Sunday, October 07, 2007

Take That Hippie! Four More Years!

This is going to be one of those catch-all posts, where I just rattle off comments in a stream of consciousness manner.

- I might as well start on the title. Lowe's extension comes as a complete surprise to me. It's out of left field for me because organizations typically at least put up a facade of due diligence. In this case, the bare minimum probably consists of a full 60+ games to find out if there was any method to the madness in that gong show offseason we just witnessed. A four year extension for this GM so quickly makes no sense to me, unless of course the Oilers are a little more concerned with marketable front men rather than effective decision making.

This comment from Laforge in particular is puzzling:

"We think this is part of our road to the next Stanley Cup. Kevin's a terrific leader, prepared to do what he needs to do. But he has a PLAN, you know. I've talked to a lot of Kevin's peers, and they don't have a plan. They read and react."

Now try to rectify that with this Lowe comment from LT's site:

"What happened was, all of a sudden, we got a lot of defencemen. We traded for Grebeshkov. We signed (Dick) Tarnstrom. We traded for Pitkanen. We signed (Sheldon) Souray. Then, I'm thinking, 'Holy mackerel, we've got a lot of guys here."

If I could say one thing about Lowe's offseason, it's that he didn't have a plan. Except maybe to giv'er.

- As far as the team on the ice goes, I'm very happy with the results so far and fairly pleased with the team performance based on the small amount I've been able to see so far. I watched the season opener against SJ from the 18 minute mark of the first period on (thanks DirecTV) and I thought they looked alright. They got well outchanced in those two periods to my eye and the Sharks apparently hit three posts in the first period on top of that. However, you can't look a gift horse in the mouth when it comes to the hockey gods.

I thought Tarnstrom and the kids all looked pretty good. So did Sanderson. To me the defense doesn't look that mobile, but they do make a first pass much better than last year's group, so there's some improvement in puck movement. On the other hand, the forwards appear to be a quicker group.

- Brian Burke is off his rocker at this point. This kind of talk is bound to draw lightning bolts from the heavens. I'm not sure the spectacle is going to deflect attention away from the fact that his team is not very good this year. (For obvious reasons - they've taken a pounding so far in personnel) Nor will it absolve him from blame in the Penner affair in the first place. He definitely should have taken Penner to arbitration.

- Lastly, the Hockey News Yearbook had an interesting little feature amidst a whole lot of nonsense. (If anyone can make heads or tails of their "Future Watch"ratings or their Top 50 Player List, I'd love to hear it.) It relates to the NHL's mess of a schedule:

The disparity in travel is incredible. Of course we all have a rough idea of this stuff, but I like the format the Hockey News used here. I'm not sure what impact of this really is, given that things like strength of schedule and back-to-back games are probably more important, but the differences are still staggering.

All I know is that the "best" team in the SE division this year will have a total cake walk - a terrible division and they leave their timezone just three times all year.


Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Turn up the good, turn down the suck.

Good post, RiversQ. Thanks for posting the schedule thing. I seem to remember seeing a baseball report on the effect of trave in terms of games won and lost, but I can't remember where.

10/07/2007 11:25 pm  
Blogger Black Dog said...

Good post RiversQ. Its early and most of the talk on Earl's site has been that the Ducks are tired but I'm starting to wonder if maybe the combination of injured guys, guys who are gone and the old "Stanley Cup hangover" might mean a real slide for them. Let's hope so.

10/08/2007 6:41 am  
Blogger Julian said...

Tom Benjamin had some really good stuff written on the schedule and its effect on west coast teams, it was a real eye opener for me. I'll hunt down a link when I have a few more minutes....

10/08/2007 9:40 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Wow. I've missed the first three Oiler games, except for the third period of last night's game. But damn, they must have been spectacular in the other eight periods :D

As you say, the timing is very strange. On the other hand, what if, as you suggest, they had waited 60 games? If the Oilers are struggling then, how would it look to sign up Kevin for another four years? Not so good, methinks.

On the other hand, put yourself in Nichol's shoes, if in the summer or spring you had already agreed to sign Lowe to a four year extension ... then the timing was perfect. The approval rating of about 27 GMs is at it's highest point of the season right now.

BTW: Ever notice how you can sub in "Wirtz" for "Nichols", and "Pulford" for "Lowe", in almost any Oiler article, and it works just as well? Seriously, try that next time you're reading the papers or the blogs. It's kind of spooky.

10/09/2007 7:01 am  
Blogger Black Dog said...

Speaking of Wirtz has anyone heard the clip from the tribute they had for him in Chicago - Tallon is speaking and he is drowned out by the booing.

Sorry Vic - nobody but nobody compares with Pulford - if Lowe gets booted upstairs in four years and then sticks around for another thirty years and descends from on high every few years to take over as coach or GM, all the while whispering in Nichols' ear, then its an apt comparison. Its one thing to screw up a franchise - its another to destroy it.

10/09/2007 7:10 am  
Blogger RiversQ said...

black dog said...
Its one thing to screw up a franchise - its another to destroy it.

Hey, Bill and Bob had to start somewhere. Give Kevin and Cal some time here.

vic ferrari said...
if in the summer or spring you had already agreed to sign Lowe to a four year extension ... then the timing was perfect.

Well, that would mean that Cal and Kevin's little passion play this summer was exactly that. I'm assuming they were playing for keeps when they were sniping at each other (Cal with Prongergate, Kevin with the budget). What do you think?

10/09/2007 1:26 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Spring would be too early. When did Nichols come out with this idea first? This mention that (paraphrasing) "we haven't gotten around to signing Lowe to a contract extension yet, because we've just been so darn busy with the Katz distraction"

I think that was mid July, no?

I remember at the time I thought:
"Holy mackerel, Kev. That's a LOT of defencemen!"

I also thought:
"Nichols can't be serious."

10/09/2007 2:12 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

I guess you could argue that they ironed out their issues by the summer.

The Katz dynamic is just bizarre on top of this though because Katz and Lowe are supposed to be tight. Of course that's an assumption based strictly on intarweb hearsay.

Regardless, I still don't see why Nichols is such a soft touch. Surely a guy like Howson could replicate Lowe's gate receipts, fairly easily match the hockey results and probably get paid less. What is Lowe's marginal value anyway? I can't see why anyone would consider Lowe so valuable that they would seemingly waste the opportunity to consider a change.

If you're pressured into the decision because you're scraed Lowe will fuck your team until the end of time trying to keep his job, then you probably don't have the right guy anyway.

I'm still not seeing it.

10/09/2007 3:22 pm  
Blogger Dennis said...

I certainly makes no sense but what Oilers move, outside of Tarnstrom and Garon, in the last few months have made sense right off the bat?

Nice intial look at the skedding. I think it was Sakic who said to scrap the current sked format because "changing it up only means an extra hour on the plane." I'm sure that solitary hour isn't applicable to all flights but I wish we could go to a balanced sked with the top 16 teams making the season season. It won't ever happen because it makes too much fucking sense but it's still what I hope for.

10/11/2007 6:24 pm  

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