"A Gun Or A Good Poem?"

Edmontonoilers.com snagged an interview with Tyler Seguin at the 2010 NHL Combine the other day and picked his brain about the Combine and his experiences heading into the Entry Draft (video here). It's all pretty much boilerplate until Seguin gives a bit of insight on the interview process. Commenting on the types of questions he's received, he said the one that stood out the most was "What do you like better: a gun or a good poem?"

This is a question the Org could very well be asking themselves.

With Draft Day a scant 24 days away, the higher-ups are inspecting every minute detail about Hall and Seguin. But the big picture remains the same... A gun or a poem? The Brawn or the Brains? A natural goalscorer or a playmaker who can check? A flashy winger or a two-way centerman? Hall or Seguin? HALL OR SEGUIN?!

While Ales "Starscream" Hemsky has long been looking for a gun on the wing, will Taylor "Megatron" Hall be the right fit? How durable is he? Nothing's worse than a gun jamming on you when you're in a pinch, but if it's firing well, you can do some major damage.

A good poem is a thing of beauty: intelligent, thoughtful, subtle-- these are among the qualities of the greatest pieces to have been scribed onto a blank sheet. Good poems touch us at the deepest level, but we might not understand them until years after our first reading. But they can also be trite, silly, contrived-- a total waste of poesy and inspirado. Is Seguin a sonnet or a corny limerick? If the Gun comes into the league a-blaze, will a masterpiece in 5 years be worth passing on Hall?

According to Seguin: "Well I think guns are destructive, so I guess-- I'm not very poetic-- but I'd say a good poem over that." Of course, Tyler is trying to give the "right" answer, but he's touching closer to home than he thinks. This looming decision, balancing on the hairbreadth of a razor's edge, will decide the future and direction of the Org and will be the fulcrum of any Oilers discussion for the forseeable future. At least until we see the kids on the ice.

So, Stu, the Gun or the Poem?


My Two Halls

This is Taylor Hall, skating in an Oilers alumni game in 2009. No, not that Taylor Hall. And no, not those Oilers. It seems like the closer we get to the draft, the more divided Oil Country becomes over Hall/Seguin. With every beauty goal Taylor scores for the Spitfires at the Memorial Cup, he seems to gain more supporters in the public opinion. And with every big hit he takes, he seems to drive more fans into Seguin’s camp. It’s like Edward/Jacob all over again.

But let’s get back to this other Taylor Hall for a minute. They used to call him “City”. I’ve been reading up on him a bit, and I think he’s got more relevance to this discussion than just the names on the front and back of his jersey. Just like Windsor’s #4, I’m sure that this Taylor Hall, a Regina native, wouldn’t have minded being drafted by the Edmonton Oilers one bit back in 1982. But in the 6th round, 116th overall, Hall was picked up by the Vancouver Canucks. He and Michel Petit would be the only 2 Vancouver draft picks from that year to ever play in the NHL. Petit played over 820 games for 10 different teams in the big show. Hall played 41.

The years after the draft, Hall turned heads playing for his hometown Pats. In his 19-year-old season he finished 4th in WHL scoring with 142 points (2.06 ppg), and scored his first NHL goal during a 4 game call up. Now that was a different time in a different league, but to compare, present-day Taylor Hall tied Seguin with 106 points (1.86 ppg) in the OHL this year. The next year, 84-85, Hall made the Canucks out of camp, and Vancouver looked like it had found its self one hell of a nice young winger. Playing on a line with Peter McNab and Cam Neely, he went 1-4-5 in 7 games. Things were going great, and then that thing happened that every hockey fan who follows their favorite prospects fears. No, not that fear.

Playing in a game against the Islanders, Taylor Hall was knocked hard into a goalpost and blew out his left knee. I don’t know if the injury had a lasting physical impact, or if it was just bad timing on the development curve, but the guy never really recovered. He bounced back and forth between the AHL and the NHL for a few years afterwards, and eventually settled into a spot on the Tulsa Oilers in the brand-new CHL for the 92-93 season. He finished his playing career there, and from what I can tell, he’s has had a reasonably successful career in management and coaching at the minor pro level since then.

So does Taylor City Hall’s story tell us anything about the 2010 draft? Prospects get hurt all the time, and sometimes the consequences are big. It’s not something the team can control, and I'm not sure that I buy that it's something you can predict based on "playing style". If the Magnificent Bastard projects Tyler Seguin to be the better player, we should pick him. If not, we should pick Hall. Enough with all this hand-wringing about potential for injury.  Injuries happen, no matter which Taylor Hall you are.


The New Arenas

With the Series-of-Tubes all a-flutter about some poor journalism, I thought I'd pick up on a HHoFer Jim Matheson piece that ran in the Journal on Friday. Essentially just a "Quick Hits" filler article, Matheson skims over the unlikelihood of a Jagr signing, breaks the news that Seguin's own coach prefers Ty to Tay, and then crafts a paragraph that mentions both MPS' quest for a pro contract and two prospects that are loosely connected to Jagr. All in all, not that outstandingly bad of an article, even by ol' Matty's standards... Until the last paragraph. As printed:
Paajarvi-Svensson has his own website. Among the tidbits there are an on-ice ritual.
"If I get hit on my left side in a game, I tap my right side directly after. You know, to make it balance. You don't see it, if you don't know about it," he writes.
Looking at prospect's website? Yeesh, how could a self-respecting MSM journalist lower themselves to dip into blog-grade material? Well, Matty must have something up his sleeve here...
He rooms with another Oilers draftee, Anton Lander, in the national junior team program and his favourite musical acts are rappers Akon and Lil Wayne, who was recently imprisoned after being convicted for illegal gun possession.
Whoa, whoa, whoa... How did this not get front paged?! A nineteen year old listens to popular rap, now that's groundbreaking. But this Small Wade is a felon too? Jesus, why haven't we cut ties over character issues yet?

As Matheson implies, where there's smoke, there's fire. No doubt the Org is destined to find half an armory tucked behind a false wall in the Swede's locker, forcing a suspension in the midst of a Forsbergian rookie season and casting a long shadow over the poor judgement shown by the team.

If only they had listened to Jim, Goddamnit.

Now I know Jim must have had his eyes locked on the word count when he transcribed that little gem from Wikipedia, but that's no excuse. To put out that sort of bigoted, lazy message out there as edited, unbiased sports journalism is irresponsible and a total waste of time for anyone who had that misfortune to read it.

Which is why a blog is covering it. Take some notes, Jim.