Thursday, August 31, 2006


Blackgold Prison Blues

Oh, I hear that Traktor coming, he's rollin' round to Ed.
And I ain't seen the Schremp shine since, I don't know when.
I'm stuck in Blackgold Prison, and time keeps draggin' on
But that Traktor keeps a-rollin' on down to Ed Montone.


Little Big Man, Redux

Inspired by Matt's look at the greatest Flame ever, I thought I'd throw out a similar question to Oilers fans. Looking at this list of all-time players, tell me: which Flame do you f@**ng hate the most?

In the 15 or so minutes I put into thinking about this, I heard support for Hunter, Gilmour, Macoun,Tonelli, Natress, Roberts, Nieuwendyk, Peplinksi, Risebrough, Stern, Suter, among others. I've been thinking about it since, and:

I don't want to consider Jarome (or for that matter, Kipper) right now. If the next couple of years brings a presentation of the Big Trophy, I suspect either will top future versions of this discussion, hands-down.

If I wanted to do this analytically, and build the tightest possible case for my choice, I'd probably end up going with Joel Otto. He was very, very annoying for a lot of years; was constantly praised for no apparent reason; and was the deserving winner of the Never Be(at) Mark Messier Award in Calgary's perpetual defeats at the hands of the Oilers.

But in the end, I have to go with Theoren Fleury, and not just because I have a soft spot for people who like to drink. I think Fleury is the answer to all three of these questions:

  1. Who was the Flames' MDP (Most Douchebag-y Player) for the greatest number of seasons?
  2. Which Flame made me the most angry when he scored?
  3. Who was the Flame I wanted to see beat up the most?

And that's good enough for me.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006



I gotta tell you, I'm enjoying the hell out of this hockey downtime, and definitely recharging for the impending season. (The Flames utes gather Sept. 7th, on the ice on the 8th; full roster in camp on the 14th, take the ice on the 15th.)

However, I don't want too much dust to gather on this site in the meantime. So, I figure if Covered! can discuss whether to fight a gorilla or a bear, then I can talk about what TV programs I've been enjoying over the summer. In no particular order:

RockStar: Supernova
(CBS) Semi-pro rockers compete to front a touring band of G'n'R's Gilbey Clark, Metallica's Jason Newsted, and the one-and-only Tommy Lee.

I found this show kinda goofy at first, but it's really grown on me. The off-stage, living-in-one-house drama, a la Last Comic Standing (or, if you prefer, 7 Lives Xposed), is fairly minimal. And at this point, with only six contestants left, the performances are downright terrific. Host Dave Navarro is frequently (unintentionally) hilarious, but compelling. He gives off a weird Cleopatra vibe -- lounging in his throne, made-up all pretty.

Dog The Bounty Hunter
(A&E) Nattily-clad born-again Christian and his unique family search out people who have skipped bail in Hawaii.

I don't know if you've ever noticed this, but The Drug War probably has no better friend than A&E. Their schedule is just rife with programs that are virtually promotional videos for (A) the fundamental goodness and importance of the cops, and how they go about their business; and (B) the terrible destructiveness of illegal drugs.

Dog is definitely an example of (B), but is probably best interpreted as a major rebuke of (A). Just about everyone they arrest is a heavy drug user, most of whom have wrecked their families and/or otherwise ruined their lives with constant drug use -- basically, they're pitiful losers. But! The hunters are armed only with pepper spray, which they've had to use only once in all the episodes I've seen. Also, once the skippers are in custody, the hunters basically treat them like the sad sacks that they are (gently?), rather than dangerous criminals.

For me, it really highlights the absurdity of using SWAT teams and the like to terrorize homes, or entire neighbourhoods, to take down non-violent people who are for the most part, guilty only of making really bad choices. Naturally, your mileage may vary. (For a well-done, ongoing, and agonizing chronicle of this stuff, see The Agitator).

Also, Dog's wife Beth has the most comically oversized breasts in the history of television.

High Stakes Poker
(GSN) Well-known poker pros play No Limit Texas Hold'em for their own cash.

The best of the poker shows, of which there are many. Good personalities. Analysis is by Gabe Kaplan -- did you know that Mr. Kotter was an accomplished poker player? He's far more knowledgeable, and funnier, than Norman Chad on ESPN or any of the other ones.

The blinds do not increase and are relatively insignificant, so it doesn't turn into a bingo game. No internet schmoes playing for the first time with actual chips. And again, Gabe Kaplan is simply excellent.

In America
(Movie!) Irish family moves to NYC illegally, faces challenges, and deals with a past tragedy.

Excepting comedies, this is the best movie I've seen in the past two years. Charles Taylor's preposterously glowing review in Salon is only barely over-the-top. The movie is filled with wonderful moments, two of which stand out for me.

Barely a half-hour in, there is a scene at a carnival that is improbably suspenseful: not in the "thriller" sense where you're dying to know what happens next, but where you desperately want the character to succeed. And the final scene on the balcony, where the oldest daughter makes her third and final wish, pretty much broke me down.

I suppose this flick might mean more to you if you have a young family, as I do, but I recommend it without reservation either way (and don't just take my word for it; it gets 89% on Rotten Tomatoes). Get thee to a Blockbuster!

Cold Case
(CBS) Philadelphia cops work on unsolved murders

A couple of things set this cop show apart from the many, many others, to my way of thinking. The biggest, owing to the major use of flashbacks, is the focus on the victims. I like the evil bad guys on Law & Order, and the puzzle-solvers on CSI, as much as the next guy. But it's not until you watch a few episodes of Cold Case that it really hits home that the victim on Law & Order is generally a lump under a sheet. The structure of Cold Case really underlines the tragic element of crime; I just find that this makes the show feel more real and important.

And the second thing is the music. Every episode makes liberal use of popular music from the year of the murder they're investigating. Both the opening and closing of each story is carried by the soundtrack, and especially at the closing, it seems to add a lot of emotional weight.

King of the Hill
(Everywhere) Texas man, and his family and neighbours, live life.

My favourite show, and has been for several years now. I don't really have much to say, though it's remarkable that a cartoon is possibly the most realistic show on TV, and that includes most reality shows. The characters are funny while remaining lovable, and the plots are topical without being cynical. I think Mike Judge might be the most overlooked creative genius of his generation. Fortunately, it appears the KotH might be turning into the new M*A*S*H, in that it fits on all varieties of channels, and you can find an episode most times of the day or night. The more the better, I say.


According to Alanah's sidebar, the hockey season starts in 35 days, 4 hours, and 18 minutes. Ex-cellent.



In my torturously long post on the Oilers Powerplay in the Stanley Cup Finals, I came across what was to me a disturbing piece of information. It looked something like this:

Oilers Powerplay Summary: Games 1-7
Powerplay Shots  
% of Total PP Shots
Shots Missed
Shots Blocked
Shots Through
Total Shots On Net

Call me crazy, but missing 57% of your powerplay shots in a series is ridiculously ineffecient. Stupendously so. The problem is, I didn't and still don't know the following things:

• Combining what the NHL marks as missed shots with what the NHL marks as shots blocked, what is the NHL average for missed shots on net on the powerplay?

• Is that average any different in the playoffs as compared to the regular season?

• Combining what the NHL marks as missed shots with what the NHL marks as shots blocked, what is the NHL average for missed shots on net during 5 on 5 play?

• Is that average any different in the playoffs as compared to the regular season?

• Does it really matter, or am I actually just crazy?

My logic in all of this is pretty simple: an increase in shots equals an increase in goals. If you are missing over 50% of your shots in a game or a series, and especially on the powerplay, you are seriously hurting your team's chances of winning. Forget the adage that "if you don't shoot, you don't score." It's more like, "if you don't shoot and hit the net, you don't score." You don't allow the goaltender or defence to make a mistake, you don't force the goaltender to use up energy in making that save, you don't force the defence to make a play on a forward around the net, and you eliminate the odds of a scoring chance off of a rebound. In short, you decrease your team's chance to win hockey games.

Of course, I have no numbers to indicate whether the Oilers shot inefficiency is the norm in the NHL. Nor do I have any numbers to support my theory that an increase in shots equals an increase in goals. I thought I would throw this out there, however, because a) I know there are people who can find those numbers in a timely and efficient manner, b) I'm actually interested to see if people think it is an important issue (wouldn't basketball people be pulling their hair out if NBA teams were having over 50% or their shots blocked or airballed?), and c) there is nothing else to talk about right now. Personally, I'm not horned up by the news that Toby Petersen has signed a contract with us, although it is good to hear that Mikhnov is finally in North America. So there it is. Have at 'er.

Thursday, August 24, 2006



There's a number of interesting elements in this CP story discussing the NHL and Russia.

First, as foreseen quite accurately by Colby Cosh, while the SuperLeague isn't yet challenging the NHL for hockey supremacy, it's certainly a legitimate alternative for a large class of players:
Mark Gandler, the agent who represents those players [Artukhin, Grebeshkov, & Bergenheim], says Russia is an attractive option for "young, vibrant talent which is not properly treated (by NHL teams)."

[...]"In Russia the taxes are 13 per cent, so it's relatively speaking tax-free," explained Gandler, whose firm International Sports Advisors has some 25 NHL players, half of them Russian. "They also usually have bonuses on top of everything, a free apartment, a free car, basically perks."

Second, this line [my emphasis] is tossed in like it's the most obvious thing in the world (which it is, but I didn't realize it had reached the status of Commonly Accepted Statement of Fact):
Zherdev is the only first-line player among them. The others find themselves squeezed in the NHL's salary cap system where most of the money goes to the marquee names.

No surprise there. And third, we have a little snapshot of the New Era on Long Island. I'm sure you'll all be as stunned as I was at the contrast described here:
Gandler confirmed [Lightning GM Jay] Feaster's version of the contract talks.

"They've negotiated in good faith and I have no problems with Jay whatsoever," said Gandler. "We have a difference of opinion on the value of the player."

[...] Gandler felt the Islanders disrespected Bergenheim in contract talks.

"Just the way he was treated by the team and spoken to... and I have to include myself in that..."

Way to operate outside the box, Wang. Whatever you think of Gandler, the guy is all business -- I don't know why any organization would think it clever to play games with him.

Instant Update: Mudcrutch looks at the same story. He also notes another contrast between the Lightning and Islanders -- where Snow looks good and Feaster looks bad -- in the aftermath of negotiations.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Collecting Dust

Paulina Gretzky has a single up on iTunes. I don't know if this link will work or not. You may have to go into iTunes yourself and look for it. The song was released on July 24, but this is the first time I have heard or seen anything about it. I can't even...

Ooh! Paulina has a mySpace page, and a website. You can take a listen on either one. Looks like the song was featured on everyone's favorite television show, Laguna Beach 2. And a new song will be on Episode II of Season 3.

I wish only the best for Ms. Gretzky, and only have one piece of advice for her. Consider it a tip from an older, wiser man: don't add this guy to your group of mySpace friends. He and his banana are nothing but trouble.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Little Big Man

Slow news day: Jenna and Rick were taking calls on The FAN 960 this morning to the question, "Who is the greatest Flame ever?" It's interesting how teams evolve over the years. Surely, in half the cities of the NHL, this discussion would be over in 5 seconds (e.g. Pittsburgh, Edmonton, St. Louis, Dallas, etc.), but in Calgary, there's a decent case to be made for a half-dozen or more guys.

In the 15 or so minutes I was listening, I heard support for Lanny, Nieuwendyk, Roberts, Fleury, Iginla, Macinnis, and Vernon, among others. I've been thinking about it since, and:

I don't want to consider Jarome (or for that matter, Kipper) right now. If the next couple of years brings a presentation of the Big Trophy, I suspect Iginla will top future versions of this discussion, hands-down.

If I wanted to do this analytically, and build the tightest possible case for my choice, I'd probably end up going with Al Macinnis. He was very, very good for a lot of years; was improving constantly; and was the deserving winner of the Conn Smythe in Calgary's only Cup season.

But in the end, I have to go with Theoren Fleury, and not just because I have a soft spot for people who like to drink. I think Fleury is the answer to all three of these questions:
  1. Who was the Flames' MVP for the greatest number of seasons?
  2. Who was the most talented Flame ever?
  3. Who was the most exciting Flame ever to watch?
And that's good enough for me.


Game On

Odd Man Rush is back, and has a look at this year's crop of hockey video games. EA Sports will release NHL 07 on September 14, 2006, with Alexander Ovechkin on the cover. One of my favorite things about this year's game is the introduction of the Dynasty Mode, which includes a salary cap. A teaser trailer is here, and you can catch a quick vignette of the Oilers here. Anyone looking for some information on sports cover curses can see my post on the issue at SportsMatters.

Friday, August 18, 2006


From Russia With Love

I have a good friend from the Союз Советских Социалистических Республик (CCCP), and she has been kindly scouting out the Russian sites on any tasty news on either Mikhnov or Malkin. Here's what I've got from the Black Widow so far, in pretty much her exact words:

• On the official Metallurg hockey site, fans are obviously bitter. They are claiming Malkin is absent of morals, and disloyal to the club who made him into the player that he is. There is also discussion on whether he should be allowed to play for team Russia.

• There is no news of Mikhnov on the Yaroslavl site, so it is unlikely that there are any new developments on that front.

• Mikhnov has a brother, Andrei, who plays internationally for the Ukraine. Interestingly, Andrei remained a Ukrainian citizen, while Alexei moved early and became a Russian one. Andrei is a draft pick of the Blues.

• As far as Malkin goes, there is a little interview with GM Metallurg Velichkin from a day or so ago, where he says that Malkin phoned home, and was repeatedly saying "I'm alright, I'm alright" and not much else, while his Mom begged him not to make any rash decisions and to think again about what he had done. Something to the effect of "went for a little ride and now it's time to come home". Velichkin also disputed a couple rumours in the Russian press - 1) that he had Malkin's passport on him due to fear of Malkin fleeing. He says that Malkin's passport was with his former agent, Sergei Isakov, and 2) that the club was threatening to take away Malkin's parents' apartment that was given to them by the club. Apparently they live in a 2-storey house that was purchased with Malkin's earnings from last year. He is not impressed with the Russian media and says that they need to stick together, as Russia's "prestige" is on the line.

Also, Velichkin reported to the press that the resignation that was faxed from Malkin is a giant fake, because a) it looks like someone else's handwriting (almost a woman's), b) some of the sentence structure used is ancient (old Slavic), so looks like it was written by an emigrant, and c) according to the club's attorney, the signature does not match the one Malkin gave on Aug 7 (new contract with Metallurg). So apparently they threw it out.

• In a new story, they mention Taratuhin(Taratukhin) and Mikhnov and state that they will file a lawsuit if there is a contract between any of these players and the respective NHL clubs that want them. I'm going to get a better update on this one later.

There you go. I hope some of this is new news., and of interest to people. I will provide further information as the Black Widow reports in.


Rent a Stanley

Doug Weight took the edge off of my hatred of him by taking the Cup to a Children's Hospital (þ Kuklas). He might have increased my hatred of him by taking it to a Children's Hospital in St. Louis.

Michael Gould, 13, says what we're all thinking:

"I've been thinking about what I'm going to say to him," Michael said. "I think I'm gonna say, 'Too bad you had to (win) it in Carolina.'"

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Evgeni Malkin Update

Exclusive report: must credit Battle of Alberta

Via sources I am not at liberty to reveal, even under threat of imprisonment or being forced to listen to Craig Simpson read Shakespeare, I have here a transcript of a recent phone conversation between Evgeni Malkin and his longtime former new agent Pat Brisson. Verrrr-yyy enlightening, I say. (Note: you may be surprised at Malkin's command of the English language, which strongly resembles that of a nondescript hockey blogger.)


Evgeni Malkin: I'm getting nervous, Pat. I don't read a lot of English newspapers, but I listen to the radio and watch TV a lot, and I don't like what people are saying about me.

Pat Brisson: What do you mean?

EM: Well, there's a lot of speculation, with many of the sports media implying that I'm flaky, or have a weak character, or just kinda nutty.

PB: Ah! Well, don't you worry, we can take care of that right away.

EM: So you want me to come out of hiding and talk to the press?

PB: My God, no! You stay where you are for at least a week, and what I'll do is issue a press release saying that your actions have been for personal and family reasons.

EM: OK... so how will you describe these reasons?

PB: I won't! We're not going to provide any details whatsoever.

EM: Wait - won't this create more questions than it answers?

PB: Not at all! I know you just got here, so you're not aware that virtually the entire hockey media is on record as believing that (A) personal and family reasons are above criticism, and (B) hockey is a big business, and these things are going to happen.

EM: No one will want to press on these "personal reasons"?

PB: Not many. As a typical example, I heard Bryn Griffiths of Edmonton's The Team 1260 on the radio last month, and he said, "If a move is for personal reasons, that's all I need to hear. I don't read People magazine; I'm not interested in the dirt and gossip."

EM: Wait, I heard that bit too. He also said that if it's for hockey reasons, then he would want to know what those are.

PB: Yeah, but that's the beauty of the "principles" of someone like Bryn. If you say it's for personal reasons, and he won't "stoop" to gossip, then he's bound to take you at your word, regardless of how much sense it makes.

EM: Alright, great. But still, at some point, closer to the season, I'm going to have to emerge, and talk to reporters. What do I say when some skeptical columnist asks about leaving Russia?

PB: I'd suggest something like, "Time to cut the cord", preferably with a confident smile.

EM: Huh? But then I'd basically be saying (A) that I was acting with utmost professionalism and maturity before, and (B) I'm behaving more professionally now. Aren't those things mutually exclusive?

PB: Yes, but don't overthink it -- it's not like anyone else will. Also, be sure to express some offense at the existence of any rumours, or unattributed statements, that emerge into the void that we've created by providing no details whatsoever about your personal reasons.

EM: I'm still a bit concerned that people will think that, having already walked away from one contract right after I signed it, I might do it again. How do I deal with this?

PB: This is really a non-issue. If you get the direct question about whether there's a risk that you won't live up to your Penguins contract, just say "No", then leave a pregnant pause, then say "No" again.

EM: They'll take me at my word?

PB: Some might, but that's irrelevant. It'll be understood that what you're really doing is stating your intentions, not making any kind of promise that means something in and of itself. That ship has sailed -- your word isn't really worth anything.

Think of it like the boss who has an affair with his secretary, then ends up divorcing his wife and marrying the secretary. He says his vows at the ceremony. He assures Wife #2 that he'll always be faithful. He probably means it, and most likely, he's not a horrible person in the slightest -- he may have even grown through the whole thing. It's quite possible that he will, in fact, be faithful forevermore.

But the "promise" that comes out of his mouth on the wedding day is meaningless. Because of his past choices, the boss has ensured that he'll only ever be judged by his actions, not his words. You follow?

EM: I think so. Thanks, Pat. So, personal and family reasons, no details, end of story?

PB: You got it exactly. You're bulletproof, dude. You might even get some people saying it's hard not to applaud you.

The only way this won't work is if the sports media applies their principles selectively and inconsistently.




I'll Take What's Behind Door #2, Monty

(click images to enlarge)

So here's your choice: the Oilers 2005/2006 opening game roster (on the left), or the Oilers likely 2006/2007 opening game roster (on the right). Take a look at it, and then decide: which roster would you rather be starting this season with? Count me in on the side of the 2006 roster, even without He Who Must Be Blamed. I had actually blacked out of my mind the fact that Cory Cross even played with us, and had to look up our sixth starting defenceman.

The first line is the same, but we all know now that Horcoff and Hemsky can ball. The second line is deeper, and thankfully sans Peca. Pisani and Sykora can score, as well as handle themselves defensively. The third line has two young kids who can score 25 goals, and if Torres plays like he did in the playoffs, will be a force to reckon with. And one of the most underappreciated players in the NHL is on the Oilers fourth line, and will be able to help a couple of rookies break into the show.

On defence, we are obviously missing HWMBB. That is minutes and stability you won't ever be able to replace. But Tjarnqvist and Hejda can't be any worse than Ulanov and Cross, can they? And Greene is going to be an excellent defender. And our goaltending is about a thousand times better, as long as Roloson stays healthy. Yup, I'll take the 2006 roster, thank you very much. It may not be the greatest lineup of all time, but it certainly is an improvement. Anyone?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Who Needs Defencemen?

Lowetide has beaten me to the punch on looking at the defensive depth of the Carolina Hurricanes (and Black Dog brought up the Sabres in the comments and on his own site), but I had started working on this before the weekend, so I'm going to throw it up here anyway. Ironically, my inspiration came from Lowetide himself, and his persistent belief that the Oilers are going to need to make a trade for a defenceman. I disagree, and wanted to prove my point by comparison. What I wanted to do was look at two very successful teams from last year--the Buffalo Sabres and the Carolina Hurricanes. Both teams had similar characteristics: four, fast lines, solid goaltending, and a collection of serviceable, but not extraordinary, defencemen. Both teams had 100+ point seasons, and met in the Eastern Conference Final. The Canes won that series, thanks in large part to a depleted Sabres defensive core (the irony never stops), and eventually won the Stanley Cup. It is my belief that both teams are well run, and excellent models on which to build a franchise. It is also my belief that Oilers manager Kevin Lowe has the same opinion on these two teams.

One difference between the post by Lowetide and this one is that I didn't bother to look at career games. Rather, I looked only at numbers from last year, for all three teams. I looked at Games Played, Goals, Assists, Points, Plus/Minus, Wins, Losses, Goals Against and Save Percentage. All are traditional metrics, and only scratch the surface on individual and team value. I don't even like the Plus/Minus statistic, to be honest. But I just wanted to take a cursory glance, not an in-depth view of things. I still haven't seen a full explanation and defence of EV+/-. Nor could I find those numbers in one place online, so I didn't include them. I took depth charts from both TSN and CBS Sportsline, and in the case of the Canes and Sabres, only included players who had played a substantial of NHL games last season. The players may be out of position, but that a) isn't my fault and, b) doesn't really matter. What matters is that we see the numbers for the key players, side by side.

Now obviously, defence is important. The question is, how important? If you can score six goals a night, does it really matter that you let in five? Not really, so let's refine the question: how important are defencemen to team success? Myself, I don't know. Others certainly have ideas, and I'd love to hear them (I actually really want to hear a full explanation and defence of EV+/-), but as it stands right now my opinion is that they are less important to team success than both forwards and goaltenders. The Canes and Sabres did very well in both the regular season and the playoffs last year, and did so without a single Grade A defencemen. Looking at their depth charts from last year, and the Oilers depth chart from this year, I am just wondering: can we do the same in 2006/2007?

(click image to enlarge)

(click image to enlarge)

(click image to enlarge)

For good measure, I am going to steal and add in Lowetide's numbers on Career Games Played:

Teppo Numminen 1235
Jay McKee 582
Toni Lydman 364
Dmitri Kalinin 338
Brian Campbell 246
Rory Fitzpatrick 210
Henrik Tallinder 202

Glen Wesley 1311
Bret Hedican 872
Aaron Ward 552
Frantisek Kaberle 386
Niklas Wallin 273
Mike Commodore 147

Jason Smith 786
Steve Staios 619
Daniel Tjarnqvist 278
Marc Andre Bergeron 134
Matt Greene 27
Jan Hejda 0
Ladislav Smid 0

Some Thoughts

• The Sabres had eleven players who scored over 40 points in 05/06. The Canes had ten. The Oilers have seven.

• The Sabres had six 20-goal scorers in 05/06. The Canes had seven. The Oilers have six, with Pisani and Hemsky knocking on the door.

• The starting goalies for both the Sabres and Canes had Save Percentages over .905. Roloson's was .908 last year, in limited playing time.

• Carolina's Goals For/Against Differential is unimpressive. They actually led the league in One Goal Game Wins.

• The Oilers could certainly use one more veteran defenceman to eat up minutes. Then again, Mike Commodore and Toni Lydman were castaways, and they ended up playing substantial minutes in the regular season and playoffs for both the Canes and Sabres. I see no reason why Hejda and Tjarnqvist can't have the same solid seasons for the Oilers.

• Apropos of nothing, the Oilers had 13 overtime losses last year. That puts us in solid company, alongside the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, and St. Louis Blues. Eliminate even five of those, and our regular season results are very different. I hope to see a shootout lineup of Sykora, Pisani, and Hemsky this year, followed by Lupul and Schremp.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Another Message From The Blog-Whore

I'm going to do one more plug for a new blog of mine, if I may. It doesn't conflict with this one in any way shape or form, so I hope Matt won't hunt me down and castrate me. I'm certain Cosh, Tyler, RiversQ, Abboud, Earl, Mirtle, and Chris! will ridicule me, but that comes with the territory. I just don't want to lose my orbs, is all.

The NQ is a pop culture site that my friend Nathan Muhly and I have been working on since about February. The focus will be on movies, music, television, comic books, video games and literature. Right now, the only post on the site is an introductory message. I'm pretty sure Nate and I will have content up by the end of this evening, though, or for sure over the next 24 hours. Please take the time to check out the site, tell your friends, or even link to the site if you are a fellow blogger and like what you see. Sorry again about the non-hockey related post.


Oilers National Broadcast Schedule Released

I know this is old news, but I've been busy getting attacked by rain, wind, hail and sun for the past four days, so I couldn't get to it any earlier.

Battle of Alberta Dates
October 5: Calgary @ Edmonton (CBC)
January 13:Edmonton @ Calgary (CBC)
January 20: Calgary @ Edmonton (CBC)
March 3: Calgary @ Edmonton (CBC)
April 7: Edmonton @ Calgary (CBC)

Other Notable Dates
October 25: Edmonton @ Anaheim (TSN)
October 28: Washington @ Edmonton (CBC)
December 6: Carolina @ Edmonton (TSN))
February 17: Edmonton @ Toronto (CBC)


• There is a large amount of national coverage in October, then it becomes more sporadic throughout the year.

• Interestingly, only one game against the Canucks will be a national broadcast, whereas there will be two Avalanche games shown.

• Local coverage and PPV have not yet been announced.

• The full, non-televised schedule is here.

• I should also note that UofA athletics has a date up for the Bears/Oilers Rookies game. It's on September 12. If any of you haven't been out to see this game before, I highly suggest it. It usually involves the Bears kicking the crap out of the rookies, but it might be different this year. I''m hoping for a Mikhnov/Pouliot/Schremp first line, personally, and a 12-9 Sscore. Plus, it's always fun to be two rows away from Oilers royalty. Semenko, MacT, and Lowe usually sit in the stands, and many of the Oilers veterans watch from the Zamboni area.


Nixon in China

If only Nixon could go to China, then only Lowetide could utter the following:
...but to me Wayne Gretzky was the poster boy for what I did not like about the Edmonton Oilers.

Virtual silence in his comments, except for the utes. No threats of excommunication from the Oilogosphere--not even so much as a word of criticism. I'm fascinated: talk about credibility and respect.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Sykora An Oiler (Almost)

The Oilers will be holding a press conference in an hour, where it is expected that they will announce the signing of Petr Sykora. The money is around $3 million, and is pending on him passing a physical.

(click image to enlarge)

The Oilers also started negotiations with Lupul yesterday, according to Jim Matheson. And it appears that Mikhnov will now in fact be coming over. That makes a lot of forwards fighting for roster spots. Personally, I don't mind the defence we have. It isn't perfect, but let me put it this way: I am more comfortable with our defence at the start of the year this year than I was with our goaltending at the start of the year last year. I'll take a number one defender of Dwayne Roloson over a number one defender of Ty Conklin any day of the week (Jussi will never ever be criticized by me again, after he played like a fucking champ for us in the Finals). So put me down in the "not worried" category, especially since it looks like we'll be able to score 47 goals a night now. Sykora can apparently play all the forward positions. I say throw him on the back end, show him some footage of Coffey, and verify how well he speaks English by instructing him to "just give 'er." Joking aside, I am content, but it does seem reasonable to assume, looking at that depth chart, that someone is going to be moved. Who that may be, and for what, is anybody's guess.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


The Battle Spilleth Over

Besides having the more successful--and sexy--hockey team, the City of Edmonton also has a better Folk Music Festival than the City of 2nd Place (CoC=2p). To be fair, the Calary Folk Festival has become better over the past few years, but that's only because they got an Edmontonian to run it. The lineup in Edmonton this year is excellent, yet again, even if it lacks the "red meat" that some desire. If you would like to see the lineup, or if you would like to find me and buy me a drink for being so awesome, check out This Tarp Kills Fascists.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Now What?

So the Sabres have let J.P. Dumont become an unrestricted free agent. Dumont is the second player let go because of an arbitration ruling, joining Obi-Wan Tanabe, who was released by the Bruins last week. Without knowing much on the matter at all, I'm going to assume that this nuance of the Collective Bargaining Agreement was originally intended to be a win-win deal. That is to say, that it would work to the benefit of both the owners (who would be allowed to walk away from bad contracts) and the players (who would be allowed to quickly enter every professional athletes Nirvana, unrestricted free agency). But I fail to see how these two rulings, and the subsequent walk-away by the Sabres and the Bruins, help Dumont and Tanabe. Both now have to go through the hassle of looking for new deals about a month before training camp, when most teams have already filled out much of their roster and spent most of their money. As well, it is my personal belief that the "walk-away option"--I have no idea if that is the real term, but it is what TSN is bandying about-- stigmatizes the contract, and therefore the player. The act tells the whole league that, a) even though they will get absolutely nothing back in return, there is no way a team will pay that guy that much money, and that b) the team isn't even even willing to accept the offer and then trade the player, because the risk of not being able to get rid of that player for that amount is too high.

Dumont and Tanabe are likely going to have to settle for less money if they want to continue playing in the NHL. Of course, that assumes that there isn't a GM out there with an IQ lower than 90, which is indeed a huge assumption. But they now have less time, less leverage, and more risk involved in making a deal. Perhaps this is another aspect of the CBA that helps the top-tier players and hurts the middle to lower rank and file (I can't see Sabres walking away from a Miller ruling, for example, no matter what the cost). Perhaps not. Only time and more cases will let us know. Either way, Dumont and Tanabe will have to come to grips with the fact that NHL GM's are about to tell them that their value isn't as great as they think, independent arbitrator be damned.


"..the Battle of Alberta is back on, big time."

Don't let the need for free registration discourage you from checking out Colby Cosh's Western Standard column on the Oilers, Edmonton and Calgary. I got a chuckle out of the conclusion:
Right now Calgarians must be envious, disappointed and angry--just the way Edmontonians like them. Let the fun begin.

Also good for a chuckle: that the column was filed before the Pronger trade sitch-uh-ation, and as such, is upbeat in a manner that really hasn't been seen since from Oiler fans. Read the whole thing.



Crap... so Lummer at CinO tagged me with the dealy, and I wrote up a pretty long one (lots of explaining myself) on Friday night. Then apparently, when Sacamano posted from Irkutsk, it just took over mine. Anyway, it's too much to start from scratch, but here's part.

Name your ten favorite athletes of all time.
  1. Charles Barkley
  2. Al Macinnis
  3. Juan Guzman
  4. Mario Lemieux
  5. Tim Duncan
  6. Daley Thompson
  7. Patrick Roy
  8. Beckie Scott
  9. Tom Watson
  10. Willie McGee
Honourable Mention: Joe Nieuwendyk, Jarome Iginla, Miikka Kiprusoff, Theoren Fleury, Gary Roberts, Jamie Macoun

Name three athletes you secretly like but are ashamed to admit to for fear of ridicule (current or all-time).
  1. Jaromir Jagr (I lie, I'm not ashamed)
  2. Mrs. Lowe (I was at one of her medal-winning performances and both medal ceremonies)
  3. Christian Laettner (Duke Blue Devils version -- I'm pretty positive this selection qualifies)
Fantasy Leagues: apparently I'm destined for feast or famine in these things. I won my NBA one (playoffs; 5/8 in the reg. season) and came 2nd of 20 in my NHL one. In baseball though, I'm T11th in a 12-team league (thanks for the company, Abboud!) and that's considerably better than I did in March Madness.

One Thing I'd Change If I Could: click through the pic of the Lenin statue in the post below. I'd have that review go the other way...

Saturday, August 05, 2006


What the . . . ?

Wait a second? What the hell is going on? Are you kidding me? Can't a guy go off the grid in rural Siberia without his favourite hockey team getting totally gutted? I mean really, how hard would it have been to bring back D-Vo? And where is Ullie? Sammy? The Testes of Filth? Georges? Is there anyone with any comedic features even left on this team?

And I've been replaced? By Grabia? And he is getting favourable reviews? I don't know where to start.

I'm finally back in the big city of Irkutsk; but I'll be under the shadow of Vladimir Illyich for a while yet. One thing's for certain, though -- when I get back to E-town, somebody's getting a cabezazo.

At least Fenwick still hates the CBA.

[Ed. note: sorry for the confusion, but this was posted by Sacamano. This is a Blogger cock-up that's new to me... - MF]


Don't Drink & Sleds

This is likely old news to some, but I just found out about it this evening. It appears that the $200 dollars I was willing to throw down for an Alexei Mikhnov jersey will be pointless this year. I was totally prepared to be his bitch, too. It looks like the Oilers were pretty confident in his abilities. Look at what Kevin Prendergast had to say:

"It's too bad. I know Mikhnov could take (Sergei) Samsonov's spot on our second line this year," said Prendergast.

A 2nd line left-winger, already? Ahead of Torres, Lupul, and Moreau? Very interesting. Maybe we could start raising money to get him out ourselves.

Friday, August 04, 2006


Oh, for...

As if Andy's man-crush on Bill Simmons wasn't big enough. In today's mailbag, he ranks
the Top 6 performances of the national anthem during a sporting event, and look at #2:
Edmonton Oilers fans (Game 3, Oilers-Ducks series, 2006)
A slight technicality because they're singing the Canadian national anthem, but if your goosebumps aren't getting goosebumps during this clip, then you might possibly be a cyborg. In fact, this was so outstanding on so many different levels, you might see me about adopt the Oilers as my new hockey team and make an NHL comeback. How can you beat these fans? Seriously, how? By the way, look for the spectator around the 58-second mark who's belting the song out at the top of his lungs behind the Edmonton bench. High comedy. Just an amazing clip. My favorite part is when they show the Ducks goalie laughing in sheer delight, like he's thinking to himself, "Crap, why do I have to play in Anaheim?"

I might ordinarily find this marginally humiliating, but for two things:

1. He clearly doesn't know who Our Pal Joey is, identifies him as a spectator behind the bench, and refers to his enthusiasm as "high comedy", which is kind of... eeaah.

2. In comment threads here and around the Oilogosphere, there's probably 20 iterations of the comment Bill Simmons knows jack-all about hockey, which come to think of makes him an excellent candidate to be an Oiler fan. Someone FedEx Simmons a Hemsky jersey, stat!

P.S. Follow the ESPN link so you can watch #4 as well - Carl Lewis. ("Francis Scott Off-Key"? Hee hee.)


Meet Your Blogger

Earl Sleek has apparently "tagged" me for some game, which I suppose I will complete. It also means that I am about to tag five others who I know will be annoyed at me for doing so. I am going to do a slight twist on the original game however, to make it more sports orientated. Hopefully that will ease all of our pain. Here goes:

1) How many fantasy sports leagues were you in over the past year (leagues started after September 1, 2005 only)? How well did you do, listing both regular season and overall performance (i.e. after playoffs), as well as the number of teams in the league.

• Football: 1st in Regular Season, 3rd Overall (12 Teams Total)
• Hockey: 5th in Regular Season, 3rd Overall (10 Teams Total)
• Basketball: 6th in Regular Season, 4th Overall (8 Teams Total)
• March Madness: 4th Overall (10 Teams Total)
• Baseball: Currently 3rd in Division, 6th in League (6 teams in Division, 12 in League)

2) What was the first jersey/sports clothing item you ever owned?

I believe the first sports clothing item I ever owned was some Montreal Canadiens pajamas. I loved Guy Lafleur as a child. He looked like Jesus on ice with that hair. The first jersey I ever owned was an Eric Davis Cincinnati Reds jersey.

3) Name your top five favorite sports books (fiction or non-fiction).

i. The Value of Courage: The Story of Jackie Robinson, by Spencer Johnson, MD (Value Tale Book)
ii. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
iii. The Boys of Summer, by Roger Kahn
iv. Fantasyland: A Season on Baseball's Lunatic Fringe , by Sam Walker
v. The Best Game You Can Name, by Dave Bidini

4) Name your ten favorite athletes of all time.

i. Jackie Robinson
ii. Mark Messier
iii. Michael Jordan
iv. David Ortiz
v. Warren Moon
vi. Reggie White
vii. Ron Francis
viii. Larry Bird
ix. Eric Davis
x. Grant Fuhr

Honourable Mention (Maximum 5): Wayne Gretzky, Muhammad Ali, Georges Laraque, Barry Sanders, Tim Raines

5) Name three athletes you secretly like but are ashamed to admit to for fear of ridicule (current or all-time).

i. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
ii. Hideki Matsui, New York Yankees
iii. Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames

6) The five people you "tag" are:

• Abboud, at SportsMatters
• Tyler, at mc79hockey
• Pleasure Motors, at Covered In Oil
• Lain, at Lowetide
• Cosh, at Colby Cosh

Thursday, August 03, 2006


One More Win For The Good Guys

The rag that is The Sporting News has published their list of Best North American Sports Cities. It's a ridiculous list, evidenced by Phoenix at #10, Tampa-St. Petersburg at #17 (which somehow leapt up over 300 points in the rankings), Austin at #18, Salt Lake City at #30 and Morgantown at #38. What the hell is in Morgantown West Virginia other than WVU? Answer: nothing at all.

The top Canadian city was Toronto at #41, with Ottawa at #42. That totally betrays a lack of knowledge about sports in this country, as neither town did didley squat last year. Montreal is #51, and Vancouver is #52. Edmonton is in at #46, despite the Eskimos winning a Grey Cup, the Pandas winning the CIS Field Hockey and Ice Hockey Championships and achieving a silver medal in rugby, the Bears winning another Ice Hockey National Championship, a silver medal in volleyball, and a team bronze in track and field, and the Oilers almost winning the Stanley Cup. And that is only off the top of my head. The Sporting News at least got one thing right, though, rating Edmonton above that outpost three hours south (#49).



Terry Frei takes the NHL to task for their lack of transparency in publishing NHL salaries. Once again, the blogs are miles ahead of the MSM.



A couple of interesting links were sent to me today, and I thought I'd throw them up. Thanks to jhuck, who sent a link to Hockey's 10 Most Embarrassing Moments from Sports Illustrated. And thanks to Abboud for sending me a new Paul Lukas link, wherein he goes after the aesthetic value of Cooperalls. My own take is this:

1) Loved the Cooperalls. I had a set myself, as a kid. Loved them. Looked great on the Whale, and looked great on the Flyers. If memory serves me correct, Bill Barber was wearing them the night Gretz scored his record-setting 50th.

2) The Schoenfeld/Koharski incident should be nominated as one of the greatest moments in hockey history, not one of the most embarrassing. I saw it live on TSN, and I still giggle my ass off when I see the clip.

3) The Patrick Roy play in 2002 is also a highlight of my hockey viewing life. Really embarrassing was the spaz attack that got him traded to Colorado.

4) What's really embarrassing about #1 is that the Flames still couldn't win the Cup that year, despite our charity. The next year Slats was like, "Fuck it. We rolled over for them and they still couldn't seal the deal. We're going all the way this year." And then they did.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Odds & Ends

• Avi has a great post up at SportsMatters on the Hasek signing.

• Dean McAmmond will not be an Oiler next year, as he has signed with the Senators.

• An arbitrator awarded Buffalo Sabres forward J.P. Dumont $2.9 million dollars for scoring 40 points. That's almost the same amount of money Maxim Afinogenov received in not going to arbitration, despite the fact he scored 73 points last year. I'll leave it at that.

• Irish Blues numbers are now much more aligned with what many of us were looking for (cap space). Cantaloupe Halves appears to be the name behind those numbers on the Shaw webpage. Take a look at both if you want to know where teams stand on the salary cap this year.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Shoot To Thrill

James Mirtle should win an award for this beauty on the Hockey Jesus. Words can't even describe its fantasticality, so I'll just continue to make ones like that up. Wicktarded. Scrumptrulescent. Dazztastic. Boneriffic. Splendsumptous. Fuckgrand.

Of course, the backdrop for all of this is a post I wrote before Game 5 between the Oilers and the Canes, as well as my consequent look at the Oilers powerplay during the Finals. As James himself noted to me, poking fun at the powerplay post's ginormous girth, "I've been dying for the next addition to that post... Finally! It's here!" Thanks to James for doing all the work, and for giving it to the Battle of Alberta to premiere.


Hot Oil

Make sure and check out Hot Oil, one of the most in-depth and analytical hockey sites on the internet. I'm warning those chicks right now, they better stay away from Saint Fernando! No way I'm gonna let 34 grow up without his Daddy!

In other news, I am totally boring myself. I have been on BoA for over a month now, and after what I think was a hot start, have really cooled off. I got nothing, baby. I think it was that Powerplay post. It sapped my will to live. I can't even link to the damn thing, I hate it so much. I keep telling myself it's summer, and not to worry, but every day I see the numbers on the site meter drop. I could blame Matt, but I think the NHLPA kidnapped him in order to re-enact the Gimp scene from Pulp Fiction. So it's really all on me here. Any suggestions or comments would be welcome. Are people happy with what I have been doing? What else would you like to see? I actually do have some ideas for things, and am just being lazy, but lemme hear it. I want to make sure I am holding up my end of the deal. In the end, I may ignore all of it, but then again, I may not. You could help me get that blogging Pulitzer I've always wanted. I'll even thank you in my acceptance speech. Promise. Get out a contract if you want. I'll sign it, and those things are ironclad.

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