Here we are once more, talking about yet more sport, but it does play a huge part of my life and always has, so it's no shock to see me discussing it. Today I'll address the two big loves, hockey and football.
Now let's begin with hockey, congratulations go to the LA Kings, for winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in it's 45 year history. That's a long wait for any club, in any sport to win a cup.. Now I do struggle with them as a club as such, not because of who they are, in fact out of all the Southern Californian clubs I'm happiest to see them win it. The newer upstart franchises have been able to throw money or have got very lucky previously. However that's another debate. No, I struggle with them because of THE trade, as it's known. Any club taking the best player ever away from MY team will always reside in a dark place within me. When they traded for Wayne Gretzky back in 88, they took the jewel in the crown of the NHL and took him to a market not known for it's hockey, and whilst that trade almost single handidly built hockey in the sun belt of America, it left a big, big hole in Canadian hockey. So I dislike the Kings, it's not as if they are a rival to the Oilers, no the biggest and closest rivals are Calgary and Vancouver, to whom in football would equate to being what City and Liverpool are to United. So that would make LA to me anyway say the equivilent of say a Bolton perhaps.
That brings the hockey season for this year to an almost end, we have the draft to go next a week or so time. The Oilers yet again have first pick, though they have to choose a new coach soon. I'm not so sure who it will be. I've heard rumours and seen the names Brent Sutter and Jon Cooper discussed as possible choices. Well Sutter last coached Team Canada in the World Championships, to no real distinction, and prior to that had coached the Calgary Flames. There you see the name Calgary again... I know his reputation is OK, and he's not a bad coach, but his connections with our local rivals really should count against him in the running for this post. Jon Cooper has just taken his AHL team to it's championship, including a run of 43 wins in the last 46 matches. However, he's not coached at the top level and would be a gamble. That maybe why the Oilers re-employed one of it's former coaches as vice president of hockey operations Craig MacTavish yesterday. I'm certainly no fan of his in terms of coaching, though he did take us to game 7 of the Stanley Cup in 06, his subsequent and preceeding performances around that year was abject to poor. As a club we are now only just recovering from his time behind the bench. Yet, I suspect he may have been brought in to assist in some capacity a new rookie coach.
If it is a rookie coach which fits the billing for Cooper, that would also bring into contention Todd Nelson the coach of the Oilers farm team, and he himself performed wonders at the back end of the season. They just ran out of gas in the AHL conference finals. It's hardly a suprise that this happened. Taking into account all the call ups to the big club through injuries etc. it's taken it's toll on those who had to cover as well as the extra travel that half the players had to make. Promoting Nelson, like appointing Cooper would be a gamble, and one with a flux of very high end talented young players that constitutes a risk. However, I think it's a risk worth taking to move the club forward. Bringing fresh idea's to the league can help move it forward from the basement dwellers we've been for the past 3 years into mid league contention and perhaps even close to the play-off's next year. It would be something to make me smile when thinking about my beloved Oilers.
Wow, I didn't expect to go on so much about hockey, but now I turn my attention to football and the Euro 2012 championships. It's been widely reported in the media about the racism and the crowd violence surrounding the championships and it's hosts. However, yesterday the authorities in the Ukraine did football proud. I don't care what others may think of me for saying this, but by not allowing the "England Band" to play in the stadium prior, before or after the game was a blessing.
Perhaps I've said this before in another rant, but the very idea that we need a band in the crowd to prompt the fans into singing is infuriating. The fact that they follow England every where and still play the same 3 or 4 tunes for the past 20 or so years is unreal. It's a horrible side effect of the Sky era of football. I am not blaming Sky for this, as such, but we didn't have people taking drums, trumpets etc. into games prior to them covering the games. OK, I tell a lie you did, but they were the local brass band, or Salvation Army band playing tunes before kick off or at half time. Not in the crowd trying to create an atmosphere. I first encountered something like this when at Old Trafford watching a game between United and Sheffield Wednesday. It was the single most annoying thing I'd experienced at a game. I don't know what it is with anyone who thinks playing the Great Escape over and over is good for the game.
My hope is that the authorities continue to keep them from playing in the Euro's and that grounds around the world continue to ban them. It isn't part of the game, it isn't part of the traditional fan culture. We don't need it, we don't want it. Kick Racism out, Kick Homophobia out and kick the band out of football..... Come on Uefa you can do it.