After almost 30 years of making a living with a keyboard, it’s amazing how just three weeks away from it has rendered me almost completely unable to type a sentence.
That first world-beating paragraph, for example, took almost 10 minutes to complete, meaning I’ve got some serious catching up to do and a lot of rust to knock off the old peck-and-search technique before jumping a jet to the NHL Entry Draft in Minneapolis next week.
From what I’ve been able to make out in the wake of a 20-hour travel day from Manila to Edmonton after spending 22 days completely out of the hockey loop in the Philippines — I had not read even a single word about hockey until this morning — the NHL has ticked along quite nicely without me. And me without it.
So, the NHL is back in Winnipeg, Terry Jones has been inducted into the writers’ wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame and hockey fans in Vancouver are still waiting to celebrate something for the first time since their team was called the Millionaires. Does that about cover it?
While I’ll be attempting to get back up to speed before I hit the air on the Jason Gregor Show tomorrow — no smart-ass, I’m not secretly cheering for the Canucks, as Gregor suggested today — I’m going to have to ease my way into things.
So, if you’re looking for some insight into what Steve Tambellini and Stu MacGregor have cooking going into the draft and a statistical analysis of which free agents the Oilers should be targeting and why, you’ll have to look elsewhere for a day or two on the former and a forever on the latter.
WHAT I MISSED
I knew I was back in Canada when I arrived at Vancouver International Airport yesterday and saw all the long faces in a bar adjacent to the gate where I was catching my connecting flight to Edmonton.
A sour bunch they were. I didn’t much care, though, after taking 12 hours just to get to the Left Coast from Manila and then finding out a three-hour lay-over for a 7 p.m. flight had become a five-hour lay-over and a 9 p.m. flight because of fracking job action by Air Canada employees.
— NHL Back In The ‘Peg: This is a good thing. Despite all the challenges facing Winnipeg in getting back into the NHL fold, my bottom line is I’d rather have a franchise in a city where the game matters to the people who live there than in bigger market where people don’t give a damn.
— Large To The Hall: Congratulations to Jonesy on getting the nod as an Elmer Ferguson Award recipient. Say what you want about TJ, people read him and he’s been at or near the top of the writing game for a long, long time. Who, Jim Matheson aside, has written better or longer about the Oilers than Jonesy? Nobody, that’s who.
— Canucks A Win Away: Then again, so are the Bruins. Contrary to what Gregor might say and despite growing up in Vancouver, I’d be fine seeing the Bruins hoist The Mug tomorrow. It would be a nice exclamation mark on the career of Mark Recchi, one of the good guys in the game.
— Doug Weight Retires: Former Oiler captain not only talked the talk about enjoying his years in Edmonton, he walked the walk. In all his NHL stops, Weight never had anything but good things to say about this town. A great career. Class act.
— New Deal for MacGregor: Good to see the Oilers reward MacGregor for a job well done with a contract extension. I had this item before I jumped a jet for Manila, but MacGregor asked me to sit on it — I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t matter — and let the team announce it.
WHAT YOU MISSED
— Oilersnation Invades Guimba: I’m happy to say my brother-in-law Arman is now proudly wearing Oilers colours. I’m also pretty confident he is the only person in the province of Nueva Ecija in possession of Oilersnation stickers. I didn’t see one NHL logo in Guimba, or Manila for that matter, the entire time I was in the Philippines.
— That Was Close: I was walking along the highway in Guimba when a transport truck lost a set of its rear wheels — as in they fell off at about 80 km-h. As the truck went skidding by me on the left, throwing a shower of sparks from the axle gouging a rut in the pavement, about 200 pounds of dual wheel rims and rubber zipped by me on the right. They missed me by about three feet before tearing a hole in a chain link fence. The driver looked a lot like Wanye.
— Reality Check: A stomach virus and a fever of 38.8 landed Sam in a hospital ward in Guimba. For all the issues we have with health care here, and they are many, we are very, very lucky in terms of the professionals and facilities, waiting lists and all, we enjoy in this part of the world.
— No Bull: While traffic looks like absolute chaos in places like Manila, it’s really nuts in outlying areas like Guimba. Even with that, I didn’t once see anybody flip the bird or run their mouth at another driver there. Likewise, I did not see single a set of rubber bull testicles hanging from the rear bumper of a pick-up truck. Coincidence? I think not.
— Just Saying: Might the Oilers look at trading the 19th pick in the first round this year and their first pick in 2012, which figures to be anything from a fifth to a 10th pick, to get a second top-five pick in Minny? More on that to come.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.