Friday, August 12, 2005


Last night in the lost twilight hour of 4 a.m. I finally managed to watch ULTIMATE Gretzky, a little pickup from Toronto's excellent public library system, and I'm going to give it six Joey Mosses out of ten.

It's your typical NHL Productions effort, as anyone who has seen the cheap, fourth-rate NHL Cool Shots can attest. It even has the ubiquitous celebrity NHL host, this time Keifer Sutherland (an admitted upgrade from Dennis Leary or Jim Belushi) although it always feels embarrassing whenever the NHL has to point out that celebrities watch hockey, especially when Alan Thicke somehow sneaks into the bonus disc...

Anyway there's a strange Barbara Walters feel to the whole thing: Gretz and John Davidson sit around a table in a mom-decorated room, reminiscing over the Great One's career, with treacly Full House piano bits whenever Gretz mentions his dad or many of the players he's played with.

It's easy to be magnanimous when your the greatest player ever; but beyond the platitudes there's the old cocksure Gretzky that I remember from The Boys on the Bus, the one who seems well versed in all of his records and willing to talk about how great he is. This is where the Evil Gretzky from the 2002 Olympics comes from, a Gretzky prone to spazzing when things don't go his way. The 1989 Trade press conference is notable for how angry everyone except Pocklington was, especially Sather; something I didn't notice the first time I saw it. There's the Janet Jones wedding footage, and a "Family Scrapbook" with Paulina, Ty and Trevor, which made me feel creepy, especially at 4:00 a.m. in my Junior One Bedroom. And most importantly, for an 80s hockey fetishist such as myself, there's not nearly enough footage of Gretzky making fools of the Hartfords and Minnesotas of the league, which is ALL I HAVE TO LIVE FOR.

BTW: Anyone have NHL Centre Ice? I'm trying to figure out how to get Oilers games out here...


CG said...

Hooo, I once stole a copy of something called "The Circus Comes to Town" from the J, which was supposed to be a behind the scenes look at how CBC covers the playoffs. It would have been much better had CBC not produced it, or used that dude from Davinci's Inquest as narrator.
Mostly a look at camera/cable preparation during the Detroit/Carolino series. Also Bob Cole is apparently tireless, despite the fact that he sounds like he's falling asleep during the most exciting parts of a game.
I do remember the line "game five is in two days, the circus rolls on" - cut to a shot of big TV trucks rolling into Mo-town (tight in on the tire then expanding outward all to a truck-driving country tune). Davinci was rock hard.

I rememeber Evil Gretzky, and somewhat miss Evil Gretzky. I also remember the controversy surrounding the Salt Lake spazz attack, when no one could understand why a few papers called Gretzky a "whiner."
That was basically his nickname in every NHL arena, less his home rink, from 1981 until 1995.
After 14 years as the Paris Hilton of Hockey, he became the universally loved, lord savior of the game.


PS - What's a junior one bedroom?

Anonymous said...

You know, I don't remember much of Gretzky as a whiner. I do recall that one time he was playing on St Louis and Kelly Buchberger absolutely levelled him with a clean hit, and he get all huffy and sicked whoever was St. Louis' goon (I think it was Tony Twist at the time) on Bucky. You know, much as I love Gretzky, it was awfully nice to see him get decked every so often.

Oh, also, word on the street, by which I mean Spector's blog, has former Oiler Roman Hamrlik going to the Flames. Hamrlik has been pretty solid since he left town, though he did drop off a bit last season, though that's probably more because Aucion took over the number-one PP duties. Still, he wouldn't look terrible back in Oiler blue, as a kind of 2nd/3rd d-man, not playing with Pronger, but providing a solid two-way presence in another pairing. (Although, I was looking at his stats, and his career +/- is -101. Though, to be fair, he did play with the Lightning for their first six years as a terrible hockey club--he was always a plus player with the Oil.)

Also on the note of semi-decent d-men, apparently the Sens aren't signing Curtis Leschyshyn. He's by no means much of anything (and he's 36), put if he could come cheap, he'd be an upgrade over our 6/7 slot of Ulanov/Cross, and he'd probably be gone in a year, making way for, say, Matt Greene.


Chris! said...

Oop! Turns out it's a little late to talk wistfully of potentially returning Hamrliks, Mr. Berry.

Calgary, two years, $7 mil. Man, those Flames are stocking up, and good. I could really use the Oilers setting my mind at ease over the next few days by signing one of our core RFAs like Smyth, Hemsky--even Raffi Torres. Just something; all this silence is making me nervous.

CG said...

Oh boy, was Gretzky a whiner. And it was absolutely infuriating to watch the most talented man in history start snarling whenever something didn't go his way, and especially considering his particularly sharp facial features,
For a guy who has a lot of humility off the ice, he certainly looked like a spoiled brat on the ice during his early career.
I admit this might be the jealous perception of a 10-year-old Calgary.
Interesting that this weekend is the anniversary of THE TRADE, when kids actually ran up and down my street in Calgary ringing doorbells, telling genuinely shocked housewives (most of whom let out whoops), and gathering other kids for an Oiler hockey card burning in Robbie Bjorndalen's back yard.
I'd like to think I'm beyond all that now, and come to think of it the Oilers dynasty team was laced with pricks.
There was dead beat dad Glenn Anderson, Esa Tikkanen (a Claude Lemieux prototype), money grubbing holdout Paul Coffee, and Messier's elbow's are legendary.
I wouldn't say that Kurri was a prick but definitely distant, and, oh yeah, Ken Linseman for a year or two, and thuggish D-men Bucky and Beukeboom
There's the expression that you hate them 'til they're on your team, but in the cookie cutter teen comedy that is professional hockey these guys are in the asshole frat.
This is why the Steve Smith goal is perfect Greek tragedy, why Calgary still has a chip on its shoulder, and why the Flames built an absolute monster team by 1989 in hopes of destroying them.


CG said...

Oh, yes, the present!
Ulanov: underappreciated but aging rapidly. Vets like this might by a interesting commidity to watch with a surely high number of entry level salaries balancing the cap.
I thought that there would be a run on veteran (cheap) goalies as well, but apparently not. I see Tugnut is out of Dallas' plans. If he's not one of those already retired players who still appears on the roster, then someone should pick him up as a flip side to a young prospect and play him 20 games a year on the cheap.

Speaking of money, here's an interesting thought, the Oilers may not be able to compete in this NHL either.

As previously mentioned with the UFA's that Lowe has to sign (Smyth, Hemsky, Torres, Horcoff and let's throw Salmelainen in there), the Oilers could end up in the same place in the $34-million range salary-wise.
Yet they're certainly still lacking that certain something, namely the centre, which at this point would put them in a deficit of that centre's salary (please refer to previous drunken posts about the Leavit report).

Coming from the same situation, the Flames have shopped til they've dropped and signed all their names.
They sit at $33.6-mill with only Sauve's undisclosed salary and really only Matthew Lombardi to sign, thanks to an incredibly reasonble deal with Kiprusoff.

The Oilers ownership group isn't going to rake in anymore money than they did during 2003-04. They didn't help cancel the season to lose money.
Is another player signing possible? Will they ditch the aforementioned RFA's to do it?

What's left — The Leafs are going to have to let Mogilny go, unless Nolan's salary gets cleared up. There's also Selanne, Bure, Stumpel, Bondra...
At this stage of the game, it's them, then slim pickings, so they might get expensive.


Also, if you're bored go to the LA Kings site, but be prepared to be overwhelmed.

Dave (Berry) said...

Hmmm...3.5mil/year strikes me as too much for Hamrlik. Really, his true number-one d-man days are behind him, and while he certainly looks good as the number two guy on any blueline, I don't know that he'll be any kind of glorious anchor (hell, even in his prime, he wasn't exactly an elite-level player).

That said, it is only for two years, and I definitely get the impression that the Flames are trying to win a cup this year or next. I don't know what they'll do after that, but I guess you might as well strike while the iron's hot.

An interesting note about veteran goalies: some wonk in Phoenix had Cujo supposedly talking to the Oilers, which is absolutely ridiculous (of course, he also named St. Louis and Toronto as possible places Joseph might go, so it seems as if the guy was just digging through towns Joseph used to play in).

Also, I'm not so sure those second-tier FAs you mentioned, Colin, will actually get big money. I mean, one or two might, but it seems as though most teams have quited down now, and are at or near (after RFA signings) what they want to spend for the year. Besides, I really only think some kind of war of attrition needs to go in between teams and some of these less-than-in-demand players before players start taking huge paycuts just so they can be sure they'll be playing this year. I guess the few teams with some big cap room (San Jose and Minnesota leap to mind) might start a bidding war over second liners, pushing their price up, but I think anyone who's really interested in FAs has probably already signed them, and the last few stragglers will get fairly modest deals.

That said, I think if anyone can snap up Alex Mogilny for less than 2mil, it'd be a great deal. He's not the player he was, but he's still one of the most purely skilled guys out there, and he'll probably do pretty well if the game opens up (to say nothing of his use during a shootout).