Wednesday, September 27, 2006


A "me" kinda guy

The funk from Darryl Sutter's Cohibas has yet to clear in the head coach's office at the Saddledome, but ESPN correspondent George Johnson already feels comfortable screwing in his sharpest nib and shivving Sutter in the back with some harsh adjectives:
After waiting so long to be put in charge of an NHL team, [Jim] Playfair is fully aware the skeptics think he'll merely be playing Charlie McCarthy to Sutter's Edgar Bergen this winter, that the general perception out there is of Sutter the omnipotent, Sutter the manipulative, Sutter the overbearing... Sutter took a fading franchise and pumped oxygen into its lungs. His blunt (some might say toxic) style in the dressing room had perhaps played itself out, though.
The closing paragraphs of Johnson's piece, however, have the astonishing effect of making me like Sutter—by casting Playfair in what, for my money, is the worst possible light.
Playfair recalls vividly the night the Sutter-coached Indianapolis Ice won the American Hockey League championship. Playfair was the captain of that team. "He was really tough on us, very, very demanding, but in the end it was worth it. We won," Playfair said. "I remember Darryl wouldn't come on the ice when the game was over and join in the celebrations. We all skated over to the bench and 'Come on! Come on!' But he wouldn't. He just kept shaking his head and saying 'This is your time. You deserve it. Enjoy it. As I said before, all about the players."
So years later, when Playfair coached the baby Flames to an AHL title, his mind drifted back to that night years before. How did he handle the identical situation?
"I went on the ice. I had my kids passed down out of the stands and I told them, 'This is for all the school plays I missed and all the times I wasn't there. Go on,'" he said. "And they were running around the ice, having a great time. And I joined them."
Welcome to the 21st century, where, thanks to Playfair and people like him, the celebration after a league championship is now considered a fucking play date. (And the stoic, gruff, self-abnegating attitude that has characterized winning sports coaches since the days of Amos Alonzo Stagg is now considered "toxic.") Weren't there other people you could have invited down out of the stands, Jim? How did your mother-in-law feel about the snub after all the free babysitting she did during your road trips? Your chiropractor works hard, shouldn't he have been invited down to the ice? And I'm sure he has kids of his own. And of course they all have cheap digital cameras. Hey, any way we can we move this trophy out of the way?

Prediction: Calgary isn't winning a goddamn thing with this guy in charge.


Prediction: Calgary isn't winning a goddamn thing with this guy in charge.

Not exactly a bold prediction, considering they've never won anything with anybody in charge. It's like saying the Kansas City Royals won't win with a new guy in charge.

As I've noted, I'm horrified along with you at the whole resemblance of trophy presentations to "a GE Company picnic". And Johnson's equation of "blunt & gruff" to "imperious asshole" is just plain wrong, on many levels, not just specific to Darryl Sutter.

Singling out Jim Playfair, though, is obviously ludicrous. We all know that if the Oil had won G7, then every story about Pronger's abandonment of the city would have been accompanied by a picture of he and his kids posing with the Stanley Cup, from ice level at the RBC Center.

(Singling out Sutter for the way he handled things is probably wrong, too: that Turner Cup win (it was IHL, not AHL) was in 1990, before wankers unknown instigated the transformation of these celebrations.)

I wish for once there was an Oilers blog that didn't hate on the Flames constantly. I mean, I know there's a rivalry and all that, but can't intellectuals actually respect achievement? The Oilers repeated what the Flames did a year afterwards, and you know what? The Flames looked better going down in game 7. Sure the Oilers came back from adversity, but at no point in game 7 did I feel that they had a chance at winning. Shame, because I loved last years team...

You know Colby,

I have to point out that Marty McSorley, when he was with the Oilers, brought his dad on the ice to celebrate the 87 cup win.

If you know Jim Playfair like I do (We're from the same hometown and I was good friends with his little brother), you realize that Jim is always about family. Jim comes from a very close family, and if he wants to celebrate on the ice with his kids, he's entitled to it. He helped create that moment and he's entitled to it, not you.

Now having said that, I am glad that people are actually writing about the Oilers and Flames winning the NW division. I still think the OIl will win though.

anonymous, this isn't an "Oilers Blog" -- read the site header. It's a blog for trash talk between Oil and Flames fans, not a fucking counselling session.

Alana took the rant out of my mouth.

Hey anonymous, obviously you're a flamer. You must be to say that "the flames looked better going down in game 7." I watched both the Flames and Oilers in their respective runs with a friend of mine (a lowly 'Nucks fan), and he pointed out what I thought was just my biased opinion. That is that the Flames never even competed in their Game 7 and that their fans all but chopped off their hands in Game 6 by the beginning of the second period. Battle of Alberta baby... If I were a flames fan I'd comment as anonymous as well.

(1) Um, exactly how little could a Playfair brother be? I'll believe that when I see it.

(2) I enjoyed watching Marty McSorley. That said, Marty McSorley is not anyone's idea of a guide to sportsmanlike virtue.

(3) I hope Anonymous isn't suggesting that saying nice things about Darryl Sutter and nasty things about Jim Playtex adds up to "hating on the Flames." Is this the same Calgarian math that got me in trouble last season for saying Kiprusoff should have won the Hart?

Probably worth mentioning that Sutter hates joy and can't experience happiness. That might explain his reluctance to go on the ice.

The Oilers repeated what the Flames did a year afterwards, and you know what?

Yeah. I'm tired of this "repeated a year later business." Until you losers win 5 Cups and appear in 7 Stanley Cup Finals, you're following in our footsteps. 4 more of each to go. Don't hold your breath.

Until you losers win 5 Cups and appear in 7 Stanley Cup Finals, you're following in our footsteps. 4 more of each to go. Don't hold your breath.

This one is like having two (legal) aces up your sleve, that your opponent knows you have, but can't do a thing about. And you can always whip 'em out when the time comes.

This one is like having two (legal) aces up your sleve, that your opponent knows you have, but can't do a thing about.

I'm not so sure that they do know we have 'em. Cosh mentioned the other day that Calgary fans are like a primitive culture that doesn't recognize numbers greater than three. Their cultural memory doesn't appear to extend back further than 2003-04 either - I think it's quite possible that prior to that time, they lacked the ability to read, write or speak, preventing stories of past NHL games and seasons from living on in oral or written histories in the region.

I find their continued evolution encouraging.

I've already stated my opinion on sports bigamy, especially as it relates to the Battle of ALberta, so I won't state it again (unless I decide to state it again). I also want to reinforce that this is a site ABOUT the Battle of Alberta. It wouldn't make much sense if we all just jerked each other off. That being said, I think most people on this site have a healthy respect for each other, if not each other's teams. We give each other a hard time, because that's what friends do. Being emotionally reinforced is what grandparents are for.

Alana - that was beautiful!

I don't get how boosting Sutter and crticizing Playfair is construed as anti-Flames either.

Also that repeated crap is hubris of the highest order. It's like saying the Flames repeated what Anaheim did the year before. Each time a team reaches the final it's an acheivement in itself. Saying that someone repeated what another did suggests emulation and downplays that acheivement.

Finally, I think I love you Alana...your words have the beauty of poetry, "Everything Charles Wang touches turns to funny" still brings a smile to my face.

Let me be another voice to call for fewer hangers' on flowing onto the ice following the Cup clinching game. (as an aside, can I also call for a total ban of players' wives INSIDE the ropes?) But if Playfair does win anything, I'm suddenly a lot more flexible about his kids getting a pass. Ultimately I think Playfair is going to be a transitional coach (I guess all coaches are transitional) between the Sutter way and the 'new' way to coach in the league. I'm not sure I'm crazy about the Flames division of labour on the management side: are Sutter as GM and Playfair as coach pulling the ropes in the same direction? I think the Lowe/McTavish combo is better at it, but there isn't really enough data to judge Jim yet.

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