Friday, March 02, 2007

Annus Horribilis or Oilers' Year Is An Awful Bumhole

Last year's team, as Lowetide would say, was a beauty team. A Cinderella story. Kids and vets. Long time favourites. Hometown heroes. Overtime victories. Winning against all odds.
And then on June 19th it all ended. A break or two short of the Cup.
And then it got ugly. I am sure other teams have had worse years but I am not sure if I can recall any team in sports that has had such a fall from the heights and, even worse, such a heartwrenching one.
Pronger's trade request and the underwhelming return. The firestorm of bitterness that this engendered.
Spacek going to the Sabres and Tarnstrom to Europe and Lowe's inability to fill the holes on the D at all, thus dooming this team to failure.
Peca's defection to the Leafs. We knew it was coming and we didn't miss him but the team missed that ability to play the tough minutes. And he sticks in our collective craw still, for some reason.
Fan favourites Laraque and Dvorak (well of some fans anyway) leaving town.
Only Samsonov, Rem Murray and Todd Harvey seem to provoke little response when we talk about those who left.
And then the season. A good start and then it began.
The strange use of Smid and Greene.
The team going from a gritty oldstyle squad to, can we say it, a soft team.
The injuries. Moreau gone. Stoll's concussion. Pisani, Smith, Staios, Shaggy, Horcoff all playing hurt and three of those missing time with injuries. Smyth and Hemsky out for an extended period of time.
The sourness of fans who turned on guys like Smith quickly and angrily despite his doing his best after being put in an untenable position.
The failed power play.
The overwork of the aging goaltender.
The underachieving of, well, nearly everyone up front.
And finally, the final gutshot, the trading of the team's heart and soul and the one guy who should have stayed an Oiler forever. Even as someone who has argued that the trade may have made sense, I feel physically sick thinking about it. And as I said earlier today, despite my arguments, if they brought him back at 5 years and 27.5 M this summer I'd probably be pretty damn happy.
The club has been shut out 8-0 in the two games since and what do people expect? They've had the heart ripped out of them.
What a disaster. Bring on the end of the season.
Put us out of our misery.


Anonymous said...

the race to the bottom has begun

top five pick!
top five pick!
top five pick!

oilfan in cowtown

Kyle said...

You've about summed it up, being an Oiler fan has been nothing short of depressing for the last 8 months, and its hard to see when things will get better.

The funny thing is that of all the people that left in the offseason, I was probably the most disapppointed in Harvey. He was another heart and soul leadership guy.

Bad timing with all the picks too given the draft cohort. I remember when Calgary had a high pick in a soft year and ended up with Sandy McCarthy.

Btw Black Dog, would you mind checking out my site and considering giving me a link? No worries if you decide not to though. Thanks man.

Kyle said...

Actually, Saprykin in 99 is probably a better example of a high pick in a soft year...

buddy said...

I believe that getting kicked in the balls on a semi-regular basis is part of being an Oilers fan.

speeds said...

You pretty much covered it BD, except for Lupul's underwhelming performance.

Black Dog said...

kyle - I'll check it out for sure

speeds - originally I had Lupul and Torres singled out and while Lupul is truly a useless bag of shit, except for Smyth, Thoresen and Pouliot I don't think you can point at any forward and say, well, he's had a good year.

Stoll was getting there but his first two months were pretty poor

Kyle said...

black dog - thanks a lot man, appreciate it!

Alana said...

Wow -- the eternal optimist, Pat, has checked out. That's pretty much all there is to say about this season.

I still love Roli, but is it really reasonable to cheer for a goalie without a team in front of him?

My heart is broken.

Vic Ferrari said...

I think that Oiler fans set themselves up. I mean the Oilers were owned in all of the first three series, if not for goalposts they would have been out early. Ron Wilson's recent parallel to his Washington Caps team of a few years ago is apt IMO.

I expect nobody to agree with me, but the real weakness of the Oilers has been wingers this year. Very Columbus, very Phoenix. And just like Jackets and Yotes fans ... we Oiler fans now play the "what went wrong?" game in March.

I've watched a couple of Islander games this week. Their D makes the Oilers look like the 2000 Stars. Criminy. Bergeron is in the second pairing and the guys behind him (Campoli and Meyer) have balls and do try to make plays, but damn, they'r like Bergeron was two years ago.

They have reliable centres and very good wingers though, they can forecheck. And few if any weak links up front. And we don't need a transcript of a Sutter-Fleury rant to know that the weak side winger makes a ton of difference to the currently popular "keeping the shots to the outside" thing.

MacTavish just didn't have the horses up front this year. I mean we all know that Smid and Green shouldn't be playing in this league, but it seems ridiculous to lay it all at their feet. But that's just me.

Black Dog said...

Well, this team was in first place with a D that included Smid and Greene and did not include Hejda. A lot of that had to do with Roloson and our old friends smoke and mirrors but they held their own for a while, the D, I mean, even with those two out there.

Which likely gave Lowe and fans a false sense of security.

You'd get a little but not a whole lot of arguument from me, Vic. As I said earlier very few forwards had even decent years and when one of your guys who knows what he's doing out there goes down for the season and then a second (Smyth) goes down for an extended period of time, well, its the old "ripple effect", if I understand that correctly. And then Stoll, who was running into people at least, goes down and well, not much left, in terms of anything.

I caught the Leafs game and I was struck by how outside of Smyth/Horc/Hemsky, so little happened up front for the Oilers. Pisani and Stoll were out. Other then that trio only Pouliot and Thoresen did anything.

Torres is too inconsistent and a dummy. Sykora doesn't get dirty. Hemsky is Hemsky for better or for worse.

Lupul is a disaster.

I look at next year's team and I see Moreau, Horcoff and Pisani and then I see Stoll hopefully progressing and then I see a bunch of kids and ne'er do wells.

joninabox said...

I'd just like to remind someone that Carolina had a 91 point season in 2001-2002 and a run to the final, followed by a 61 point season and a Jack Johnson entry draft pick. You all know where this is going. :)

The season is over for now, but we still have a good core that has spent most of the season being injured or compensating for someone else's injury. All hope is not lost, I think the potential is still there for a good run in the next 2-3 years.

Black Dog said...

joninthebox - I agree with you but lets just hope that the Oilers are the Canes and not the Caps


Scarlett said...

Right on jobinabox. This team has some talented youngsters coming up and those who were injured this year really hurt.

I never thought I'd say this, but I hope they are the Canes too.

Andy Grabia said...

I expect nobody to agree with me, but the real weakness of the Oilers has been wingers this year. Very Columbus, very Phoenix. And just like Jackets and Yotes fans ... we Oiler fans now play the "what went wrong?" game in March.

I've said that all year long as well. Pat can back me up.

Black Dog said...

Come on Andy, stop kissing Vic's ass.

You've never said that.

Well, maybe once or twice.