A weekend out in Hogtown

gregorhogtown

Monday musings from a hockey world so screwed up that it seems more people are for Sean Avery returning to the NHL than those who want to keep fighting in the game. Ridiculous.

Who cares about Avery? He’s a third line player. The fans don’t miss him, but I guarantee you most of them would miss fighting…

What’s the difference between Erik Cole and Ethan Moreau this year? Skate hard up and down the wing, neither passes very often and both have had a hat trick. Outside of $2 million more for Cole, I haven’t seen much of a difference.

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In their three worst losses of the season, the Oilers have been outscored 27-7, yet Grebeshkov is +1 in those games. Unreal!

Sure Dwayne Roloson has made lots of saves recently, excluding the Detroit game, but it’s a bit disturbing that he’s letting in one softie a game. The Belanger goal was terrible yesterday.

The difference between a very good and elite player is Ales Hemsky. He is very good, but not elite just yet. He didn’t do anything on this three-game road trip.

Are the Kings for real? They just won in Washington and NJ. They’ve scored 28 goals in their last seven games and won six of them. They still have two five-game road trips and another six-game trip, but their offence has been really good in the last month.

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For the [Off] the Record…

Flying the red-eye to Toronto is awesome. I can sleep on a plane, so the trip felt like a drive to Millet. Took off then woke up and we were there. I don’t know how people can drive in a city that big. You think the morning commute sucks here? You should see the carnage in Toronto. The freeways (yes actual freeways with no lights, unlike the garbage we have on the Henday) were jammed, and I saw more one-finger salutes in the hour trek to my hotel, than I have in the last six months on the Whitemud.

The Rush always stay at the Hilton on Richmond right in the heart of downtown, so everything you want is within walking distance… well except the TSN studio. They used to do OTR in a studio at Rogers Centre, but they recently moved the show back to the CTV/TSN studios in Scarborough. An hour cab ride.

I got to the studio at 3pm, and met the guy who set up my appearance on OTR, Collin Sood. I found out that he’s from E-town, and that he’s good buddies with some of my friends. He wants more western guys on the show. We probably met at some party in college but were too bombed to remember.

There’s a little green room where the guests sit and wait for the show or makeup. Yes, they like to touch up the guests. Michael Landsberg walks in and says hi. I had him on my show last year, but still said “nice to meet you.” I was distracted by the incredibly sexy assistant, Stephanie, a very nice girl and absolutely stunning. I think it’s a must that TV sport shows have a hot girl either on air or working behind the scenes. I can’t think of one that doesn’t. This is just another reason why sports broadcasting rocks.

I’m there for about 15 minutes, and finally Lewis Ratcliff comes out of makeup. I was juicing him pretty hard about that one. Just as he walks out of makeup Bob McGill walks in the green room. McGill grew up in Leduc, and I knew of him, so we start talking about Leduc, the Riggers and have some laughs. He has shed 25 pounds since being on the show last, so the crew is giving him props. His hat is what got him props from me. Not many guys can rock the Joey Jeremiah hat, but I thought he pulled it off quite well. I think it would be awesome if the Fedora made a come back. Who knows if the recession gets really bleak, maybe we should start wearing them to re-enact the ‘20s.

Collin says I have to get to makeup, so I make the 15 foot walk down the hall from green room and sit in the barber chair. Spring (great name for a makeup lady) dabs a few types of foundation on the chrome dome and in a matter of a minutes, I’m done. I still have no idea how Ratcliffe spent 15 minutes in here. I had just enough to cover the glare for the cameras, but was nowhere near Landsberg range. He doesn’t care what people think about his makeup, since everyone wears it. He just wears more. His son Cory works on the show, and he looked at least mid-twenties, so unless Michael started early he has to be close to 50. Looks good for the half-century mark.

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We get called to the set. Landsberg is already in his chair, and looks fired up. The guy has loads of energy before coming on (in the green room they have these ENERGY balls… I wonder how many he eats before a show). Just before I went to makeup he gave me a quick inspirational speech about not holding back.

“Jump in the conversation early and often,” he said and then he punched my shoulder. He takes his show seriously, so now I’m thinking I better not be a lame ass. Then I’m thinking you just punched my shoulder. I love guys who get amped up before any sporting event, and Landsberg takes his show really seriously. I respect that.

Just before the show starts, he leans in and does the fist bump with every guy. He is really fired up. I wonder if MacT does this before games? If not, he should think about it, because all the guys are ready to go. Sure we are just talking, but I swear if he gave McGill the nod, Bobby would have dropped the Jeremiah and tossed some knuckles.

We do the first set, and during commercial Michael is pumping the guys up again.

“Good work guys… Gregor, Ratcliffe pretty good for your first time. Bobby good… John, be better,” he says laughing.

In John’s defence, he arrived a minute before the show due to traffic. They did his makeup in the chair on set, so he might have been rattled.

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And just before coming out of break, the knuckle touch occurs again. I never would have picked Landsberg as a touch-knuckles kind of guy. But it was just a knuckle touch, no dynamite exploding after. I wonder why that is? I guess a knuckle touch is good, but exploding dynamite too personal.

The show was fun. Afterwards I wheel over to Sportscentre. Rishaug is in town working the desk, so he gives me a tour of their set.

The war room has at least 15 desks just for guys assigned to watch games and find the best clips. Then there are writers, producers, etc. There are at least 35 people in total in one big room, and each has their own desk. It’s a pretty unique set up.

Hockey fans have it best out west

Hockey fans have it way better out west. In Toronto you get the Leafs and nothing else. Here you can watch eastern games on TSN or Sportsnet and then the Oil, and if you are really bored the Flamers. Highlights from an Oilers or Flames game involve a 45-second package. No wonder all of the Oiler fans out east come to the Nation now.

We also have a way better airline. West Jet kicks all of the American airlines. WJ has TVs in every row, and the seats are at least three inches wider. Flying on Alaska or Horizon sucks compared to WJ, so chalk one up for the Canadian airline. And WJ has the sweetest smelling washroom going. None of us ever want to use the airplane john, but with an early flight some times your internal clock forces you too. And the WJ john was the best.

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And finally we should send a petition to Mayor Mandel for more cabs. In Toronto when you leave the club at 2 or 3 am it takes you 30 seconds to get a cab. Here in E-town, they are as rare as an Oilers four-game winning streak. How often have you almost come to blows with some guy trying to get a cab? Or you do your best Donovan Bailey impersonation down the street to flag one. Would getting fifty more cabs on Friday and Saturday nights be that tough?

In the Big Smoke they are everywhere, not to mention the sweet polish sausage street vendors. Why don’t we have those? I love Funky Pickle Pizza at the end of the night, but the Polish sausages were money. And I saw one of the toughest cat fights ever on Friday night. These two ladies — and I use that term loosely — chucked them hard outside of the Century club. Normally watching two chicks go at it is a freaky turn-on because you hope they might start groping each other, but these two were throwing bombs. Both were bloodied after. Another reason why Edmonton ladies are better.

And the Oilers don’t practice today. They’re back at it tomorrow in preparation for their tilt against the Habs. No one is more excited about a possible Laraque/MacIntyre battle than Brownlee. He’s been talking about it all year, and I guarantee he will stir the pot in the next few days leading up to Wednesday.


  • APE

    @ Travis Dakin:
    Taking faceoffs makes him overworked? I don't buy it. He gets paid to produce, offensively and defensively. To me, he is only doing half of what he should. He needs to bare down and bury some of the chances he gets. At the end of the day, the Oilers mgmt needs to find a suitable LW and stop trying to turn other players into one.

  • @ Gregor

    Way to give props to my hometown…Millet 😉

    I watched your appearance – I never watch Off the Record, mostly because of the time it is on I guess. It seems a little crazy every panelist fighting to be heard. You did a good job getting your opinions across even, although that Marlie's broadcaster knows everything & you are obviously a schill. He likes the sound of his own voice…

  • Travis Dakin

    @ APE:

    Horcoff's been making the GLARING holes and weaknesses on this team a little bit smaller. Watch the game, if there is a PK, PP, Important D zone face off, Offensive face off, extra attacker, it's ALWAYS Horcoff hoping over the boards. He is not being allowed to be the Top line center. He is too busy covering the ass of the guys that put this weak team together. And that would tire any mortal out.

  • Matty31

    Gregor….tell us about the dragons you slayed in T.O. I hear the chicks are snotty.

    In the clubs you could have busted out "hey ladies I was on off the record today….why dont you come back to my crib ill show you my signed landsberg hat!"

  • Also Robin or Gregor the hack blogger Eklund say Vermette to Edmonton. What is the word?

    As an aside I noticed the anomymous hockey blogger was doing some name dropping on the weekend. Spector & Matheson, were 2 guys he gets info from?!?!? He can't be serious…

  • Wangtaco

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    They still want to sign a top-six guy, and they can’t afford both Cole and a new guy at 4 million plus.

    If they got rid of Cole, it would continue a trend that has been happening for the past few years, where the team disposes of a recently acquired player after one year: Lupul, Pitkanen…possibly Cole. These are players that were primarily valued due to potential, excluding Cole. I don't know about anyone else, but doesn't it get frustrating to see a team release a player they've had for only a short while?

  • APE

    @ Travis Dakin:

    Thats why he was given the contract he was given. Zetterberg and Datysuk kill penalties and they still produce. First line players can still play defense and score.

  • Travis Dakin

    Wangtaco wrote:

    where the team disposes of a recently acquired player after one year: Lupul, Pitkanen…possibly Cole

    I think that says a TONNE about the scouts.

  • @ Travis Dakin:

    Maybe it says more about the way these players are used once they get here. Pitkanen was effective when he wasn't making up injuries. It can be argued that Cole & Lupul have been miscast during their time in Oilers uniforms.

  • Travis Dakin

    APE wrote:

    @ Travis Dakin:
    Thats why he was given the contract he was given. Zetterberg and Datysuk kill penalties and they still produce. First line players can still play defense and score.

    But those guys have a supporting cast. Horcoff is producing. He does EVERYTHING night in night out on a sh*t team. He spends most of his ice time covering everybody elses weaknesses so it isn't a complete blowout every single game. I think you are the only person in the world that could argue with me about him being over worked. It is the coaching and heartless personnel (read: Penner, Nilsson,) and guys who like Pouliot that are the reason for the lack of success on this team.

  • Travis Dakin

    @ BUCK75:

    Pitkanen fought with one of his own team mates at a practice on Philly. He came with the tag of being a loner and a disinterested team player but that didn't stop the Oilers from trying. Seems that is exactly what he was here. As for Lupul, he was brought here as the center piece of the Pronger trade. Totally mis judged by the scouts. Watch him skate for 2 minutes and you realize that he stands straight up making him have zero strength on the puck. He will never be a top line player which is what the scouts here somehow believed he would be. I don't blame Lupul. he is what he is, they Oilers picked what was in the mystery box as opposed to taking the boat.

  • @ RobinB:

    I agree with Jason that for 2-million more Cole isn't the right fit for this team. I don't agree that he has roughly the same value as Moreau.

    Cole may be on the downswing; his points totals have been trending down since Brooks Orpik broke his neck. That said, dropping from 51 points to 34 (which he's on pace for) is so dramatic that I have trouble believing it's going to happen again. I mean, that's the worst total of his career; even as a 23-year old rookie he was more productive.

    I'm not going to be dogmatic about it because we won't know for another year, but if I had to bet I'd guess he returns to the 40-50 point range – you know, Dustin Penner territory 😉

  • APE

    @ Travis Dakin:
    I never said he was the reason our team sucks. Forget about Datysuk and Zetterberg, my point was that their are other first line players in the league who contribute offensively and defensively so he should still be expected to produce.

    Don't get me wrong, I like Horcoff. The whole reason he is put in this situation is because the Oilers management want him to be both players instead of one or the other.

  • @ Travis Dakin:

    I follow your logic now. It seems that the players who come here are always looked upon to exceed expectations. Most of the time they don't even live up to minimum expectations. No win situations in every example you pointed out.

  • Travis Dakin

    @ BUCK75:
    Exactly, managemen overvalues these guys when they come in, in the faint hope that they may have a steal on their hands. Too busy throwing things blindly against a wall hoping it sticks when they should actually be out looking for some real industrial strength adhesive.

    @ APE:
    I never said he was the reason either. My point was that he is doing everything he can to help and without him, we'd all be talking about wether we should take Taveres or Hedman. It's all management's fault. Oh look, that's what you said at the end… Sorry haha.

  • Travis Dakin

    @ APE:

    I tell you this now, as I said earlier… I would LOVE LOVE LOVE another 2-17 run. We got Gagner out of it (he is 19 people, he will be the franchise) and a good top 5-7 pick will really help us going forward and getting rid of some of the high slaries this team has will reall allow for some better players to be brought in.

  • Cory Dakin

    For Tavares' sake I'm glad we're not talking about him.. MacTavish would claim he's a defensive liability and force him to spend six years in the AHL before trading him for a fourth round pick and a bag of pucks

  • Travis Dakin

    @ Cory Dakin:
    @ APE:

    I was actually cheering the Wings so soundly beating them the other day. "EXPOSE THOSE WEAKNESSES!!!!"
    Not because I am a sadist or something. I bleed Copper and Blue. I just think this is not the team to mortage the future on for a few crappy pick ups at the deadline, only to be completely boot f*cked in the first round. Stop being the Leafs. Not good enough to do anything but too good to get anything.