When I first started writing publicly in February of 2006 my eldest daughter was 2 1/2 years old and in that first post, titled ‘I Do It By The Self’ I talked about pushing 40 and having a daughter who was very insistent on being independent and doing things her own way.
We McLeans are a stubborn bunch, going back generations, and all three of my kids have inherited the trait. The running joke when they were young was how awesome it was to have such independent and strong-willed kids. (There is no sarcasm font so note this comment 😉 )
All joking aside even though it is a massive pain in the hole you most definitely want your kids to stand up for themselves, to go their own way, to question authority, even your own. The world is a tough place and you need to have the courage to make your way alone in it. My oldest is now in her second year away at uni, the first day we moved her in last fall we had the following conversation:
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her: How do I get on the wi-fi? Can you find out?
me: We are leaving in 15 minutes so you need to figure things out on your own. Your floormate has her door open, hoping that you come in and introduce yourself. You had better get to it.
A year later and she and her pals have rented a house and the other day she went to the passport office to get her passport renewed. She is doing some pretty good adulting. Meanwhile, the boy is trying to figure out his next steps as he finishes high school. Pretty crazy hey? More on that in future, to me it is mental that he is in the throes of that when he is not even 17 (three weeks away) but I guess that’s the way it is. He will be fine.
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The scariest thing about parenting is that all you can do is your best to prepare them and then they are on their own to make choices and figure things out. We all know those who have gone off the rails despite it all … all you can do is give them that foundation and then hold your breath. It’s a hell of a ride.
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Probably my favourite part of training camp is seeing the guy come out of nowhere to find a place on the team. Sometimes it can be the highly touted draft pick who sticks for his nine games and then forces the team to keep him for the season. Sometimes you get a prospect who you know is quality but who seizes the moment and arrives earlier than expected. Tommy Gilbert is a guy who I was a big fan of and you knew that he had the pedigree to be a player and when he got his first shot he took it, didn’t let go and started what would be a very good NHL career probably a year before he was expected to make it.
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Then you have the European pro, Jan Hejda comes to mind as a guy who was an unknown and turned out to be a solid player. I can’t remember exactly but I think that he may have been sent down at the start of the year but was back shortly after. The Oilers blew it with him 🙁 , he went on to play 9 solid seasons in the NHL.
My favourite of all time though was Patrick Thoreson. Talk about a nobody. He tore it up in camp in fall of 2006, made the team and didn’t look back. He was on a mission, dominating against the never will bes, also-rans and guys ticketed for the minors and junior but unlike so many guys who do that, as the competition got tougher he continued to shine and basically forced the Oilers to break camp with him.  He was one of my favourite Oilers in that awful post-Cup run season, just a little fearless guy whose motor never stopped running.
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And so here we are in fall 2022 and really, quite frankly, there is nobody who is coming out of nowhere. Cap constraints mean that really Broberg and Holloway would need to be disasters to play themselves off the team and I think we all know that both are ready. Maybe they start in the minors but I suspect that both would be up by American Thanksgiving at the latest.
Maybe the two PTO guys but Holland brought them in to be end-of-the-roster guys and so honestly I don’t think that either would be a massive surprise whatever way it goes with them. Demers is nearing the end of the line and Virtanen is a poor player, either would be a stop-gap quite frankly.
Other than that all of the kids are pretty well ticketed for the AHL. The one guy who might surprise … Dmitri Samorukov. Tough season for him last year but before that all arrows were pointing up and he has played for Woodcroft and Manson. Maybe an injury or two and a rebound for him and we could see him move up the depth chart.
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But you know what … while a lot of the suspense being drained out of this is due to the cap situation, the reality is that the main reason this team is not going to see any surprises this season is because it’s a pretty good team. No kid is going to displace the top four D or top eight or nine forwards or so and having a kid come up to play minimal minutes in place of a career fringe guy when he can get big minutes in the AHL does not make a lot of sense.
So while I miss the drama, it is a good sign!