Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I Know A Thing Or Two About Winning! A Flat Circle of Violence and Degradation.

The fun thing about bad teams is that even when they are bad they try and sell hope. They have to, of course, they are in the business of making money and if fans aren't paying for tickets then there is no (or less) money being made. So even when a team sucks the organization sells hope, wrapping that idea in whatever they can to make the shit sandwich that is on the ice more palatable. So its exciting hockey (!!!) or civic pride or loyalty or whatever they can use to keep the paying customer coming back until things turn the corner.

 In Edmonton they add nostalgia to the mix. Team sucks (thanks to Kevin Lowe), don't worry we will build a new team, just like they did in the 80s with youngsters like Kevin Lowe, that will take us back to those glory days. Just never mind that the guy who drove the team into the ditch is still around overseeing everything that  is going on.

 When Kevin Lowe began to dismantle the very nice club he built that came within a break or two of winning the Stanley Cup and some of us would point out that he was a fuckup people would always say 'why do you question Kevin Lowe about hockey? He won six Stanley Cups. He knows what he's doing!' and hilariously last spring when the club was wrapping up its seventh straight season out of the playoffs Lowe fired Tambellini and installed MacT as GM and then when the media began asking him some very pointed questions he went on his famous rant saying just that.

 Like Rustin Cohle says 'Time is a flat circle of violence and degradation'. Or was it 'The thing I like about prospects is that I get older but they stay the same age.' Whichever one it is it fits the Oilers.

Edmonton Oilers 2007 - present

Length - 8 seasons and counting

Losing Seasons - 6 (take out OT and SO wins and losses and certainly its 8)

Bottom Five In the League - 4 (I'm including this season)

Last Overall - 2

Worst Season - 2010/2011 25 wins for 62 points 

Playoff Appearances - 0

Playoff Wins - 0

Weirdness - Unlike nearly every other team on the list the Oilers started from a position of strength, a team full of players in their prime that came within a goal of the Cup. In the ultimate house into a paperclip story management turned a pretty good team into junk very quickly. Everyone associated with the team from the owner to the trainers has changed since the summer of 2006 except the guy most responsible for this mess.

Remarkably paranoid and tone deaf, the Oilers have blocked a critical media member's car in with a Zamboni, clumsily threatened a move from one of the most lucrative markets in hockey to get public funding for an arena for their billionaire owner, publicly spoken of different tiers of fans and used the local media (they make Pravda and Tass look like Now Magazine under the Ford Administration) to deride players who are no longer in the organization's plans.

Have we mentioned that the man responsible for this mess went on a famous rant about how much he knows about winning?

The Good - Somehow in a thirty team league the Oilers have been so bad and so unlucky and so lucky that they finished last over all twice and won the lottery the year they finished 29th thus giving them three straight number one picks overall. They also have had three other top ten picks and will have a lottery pick this year.

The Bad - Much like the Islanders the Oilers have made good picks but have already traded one (after botching his development), have another one who looks totally lost at sea in Nail Yakupov and generally are making a mess of it. Despite all of these picks the team is worse.

The Good - Billionaire owner Daryl Katz continues to sell out his rink and is getting a new one built for him, mostly through public money which is good because the Oilers are already one of the most profitable franchises in the league despite no playoff appearances in eight years wait what were we talking about again?

The Bad - Scott Howson came back to rejoin this management team after a number of years with Columbus. Why is this bad? They are on this list too and haven't shown up yet and we're at number six.

The Bad  - The Oilers have traded away a roster worth of good NHL players of all types and literally have nothing to show for it. Which explains why their roster is an inch deep and why they are garbage.

The Bad - Eight years into it it looks like the Oilers only need two top nine forwards (three if Yakupov continues to struggle), two top pairing D, a power play and a clue as to how to play in the NHL collectively, you know with the team play and the checking and consistent effort and the winning puck battles.

The Good - I think that's it so they should be ok.

The End Game - Still no idea. Its eight years out and the end is not in sight and it all depends on what you think of MacT. You look at Gordon and Scrivens and Perron and think he knows what he is doing and then you hear the Clarkson contract talk and you think about the Islanders and then you get really sad. Right now these guys are in sixth place but they are on the cusp of top five and if Taylor Hall were ever to ask out then the sky's the limit BABY!!

Why They Aren't Ranked Higher - Believe me I think they deserve it except ... well if you want to talk about degradation wait until you see the top five. The Oilers may very well get there but they have a few years to go yet. (In other words we'll revisit this in 2020 when they hit number one)

What We Have Learned - You would think that these truths are self evident but apparently not. If you move out NHL players of quality for nothing but picks that don't turn out and prospects who suck then your team will suck. Success as a player, no matter how much, does not qualify you to run an enormous business.

1 comment:

Jana said...

Great summation of our failings Pat. You could include holding onto MacT as a coach too long and with Rollie's excellent (ahem) goaltending, made the team seem better than they were.
Also the Edmonton Investors Group was not helpful ownership. These guys had money but not enough at any given time and so when players got good enough to deserve a raise, they had to go because we couldn't afford them. When the cap system came in, Lowe looked like a hero after securing Pronger and Peca. They still couldn't get their act together until they were mathematically included in the spot 8 in 2006. They certainly didn't win themselves a spot. To use MacT's words when he was a coach - this has been a debacle of biblical proportions. The old boys club hasn't helped this team - case and point, our assistant coaching staff.
MacT's done okay so far as GM. As long as he doesn't listen overly much to Lowe and tries to talk some sense into Katz.
Just call the dogs in and leave the herding of cats to Toronto and now Vancouver!