I’ve been up for a few hours in anticipation of today because July 1 is a very important day in the Brownlee household. It’s Canada Day. It’s my wedding anniversary. My brother-in-law, Arman, is celebrating his 50th birthday. And there’s that NHL free agency thing . . .
I have my priorities and Steve Tambellini has his. Time was, a stretch of 20 years or so, I’d have been on the phone a for couple hours already this morning trying to figure out who Glen Sather/Kevin Lowe/Tambellini — does that work out to Slowebellini in today’s jargon? — trying to get a handle on who the next Edmonton Oiler might be.
Today, it’s about making dinner reservations at the perfect restaurant, picking up a dozen roses and a meaningful card and scraping together some clothes that fit so I don’t look like a scarecrow on a day when I give thanks I convinced the right girl to walk down the aisle with me.
Today, having just spent three weeks in the Philippines, it’s about calling back "home" to Guimba in Nueva Ecija and wishing Arman a happy 50th birthday and letting him know we love him and we miss him.
Today, after that phone call and before the dinner reservation at the just-right place, it’s about making sure Sam knows the significance of July 1 and living in what I consider the greatest country on the planet and plotting a place where we can watch fireworks, even if the odds are the Great Samsoni be sleeping by the time they start.
And today, there’s that NHL free agency thing.
MATTERS OF HOCKEY
I’ve sniffed around a little since the Entry Draft trying to figure out who Tambellini might be targeting today to bolster his roster, but I honestly haven’t given it as much thought as I have the other stuff.
If Tambellini doesn’t address the obvious need for grit and toughness that can play in his bottom six forwards, it’s a shame, but not nearly as important as ensuring I pick right restaurant, today of all days.
If Tambellini doesn’t pursue a veteran defenseman to bolster a blue line that’s at least one experienced stay-at-home guy short, it’ll be an oversight, but not one nearly as significant not saying all that needs to be said in that call to Guimba marking a half-century in a great life lived.
It’s important that Tambellini find a face-off man who can get the job done, but it’s more important that I remind Sam we live in a country where we can hop on a jet any time we want and go visit Arman and his grandmother and his uncles and his cousins, but they cannot come visit us without months of paperwork and waiting — no matter what the circumstances. Sam will ask why. I don’t have an answer that makes sense.
WANTS AND NEEDS
I don’t expect a big splash from Tambellini in what stacks up as a woefully thin crop of unrestricted free agents, but I do expect him to do his due diligence and put in a call to Zenon Konopka, Cam Barker, Vern Fiddler, Cody McCormick, Ben Eager, Brian Sutherby, Adam Pardy and Jim Vandermeer, offering a cut-rate contract. Maybe even a "have a nice Canada Day" call to Dean Lombardi.
How Tambellini takes care of business today, and between now and the opening of camp, will go a long way in determining what happens next season and how this rebuild takes shape. It matters to all of you who have bought into "the plan." It matters a lot.
It matters to me, too. I’ve been tagging along with this team since 1989 and trying to call the shots Slowebellini might make because it’s been my job. Still is. I’ve got more than a passing interest.
So, I’m going to be all over the goings-on, but more tomorrow and in coming days than today. Konopka or the right restaurant and card for the woman I love? Not even close. Tracking a new deal for Vandermeer or a timely father-and-son talk with Sam? Sorry, Jimmy. The most important phone call I’ll make today? Hello, Arman . . .
It’s a big day.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.