Stink in Motown

Robin Brownlee
February 07 2009 09:11PM

stink

I almost crapped myself outside Joe Louis Arena one time, but never inside it like the Edmonton Oilers did during the first 18 minutes of an 8-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings today.

My near-movement came several years back courtesy of a street person looking for money. With hand extended, the hulking bum sprang from behind a pillar under an overpass near The Joe as Boris Mironov and I were waiting for a taxi. He wanted Mironov's purple snakeskin shoes.

The Oilers, meanwhile, soiled themselves good and plenty in the Murder City, spotting the Red Wings a 5-0 lead by the 18:02 mark of the opening period, making it an easy day for the newspaper guys and a tough afternoon for their broadcast buddies with Sportsnet.

Which brings me, albeit awkwardly, to some thoughts about the distinctly different roles of the many people who travel with the Oilers under the vague umbrella of "media."

DECISIVE IS GOOD

In the decade I travelled with the team, days like today always meant an easy write and a relaxed the trip to the airport, even if the team was mad as hell and everybody had a look on their face like somebody had farted in the bus.

I never cared who won the game -- really. Given that travelling writers usually had just 30 minutes from the time the dressing room doors opened after a game to get our interviews, go through our notes, write our stories, pack up and get to the bus, my only wish was that one of the teams take control of the game -- the earlier, the better. Selfish? Sure.

Today's can of corn was what we used to call a laugher.  When it's 3-0 less than six minutes in and 5-0 before the first intermission, you've got that baby written by the start of the second period. Leave three or four gaps for quotes, be ready to tweak a little if the game swings wildly or somebody breaks a leg and kick back. Start on that "Kevin Lowe -- Dynasty Builder" feature. In a way, it's almost too bad it was wasted on an afternoon game.

SCRIBBLING FOOL

You didn't often get a 5-0 bulge to work with like hall-of-famer Jim Matheson did today. And it's welcome, believe me.

More games than not, you have to wait until the final 10 minutes for the game to swing one way or another, or you're going to overtime or a shootout. Other times, you're deleting the 500 words you wrote when it was 3-0 because it's now 3-3 with 48 seconds to go.

That's hair-on-fire stuff, and I don't have any to spare after climbing aboard the bus still smoking so many times over the years, much to the amusement of Rod Phillips. And the bus doesn't wait, like the time Kevin Lowe, sour after a loss, left me at the United Center in Chicago.

I can't speak for Matheson or anybody else, but if the game was 2-0 for the Oilers after a period, I wanted it 3-0 or 4-0 for them as soon as possible so I could get started. If it was 2-0 for the Red Wings, well, same thing.

The "somebody decide this thing before the final 35 seconds" prayer was most needed for west coast games, where the first version of your game story is due at the buzzer. Yes, at the buzzer. What better way to come off as an illiterate buffoon?

THE HOUSEMEN

It's a different story for the broadcast rightsholders, and while I poke fun at them more than I should, I felt for play-by-play man Kevin Quinn and analyst Louie DeBrusk today.

A blowout is great for Quinn and DeBrusk if the right team is ahead, but if the Oilers are only blowing, like they did in the first period, it makes for a long afternoon. Today, given the Oilers have already been smoked 9-2 by Chicago and 10-2 by Buffalo this season, certainly qualifies.

It had to be tough to sound positive after Dwayne Roloson gave Dan Clearly a hack between the legs 42 seconds in, prompting the Red Wings to spend most of the rest of the day returning the favour by sacking the Oilers on the score board.

As members of the rightsholders broadcast, Quinn and DeBrusk are looking for positive spin. That's their job. They don't hold themselves out as objective observers. So, while the beat guys are merrily tapping away when it's 5-0, KQ and Louie have their work cut out.

Same with Sports Central host Evanka Osmak, who said during the first intermission: "Hopefully, the Oilers can get on the board and climb out of that 5-0 deficit." Or not.

TOUGH GIG

With it 6-0 through 40 minutes, Quinn and DeBrusk didn't have the option of lamenting yet another brutal start by the Good Guys or pointing out to Oilers defencemen that moving your feet in pursuit of an opposing forward cutting to the net is a good thing.

They're left looking for the silver lining. That means talking about "winning" the third period. About building momentum going into Minnesota. About how good Jeff Deslauriers looked in relief of Dwayne Roloson -- which he did, compared, to ahem, his last bit of mop-up duty.

At least the Oilers gave them something to worth with when Zack Stortini, Dustin Penner and Marc Pouliot narrowed it to 6-3. Quinn's teeth were still vibrating from those goals when he said: "If you want to look at things as half full, you've got to look at this third period."

Half full of what? Which brings me back to Boris and I . . .

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 Deep Oil
February 08 2009, 12:23PM
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APE wrote:

Game day b!tches!

1) Afternoon game 2) Against the Wild 3) Blown out last game - unprepared again

Add all this up and hope for an overtime time win or loss and give the badly needed points to a division rival - with MACT saying that they tried hard.

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#52 Deep Oil
February 08 2009, 12:34PM
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RobinB wrote:

Zamboni Driver wrote: [Though I guess the obvious answer is the TV crew the oilers get has gotta be among the worst anywhere.] Not even close in terms of being, to use your term, “the worst.” First, you have to accept and understand what their job is. It’s easy to criticize team broadcasters and rightsholders as homers, but they aren’t trying to sell themselves as a critical voice or objective observers. They are helping to deliver and sell a product — the Oilers. Rightsholders will always lean toward the positive. That’s what’s expected of them. To get all over them for not “telling it like it is” is no different than criticizing a newspaper beat guy for not being positive enough (although there’s people out there who believe we’re too positive as it is). Everybody has a different job to do.

Lets set the record straight here.

Rogers is not the rightholders it is the wholesaler and provider to the Oils who schill the time on their own. Have you ever wondered how the flames get screwed on RSW with so much OIL on this channel....

Rexall Sports buys the time and sells the ads on their own. The Oil employ Quinn and DeBrusk meaning that the company doctrine is translated directly to their paycheque - case in radioland point.... Stauffer wanted MacT fired last year - now he wants him to "TRY HARDER" direct quote - he even said the trainers have to "TRY HARDER".... OMG.

Everbody has a different job to do - to whom is their master is somewhat veiled in corporate blending of broadcasting and promoting - to which Allan Watt is under full control with Don Metz from Insight / Aquila.

You want positive - WIN - otherwise you are just making excuses for incompetency, corporate incest and declining balance sheet for the King with no clothes.

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#53 Deep Oil
February 08 2009, 12:38PM
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APE wrote:

Great article Robin. I also listened to you and Gregor talk with Hitch on coaching 101 and I must say that I could listen to him explain coaching for hours. I found myself sitting in my running car in my parkade for a good 20 mins. Listening to the way Hitch explains things compared to Mac T dancing around questions and making intelligent yet smart ass remarks was a breath of fresh air.

note to APE - don't be a monkey, next time go to justagame.ca and listen to the podcast when it suits you better - unless of course you were drinking CROWN (DEEP OILS CHOICE) or BOMBAY (JIM ROMES CHOICE) or LIMOS (Gregors choice) in the parkade with a friend.

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#54 RobinB
February 08 2009, 12:43PM
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Deep Oil wrote:

Lets set the record straight here.

Already did that with: "First, you have to accept and understand what their job is. It’s easy to criticize team broadcasters and rightsholders as homers, but they aren’t trying to sell themselves as a critical voice or objective observers. They are helping to deliver and sell a product — the Oilers. Rightsholders will always lean toward the positive. That’s what’s expected of them."

As for your details, fine, but the simple point is fans expecting rightsholders to lead the critical charge in the name of telling it like it is are barking up the wrong tree. Rightsholders, be it radio or TV, are extensions of the team and are expected to conduct themselves as such.

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#55 Deep Oil
February 08 2009, 12:49PM
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sorry i meant limon instead of limos (GREGOR) damm edit button

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#56 Milli
February 08 2009, 12:53PM
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@ RobinB: Ya, if you think the Oil guys are biased, try listening to the Canucks on sportsnet, I get embarassed for them.

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#57 RobinB
February 08 2009, 01:04PM
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@ Milli: There are countless examples of homerism to the extreme.

One that sticks out in my mind happened many years ago in Buffalo in the game Georges Laraque beat the snot out of Rob Ray so bad I actually felt sorry for Ray. It was, you might recall, the first game between the teams after Ray had turned down Laraque in Edmonton, saying he "just wanted to play," before he went out and roughed up Weight and Guerin.

Anyway, I've always enjoyed the call of Buffalo's Rick Jeannerete, but if you listen to how he calls that fight (example on YouTube) compared to how Rod Phillips called it and what actually happened, it's stunning and laughable.

Jeanneret's giving it the "And they're going at it back and fourth" routine like it was actually a fight instead of a beat down. Right, Laraque and Ray were going at it like Lee Harvey Oswald on JFK "went at it."

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#58 Jack Bauer
February 08 2009, 01:42PM
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I found that the Chicago TV crew were pretty awesome. I watched them online for our ppv game and they were knowledgeable and exciting to listen to.

Our Sportsnet crew is pretty bad. Im not sure about other markets but the only crew ive seen that is worse in Canada is Calgary.

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#59 Dropping Deuces
February 08 2009, 07:39PM
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oilersseasonticketholdersince99 wrote:

This team is a joke.The EIG sold them at the right time they must be laughung all the way to the bank.Does Daryl Katz even exist? he had one press conference and since then he has been the invisable man,maybe he will start listing when Rexall place is half full.Has kevin Lowe given up, know that he is President and does not have to be held accountable? Can someone, anyone with in the Oilers organization explain to us fans what the hell is going on and when are they going to do something or are we expected to pay and watch this sad excuse for a hockey team?

What is the owner supposed to do? Start telling them whoto play and who to trade. Ask Tampa Bay how that is working out.

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#60 RobinB
February 08 2009, 08:38PM
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CURSE CONTINUES . . . Just a tidbit about today's loss to Minnesota. As everybody knows, it's the Oilers ninth straight loss at the Xcel Energy Center. The last time the Oilers won there was Jan. 16, 2007, which just happens to be the last road game I ever covered on the beat. Coincidence? You tell me.

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#61 Travis Dakin
February 08 2009, 08:51PM
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RobinB wrote:

The last time the Oilers won there was Jan. 16, 2007, which just happens to be the last road game I ever covered on the beat. Coincidence? You tell me.

Which was also six months after the run.... So what do we gotta do to get you back travelling with the team?

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#62 RobinB
February 08 2009, 09:01PM
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@ Travis Dakin: Thanks for the sentiment, but I've already retained "somebody" who is looking into that . . .

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#63 Travis Dakin
February 08 2009, 09:29PM
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RobinB wrote:

@ Travis Dakin: Thanks for the sentiment, but I’ve already retained “somebody” who is looking into that . . .

And I can't wait for the story.

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#64 michael
February 09 2009, 11:21AM
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Cheese and Crakers, the loss to Detroit is what it is. A single loss. One loss or 1 win does not a season make. Yet several losses lately have been by significant margins. The underlying issues this team has need to be sddressed in the off season. We need to get bigger down the middle and we need a first line left winger to compliment Hemsky. We solved our defensive issues by signing Souray, trading for Visnovsky and developing Gilbert and Grebeshkov. The goaltending issue will never go away. Its a waste of breath and ink talking about it. Going forward the Oilers management team will need a targeted plan to address the teams issues long term. The team is moving in the right direction, there will be bumps along the way. Do be great one must strive for greatness. Sadly, there only a few players on the Oilers roster who believe that day in and day out.

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#65 RobinB
February 09 2009, 12:28PM
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@ michael: Pardon?

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#66 David S
February 09 2009, 07:19PM
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PUI

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