. Not once.

Q: Is there anything great with long trips on buses?
A: It's really good for team-building and it also gives you a chance to relax and to disconnect from the rest of the world and its wastelands, void of honourable souls and infected with vice.

Well now, what a level-headed young lad. I think what stands out the most is how normal this guy really is, hey loyal readers? I think us Oilfans will be enjoying Magnus' steady development into a responsible player with an even-keeled skill set for many a year to come.


Player 2 Insert Coin To Start

Well, I might as well get to it. Downright Fierce asked me if I would contribute to this blog, and I have to admit that I have my doubts I'll have much of interest to say. I'm no sports journalist, I'm not a stats whiz, or a Toronto area lawyer. I'm not a brilliant writer with encyclopedic knowledge of the Montreal Expos cerca the 1980s. I'm not sure how much I really have to contribute to the Oilogosphere at all.

But just now I was sitting on the deck of my family cabin, watching the fireflies as the sun disappeared under the horizon. In my one hand, I was balancing a lit Cohiba and a cold one. In my other, I was on my iPhone, signing the guestbook at Paajarvi.com. And just then an overwhelming feeling came over me that I was some kind of Jeff Foxworthy punchline about being an Oilers blogger.

So thanks to Downright for letting me invade this space, and I guess we'll see how things go once I try putting something up here with substance. Oh, and you're very welcome, Magnus:

Thank you for adding to my guestbook.

Warm Regards,
Magnus Paarjarvi-Svensson


Christening the Unsinkable Blog

Well, here we are. It's D-Day and I'm ready to storm the beaches of the Oilogosphere.

The endless hype and speculation has gotten me ready for anything to happen in Montreal, but I'm also ready for nothing to happen. Will Tambi be left leaning against the wall like the redheaded girl with a clubfoot and braces? Or will he swing into the Bell Centre on a chandelier, swashing everyone's buckles and moistening our collective undies? Only time will tell.

Strap yourself in and stay tuned to your lightning boxes, folks, this should be one helluva Draft.