Monday, December 31, 2007



"Poor record through 2007 proportionate to number of players off the roster injured."

"Eighteen players missed a team-high 286 games last season. The running tally this time around is 169 games missed by a dozen players. And a good chunk of those injuries were incurred between Jan. 1, 2007 and tonight's final game of the calendar year. Through that stretch, the Oilers have won 30 of the 83 games they have played."
From today's Edmonton Journal, an excellent example of sports journalism in this city (this one by Hall of Famer Jim Matheson, criticizing Ray Emery for having tatoos, is also a fine example). And hey, Oilers fans, if you thought you had a right to demand a competitive hockey team on top of intelligent, critical journalism, well, you are wrong. Joanne Ireland gave head coach Craig MacTavish his excuse, and he jumped all over it.

"I don't think it's going to end. We have some guys that are game-to-game right now," MacTavish said. "I don't see a healthy team in the immediate future -- which would be nice to see. But we are battling through it as best we can."

Ah, so nice to see. That statement came right after Ireland's "30 of 83" line, so we can see where this is headed. What's that line Vince Vaughn uses in The Break-Up? I believe it's, "You take the fun out of beating you, because you have an excuse to lose." Well, this whole story takes the fun out of cheering for this team, because they just keep finding excuses to lose. No salary cap. No Chris Pronger. Old arena. Didn't know the salary cap was going up. No one wants to play here. Rebuilding. Injuries. And on and on and on. ZZZZ. And who bails them out? The local media. If there are two constants in this city, it's that the Oilers lose hockey games, and that the media doesn't hold anyone running the team accountable for poor performance. I'm now looking forward to the "Ten straight years of missing playoffs directly related to decline in grizzly bear population" headline in 2016.

FYI, a cursory glance at the Oilers roster here and here shows the loss to injury/illness as such:

Ales Hemsky: 4 games
Joni Pitkanen: 13 games
Raffi Torres: 6 games
Geoff Sanderson: 7 games
Sheldon Souray: 25 games
Dick Tarnstrom: 12 games
Fernando Pisani: 26 games
Ethan Moreau: 38 games
Matt Greene: 26 games
Dwayne Roloson: 3 games
Mathieu Roy: 17 games

So my total is 177 missed games this season, from eleven players. I don't know who Ireland included or excluded from her list, and I may be off with someone. Not counting Roy's nine games missed due to a separated shoulder would make our results much closer. Anyway, the injuries/illness this year are real. No one can deny that. There's just other reasons why this team has played so poorly this season, as well as the last. I wish certain people would stop denying that.


It's sad and it's sweet and I knew it complete

Do I care about the Oilers? Yes. If I didn't, I wouldn't be talking about them all the bloody time. Are they wearing me out, though? Hell, yes. So, instead of ranting about how my favorite hockey team is making me doubt the existence of God, and, because it's New Year's Eve, I thought I'd focus on another subject: my plan to create the single greatest piano-rock mix ever made.

I've already put in a bunch of groundwork. I have a PhD. in Rock Chemistry from BSU (Bon Scott University), so it's no surprise that I'm moving quickly. I rifled through my cds and iTunes files today, and came up with an early, and I believe extensive, list. It looks like this:

"Southbound"-Allman Brothers
"Up On Cripple Creek"-The Band
"God Only Knows"-The Beach Boys
"Hey Jude"-The Beatles
"A Day In The Life"-The Beatles
"Let It Be"-The Beatles
"Annie Waits"-Ben Folds
"Zak and Sara"-Ben Folds
"The Ascent of Stan"-Ben Folds
"Lean On Me"-Bill Withers
"Piano Man"-Billy Joel
"Only The Good Die Young"-Billy Joel
"She's Always A Woman"-Billy Joel
"Trust Yourself"-Blue Rodeo
"Old Time Rock & Roll"-Bob Seger
"Green Onions"-Booker T. & The MGs
"That's Just The Way It Is"-Bruce Hornsby
"Thunder Road"-Bruce Springsteen
"A Long December"-Counting Crows
"Holiday In Spain"-Counting Crows
"Rain King/Thunder Road" (live)-Counting Crows
"Layla"-Derek & The Dominos
"What A Fool Believes"-Doobie Brothers
"Light My Fire"-The Doors
"L.A. Woman"-The Doors
"Right Place, Wrong Time"- Dr. John
"Your Song"-Elton John
"Honky Cat"-Elton John
"Crocodile Rock"-Elton John
"Tiny Dancer"-Elton John
"Levon"-Elton John
"My Father's Gun"-Elton John
"Blueberry Hill"-Fats Domino
"November Rain"-Guns N' Roses
"Doctor My Eyes"-Jackson Browne
"Running On Empty"-Jackson Browne
"Whole Lot Of Shakin' Going On"-Jerry Lee Lewis
"Great Balls Of Fire"-Jerry Lee Lewis
"Don't Stop Believin'"-Journey
"Separate Ways"-Journey
"Tutti Frutti"-Little Richard
"Long Tall Sally"-Little Richard
"Sweet Home Alabama"-Lynyrd Skynyrd
"Walking In Memphis"-Marc Cohn
"Paradise By The Dashboard Light"-Meat Loaf
"After the Gold Rush"-Neil Young
"Bohemian Rhapsody"-Queen
"Mess Around"-Ray Charles
"What'd I Say"-Ray Charles
"Hallelujah"-Rufus Wainwright
"Gimme Some Lovin'"-The Spencer Davis Group
"Reelin' In The Years"-Steely Dan
"Rikki Don't Lose That Number"-Steely Dan
"Superstition"-Stevie Wonder
"Higher Ground"-Stevie Wonder
"Jump"-Van Halen
"Right Now"-Van Halen
"Werewolves of London"-Warren Zevon

Rock aficionados will notice the presence of other keyboard instruments in the list. The clavinet, organ, harpsichord and synthesizer are all represented. But I've narrowed this list down to a first draft of a mix, which is 75 minutes long, and features only piano songs. It looks like this:

"Old Time Rock & Roll"-Bob Seger
"Mess Around"-Ray Charles
"Bohemian Rhapsody"-Queen
"Werewolves of London"-Warren Zevon
"Doctor My Eyes"-Jackson Browne
"Layla"-Derek & The Dominos
"Piano Man"-Billy Joel
"Walking In Memphis"-Marc Cohn
"That's Just The Way It Is"-Bruce Hornsby
"Hallelujah"-Rufus Wainwright
"Thunder Road"-Bruce Springsteen
"Zak and Sara"-Ben Folds
"Tiny Dancer"-Elton John
"A Long December"-Counting Crows
"Hey Jude"-The Beatles

I'm going to tinker with that mix. It's close, but not perfect. I'm eager to chat about three things: a) songs that are missing from the overall list, and why they should be included; b) songs that should make my final mix; c) your own final mix list, which must come in at under 80 minutes. As a bonus, here's video of Ben Folds performing "Tiny Dancer", Zevon doing "Werewolves", the air synthesizer in the "Separate Ways" video, and the late, great John Candy doing the Mess Around. Happy New Year's, everybody!

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Are you challenging me to a walk-off... Boo-Lander?

The eugoogoolizing of Joffrey Zoolander carries on at mc79hockey.


You'll have to excuse me, I'm not at my best

I'd apologize for the lack of posting, but, I'm not actually "sorry", just enjoying the break.

I have been watching, though (even went to last night's Duck-fry), and certainly have a few thoughts. Probably tomorrow. Go Flames.


San Fernando, uPitquitous Injured

Sigh. Wake me for training camp, please.

Friday, December 28, 2007


WTF: A Retrospective

Two questions from last night's game:

1) What the hell was Robert Nilsson doing on that second Ducks goal?
2) What THE HELL was Sportsnet doing showing Chris Pronger touring the Stanley Cup around this summer? Who thought that was a good idea? Who? Why not just throw in Doug Weight touring around with it the summer before, the Steve Smith goal, the Gretzky Trade press conference, as well as a clip of Bambi's mom getting gunned down? I mean, WTF?

Cosh has pictures up of the Accidental Summit that occurred last evening. It eased the pain, that's for sure. Thanks to Mike, Dave, Fish, Garnet, George Chang and Cosh for the great night (look, Mike, no links!).

p.s. Ducks fans, don't get too happy about last night's win. Your team looks awful.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Boxing Day Sale: This Post Has Been Marked Down 83%

Alright, back to work. Anyone hear what the deal is with Hemsky? This "Matty" story tells me nothing other than that he thinks Sheldon Souray is a "stud" on the blueline. Eyeroll. Unless he's talking about Souray making it to the Hot-Off finals, he's off his rocker. Souray has been okay--when he plays--but a stud? Bit much, "Matty." Stick to answering those tough questions you get ("Matty, how do you feel about trading Schremp, Stoll, Torres, Gagner, Lupul, Comrie and three first round picks for Ovechkin, Thornton and Crosby? Good deal for all, right?"). Actually, sorry. Tough job. I know. I should stop whining and just call and ask myself. My bad.

Anyway, Hemsky. Yes, Hemsky. Word? Anyone? Bueller? Will people be watching Steve Stamkos with trepidation today, worried that "Burkie" might get his hands on him? I picture him up in his mountain home, gluing antlers on James Duthie's head, muttering and cackling to himself. And what did everyone get for Christmas? I see that Loxy and Chris! got themselves some nice Oil swag. Can it be topped? Any beauty items people want to brag about getting, or giving? I wish I could say I got Smytty's two front teeth, like I wanted, but the craigslist transaction fell through last minute.

TSN just ran a feature during the World Junior Championships' pre-game show called, "Gritness as Important as Greatness?" I'd say you can't make this stuff up, but TSN just did. Crosby.

Hemsky won't play Thursday against the Ducks, but that's all this story indicates. Master Samwise will take his spot on the 1st line. Looks like Martin Lapointe hit the jackpot on the Colin Campbell Wheel of Justice.

Monday, December 24, 2007


God Bless Us, Everyone

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


If only I had back the money that me and Catherine sent that TV preacher that was screwing the hockey players.

Prediction: In honour of Clark Griswold, let's go with 0-0, with Hemsky scoring the winner in the shootout. Maybe Steve Larmer for the Hawks.

Hey! Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no! We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here! We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye! And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse!



Saturday, December 22, 2007


Battle of Alberta Interviews David Staples

***Two weeks ago, Matt and I sent off a series of ten questions to Edmonton Journal writer and blogger David Staples. David was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to answer those questions, and they are provided below (Christmas preparation and our general slothfulness prevented them from being posted sooner). The transcript has been formatted for this blog, and a few editorial changes concerning spelling and/or grammar were made with David's approval. Matt and I have some follow-up questions for David, which we will ask in the comments section. We encourage others to ask David questions, or to make comments of their own. Thanks again to David for doing this with us.***

1) First off, please tell us a bit about yourself.

a) Were you born and raised in Edmonton?
I'm from Devon, Alberta. I moved to Edmonton in 1985.

b) What is your educational background?
Devon High School, grad 1980; Carleton School of Journalism, grad 1984; Southam Fellow at the University of Toronto, 1996.

c) How long have you been a reporter?
Since I started writing for the Carleton student paper in 1981. So that's 26 years.

d) How long have you been with the Edmonton Journal?
I started in May 1985, but did a short stint at the National Post in 1998.

e) What do you usually write about/cover?
From 1992-2004, I was a general interest columnist. As a reporter, I've covered major crimes stories, done investigative work on social issues and done numerous personality profiles.

I co-wrote a book on the 1992 mass murder at Yellowknife's Giant Mine and wrote a book on anti-smoking zealot Barb Tarbox.

I've explored the criminal mind through numerous court cases and profiles of murderers and serial killers, including Clifford Sleigh, the Sand brothers, James Roszko, and Michael White. I've also profiled admirable people, artists, architects, politicians and sports figures, including major profiles on Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Barry Fraser, John Muckler, 'Badger' Bob Johnson, Valery and Sasha Kharlamov, Jari Kurri, Esa Tikkanen, Paul Coffey, Cal Nichols, Kevin Lowe, Patrick Laforge and Craig MacTavish.

f) What are your favorite sports?
NHL, NBA, English soccer.

g) What are your favorite teams?
The Oilers and Manchester United.

h) How long have you been an Oilers fan?
Since 1972. I was there on opening day at the Coliseum in 74 or 75, whenever that was.

i) How much have you written about the Oilers, and hockey in general?
I've written about hockey mainly through major features on personalities, but have also done work on player-owner relations. I do this kind of story once or twice a year. Also, along with Tom Barrett and Cam Cole, I investigated and wrote the story on Grant Fuhr's cocaine addiction. I've never covered the Oilers as a beat reporter.

j) What sports sites do you read daily?
The Journal's Oil Country; Red Rants, a Manchester United blog; Hoopshype, the top NBA site; and, more recently, Oilogosphere blogs and boards.

2) You have been writing about the Oilogosphere for a couple months now, both on your blog and in the Edmonton Journal. What got you interested in the Oilogosphere?

I did a blog last year, The Cult of Pop, which was extremely wide-ranging. I found myself having to write about too many areas, and it was taking a lot of time to become expert enough to write well on so many topics (as light as they were), so I dropped it. In that blog, I wrote now and then about hockey, and this September, I found myself wondering what it meant that Sam Gagner had made the team at age 18 and was doing OK. What was the career trajectory for this kind of player? This isn't the kind of story our regular sports department does right now, so I started The Cult of Hockey with the idea I would post once or twice a week. Being an obsessive person, though, I'm blogging every day, and have permission to devote roughly one hour each morning of my actual work day to work on the blog.

I found out about the Oilogosphere last year when I did a piece on Chris Pronger. I had a Google Alert on Pronger and started to get reaction pieces on my Pronger piece from some Oilogosphere writers--mainly comments about my utter lack of worth as a journalist for not being hard enough on Cal Nichols, that kind of thing.

What are the things that you like about it? What are the things you dislike about it?

I like the strong writing and thoughtfulness on Battle of Alberta, the critical insights of Tyler Dellow at mc79, the wisdom and depth of knowledge of Lowetide, the wit of Hot-Oil and Covered in Oil, and the inventive use of stats at Irreverent Oiler Fans. Now, I've yet to fully comprehend all the new statistical information about hockey I've been discovering at sites like Behind the Net. Much of this information is compelling, but, so far as I can tell, it has yet to be stated in a way that is useful to most hockey fans.

How do your colleagues at the paper feel about your interaction with the blogging community?

Many reporters here love my blog and many come up through the day to talk Oilers with me. It's like they think I am some kind of expert, rather than an obsessed fan who likes to shout out his opinions, which is what I am.

I don't know what the sports guys think of my blog, other than John Mackinnon, who is a blog-savvy fellow himself, and interested in many of the same questions about sports as I am. John thinks I'm way, way too obsessed with the 1980s Oilers, which is true enough, but who asked him anyway?

I'm an early adopter here when it comes to the Internet. Frankly, I'm convinced it's not just the future, it's a big part of the present. This paper is making strides to get with the program, but not everyone here is aware of the imperative to strike out, as soon as possible, on the 'Net and to learn the new set of skills it takes to be relevant here. That said, I'm more convinced than ever that there's a place for the Journal and other media outlets on the Net. Our research, writing and news judgment skills apply directly to this world.

3) The Edmonton Journal is one of the owners of the Edmonton Oilers. This raises questions as to how the newspaper and its staff can truly be an independent, objective body reporting on issues relating to the franchise. Is there a conflict of interest? If not, why? What has the Journal done to eliminate any potential conflict? Can you please explain the set-up the Journal has as it relates to the Edmonton Investors Group, in particular the EIG’s Board of Directors and the voting procedures? [ed. this question was posed prior to the most recent offer by Daryl Katz to buy the Oilers]

I've not talked to our former publisher Linda Hughes about this, but my understanding is that when Cal Nichols was working hard to get investors, he put a lot of pressure on the Journal, just like he did every other business with money, to do its civic duty and buy into the Oilers.

In the newsroom, when we heard this had happened, we all hoped we might get the odd scoop from being part owners, but so far as I know, this has never happened. That's because Linda was smart enough to completely separate the Oilers stuff from the newsroom, just as most business matters are separated from the newsroom.

So a bigwig fellow in our business department, I'm not sure who, is our contact with the Oilers. Once a year, he goes to general meetings. He is not on the 10-person boards, so he is no insider. He abstains from all votes, as I understand it, as a nod to the Journal being impartial. He gets the chairman's message from Cal Nichols, whatever that is, and no one in the newsroom, so far as I know, hears about it. I suspect he doesn't find out much from Nichols, save for the general direction of the team. Nichols himself isn't much involved with day-to-day operations of the team, and we have nothing, zilch, zero, to do with that.

The Journal has been part owner of the team for a decade now, but in the newsroom, this never comes up. No one talks about it, thinks about it. It's a non-issue, and we report on the team as we would if our parent company, now Canwest, didn't own any stake in it at all.

4) Edmonton has a reputation for being a difficult place to play hockey. Part of that reputation comes out of a belief that the players face tough media scrutiny here. Yet to many, the hockey media in Edmonton do very little in terms or scrutinizing or criticizing the team, management and ownership. Do you think it’s the media’s job to hold the team and the organization to account?

The mass media here must treat the Oilers as an entertainment, as a political player, and as a civic obsession. So, yes, we have to ask questions about the team in regards to business and political matters, everything from ticket prices to arena-building issues. The Oilers are a uniquely public business, the beneficiaries of indirect public subsidy and the holders of a public trust, this hockey team being the single biggest part of Edmonton entertainment culture.

If so, do you believe the hockey media in this city do so?

On some issues we could do a better job, but this doesn't come down to our intent so much as it comes down to our own competency. For instance, I was rating Lowe's skill as a GM earlier this year, and made a passing comment that he signed a top player in Souray. This was my own incompetence at work, as I hadn't yet studied the Souray signing in depth. Now that I've had a chance to do that, I'm more critical of the signing.

Of course, it's not our job to ask every single tough question that every fan wants asked, and we're not suck-ups, jerks and cowards if we fail to do that. If anyone reading this thinks the media should ask the tough questions to Lowe, I'd tell them to stop whining, pick up the phone and call Lowe, or e-mail him, and ask him their tough questions on their own.

We're not doctors or lawyers here in the media. We're not professionals. You don't need a license to ask anyone questions in this society.

We in the media are just gadflies, and anyone can do that job--me, you, anyone--and if people aren’t happy with the way we're doing the job of asking tough questions, then I encourage them to do it on their own. And, of course, some of you guys are doing that, but many of you could do more, such as starting to interview people directly rather than relying on mass media types to do this work.

There’s a bit too much passive aggressive whining on the Oilogosphere about the mass media. So, again, before anyone complains about the mass media again, why not try to contact the Oilers directly and see if you can get an answer?

Do you believe they ask the tough questions? Do you think the hockey media in Edmonton get an unfair ride from critics, in particular critics throughout the Oilogosphere (including BoA)?

I used to be really critical of beat reporters myself, but I'm not so much any more, not now that I've seen up close the big entertainment machine that the NHL is, how tough all the travel is, how tough all the deadlines are, how tough it is just to crank out that copy on a daily basis and deal with the players and the coach and the Oiler bosses.

You go to the press box, it appears like those guys don't even get to watch the game they are so busy writing throughout the action. It is a quiet, serious place, that press area.

This is a difficult job, not a dream job, certainly not my dream job. So, yes, I think there is way too much uniformed criticism of beat hockey writers. That said, reporters can get too tight with their subjects in all aspects of journalism, and that can happen covering a hockey team, too. So it's important for reporters to be aware of all aspects of the various issues out there and find out all they can about these issues.

Sometimes beat reporters don't do this, but sometimes they don't have the time to do it, either, so I always keep that in mind when I'm tempted to judge them. They live their lives at a terribly difficult pace.

5) More and more teams are posting transcripts, podcasts, and videos on their own sites; put another way, teams are providing fans what they want them to know directly. The logical niche for a reporter who spends a lot of time around the team, then, would seem to be providing fans with the other information; the stuff the team might not be keen to have the fans know. However, there are some issues there too: traditionally reporters have been pretty discreet about this stuff, as the "price of access". Is there a future for the team beat reporter, and if so, what kind of value will they be providing to their readers?

The future of beat reporting is going to be inside information, talking to sources, finding out things other don't know. The future is aggressively making calls and getting answers. Whoever does this best will get the most readers.

The future will also be to sift though all the information out there and put together a package of information that the average fan can digest in about five or ten minutes.

And the future will be to get close enough to the athletes to write about them in a moving and human manner, because we all have a hunger to understand more about the human experience, especially as it is distorted and changed by the experience of big time NHL hockey.

6) Who are the unnamed "sources close to the team" that journalists like Jim Matheson use? I'm not asking you to give away the game here, but if you were to take Matty's equivalent in another NHL city, who is he getting his information from? Is it the GM? The guy who empties the GM's garbage? Someone in between, like an assistant GM?

I don't know who Matty's sources are. I will let you in on one trick, though. Say you are reading a story about a player wanting to be traded, and the main thrust of the story is attributed to "sources say." My advice is to check down further in the story, see if the player's agent is quoted. It could well be that part of the interview with the agent was off-the-record, and this is the "sources say" part, while the rest was on the record.

And regarding "leaks" in general: are leaks from an NHL team generally info that the GM actually wants to keep secret, or is it info that the GM wants the public to know, but wishes to pretend is confidential (for whatever reason)? This I don't know.

7) Kevin Allen, president of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, has repeatedly informed us that professional journalists are accountable in a way that bloggers are not. However, major daily newspapers in NHL cities print rumours and speculation all the time that end up being false.

Well, since we work for publications which are more easily the targets of lawsuits, we are accountable in that very important way. We have to be careful about what we write because it could cost tens of thousands of dollars if we defame someone. This is not a small issue, and I'm sure the first time a blogger on the Oilogosphere is sued -- and this could easily happen as people write unsubstantiated defamatory stuff here all the time -- then bloggers will realize just how accountable they are as well.

But, from bitter experience, newspaper reporters already know all about this issue.

We are also accountable to our editors, many of whom believe strongly in responsible journalism. Now, some of you guys also believe in responsible journalism, but that's not imposed upon you from above, that would be an admirable personal trait that you have somehow acquired. Many, many reporters also believe in responsible journalism, too. So, if they reported a trade rumour, they would present it as a rumour, not something to put much weight on. From experience, I know if Matty starts writing about a trade rumour, that is smoke that is worth paying attention to, because Matty is close to the fire (NHL managers and agents). Otherwise, I disregard trade rumours.

Are you aware of any professional hockey journalists or editors who have been fired, demoted, reassigned, or otherwise reprimanded for printing false information?

No. Not at the Journal. I've heard of Canadian journalists fired for plagiarism, though.

An outsider's impression is that since two or more people are people are involved in printing false information in the MSM (Main Stream Media), that absolves the individuals involved from suffering consequences. Is this impression wrong, and if so, why?

I'm not sure what kind of false information you mean. I'd need an example to answer this.

8) I know of only one hockey blog that made a name for itself by printing dubious and uncorroborated speculation, and even it has evolved a lot, away from straight rumour-mongering. Given the blogs truly are free to publish whatever speculation they please, without the constraints of an official editorial policy, why do you think this is?

Well, I think that blogs that publish rumours quickly lose their appeal. In the end, we all only have so much time, and we're not going to waste our time on useless information that never goes anywhere. I started to read Eklund, for instance, and even wrote a blog post about one Eklund rumour. I will not do that again, I suspect, and I never read Eklund anymore. Why would I waste my time on rumours he himself admits are almost never true? So if people want to write about rumours and such stuff, that's their business, but their business will dry up unless they become credible sources of real news.

9) Name five things you would change about the NHL if you were the league’s Commissioner. Changing nothing or less than five things is acceptable.

• Shrink goalie equipment back to 1980s levels.
• Go back to each team playing the other teams at home and away at least once per season.
• Get rid of the point for a shootout or overtime loss. If you lose, you lose.
• Commit to the Olympics into infinity.
• Institute mandatory drug testing where the testers show up unannounced, even in the off-season.
• Crack down on boarding, the least called offence in the NHL right now.

10) And finally, some more general questions.

a) Who is your favorite current Oiler?
Ladislav Smid.

b) Who is your favorite current non-Oiler?
Sidney Crosby.

c) Who is your all-time favorite Oiler?
Wayne Gretzky

d)Who is your all-time favorite non-Oiler?
Yvan Cournoyer

e)What is your greatest hockey memory?
Henderson scores!

f) What is your worst hockey memory?
I was in on a breakaway on my supposedly no-contact senior league team, got slashed from behind in the face, had my front tooth knocked down my throat. And I got the penalty when I attempted to take revenge.

g) Who is your favorite sports writer?
New York columnist Jimmy Cannon of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, who, according to Ernest Hemingway, wrote to end writing.

h) Who is your favorite non-sports writer?
Fyodor Dostoyevsky.


Presents? Is that what you said? Presents?

"We'll open them when we get there. No, in fact, I'll save you the trouble. Your present is a giant fucking canon. And you're gonna crawl in it. Then I'm gonna get 2 pounds of gunpowder and I'm gonna shoot you right out of Jersey! And then I'm gonna drive to Jersey, and pick up all the parts of your body and put them in a plastic bag. Then I'm gonna drive to my house with you in the bag and toss you into the fireplace. I'm gonna get my glass of whiskey and watch the Charlie Brown special with your ashes burning IN MY FUCKING HOUSE! AGH!"
--Denis Leary, The Ref

The following words don't really illuminate the full frustration of the coach. You really have to watch some video of it (there's some up on the Oilers homepage, but I saw the juiciest stuff on TSN). MacT was not pleased.

"It's Christmastime and we wrapped it up and gave it to them," said MacTavish. "In the early going, Horc's (Shawn Horcoff) line was flying and I could see we were going to get great goaltending, but we didn't compete hard enough in the second period to get the game.

"You string a team along and let them stay in the game and bad things happen. We lost all the puck battles, they were stronger and more determined on the puck, and it's a bitter pill to swallow."

Not too surprisingly, Ladislav Smid was singled out.

"He was not good and generally when you're hooking guys you're losing your positioning off the boards. They're beating you and jumping to better areas and you have to overcome it by hooking and holding," said MacTavish, who might not play Smid on Sunday in Chicago.

The penalties were one thing, but MacTavish really didn't like Smid's mistake on Elias's goal.

"We talked about it in our meetings about the weakside defenceman not overplaying the strong side of the ice (where the puck-carrier was). I mean it was quite clear that Garon was going to stop everything that was stoppable, and yet we have a weakside defenceman (Smid) giving up the backdoor play again," he said.

Ouch. The backdoor play strikes again!

In more upbeat news, here's a couple stories on Aaron Sorochan's time as an Oiler.

Friday, December 21, 2007


This is my house; I have to defend it.

The Flames are back home at the Saddledome tonight, facing the Dallas Stars at 8PM MT. The game is on TSN, and although I assume we're getting Glenn Healy, I'm excited anyway, as this will be the first Flames game broadcast in HD since Mrs. Matt and I got our Christmas present hooked up. Predictions:

Score: 4-1 Calgary
1st Star: Robyn Regehr
2nd Star: Miikka Kiprusoff
3rd Star: Alex Tanguay
Loch Ness Monster: Mike Ribeiro

Go Flames.

Bonus Link: Mike Richards' 12 Days of Christmas, 2005 edition. Worth it just for Bob Cole.


Well, they stay with Mrs. Santa. I get them on the weekends.

It's the Friday before Christmas. The last non-PPV Oilers game until Santa pops by, stealing my milk and my cookies. Four sleeps until the birth of the eight pound, six ounce Baby Jesus. What better way to celebrate than with video of some Filipino convicts dancing to a song best suited for Halloween? Joy To The World!!!

Guess what happened to me last night? Shawn Horcoff got mad at me. But not just any Shawn Horcoff. A werewolf-vampire Shawn Horcoff. With thick, bushy sideburns. Who could fly. He was choked. Felt I disrespected him on this site. And just as I was saying, "no, no, Shawn, we love you on Battle of Alberta!"...I woke up. So Werewolf-Vampire Shawn, wherever you are, we love you. I love you. Don't come howl at me tonight, please. Or try and bite me and make me listen to Air Supply. Please. I just want to sleep.

Not much else to say, really. We need to win? Yes, we need to win. Myself, as long as I get to watch the FF, I'm copasetic.

The Foulest Stench Is In The Air
The Funk Of Forty Thousand Underwear
And Grizzly Dudes From Every Wing
Are Closing In To Seal A Win
And Though They Fight To Stay Alive
Their Whole Bench Starts To Shiver
For No Mere Devil Can Resist
The Horcoff Of The Oilers

That was awful. 3-2, Oilers.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Uh, is Safeway big in St. Paul?

Naturally I was hoping for a Rangers win tonight, but big, Big upz to Marian Gaborik for being the first guy in 11-ish years to score 5 goals in a game. (He took an elbow for a 5-on-3 late, and was on for the 2man PP, aiming for his 6th. I'm sure Michel Therrien wouldn't approve, but I think Lemaire had the right idea.)


It means: if you put on the suit, you're the big guy.

Back aways, after the '05/'06 season, both Vic and Tyler were playing around a bit with assessing Quality of Competition, and used a semi-objective concept called The Big 8. To see who coaches were depending on against tough competition, and how they were faring, Vic looked at results against Modano, Thornton, Naslund, Selanne, Zetterberg, Iginla, Sakic and Demitra.

This was a great idea for two reasons:
  1. It avoids the mathematical problems with (e.g.) the Desjardins numbers, discussed genially at some length here (note: I believe his methodology continues to evolve, and this is absolutely not criticism of those efforts)
  2. It's very accessible and intuitive -- several orders simpler than even perfected QComp ratings. When Vic notes that Bertuzzi was +3/-18 against The Big 8, it means that Bert got fustigated against tough comp. When Vic notes that Arnott was on for 56 EV GF, and only one of them was against the Big 8, it means that Tippett was keeping him away from Tier 1 hockey players.
Anyway, now that I've gone through that, I'm not actually interested in talking about quality of competition today. For obvious reasons, though, I am interested in looking at players (or lines) that may or may not be carrying their respective teams. These are 5v5 numbers from Behind The Net.

Not to get too sidetracked, but a word on Why These 8, roughly:
So unsurprisingly, the answer to the question, "Which team would be most screwed if their star suffered a high ankle sprain?" is the Flames. Calgary is +2.04/60 when Jarome Iginla is on the ice, and -0.36/60 when he's not; that difference of +2.40/60 (right-most column) is the biggest of the 8, with Stastny, Horcoff, and Thornton close behind.

Looking at least screwed, the smallest number in that column is Gaborik. Minnesota is still a break-even team when he's on the bench (yes, or in the trainer's room), but the better answer is probably Zetterberg. For starters, look at the 1st and 4th columns there; the rest of these guys are at least occasionally on the ice for a GF without getting a goal or assist, but not Gaborik.

But more to the point, look at the pink cells in columns 7/8/9. The Red Wings, in case their 25-6-3 record didn't give it away, are a very, very good team. They are more likely to score with their main man off the ice than any of the other 7 teams shown; they are also less likely to allow a goal. 6 of these teams are in the minus with their #1 on the bench, MIN is even, and the Wings are +0.76/60.

Also not surprising: the Oilers are awful when Horcoff isn't on the ice. 6 of the 8 here actually have higher GA/60 when they're on than when they're off, which should probably be expected. They make their money scoring: the risk/reward of selling out a bit is a good gamble, and as noted, they're more likely than their teammates to be facing opposition that has the ability to score themselves.

The two exceptions are Thornton -- the Sharks allow slightly fewer goals when he's on -- and Horcoff. I think we knew this already. However, factoring in his offensive output this season... come to think of it, the answer to that high ankle sprain question might be the Oilers. Looking at that 2nd last column (#9), the Flames could conceivably scrap along and win some low-scoring games without Jarome** (-0.36/60); the Oil is just plain atrocious (-1.12/60) sans The Heterochromatic One.

*I was planning on using a Sedin, but the Canucks' results are virtually identical whether they are on or off the ice. Worth knowing, but not worth illustrating in table form
**Damn right I'm touching wood

[Instant Addendum! Just to be super-clear: this is not intended to be rigorous in any way, it is merely some basic comparisons between very good Western Conference players (and their teams). Linemates are not factored in, but obviously make a difference. So do PP results (where, for instance, the Sedins certainly do make a huge difference to the Canucks). This is not the list of the eight scariest players in the WC. Entertainment purposes, blah blah...]

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


What's a Christmas Gram? I want one!

I'm going to pull a LT here, and yank something from an old thread out into a new post. In the comments from my post-game thoughts from last night, Dennis said:

To close on a positive, that's three games in a row where Stoll's had honest-to-goodness scoring chances. The guy's hitting the ball hard so some of those line drives should soon start going over the fence.

I agree with Dennis. Stoll is playing well, and trying hard. But the tangible results (counting numbers) just aren't there for him. He doesn't have much offensive skill around him to help him out, either, so hard work and chances don't even lead to assists. So what to do? Do you just wait? Or do you try and spark the embers? Assuming you try the latter, there's no way you can break up the top two lines, in my opinion. Giving Stoll time with Hemsky is the easy choice, but I don't think it's the best one. He (Stoll) got some time on the point on the PP last night, but Pitkanen, Souray and Gilbert aren't going to cede much there. So then what? How do you help a guy get over that hump 5-on-5, with this roster? Myself, I'd be bringing up Schremp for a quick test before Christmas. He's playing well in Springfield (six in AHL scoring and averaging over a point a game). Put him on a line with Stoll and Thoresen. That way, Stoll gets a more skilled guy around him (sorry, Marty), and Schremp gets some defensive cover from Stoll and Thoresen. It's not the best choice in the grand scheme (we don't even have John Crosbie, let alone Sidney Crosby), but I think it's the best choice the Oilers can make right now. They need more skill on the 3rd and 4th lines. It's just a Goals For wasteland right now. Nine of the team's next ten games are also against non-Northwest Division opponents, which I think makes now as good a time as any to give the other, other 44 some ice.

So, say you follow my suggestion, you could have a lineup for Friday that looked like this:




With Sanderson and Tarnstrom watching from upstairs. Speaking of, why hasn't Tarnstrom drawn in? He was activated last Saturday. Moreau could also draw in as early as Friday, which for me would bump Brodziak out and Cogliano over to right wing. Anyhow, there's my spitballing for today. And it's all based on players within the organization. I have zero belief that a trade is happening any time soon, unless it's to ship Tarnstrom out. Thoughts? it really so hard for the Oilers to change their webpage so that it shows the positions the players are actually playing night in and night out, rather than the ones they played in junior (or in their dreams)? According to the team page, the Oilers have seven centremen.


"When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer."

(The benefits of a classical education!). Actually, I doubt that A. Tanguay or any Flame is quite so self-satisfied today, and I'm sure they're glad to be home, but that was one hell of a road trip. The win last night was, as MG so wonderfully put it, "the cherry on top of a gold encrusted, stripper filled, 'Congratulations on Winning the Lottery, You Virile Bachelor of the Year!' cake". The case of Cristal that goes with it was that last two minutes, where the Flames had three shifts that were so dominant, Leclaire couldn't even look towards the bench, let alone skate there for a 6th attacker.

When things are going this well, it's time to look at what weakness are being papered over by luck or other factors, but I think I'll save that for a day or two. For now, the airing of a couple of grievances (it is only 4 days until Festivus, after all).

ONE. It remains astonishing to me how utterly shallow the "analysis" of paid hockey analysts can be. I had the misfortune of catching some of the radio pre-game yesterday, with Mike Rogers being asked why having Jarome Iginla on their wing has made such a difference for Langkow and Huselius the past number of games.

The first reason he brought up is that Iginla is such a hard worker, his linemates are essentially shamed into busting their asses. This is unsatisfying in itself, but then Rogers added, "even from the bench, players are inspired by his example". OK, so, never mind then?

And the second was that because he's physical, he creates more space for his linemates. I'm not exactly disagreeing here, although I don't really understand what he means, however: there are, what, 30 or 60 RWs in the NHL who are as "physical" as Iginla? Owen Nolan and Eric Godard are. Any explanation that fails to distinguish between the contribution of #11 and #12 isn't much of an explanation at all, is it?

Maybe this is equally shallow, but I don't see why the explanation needs to be any more complicated than this: Jarome Iginla is a very, very good hockey player who is presently at the top of his game. He can finish, he can set up. He is as good a puck handler, in the non-dangling sense, as there is in the NHL: when he has it, he keeps it in positions where it can't get taken away without a hell of a struggle. This isn't to detract from Jarome's work ethic in the slightest -- every good thing said about his effort and preparation is no doubt true -- but the biggest reason that he's a difference maker is that he's gifted, not that he's determined. Why dance around that fact?

Now, all that said, I have this idea that there is a factor that makes it easier for Iginla and his linemates to be productive beyond the plays they are making at the moment; I'd appreciate some feedback on it. The short version: I think it's likely that opposing lines/D "change their game" in a way that makes it less likely that they are burned in transition, but more likely that they give up more total chances.

We know that before Team X plays the Flames, their coach tells them to be aware when Iginla is on the ice, keep an eye on him, etc. and my hypothesis is, that compared to Owen Nolan's line:
Call it a bit of a positive feedback loop. Does this make sense?

TWO. This may be boring, but I'm going to keep hammering it as long as I keep hearing the myth. There is very little garbage time in hockey. Consequently:
Seriously. Pick out ten random box scores, and then go through them to try to identify things that were basically meaningless at the time. Goals that meant nothing more than stats-padding; a save that really didn't need to be made; a PK that could have failed without having an impact; etc. It's rare.

Peter Maher and Rob Kerr were having a discussion in November about this, because apparently Flames AC Rich Preston is a big believer in the importance of "when" vs. "how many". The Flames had allowed 23 PP goals against at the time, and says Maher, "of those 23, 20 either put the opponent in the lead, or in a tie, or brought them to within a goal, or put them up by two." This was then used as evidence that the Flames were allowing PP goals at bad times. Strictly speaking, true, and you know why? Because it's almost always a bad time!

The Flames have points in 9 straight games now, and over that stretch, they have allowed 5 PP goals. 4 of those tied the game, and the other put the opponent into the lead. Wow, 100% of the PP goals they've allowed were of the untimely variety! And yet they somehow managed to go 7-0-2, mainly because (pardon the technical jargon) they didn't allow so damn many.


He was gonna surprise us. He slipped and broke his neck. He died instantly. And that's how I found out there was no Santa Claus.

Some post-game thoughts:

• Zubov. Always Zubov. I called it on our way to the game, and I called it as soon as I saw him start in on Roli in the shootout. Zubov.

• Speaking of the shooutout, Marty Turco does this move where he starts out turned sideways, waits for the ref to blow the whistle, and then turns and pushes himself out towards the shooter as he skates in. Did they show it on tv? It's goofy. He did it for every shooter. I think he thinks he's preventing the shooter from getting an initial look at an angle, but he's a goalie...he could just be bat-shit crazy. Anyway, my buddy and I figured it was 33% that move, 33% that Turco had on gold disco pads, and 33% that they didn't play Guns N' Roses through the entire shootout, that cost us the win. Odds and skill made up the remaining 1%.

• I'm pretty positive San Fernando's brother was sitting right in front of us. If he doesn't have a brother, he has a doppelgänger, and should watch out for himself. I've seen Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park. Those dudes are evil.

• Dustin Penner looked pretty damn good out there, but he's still the first guy off the ice on every shift. He can go end to end, putz around for a bit, and then he's done. He should have had two goals tonight, but Turco made a super save on him on the breakaway in the 2nd. The interference call on him in the 3rd was complete bogus, by the way. Typical Mick McGeough (the crowd was all over him, all game). The puck is dumped into the corner, Zubov holds Penner up at the line, and Penner gets a penalty for working his way past the obstruction? Give me a break.

• Roli looked outstanding. No rebounds at all, which, besides punching opponents in the face, faking injury and tossing his helmet, is always the surest indication that he's on. The Stars tried the cross-ice pass/shot to the weak side all night long. They did the same thing last week. I don't know if that's the scouting report on Roli or not, but they did get one goal on it. Other than that, #35 was fantastic.

• Pitkanen and Souray should not be on the ice together. Pitkanen wants the puck all the time, and Souray does too. I could see it coming to blows, like in Rocky IV. Someone is gonna die.

• I don't think one can overstate the awesomeness of Pisani, Horcoff, Gilbert and Pitkanen. I've now become completely content watching Oilers games because I just focus all my attention on them when they are on the ice, and just talk non-stop about how they should be on the ice when they aren't. It really simplifies things. We score, one of them are on the ice. We don't score, it's because they aren't. If one of them is on when an opponent does score, it's either MacT's or another player's fault. If none of them is on when we do score, well, imagine how much sooner it would have happened if they had been? Quit fucking around, MacT. Get off ice faster, other non-Fantastic Four player. See? Simple.

• The Oilers have one and a half lines out of four. That's why they lose and/or end up in so many close games. They need the other two and a half lines to elevate their game to an extraordinary level on a night to night basis to win hockey games. Didn't happen tonight. Hence, OT and shooutout. To me it's that easy. One line can score with regularity. One can score half the time, and everyone else is just killing time until the other guys get their wind back.

• And yet...somehow, this team is in 9th place, two points behind the Stanley Cup Champions, with a game in hand. What the hell? Even more what the hell: how does St. Louis have five games in hand on us? Did they get some time off to celebrate Chrismukkah or something?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now

A 6-0-0 road trip. That's absurd. Ab-surd. Not only is Calgary in a playoff spot, they're clear of 9th by a game and a half.

Go Flames.


He must be a South Pole Elf

Glove tap to Boondock for this link (and idea). I laughed my jingle bells off. I've now gone and made my own. Unfortunately I couldn't add a voice, as the line was down for maintenance, but it would have said this:

"Scorcoff, San Fernando in the...shootout! Scorcoff, San Fernando in the...shootout! Scorcoff, San Fernando in the...shootout! Scorcoff, San Fernando in the...shootout! Scorcoff, San Fernando in the...shootout! Scorcoff, San Fernando in the...shootout!"

Say it really fast! Scorcoffsanfernando in the...shootout! Scorcoffsanfernando in the...shootout! Nice. You get the drill.

Guess what? What? I'm going to the game Tuesday night! Yeah! So I won't be around to comment during the game. Boo. As for my prediction, well, you just yelled it. You sound so smart. Here's a little game we can play, though. A game?

Yes, I thought of it while crying tears of joy on the floor after the game Saturday night (more to come on that, btw, if Loxy ever gets off her sass). She smells like cheese. List your top-five favourite Oilers, right now. All-time? Current players only. But you said someone twice? He moves me so. Who are those guys? I only use nicknames, because I'm awesome. Oh. Awesome!

1) San Fernando
2) Scorcoff
3) Gilbert Gilbert
4) uPitquitous
5) San Fernando

Now let's fight about who is right all day long. It will certainly be you, Andy Grabia!


Hey, you still here? Lucky you. You get to watch this video of Mr. Glass talking about his return to action. Note Jim Matheson grinning his face off at the beginning of the video. Cool, eh? So cool!

Still here? more. Now watch the video of Schrödinger's Torres talking about his injury. Note the Gene Principe grimace at the start, Dave Mitchell from CFRN still hogging all the question time, and The Talented Mr. Samwise undressing in the background. Sexy, eh? Ew, why's he always wearing the same red ginch?

Monday, December 17, 2007


Carnac the Magnificent

Jarome Iginla, Sergei Zubov, and Joffrey Lupul:

Q. Name three players who have f**ked over the Edmonton Oilers...

Ahhhh, I kid, they're this week's NHL three stars. My favourite part is Jarome Iginla's 3rd period line in those four games: tying goal with 10 seconds left, hat trick, goal, game-winning goal. Good times.

Also, you may notice that this post's header is not a line from a Christmas movie. Whoops! Actually, I'm quite clear that Andy and I are pretty much amusing each other and no one else with that gimmick, but hey, it's our blog, and we deserve to be amused too! I have enough material to make it to the 24th, A.G. -- hope you do too.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Only one thing in the world could've dragged me away from the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window

...the pay-per-view stylings of Roger Millions and Charlie Simmer? Nah. The Flames are in St. Louis at 4PM MT, but I think I'll just catch parts on the radio and cross my fingers.

Calgary's four straight road wins (and points in 7 straight) have gotten them back into the thick of it. Next step is to work their way into the glob of teams currently 2nd-to-7th, starting tonight (I assume we can all agree that while finishing 8th would be better than 9th, it's a sub-sub-optimal seeding in the Western Conference). The Flames played what was probably their best game of the year against St. Louise at home 12 days ago, outshooting them 37-14 over the final ~50 minutes, and pressuring wave after wave after wave.

Today's primary concern: a Southeast Division hangover. Florida looked pretty good, I thought (enough that I will happily predict they win the SE this year), but Carolina and Tampa look to have serious problems. SE teams are 36-49-7 this season against the other 5 divisions; that's a Win% that gets you into the draft lottery.

Today's secondary concern: was Kipper just tired against the Hurricanes? The Adams goal was the worst he's allowed all season; the Larose goal was no snipe either. Considering the 'Canes had 36 shots, they had surprisingly few good scoring chances. I think the answer to the question is "Yes", but we'll see.

Metrognome covers St. Lou's recent struggles, the debut there of Andy-Mac and the insertion of Primeau back into the lineup (keep your stick off of blue things and you'll be fine, Wayne!). I cover the fearless prediction.

Calgary 2 (Primeau, Iginla)
Mound City 1 (who else?)

Go Flames.


Son of a Nutcracker!

Too tired to say much, but don't want to end the night on the downer that is the previous post. Let's just say that the evening couldn't have been much better for me. I spent the night with Loxy, Colby, Nate, and Van (the Prez showed up for a bit too!), and watched Scorcoff and San Fernando win us the game. Just an amazing night. That's two for two with out-of-town visitors and watching at Brewsters, too. Son of a nutcracker, what a night!



Shocking? Not really.

At Nichols' news conference on Thursday evening, one columnist for the Sun abandoned journalistic detachment entirely as the questioning wound up, thanking Nichols profusely for his efforts over the years and breaking into a hearty round of sycophantic applause.
--John MacKinnon

Saturday, December 15, 2007 hit Santy Claus! Just for that, no toys!

• Oilers and Canuckleheads tonight. I'll be watching the game with Loxy and Cosh, along with others. It will assuredly be a good time, especially once the Oil trounce Sanford & Duds.

• Tyler and others have already pointed this out, but I believe it's worth repeating. After laying it all on the line and calling the Edmonton Investors Group a "group of the all-time greatest guys in Edmonton history," in this story, Terry Jones attributes the following quote to Cal Nichols:

"It's all about the arena downtown. He didn't want to go there unless he owned the arena."

There's only one problem with that quote. It's wrong. Here's the correct quote, which appears in John MacKinnon's piece.

"He made it clear that he simply did not want to go there unless he owned the hockey team," Nichols said.

• Here's more Katz and arena coverage from the Edmonton Journal:

"It's time for the Edmonton Investors Group to pass the baton to Katz" (Dan Barnes)

"Can the team owner stay offstage in a hockey-mad town?" (Keith Gerein)

"Oilers bid puts new arena back in play" (Darcy Henton)

• Pierre McGuire and Rudy Giuliani have more in common than just looking like George Costanza. Here's how I picture their ideal board at the beginning of Single Jeopardy.

Prediction: 5-1, Oil. While "Three Blind Mice" plays in the background, Loxy rants about boys and how much she hates Canucks fans, I rant about the arena and the media, and an inebriated Cosh pulls a Moe and smashes our two heads together. Hilarity ensues, including me blocking Colby's devastating eye-gouge attack with the old vertical-hand-over-the-nose trick, followed by a "nyuk-nyuk-nyuk," a ""certainly, judgie,"" and a consequent slap of my face.

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Friday, December 14, 2007


Look at you. You used to be so cocky. You were going to go out and conquer the world

Flames @ Hurricanes, RSN West, right now.

If the Flames win tonight, they will, however briefly, be tied for 5th in the WC (points, not Win%). And you know what? It's exciting.

Calgary 3 (c'mon, Lombardi!)
Carolina 2

Go Flames.


You know what I'm going to get you next Christmas, Mom?

I noted in the game thread last night that Gene Principe dropped a Scorcoff reference during Sportsnet's coverage of the Oilers/Wings tilt. Turns out, he didn't just do it on tv. He also wrote about it. Something got lost in translation, however. I'd just like to point Mr. Principe, or whoever he heard the term from, to the BoA glossary for proper spelling and the source of said nickname.


Hello, IBC program room

Apple on Wednesday announced it would sell individual episodes of several Canadian shows and a handful of U.S. series for $1.99 each, two years after it launched a similar service in the United States. Canadian shows available for download include Little Mosque on the Prairie, The Rick Mercer Report and Corner Gas, as well as complete NHL hockey games. (bold mine)

I was going to post this yesterday, but the Katz news blew that plan out of the water. This is good news for nerds like me. Well it will be, once they add more American programming. Right now, it's just a bunch of CTV and CBC shows (gross). Luckily for Mike W., Jian Ghomeshi has been available on iTunes for some time now.

This National Post story says that the store will put up, on average, one NHL game a week. I think that shows a lack of appreciation for the depths to which Canadians will go to get their hockey, and the amount they'll spend, but it ain't my call. Right now, the site is making available a few Stanley Cup Classics for $5.99, and a Sens/Predators game for $1.99.


Great, bouncing icebergs!

Here's a round-up of coverage on the proposed sale of the Edmonton Oilers. I'll just keep adding stories as I come across them.

Edmonton Journal
"Katz closes in on Oilers" (John MacKinnon)
"Downtown arena closer to reality" (Susan Ruttan and Jim Farrell)
"For Lowe, players, it's business as usual -- for now" (Joanne Ireland)
"A bright future for Oilers hockey" (Journal Editorial)
"Cal Nichols and the EIG — Just passing through" (John MacKinnon)
"How Citizen Cal Nichols saved NHL hockey in Edmonton" (David Staples)

Edmonton Sun
"Cal is convinced" (Terry Jones)
"All about the arena" (Terry Jones)
"All eyes on billionaire's bid" (Frank Landry)
"Moreau thinks new boss would be same as old boss" (Robert Tychkowski)
"Fans like Katz offer under one condition" (Renato Gandia)
"Daryl has his ducks in a row" (Graham Hicks)

Globe & Mail
"The Katz comes back with a richer offer for Edmonton" (Allan Maki)
"Pharmacy tycoon makes new bid for Oilers" (Eric Duhatschek)

National Post
"Friday Faceoff: Mitchell, Marsh and the Oilers billionaire" (Mark Spector and Bruce Arthur)

Canadian Press
"Rexall billionaire launches another bid to buy Oilers from community group"

Vancouver Sun
"Latest offer has Oilers listening" (Mark Spector)

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Thursday, December 13, 2007


Good times, good times

No, hockey would stink if every game was like that, but that result was enjoyable. The Lightning are crazy, like no other team I've seen in the league: just a wicked counterattack. If I coached against them on a regular basis, I would come as close as I could to fining my players for drop passes (and the old "cut around the net and dish it into the slot" is a frankly hazardous play against them). Cripes they turn it the other way fast.

Naturally, all the negative aspects of their style were on full display tonight as well, but to a large extent, the 9-6 score was just luck. Iginla, St.Louis, Lecavalier, and Richards shot a combined 75% from the high slot -- they're great players, but most days a bunch of those shots don't go top corner, like they did today.

Anyway, that's all I really have to say... I mainly posted because I wanted to use this header, having just watched the end of Saturday Night Live Christmas (The Delicious Dish: Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon, Alec Baldwin). It repeats from 1030-1200 MT on a NBC West Coast channel.

According to my limited research, this is the first time Calgary has scored 8 goals in a game, let alone 9, since a year starting with "1".

Go Flames. (And for tonight, go Sharks.)



Oh yeah, there's also a game on tonight. I'll be here, and lwoCPO will be live-blogging on Abel to Yzerman.

Prediction: Oilers get the Katz bump, win on four goals from howitzers taken by Souray that go in off of Penner's jowls. 4-2, Oil. GOILERS!!!

Head to Head (5v5)
Shift Chart


Edmonton Oilers To Be Sold

EDMONTON, Dec. 13 /CNW/ - Rexall Founder and Chairman Daryl Katz has made a new offer to purchase the Edmonton Oilers and related assets. The terms of the offer, which were not publicly disclosed, are being delivered directly to the shareholders of the Edmonton Investors Group.

Mr. Katz's offer was made at the encouragement of a number of significant EIG shareholders over the past six months. In particular, Mr. Katz called Cal Nichols, Founding Chairman of the Board of EIG this morning to outline the terms and conditions of the offer. Mr. Nichols said that it was an offer that he would enthusiastically support.

"I am extremely proud of what the EIG has done for the Oilers, the City of Edmonton, and Oilers fans everywhere, but it's probably time to pass the torch to a new generation of ownership," said Mr. Nichols. "I believe that Daryl will be an outstanding owner of the Edmonton Oilers and an important leader in the growth of our City. In addition, the sale of the team will have served all my fellow shareholders very well."

Daryl Katz added, "I have great respect for everything Cal and the EIG shareholders have done for the Oilers and for the City of Edmonton. I want to continue that tradition with a commitment to strong local ownership and an exciting vision for the Oilers. The centerpiece of that vision is a new world-class arena complex at the heart of a revitalized downtown."

Mr. Katz added, "If the undecided EIG shareholders come on board, as I hope they do, and my offer is approved, I will commit my time, energy and on the order of $100 million in additional funds towards a new building. I will be asking Cal to help lead that effort on my behalf and to continue to represent the Edmonton Oilers on the NHL Board of Governors as he has done so ably for so long."

The offer requires approval of EIG shareholders and the National Hockey League.

--Press Release. All bolds mine.

***Update*** Early thoughts on the change of heart from the EIG.

1) The money offered increased to a point where no one could say no. Pride of ownership aside, these guys are businessmen. Obviously there were others who wanted out this summer. Now everyone is getting enough to step aside.
2) Katz's offer to keep Nichols involved with the NHL Board of Governors made it easier for Nichols to say yes.
3) Katz's initial statement about investing his own money into a new arena dried up support for public funding at both City Hall and the Legislature. Since the EIG couldn't or were unwilling to invest their own money into a new arena, they felt pressure to sell to Katz.
4) Dennis' constant complaining about the EIG finally wore Cal Nichols down.


Other thoughts popping into my head:

1) I wish they'd done this six months ago. We wouldn't be stuck with the Souray contract if they had.
2) Will the Golden Bears still get the new facility that was promised in the summer?
3) What, if anything, is going to happen with Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish?
4) What happens now with the Mayor's "arena feasibility committee"?


TSN is reporting that the offer is $188 million. That obviously doesn't include the $100 million for a new arena.


Nichols has confirmed the offer price of $188 million.


More thoughts popping into my head:

1) What's Katz's take on the advanced hockey metrics being created and or analyzed on sites like mc79hockey, Irreverent Oil Fans, Behind the Net, Hockey Numbers, Battle of California and On The Forececk? Will we start to see any of this analysis work it's way into the team's decision-making?

2) How does Katz feel about hockey blogs and new media?

3) Where's the rest of the money for any new arena expected to come from?


TSN is reporting that the Oilers will hold a press conference at 5 p.m. MST. Sportsnet is showing it.


Nichols has stepped down as Chairman of the Edmonton Investors Group. Bill Butler is now the acting Chair.


More thoughts popping into my head:

1) I'll be interested to see what certain "journalists" have to say about this tomorrow morning. In particular, I look forward to seeing if Kerry Diotte, Neil Waugh, and Terry Jones backpedal on their previous statements about Katz. My guess? Yes.

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**Three-and-a-half years later, the Flames are finally back in St. Pete to play the Lightning (530PM MT, Flames PPV). As bad as TB has been on the road, they've been that good at home: HmPP ranked 4th, HmPK ranked 5th, and a +21 goal differential (+56/-35) in 16 home games.

The Cavalier, in 16 HmGP, is 14G-17A-31Pts, +12, and seems to be doing it against the visitor's #1 line (looking at a number of their home games using Vic's H2H site, I'd say there's little doubt that Jarome and Vinny will be seeing a lot of each other tonight).

Although Marc Denis got the shootout win in Montreal on Tuesday, odds are that usual starter Johan Holmqvist will be in net tonight.

(Sidebar: my other idea for today's post header was from the same movie -- "Hey babe, I negotiate million dollar deals for breakfast. I think I can handle this Eurotrash." Also, I think I've blogged this before, but the biggest Hartford Wolf Pack fan on the internet once had this to say:
...the worst player in Wolf Pack history?-- Holmqvist gets my vote, hands down.

Late bloomer, shurely.)

**Thumbs up to Jardine for getting the ball rolling on Olympic roster spitballing! Here's my guess, about exactly 2 years until the actual roster is named:

The main thought -- concern? -- I had in the 15 minutes I spent looking at this was that while Canada could probably ice eight excellent forward lines, it's quite likely that there will teams, with an 's', in Vancouver with a better defensive corps. Because right now we're looking at a field of Pronger, Phillips, and 25 guys with non-trivial holes in their games (based on Nov/Dec Phaneuf anyway; October Phaneuf could be pencilled in for 25 minutes a game).

**I admire Allan Muir's work at SI a lot -- I'd put him in the Top 5 of paid hockey writers -- so it is with both surprise and horror that I report: of all the terrible ideas suggested to "help" the NHL in the past several years, the one he is marketing in yesterday's piece is the. worst. of. them. all.

**Interesting data point on the quality of the 2008 draft: Canada's final roster for the World Juniors includes five draft eligible players, named to the squad ahead of:
Of the roster players who are drafted, none are prospects of the Flames or Oilers (or any Canadian team, for that matter)

**Prediction: more skyyy-rockets in flight.

Calgary 5 (Iginla x2, Langkow, Conroy, Regehr)
City of Champions 3 (Richards x2, some guy)

Go Flames.


Ma'am, I'm eight years old. You think I would be here alone? I don't think so.

Gabe Desjardins has put some excellent new shooting data up on Behind The Net. Mirtle does a great job explaining it all, so I won't bother. I will add it into the sidebar tomorrow, and maybe throw up a few thoughts. Needless to say, I'm very excited. I've been obsessed with shot data ever since I wrote my largely lame opus. But, too late now. Must get back to the house, set up all my traps, and get to sleep.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


The Battle of Pennsylvania

Here's some highlights from last night's Pens/Flyers game.

First Ryan Malone and Gator drop the gloves:

Ben Eager runs Le GG and then turtles:

Then Eager gets the crap beat out of him by Gary Roberts:

Martin Biron challenges The Crosby to a fight:

Jeff Carter vs. Ryan Whitney, Colby Armstrong vs. Scott Hartnell:

And to cap it all off, Le GG slides into Biron:

I'm guessing the motivation for this was Biron challenging The Crosby, as well as the score, but I have to say it...boy does Le GG ever look dumb here.

But forget that! Look as Phaneuf runs away from Big Georges:

Everything except the Malone/Smith fight happened in the 3rd period. Here's the penalty summary from the game.


The Best Part About Hockey

The premiere of Cabbie All Stars was on this afternoon (two Edmonton boys, Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf, were the guests), which reminded me of an old post I never finished. I should get to it now. No Christmas title for this one.

I'm a huge fan of Cabral Richards. Huge. His show is always entertaining, and because of his disarming goofiness, he actually gets some interesting, valuable information (at least to me) out of athletes. He appears to have a good relationship with Chris Bosh, Vernon Wells, David Ortiz, Darcy Tucker and Bryan McCabe, but it appears that he has even better relationships with members (and ex-members) of the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames (Georges Laraque, Raffi Torres, Jarret Stoll, and Jarome Iginla in particular). So yeah, what's not to like?

They showed some highlights of "Cabbie on the Street" interactions between Iginla, Phaneuf and Cabbie on the new show, but valuable intelligence was left left out. Like, did you know that Dion Phaneuf knows nothing about the Manamana Song? No? Watch this.

Volumes, I say. Volumes. Other highlights of that clip include Alexander Ovechkin talking about the women he has waiting for him at his house, and Mario Lemieux brushing Cabbie off, followed by Tie Domi making fun of him.

Other Things You Learn From Cabbie Dept.

• In The Oilers Get Disciplined, you learn more about the bag skate, that Craig MacTavish was so mad at the Oilers players last year that he often gave them a curfew, and some interesting things about Matt Greene. My personal favorite? "The post-game snack I think is still the best part about hockey."

• In Big Money Contracts, you learn that Gary Matthews Jr. has never looked at a printed copy of his baseball contract (worth $50 million dollars).

• In The Hockey Smell, you learn that Eric Lindos' skates smelled like "an old man's diaper."

• In Fantasy Pools, you learn that David Stern has zero sense of humour (Lebron is the same way) and that Derek Jeter would take Albert Pujols first in a fantasy baseball league (smart guy).

• In The Handshake, you learn that Jeter is also master of the handshake, and that NBA players are really scared of appearing gay.

Other Cabbie on the Street Highlights

On the Mic with David Ortiz

Interviewing Rachel Hunter

Tell All Books

Torres, Stoll Interview, Part 1

Cabbie Requests


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