Comparison Montreal vs. Edmonton

So today I was having a coffee and a smoke with my roommate Chris. She is a big Habs fan: which is ok by me, since the Bleu Blanc Rouge was a favorite of my late uncle and the team my father grew up watching. Plus they are kind of famous and the only team with as rich a history as the Oil (excuse me Bruins, Detroit, & Islander fans; but lets be realistic). Then I had this idea, stolen from the Genisus over at Copper & Blue, and do a position-by-position comparison between my two ‘favourite’ teams.

We are going to start with the defense or a couple reasons: it is what Derek did in his comparison; I love defense; and to get the disappointment out of the way early. So here is the list of Right Defense.

PK Subban (0.875)
Tom Gilbert (4.0)
Josh Georges (2.5)
Cam Barker (2.25)
Jaroslav Spacek (3.833)
Andy Sutton (2.125)
Total: 7.208 – 2.403 per player
Total: 8.375 – 2.792 per player
OK, this is embarrassing . . . I hope that Chris does not read this blog since this should give her enough ammunition to make fun of me for weeks if not years. First of all, the Oilers only have one actual right defenseman on this list (the other two are left defense masquerading as being able to play their off side: I am betting $25 that at least one of Baker or Sutton cannot not). The second is that we are spending more per player (than Montreal) in our biggest position of weakness; even if you switch Petry with Sutton, Montreal still spends less and they have an awfully expensive 3rd pairing option. If you look just at skill (and not money), Montreal has the two best players out of the six—Subban & Georges. Gilbert comes in a distance third, but I think Jarolslav ‘Old Bones’ Spacek is still more dependable than either of Barker or Sutton. This is just Gross . . .
Andrei Markov (5.75)
Ryan Whitney (4.0)
Hall Gill (2.25)
Ladi Smid (2.25)
Theo Peckham (1.075)
Total: 8.984 – 2.995 per player
Total: 7.325 – 2.442 per player
This is getting a little better but still not all that great. I did kinda cherry-pick the left defenseman which make the Oilers look the best, but it is also since these are the players I would pencil in as starting the season (if everyone is healthy) on the port-side. OK, at least the Oilers are spending less money than the Habs, but the Oil also have the worst of the players. Markov is the best of the six players, but Whitney is the next best—by a significant margin—both of these players have severe health risks and I would doubt that both of them play more than 50 games. Gill is more dependable than Smid: again it goes to the Habs. Yemelin has far more upside than Teddy Peck-Man, and the difference in money is so little that Montreal wins this match up again. Overall, the three players from La Belle Province are superior and come in at a reasonable price tag . . . Montreal wins this position again.
Yannick Weber (0.85)
Taylor Chorney (0.735)
Jeff Woywitka (0.65)
Jeff Petry (1.0)
Total: 1.5 – 0.75 per player
Total: 1.735 – 0.868 per player
I have chosen to go with two depth defenders since that is what Derek did in his comparison—also both should play significant amount of games with their respective clubs. To be honest, I think this is about even; both have one good young puck moving Dman (Petry & Weber) at a reasonable price and a tweener (Chorney & Woywitka) that should clear waivers. Maybe Montreal should win this one since they have done this at a better price but lets go with a tie (since I love the Oilers and I love defensemen).
Tomas Plekanec (5.0)
Shawn Horcoff (5.5)
Lars Eller (1.271)
Sam Gagner (2.275)
Scott Gomez (7.357)
Eric Belanger (1.75)
David Desharnais (0.85)
The Nuge (3.775)
Total: 14.478 – 3.62 per player
Total: 13.3 – 3.325 per player
This category is a little harder to do because the depth charts are fucked up. Not the good kind of Fucked Up, but the kind that makes my life harder. Lets start by saying Montreal has the best all around centre in Plekanec . . . his turtleneck power has turned him into a wonderous two-way centre at a reasonable contract (the player that the Oilers were hoping Horcoff would be during the first three years of his giant contract). I would say that the Oilers have the best PKing and faceoff centre in Belanger. Horcoff and Gomez both have a ‘washed-up’ label attached to them after last seasons, but Horcoff is a lot cheaper, so the Oilers win that one. Gagner has more experience than Larry and that should give the Oilers the edge in young offensive centres. The Nuge is just a wild card (could play the season with the Oil, maybe not; could be the best centre on this list in two years but who knows). Desharnais is a filling a spot but is really a tweener. I am going to give this category to the Oilers but by a slim margin: the Oil spend slightly less at this position; they have the best defensive centre; their old man is cheaper and had a better season last year; and the Nuge pushes them over the edge.
Brian Gionta (5.0)
Ales Hemsky (4.1)
Eric Cole (4.5)
Jordan Eberle (1.158)
Andrei Kostitsyn (3.25)
Linus Omark (0.875)
Travis Moen (1.5)
Ryan Jones (1.5)
Total: 14.25 – 3.563 per player
Total: 7.633 – 1.908 per player
Lets start on the fourth line, Moen and Jones have the same amount of money, but one of them is a proven veteran and is better defensively . . . cough, Moen, cough. Returning to the top of the depth chart, Montreal’s Gionta looks better than Hemsky; mainly on ability to stay healthly because I think they both are dynamic game changers. The middle two lines is interesting; Cole & Kostitsyn are more proven players (what ever that means vis-à-vis AK-47) than Eberle and Omark, but I think both pairs have the same amount of offensive ability (all of them) and defensive acumen (with Eberle and Cole having ability and the other two are kind of a liability). Edmonton might win the middle depth based on the price and age of their pair (but that is a big IF). I would go with a tie at right-wing, but at the end of the season Edmonton could be the winner based on price and Montreal could be the winner based on veteran consistency.
Mike Camalleri (6.0)
Taylor Hall (3.75)
Max Pacioretty (1.625)
Ryan Smyth (6.25)
Matheiu Darche (0.7)
Magnus Paajarvi (1.525)
Ryan White (0.625)
Ben Eager (1.1)
Total: 8.95 – 2.238 per player
Total: 12.625 – 3.156 per player
As starboard-side forwards go, Montreal has the best one as of right now: Camallari. I would think that in a few years Hall will be a better offensive star but that is at least one more year away. The Oilers have better depth—especially in the veteran Smyth, who can play both of the special teams and take on tough competition while keeping his head above water. Paajarvi and Pacioretty have the roughly same money and, I would think, have the same boxcars this season (but the Swede-Fin should be better in the long run). Montreal gets advantage in the fourthliners, only, cause they are spending less (& Darche is more defensively responsible than Eager). The Oilers win the Truculence category (if that counts for anything). Overall, the Oilers win this position with more offensive depth and more youth, but they are paying for it against the cap.
Brock Trotter (0.55)
Darcy Hordichuk (0.875)
Andreas Engqvist (0.9)
Gilbert Brule (1.85)
Total: 1.45 – 0.725 per player
Total: 2.725 – 1.363 per player
Now to the depth forwards . . . I really had little idea of who should be the Habs’ depth. I when with Trotter since that is most folks choice and then rounded it out with Engqvist. Trotter is a tweener (with a little, and I mean he is little, KHL experience) while Brule is a former lottery pick that had a shitty year . . . Oilers win that one because of potential. Hordichuk has a specific role (smashing people) while Engqvist is a better ‘hockey’ player . . . I would count that as a tie since Hordichuk is going to get reps and Engqvist is a mystery to me. The price points is clearly on the side of Montreal since they are not going to have bags of money in the press box. Overall I am going with a tie (Brule > Trotter, Hordichuk = Engqvist, 1.45 million > 2.725 million).
Carey Price (2.75)
Devan Dubnyk (0.8)
Peter Budaj (1.15)
The Boozen’ Wall (3.75)
Total: 3.9 – 1.95 per player
Total: 4.55 – 2.275 per player
So, now it comes to the position that most people think is the Oilers’ weakest position. I think it is right defenseman since the Oilers have at least two goaltenders signed (which is one more player in their natural position that the starboard side of the blue). We can say that the Oilers’ starter is cheaper than Montreal’s, but who would rather start Dubnyk over Price. Budaj is a crappy player—Chris was screaming at the TV on free agency day—but he is still better that the old Russian in blue and orange silks this season. Most embarrassing is the cost of the Oilers ineffective duo . . . we spend 0.65 million dollars more than the Habs and they have a starting goaltender (which we do not have) . . . Montreal clear win.
Right Defense
Left Defense
Depth Defense
Right Wing
Left Wing
Depth Forwards
Best Overall:

A Time For Reflection

About 18 months ago, a friend came to visit me on his way to Montreal for a funeral. It got me thinking about community, togetherness and sadly, tragedy and how that impacts communities on a more philosophical level, not to mention that more tangible, from the gut emotional space too. I wrote a post talking about the relationship between community and death, which makes sense given that my research deals with some of these same inquiries. The post can be found here. Given the events of the summer to completely rock the hockey world, and the fact that I am editing a paper on similar subjects with the hope of getting it published in a "legitimate, academic" peer reviewed journal, I am going to revisit some of these ideas...and besides, I haven't written anything here for a while so I may as well recycle some of my previous good's the academic way.

I should start off by expressing my most sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who were lost on the doomed flight to Minsk the other day on behalf of everyone who writes and is associated with bringing back the glory. I read a particularly poignant tribute from a Dallas Stars blog, which told the story of a cab driver who was picking up the wife and small children of one of the fallen players, the emotions he conveyed, particularly based on the fact that the children had yet to be told that their father had died, that they were going to Russia not to see their daddy, but to bury him. The widow and mother must have been going through hell and back just to keep it together herself, but trying to shield her children from what was clearly as devastating a blow as one can receive is dreadful. I immediately found myself in a strange position, similar to the sympathy and "Fellow Feeling" BCB explains in the post I linked to. I will explain why in a moment, first I'll explain the theory.

Fellow Feeling is a part of a greater concept explored by German thinker Max Scheler called "A community of feeling." Scheler claims that in a community of feeling, there is a sense that when members are in pain, each individual feel the same sorrow—as if they are feeling-with as well as being-with. Immediately in Scheler’s text, he makes the connection, similar to French scholar Jean-Luc Nancy's later assertion that communities are often defined through death, linking pain with solidarity and empathy as well as sympathy. Recognizing the capacity for painful circumstances to create and strengthen memory harkens back to Nietzsche’s assertion of a similar concept in On the Genealogy of Morals (1887/1994), where he describes this process. “A thing must be burnt so that it stays in memory: Only something that continues to hurt stays in memory… When man decided to make memory for himself, in never happened without blood, torment and sacrifices” (Nietzsche, 41). A shared process of grief allows this process; the combination of pain, loss and sacrifice act as a catalyst for the stories to be held inside all of the members of the community of feeling, even if the painful feelings are latent or dormant. To quote BCB, who provided an excellent unpacking of this concept in his own post:

This is when two, or more, individuals directly experience feelings together, as feelings-in-common. These feelings must be of abstract feelings (Scheler would say spiritual or emotional) and never physical feelings: since we can share intellectual emotions but we do not have the same body, we can not have share a physical feeling in this way. Scheler's example is when two parents lose a child: the feeling is one and identical.

Fellow Feeling is a subcategory, one that allows a person not to step directly into the shoes of the person who is feeling, but to have sympathy based on an understanding of the emotion. The way one experiences the feeling vs. that of another are clearly subjective and different. In this line of thought, one person is actually suffering while the other is commiserating through a process Scheler calls "emotional identification.

Few things in life are more difficult than telling someone you love that someone they love is gone. When my own father passed away under clearly less tragic (but still shitty) circumstances nearly 9 years ago, I took it upon myself to tell my younger brother. That was no easy task I can assure you. We were both young at the time, but not nearly so young as these children. The story about the mother not yet telling her children reminded me of how I felt, having learned mere minutes before that I had lost my dad, and that I was on my way home to break the news to my brother and I had about 20 minutes to prepare. This brave woman had to take a transatlantic flight and be alone with her thoughts, without the ability to truly share her grief, her pain or her mourning with anyone. Lots of time to prepare, but no opportunity to commiserate. Though I know you will never read this, I offer you my story as a form of fellow feeling, and wish you a lot of strength. I can assure you (and whomever else reads this post) that I am not trying to come across as callous, that this is not a meaningless, empty gesture. In so many ways, death defines life. The tragedy in Russia is one of those times.

The summer has been a bad one for hockey, not because of anything to really do with the playing of the game, but for the community of hockey players, their families, friends, and the fans. More players have died this summer in tragic circumstances then I think any of us has ever imagined, and more attention than ever before has been given to the violence that surrounded the playoffs in Vancouver, and the knowledge that players who are paid to play the game have weaknesses and frailties, just like the rest of us.  So to that, I offer up this thought; We are a community here, a disconnected and fragmented global community to be sure, but one whose affinity is drawn from a shared love of a game. In times like this however, this must take us away from the game as-such and into a much bigger picture. When you read headlines and sound-bytes about the hockey community, or hear people like Gary Bettman offering seemingly endless platitudes about sympathy for the families, think about it for a minute, really think about how these players who we often treat as nothing more than statistics and cap hits, use-value and trade bait, and perhaps through this tragic summer attempt to re-humanize some of the game, some of the people and help to bring about the changes in the culture that hockey will inevitably be associated with after a long, dark off-season.