Brave New World

I'm finding that it has become gauche to discuss the current Edmonton Oilers team in polite company. I was at the game last Friday against Dallas, and after the Stars scored the game-winner with 20 seconds left, the reaction in the building wasn't one of anger, or even frustration. It was more like a collective "Hmm, I guess that's how they're going to screw this one up." Very matter-of-fact. A few minutes later, a chant of "Tay-lor-Hall. Tay-lor-Hall" could be heard drifting up from the LRT station.

This town has pretty much lost interest in the present, and is already looking towards the future. And, just like the rest of Oil country, I find myself looking forward to the summer. But I'm not even talking about this summer. Truth is, I'm already expecting next season to be a wash, as the Oilers start their rebuild. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure next year will be a lot more fun for the fans, as we watch Eberle and Hall. I'm pretty sure it will be more fun for Sam Gagner too, as he quietly snickers to himself every time he passes one of the rookies getting yelled at in Pat Quinn's office for their inevitable mistakes. But on-ice success? It seems unlikely to me.

So what then will the summer of 2011 hold for the Oilers? Let me take an early crack at guessing. After a record fifth playoff miss, blamed largely on injuries to Khabiboulin and Jagr, the Oilers will kick off the summer on draft day by (shockingly!) keeping it in the family by drafting David Musil in the top 10. Pierre McGuire will not be impressed. July 1st, while droves of teens greedily clutch their well-worn iPads and stand in line for opening day of Transformers 3, the Oilers management team will look to their old friend free agency to fill out the roster. Unfortunately, after Joe Thorton re-upped with the Sharks, the pickings will be a bit slim. The Oilers will pitch Simon Gagne hard, but end up missing out. Instead, they will sign Michael Ryder to a reasonable contract, and spend a bit too much money/term on an injury-prone Tim Connolly. Tyler Dellow will not be impressed.

Georges Laraques, after having retired as a UFA partway through the previous season, is announced as the Oilers new strength and conditioning coach, finally severing all ties between the Oilers and the Moreau family. As training camp rolls around, the media will be openly questioning what will happen to Pat Quinn if the Oilers don't get off to a good start. The Edmonton Sun will run an article, opposite a Terry Jones hit piece on Rexal-brand shaving gel, asking whether a Renney-coached team would mean an end to Horcoff's captaincy, and whether Jordan Eberle is ready to take on that role. Team Blue will win the Joey Moss.

Around the Oilogosphere, Pat McLean will very publicly break things off with Zoe Saldana and triumphantly return to blogging, Lowetide will finally be revealed as actually being a hockey-blogging computer built at MIT in the 70s, and Jason Gregor will draw the ire of just about everyone whith his article that seems to confuse OilersNation.com with an actual nation (based on conversations he's had with player agents and Stu MacGregor). SlowFreshOil will finally be sued by the band of the same name, but the suit will quickly be dropped after it is revealed that the authors have no money and in fact haven't updated the site in over 8 months.

So there you go. I figure that after all that craziness, and patience from the fans, the Oilers will start the 2011-2012 season as a hands-down consensus pick for 6th - 10th in the West. I can't wait.


Oilers Liveblog. Game 46. Vs. PIT.

I've heard the whispering among you, fair readers. I hear the murmurs. "What's with jesse r? It's been like a month and a half since his last post. And even longer if you're counting posts that have anything at all to do with the Oilers. What is that guy, some kind of bandwagon Oilers blogger?" Now I will admit that I've been somewhat neglecting this blog. But in my defence, I've been busy at work lately. Plus I got Dragon Age: Origins. Plus the Oilers are terrible and I hate them.

I don't hate them. I regret saying that immediately. Anyways, dear reader, I've heard your calls, and to prove that I haven't lost my Oilogosphere chops, tonight I will participate in a hockey blogging ritual older than Lowetide himself. The 'Liveblog'.


7:20 - 3-0 Leafs? I better not miss any of the first period because this game goes late. Wait. "Lemon of Troy" rerun on Fox. Never mind. All is well. "Rocky V. That was the fifth one!"

7:35 - Leafs game still on. I wonder how much they're going to play Neil Peart's HNIC theme tonight. Maybe I'l just watch the beginning of the new 30 Rock on the eastern timezone NBC for now. Nice Tron joke, Tina Fey.

7:55 - Missed the opening faceoff. Horcoff out? Does that mean that the Penguins have the 4 best centres in the game tonight? Nice save by Dubnyk midway through first. The game is kind of boring so far, though. Pens outshooting Oilers 3-1. Crosby!

8:10 - Switched to Leno to see what he had to say about the Tonight Show debacle. Didn't make that many jokes about it. Still plenty of edge, though. Take that Denny's and Maury Povich. And you can laugh all you want Kevin Eubanks, but wasn't destroying 'Local 4 News' enough for you? Now you've got to go after Conan, Jimmy and Carson too with your evil plans? Oh good: still scoreless in the game. Doesn't look like I missed much.

8:20 - First Period Over. Oilers turned the tide on the shot clock, apparently. I should pay closer attention in the second, I guess. Oh well, in the meantime, I'm just going to switch to TLC and get my 'BBQ Pitmasters' on. I don't know who you are, Harry Soo, but I would not want to mess with your pit.

8:30 - Scratch that. Found 'The Nature of Things' on CBC. It's about crows. Are you seeing this? The 'apes of the bird world'? The 'Apes' of the 'Bird world'? That is the single most terrifying phrase I've heard so far this year.

8:45 - Alright! The Oilers open the scoring! I missed the start of the second period and the goal, but I see from the internet that it was Cogs. Fleury better hope he doesn't get put in against Team Italy at the Olympics. The internet also says that Nilsson already has 10:15 TOI with 16:06 left in the 2nd? That doesn't seem like it's right. Also, do you think the younger 'A&W employee' from the A&W commercial is secretly the illegitimate son of the older 'A&W employee'?

8:55 - Visnovsky scores on the PP. And I was watching this time. Well, I was in the other room folding laundry, but still. I heard the goal. And I saw the replay. That counts.

9:10 - Jack Black on Community. He's doing a good job of playing one of his two characters: outrageously-wacky-yet-nimble-guy. His other character: guy-from-Mars-Attacks! I flipped back to game during commercial. Fleury losing his mind on Row-bear for some reason. I should flip back more often.

9:40 - Third period is underway. Now it's Conan's turn. "If NBC doesn't want people to see me, just leave me on NBC." Zing. Oh, also tie game.

9:50 - Oilers now down 3-2 on a goal by Dupuis. It's a real shame. But on the bright side...Will Arnett on Parks & Rec! I mean come on. What is this? Sweeps? Ron Swanson is maybe the best character on TV. I do wish Arnett had more scenes with Aziz Ansari, though. They have such good chemistry.

10:10 - Man, what a bloodbath. How did this even happen? CSI, you still know how to tickle my mystery bone, even with Lawrence Fishburn calling the shots. Oh, and the third period is over. Oilers lose.

10:15 - So that's it. I hope I proved to you all that I'm not some johnny-come-lately Oilers blogger who loses interest at the first sign of trouble. That I stick with this team, thick or thin. I mean come on, I missed all my favorite shows tonight, and all I got in exchange was another brutal loss. Gotta go, though. I'm missing John Stewart right now.


Rhyme Time!

The Dive for Five
The Fall for Hall
The Tank for Taylor
Lose it All to Choose T. Hall
Beggin' for Seguin
Get Fouler for Fowler
Taking the Shaft for a High Draft
By any name it's been hard to take, but our plummet through the standings has been so decisive it almost looks orchestrated. Mini-camp all you want, this team is a few quality parts (Penner, Visnovsky, Gagner) held together by a rickety substructure (Souray, Smid, Cogliano) and straight up defective elements (Moreau, Staios, Khabibulin, etc etc etc). Sure enough it will crumble even further than it has and it will be the Organization's mandate to rebuild it with new, untested parts (Eberle, MPS, 2010 first rounder) intended to make us better.

I got a freebie to the game tonight and I have a feeling this season might break my personal record for games attended. I've never been to more than a handful in a year and never have I been to two games so close together. Word on the blog threads is that people are already having trouble giving tickets away. Gratis. Without charge... For FREE, people!

It's a good sign. The fans, accused of being mindless supporters, are actually voting with their dollar and keeping their cherished meat out of the seats. Think Katz will get the message? Maybe I should bring an effigy of Lowe to burn tonight, just in case.

Sigh... Goilers.


Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods

And just for the hell of it... Brodziak showing off his short game:

Actually had a beaut of an assist later.

Nothing really upsetting about these plays, they're all pretty flukey. What is nice is they all contributed to wins against division rivals without compromising our lottery position (which is getting more certain game to game).

Also Dougie's reaction on the reverse angle of the Schremp goal makes me smile.


With Apologies to Pat McLean

The holidays brought me my first Oilers jersey. Oh sure, I've had plenty of t-shirts and hats and what have you over my lifetime. Indeed, I've owned a variety of garments emblazoned with the crest, wearing them proudly to social gatherings and family functions and court dates. But never a jersey.

I was never of great means, but there came a day when Papa Fierce asked me if I wanted a hockey jersey. I was 5 going on 6 and the Oilers had just put away their fifth Cup run in seven seasons, so of course I said yes. Yet it wasn't the blue and orange sweater I wanted, oh no dear readers. I pulled on the teal and black of the newly founded San Jose Sharks with joy, maybe even glee. I look back on my choice with exasperation, but the logic was sound: they were new; they were sharks. The greatness of my hometown team was lost on my hyperactive little brain, but the sheer awesomeness of a shark? That was easily identifiable.

I wore it to school and was mocked. The children of a sleepy Edmonton suburb saw only an allegiance to a new, weak enemy: some expansion team in California. My father was never a sports man and it was up to me to figure it all out for myself. I knew that I loved the Oilers, but they had been around my whole life! What was wrong with me rooting for the New Awesome Sharks from Wherever?

So I continued to wear the treasonous teal, even as I grinned up at Esa Tikkanen during that year's Carnival of Champions. The huge Fin took one look at my jersey and laughed cruelly as he pummeled me with his ham-hock fists... Okay, well maybe he just made light of it causing me to retreat behind my dad's leg, fighting tears and the demons inside. Why wasn't I allowed to like the Oilers and wear a different jersey? If they were the Edmonton Sharks everything could have worked out, alas Oilers they remained. Ultimately, Tikkanen went teddy bear and coaxed me back out to snap a Polaroid and sign a card or two. Then I slipped on a Carnival of Champions t-shirt that slowly filled with Oilers (and Eskimos) signatures and by the time I sat arm-in-arm around Stanley with Craig MacTavish, all brown curly 'fro just like on the tee-vee, the Sharks jersey was but a rag in my eyes. The hint of teal under my collar had been burned into the emulsion and my maturing mind for years.

Then this Christmas, my significant other slid a certain blue and orange sweater under the tree. Passed over once already, it was worn proudly to my first Battle of Alberta (another gift) where I got nice and drunk and belligerent. I hollered until my throat was raw, invulnerable behind the shield affixed to my chest.


Seems these days a Sharks jersey might garner a bit more respect in pro hockey circles than the ol' Oildrop, but maybe that's the way I always wanted it. I donned my first jersey in what could prove to be the worst downswing in team history. When, not if, the Oilers fail to qualify for the coming playoffs, they will have missed the boat for the fourth year straight. The last time this happened has been widely considered the worst era of Oiler Hockey thus far. Let's just have a cursory glance at the numbers...

From their inaugural NHL season the Oilers went 13 straight years without missing the playoffs, winning the dynastic Five-In-Seven in the process. In April 1993, the team would spend its first postseason on the links, a slump that would last another three seasons.

Once this year's funeral procession pulls to the curb, the Oilers will have matched the 0-for-4 streak, completing a Bizarro Dynasty: Five Seasons Out of the Playoffs in Seven. And me no thought four seasons crooked was good.

Last night's game versus the Sharks marked the first game of the second half of the Oilers' season. We got steamrolled, looking every bit like the Worst in the West playing the Best in the West and setting a grim tone for the games left to play. I tried to be interested in the game, but my attention waned by the time Marleau scored. The radio was turned off, a joint was rolled, and the night was (better) spent with friends, laughing, bullshitting, and filling a new decade up with wild hopes and ambitious schemes.

I have a weird feeling that Oilers management may be doing the same.

With our last two first rounders going batshit in the WJC, Lowe & Co. must be simply salivating at the prospect of a high pick. To clarify, that's the prospect of a high pick, not the prospect from a high pick. This trade deadline should be a measured culling of under-preforming vets and overpriced contracts, but if K-Lo approaches March 3rd with a lottery pick in hand, lord knows what could go down. This year's misery should mean another high-calibre addition to our prospect pool, though we could see it turn into a middling NHLer and cap space for whatever snipe we'll be hunting this offseason.

Still that's an unfounded fear that we have plenty of time to be fret over later this year. For now, we Oilers fans can take pleasure in the poetry of Eberle on ice, the promise shown by former disappointments (DP & Creme Brule), and the possibility that Pat Quinn will storm into upper management and heave the dummies out with his old man strength.

Or are those just wild hopes?

Man Games Lost to Injury Watch: 237