Workin’ For The Weekend: Two Times In Charlotte “Perfect Way”

Is there a “Perfect Way” to beat the Checkers?

Scritti Politti is a band in a long line of other bands that the 80’s dubbed both post-punk and synth-pop in the same breathe. A lead singer with the first name Green and an Italian Marxist inspired name, this is a group that wasn’t hugely popular stateside, save for a great song a about upper handing a relationship while simultaneously being upper handed.

The band took its inspiration from intelligent musings on life, society,and famous poetry. And although they were best remembered as a one-hit wonder of pop sophistication, there was a deeper and darker side to Politti’s music. And maybe that’s why the group took so many different forms in terms of session musicians alongside frontman Green Gartside – there was more substance to the group.

“Perfect Way”, the biggest US single for Scritti Politti, was a synth heavy fun times track released in 1985. It marked a turning point for the band, as they moved more towards electronic downbeats as opposed to “own instrumentation.”

This track, in particular, has been a longtime favorite of mine. I was headed towards Kindergarten when it was released, but it has such a great synth sound, it’s hard to deny its attractive qualities. High/low sung tones, 80’s drum beat, and a marching order rhythm. Good stuff.

It’s a song about finding those perfect ways of making someone better, but not really bettering yourself first. Typical 80’s.

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Philippe Cornet Joining Barons In Charlotte (Finally)

Of all the days to release a roster change, the Barons/Oilers choose Thanksgiving mid-morning. Yet the world does not stop spinning merely because I eat pecan pie. So we move to a bit of hockey news.

What originally was expected to be an announcement that coincided with Cam Abney and Toni Rajala a few days ago, the Barons have brought in Philippe Cornet. He’ll meet the team in Charlotte where they’ll play the Checkers on Saturday and Sunday.

There’s no denying that I like Philippe Cornet. His rookie season was so-so, but he followed it up with a whale of an opening to his sophomore season. It was the offseason prior to the 2011-12 season that impressed me the most. He bulked up. He skated with more purpose. He became fond of shooting the puck. I semi-assumed he’d play good, but never dreamed he’d be AHL All-Star caliber.

But the cold hard fact is that Cornet has little life left within the Oilers organization. A brief good moment isn’t enough for NHL future casting. So, of course, he was sent packing to Stockton following camp this October. Partly because there was no room in the roster in OKC during the lockout, Cornet was demoted to the ECHL. I wasn’t a fan of this decision, but such is the grind of minor league prospects.

But he’s back, and ready to make a splash. Some have considered him trade bait with another often criticized Oiler/Baron, Alex Plante. Will it happen? Likely not until the lockout is solved, and that gives a tad more breathing room for both guys. Keep an eye on this. I’ll do the same.

Official release by the team:

The Edmonton Oilers assigned forward Philippe Cornet to the Oklahoma City Barons, General Manager Bill Scott announced today.

Cornet, a 6-0, 196-pounder from Val-Senneville, PQ was assigned to Stockton at the beginning of the season. For the season, he has 19 points (8-11-19) and is +8. His 19 points is second on the Stockton roster and good for a tie for 10th in the ECHL. He leads Stockton with four power-play goals. Cornet, the Oilers 5th round draft choice (133rd overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, has played the previous two seasons with the Barons. In 127 games, he has 60 points (31-29-60). Last season, he led the Barons in goals with 24 and was named to the Western Conference AHL All Star Squad.

Barons Bounce Back To Beat Stars On Thanksgiving Eve

The Oklahoma City Barons seem to be rolling. After back to back wins in hostile situations, the team emerged banged up, but encouraged. The week of Thanksgiving games began with OKC traveling to the Austin area for a Wednesday night game. What started as a dumpster fire defensively, quickly turned into a Barons willful scoring frenzy. They’d beat the Stars, 5-3.

Period one for the Barons at Stars was a feast for the senses. Spirited play at both ends, a few fights, some ample scoring chances. In all, it was a great opening frame. Jordan Eberle, with a man sized shift, deflected a Taylor Hall shot past Cristopher Nilstorp of the Texas Stars. But soon the Stars would abuse the weaknesses of the Barons – blue line special teams and buttery soft defense. Former Oiler, Cam Barker, scored the first goal of the night for Texas followed by a short hander by Colton Sceviour. Big Jordie Benn would get one more for the Stars on a power play opportunity with less than a minute remaining in the first period. When the first 20 minutes came to a close, the Barons found themselves in a semi-deep hole, down 3-1. But this team has a knack for scoring at will, and they’d do just that in the 2nd period.

OKC looked mission minded in the 2nd period as they’d score 4 goals in a span of 8 minutes. Teemu Hartikainen, Toni Rajala, and Justin Schultz scored at even strength, and Taylor Hall snatched one more on the power play. It would prove too much for the Stars.

The 3rd period rolled on, and Texas’ Antoine Roussel gave his team a chance by scoring a goal with just over five minutes left in the game. Ironically, it was another power play goal against a highly chancy Barons man advantage. But the tandem of Schultz and Martin Marincin would connect on a power play goal with 90 seconds remaining. The Barons would seal the deal with a 5-3 victory that was highlighted by a dominate 2nd period.

The Barons have now claimed three in a row, and nabbed four of the last five. Things are heading in the right direction…finally.

Zack Stortini Being Zack Stortini

The above video depicts Zack Stortini doing Zack Stortini things. It’s likely not the first nor the last time this former Oiler/Baron ground pounds a turtled opponent. But the incident is interesting because it featured some comments from the easily quotable Toronto Marlies coach, Dallas Eakins.

Heres the quote, via great work by Kyle Cicarella (whom covers the Marlies):

“That is about as cowardly of a play as you see,” said Eakins after the game. “The guy is down and you’re still punching him. I got no use for that. I thought the referee could have grabbed the guy’s arm. He was the closest guy, but it looked like he was waiting for the linesman.”

Workin’ For The Weekend: Oklahoma City Barons Travel South To Cedar Park “Devolution Workin’ Man Blues”

Rock critics have a tendency to snobbishly downgrade the importance of bands against the backdrop of certain decades. In the 50’s some lambasted Chuck Berry for being an outrageous front man, while simultaneously ignoring the fact that he bridged the gap between bandleader and front man. In the 60’s, some trashed the birth of stadium anthem music for being selfish and self important while missing the cultural parallels those songs made in society. Then the 70’s came along. The naysayers hated the period’s slick productions, and intentional glam, but truthfully it gave a deeper theatrics to an already multi-layered art form. Then came the 80’s, which some claim is the dullest of the rock decades, and it’s various acts that mined the great caves of music only to emerge with a few gouges, and a few gold nuggets that stand the test of time.

I’ve clearly boiled down 40 years of rock music into one paragraph, and that’s not something I like doing. But hang tight, I have a point.

The Alarm, a band from the 80’s that’s not quite punk, not quite rock, not quite pop, but still all of these things, has always had a special place in my heart. From North Whales, the band was wildly successful in the mid to late 80’s when punk rock was diminishing and alternative rock was emerging. And what’s serendipitous about that is The Alarm perfectly fit into the “not this, but that” category. And to them, it was alright.

From 1983 the band would churn out 26 UK singles in the top 100, 11 US singles in the top 100, and forever etch themselves as one of the greats from across the pond during that time. But so often we hear their songs, and quickly ignore their significance. For they were bucking the trend of that time, and writing songs about life, struggle, and heartbreak. There’s more to this band than you thought.

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AHL Board of Governors Keeps AHL Icing (No Votes For Frosting)

Teubert chases an Aero. Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.

The American Hockey League announced today that the league’s Board of Governors extended the league’s “test” of the hybrid icing rule. It expired following yesterday’s games. Rule #82 will resume until the NHL begins play again, and at which time the Board will reconsider the situation.

I like the hybrid icing rule. I like it as a test option in the AHL. I kinda wish they’d do more important rule tests in the AHL, because right now they don’t do much. Although, it’s a rule that has taken a bit of getting used to. Seeing the chase or no chase to the other end loses a little bit of the skilled hunt mentality, but if it protects players from serious injury then there’s no question as to whether the game needs the rule.

We’ll see how this effects the NHL, and it’s governing body. A rule they’ve kicked around for years, and has been discussed throughout the interwebs, its success and protection of the individual in the AHL might sway some who are not sold on the idea. To me, the highest selling point isn’t just safety, but safety WITHOUT altering the game. I, for one, loved the chase to the boards. Especially when the game was tight. The first hybrid icing I saw I felt like booing. But now, at under 20 games played, I’m sold. It works. It keeps people safe. It doesn’t alter the game heavily. Let’s keep it around for a while.

Official release by the league:

American Hockey League President and Chief Executive Officer David Andrews announced today that the league’s Board of Governors has voted to continue the current test of AHL Rule 82 (“Icing”) until the resumption of play in the National Hockey League, at which time it will be reconsidered by the AHL Board.

At the request of the National Hockey League, the AHL Board of Governors in June approved a test of a variation of Rule 82 that, in the event of a potential icing violation, completes the play should a defending player be the first to reach the end zone face-off dots and provided the puck will cross the goal line at that point.

The test of the rule had originally been in effect until Nov. 19, at which time the Board was to consider its continuation.

Cameron Abney & Toni Rajala Recalled From Stockton (No Cornet)

Photo courtesy of Steven Christy. All rights reserved.

Announced today, the Oklahoma City Barons have recalled Stockton Thunder forwards Cameron Abney and Toni Rajala. The Barons are reeling a bit with the two concussed and one approaching surgery on a broken wrist. Tanner House and Tyler Pitlick are experiencing concussion like symptoms, and in the safe-is-best world we live in, they’ll sit until those symptoms are gone. Thus the introduction of Abney and Rajala into the lineup. Antti Tyrvainen is reportedly having surgery to repair a broken wrist, and will be out for a 6 week or so duration.

Abney was recently assigned to Stockton, but he’s headed back to OKC for a pre-Thanksgiving game on Wednesday and likely two more this weekend. Rajala, who has eased himself into top scorer in the ECHL before being recalled (11-12-23 in 14 games), is having a dynamite of a rookie season. Aside from the top scoring, he’s also the league’s best rookie. Even if he harnesses have the success he had in the ECHL recently, he’ll immediately be a helpful asset.

There is a curious spin to this announcement. Both Oilers Now and the Barons themselves announced that Philippe Cornet, another really strong forward in the ECHL (and former full-time Baron), was headed back to OKC this week. Apparently that’s not entirely true.

Here’s Oilers Now last night:

Likewise, last night’s press release from Oklahoma City cited Cornet was on the move today. However, a re-sent press release this morning removed Cornet from the fray.

Was this a move to prevent a complete dismantling of Stockton? Do the Barons have something against Cornet by recalling Abney instead? Was there a premature mention of Cornet to OKC by Coach Nelson to Oilers Now? Let your mind wander if you’d like, but all scenarios are possibilities (with the last being the most likely). Either way, having Rajala in the lineup will be fun to watch.

The Barons play tomorrow night in Cedar Park against the Texas Stars. They’ll then travel over the US Thanksgiving holiday to play the highly skilled Charlotte Checkers.

Official Oklahoma City Barons release:

The Edmonton Oilers assigned forwards Toni Rajala and Cameron Abney to the Oklahoma City Barons, General Manager Bill Scott officially announced today.

Rajala, a 5-9, 170-pounder from Tampere, Finland was assigned to Stockton at the beginning of the season. He currently leads Stockton in scoring with 23 points (11-12-23). His goal, assist and point totals are tops in the ECHL among first-year players. His 11 goals ties him for the league lead and 23 points is good for a tie for fourth in the ECHL. Rajala was the Oilers 4th round selection (101st overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Abney, a 6-5, 200-pounder from Aldergrove, B.C. has split time this season between Stockton and Oklahoma City. With the Barons, he has appeared in three games and served seven penalty minutes. Last season, the Oilers 3rd round draft choice (81st overall) in the 2009 NHL Draft split time between Stockton and Oklahoma City. In 46 games last season, he recorded five points (2-3-5) while serving 156 penalty minutes.

The Barons begin a seven-game stretch away from home Wednesday in Cedar Park, Texas against the Texas Stars. Faceoff is 7:35 p.m. The weekend concludes with a pair of games against the Charlotte Checkers. Faceoff Saturday is 6 p.m. and faceoff Sunday is 2 p.m.

Antti Tyrvainen Suspended Two Games By AHL

There’s been a kneeing incident involving Jordan Eberle with no suspension. A near head shot by Taylor Hall, and again no suspension. But today, the American Hockey League announced that winger, Antti Tyrvainen, has been suspended two games for an interference incident. Okay then.

The official release:

The American Hockey League today announced that Oklahoma City Barons left wing Antti Tyrvainen has been suspended for two (2) games as a consequence of an interference incident during a game vs. Milwaukee on Nov. 16.

Tyrvainen will miss Oklahoma City’s games Wednesday (Nov. 21) at Texas and Saturday (Nov. 24) at Charlotte.

Suspended for an interference incident is the strangest wording for a two game suspendable situation. Wasn’t a head shot. Wasn’t an illegal check. But it was a mid-ice slam, with the puck nowhere in the viewing frame, that resulted in an injury to Milwaukee Ads player, Kevin Anderson.

And so the oddity of penalty distribution continues.

And if you needed more proof that the Ads vs. Barons series was a rough one, Gabriel Bourque was suspended two games for an illegal check to the head in Oklahoma City on Saturday.

The official release:

The American Hockey League today announced that Milwaukee Admirals left wing Gabriel Bourque has been suspended for two (2) games as a consequence of an illegal check to the head of an opponent during a game at Oklahoma City on Nov. 17.

Bourque will miss Milwaukee’s games Tuesday (Nov. 20) at Chicago and Friday (Nov. 23) at Peoria.

Monday Mumble: Blackwell, Oklahoma Is The Key To Ending The NHL Lockout

I’m a little worried about the ongoing non-negotiations of the NHLPA and a league of extraordinarily wealthy gentlemen. Not because talks have been put on hold, or that the Winter Classic has been canceled, or that a foreseeable agreement is about as readily available as a pair of Nike Mags from the Michael J. Fox collection. My worry runs much deeper.

I didn’t become a hockey fan by default. As a matter of fact I was raised on a steady stream of collegiate and professional football. I loved football because it was readily available in mass quantities in my home from the earliest moment I can remember. And to this day, Saturday feels the most right when I’m with my family watching the Big Ten, and Sunday when it’s church and the Packers. It was written in stone, I was immersed in it, and it became the mainstay sport in my life. And that continues to this day.

For most Canadians, not all, they could weave a similar tale. Albeit not about the NCAA or the NFL, but instead for various tiers of hockey. The “national” sport is a part of every day life. If you live in Toronto and hate the Maple Leafs you likely still know their home schedule. Whether you’re planning a business dinner or a trip out with the family, you know that doing things on a hockey night might greatly impede your plans.

As an Oklahoman, I never should have fallen in love with hockey. It was completely foreign to me. Weird rules. Weirdly named players. No team near my zip code. It just didn’t make sense. That all changed when Joe Nieuwendyk scored a game four, three overtime, questionable goal. Oilers fans, no doubt, will groan as they read this. It’s a highlight they know all to well.

What it was about that moment that sold me on the game I’ll never really know. Maybe it was the curiosity of a team in Texas. Maybe it was a casual emotional investment. Maybe it was dumb luck. But that goal, and the subsequent Cup win Dallas made, changed my hockey persuasions forever.

In an article by Jesse Spector from a late-October edition of the online Sporting News, the reporter finds himself in Northern Oklahoma for some unknown reason. Blackwell, Oklahoma to be exact. There, in middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma he points out just how deeply buried and unimportant the National Hockey League is within hyper-non-markets.

“I saw when the Sacramento Kings won the Stanley Cup,” said Barek Street, who noted that he only likes professional sports, a key distinction in an area where college football is supreme. But even for Street, the NHL makes so little of an impression, he named the wrong city as home of the league champions.

It’s easy, being wrapped up in following the NHL’s labor negotiations, day in and day out, to get the idea that what is happening in hockey is earth-shattering stuff that could forever alter the sports landscape of North America. It’s not. What’s actually happening is that a league of marginal importance to the general population is pushing itself further to the fringe.

“I don’t think around here people care about the lockout,” Taylor Rutledge said while gassing up her car. “I don’t know many people that actually watch hockey.”

I empathize with Mr. Street. The NHL is a vacant wasteland in the psyche of most in the United States. This isn’t the fault of ESPN for not making a more palpable effort to broadcast rights, or necessarily the greedy parties on both sides of a labor dispute. Instead, it’s the whole thing.

You and I, as ardent fans of the game, can look past the indiscretions. We can look pass the unglamorous, often subtle nature of hockey players. We can wade through the endless need for the league to insist it’s still a viable product when it really isn’t even close for most of the population in North America.

The root of league failure is also the key, and it’s found in Blackwell, Oklahoma.

Spector, in that same article, continues:

New York is a long way from Blackwell, but the palpable apathy for hockey is the same in the city and country. Instead of working together to grow a game that should sell itself, the NHL and NHLPA have spent months trying to win the hearts and minds of exiting hockey fans in a public relations war that has only served to alienate everyone. Fans might have an opinion on who’s right and wrong in the labor dispute, but the bottom line is that they just want to see world-class hockey.

I’ll take that sentiment one step further. The league and its players have alienated everyone for a very long time. They can’t help themselves. Instead of growing a ground swell through the player and the plays that they make, they give us a gimmick in the Winter Classic which quickly becomes irrelevant faster than it caught fire. Or a glowing puck. Or a lockout. Or a Sid vs. Ovi rivalry. ______ (enter complaint here).

The focus for the league should be Blackwell, Oklahoma where good people would attach themselves to any sport if it inspired and entertained. If it were a sport about players instead of paychecks. Magical goals instead of marginal gimmicks.

In 1999, I fell in love with the game in another Northern Oklahoma town where no rink existed, and I could get a poor pair of hockey skates two hours away. How’d it happen? I really don’t know. But what I do know is the NHL we see now is not the NHL I loved. It’s now one I tolerate. The key is Blackwell, and demanding the attention of the other uninterested masses by simply giving us the game.