It's 6:08 on a Saturday morning and I'm at work: if there's ever a time to get back into posting on my hockey blog, I guess now would be it.
But it's also the dreaded midnight to noon shift, and by 10:00 am I'm usually drooling slightly, capable of only watching youtube videos of schoolyard fistfights or car accidents. Before I reach this adenosine-addled low, I'll try answer this questionarre while I can still type:
1) Have you ever been in a fantasy league?
Like Chris, I was in the Gateway Hockey Pool last year (the Gateway is a student newspaper/clubhouse where we all put on Newsie Hats and took ourselves really seriously for a few years), and by the middle of the season I was forced to rechristen my team to "the Basement Dwellers" from the once-hopeful "Mr. Winters' Winners." I made the mistake of not acquiring any good goalies, especially after panicking and dropping Martin Gerber even though I expected him to be half-decent. Then there was my Jeff O'Neill pick. Yuck. Nick Boynton and Janne Niinima also killed me. Fuck. Never again!
2. What was the first jersey you ever owned?
An away Oilers jersey. More important at the time was finishing that goddamn 1984 O-Pee-Chee stickerbook that kind of took over my life for awhile. It took me months of buying useless stickers to finally get Peter Zezel. And then, when I was only one Grant Fuhr sticker away from finishing the collection, I stole it from the only black guy in our class.
3. Top 5 sports books
I'll stick to hockey for this list:
1. The Game of Our Lives by Peter Gzowski (the best book on the Oilers, with nice profiles on lesser knowns like Brett Callighen and Don "Manhattan" Murdoch. An essential Oilers tome only available in Special Collections at the Edmonton Public Library, at least when I last lived there)
2. Open Net by George Plimpton (one of Plimpton's lesser-known books of participatory sports journalism; this time he trains as a goalie for the Boston Bruins during one of their training camps in the 1970s)
3. Road Games by Roy MacGregor (before he became Canada's Most Boring columnist at the Globe, Roy wrote a pretty darn good book about the Ottawa Senators hapless inaugural season, along with some asides on Eric Lindros and Alexander Diagle)
4. Power Plays: An Inside Look at the Business of the NHL by Gil Stein (nice little inside number by the ex-president of the NHL, explaining how the league was run into the ground by the short-sighted greed of its owners. Reading about how they tripped over themselves to get early 1990s expansion fees is a bit of a hoot)
5. The Glory Barons: The Saga of the Edmonton Oilers by Douglas Hunter (not the best written thing in the world, but it's a nice comprehensive read for an Oilers fan. IF I remember right, this is where I read about Nelson Skalbania trying to win back Wayne Gretzky's contract in a jet flight game of backgammon with Peter Pocklington. I think there's also a story about Pocklington giving trainers Cup rings with fake diamonds or something. Whatta scuzzbag.)
4. Your Ten Favorite Athletes:
Really any Oiler that seemed like a regular, decent dude, like Janne Niinima showing up to metal shows, Anson Carter at the Black Dog, or any 1990s Oiler beating the shit out of hotheads outside Club Malibu. Maybe Radek "motherfucking" Dvorak. And I always thought Andrei Kovalenko had a certain twinkle in his eye.
5. Three Athletes I secretly admire but am ashamed to admit it for fear of ridicule
Jarome Iginla, of course. Miikka Kiprusoff also scares me. Hm, what else? Rob Schremp and his endless collection of puck bunnies on myspace.
6. Three people (outside family) you would pay to have coffee with:
1. Mike Reno, lead singer of Loverboy
2. Vladimir Nabokov
3. Um, Petr Klima? Might be awkward though.
7. One Thing You Could Change if you Could
Come on. We all know the answer to this question. I still have goddamn nightmares about Game 7, at a rate of about one per week, plus those AP shots of the Oilers bench still rends my heart afresh, and I haven't been able to watch any highlights from that series since it ended.
Despite my best efforts to look on the bright side, and no matter what I tell myself, the 2006 edition of the Oilers will always haunt me with a sad unfulfilled evocation, not unlike the downward corners of Igor Ulanov's soulful Russian mouth. Of course, when I find myself thinking of Conklin's own goal or something equally painful, I find that compulsively playing and replaying Hemsky's series winner against the Red Wings helps dull the pain big-time.