Monday, November 27, 2006

Merry Chris-Mas : Peca, Horcoff and Pronger make not so strange bedfellows

I don't imagine that I'm about to dole out the definitive word on Pronger's return to Edmonton and I wasn't sure I was even gonna bother to write about it but I just saw a clip of a Mike Peca interview and while it didn't exactly make my blood boil it did set the plasma to to a little sizzle.

Peca was quizzed about the potential scene on Tues at Rexall and he basically said, "you know that fan is sort for fanatic and you know what that means." Except when he said it Peca had this crazy look in his eyes and by crazy I mean it was a look that screamed, "I hate the Oilers fans and everything about them." That quote's not a big surprise if you've been reading some of the Leaves coverage this year where he's thrown out a not so subtle hint or two about just how much he didn't enjoy playing in Edm. But I thought it was interesting that it's still such a sticking point with him that he decided to take one more shot and I'd say it's more about fans in general than the ones who occupy Rexall.

I think Peca is a total ingrate for carrying a grudge this long and specifically for currently carrying it against a group of fans that had every reason to boo him last year but didn't. In fact he was getting some pretty loud cheers by the time the playoffs were over. That all seems forgotten now, or least it is by everyone but Peca.

At this point in his career Peca's offensive skills are non-existent and as much as I like the fact he can play tough minutes that alone shouldn't lead to another team paying him 2.5 mill. Yet they did and even though these "fanatics" pay his salary, and the whole linkage of gate revenue to salary is never more fluid then it is in the NHL where the league doesn't have a national TV contract to speak of, he obviously feels above them and has no qualms expressing so. The first time I ever read the old "fan is short for fanatic" was in Dan Turner's "The Expos Inside Out" where the quote was attributed to the ever congenial hurler Steve Rogers. I can't say what the expression was on Rogers face when he uttered that line but Peca basically spat out his version.

Most fans will lump Pronger and Peca together when thinking of the '06 season because their arrivial signalled a new era for the Oil. This team could finally afford some guys with big contracts and this was manna from heaven for a long suffering fans who always bemoaned the lack of a veteran presence or two. Of course their contract situations were totally different with Peca being in the last year of his pact and Pronger an impending UFA who decided to sign longterm with the Oilers. Peca had every right to walk after the '06 season and walk he did. On the other hand Pronger allowed the Oilers to talk contract with him before they sealed the deal with the Blues and then bargained in good faith to a contract that would hold him in Edmonton for five years. That's what's always choked me when I've read Pronger getting upset by the fans comments. This wasn't a guy with the chance to explore free agency. This was a guy who'd committed to the team and the city but was making trade requests as early as the next January and later on was in Mexico using his agent as a media mouthpiece before some of the Oilers playoff bruises had a chance to heal.

What does Pronger expect from the Oilers fans? Does he expect to read signs that say "Thanks for f**king us over Chris and leading our GM to acquire a 20 year old defenseman and a 20 something forward with a questionable attitude!! That was really an even swap of assets and we wish you well.!!" Pronger made a committment and then bailed and he cares so little about what the fans think or feel that he wouldn't even bother saying something like his family didn't like it in Edmonton. Fans by and large are lemmings and want to be lied to, and I mean this in the best possible way, so just make something up and get on with it. It just speaks to Pronger's total disdain and apathy that he failed to do so.

I really hate Pronger and I hate that the Ducks are doing so well and I hate what Lowe got in return for the best defenseman in the NHL. He had an impact player but it was fleeting and when you're forced to make a deal in that situation it hardly ever turns out fine. That was what was bothering me before tonight but the potency of my venom increased once I saw Peca's emaciated mug. It just triggered something that I'd known for awhile but something I hate admitting because it really tempers my love for the game and sports in general: the players don't care about nor respect the fans. That's a blanket statement and I guess a few players care but they are in the vast minority. Shawn Horcoff is a guy I really like but tonight even he wound up on my wrong side when he snapped at a reporter for asking if the fans deserve an excuse. He basically said something to the effect that it wouldn't make a difference because it wouldn't bring Pronger back. Horc's failing to understand the viewpoint of the fan just illustrates the problem even further.

Chris Pronger doesn't respect you enough to believe you deserve an awnser even if you chucked more money than you could afford for your season tickets. Mike Peca thinks you're a jackass because you get crazy in your rooting. Of course he feels different about those wonderful Leaves fans but that's just while they're signing his paycheque. And even your very own Shawn Horcoff probably doesn't understand what all the fuss is about. Sure he inked a longterm deal to stay in your city or play in your silks but that's the extent of it. Ask him if he understands your frustrations though and do so at your own peril.


Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

Chris Pronger doesn't respect you enough to believe you deserve an awnser even if you chucked more money than you could afford for your season tickets.

You've got a woman in your life Dennis. What would you do in his shoes? You strike me as a reasonable guy and I can't believe that you'd go about things any differently than he would. Even if he says something like "My wife thinks that this is a frozen slice of Hell complete with a bunch of inbred, sister fucking hicks riding high on oil wealth that they're pissing away as fast as they can. I loved the place though." is anyone going to be happy? I mean, I think I'm a rational guy and I just don't see a way out of the box for him.

Peca, of course, is an asshole.

11/27/2006 11:53 pm  
Blogger oilswell said...

I mean, I think I'm a rational guy and I just don't see a way out of the box for him.

I didn't like Pronger much before mid season but he grew on me and he was an excellent fit and impact player. Sad he's gone and sad things didn't work out for all involved.

Apart from the existing speculation, the only thing I can think of is that Pronger is taking it on the chin for his wife. I mean it. He's either a heinous bastard or a hero if he is.

Dennis (great rant by the way) is sadly too accurate in saying the fans like being lied to. If Pronger would have stood in front of reporters and said "I promised Stevie I wouldn't do this" and then expressed any kind of sincere indication that he was sad to leave the Oilers, Edmonton, and the hockey hotbed he was in....what do you think the fans' reaction would have been? If Pronger really did like his hockey situation in Edmonton, that kind of emotion wouldn't even have been hard to bring up, presumably particularly after game 7. And the fans would have been appeased even if he faked it, I'd have to say. I'm willing to hear arguments against this but just thinking back about the players the fans continue to love (or hate) after they left I'm fairly certain he could have PR'd at least to the point where he's only enemy number 3 with the Oilers fans. Of course, their rage would only be directed at a different target. Whom do you think that might be?

So what options are there? Behind door number 1, Pronger and his agent and advisors are all too stupid or too busy bellybutton gazing to realize spin was an exit option for him with the fans. Behind #2 is Pronger really hated Edmonton's fans and wanted to rile them up. Behind #4 is Dennis' argument of Pronger's disrespect/indifference for the fans. Behind #4 is that he knew he likely had an exit, but didn't take it for whatever reason.

How much is Lauren Pronger worth, btw?

11/28/2006 5:53 am  
Blogger Puck Engineer said...

To me, the whole point is the lack of understanding and caring for the fans. We're really f*cking nuts and we care about them a lot (as Skeletor, er, um, Peca, mentioned, it's probably beyond healthy) but mostly, we're something on the side for them, a nuisance, peripheral to their real jobs. To me, that seems truly out of touch. I know it's very different than life for most of us. I'm an engineer, and I never have thousands of rabid fans yelling at me for the stuff that I do. If I did, though, I think I'd take them vary seriously because, guess what, your fans are your clients. You work for them; they give you money. It's your responsibility to make them satisfied with your work, and that's how you grow your business.

Speaking of that, I'm kinda goofing off right now. Gotta get back to work.

11/28/2006 9:05 am  
Blogger godot10 said...

I think you just heard part of what Horcoff said.

// "Do they really need an answer? He's gone," said Shawn Horcoff. "Whether they get one or not, it's not going to make him come back. Personally, we didn't need one. He's gone. It's a business. We understand that. He made a decision that helped his family."
Still, Horcoff gets it.
"From a fan's perspective, I do understand it," said Horcoff, who is pals with Mike Comrie, another fan favourite. "Let's be honest, I used to be a fan and I'm still a fan of the game. //

11/28/2006 10:44 am  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

MC: Here's what I'd do if it was me and my lady and I'd signed a new contract. I would make damn sure she knew what she was getting into before I committed longterm and once I did sign and she pulled a 180 on me then I'd realize that the fans were owed at least some kind of explanation and I'd have no problem saying that while I loved the atmosphere and my teammates and the just wasn't the right fit because it wasn't good for marriage and family comes first. I don't understand why he wouldn't say this. Either A: he's pussywhipped worst than Doug Christie or B: Pronger stupped half of Edmonton and that's the reason why he had to get out of town. I don't believe B though because Smyth said Pronger was seperated from his wife since Nov so I'm guessing Lauren and the kids lived in Edm for basically two months and then got the fuck out of it. Which brings me to OW's #4...Pronger had a simple solution for an exit strategy but didn't even care enough to use it. That shows his indifference to the fans.

As for Peca...I hate it when people throw out that fanatic thing. What does that even mean anyway?? The only way I'd agree with Peca in that some people care too much is if those people cared enough about the sport or a team where it was a detriment to their spouses and/or kids. Otherwise I think it's a pretty healthy diversion and an interesting hobby. I don't know why Peca decided to pile on here but it really chapped my ass. So did Horc's comments too, BTW.

11/28/2006 11:01 am  
Blogger Andy Grabia said...

I disagree with blaming Lauren Pronger, if only because I think her husband threw her under the bus. He's never answered the questions, thereby leaving her out to dry. Has anyone even heard him defend her? I certainly haven't. He throws out that b.s. answer, when what he should say is, "I won't let people talk shit about my wife." He's never said that. In short, he hasn't protected his family. He's only protected himself. He also hasn't minded leaving Chorley hanging out to dry. I thought she was amazing last night, when you could tell she wanted to ask him, "why the fuck did you do this to me?"

John Mackinnon has a good post on it in the Journal. The money shot:

"In the wake of the abrupt move and Pronger’s initial silence about his trade demand, the rumour mill began churning. Which is largely a function of the way Pronger mishandled things.

Yet, in his arrogance, Pronger sniffs irritatedly about these very rumours as if his behaviour did not provoke them in the first place.

But then, when you’re the Big Man on Campus, you don’t sweat details like that. You just move on to the next campus and leave the mess to others."

11/28/2006 12:03 pm  
Blogger Black Dog said...

I think he's trying to have it both ways and here's why. His wife takes off on him with his two kids basically putting him in a no-win situation. He has to leave because she has his kids and she has basically screwed him - he signed that contract and he knows what its like in Edmonton and knows he's going to get reamed.

Now I don't know about you guys but if my wife did that I would a) follow my family and b) throw her under the bus because she fucked me - I might not leave her but I'm sure as hell not going to make her look good - petulant? - damn right I am because my wife screwed me.

that being said I do agree with Dennis - if that guy had just said something, anything, it would have caused so much of this to blow over

Having seen Horc's full out quote, I think piling on him is not fair to him (until he moves on in three years).

As for Peca - guy has gotten way too big for his britches. Ass.

11/28/2006 12:22 pm  
Blogger Bank Shot said...

I really doubt there is anything he could have said to make this blow over.

Fans are still angsting over Arnott, Comrie, Weight, hell even Gretzky. It's not like a few kind words would have made a difference. Well the fans might have given him a free pass and tore his wife to pieces instead.

I really don't see how the fans deserve an explanation anyway. We deserve his 100% effort on the ice. Off the ice we don't have a right to a god damn thing from players.

They aren't getting paid to stroke egos. It's very nice for the fans when they do, but it's not a requirement. I think fans come off looking quite weird when they demand to be in the know about a player's off ice life.

They're like the person that keeps asking, "Oh why did you break up with me?!" instead of reading between the lines, coming to their own conclusions , then moving on with their lives.

11/28/2006 1:55 pm  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

Fans don't want to know which sexual positions the guy enjoys...they just want to know why he broke a five year contract that was signed in good faith.

11/28/2006 3:03 pm  
Blogger danielchapman said...

If fan weren't short for 'fanatical' would NHL teams really be able to get families to spend huge portions of their annual income on season tickets? Jerseys? Concessions etc...

Any rational onlooker would laugh at the concept of spending considerable amounts of cash to watch millionaires play sports.

Fans are taken forgranted.

I wasn't aware that Lauren had left Edmonton so early... How does a rational wife and mother justify separating their children from their father like that unless there were extenuating circumstances behind her decision?

FCP may not be protecting his wife as much as he is protecting his own privacy. Atleast that is what it sure seems like to me.

Who cares, I'm an Oilers fanatic, a rational fanatic that invested many years into being able to boo pronger tonight. NHL players can turn their nose up if they like, but they have to choose one or the other... either I care for my team or I dont. If i dont, goodluck taking my money.


11/28/2006 5:54 pm  
Blogger T. said...

It's funny, when I heard that quote form Horc I went the opposite way. He seemed like he was tring to keep his cool there to me, not react emotionally to it... I do think he gets it - maybe more than we realize.

I think, that although Pronger *may have* confided in certain players and *may* still be friendly with them, some of the team he had just been to war with got hit just as hard by this as we did. Maybe more.

And yes, I know that makes me naive.

11/29/2006 1:08 pm  

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