I switched this site to “Soups on Hockey” a couple months ago, and it’s not the most uplifting thing, but I just can’t write something for this morning without talking about one of my favourite athletes, favourite ball players, and favourite Jays of all time, Roy Halladay.
When I read on Twitter yesterday around 1:30 PM MST that the plane which went down was his but they hadn’t yet identified the body, I very literally got sick at the idea that it was him. A lot of athletes have passed away in my 34 years, but this one really sucked for lack of a better word. I guess Doc came along at a time where I was really able to appreciate just how incredible he was. From 99-09, the Jays pretty much sucked. From 01-09, they were literally never in the race come September. And you never once heard Halladay complain, or say a bad word about anyone or anything. I remember listening to Colin Cowherd in 2009 and Doc was to be a guest on his show that day, and Cowherd did his entire show around him speaking on how he was Mr. consistency, one of his favourite athletes at the time because all he did was work hard and could have cared less about any publicity, and how underappreciated he was by the American media. Goes without saying, but that episode of his show (that I listen to daily) always stuck with me.
If Doc had come along in 1989 or 2013 for example, he would be considered the greatest Blue Jay of all time. Nothing against Robbie Alomar, another one of my favourites, but Robbie is only considered above Doc because of the teams he got to play on. Doc had pretty much NOTHING surrounding him. The stat I seen on Twitter yesterday of him going 18-6 against the Yankees while with the Jays is absurd. For Doc’s entire time with the Jays, the Yanks dominated the AL East, winning it every year but two (07 and 08, 07 they won the wildcard). And the man dominated them. Take out the numbers, although he definitely has hall of fame numbers. Take out the numbers and consider the era. Doc is right there with the greatest pitchers in the history of the game. And from EVERYTHING you heard and read yesterday, the guy was held in the highest regard from literally everyone. Any time someone passes away, great things get said. But the detail that people went into with their stories about Doc, and how close I seen so many broadcasters came to breaking down on air yesterday, and actually as I’m typing this Dan O’Toole just did and it’s making things a little dusty for myself. Man, just shows you just how great this man was on and off the field. Re-watching the Sheriff speak about him today and go into such detail about just how great of a guy he was, I’ve never seen that before.
This is an awful loss for Jays fans, for Major League Baseball, and most importantly for his wife and two sons. R.I.P. Doc, you’re an absolute legend.
And there is literally no way to segue from that to the topic I want to talk about, so I’ll just get to it.
Trust me, I feel bad that I’m going to bring Oilers fans down after last night, but just be warned, I’m likely going to.
Big win for the Oilers last night. Not a win that gives you a lot of confidence in the team busting out, very similar to the win in Chicago a few weeks ago, but big none the less. On a trip where they badly need at least five points, those were a big two against what might be the best team they’ll play on the trip (at least to this point).
And a big night for Jordan Eberle getting a goal against his former team. I wanted Eberle gone pretty bad, for a few seasons now. But the guy always dreamed of being an Oiler, was great with the fans and media, it simply wasn’t in his DNA to become more of a player than what he is. It was time to move on, but zero reason to pull against the guy, so good on him for sniping one.
But what I feel sick about is the reason Eberle has got hot lately, and that’s from playing with Matthew Barzal.
Before I hit on Barzal, let me take you Oilers fans down another miserable path, the 2003 NHL draft. Ahhhhh yes. I still remember it like it was yesterday. Pierre McGuire going ape shit on the NY Islanders for passing on Zach Parise. How could an organization be SO STUPID?!?!? Two picks later, Parise is there for the Oilers to absolutely flat out steal with the 17th pick. And Gary Bettman goes to the podium and says “we have a trade to announce”. Man, you KNEW right from that moment that it was going to be such a massive mistake for Oilers organization. You just knew it! Fast forward 12 years, and in the words of Yogi Berra, it was deja vu all over again.
Going into the 2015 draft, I was SKY HIGH on Barzal. Had him ranked fifth overall, ahead of Dylan Strome (I’m very proud of that) and Mitch Marner (that one looks good right now but not sure I’d do it again…)
I know, I know, before you say it Oilers fans, I know they were going to select Joel Eriksson Ek had they kept the pick, which also would have been MUCH better than trading for Reinhart. But when the Bruins picked Jakub Zbroil, Jake Debrusk and then Zach Senyshyn, I recall going nuts on Twitter saying something to the effect of “The Oil don’t need Barzal but they’ll damn sure take him!!” Shortly after that tweet, I got a response from an Islanders fan laughing at me and how they just got the gift. How gut wrenchingly correct that piece of shit was….not that I’m bitter about it….
At the time, I didn’t hold back on how awful of a trade it was for Griffin Reinhart and here is the best of that write up:
You can’t sit there and say “well they’re just draft picks”, because every draft is different. This one was special. 2013 was special. 2012 and 2014 were average to below average drafts. 2012 is the draft where Reinhart went 4th. So while the average fan sits there and says “well he went 4th so the Oilers won the deal”, it’s not that simple. Matthew Barzal was a gift falling to 16. I had him 5th, liked him more than most, but anyone else would have told you he should be a top 10 pick. He fell due to other teams wanting size in the top 12, and then Boston being idiotic with picks 13-15. Barzal I really believe would have gone 4th in the 2012 draft. I wouldn’t have him ahead of Galchenyuk, but at the time (note I say “at the time” for those who love to tell me how dumb I am after the fact) the same prospect would have ranked ahead of Reinhart, Morgan Rielly, Hampus Lindholm, Mathew Dumba, etc.
The 33rd pick in this draft was worth what the 20th pick is worth in most drafts. So you’re paying the 4th pick and 20th pick for the 5th pick if you compare this draft to the 2012 draft. That’s gross. And 2 other things factor in here. 1) the Islanders were shopping Reinhart. They had given up on the kid. 2) Reinhart indicated afterwards that while he didn’t ask for a trade, it was known that he wasn’t happy with the Islanders and wanted out. So how is it that the OILERS end up overpaying in this scenario???
Added to this, I don’t believe that Peter Chiarelli was really on board for doing this particular deal, but had the Griffin Reinhart fan club to put up with at the Oilers draft table. Daryl Katz, Katz kid (who for some reason was there in the thick of things YET AGAIN), Bob Green, Craig MacTavish, Scott Howson, and absent but likely with input, Kevin Lowe. I’m not saying they pushed Chiarelli into doing this, but I am saying that once the offer was made a ton of internal pressure went on Chiarelli to do the deal.
“Peter, we know this guy and he is wonderful. He was the captain of a team we watch win the Memorial Cup, so he’s better than Darnell because Darnell didn’t do that”.
I was livid, to put it nicely. I have a rule, and the rule is that I shouldn’t be able to run a hockey team better than the people in charge. This hockey club with Matt Barzal right now wouldn’t have an issue on the right side. Barzal is a centre, but easily could play the wing. Maybe the teams biggest issue right now is the lack of talent on the right side. Plus he’d bring more speed to the table, which they’re also lacking (though it’s not the issue many want you to believe it is). He would also be another valuable weapon on the PP whether he were on the first or second unit.
And let’s not forget that 33rd pick. That would likely be a very good trade chip at this point. The Islanders traded up to get Anthony Beauvillier, the Lightning took two time Canadian WJC star Mitchell Stephens, Bob Stauffer has said the Oilers would have selected Boston Bruins defenceman Brandon Carlo, the two picks after Stephens were Travis Dermott and Sebastian Aho. Yep…the Oil sure could use one of these guys coupled with Barzal right about now!
It really is a reminder of how awfully the organization was run. Technically it was a Peter Chiarelli move. But let’s be honest, this was Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish, Bob Green, Daryl Katz and others all hot and bothered at the idea of getting Griffin Reinhart and not giving a damn about how his development had gone or what they were giving up. He was a former Oil King and they needed defencemen so let’s go get him, value be damned!
Barzal has star written all over him. Reminds me a lot of Ales Hemsky with how confident he is with the puck and how it has it on a string all game.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but for me this was in no way hindsight. This is watching what should have been. Such a piss off to watch. Eberle, you know what he does. You know he’s capable of being better than he was last season, but probably not ever being worth the six million per season he is making because while he can give you 30 goals and 60 points, he hurts you in just about every other area of the game. He’s not big, he’s not fast, he’s awful on the wall, he’s below average in his own zone, he cheats too often offensively, he brings no physicality or grit, he’s just a scorer. And that sounds good, but if all you’re going to be is that, then you better be damn special at it, and Eberle isn’t. But Barzal…that ELC deal he’d be on, even if they would have rushed him in last season, giving this team the options it craves out of Ryan Strome, giving this team options after the season with RNH, this organization had this kid delivered to them on a silver platter. The Bruins had run off Peter Chiarelli just months previous and now here was his chance to show them how stupid they are by stepping to the podium and taking the star which they had passed over three freaking times….
Nope. And for the large majority of fans, they can’t get over the Taylor Hall trade, but don’t make me go into the billion reasons as to why that was a good trade. For me, it’s this one. Matthew Barzal should be an Edmonton Oiler. Like Zach Parise before him, it’s going to hurt every single time the kid is mentioned. And I knew it was going to the second Gary Bettman said “we have a trade to announce”.
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