Deep thoughts

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, maybe OilersNation is making some waves on the interweb.
It looks that way to me when I take a peek at how The Journal has been playing David Staples and his popular Cult Of Hockey blog lately—pictures with goofy captions, bubbles with made-up quotes and the like instead of a steady stream of the standard file art you usually get at dusty, traditional newspapers.

Now, it’s nowhere as off-the-wall as the stuff the twisted minds of Wanye Gretz and DJ Spin Cycle regularly come up with here at ON, but it’s edgier than anything you’d find at any stodgy Canadian mainstream broadsheet five years ago.

I’m not saying Wanye and Cycle invented the wheel and were the first to go with their warped inclinations—I think ON has borrowed influences from Perez Hilton’s celeb gossip site, of all places—or that the creative minds at The Journal are copying ON, but COH certainly has a punchier, kick-in-the-pills feel to it lately.

Begged, borrowed or first out of the box, it’s all good.

Outta here

Given some of the trends that were front and centre in the Oilers final three pre-season games—not enough shots and getting schooled on the face-off dot—hiking off to Jasper for three days of “team bonding” isn’t a real easy sell with hardcore fans right now, is it?

“We’re not going on vacation,” captain Ethan Moreau said today when I asked about the timing of the trek. “We’re going to practise hard.

“When we’re there, it’s all we’re going to think about. We’re going to be going over systems play and working on the ice, doing things that are going to make us better. We need to work on those things and we will.”

Certainly they will. I have no, ahem, doubt it’ll be Bag Skate City in Jasper, just like it was the last time the team went five years ago. I mean, if the Oilers work half as hard as the reporters do on trips likes this, who cares if it LOOKS like nothing more than a cushy three days of slacking off?

If I can make it there…

When the Oilers packed for Jasper in 2003, I made the three-hour trip with Rod Phillips and it was the most relaxing drive—even with keeping one eye on the Skipper to make sure didn’t nod off at the wheel and take us into the rhubarb—I’ve ever had.

Until that day, I can’t say I’d had an appreciation for Frank Sinatra, but as Phillips and I hit the road he plugged in Sinatra’s Greatest hits and we hauled backside down the Yellowhead tapping our toes and smoking cigars to “New York, New York” and “Mack The Knife.”

It’s not the kind of stuff to get you jacked up before a tilt with the Flames and you won’t find it in the Oilers pre-game boom-box play list, but “My Way” worked for me. Maybe I’m just old.

Can we play through?

During our stay, the Oilers teed it up at the Jasper Park Lodge course and let the travelling media play.

Our foursome was Phillips, media man JJ Hebert, goaltender Steve Valiquette and myself. Three or four holes in, we were standing on the tee box looking down the fairway and a bull moose almost as big as Steve MacIntyre is looking back at us—it was rutting season, so maybe he liked what he saw.

He looked to be 300 yards or so out, so we figured it was safe to hit, at least for Hebert and Phillips. Valiquette, the best golfer in the group, scalded one down the pipe about 280 and it rolls up toward the horny-and-now-irritated beast. Hmm. Play it or take a drop?

Valiquette figured he’d play it, but the moose, who’d obviously been waiting around for the ladies awhile because he was standing in a pile of moose poop and reeked of Aqua Velva, wasn’t going anywhere.
As we approached, Bullwinkle turned his head, snorted and took a step toward us. I’m sure Valiquette has moved that fast, but I never have. We detoured and took a drop.

At random…

  • There’s no tougher gig than the one MacIntyre has, especially with the kind of money players like him make in the low minors, so it’s good to see him get a two-year deal from the Oilers worth $525,000 this season and $550,000 next year. Even at the bottom of the NHL pay scale, the big bruiser from Brock, Sask. will make 10 times more than he ever has if he spends the whole season on the Oilers roster.
  • With the Oilers unveiling their retro jerseys after Tuesday’s morning skate, nobody looked sharper than Dwayne Roloson. Not only did he have the jersey, he had Grant Fuhr down pat—mask, complete with circa 1983 paint job, orange blocker and white, orange and blue leg pads.
  • Call me nuts, but I’m picking Andrew Cogliano to outscore Sam Gagner in goals and points this season, even though there’s no way he’ll replicate his shooting percentage of last season.

—Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on Team 1260.