Friday, January 03, 2014
Scrolling through Twitter on the streetcar today I noted that diehard Oiler fan (I think any Oiler fans left have to be diehards maybe) and fun follow Shauna (@SLShockeyfan) had noted after another Oiler disaster:
I feel for bloggers and even MSM. What is there to write about?
So true, so true. I came back to work yesterday after nine days off. Five years ago, even three years ago, nine days off would have seen a half dozen or more posts on this site, tales of old leading to musings on many things copper and blue.
But as I told Ben Massey recently there are only so many ways of saying that your favourite team is garbage.
I remember back in 2008 or thereabouts a fellow who trolled the Oiler blogs pretty regularly, a guy who went by McLea iirc, saying that he couldn't wait for the Oilers to prove all of the naysayers wrong, guys like Dellow and Dennis King and RiversQ and Vic Ferrari and myself, guys who were tearing into Lowe as he began to destroy the franchise. I remember replying that I would be happy to eat crow, nothing would make me happier than to be proven wrong.
The dismissal of Steve Tambellini and hiring of Dallas Eakins and the additions over the summer (not enough but MacTavish had too many holes to fill and not enough chips to move to fill them imo) brought me some hope, surely all of this and more experience for the kids would mean, if not a playoff spot, at least meaningful games for the first time in nearly a decade. (It was Dennis King who noted recently that in a stretch of ~ 8 seasons leading to the 2006 run, I can't remember exactly how many, that by his count the Oilers played a total of two meaningless games or something like that. They were always in the mix for a playoff spot. Always.)
I was wrong.
Early days saw the team deserving more than they got, even with injuries up the middle, but poor goaltending did them in and since then the club has lurched from disaster to disaster. The team is not good enough but losing tends to lead to more losing and so almost to a man the club has underperformed and this is despite it being healthier than it has been in years. Eakins has said all of the right things but his moves often stink of panic. The abandonment of the five forward power play which was humming along after a shortie against Chicago is a perfect example of this. And of course the double standard, benchings for Yakupov and Petry and Arcobello, free passes for Hall and Eberle and Gagner (although last night the golden boys sat for a while). But what the hell do you do, fire another coach? Can't be done, especially when the D is basically Jeff Petry, Andrew Ference and five guys who may as well be called Scott Ferguson. (And no I have not given up on Justin Schultz, he just completed his first full season of games this week, still buddy is drowning out there.)
The problem with this awful slide is that the mess feeds on itself. Players are losing confidence and in a lot of cases the 'give a shit meter' seems to be broken. The problem for the franchise as a whole is threefold.
Players are not going to want to come to play for such a shitshow unless they are overpaid in a major way.
Players who MacT might want to move are losing value which means more ten cents on the dollar moves where the club started with a house (Joni Pitkanen, Andrew Cogliano, Kyle Brodziak, Tom Gilbert, Sheldon Souray, Lubo Visnovsky etc etc etc) and ended up with a paper clip (Nick Schultz, a bunch of guys out of the league now or nothing at all).
And most important of all, sooner or later, guys are going to want out or are going to get ruined by the Oilers.
Will it get turned around? Well you might ask fans of the Panthers or Islanders or Thrashers (if they still existed) what year after year of high picks means. Sometimes it means nothing because the reason you are getting high picks is that management is garbage. Its easy to destroy a franchise, Tambo and Lowe burned it to the ground and sowed the earth with salt over a few years. The problem is with the present cap system UFAs of value are tending to extend with their current clubs and movement up the ladder is a lot more difficult unless you can find value where others see none and you can, get ready for it, acquire and keep good players.
The pursuit of Clarkson breaks rule number one and the trade of Smid for magic beans, soon to be followed by Freedom for Ales Hemsky, break the second.
(And at this point I am sure Ales has told MacT that he will not extend and who could blame him, my God I hope he gets a ticket to San Jose or Chicago, he's suffered enough.)
So what does it all mean?
Well I think I noted this a couple of months ago, either here or on Twitter, and I've been following my own advice. Over the holidays I watched zero minutes of Oilers' hockey.
I played for Capsule. I played shinny. I played road hockey with the boy and a neighbour. I read four books. I celebrated my birthday by going out for dinner at Foxley's (highly recommended) followed by drinks and dancing with Jenn and friends and then a night at a hotel while the inlaws wrangled our little ones. I took the kids skating with my father in law. I read books to my youngest. I went to a neighbour's for New Years and rang in 2014 with my two youngest and a bunch of folks from our wonderful little street. I ate a lot. I drank a lot. I napped a lot. I went to a friend's and watched the Winter Classic with friends. I laughed a lot.
It was an excellent week and a half. I hope that your own holidays, whether they were a day or still in process, were as good.
The Oilers weren't really a part of them.
Which is probably why they were so good.
Posted by Black Dog at 10:21 AM