The Edmonton Oilers – Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire

FeaturedThe Edmonton Oilers – Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire

By Sushami Pomerleau-Piquette

For the first time in over a dozen years (a decade, not a dozen), the Edmonton Oilers are poised to finally make an appearance in the post-season. An amazing feat for a team that has gone ten years without a playoff appearance; a team that has acquired four first-overall draft picks – Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, and Connor McDavid – two of which have been traded away, with one arguably being a bust (sorry Yak); a team that has gone through seven different head coaches in a decade; and overall, a team who’s ownership and upper management felt that today’s hockey was the same as that of the 80s. However, all of that has changed.

No longer are the Edmonton Oilers a bottom-feeding team and the laughing stock of the National Hockey League. The Edmonton Oilers are now not only a playoff-bound hockey team but a real contender as well. With the magic number dwindling down to five after last night’s win – magic number as in games needed to win in order to clinch a playoff birth – the Edmonton Oilers first playoff appearance in a decade is truly becoming a reality. Now the fans in the great City of Edmonton have something to believe in. All these years without spring-time hockey, fans have forgotten what the playoffs felt like. But things are heating up, and Rogers Place – the brand spanking new arena – is starting to get real loud. As the season dwindles down and the realization settles in, an identity starts to brew in the new barn. And once the playoffs roll in, this city’s true identity will shine once again as the city of champions.

But let’s talk about the players, the guys on the ice, doing all the hard work. Because, as much as the fans matter – not to downplay the city’s loyalty to its hockey team – the Oilers organization are truly the ones responsible for this revitalized energy. Throughout the last decade, both Rexall and Rogers Place have been sold out, every, single, game. Us Edmontonians love our hockey and more importantly, we love our Edmonton Oilers, but in ten freaking years of constant losing, the fanbase stayed together and we proved to Mr. Katz that this franchise belongs here in Edmonton. Anyways, let’s get to the team. It’s no surprise that with the addition of the phenom that is Connor McDavid, things would turn around for this organization. However, it doesn’t end with Connor. In fact, it doesn’t even start with him. Back in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the Edmonton Oilers selected a young, but big, forward from Germany: Leon Draisaitl. And I believe that to be the true start of this turn-around. Although the year before, they drafted Darnell Nurse (7th Overall) who, after being injured a majority of this season, is playing a crucial role in the final leg, and Anton Slepyshev (88th Overall) who is slowly finding a role on the team as a fast-skating, sharp-shooting, uncatchable Russian Machine (at least in time). But, in my opinion, Leon Draisaitl was the true beginning because he’s the first forward picked in the top three by the Edmonton Oilers who wasn’t rushed into the league. Unfortunately, he played close to half the season and had the first year of his entry-level contract burned after being sent down to the Western Hockey League…but that’s beside the fact and doesn’t matter, because the Oilers realized the 2014-15 season was a loss and actually made a conscientious decision in regards to Leon’s development. The Oilers went on to claim a record of 24 wins, 44 losses, and 14 overtime losses. And with that pitiful record, they won the lottery in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. And who was touted to go first overall that year? Connor McDavid.

After a less than exciting final season in Rexall Place, today, we find ourselves in second place in the pacific division. Four points behind the San Jose Sharks for the first seed in the pacific. With ten games to go, the Edmonton Oilers are even gunning for that first place spot and home-ice advantage in their first playoff series in over a decade. But this team isn’t only made up of two players, and although Connor and Leon have had an incredible season so far – with Connor most likely taking home the league’s MVP awards – this team has so much more going for it than meets the eye.

The team features many league veterans and are no longer the kids of the league. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle are longtime Edmonton Oilers, and despite the down season for the both of them, are playing a big role in leading this team towards the playoffs; even without any actual playoff experience. With the addition of Cam Talbot, who, if Connor McDavid weren’t on this team, would be our season’s MVP, as well as further additions in size with Milan Lucic, Patrick ‘Big Rig’ Maroon, Zack Kassian, Adam Larsson, and Eric Gryba, the oilers have become tough. Further additions to the defensive core, with Andrej Sekera, the coming up of Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse, and the pre-season signing of Kris Russell and Matt Benning, has given us a defense worthy of recognition. But the team doesn’t end there. Our forward core is stronger and more skilled than it has been in the last ten years. With the likes of Drake Caggiula – a highly sought after college prospect who chose to sign with the Oil – Mark Letestu, a power-play canon (who would have thought?); Tyler Pitlick, a guy who’s been developing in the system for years and finally shining (however, he destroyed his ACL a few months back which is really unfortunate); a lovable youngster in Jujhar Khaira, the veteran Benoit Pouliot (who will tear it up in the playoffs), the heart and soul of Matt Hendricks, Slepyshev’s speed, and the veteran addition of former Montreal Canadiens star, David Desharnais. The Edmonton Oilers are a completely different team from what they were three years ago. And I think they’ve actually got a shot at the cup. To me, this team will fully click together in the post-season, and I am really, really, excited to see it happen. And we have Todd McLellan and Peter Chiarelli to thank for this renaissance.

The point of this post was to express my thoughts on a hockey organization that I grew up with, who, for half of my twenty-year life, have been losers. But they aren’t losers anymore, we aren’t losers anymore. And to me they were never losers, they were simply a team that was forced to ride on past glory and high expectations, a team that was never given the proper pieces until now. But everything changed when the Edmonton Oilers drafted Leon Draisaitl and went on to win the lottery the following year, securing a young player who will go down in history as one of, if not, the best hockey player to play the game. I love you Gretzky, but like Jagr said, if you’re second behind Wayne, you’re first.

Tonight, the Oilers arguably play their most important hockey game of the season. Beating Anaheim would propel the Oil ahead of the pack towards the first place Sharks. I leave my faith with the team, and so, what more can I say? Go Oilers, Go.

– Sushami

P.S. I haven’t forgotten about you, Jesse. The future is bright with you in the system!

I Phub You – Two Canadian Filmmakers put a Spin on Silent Film

I Phub You – Two Canadian Filmmakers put a Spin on Silent Film

I Phub You first started as this small idea, I remember hearing about the project from Justin in the spring of 2015. After filming On The Rocks the duo, Sam Reid and Justin Kueber, went on to make a number of short films over the next year. One of them being the award-winning comedy film The Lobster, with fellow director/writer Justin Cauti. In the summer they focused on their videography business; filming weddings until the month of September; then I Phub You’s pre-production started with the Telus Optik StoryHive pitch and voting with director Shannon Hunt and Production Designer Dianne Mahoney. After having won, the team got themselves a budget. As a result, they put together a fantastic team that consisted of many incredibly talented people who made the film happen. Production began in November and the film was shot in three days. The film was edited by none other than Sam Reid, and music and sound were done by the incredibly talented Geoff Manchester. And today, StoryHive released it.

A beautifully executed story about love with deep messages for its audience. The story follows a young man named Kurtis (Andrew Joseph Pahlke) who is being ignored, on his date, for a phone. It gets worse, after bumping his head he wakes up in a monochrome world of silence. He is chased by ‘internet heroes’, and ignored by the ‘phone zombies’, but so is another. Janet (Heidi Ellen) is also lost and alone in this silent world. Love, triumph and personal growth mark a few of the many themes within I Phub You’s story. Its main overarching message goes to our society and its obsession with cellular devices. Moments are timeless, they are there, and then they are gone. And unless you’re paying attention, you won’t get to remember the memories. It speaks volumes to us the growing generations to change how we interact and hopefully, keep a little bit of humanity within all of us. We spend so much time online, tweeting, gramming, consuming. We could at least create a balance. We all crave interactions with others, it’s no surprise, but we cannot forget how to be around others for communication means so much more than a message on the screen of a phone.

The film is absolutely stunning, and yes I am a bit biased, I did work on the production. But it is so much more than my highest expectations. The cinematography was absolutely brilliant, the score was curiously mesmerizing, and the acting was wonderfully spectacular. Andrew Joseph Pahlke and Heidi Ellen were beautiful together. Congrats Justin Kueber, Sam Reid. You guys created something spectacular, I’m glad I was a part of the making. Shout out to Andrew Joseph Pahlke and Heidi Ellen on wonderful performances. Shout outs to Darrell Portz, Russell Eresmas, and Sabrina Anderson for playing some great antagonists. Dianne Mahoney, you did a great job with all the production aspects, the costumes are amazing. Geoff Manchester’s music is absolutely mindblowing. Taison Gelinas dude we helped make this! Sam’s cinematography was incredible and honestly giving Chivo a run for his money. Emilia Edemanwan Eyo you held the production together! Celebrations are in order for such a job well done.

— Sushami Pomerleau-Piquette

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: A Novel Review

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: A Novel Review

The other night I had the awesome opportunity of completing the short novel, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and my initial thoughts are: wow, just absolutely mesmerizing. This novel encapsulates everything I would want for a quest: the soul searching protagonist, the mysterious catalyst, a timely friend, and the all knowing guide. The Alchemist features a timeless message to its readers, one which is becoming more important as we progress from generation to generation. At a time where millennials are unsure of their future and what their purpose is, The Alchemist sheds a light on the questions we as the “new” generation have.

Our story begins with a young Shepherd boy tending to his sheep, making his way to a village in order to sell wool and hopefully return to an unmarried woman, this boy’s name was Santiago. As he relaxes within the old church, he remembers his meeting with the shopkeeper and his daughter a year ago and he expresses his excitement and doubt of his return. We learn about the boys past, why he chose to be a shepherd, how he got to where he is, and what he hopes to do in his life. He hopes to travel; just like many of us. But most importantly, we find out about a recurring dream he has. A dream of a young girl guiding him towards a treasure buried by the pyramids of Egypt; towards his personal legend. This dream gnaws at the Boy’s curiosity and begins to tug at his heart strings and he wants to know more.

Before he is to arrive at the village, he makes a stop in the city of Tarifa, a bustling city that offers travel to the plains of Africa. Once in Tarifa, the boy wishes to replenish his food and wine, get a haircut, buy a new book, and see the gypsies for answers to his recurring dream. The gypsy he speaks with only tells him what she can interpret, which isn’t a lot because his dream is a difficult dream, its his personal legend, his story, and that is hard to interpret. The gypsy suggests that the dream is in, “the language of the world.” Which is an important theme to the story. But the boy isn’t convinced, and leaves the gypsy feeling conned. Returning to the town square, he trades in his book and then finds a nice bench to sit upon and read. This is when the mysterious catalyst presents himself to the boy; he is an omen. However, let us discuss what omens are. Today, in popular culture, omens are considered bad things, evil messages sent to warn you of impending doom. But, in The Alchemist, omens are simply messages from the world. They are signs, good and bad, that simply look to inform you as to what will happen, and it is up to you to respond accordingly. Omens are good, and they are what help you reach your personal legend. If you can listen to the omens, you will find your way.

Santiago, at first, is hesitant to the Old Man. He is annoyed by his presence and his wish to converse. But the Old Man persists and eventually reveals his true self to the Boy: he is the King of Salem, Melchizedek. This peeks the Boy’s curiosity and, after being blinded by light, the King gains the boys trust by showing something only the boy knew. The King goes on to explain that Santiago has found his personal legend, and that he must go to the pyramids in Egypt and to find the treasure he has been looking for. The King explains to the Boy that there is such a thing as ‘The Soul of the World’ and that everything is one with each other. After listening to the King, Santiago is left with a decision; to go on being a shepherd taking care of his flock, or to drop everything and travel to the far land of Egypt, a place he had no true understanding of. So the King leaves him with his final words of wisdom, “God has prepared a path for everyone to follow. You just have to read the omens that he left for you.”

Ultimately the Boy decides to take a chance and go search for his treasure, if he didn’t we wouldn’t have a story now would we? Once traversing to Africa, the Boy encounters a language barrier and is unfortunately robbed of the gold he received for his flock of sheep. Down on his luck, Santiago stumbles upon a crystal glass merchant who befriends him, and over the course of a year they help each other create a successful shop, learn from each others lives, and both become stronger souls when their journey together comes to an end. After having saved money for the last year, Santiago was ready to return home and buy twice as many sheep as he once had. But, something stops him, and he decides to pursue his journey. After all, the way he sees it, he’s two hours closer to his treasure, being in Africa and not in Spain (which was two hours by boat).

Santiago’s plan was to join a caravan that would cross the thousand kilometres of desert that stood between him and his treasure. There he met an Englishman who was in search of alchemies secrets. They began a small friendship throughout the months of travel, and eventually stumbled upon an oasis called Al-Fayoum. Through threats of war, the caravan made it safely but was held up in the oasis for quite sometime because of the tribal wars that were still on-going. This was okay for the Englishman because his journey stopped in Al-Fayoum, he was in search of the Alchemist, the all-knowing guide. But the Alchemist was not waiting for the Englishman, but for Santiago. The Boy reads an Omen that saves the oasis from tribesmen warriors, meets the most beautiful girl he had ever met named Fatima, and gains a guide and a teacher through the Alchemist.

However, his Personal Legend doesn’t end here, he still needs to get to the Pyramids. And so, he and the Alchemist head out towards the pyramids. Encountering tribesmen who attempt to rob them, a valley of death where they are imprisoned and tasked with demonstrating their sorcery, well Santiago is asked to become the Wind, and a Monk Monastery where the Alchemist turns lead into gold. After leaving the monastery, the Alchemist and Santiago part ways, and the Boy starts the final leg of his journey. Finally, arriving at the pyramids, Santiago starts to dig, only to be interrupted by a gang of thieves who beat him up and leave him bloody. And this is where Santiago finds his treasure.

That was the best summary of the novel that I could write with as much detail as I could without spoiling the truly important parts. I love the quest for ones personal legend, the understanding of the language of the world, and the tapping of the soul of the world. All three of these things are important realizations that each of us as human beings need to come to. Many of us have given up our dreams because the world is made up so that we cannot pursue them. But that is what makes our personal legends so satisfying, that although its easy to give it up, its also worth it to fight on and ride out the storm. If we are able to achieve our personal legends, we are able to live life to its fullest because we will have listened to our hearts. As crazy of an idea as that is, it is true. We must never stop listening to our hearts because it will forever ache if we ignore it, making us constantly second guess our life’s choices and the path we took. It truly is unfortunate that so many people have given up on their journeys. Some come back to them when it is the ‘right’ time, but most give up and live with aching hearts. So I believe the important lessons that we can take away from The Alchemist are that we must first and foremost listen to our hearts, no matter what. Second would be to look for the omens the world gives us. Third is to understand the language of the world, luckily as a communicator I have already been working on this for quite some time, I like to frame it as: taking a step back, observing the situation, and formulating a thought based on what I’ve seen. Not what I have heard, but what I have observed. And fourth is understanding that the world has a soul, and that we are all a part of it, and most importantly that it is up to us to feed that soul with our hearts and our understandings and our experiences.

This is why I believe The Alchemist will remain relevant and important for centuries.

Well, if you’ve made it this far, I want you to know that I am proud of you. But I am also thankful that you took the time to read my review of this wonderful novel. I know this is a long post, and long blog posts don’t always go well. But I felt this was an important subject to discuss, and I wanted to get the gist of it out there. Its a story I am truly passionate about and that has inspired me to write my own quest for treasure. I could never live up to the incredible nature of this novel, but I hope to one day add my own insight into the subject of peoples personal legends and understanding the soul of the world. Because these are things I believe in and I just want people to be happy and live life the way their hearts tell them to, because listening to your heart is the first step to happiness. 🙂

  • Sushami Pomerleau-Piquette

Split (2017) – An M. Night Shyamalan Masterpiece

Split (2017) – An M. Night Shyamalan Masterpiece

Well, it looks like Shyamy is at it again, this time with a psychological horror dealing with the unknowns of our human minds. In Split, a man named Kevin, or Barry (who knows, he has 23 different personalities), calmly abducts three girls and holds them in a room; his intentions? To feed them to The Beast. Not only does this film deal with the psychological damage that traumatic experiences can inflict, it deals with human perception of mental illness. My girlfriend and I saw Split the other night on Bell Let’s Talk Day, which I found incredibly fitting because of the films subject matter.

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Throughout the film James McAvoy (Kevin/Barry/etc.) puts on a stellar, awards worthy, performance as he switches back and forth between the different personalities that share Kevin’s body. McAvoy truly is the star of this film, but, Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) also puts in a solid performance as one of the abductees. However, her experience is different from her friends. She understands McAvoy’s character because she has also been through traumatic experiences. Although there are two other characters, her friends Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula), they are quickly split up after having acted out against Barry (his psychologist mostly calls him Barry). Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley) is an important piece to Barry’s condition, as she studies him and tries to help him, she also wants to unlock the mysteries of the brain and believes Barry is the key.

M. Night has really done it again. His previous film, The Visit (2015), was a perfect instalment into the found footage genre and its twist still gives me chills to this day. In Split, however, Shyamalan doesn’t depend on a twist. He lets the story speak for itself, and allows the actors performances to give the range and dynamic he was looking for. This film is all about the performance, and it really works in that sense. On the technical side, it’s kind of a basic looking film, the sets are nice though. However, I believe Shyamalan has gone digital because his last two films have had this glossy kind of colour correction. Don’t get me wrong, it works for the film because it isn’t this grand cinematic spectacle.  But I wonder why he chose to go this route for his last two films, maybe it was the smaller budgets? The film is more about the performance and location. Speaking of which, the place he keeps the girls in is truly from a nightmare. There are a few shots on the cinematographic side that really stood out to me; one point McAvoy is walking up a stair case, and the way the camera is positioned (looking down from above the stairs) really gives it a twisted vibe, I think it adds to the mental aspect of the film.

So far, M. Night Shyamalan has succeeded twice in his return to glory, and soon he’ll create perfection. But for now, Split is one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve seen in a long while. I give it a solid 8/10.

  • Sushami Pomerleau-Piquette