Thursday, March 01, 2007

 

Careful, Here Comes The Bus

"I was very surprised when I was told Ryan had turned down our offer (five-year contract for a reported $27 million US, with a no-trade clause) because at the end of the day I thought the contract he was offered was very fair and it would have afforded Ryan a lot of things that he coveted ... to stay in the city, to be paid commensurate to his abilities..."

"In a lot of people's estimations, I think we made a fair offer, so why are we here? What happened? That's the question that has to be answered."

--Craig MacTavish, Edmonton Journal



But boy, oh boy, does Dan Barnes ever continue to impress:


It turns out that so-called unbridgeable gap between Smyth's contract demand and general manager Kevin Lowe's last, best offer was $500,000 US. Not per year as had been rumoured and reported. Total. That's right. Total.


However, should you be inclined to allow me another suggestion, I would now invite you to get angry, upset, incensed, enraged, furious, browned off or miffed. At whom? That's up to you. I'm going somewhere to relax.


John MacKinnon says that lots of fans left after the 2nd period of the Coyotes game:

By the start of the third period, the ceremony over and the Oilers losing and headed for a non-playoff spring, hundreds of fans felt they could avoid the final 20 minutes altogether. Empty seats sprouted all over the arena that has been a virtual sell-out every game of the last two seasons.


George Laraque is still peeved at management:

"For a while, in my head, I said I was going. I was really fantasizing about wearing Flames red and coming to Edmonton and showing the people who thought the Oilers made a good move by getting rid of me."


I think there's a game tonight, but unless Rob Schremp is playing, I don't care.



Image from The New York Islanders main page.

Comments:

Natural reaction for a guy who was traded, I suppose; but if I were Georges, I'd look a little harder in the mirror at why I might have been traded, why I haven't been getting any playing time lately in Phoenix, why I never seem to fulfill my 20, 20 predictions, why my radio show was more popular than my playing ability, etc.

Geeze. This trade season has really made me an anti-player grump, hasn't it. Terrible.
 


No doubt. Are you sure you aren't an intern at the Oilers office or something? :)
 


I'd heard a rumour about this, but it appears to be true.
 


Well, at least it shows he has a little fire in his belly. Too bad he never really showed it on the ice.
 


I wonder how good Smytty will look as a bobblehead on the Islanders roster page?
Their website roster page is a joke! Every player's enlarged head is placed on a cartoonish body.

It's like a car accident, you really don't want to see it, but you have to look.
 


I felt bad for GG. Now he is just an overpaid goof that never really played to his potential. Long live the Stortini years.
Why is GG bitter he wanted money and no trade clause, he did not deserve the no trade clause because given his work ethic he would had dogged it and we could not deal the mook.
No True Oiler wants to suit up in Red and No Flame wants the Copper & Blue. GG is out of the league end of next year
 


Future references to "le GG" can now freely be replaced by "SD" for "sac de douche." Memo to Georges--I hear there's a spot open on Cory Cross's Bundesliga team, champ.
 


Wow, thats just sad about RS. Man, thats like a biblical fable isn't it? $100 000!! There's probably 2 to 3 times that just in 94 jersey sales last spring!!
 


He leaves behind an Oilers team that did not view him as a $5.5-million US player, a team free to use that money, presumably, to rebuild through free agency.-Barnes

I think it's safe to say this is the party line now. The question is, though: who is this magical free-agent unicorn of Ryan Smyth calibre that we can nab for less than $5.5M (especially with the cap going up next year)?

As for Big Georges, I'm so steamed at Lowe right now that I almost wish he had wound up a Flame and went on to end Lupul's career in the next BoA.
 


littlefury - they'll make their splash, if they do, via trade

either with a team up against the cap that wants to make some room or a team that wants to go in a different direction and make a big change

Lowe has the assets to do it
 


It's not just about the Oilers picking up a guy who makes $5.5 million per year. They may pick up 2 or 3 guys for that price tag who do the same job.
 


littlefury - they'll make their splash, if they do, via trade

uh, weren't we all saying this from july through september?

It's not just about the Oilers picking up a guy who makes $5.5 million per year. They may pick up 2 or 3 guys for that price tag who do the same job.

I'd be interested to see who the hell that might be. If you can find 2 or 3 guys who can score 40 goals, drive other team's goalies crazy, and play 17-20 tough minutes a night for that kind of cash, you deserve a prize.
 


Grabia: I'd be interested to see who the hell that might be. If you can find 2 or 3 guys who can score 40 goals, drive other team's goalies crazy, and play 17-20 tough minutes a night for that kind of cash, you deserve a prize.

I think he means 2 or 3 guys that will each score 12-15 goals, play 5-7 tough minutes a night and slightly perturb other team's goalies. In other words: two or three more Pisanis. Great.

BDHS:
they'll make their splash, if they do, via trade

Big if. Maybe I'm blinded by the red film that descended over my eyes at around 3:30 Tuesday afternoon, but I'm not getting the feeling that the Oilers are intending to do anything but hunker down with their kids and hope their aging goalie and overpaid veteran core can steal enough games to keep up the pretense of being competitive. Certainly, none of the team's public statements have indicated otherwise. Time will tell, I suppose, but knowing what I know about the EIG, I'm not confident.
 


The more I think of it, the more it strikes me that signing Smyth made no sense for the team and no sense for the player. They are at different stages in their respective development. I also see that same problem with signing any prime career free agents.
Lowe has to build this team from the inside in the next 2-3 years.

oilfan in cowtown
 


If the Oilers and Smyth were so close in terms of numbers, why is the onus on the Oilers to cave? If the difference was so minor, why didn't Smyth just agree to Lowe's offer?

It sounds like Smyth has been asking for 5 years and somewhere in the mid-$5 million range since Sepember. Lowe seems to have moved plenty in that time. Did Smyth move at all?

I'm not saying that Smyth necessarily should have moved—it's his right to play hardball in contract negotiations. I'm just saying that there's no obligation on Lowe to do all the moving and ultimately to cave. A contract negotiations requires both sides to agree. Clearly neither side was willing to compromise on the number any more, so clearly both sides in the negotiation thought that the number mattered, no matter how small it may seem to us.
 


John MacKinnon says that lots of fans left after the 2nd period of the Coyotes game

If you want a real "holy shit" sort of insight, I know of one man who did this, left the game in anger and disgust after the 2nd period. He had wanted to leave immediately after the Messier ceremony, but convinced himself to stay.

He's so upset at Oiler brass following the game that he mused about not attending any games next year, and not getting season tickets. Oh, and also thinking of pulling his company out of the EIG. $100,000 a year, eh?
 


If the Oilers and Smyth were so close in terms of numbers, why is the onus on the Oilers to cave? If the difference was so minor, why didn't Smyth just agree to Lowe's offer?

I never said the onus was on Lowe to cave, and neither did Barnes. But in this situation, it seems more reasonable for them to give in than him. He would have taken discounts to stay in Edmonton before, and Lowe overpaid on every other bloody contract he negotiated this summer other than Hemsky's. Why shouldn't the teams top performer get the benefit of the doubt, ahead of the rest of those guys? It seems pretty reasonable that your top player would get the top contract, especially considering it's under what he could make on the free market in the summer. Don't fool yourself, or others, into thinking he was ripping the team off in his contract request.
 


He's so upset at Oiler brass following the game that he mused about not attending any games next year, and not getting season tickets. Oh, and also thinking of pulling his company out of the EIG. $100,000 a year, eh?

That is a "holy shit!" bit of insight. But if he's thinking of pulling his company out of the EIG, isn't he in some ways the "Oilers brass" that he's upset with? I mean, I know that the owners don't deal with the day-to-day, and even when they do it's a select few, but still. Crazy. I wonder how many of the other investors are silently seething?
 


I think all the cold, logical denizens of the Oilogosphere should read E's post on Smytty, especially those who condemn us for not looking at the big picture. Sometimes, the big picture is simply irrelevant.
 


littlefury - you may be absolutely right - I guess we'll see
 


Doogie - that's a great link, maybe Andy can put that up in a post

I guess when you talk about cold and logical bloggers I'd be one of the ones you are referring to.

What can I say? I wanted the Oilers to sign Smyth right up to the end. If he was to return July 1st for 5.5 per for 5 that would make me very happy.

Despite what I wrote. Check what I wrote when the trade went down if you doubt my feelings for Smyth. Hell, check out my post where I say it was the right move. I became a fan of the Oilers because of Ryan Smyth.

I want it both ways. I wanted Smyth to be a lifer but not at that price.

Now, the leap of faith on my part is that the club spends the money wisely to replace him and/or puts a contender back together again. Based on how this season has transpired my faith may be misplaced.

And there is also the point that if Lowe/EIG spent more money or simply spent what they spend more wisely then they could have kept Smyth.

I can't argue that point. I'll admit it.

Its just a really shitty cap on what has been a disaster of a year, starting the night of June 19th.
 


"As for Big Georges, I'm so steamed at Lowe right now that I almost wish he had wound up a Flame and went on to end Lupul's career in the next BoA."

Don't worry, Lupul's doing a fine enough job at ruining his own career. He'll probably be the captain when the Oilers unload Jason Smith.
 


Doogie, E's post IS the big picture. If hockey is more than a game and a business, then Ryan Smyth was invaluable.
 


That brilliant Theory of Ice post raises a question: with Smyth gone, is this even the same team we've been cheering for all this time?

I mean, the logo and jerseys are the same, and a lot of those faces look familiar, but...so what? Without Ryan Smyth they are just a National Hockey League franchise that happens to be based in Edmonton. Something tells me that, even if they do make big trades or sign huge UFAs this summer and manage to build a contender, it won't be the same. I mean: if fucking Jagoff Lupul is hoisting Stanley at Rexall next June, will it mean as much to all of us?

Let me tel y'all: it was years before I got over the Oilers beating Montreal in three straight, a period of bitterness that stretched right up until the Oilers ceased to be a bunch of obscenely talented and cocky punks and became a bunch of no-names manning a leaking lifeboat of a franchise. I started to really give a damn about this team of loveable losers, thanks in no small part to one Ryan Smyth. Without him? Well, I guess I'll still root for the Oilers, but there's not much reason for me to REALLY jump-off-my-sofa-and-scrape-my-knuckles-on the-ceiling care.
 


1. Has Smyth actually said he would've signed for $27.5/5yrs?
The media seems to want to cling to this concept that it was $100,000/year difference, which doesn't make sense, because it would be stupid not to just give him the $500,000 (seriously he'd probably generate that in revenues from now till July: people who don't watch the 3rd period, don't buy beer at the game.)

2. Is the contract bottom heavy/top heavy? I he's getting $7M in the last year that isn't as valuable as $7M in the first year to Smyth at least.
 


I think that true Oiler fans are those who stick with the team no matter who is wearing the jersey, no matter what the record. Sure, there will always be the bandwagon folks - who jump on whenever it looks like the team is going to beat the Sharks in 6, and who jump off whenever it looks like they're going to miss the playoffs. But real fans are passionate people. I think it's fine if people want to cheer for a particular player or players, and follow them wherever they go, but the point is that hockey is a team sport.
 


Anonymous(e): Don't talk to us about "troo fans". No one here jumps on or off the bandwagon. This is far different than your usual bandwaggon situation.


Littlefury : The only way I get to see Oilers games is by downloading them, and I don't think I'll be doing that again this year. I'll still cheer for them, but yeah, it doesn't feel like the same team.
Part of the reason the G7 loss hurt so much is cause we didn't get to see Smyth with the Cup. If the oilers win it next year, it won't be quite as sweet if Smyth isn't there.
 


Take a look at that image.
 


The colours are just about right, but everything else is wrong wrong wrong.

Anonymous: Baaaaaaaaaaa.
 


Has Smyth actually said he would've signed for $27.5/5yrs? The media seems to want to cling to this concept that it was $100,000/year difference, which doesn't make sense, because it would be stupid not to just give him the $500,000.

Barnes reported it, and he wasn't saying "this is the rumour." He reported it as hard, cold fact. Ergo, that's what it is. A newspaper doesn't let that get through the editing process otherwise. And why would you assume Lowe is rational? It is stupid that they wouldn't just give him the 500k, but I think it's becoming clear that the guy makes pretty silly lines in the sand.
 


trsyqYou can say all you want about the value of picks and prospects and the future and blah blah blah blah.

Players like Ryan Smyth (and Hemsky and Jarome and Kipper) have unique and rare talents. They should be paid at the top of the pay scale in their industry. If you can't or won't pay it, they should not have to play/work for you.

But a handful of prospects is worth a lot less than a proven rare and unique talent. If anything, the guys who are overpaid in this league are the second/third/fourth line guys. They argue, "I score half as many goals as Ryan Smyth and am therefore half as good as Ryan Smyth, so I should make half as much."

This is just wrong. That guy is worth much much much less than the unique and the rare. He sells a fraction as many personalized jerseys and generates a fraction of the crowd interest and attention. He provides much less than half on the ice.

It's the Pisanis and the Friesens who are overpaid. Not the stars. That is where the imbalance is that drives salary up and leads to 'hockey decisions' that make no sense. Like trading your man Smyth (the only Oiler I actually liked).
 


Well, the hockey gods are definitely fucking with me today. I visisited the Oilers' web site twice today for stats. And what players were featured on my visits? Titans Matt "AHL" Greene and Toby "0 PPG" Peterson. Fuck this.
 


I think I've been an Oiler fan long before most of you. I've been a fan since I actually understood hockey. Back when Gretzky was single and playing street hockey in Edmonton with his girlfriend's brother's friends. I was a fan when the neighbours' of said girlfriend would go out and get Gretzky to autograph things for these two little girls in BC who were fans.

So to talk about "true fans will be fans of the team regardless" is utter bullsh*t.

With every relationship, there are breaking points. The Oilers showed how much they valued my money and my loyalty for the past 20 years through some very bad times.

As a fan of the Oilers, I witnessed the selling off of Gretzky. As a kid that's hard. I've read stories about 9 year old's crying because of the Smyth trade. I can relate. That was me when Gretzky left.

You learn young that "hockey is a business" awfully young when you're dealt with the cold hard realities of players salaries.

But you stick around. There are other players to cheer for, other cups to win. Then you watch the slow exodus of the Fuhrs, the Messiers, the Kurris.

Year after year after year. You watch the team always being contenders but suck it up because of the market. You love the uniform, not the players. You understand it's a business and the Oilers are fighting to stay in the fight.

But this is different.

The Oilers are no longer the bastard step-child asking for second helpings and being smacked around.

They had the money. They just chose to waste it on people who don't have half the tenacity Ryan did. They chose instead to overpay Roloson, Pisani, etc.

They were and signed up to pay Pronger for 6+ million a season. Are they saying Ryan wasn't worth that? I'm saying he was.

Every relationship has it's breaking point. I put a lot into my relationship with this club for over 20 years. I've given them more leeway than I have actual people in my life. I've made more excuses for them than anyone else can get away with.

Now is the trial separation. I'll see if they've changed their ways. I'll see if they're worth going back to.

If not, at least I can say I gave it my all. They, on the other hand, can't.
 


How is this different than your regular "bandwaggon" situation? Seems to me that a lot of people who were Oiler fans last week are now no longer. I'm not pointing any fingers, but you can't deny that it is the truth. And to be quite honest with you, I can see the point of the superficial fan who 2 months ago forked out $200 for a #94 jersey and who bought tickets to the last 3 games of the season expecting an exciting playoff squeaker finish.

But troo Oiler fans have seen tough times before! 1993 was a dark time. Trading away Bucky hurt. Trading Weight hurt. Losing Cujo hurt. Pronger was a kick in the balls. Gretzky. Messier. We've seen stuff like this before, and we certainly will again. Life goes on. And in Edmonton, it shouldn't require making the SCF every year for life to go on.

GOILERS

- Anonymous(e)
 


zdegiHow is this different than your regular "bandwaggon" situation?

Because, genius, bandwagon-jumper scenarios generally entail people piling on only during the good times. Most people round here were fans before last year's Cup run and back through the shitty, shitty years that preceeded it. In fact, I can't count the number of times I've read a variation on the phrase "Ryan Smyth made me an Oilers fan" over the last two days. Now I don't recall Smyth playing alongside Gretz and the rest, so that would be the arrival of Smyth and the resulting blossoming of fans occurred during a pretty dark time of this franchise. Lousy bandwagoneers we have here in E-town.

Then again, if the measure of a "true fan" is one's ability to gobble untold buckets of shit and happily ask for seconds, as you seem so adept at doing, then I'm happy to excluded from that club.
 


Again, not pointing the finger anyone here. Nobody here is claiming to have had their Oiler tatoos removed and replaced with the Flaming C (or the Islander's hockeystick), far as I know.

Guess you guys are just venting until someone new steps up to the plate as Mr. Oiler (Hemsky? Schremp?)

- Anonymous(e)
 


Maybe I'm not as emotionally affected by this as much as everyone else because I knew this would happen. But not because Oiler management is always trying to screw us or because they're retarded. Smyth having a career year was a losing proposition for the Oilers. Consider these points:

1 - The Oilers overpay for Smyth to keep him around. Based on the contracts given out earlier, this might hamper the team for years as they'd have no cap space left to play anyone other than the 4 overpaid vets and a bunch of guys in their rookie contracts. Then again, maybe $5.5MM in 5 years looks like $1MM today due to inflation.

2 - The Oilers don't sign Smyth, he files for free agency and invariably signs elsewhere. We lose him for nothing.

3 - The Oilers trade Smyth. Not a very popular move. Especially considering it seems like we got nothing in return.

There is no way the team could have won this one.

- Anonymous(e)
 


Someone new steps up? And repeat the cycle again when they're bought and sold because the Oilers are going in yet another direction?

How many years do we have to put up with this madness before we realize we're no better than Leaf fans being taken for a ride?
 


Doogie, E's post IS the big picture.

Not the big picture that most of the pro-trade people are looking at. Perhaps I should have been clearer.

I've read stories about 9 year old's crying because of the Smyth trade.

I didn't cry -- I'm also 20 -- but I came far closer than I think I can justify publicly.

I can't count the number of times I've read a variation on the phrase "Ryan Smyth made me an Oilers fan" over the last two days.

Actually, for me it was the Todd Marchant winner that started it, but I quickly came to be a Smytty fan, and after Doug Weight left, Smyth was the only tie to those late-90s teams worth a damn.

How many years do we have to put up with this madness before we realize we're no better than Leaf fans being taken for a ride?

Seems my final answer is ten. Not as long as you, Grace, but long enough to have seen this movie before.
 


Anonymouse, the Oilers aren't gonna be spending to the cap anytime soon, cap space should be no concern. They were four MM off this season after coming off an SC run, you think they'll be spending to the cap four years from now when it's 55MM and they've made the playoffs twice?

And as for the Oilers personal budget, if Smyth is worth 4.5MM as a hockey player, he's certainly worth 1.0MM to the EIG in terms of building team character and myth, jersey sales, and not getting people incredibly pissed off at them when he's traded.


I used to be OK with this trade, but now i'm firmly against it. Smyth would have been worth overpaying.
 


Guess you guys are just venting until someone new steps up to the plate as Mr. Oiler (Hemsky? Schremp?)

The point is, in this day and age, there will be no more "Mr. Oilers." That's a large part of what sucks in losing Smyth: it's the end of an ara in sooooo many ways.
 

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