Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Next Stop? China?

I hate to bump speeds' post, but I have to post something here after the news that Georges Laraque is leaving town.

I pride myself on being one of the more even keeled posters on the Oilogosphere but I've just never seen anything like this run the Oilers are on right now. I'm adapting a Denis Leary quote from Rescue Me heavily here: They're on a team/fan morale freefall that just passed the centre of the Earth. Next stop? China.

Unreal. Shall we break it down?

A gut-wrenching Stanley Cup loss in Game 7 after a spirited comeback from a 3-1 deficit.

Pronger, the top player on the team with his name front and centre on the marquee asks out a week later.

Dvorak says he doesn't want to come back and starts a disturbing theme amongst departing Oilers.

We find out the Oilers declined to pick up MacT's option before the playoffs. Not bad until we have to listen to Laforge's ham-handed spin and later discover the options were picked up for the rest of the coaching staff.

The vast majority of UFAs bypass Edmonton.

Pronger gets dealt for a package that is less than inspiring and reminiscent of the bad old days.

Spacek gets signed to a contract that really isn't too bad to play in a small market with an almost equally crummy climate to that of Edmonton.

Horcoff, Hemsky and Stoll all file for arbitration. Not really a big concern, but the agony is prolonged.

Georges Laraque, easily the most enthusiastic supporter of all things NHL hockey related in Edmonton, takes off for the Phoenix Coyotes as the coup de grace for the past few weeks. I hope.

I still think this team has a solid group of players and there are certainly plenty of opportunities for Lowe to improve this club between now and training camp. So the talk of finishing in the bottom third of the league is way off the mark in my opinion. But even the bright spots in the offseason have been bittersweet. Reasoner's return came after a disappointing departure and the welcome signings of Pisani and Roloson to rather large contracts weren't entirely rosy occasions mostly because of the feeling of impending doom surrounding the Pronger deal at that time.

The stomach punches just keep coming every day and it's getting a little hard to maintain much positivity with this club right now. We all circled the wagons quite nicely after the Stanley Cup loss, but this is starting to try my patience. They need some positive news this week.


Anonymous Julian said...

It's true. We need KLowe to pull something outta his ass here, something real big that makes people forget about Pronger leaving. Something like adding Gagne or Lecavailier. I know forward isn't a big concern for the team, but they need something big, one swift move that makes the fans say "well, maybe we'll have a chance at the division title here, like we were thinking in the sweet, innocent couple of days before CP fucked us all over".

But yes, we need something here.

7/05/2006 11:50 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Julian: Right now I'd settle for no news. It's not so much the dearth of good news as it's the fact that they can't seem to get anything positive to happen for them. A week of nothing negative about the Oilers would be fabulous.

7/06/2006 12:02 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I can say is that I know your pain. But I would still love to have K. Lowe as my GM over John Ferguson Jr., when you look at what the Leafs have done this offseason it makes you sick. The Oil still have a decent core and I can see hope for building. The Leafs have a horrible front office, a coach that played Rod Brindamour only as a checking centre, and players that while decent to good are waaaaaaaaay, far enough to reach China, overpaid; with 15 million in 3 defensemen and just under half of the cap going to 4 players, trust me, it's much much bleaker in Leaf much so that I can't even justify going to games or buying a single piece of merchandise for the forseeable future.

I hope everything works out in Edmonton, I've always loved how hard the teams worked. And how Kevin Lowe always went for broke, never gave up at the trade deadline, and always tried to make the playoffs.

7/06/2006 12:03 am  
Anonymous Julian said...

Yeah, I suppose no news would be good news here. I'm not sure what other negative things could happen yet, I mean Peca and Tarnstrom and Samsonov all leaving on consecutive days would be a bit of a kick to the guts, even if they weren't welcome back in the first place.

All i'm saying is that sometime this summer would be a great time for Lower to pull a Pronger-esqe trade. I feel like that identical trade to the team this summer would mean even more to the team than it did last year.... If that makes sense.

7/06/2006 12:10 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

It hasn't been a bed of roses, that's for sure. I mean after the Flames cinderella run their fans spent the summer debating amongst themselves how many more cups they would win in the next few years. Topics like "Are we a dynasty?" sparked endless conversations. It was funny, pathetic, and kinda marvelous all at once.

And though we Oiler fans were NOT literally called down to the Rexall Place parking lot to be personally kicked in the groin by a member of the Oilers roster or management team ... it does feel a bit like that.

Even the unflappable, optimistic Black Dog can only muster a "I think things will be ok." at the end of today's entry (which is a good read btw).

Sigh. Some good news would go down well right now. I still have belief that Lowe will ice a solid team in October, just not as much as I did on June 30th.

7/06/2006 1:24 am  
Blogger Asiaoil said...

I remember the Canes GM musing about his teams last cinderella cup run a few years ago during the SCF - basically said that he re-signed a lot of that team's UFA and RFA against his better judgement and it was a big mistake. They sucked massively the next year but got Staal as a reward for being dumb.

It's actually nice to see the Oil mgmt be realistic about this team - it was decent to start with, bolstered by short-term mercenaries like Peca and Sammy, and then lucky as hell that the Red Sea parted before it in the playoffs (when was the last time the #1-4 seeds lost in the first round?)

Seeing Peca, Sammy, BG, Spacek and Dvo walk is no surprise at all to anyone older than 14. Pronger screwed himself financially on his contract and then did the old "well if I have to lose money I damn well want to be warm doing it" routine. We resigned two of the big three playoff heros as UFA (Roli, Pisani) and got Reasoner back as well which is nice as he bleeds oil. The only real loss is Pronger whose age and personality didnt fit the rest of the team - all the other guys were short-term rentals right from the get-go or players who had outlived their usefulness.

We are deep as hell at forward (although a bit young) and our goaltending is solid for a change. So we need 2 dmen IMHO to be players once more in April - a top pair guy to go with Smith and a grizzled dependable vet for the third pair to babysit Smid. Greene and Staios are the 2nd pair unless we do another big trade and I think Greene can handle 2nd pair minutes after his trial by fire in the playoffs. Not great - but if we can get a top pair guy by dangling MAB and a guy like Shremp then we will be just fine once again. We have a ton of budget AND cap room and can take advantage of the cap-related trades that are sure to happen after teams sign their RFA and the arb awards hit. We will also have room to add a defender or two at the trade deadline.

Somebody really does have to spike the EDM water supply with prozac though - for christ sakes folks go roast a few hot dogs, drink a few beers in the backyard and stop worrying so much.

7/06/2006 4:03 am  
Anonymous lowetide said...

There's another way to look at this: IF Lowe can pull something out of his ass after what has happened then maybe he is all that and a little more.

My opinion is they go the trade route and get someone who can eat minutes. Buffalo and all their rfa's filing is another team to add to the list (NJD, Boston, Vancouver, NYR).

7/06/2006 6:42 am  
Anonymous Big T said...

Just looking at some of the teams you mentioned LT and then went off and peaked in at Tampa. One question; Would Lecavilier be worth it in a trade that would most likely involve one of Hemsky or Horcoff???

$7.1 seems like a lot of coin for someone not named Forsberg. Does anybody think Vinny really drives outscoring enough to warrant such a salary? If he does, does he warrant enough of a salary plus the players it would cost us to make such a trade trade?

My personal feeling is he doesn't -especially if you factor in the cost to the Oil in a trade - but that's purely from watching him and not checking any of his important numbers. He does have some impressive skills though but I'd much rather got the Sykora route.



7/06/2006 9:28 am  
Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

I'm exactly on board with what asiaoil says.

Its been a tough few weeks in a way but really other then the Pronger thing I haven't been too upset about much of it. The UFA market was ridiculous as always - I'm glad Lowe didn't win any of those bidding wars to be honest. We knew a lot of guys - Peca, Samsonov etc would not be back and I think based on what they will get and what they contribute that's ok too. Dvorak's beef is over money - Winter is an ass. he is trying to make it out like its something more but its about money. Spacek came down to us and Edmonton and looked at Buffalo as the better choice - that's the one place where Pronger's departure really hurt us. Maybe I'm dumb but I think he's replaceable and I'm not on board too much with giving 32 year old Dmen 3 year contracts.

LeGG - too bad but we saw that one coming.

Lowe will pick up a couple of veteran Dmen from teams that need to move salary. This team has upgraded in net since a year ago. The forward corp will be younger, faster and has some nice playoff experience as well.

Vancouver and Colorado are weaker imo. LA too. I think we're in the playoff mix again and then come January Lowe addresses the holes.

Then we'll see.

Stop worrying, as Asiaoil said. Go to your local, have a few pints and enjoy the summer.

This team is going to be just fine.

7/06/2006 9:34 am  
Blogger CrazyCoach said...

It certainly has been a tough time to be an Oilers fan these last couple of weeks thats for sure. One thing that has been at the back of everyone's mind, and I don't think anyone has really said out loud, is the raising of the salary cap, and amazingly enough, every GM forgetting why there was a lockout in the first place. Couple this with all rats (except Georges) jumping the good ship Oilers for supposed greener pastures, brings back harsh memories for Oilers fans. What happens next year when the salary cap goes up to $50 MIllion, then $55 million two years from now?

Will the Oilers once again become a farm team for the rest of the league?

I sure hope not.

7/06/2006 10:43 am  
Anonymous Doogie2K said...

I highly doubt the cap goes past $50M for the duration of the CBA. This is largely a gate-driven league, meaning that revenue expansion relies largely on merchandising and marketing, which are themselves likely to slow as they run out of things to put team logos and advertisements on. (Poker sets? Come on, people.) It's also one that has a handful of markets, including at least a couple of Canadian ones, driving the revenue bus. If the Canadian dollar takes a big hit, there'd better be a sweet American network deal, or the cap will drop by quite a bit.

Speaking of a network deal, how is that cash split up? Is it part of the revenue-sharing plan, or does it just go into 30 equal pieces?

7/06/2006 11:23 am  
Blogger Kevin Kimmis said...

You can strike one item from your list of grievances. The options on the assistant coaches' contracts weren't picked up; rather, they were automatically engaged by provisions in each coaches' contract. That language stipulated that the club had to pick up their options if, at any time during the term of the contract, the team made it to the Western Conference Finals. MacT's contract had no such provision, and therefore they didn't have to excercise that option.

Should the team have excercised their option on MacT? Absolutely. But don't blame the team for excercising their options on the assistants when they were legally obligated to do so.

7/06/2006 11:57 am  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Thanks Ignatius. Do you have a link to an article with those details BTW?

Anyway, just to reiterate my position. I'm not down on the Oilers or their chances this year I'm just flabbergasted at how many things have gone wrong for them and the atmosphere that it appears to have created. It's pretty ridiculous and I don't really think you can blame your average fan for wondering what the hell is going on here.

Good news is already in though - Daniel Tjarnqvist has signed on for a year and while he's no blueline savior he's a legit NHL dman. Good times.

7/06/2006 1:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah Riv... he wasn't even a guy who I noticed as a UFA.

Nothing special, but Speeds has him as an okay PP guy (4+ PPP/60), and he ate up some decent ES minutes as well.

Very much the Steve Staios signing Lowetide was clamouring for in his "Plan F"...


7/06/2006 1:23 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Radiohouse on HF talked to Stauffer who told him that the deal is $1.625 mil for the season for Tjarnqvist.


7/06/2006 1:45 pm  
Anonymous pdo said...

Tjarnqvist looks to be a solid addition... maybe the guy to play with Smith, as he sounds butter soft?

Am I the only person here who thought Lecavalier was getting paid $6,000,000... not $7,167,000?

I think Lecavalier is a guy I'd still gamble on, assuming the deal would be something where the only roster player we lost was Stoll (additions obviously being of the Pouliot, Schremp, 1st rounder ilk).

He's 6'4" 225 lbs. Has a cup ring. Drew Iginila even in a fight. Is still only 26 years old (!). Last year, in a year that was "bad," he put up 35G and 40A. Put him behind Shawn Horcoff and with guys like Torres and Lupul, and you have to imagine those numbers go even higher, and given that he's signed for another 4 (3?) years, he can put up any numbers he wants to without hurting your bottom line. True, he's only hit 75 points twice....

But he's still a guy I'd take that gamble on.

7/06/2006 1:48 pm  
Blogger Chris said...

Tjanqvist is good news for the Oilers blue line. I'd be happier if we perhaps made one more signing or trade to add a top 4 pairing guy. But generally I think that should reduce the panic some people have engaged in.

Furthermore, I don't know why some people are talking about trading for Lecavlier. If you look at our club, forwards are not our immediate problem. Secondly if your Tampa Bay why are you wanting to trade one of your talented players when you've bet everything on the cap raising again next year? You don't start a plan merely to abandon it one season in. I mean jesus if you're goin to propose trades don't talk about ones that are so silly that NHL 2006 would reject them.

7/06/2006 4:31 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

DB: Tarnqvist is probably not a PP guy. He's only got 370 career minutes (about 1 season's worth) and his career rate is less than 3 PPP/hr.

7/06/2006 9:38 pm  

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