Long shots, no shots and the in-betweens


From all accounts that was a bit of a snoozer last night in the wonderful City of Saskatoon. As much as one can’t really find too much fault with the Oilers gassing a preseason tilt, the level of intensity required to win the game certainly wasn’t on display for all the wonderful Saskatoononianites to see. And that certainly sets the effort bar rather low, wouldn’t you say?

Not showing enough emotion to beat the Isles in preseason hockey is kind of like losing to a four year old in a game of chess. Sure, it’s possible – but you had better hope that there was some sort of valid reason for suffering the loss. We will chalk this one up to “not a lot of veterans playing, it’s preseason so who cares anyways, if we hurried could we make the tail end of breakfast at McDs?” See how little that game mattered? Our mind wandered 13 words into post game analysis.

Instead of dissecting the performance of the team, we thought it would be a good idea to kick off the week pondering the different types of players that are hanging around camps at this time of year, living life squarely on the bubble and hoping to make their respective squadrons. These types of players fall into a variety of categories but we will take a look at three different types.

Type #1: The hotshot prospect


The Jordan Eberles of the world have the least drama attached to their campaign to make the big club but are entertaining to watch nonetheless. They usually use their early training camps to build an underground following of fans that will fall deeply in love with their style of play. These fans are sadly disappointed when the hotshot departs and then spend the remainder of the season following him from afar as he crushes whatever league he is ultimately sent to. There is little question that a hotshot prospect will ultimately have a career in the big leagues – it’s more a question of when. Unless of course that prospect is named Rob Schremp. If that is the case he will spend his entire career living on YouTube highlights destroying AHL all star skills competitions.

Type #2: The designated distraction

Anyone remember 1990s mega rapper Percy “Master P” Miller? Anyone remember how he hilariously tried to make the Raptors in 1999? That year Miller showed up to camp with a net worth estimated at $361 million dollars, a picture on the cover of Forbes Magazine and a burning desire to make the Toronto Raptors. Miller sent rap and Raptor fans into a tizzy that training camp, bringing in his positivity, superstardomery and surprising level of skill.

It worked out great for the 1999 Raptors too, who were looking to shield second year player Vince Carter from the early season spotlight and were all too happy to discuss Miller’s ability to ball. Miller was ultimately waived one game short of playing an entire full season and the Raptors went on to do, well nothing.

We love ourselves a good designated distraction at training camp. Celebrity crossovers, former players, reigning monarchs looking for a new career. Professional teams all too often will grant these types conditional try outs and laugh heartily as the media scrum heads in their direction after each camp session. Then they go about the business of actually assembling a team.

Type #3: The wildcard


Wildcard prospects looking to make the big team are easily one of the more entertaining parts of training camp as well. Part designated distraction, part player-who-might-actually-do-it; they arrive at camp with an extremely remote chance of making the team. Fans usually work themselves into a lather about the prospects of the Wildcard resurrecting his career, winning scoring titles and leading their team to glory. It’s a win-win scenario for the team. Wildcard makes the Squadron? All the fans feel good about the bottomless well of second chances their favourite team seems to offer. Wildcard doesn’t make the squad? Fans are minorly disappointed but quickly get over the loss having been entertained throughout training camp.

For the life of us we can’t believe the Wildcard that is Theo Fleury down in Calgary this training camp. The little bugger scored another goal last night – a dandy on a breakaway at that – and has made things even harder for Calgary coaches as they try and pare down their roster. Let’s be very clear, we don’t exactly lie awake at night worrying about the line combinations for the Flames. We do however love a good wildcard at training camp and this ranks up there as one of the better ones in awhile. Our man Jean Lefebvre over at the FlamesNation had an interesting article on the matter, taking a look at other old fogey types that have returned from the Athlete Retirement Village to have a second career.

Within the context of boring preseason hockey there are a million storylines looking to play themselves out. These are but three. We for one wish all the long shot prospects working their asses off the best of luck. Except Master P of course. He is history’s greatest monster.

Gregor getting roasted

One final item before we mosey on over to the Liquor Store for our first Colt 45 of the day. Our esteemed colleague Jason Gregor is being roasted tonight in support of Sports Central. On any given day we consider ripping on Gregor right up there in our favourite things to do. Being able to comfortably sit in the audience while professional comics do the hard yards for us? It approaches a perfect storm in our world.

It’s at the Comic Strip at WEM tonight. Doors open at 7, show starts at 8. $25 per ticket in support of the deserving folks over at Sports Central. We are going to be there – house arrest monitoring ankle bracelet be damned. Maybe you should too.