This is Robert Nilsson, a suddenly useful NHL player. Entirely by accident, I was able to have a conversation with him while he was waiting to get his takeout lunch in an Edmonton area restaurant. For the sake of his privacy, as well as my own, I will keep this location a secret. I don't normally key in on single players in my rants, but this was sort of a special and unique situation, much like the drinks I had with Roli 3 years ago.
It was not a very long conversation but he seemed totally happy to chat with a fan. Not much insight was actually revealed in this conversation, but he said he felt far more engaged recently, and that coming off the IR he has more energy, more jump and more focus. It is about having fun playing the game again, and it has shown on the ice since his return. I for one and thankful about this shift in both his game and the boxcar numbers that were making him appear to be a far worse player then he truly is. The most interesting thing about this conversation was the praise he had for a favorite of ours on this site as well as our friends over at The Copper & Blue. Nilsson said he really enjoys playing with Zack "Zorg/Huggybear" Stortini, his big frame and larger then life presence on the ice opening up the space for mini-magic to work with. Although Nilsson has been playing extremely well on the PP as of late, playing at even strength with Zorg has made a huge impact in Bobby's overall numbers as well as helping his defensive game. As a part of what Pat Quinn has dubbed the "Hack/Smack/Whack" line with Zorg and the Blarney Stone, Nilsson has helped to create a situation where the Oilers have a legitimate 4th line energy line again, along the lines of the Zorg/Brodz/Sellout (GlenX) line from a few years back. As much as I would love to see Nilsson getting minutes with Horcoff, as Nilsson is easily in the top 6 most talented forwards on this team, having him play 4th line minutes and PP2 time is truly an ideal situation. Allowing him to get soft parade minutes at even strength where someone with his skill set can really flourish is probably the best strategy Quinn could use to build up the confidence of a player who has been on the bubble all year. I for one hope that Nilsson continues his improved play. Few players have the pure skill he possesses, and he has scored easily three of the most beautiful goals I have ever seen this year alone.
The Hack/Smack/Whack line was broken up for the first couple games of this homestand but has been reunited for tonight's contest against the incredibly talented Washington Capitals. The Caps are a dangerous team with perhaps the most talented player in the league today. They score goals in bunches and have been improving defensively over the last few years. The Oilers have managed to beat the Caps the last few times they have played, including a 5-2 victory last season in Washington. Both teams play a similar game, fast paced, with the D active in the offensive zone, but the Caps have a significant edge in skill. Provided the Oilers don't fall behind early, it should be a fun game to watch-the Oilers will be hungry after two really bad losses, while hopefully the Capitals will be tired after playing last night in Vancouver. Maybe we can catch the giant while it's sleeping.
When people talk about power these days, they are often referring to some kind of ubiquitous force that exists between all objects (and maybe subjects, if they believe in these). This is thanks to a man, named Michel Foucault, especially in his brilliant book The History of Sexuality Volume 1.
Very briefly, he proposes that the modern paradigm of power, is one based on repression (properly speaking power-over), and there are serious flaws with this model: a) is it historical fact, b) does power operate this way (as per repression, denial, censorship), and c) does this theoretical understanding actual help perpetuates the modern regime of power. His answer is No to the first two, and Yes to the last one: this creates a problem for the big baldhead of postmodern philosophy. If power does not operate as repression and thinking of it helps maintain power’s status quo (and we don’t want that), how can we conceive of power differently (and helpfully)? The answer: affirmation. Or that power is not a power of repression, but instead a power of creation (a power-to). Power is not something to be acquired or held on to; power is not external to objects rather is the relationship between all objects; power comes from below, or that both rulers and the ruled have power; power is intentional but non-subjective, or that it has a series of aims but is not the product of an individual; where there is power there is resistance (1990. P. 94-96).
So what does this have to do with hockey? Well there is a type of player, often referred to as a Power Forward. This post will be an examination of Foucauldian power in relation to the action and definition of this type of player.
First, can a power forward be acquired or held onto? We not really, they are virtual impossible to get until the reach the grand old age of 30, and usually only through free agency. If they are traded for it is usually in their last year of their contract and they will become a UFA. At this point they are in the down swing of their career. More importantly, they are not acquired but instead choose to play for their new team; if they want to be traded they ask for it and usually get it, hence not held onto. A perfect example of this is Mr. Keith Tkachuck and his career with the Jets/Coyotes and his movement between the Blues and Thrashers.
Second, is the power forward external to the other objects (players)? No, they only demonstrate their power in relation to other players: they can hit and knock people down or score goals, but these actions involve another player in relation to. That their practices of power limit other peoples practices (their hits stop another’s practices to skate with the puck, and their goals limit the goalie’s practices to stop the puck).
Third, power forwards’ force comes from below. They have power over their coaches and management. They, as the ruled, have power over the operations of the team, the rulers. If they want to see another type of player added, the GM often goes out and finds that type of player (since other types of players are often more difficult to get then the elusive power forward).
Fourth, the effectiveness of a power forward is intentional, but not subjective. That it maybe be the intention of a player to play that way (as in their aims), but it does not come from them as a player-subject. That there is a multitude of conditions that need to come into play (such as their line mates, the system of the coach, their training, etc…). It would be a little silly to think Cam Neely would have been as great as he was, without Bourque, Janney, Sweeney, and Oates (or Milbury or Moog for that matter). Neely’s aims are part of his power, but it is not a single subjective action that allows it.
Fifth, is resistance. What is the resistance to a power forward? Really I don’t know, but I am thinking of the large checking defenseman that was often used against them in the pre-lock out period.
Do I believe any of this? NO.
Lets look at the power forward on the Oilers today: Dustin Penner. Is it fair to say that his actions and play support the repressive hypothesis of Foucault? Maybe. It could definitely be argued for that he is the affirmation of power: that a new coach, team mates, etc… have allowed him to affirm himself in as the power forward that he is. Goals, hits, and being a game changer are all aspects of a power forward, and can be seen as an affirmation of his skill, or force. But is it only goals and hits that make a power forward?
Over the last year or so, Derek Zona or coach pb9617 has been on a rampage to prove that Penner’s skill and worth is much as a product of his defensive play as it is his scoring. If I could find his great post on the matter (stored at the Church of Kurri), I would link to them here, but I am not allowed access to that site anymore. But any regular reader of The Copper and Blue and Lowetide, should know what I am talking about. Briefly, some stats:
2008-09: minimum 20 games played
GFON/60: 2.96 (highest among forwards)
GAON/60: 2.20 (lowest among forwards)
Corsi Rel: 16.3 (highest among forwards)
QualComp: -0.003 (fifth among forwards)
I have no idea how to find Zone Starts but I am sure he would be high on that list as well.
2009-10: minimum 10 games played
GFON/60: 4.28 (3rd among forwards)
GAON/60: 2.35 (6th lowest among forwards)
Corsi Rel: 13.9 (3rd among forwards)
QualComp: -0.038 (12th among forwards)
So he is not quite at them same horizon he was last year, but still. Is it only the goal production of Penner’s that brings him into the realm of a power forward? If he was playing against third pairing defensemen and bleeding goals against, would his name be up for the Canadian Olympic team? I doubt it.
It is Penner’s ability to repress that makes him a true power forward. Yes, his affirmation on the scoreboard does secure it, but without the ability to deny and censor the other team, he would be another Nilsson (one good season, with the appearance to cover the contract, but still a one dimensional, limited player). Penner’s power as a power forward comes from his defensive or repressive game, in conjunction with is goal scoring or affirmative game.
What does this mean for the philosophic concept of power? Well, I think it means that the Foucauldian understanding high lights one aspect of power, but down plays the other. Another way of saying this is what is power-to other then a temporal form of power-over?
There was a time, not quite ten years ago, when I would have been very excited to see the Kings. You see, I had a thing for Zigmund Palffy. Underrated and underappreciated on the Island, Zigmund was finally going to make the playoffs in LA.
And they did. In fact, they even beat the Detroit Red Wings in 2000-2001 before falling to the eventual Stanley Cup winners, the Colorado Avalanche. With Robitaille and Stumpel, they did have some depth up front but by trading away Rob Blake to the Avs, it became clear they weren't going to be serious contenders.
Which brings us to the Oilers of today. I think, as fans, we need to ask ourselves what kind of team we want to have? Obviously we all want a winning team, that is, another Stanley Cup champion. Now, I've mentioned in the past how the 06 run should not serve as a blueprint for getting back to the final. And it's been well-documented elsewhere (I'm thinking about Staples)how elite players are needed to win. I agree. We also know that big names aren't exactly eager to come here which leaves us with the draft.
I like this version of the Oilers for the most part. But even if they can make the playoffs, let's not fool ourselves into thinking we'll go anywhere. If we're serious about "bringing back the glory" then we have to rebuild from the draft. This includes getting rid of Visnovsky, Souray, and any other over 30 veteran. It's not that I have a hate-on for these players, on the contrary I quite like them, but I also know we're not going to win with them.
Sure, it would suck to lose a lot, but I think knowing that it's something we must go through, would temper the pain and anger. Mediocrity isn't acceptable. Let's suck first to get where we need to go.
a couple of observations from the game last night
- what the fuck is Staios doing on the power play? Souray, Visnovsky, Gilbert and Grebeshkov should be the four we have out there. I'd even take Smid and some forward on the point.
- the winner of the Andrew Cogliano player of the game award for being soft on the puck and accomplishing nothing goes to Patrick O'Sullivan.
If the Oilers were a butcher shop: A dangerous meat fuelled trip into the twisted minds of two bloggers
The next day the two satiated heroes realized that they were still hungry. Determined to find more smalls creatures to sacrifice, a tour of the Delis of Kingston ensued, during which a small goat was found, killed and carved up on the spot-just for them. While watching this sacrificial ceremony, the two men ate an entire kielbasa sausage with their bare hands. After this beautiful display of blood and glory, the two decided to explore what the Oilers would be if they were products in a deli and butcher shop. Here is what they discovered:
In our blue cabinat, we have a variety of tasty (and expensive) meats for you. Over here, we have Souray's T-Bone steaks: A fine cut of meat- thick, bloody, and lush- aged to perfection. Great for an average evening in, as well as those special occassion (i.e. special teams). This section also contains Prime Rib roast, fresh from Slovakia. You may not have heard of Visvonsky's Ranch while it toiled away under the reign of terrible (LA) Kings, yet it produces the most tender (injury prone), supple, and beautiful meat in all of Central Europe. Lastly, we have some lamb fresh from the farm; Chorney is still bleeding but will hopefully make a wonderful dish (if we spice it right and let it simmer under low heat for a long time).
Tucked away in on the second shelf of the blue section we found the Slavic Winter poultry. We didn't realize it at first, but we dealt exclusively with a former soviet bloc supplier. On the left we found a large, plump duck likely pumped full of drugs. We assumed it was growth hormones, but later discovered, as we were tripping balls, that the drug in question was a form of Russian LSD. When we came down, we needed to feast and discovered a Czech farm that specializes in 5lb Christmas turkeys. The Ladifarm turkey makes a butterball look like, well, a Cornish Game-hen by comparison. Too bad we traded away a turducken to get this exclusive contract, but we feel it will be better for the company in the long run.
Ahh Turducken-nature's greatest mistake.
And if you are looking for some quick dishes for those desperate late night t.v. dinners: meat pies. In both traditional Strudwick's beef and kidney variety, as well as the new Peckham's Country Steak version. Both can be left in the deepfreeze of the Pressbox for most of the year. Hopefully they fill you up at game time: simple and hearty, just like your mother made for you in the 70's.
The front (forward) counter of the butcher shop was also filled with a variety of tender and tasty cuts, of course balanced out with a certain degree of filler and lesser products. Oddly enough, we found many of the lower grade choices to be surprisingly overpriced for what they are supposedly capable of bringing to the table.
To begin, this store contains two different cuts of roast beef: The first cut is the one of the most delicious and complex recipes to make, but the results when handled with care (and proper linemates) are simply world class. Ales' Beef Bourguignnone is a dish of the highest quality, sublime, rich, delicate, yet a bit of a pain to perfectly prepare. When it's good, there's really not much that could be better. If you're looking for something a bit less complex but a more responsible choice, there is a beautifully seasoned, simple London Broil, made using fresh beef from a small farm in Southern British Columbia.
The next rack is filled with a wide range of meats that seem to go well together. The common theme is the incredibly high pedigree of each type, along with similarly high expectations of quality. First, straight off the farm in Winkler Manitoba is Penner's Pork Tenderloin, perhaps the tastiest of the loins. When pork is too fat, it doesn't sell well. A recent change in the dietary restrictions on this farm (no longer using wheat in the pig feed) has yielded incredible results.
Pork Tenderloin: Now with less fat...
Also on this line are two younger cuts, leaner cuts. First a locally born and coastal bred wild Venison. It was a bit of a reclamation project and took a bit of time to actually go out and find it, but we think we got a steal of a deal. Flanking the Venison, cut into high quality small chops, we have a very young veal calf. It's alleged that this veal calf, Sam, was fathered by a true stud, and we hope it to mature and age with grace and skill. We are not entirely sure why this final type of meat is also included on this shelf, but Moreau's mutton was sitting beside these highly prized choices. Amazingly, we have heard this dish is really popular around the league, lord knows why?!
In the crusty and nasty ground meat section, our staple is Zorg-a-licous Medium Ground Beef: it is more often then not a decent dish, it always shows up (3-3-1) and we are pretty happy about it. Then there is the 'lean' version-Calgary's own Ryan's Stoneground. He is a little more athletic, but still...You get what you pay for. In the event of random family incidents (injury strikes), we have a package of 16 KrustyBurgers, easily imported from Springfield. Under rated piece of meat, doesn't get a lot of looks at the end of the patio season, but everyone wants it in January. We used to carry ground pork, but we ended up waiving it.
On the random shelf we have French Canadian Ox-Tail, 22lbs of it in fact. Great conversation starter and hits everything that moves. An acquired taste, despite the early selection. Beside the ox-tail is a fairly small honey ham. This ham was raised in Edmonton, cured all over North America and found it's way back via tricky importing procedures. Apparently Hilary Duff loves this product.
Yes yes, we used to have the duck-rabbit, and still advertise it. We don't expect it on the shelf again until sometime in January. Damn you Interlocutor, why must you constantly show up to harass me?! We also used to carry an Italian beef liver pate (chopped liver), but we appear to be all out of that, too, much to the disappointment of a few cranky old men in little Italy. Every now and again we can scrounge up the rare Reddoxian Rabbit. It doesn't have a lot of meat, but we like it from time to time.
In the sale bin at the front, We have a variety of products: mostly chickens that seem to really want to attack the net or even defend it. The first two are still pricey; actually, they are not really on sale but we are saying they are since we have a lot of them in stock. Gilbert's grain-fed skinless chicken breast is an excellent product that seems to put up numbers each and every season. It is the same story with our Spicy Italian chicken wings Cogliano's. People buy them because they're tasty, but we still would really rather have Veal while watching them game. It appears that there are Swedish Meat Balls are on sale.
Interloculor: Where's the Bacon Dammit?
Shut Up! I said we have Swedish meat balls over here. Not the magic man brand, they were close at the tradefair (the draft) but seem to have got lost on the way over from Stockholm. Lastly we have some Old Bison Burgers . . . always has been a good seller it recently . . . we could sell you the exclusive rights to Steady Stevens Bison Barn, if you want.
Interlocutor: We like Bison. But in all Seriousness gentlemen, where is the Bacon? I need breakfast meats or I will lose my mind.
Why don't you go back to Britain where you belong?! You have no business discussing hockey here. Please kindly piss off! We don't eat beans here with our breakfast, mmmmm right-handed-veteran-centers.
In the back here is the fish counter. We are not really into fish. We have the Swordfish here to impress. It is catch off the Bulin Wall in Moscow, one-time headquarters of the little Czar, by the CSKA Fishing Company, imported through the 'Peg. It has won awards across the globe, but it is pricey. I think we were caught looking for the white whale... Other then that we have just these two bags of White Fish: caught in the second round of 2002 and the other in the first round of the 2004 season, not the exclusive 2003 season. We might have been napping. All the fish are big, but we really haven't tried them as one of us is deathly allergic to fish.
Finally, we should try to explain why we chose to sacrifice a goat of all things. The season's goat, one Patrick O'Sullivan, actually scored two goals last night. As such, we felt that a goat needed to be consumed in his honor, with the hope that he will ride this wave of non-shootout success to rise up above his shooting percentage and ride this wave to glory.
This my friends is how we see the world under the influence of a meat and liquor induced frenzy. We hope you liked our selection of products, but we are well aware of the lack of variety, especially the shortage of right handed breakfast meats. Such is life. Hopefully next year our deli will be better stocked and priced.
SWS and B.C.B.