It’s Saturday morning once again and that means your ol’ pal Baggedmilk is back with another dose of Random Thoughts before I vanish into the sunset for the weekend. As I do every week, I’ve taken a little cruise around the Internet to see what’s going on with the Oilers and around the NHL for a little dose of hockey talk to get your weekend started.
WE NEED YOU, KASS
On Monday, Zack Kassian jumped on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer to talk about the upcoming season and what he needs to do to rebound after a disappointing 2021 campaign, and it has me feeling hopeful that we may get the guy back that can legitimately make a difference out there. Dare to dream?
“I don’t think it’s any secret out there that it was a tough year for me personally. It’s the hardest league to play in hands down when you’re healthy, let alone injured a few times. It’s tough to get traction… you’re not familiar with any linemates, you’re kind of overwhelmed trying to do everything in one shift that you should be doing throughout the course of the evening, so last year was really frustrating.”
Frustrating for all of us, big man, so the question then becomes how can we get this thing back on the rails?
“What I can say is that I think I came back from that last injury in the playoffs and I played like myself. I had a step in the right direction going into the summer. I think I played the way I could, played the way the team wanted me to play, and I think at the end of the day I put in a lot of work this summer. My body feels good, everything feels good, so we want to hit the ground running right from Training Camp. It’s important, so I’m looking forward to the season.”
I’m looking forward to the season too, buddy, and nothing would make me happier than to have Zack Kassian find a way to bounce back with the kind of season that will make us all forget the last one.
ETHAN BEAR AND WARREN FOEGELE
Bear with an absolute beast of one-on-one move and goes top shelf with a mast shot. The new D man can wheel.
— Chip Alexander (@ice_chip) September 14, 2021
I know we’re not supposed to talk about Ethan Bear and blah, blah, blah but I can’t help but feel like he’s going to have a massive season in Caroline, which is something that will break my heart WHEN it happens. I know that some of you guys don’t want to hear it, but having Bear take off in another city would be another kick to the shin in a long line of kicks to the shin that this organization has put us through and I’m beyond tired of it. That said, I won’t talk about Ethan Bear without also mentioning how excited I am to watch Warren Foegele get the opportunity to raise a little hell in our middle six. A human tank that’s known for being relentless on the forecheck, Foegele adds a new flavour to our forward group that we haven’t really had in a while, and my hope is that he’s able to not only bring more ‘dog on a bone’ style of play to the lineup but also to chip in with enough offence that helps ease the pressure on the big boys up top. Personally, I believe Foegele can do it and since these two will be tied to each other forever, he’ll have to if many of you are going to get your wish of having us stop talking about Ethan Bear.
With rookie camp well underway and all of the Oilers prospects doing what they can to get noticed, I can’t help but feel grateful that we’ve finally gotten past the days of knowing every little thing that was going on with our rookies. Remember when Hall, Eberle, and Paajarvi were going to take us to the promised land, and we knew everything they were up to from rookie camp to the rookie tournament in Penticton? Because the Oilers were so bad for so long, we all unknowingly cranked up the pressure on these kids since we just wanted the team to get better for the first time in forever. Fast forward to 2021 with Connor and Leon running the show, prospects like Xavier Bourgault and Raphael Lavoie are able to develop much more slowly and I can’t help but feel like it will be to their benefit. Gone are the days of tossing prospects into the deep end and hoping they’ll figure out how to swim, and my hope is that the benefits of this strategy will start paying off sooner than later. Evan Bouchard, anyone?
NUGENT-HOPKINS, HORSE GUY
This past week, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ horse, Infinite Patience, picked up her eighth win in 13 starts at Century Mile, and I don’t know why I find it so fascinating that this is RNH’s off-season hobby but I really, really do. Normally, we hear about pro athletes and their love of cars or travel or celebrity hobnobbing, but instead, our boy is out here building a roster and winning races in the process. Not only is the name of the horse hilarious based on what Nugent-Hopkins has had to endure as an Edmonton Oiler, but the fact that he picked up a love of horses because of his dad and grandfather makes this some wholesome content we can all enjoy. As I started writing this, I realized I don’t really have a point to this horse-related story apart from wanting to say congrats to Nuge on the big win and offer up a few words of praise for this not-so-common activity. I may not know a single thing about horses or horse racing — I do know dressage is cool as all hell — but that doesn’t mean I can’t pump my dude’s tires anyway.
RIP NORM MACDONALD
I know this has nothing to do with the Oilers or hockey, but Norm MacDonald passed away this week and it was a devastating loss for so many of us that were massive fans of his stand-up and sense of humour in general. The guy had the kind of brain that could spin any mundane item into a 10-minute bit and it was the kind of humour that registered with me on every level, and I wanted to give the guy some love for offering up so many laughs to those of us that loved him. I won’t spend too much time on this because I know this isn’t the place for it, but if you’ve never seen the ridiculous moth joke that he did on Conan then I beg you to do yourself a favour and check it out. We lost a legend, Internet friends.