What Exactly was That?!

After coming back down to earth having lost 4 in a row and 5 of 6, the Edmonton Oilers, the NHL’s latest emerging talented darling completely dominated the team that used to own that moniker.  The West leading, 2010 Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.  An amazing night for both the Oilers and there fans.  But let’s get honest about it.

I’m not intentionally raining on Oilers fans parade (although I know I am), but you have to be honest.  The Hawks had been rolling till arriving in Western Canada this past week.  I didn’t see the game inVancouver but from what Kelly Hrudy was saying Saturday night, despite the Hawks apparent 5-1 Pauly D win (get it?  Pauly D win?  Blowout?  See what I did there?  But I digress…) they didn’t play that tight of a game.  Then in Calgary they didn’t seem into it.  Then in Edmonton they were without a doubt not into it!

What were the Hawks doing after the game?  Oh that’s right, Vegas for a little in season va-cay.  See where I’m going with this?  What happens on the last night of games before the All-Star break every year?  More often then not teams play terrible because most of the players are focused on getting away for a few days.  It is to the players as what Friday’s are to most of us.  “F the workout it’s Friday baby!!!”  Don’t tell me you haven’t said something along those lines before.  Or “I’m taking off early, it’s Friday bit**es!!!”  Right.  It’s human nature.

This is the biggest factor in what happened on Saturday night.  Don’t get me wrong, perfect storm happened to make it 9-2.  What made it 9-2 was a pissed off Oiler team who had just lost 5 of 6 looking to get back on track against a team that pretty much toyed with them 6 days earlier.  And they needed it.  It was Saturday night and a LOT of the crew was looking to slump bust!  Lucky for the Oil and there fans, a lot of them did, specifically of course a man named Taylor.  Yes, Chorney played terrific…

Aren’t I just FULL OF IT TONIGHT?!  But bad jokes aside, all I’m asking is to look at this domination rationally.  Oiler fans it was terrific and I’m glad you enjoyed every minute of it, these days have been a long time coming.  But as for going forward just keep it in perspective.  Stars and Preds back to back, this could be 7 of 9 by Wednesday morning.  And Hawks fans, they weren’t worried about the games in Calgary and especially Edmonton.

Kevin Weekes on the HNIC broadcast couldn’t understand why no push back from the Hawks?  Well it’s embarrassing, nobody wants to get hurt before going to VEGAS!

Burn it to the Ground Already

 

Wasn’t 2004 sweet for the Flames and their fans?!  Then a division title came in 2006!  Awesome!  And since…yikes.  Well they have beaten up on the Oilers in that time, so that’s…well that’s nothing to brag about cause everyone else has too.  They’ve made changes.  Sutter’s have come and gone.  But the time has come to over turn the roster.  Actually that’s a lie.  The roster turn over is well overdue!

 

On December 26th of last year Jay Feaster was brought in as GM after Daryl Sutter was “fired”.  I said it then and I’ll say it now…HATE the hire.  Oiler fans have loved it, as have Canuck fans.  First of all don’t credit Jay Feaster for the Stanley Cup winning roster that Rick Dudley put together.  Jay Feaster got there at the perfect time and slowly under his watch that team eroded.  His drafting record is terrible and his tenure inTampaBay proved more than anything that he was scared to take a big swing.

 

So in other words this isn’t the man needed to rebuild the Flames.  Calgary needs a guy to come in and clean house.  The fans know this, the media knows this, and I would even guess the players know this.  Yet…at least publically…Feaster refuses to acknowledge this.  In fairness to Feaster, this trade deadline seems like the right time to finally start blowing it up, but long term deals to Alex Tanguay and Curtis Glencross last summer don’t really indicate he wants to do that.

 

But it needs to be done so why don’t I do it?  Sweet, sounds good I will!  Start with Olli Jokinen.  “The Joke” won’t have MUCH value at the deadline, but in a deep draft and a team desperate to reload the system, a 3rd or 4th round pick should be welcome.  And you could say the same for all the impending UFA’s.  Lee Stempniak (3rd or 4th), David Moss (3rd or average prospect), Cory Sarich (2nd or decent prospect) and Scott Hannan (2nd or 3rd).  By the deadline all these guys should be gone.

 

Next is the big one for Feaster.  I think he will do what I just suggested weather he wants to accept a full on rebuild or not…he will need balls to do this one.  Of course I’m speaking of Jarome.  UNLESS Iginla goes Mats Sundin and refuses to ever waive his NMC, Feaster has to do this move.  I would.  I know he is the franchise but the franchise needs to go for the franchise to avoid being set back another 3 years.

Teams would line up to get him despite his contract.  You would get a 1st round pick for him and a high end prospect.  Of course you would need to take on salary, but this is true in just about any deal in today’s NHL.  As for what teams are the best fit, I’m thinking one team stands out above all else…Chicago.

 

The package?  Mark McNeil, Kyle Beach, a 1st round pick and Nik Hjalmarsson for Jarome Iginla and Scott Hannan (if he has yet to be dealt).  It’s a great fit for the Hawks, they have the cap space and could use another guy in there top 6 so to get a power forward with Iginla’s pedigree would be incredible and they get a veteran stay at home d-man in Hannan to replace Hjalmarsson.

 

Calgary gets a big power forward in McNeill, another power forward in Beach who the Hawks seem to have soured on, another 1st round pick in what is going to be a VERY deep draft, not to mention a good young stay at home d-man in Hjalmarsson.  It’s a big price for the Hawks to pay but I believe they will be in the perfect position to strike and Iginla would be willing to waive his NMC to go to Chicago.

 

You have to wait till the offseason for the Kipper move, as his NMC is up on July 1st.  Then it will be difficult on July 1st, but there is always one team (Philly) looking for a top end experienced netminder on July 1.  I’m thinking a team like Tampa Bay.  Roloson could be gone and they will need a guy like Kipper.  His contract will limit how much you can get back for him, but if the Flames got a kid like Carter Ashton I believe that would be a GREAT deal.

 

As for Bouwmeester, Bourque and Stajan, Flames fans will have to live with the fact that they aren’t going anywhere.  You can make a compelling argument for them dealing Tanguay and Giordano but it’s good to keep some vets around in a rebuild and I have gone on long enough 😉

 

I don’t think it SHOULD be hard to turn around the Flames, but there GM will have to start making SIGNIFICANT changes rather than just throwing some paint on a totaled car.

Soon it Will Be Decision Time For the Colts

Some Colt fans have already been gearing up for “the next one”

In my opinion today sealed it.  The Indianapolis Colts will pick first overall in the 2012 NFL draft.  They have sucked for Luck the best, a 19-3 beat down at the hands of the mighty Jags at home more than says that.  The Rams have 2 wins now and look good, should have 3.  The Dolphins now have 2 wins and look OK.  The Colts look like they have it.  Sure they could maybe win 1, but they still will have a 1 game lead and no other team looks like they’ll have less than 3 wins.  So it’s going to be decision time in Indy….

Here is what I believe will happen.  Indy will all but declare they will pick Luck, they have to.  Peyton is coming off 3 neck surgeries in 15 months, the rehab from this one hasn’t gone very smoothly just like the others, he’s 35 so he might have 3 good years left…and that might be stretching it.  You HAVE to pick Luck.

So with that in mind, one of 2 things will happen.  Either Luck will go public by stating he doesn’t want to sit behind Peyton Manning and force the Colts hand (similar to what Eli Manning did and John Elway did), or Manning will tell the Colts that if they pick the kid they need to either trade or release him.

I hear some analysts say “Luck can sit behind Manning for 2 or 3 years like Aaron Rodgers did”…no.  Luck is too good to sit behind anyone.  Rodgers wasn’t ready in 05, Luck is.  He will want to play now, and his camp will fully understand that if they want they can force the Colts hand.

If the Colts pick with there heads it’s no contest.  They will trade/release Manning, select Andrew Luck and rebuild around him.  My guess is that despite Manning’s injury issues and steep contract, someone will pony up for him (Dolphins, Redskins, Broncos).  But if the Colts pick with there hearts, they will trade that pick for the world and take a 3-4 year run at a few more Super Bowls with Manning under center.

It will be a very difficult decision for the Colts to make, but it’s one that I believe they will have to make come April 2012.

Trading Block: Sam Gagner

This is a drum I have a been beating for the better part of a year now.  I watch the Oilers very closely.  If you are unbias about it, you acknowledge that Gagner has hardly improved since his rookie season and now there is simply no fit for him with the Oilers.  Moving forward they need to add size in the top 6, and size down the middle.  Gagner provides neither.  He can still be a serviceable 2nd line centre in this league for some team, it just likely won’t be with the Oilers.  If Steve Tambellini is smart he will deal Gagner ASAP.

Lots of teams will have interest and the Oilers need help on defense despite how well there core has played so far this season.  I would package Gagner with a d-man and Linus Omark who falls into the same catagory that Sam does and see what that would fetch me.  Nashville to me is a perfect trade partner for the Oilers, especially if they can’t lock down at least one of Weber or Suter.  The Oilers have the assets the Preds need, the Preds have the number 1 horse the Oilers need.

It Had Been 7 years…So Worth It!

 

I was saying to one of my good friends a few weeks back “I just really hope MLB has a good playoffs, because it’s been a while”. My friend (what’s up C-Bass?!), die hard MLB fan, took a minute to think about it and seemed to agree. I can name numerous amazing games and series in the MLB postseason from 95-02.

Then in 03 and 04 MLB might have produced the 2 best postseasons ever. Maybe that’s what happened. Maybe I got spoiled watching 4 LCS series go 7 games in 2 years. Maybe I got spoiled by a loveable Red Sox team that was the ultimate underdog/dragon slayers. Maybe I got spoiled by a Yankees team that was so easy to hate that I reached the point that I would rather watch them lose than watch my favorite teams win. The list goes on and on and on.

But the point is just about every postseason in that time was memorable and filled with great games and great plays. Since then, it just seems like they have been few and far between. The playoff races seemed to fizzle out by mid September and the playoffs didn’t produce much.

The 05 White Sox didn’t have a particularly loveable team and really steam rolled through the playoffs. 06 was better and the Cardinals were a fun underdog to follow that season but at the same time the Tigers steam rolled through the AL only to be hammered in the World Series. Outside of game 7 between the Cards and Mets, and game 3 between the Yanks and Tigers, they were really all non descript games/series.

07 was a World Series sweep, an NLCS sweep, 3 LDS series sweeps, and really the only memorable game was the 1 game playoff between the Rocks and Padres. 08 produced a great ALCS but a disappointing World Series and again none of the LDS series were very good. 09 the World Series went 6 but unless Lee started for the Phillies the games weren’t really competitive and prior to that once again the LCS and LDS series lacked intrigue. 2010 was BETTER but not great.

2011 finally said enough is enough! Just when it looked like we were headed for another average postseason with all the playoff spots being set, the Red Sox and Braves both choke down the stretch which produced the greatest night in the regular season baseball has ever seen, and then 3 of the 4 LDS series go 5 games, every single game came down to the final pitch. UN-FREAKIN-REAL!!!

The LCS series were a letdown from what the LDS series were, but still both series went 6 games. The Tigers and Rangers had a couple of classics. Just when you thought the World Series was about to be 2-0 headed back to Arlington for the 2nd year in a row the Rangers stage a terrific 9th inning rally to even up the series. Then came game 5 with the series tied and the infamous 8th inning phone debacle which seemed to swing the series in the Rangers favor.

What needs to be said about game 6 other than in my opinion it was the greatest game ever played. And game 7 put an explanation point on the Cardinals Cinderella season. Sure the Cardinals and Rangers were not the sexiest teams, but likeable teams with some big star players none the less.

If you couldn’t get with this MLB postseason you aren’t a sports fan.

Late 90’s NHL Marketing…Or Lack There of

It’s not like the Mike Modano retirement came out of left field, after a disappointing 2010-2011 injury plagued season with his home town Red Wings the writing was on the wall.  And in really the last year or so in reflecting on his career I always come back to the same thing….man alive did the NHL ever miss the boat.

Modano was never the Art Ross trophy winner, but from 1998-2003 you can make a pretty compelling argument that this guy was the top player in the league….and there is no doubt in my mind he was the most marketable.  In that time, the NHL didn’t have a face of the league.  They had a lot of guys that were ALMOST the face of the league.

Yzerman was started to decline offensively (though still elite), Sakic didn’t have the personality, Gretzky retired in 99, goaltenders and defensemen aren’t very marketable, and any player that had the offensive flare at that time were European.  It’s almost impossible to have a guy that has trouble speaking English the face of a North American league.

It’s nothing against guys like Jagr and Bure but it’s the truth.  Modano was the guy, and they whiffed.  American, played in a big US market, good looking guy, good personality, class guy, one of the most exciting players in the league, and played on a great team.  Literally no flaw.  How do you NOT make this guy the face of your league?!  He was hockey’s version of David Beckham.

Becks in his prime was only among the best in the world, not the clear cut best.  Yet the way he was marketed Beckham became the most well known European Football player on the planet.  This should have been Modano.

Formula to Scout Defensemen?

D-men are very hard to scout, very hit or miss when it comes to the draft…much like QB’s in the NFL.  And so one day I got to wondering if you could take what you look for in a QB and apply it to a d-man.  What is the one thing that all high end d-men have in common?  Intelligence.

Now, you could say this for most success stories in most walks of life, but I could give you A LOT more examples of successful forwards that aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed.  I won’t…but I could.  Meanwhile name the top end d-men that didn’t have a very high IQ.  I’m sure there were 1 or 2, but as I always say don’t give me the exception to the rule, give me the rule.

Denis Potvin, very high IQ.  Larry Robinson, very high IQ.  Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, Chris Chelios, Scott Neidermayer, Chris Pronger, Nik Lidstrom, the list goes on and on and on.  All top end d-men have VERY HIGH IQ’s.

So I came up with my own little 4 step program on how to look at d-men when drafting them.

1) High IQ – as I have already stated but I believe it is the number 1 thing to look for in a d-man.  Defense is a position where you have to react, not act.  That requires a high IQ to be succesful.

2) Skating ability – 2 and 3 are interchangeable but in the post lockout NHL if the player is slow he likely isn’t anything more than a 4th defenseman at best.  If he can skate however he likely will be more succesful with the way the game is currently being played.  He doesn’t have to be able to fly (though obviously that doesn’t hurt), but he can’t be a statue.  Dan Boyle and Lubo Visnovsky are 2 d-men that really only have these top 2 traits yet they are high end d-men.

3) Size – if you now have all 3, you are looking pretty damn good.  I believe size is pretty straight forward and like I said you could switch 2 and 3 and still likely be an ok d-man, but again I will take skating ability over size.  However if he has all 3 of these traits, this player will be a top 4 d-man.  Heck look at Tom Gilbert.  The guy has been pretty sub par since his rookie season, yet the Oilers continually give him chance after chance and the rumour mill suggests they could still get a nice return on him despite average play and a so-so contract.

4) Edge – if you have all 4 of these traits your name is Chris Pronger, or Shea Weber, or Rob Blake, or Scott Stevens and on and on.  A guy can be a stud d-man with only 3 of these 4 traits.  But if he has all four he is likely a BEAST…at worst a number 2.

There have been a lot of d-men that have lacked the edge needed to take there game to the next level (Tom Poti, Eric Brewer, etc), but they have had long careers and made a lot of money while being top 4 defensemen in the league for a long time.

Hey let’s face it, there will never be a day that we have a fool proof system.  But I really believe that if scouts look at these 4 qualities, in this order, that it would really help cut down the busts on the blueline.  And I’m very sure that despite coming up with this on my own that there are a lot of scouts and GM’s that follow this formula already in some form.

He Has a Concussion, not Cancer

It has gone well beyond absurd.  Sidney Crosby has PCS.  Right.  It takes time to comeback from that.  I had it just last year, it took a lot of months to get over it.  It’s tricky, somedays you wake up and feel great, then some days or even just at random times you will start getting migranes again and feel depressed.  But I mean come on!

Some media guys asking if he will play again?  Is he considering retirement?  Will he miss this season?  The season hasn’t even started yet!!!  Some of these guys need to admit that they are trying to make this bigger than it is.

It’s a player with a concussion.  Willie Mitchell came back and played a full season just last year, and Willie Mitchell plays a lot more gritty of a game than Sid does.  Pierre Marc Bouchard played a full season last year as well, and he’s a lot smaller and not anywhere near as solid on his skates as Sid is.

A scary site no question, but Crosby will return despite the media trying to make a bigger deal out of this story

Those of us who are also NFL fans had to go through this EXACT same thing in 2008.  Tom Brady tore his ACL in the first game of the season, and was lost for the year.  All of a sudden at mid season all these ridiculous reports came out about Brady’s surgery going wrong and he would need it again and he could be gone for 09 as well, it just got flat out stupid!  But the media was trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill and this is the exact same situation.

I get it, it sucks that the games top player can’t play and some have become impatient but he’s not suffering from a life threatening injury!  He will be back…THIS season, and he will go back to being the games top player.

I don’t want this to sound like I’m downplaying the severity of a concussion.  I understand just how serious they are, but at the same time it’s just not anywhere near as tragic or devastating as some of the members of the media are making it out to be.  Some of these people need to relax, and some of them need to start being professionals instead of attempting to making a bigger deal out of this than it actually is.

Who is “Soups”?

My name is Tyler Campbell, I’m ….. years old and I hail from the Lloydminster Alberta area.  Raised on a farm 25 minutes North of Lloydminster, I went to school my entire life in a small town called Marwayne…go Wildcats!…I don’t think any of us ever said that, but we were technically the Marwayne Wildcats.  Played sports in Marwayne as well (hockey and softball).  Went to a private broadcasting school in Edmonton in 2003, did odd jobs for CHORUS radio while in school, did my apprenticing at the TEAM 1260 in Edmonton and also worked there for a while.  Did a lot of odd radio jobs for a few years and now getting back into the sports world with this site, my podcast (which has been in the plans but yet to start…hopefully soon), and I’m currently the color commentator for the Lloydminster Bobcat home games which can be seen on FASThockey.com

Growing up my family had season tickets to the Edmonton Oilers and I will never hide they are “my team”.  HOWEVER, I can be completely unbias when talking about them and about any of there rivals.  I know hockey, football (NFL, CFL, and NCAA), baseball, basketball, MMA all very well and will of course mix in Golf, Tennis and whatever else needs to be talked about in the sporting world…except European football.  I’m not a fan, never will be so I hope you can respect that.

The website’s content is  mostly blogs of different varities, trying to do 2 or 3 a weem, but the podcast I promise you will not only be great sports talk but great entertainment!  It will be an hour long and basically will say whatever comes to my mind.  Mostly sports but trust me the name of the game is to entertain and I will try my best to do that for you every week!

This is me accepting my award for….nothing…it was taken in the Bay department store. But still a pretty big day for me!