More on the trade

I just got the Edmonton Oilers Pipeline email regarding the trade, which includes comments from Kevin Lowe and Patrick LaForge. Lowe says:

I want to be very clear that making this trade today is a hockey decision. It was not financial.

I want everyone to know that our decision was much more to do with a plan than a reaction.

A hockey decision?! Trading your top player who you can clearly afford is not a good hockey decision in my book. And LaForge had this to say:

We can afford to spend the money necessary to have the kind of elite players expected.

Is that right? Then why not spend the money to keep Ryan Smyth?

I also think the headline on proves just how bad a deal this is.

Oilers obtain Nilsson and O’Marra

Nuh uh. “Oilers fuck up and trade Ryan Smyth” should be the headline.

Oilers trade Smyth

Post ImageMegan just sent me a text message, asking if I had heard that the Edmonton Oilers traded Ryan Smyth. No, I had not heard. But now that I have, I am upset. As my Dad said on MSN just now:

as a fan I am hurt

That about sums it up. Smyth was traded to the New York Islanders for Ryan O’Marra, Robert Nilsson, and a first round pick in 2007. My Dad points out that “Robert Nilsson is the son of ex-Oiler and ex-Flame Kent Nilsson.” What a shitty deal. They might be good prospects, but I think this will be regarded as a bad trade for Kevin Lowe and the Oilers.

When my Dad and my brother were in town this past week, we talked about the trade deadline approaching. We agreed that it didn’t matter who the Oilers traded, as long as it wasn’t Smyth, Moreau, Stoll, or Hemsky. Anyone else would have been fine, even Roloson.

TSN and the Oilers site are horribly slow, and I haven’t found a link for this yet, but my Dad is listening to the guys on TSN and says:

It appears that there are lots of GMs pissed at Kevin. they didn’t think Ryan was available and if he was they would definitely have made good offers. it appears this was rushed together when Ryan didn’t sign today

You’ll have to check out my Dad’s blog later tonight, he’s got some good comments. We are chatting as I type this, and he just made a good point: wasn’t the new CBA supposed to prevent something like this from happening?

Evidently not. I guess the Oilers have given up on the season. It’ll be interesting to see how the crowd reacts tonight, given that it is Mark Messier night.

Read: TSN

NHL schedule change failed by one vote

Post ImageTurns out the proposed NHL schedule change failed today, receiving 19 of 30 votes (a two-thirds majority would have been required for it to pass). Edmonton Oilers chairman Cal Nicols wasn’t happy with the decision:

“The politics seem to always enter into it,” Nichols said after the meeting. “I think we should be more concerned about the future of the game than specific interests or it’s going to cost me a few more thousand dollars to travel a few extra miles. This shouldn’t be about that. It’s about the game.”

According to the TSN article, Montreal is believed to have been the only Canadian team to vote against the change.

I think the board of governors made a mistake today. Hopefully they change their minds for the 2008-09 season.

Read: TSN

NHL likely to revert to pre-lockout sked

Post ImageThe NHL schedule is a hot topic here in the west, and according to TSN it is likely that the league will revert to the pre-lockout format in which all 30 teams play each other at least once per season. This means that teams like the Oilers would be guaranteed to have at least one game with the NHL’s hottest stars like Ovechkin and Crosby who can draw big numbers to games.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has not taken a stand on the issue so far and has basically allowed teams to make their cases, but one source said it might be time for the league to step in. The feeling is that if there is an appetite for change, Bettman will facilitate it.

Apparently New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello favors the current schedule and is leading the charge for eastern teams who would prefer not to change. The league’s board of governors meets tomorrow to discuss the schedule and the Penguins situation, among other things.

Read: TSN

Penguins to add a little Canadian red?

Post ImageHockey season has started again! And what a great start it was, with Toronto losing 4-1 to the Senators. Edmonton’s first game is tomorrow night against the very red, very evil Calgary Flames. I can’t wait!

Perhaps the biggest news of the day, however, is that RIM’s top executive Jim Balsillie has purchased the Pittsburgh Penguins for $175 million USD (via Darren):

A source familiar with the discussions told globesports that Balsillie is expected to keep the team in Pittsburgh and he has no intention of moving it to Hamilton, Ont. There had been speculation that Balsillie wanted to buy a franchise and move it to Hamilton, which is close to his home and RIM’s head office in Waterloo.

Move them north! It would be such excellent news for Canadian hockey if he did. Like Darren says:

If I live in Hamilton or Winnipeg, Im getting on my Blackberry and starting an email campaign to get Mr. Balsillie to move the team north.

I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Read: Sportsnet

Wilson wins 2006 Grand Prix of Edmonton

Post ImageI am so glad I got to go to the race today – it was awesome! I only wish my Dad had been able to come (we always watch the F1 races early Sunday morning together, though virtually, as he lives in the north). Despite the heat, there was a packed crowd for the race today, and it was extremely entertaining. Bourdais led the first half of the race, but Wilson proved much quicker and eventually took the checkered flag, becoming the only driver besides Bourdais and Allmendinger to win a race this season (here’s the full story).

I have to say that watching a race in person is a much different experience than watching on television. Edmonton is probably unique too, in that you can see pretty much the entire track from your seat in the grandstands. In any case, I like that you see every car go by every lap, whereas on TV you are at the mercy of the producer and camera people. It makes it much easier to see visually who is gaining on whom, who is falling behind, and who is trying too hard. Sure the television has the times and stuff, but actually seeing it is pretty cool.

The race began with the parade of drivers, each in a Ford pickup. Some of the Edmonton Eskimos also took part, with their very yellow truck bringing up the rear. There were parachuters, CF-18s, Mayor Mandel, Premier Klein, and various other dignitaries to get things underway. Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish was the grand marshall, saying the famous words with a twist – “Katherine and gentlemen, start your engines!” (as Katherine Legge is the only woman driver in the series). It was neat to see MacT and Kelly Buchburger walking down the concourse with a couple other guys – everyone would walk past, and then stop and look at the foursome, wondering if they had really just seen MacT! He’s an Edmonton celebrity to be sure.

I’ve added a few more pictures to my photoset from today. I also have about ten minutes of video, just various clips that I recorded throughout the day, so I’ll post that at some point as well. You know, so you can hear the scream of the engines for yourself!

Anyway, great race, and I hope I can go again next year!

One win left, go Oilers go!

Post ImageEdmonton played an absolutely amazing game tonight, easily shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes with a final score of 4-0. That means that for the third time in a row, the Stanley Cup Final is going to game 7. The 16,839+ in attendance at Rexall were super loud, and thousands more flooded Whyte Ave and Jasper Ave after the game (no doubt the partying is just getting under way!). Jasper Ave was especially noisy tonight, with some intense honking (here are some pictures)! Some notes on the game:

  • Hurricanes forward Erik Cole made a surprising return to the lineup for Carolina tonight after missing several months with a fractured vertebra. Doug Weight was out with an upper-body injury, creating the lineup opening.
  • Pisani’s goal moved him into the league lead with 13 in these playoffs. His assist on the Torres goal tied him with Chris Pronger for the team lead in multiple-point games these playoffs with seven.
  • Terrible officiating once again – really, is it so hard to get some decent calls? Tonight was harder for the referees, I admit, as you could barely hear the whistle half the time. A few times tonight they called penalties against a team when they still hadn’t touched the puck, drives me crazy! I am glad they finally called a diving penalty though, first of the playoffs if I am not mistaken.
  • Finally, finally, finally – Horcoff and Dvorak (and Smyth) did something in this series! Horc was my MVP until this series began, after which he was largely invisible until tonight. Dvorak should be elevating his game, as he’s fighting for a chance to stay in Edmonton as far as I am concerned, so it was good to see him get a point tonight.
  • Spacek and Pisani had great games, with two points each. Jussi played good, but wasn’t really tested with only 16 shots on goal from the ‘Canes.
  • Three powerplay goals! That’s the biggest story of the night as far as I am concerned. The Oilers are clearly the better team at even strength, and have been all series long. Tonight was the first night that the Hurricanes powerplay sucked, and ours clicked.
  • I think Torres had an awesome game tonight, with a goal, two shots, three hits, and one takeaway. He set the tempo early and kept it up all game long.

So it all comes down to Monday. One game, for all the glory. I am confident the Oilers are bringing the cup back to Edmonton!

Carolina didn’t look like a team hungry for the win tonight. Not only have they lost two games in a row now, they’ve missed two chances to win the cup. The Hurricanes looked tired, beat up, and ready to call it quits. If Edmonton plays on Monday like they did tonight, bringing the body, shooting lots of pucks, and driving for the net, I think we’ll handily take the win. The powerplay/penalty kill will also be important, so they need to continue to do whatever it is they did tonight that turned the tables on special teams.

Number six is coming in 2006!!

Oilers force game 6!

Post ImageI just got back from Whyte Ave where Tom and I were walking around high-fiving everyone and of course, filming it all. The Oilers won tonite 4-3, and will now come back to Edmonton for Game 6. I’ll post that video later (also got more footage of craziness in the cars on Jasper Ave) but for now, let’s take a look at the game:

  • The Oilers won in overtime, on a breakaway goal by Fernando Pisani (shorthanded no less). I am so glad he got the breakaway, because he can actually score!
  • We got off to a good start tonite too, scoring just 16 seconds in.
  • Carolina scored all three of their goals on the powerplay. And really, if it wasn’t for the referees, they wouldn’t have even come close to forcing OT. The officiating was absolutely horrendous tonight – the NHL should be ashamed. If the new NHL is calling non-existent penalties and not calling the blatant ones, I don’t want it.
  • I also don’t like that they called a penalty against us in overtime. At that point in a knock-out game in the Stanley Cup Finals, you swallow the whistles! Only extremely horrible penalties should be called, otherwise, there’s no way the refs should be deciding a game.
  • Boo hoo, the ‘Canes had to deal with a time change for once. Cry me a goddamn river.
  • They also appear to be hurting, with lots of guys in and out of the dressing room tonight. Keep up the good work Torres!
  • Stellar game tonight for Pronger, who finished a +3. Hemsky also played very well. And no, Greene did not play badly at all. The penalties he was called for (especially one of them) were not penalties. I’m so glad Charlie Huddy was there to pump him back up on the bench.
  • Thank goodness MacT finally came to his senses and replaced Laraque with Harvey. He didn’t contribute offensively tonight, but he only played nine shifts. I think he’ll have a bigger impact in game 6.
  • Once again, Markkanen was awesome, making the key saves we needed him to make to keep the score close.

The other thing I wanted to mention – CBC blows. Bob Cole and Harry Neil are clearly Toronto fans, who do nothing but make the Oilers seem crappy when calling the game. They can’t say enough nice things about Carolina. But it wasn’t just them tonite, it was the whole broadcast. They only spoke to Oilers after the third and after the win, though they spoke to the injured Eric Cole and a few other Hurricanes like Brind’a-whore. They usually show a “back in time” clip, and what did they choose to show this evening? That’s right, a clip of the New York Islanders defeating the old Oilers. No footage of Rexall. No footage of Whyte. I got the general feeling that they expected, or maybe even wanted, Carolina to win as the broadcast just wasn’t balanced. The only redeeming quality of CBC is Ron Maclean. No, not Cherry, who is a complete idiot most of the time – stick to hockey Don. Coach’s Corner is not the time or place to be making political statements. And who cares if the scoring leaders are all Canadian? And how many times did we have to see Staal’s goal!? Jeez.

So the next game will be here in Edmonton. I know the hometown crowd is going to be crazy, so let’s hope the boys give it all they’ve got again. I think they outplayed Carolina tonight, despite what the scoresheet says (thanks alot you idiot referees) or what the announcers said (Bob and Harry are morons anyway).

Go Oilers Go!

2006 FIFA World Cup Germany

Post ImageEverywhere in the world right now, football has taken centre stage. Everywhere in the world, that is, except for Canada (where hockey reigns supreme) and the United States (where it’s probably baseball or basketball). Why? Simple – the 2006 World Cup (hosted by Germany) has started, which in case you didn’t know, is the most watched sporting event in the world, yes even more so than the Olympics. In the last World Cup in 2002, the cumulative audience is estimated to be 28.8 billion, with 1.1 billion people watching the final match. Expectations are for this year’s to be even greater. Crazy!

Canada once again failed to qualify for the tournament, which means I’m pulling for England. The good news for England so far is that they won their first game this morning against Paraguay. The bad news is that the win was very unconvincing:

England got the opening win they were looking for, but the performance in the second half was less than convincing. Paraguay can take heart from their battling display, though they had no reward for their efforts.

The lone goal came off a Beckham free kick that was accidentially headed into the net by the Paraguay captain himself. I heard earlier that the goal is the quickest own-goal in World Cup history, and it marked the first time a game has been decided by an own-goal.

The website for the World Cup has got to be one of the best around. Lots of news and features, excellent video highlights of games, and much more. Definitely check it out. They’ve got some great photos too 😉

One thing I’ve really noticed so far is that the 2006 World Cup appears extremely branded. There’s the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, the adidas Golden Shoe and Golden Ball awards, the Gillette Best Young Player award, and much more. I bet it costs a pretty penny to be an official partner of the World Cup.

I admit that I am a bit of a bandwagon jumper when it comes to the World Cup. That is, unlike my brother and my Dad who follow soccer closely all the time, I really only get excited when the World Cup rolls around every four years. I keep tabs on Manchester United and pay attention to the discussions between Tom and my Dad, but that’s about it. I guess that makes me a bit of a hypocrite in that I complain about the Stanley Cup/Edmonton Oilers bandwagon jumpers, but I contend that the World Cup is something special, over and above hockey. A few million people care about the Stanley Cup, whereas a couple billion care about the World Cup. People all over the world, from all walks of life, it truly brings out the “globalness” of the little community we have here on Earth.

Games will be played over the next few weeks with Stage 1 ending on June 23rd, and the final being played on July 9th. England’s next game is on June 15th against Trinidad and Tobago, who managed to hold Sweden to a draw today.

Looks like the 2006 FIFA World Cup demo is finished downloading on my Xbox 360 (I love the new background downloads), so I’m off to check it out!

REVIEW: Game 2

Post ImageIt hasn’t been a great week for the Edmonton Oilers, who lost again to the Hurricanes tonight. Actually, they got slaughtered 5-0. Here are some thoughts on the game:

  • Jussi Markkanen played goal for us tonight, and he did a good job. Even though he let in five goals, it was a product of the team sucking hard, not Jussi failing to make saves. He’s no Cam Ward, but at least he handled the puck well and didn’t have any blunders like Conklin did.
  • Ryan Smyth gets my vote for worst Oiler of the game. He continually missed pucks, and was no where near the front of the net where he is most effective. As the leader on a team in desperate need of some momentum, Smyth really needed to produce tonight and he didn’t. He was -1 tonight, after a -2 performance last game. His only bright spot tonight was that his 4 shots on goal turned out to be more than any other Oiler.
  • Why is Georges Laraque playing in this series? Unless you’re gonna stick him in front of the net to cause trouble for Ward, we don’t need him. I agree with my Dad, bring Todd Harvey back into the lineup!
  • All of the Oilers need to learn to hit the net! So many shots were not even close tonight, it was sad. And on top of that, we need shoot more! And for crying out loud, get the puck high! Ward always seems to be down, so start shooting above him.
  • We were in the penalty box way too many times, and for some reason, our usually amazing penalty kill was terrible. Not all of the calls were our fault (I thought the officials made some really questionable ones on us, and missed some blatant ones on them).
  • On a related note, our power play totally sucked. No other way to say it.
  • I don’t know what game Kelly Hrudey was watching, but I completely disagree with him – the Oilers did not do a good enough job of sending a message to the ‘Canes when it was clear the game had been lost. We were in the penalty box a lot, sure, but for stupid calls, not for rough play that would be considered “sending a message.”
  • I think we gave up way too many odd man rushes tonight.

Now the series shifts back to Edmonton, where I expect the Oilers to fare much better. I am hoping this will be a repeat of the San Jose series, where both teams win their first set of home games. The puck drops at 6 PM MDT on Saturday. Go Oilers Go!