Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Wednesday's Wonderings

by Jes

What is it with the Canucks playing poorly against lower echelon teams? The Canucks continued sucktitude against the St. Louis Blues is just boggling, to say the least.

Last night's 3-1 loss was another fine example of the Canucks apparently not taking a lesser opponent seriously. Where was the fire, brimstone, and enthusiasm?

Brent Sopel - Had a pretty shaky debut defensively. He seemed to be a step behind his check and I hope it was just a bit of nerves in a new situation.

Smoke and Mirrors - He was alright. He worked hard and seemed to show some decent amount of skill. I think him and Markus Naslund could do more damage together if they weren't stuck with Jan Useless all game. :(

Alex Burrows - I think he needs to be scratched. He's an offensive zero and hasn't been nearly as disciplined as he should. I like his work ethic, but this shouldn't make him bulletproof from the press box. The Canucks need some goals, and Burrows is a negative offensive producer.


I am sometimes guilty of not keeping close enough tabs on the (l)Eastern Conference, so I was a bit taken aback to see the New York Rangers a whole 7 points out of the playoffs. I didn't figure they were doing so poorly.

Then again, check out their top 6 d-men sans Aaron Ward...
Michal Rozsival, Karel Rachunek, Fedor Tyutin, Marek Malik, Thomas Pock, and Daniel Girardi.

Enough said!

Now, I've seen a few tidbits that Ward was dealt because of apparently in-fighting with Herr Jagr.

From The Hockey Rodent:
The most popular question today is whether Aaron Ward was exiled from MSG by edict of Jaromir Jagr and just who is it who's running this team?

I admit to having an unbalanced perspective on this given that my sole source lives on the other side of the Atlantic Puddle. But word in Prague is that Jagr accepted the context of things said on the bench during the heat of a competitive moment against Tampa and JJ did not hold any grudge against Ward. Jaromir claims to respect players who are as intense about winning as he wishes them to be.

The bitterness appeared to be more harbored by Ward over issues with the team captain. Whether those objections Ward has were justified or not... JJ was disappointed with how Ward handled subsequent exchanges with the press over what went on February 9. If either antagonist was pushing for a trade, it may well have been the defenseman wanting out of what he perceived to be an uncomfortable situation in the Gotham locker room.
This wouldn't be the first time, nor the last, that a teammate has ended up having problems with Jaromir and his attitude.

Reaction from Oilers fans re: Ryan Smyth

I don’t exactly feel sorry for Oilers fans (and who would?), but I know exactly how they feel. Canucks fans had the exact same feeling when Mike Keenan traded Trevor Linden to the Islanders years ago. Sure, the Canucks got the better end of that bargain, but the trade still hurt a whole lot. Few players have ever had the connection to a city like Linden did with the Canucks.

On the other hand, Ryan Smyth is demanding more money than he is really worth, and his agent is Don Meehan, who is basically the Scott Boras of hockey agents. Given Smyth's age and playing style, he's not the guy to give a huge long-term deal to. Remember John "Chocolate" LeClair?

Covered in Oil:
today's deal is clearly a case of throwing the 30-goal scoring golden baby out with the bath water. I wouldn't call Lowe cheap (how else can you explain the loyalty contracts to Staios or Pisani?) but we're talking a difference of a million dollars: a couple of Toby Petersons, really.

This is Ryan Smyth. The man, who, for the record [tears of pure oil welling up in my eye], I've always felt was a much more important player to the Oilers than Mark Messier.

He was our last shot at a real Stevie Y type: a true blue Oiler with a special failure of imagination to think of playing anywhere else. At one time, I thought things like institutional memory were important, that we weren't just cheering for laundry, the idea that teams could have distinct identities that could span decades.

But alas, the salary cap era has only made players even more expendable. I'm under no illusion that hockey isn't a business, but it's an increasingly cap-fixated, mercenary one, which totally sucks, especially today.

If I close my eyes, I can see Ryan Smyth's ferrety face; his slinky, durable body slipping past a check on the boards; and of course, that small pile of blood and teeth left on the ice during the 2006 playoffs.

Battle of Alberta:
In that sense, it's extremely unlikely that the organization will be haunted by this move. However, if you sense my nodding approval, you are incorrect, as this is precisely my criticism of Lowe. I actually laughed out loud this afternoon when I heard Flames radio guy Rob Kerr say that this took cojones by Kevin Lowe. No. This is the common thread through virtually every move (or, not trivially, non-move) that Kevin Lowe makes.

I honestly don’t know what to say right now but I’ll try and spit out a few things. Eight months removed from nearly winning their sixth stanley cup the Edmonton Oilers traded the face of their franchise for yet another first round pick, that makes three first rounder’s in total in the less then stellar ‘07 crop, a kid who impresses no one in Robert Nilsson and a 19 year old kid pivot in Ryan O’Marra.

There were more than just a few reasons why most people thought Lowe would never deal Smyth. Reasons like optics first and foremost given just how bad things looked in Edm this past summer when Chris Pronger was dealt. But there was an excuse there given that Pronger demanded a trade. Granted the return seems worse by the game and Lowe would’ve been better off making Pronger take a seat but at least he had an excuse for that horrible deal.

No excuses this time. Lowe f**ked up. Large
Ramen to that!

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