Paying rapt attention

Last night was a chilly Saturday evening in the City of Champions, so your we did what any red blooded guy would do – bought a case of beer on the way back to Wanye Manor, turned off the phone, turned off the computer and sat down to watch our beloved Oilers on the second half of the HNIC double header. We watched it all without a stitch of distraction: the game, the intermission hot-stovery, the post game show and the after hours show where they interviewed players deep in the bowels of RX1 long into the night. We turned in our usual Saturday night haunts and skirt chasing activities for the quiet confines of a semi-condemned house in the river valley of Edmonton, determined to re-ignite our love affair with the Edmonon Oilers.

It has been a bitch to balance building the Nation sites with writing on the Nation sites. Since we unwisely threw away a perfectly good career in Finance to try and make the Nations go on a full time basis, most of our time is spent pitching the sites to advertisers, pitching the sites to media types in other cities and frustratingly little time doing what we actually love to do — talk shop on the Nations and call Dustin Penner’s mouth the busiest Donair Drive-Thru in Canada.

But really who cares right? Just know that your ol’ pal Wanye is out there grindin’ on all our behalf to make these sites even better and that he hasn’t found something productive to do with his time. And now back to something that actually matters:

The game itself

It’s clear that one shouldn’t find too much wrong with a victory, particularly in a season that has had so much go wrong so early on. But when you look at the ol’ seasonal record, the Oilers have managed to fight Lady Luck in 2009 to a 2-1-1 record thus far. Regardless of how many goals have been scored on the Oilers in the final minute of play, there is more positive than negative 4 games into the year.

Decent.

We don’t know about you, but we thought the Oilers looked pretty good last night all told. The absence of Souray on the PP was noticable but not crippling and though it pains us to say it ol’ Goatie McGreberstein didn’t look that terrible either. How the hell does he have four points in four games exactly? The team seems to be moving the outlet pass with much greater confidence than last year – that pass from Gagner to Comrie in the first period was sick, and the shot was even sicker. Jacques looked like the pressure of being named Star by Jason Gregor was finally lifted when he redirected that puck past price and Pat Quinn looked much happier in the post game conference.

Mike Comrie interview

For those of you who didn’t commit to the Oilers-Habs Seclusion match of 2009 like we did, you may have been longtime gone by the time Kevin Weeks and Scott Oake interviewed Mike Comrie some time around 4 AM on CBC. Ordinarily we would have been gone too, but temporarily disabled from the 8 BLs we had already put away on the night, we figured we would watch the interview. Scott Oake had recently been lipped off by Dustin Penner and we wanted to see what would come of interviewing Comrie, knowing his *ahem* disinterest in the media.

Though the two hosts (which have as much business together as vinegar and maple syrup) raked Comrie through all of the uncomfortable topics that they could think of, Comrie came out looking pretty good. It’s a shame no one really watches the post game show on CBC because Comrie’s willingness to play along with Weekes and Oake took us by pleasant surprise. Bear in mind that these transcriptions aren’t exactly what transpired but what we remember the conversation being the day after a solo shift at the Bud Light dispensery.

Uncomfortable topics included…

Scott Oake: “Is it just crazy awesome dating a movie star/tv star/teen sensation/member of the Oprah Book Club? Buh, how did you two meet? For reals?”

Kevin Weekes: “Coming back to Edmonton even though everyone hates you must have been hard.”

Scott Oake: “Your family was once also once revered in Edmonton and is now hated. What up with that?”

Kevin Weekes: “You love fashion don’t you? Yeah, totally. I used to be in the NHL too (shakes head sadly).”

To his credit Comrie didn’t walk off mid interview and grant an interview to the Alberta Sports Scene instead. He sat there and tried to find humor in the bland banter between the hosts, tried his best to regurgitate answers he has given to the local scribes many a time already and generally tried his best to come across as charismatic in the face of an uncomfortable series of questions.

Now having picked Comrie as our Star for the year – an illustrious group that included Ryan Smyth the year he was traded, Erik Cole the year he was traded, Chris Pronger the year he screwed the City and bounced – we make these commitments in September knowing full well that it is a long season and we have generally made a risky pick. We half expected Comrie to contribute at a reasonable pace, collect some smiles and then bounce for warmer shores once the season was over.

His play – and more importantly his attitude – through the preseason and first four games has been impressive in our books. Not only has he led the NHL in points in the preseason, but he has also looked pleasantly content wearing the Copper and Blue and dare we say it – pumped at times, particularly in the celebrations of his two regular season goals.

Bear in mind that this is a player that has led his team in scoring twice, but has signed more one year deals than you can shake a stick at. The fact Comrie has played under 10 – count ‘em 10 – different coaches and wasn’t offered a multi year deal by anyone including the Oilers must say something about him on some level. But the fact he has returned willingly to ol’ freezing E-Town and has humbly gone about dismantling the preseason and is leading the team with four points in four games says even more about him.

The problem with MC has never been talent. Instead it has been the attitude of a guy who stands firmly in the 0.00001% of pro athletes who reasonably don’t have to play sports for a living and could still drive around in a Silver Bentley, confidently throwing gold coins at passers by. Knowing you are already set for life and yet willing to train and sacrifice to make it to the NHL is commendable. Knowing you are set for life and coming across as knowing you are set for life, even to other NHL veterans, leads to some difficulties.

We hardly expect to see Comrie at Diesel Ultra Lounge throwing them back with Cogliano on a Tuesday night, but a more mature and seasoned Comrie might provide an excellent example to the Andrew Coglianos of the world going forward. “You can play anywhere in the league kid, I can promise you no where else will worship you like Edmonton. And being rich, 20 and loved in a City of 500,000 women has it’s advantages that you can’t quite capitalize on in major American cities where you are low on the depth chart behind the NFL, NBA, MLB and Nascar Pit Crews. Unless you are me, which of course you aren’t.”

(points to picture of Hilary Duff picture in locker)

This sort of lesson, taught by a guy who landed Hilary Duff, should not go unheard by the young Oilers.

Comrie has an interesting position within the Oilers locker room. Unbelievably he is one of the few players on the roster that is there by choice. He has seen success as the only player on the roster that has scored more than 30 goals. He has a blood line that few of the nouveau riche Tom Gilberts of the world can measure up to with their undeserved massive contracts. No one could have blamed him if he didn’t ever even live within the City limits ever again. Yet there he sits, at the end of the dressing room, leading the team in points.

The idea that a local boy could strike it big with his first contract, bounce under a firestorm of rumors and innuendo and return to the Oilers is a great story in itself. But our boy seems to have returned to the Oilers with a bit of perspective. When Scott Oake awkwardly asked what it was like to be run out of your own home town, interestingly Comrie responded with something to the effect of, "It was very hard to leave this town under so much anger and baseless rumors being spread about me. I was young and I thought I was invincible and that that sort of thing could never happen to me."

So here is your #91 this season Nation. A potentially changed man from the 23 year old that left town 6 years ago. Though he departed in one of the bigger slaps in the face to the team and to the City, that was like 4 slaps in the face ago. Impossibly, Comrie has won back 60% of the hearts and minds of Edmontonians only 4 games into the regular season. He is older, wiser and has come to camp healthy for the first time in years one season removed from hip surgery. And he has 4 points in 4 games. And he seems happy doing so.

Mad decent.

  • 88MPH

    Now, I wonder how many Western Canadian families went through that awkward moment after the game where Khabibulin decided to dish out the goods on Kevin Weekes. I kept thinking to myself 'Mr Oakes, please refrain from displaying your man crush on Weekes… its damn near embarassing' and when you thought the game was over, and Khabibulin was done making saves, he saves Oakes from embarassment and lays down 'He likes to take care of himself, I guess…'.

    And Comrie's mother passing away from cancer when he was ten… 'Does it suck more for you then others that haven't had someone stolen from them by cancer?'. Though that was very enlightening and my heart grew a little more for him, that was horribly awkward.

    Wanye… your pictures are stellar… do you guys save all of your 'edited' pictures? At the end of the season, it would be great to vote on the best one. That is, after the parade and hangover.

  • Gerald R. Ford

    I would like to know The Leader's opinion on the Toronto Oilers/Edmonton Maple Leafs "revelation" as detailed in the former owner's new book: 'I'd Still Trade Him, and I'm Still a Rotten Bastard'.

    Merci

    • Wasn't that a disgusting revelation in the journal today. My whole childhood could have been changed cheering for the likes of Wendel Clark, Gary Leeman, Ken Wregget, Allan Bester, Rick Vaive, Walt Poddubny, Dan Daoust, Gaston Gingras & Borje Salming.

      Ballard approached Peter to see if a deal involving Gretzky could be struck–but it wasn't the usual sort of deal that's made in hockey.

      Ballard's pitch to Peter would have brought not only Gretzky to Toronto, but Mark Messier, too, and Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Kevin Lowe and the rest of the young Oilers.

      In what would have been a blockbuster transaction that makes Gretzky's subsequent move to Los Angeles pale by comparison, Ballard proposed to Peter that their hockey teams swap markets.

      Ballard would move his fading Leafs to boom town Edmonton, while Peter would bring his up-and-coming Oilers to Toronto–provided, of course, that he also wrote Ballard a cheque for$50 million.

      Peter was ready to do the deal in a heartbeat.

      hxxp://www.edmontonjournal.com/entertainment/Read+excerpt+from+book+trade+again/2091911/story.html

      Thankfully Puck or crazy old Harold Ballard came to their senses. A bit of information that could have sealed the hatred of Pocklington….oh wait a minute. Always looking out for number 1 that Peter Pocklington.

      How about Kevin Weekes?!?! He's definately no Marc Crawford, but I think he actually has a future in broadcasting.

  • Eric Johnson

    Dude, is is just me, or are you like trying to write good now?

    That was damn entertaining! And not just for the usual gangsta rap, BL, and granola bar jokes. You been working on your mad linguistics haven't you?

    Like this site, like lil' Mike C, well done Mr. Wayne, well Done.

  • Librarian Mike

    I find it heartening that everyone involved with all the Comrie stuff seems to have grown up a bit. MC has learned to keep it in the room, and Kevin Lowe has the good sense to stay out of sight so we can forget that he's still in a position of power on this team.

    • Hemmertime

      We haven't grown up, just how much bashing of an Oiler are you going to do? The timing was right, the fans just had a fresh new target in Mr. Heatley to spew hate on and transferred the MC love to him; and a much better player in Pronger had already left us recently. Also MC has said the right things and owned up he was at fault, he doesn't acknowledge the rumor or speak badly of the fans (the only ones that have reprimanded us have been Oiler staff if I recall correctly heh) and he is talented. Plus with how well he started his first game he did everything right. The fight did it – he knew it was and he played it up, but we all love that.

      He's still a face you'd love to punch and was a lil bitch when he was younger – but most rich kids are.