I think something has finally snapped in me.
For over thirty years I have cheered, celebrated and supported
the team on the north end of the QE2.
I’ve followed them through ups and downs and then what was
supposed to be a whole lot more up.
But the up never came. In fact, it seemed my team found new and previously unexplored depths.
Like a stone washed by a thousand thousand tides, I have
been worn thin by the relentless drudgery of my hockey team.
Since they embarked on their ballyhooed rebuild I’ve been
waiting ten long years and the closest this team has come to turning North was
in a lockout-shortened season where they climbed all the way to 24th
place in a 30-team league riding unsustainable percentages and ridiculous rookie scoring.
They have drafted 1st overall more times than any
other team in the history of the NHL.
Four times they have had a 1st overall selection.
Four times they have had the opportunity to select the best
player of his draft year.
And in that time this team hasn’t moved the dial one iota.
Sure, they’ve drafted Taylor Hall, Oscar Klefbom, Ryan
Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, Leon Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse, and most recently
the once-in-a-generation Connor McDavid.
You know where they’re going to finish this year? Damn near
last again.In fact, it is taking the combined efforts and intellect of Lou Lamoriello, Mike Babcock, Brendan Shanahan and Kyle Dubas to steer a team below the Oilers and even they are having a hard time finding a way to do it.
If the NHL had relegation rules the Oilers would be on their
way to playing in the Betty Crocker Regional Auxiliary Ball Hockey and Baking
And it isn’t as though this team has entirely sucked at
drafting either. I mean they picked Tobias Reider, Eric Gustafsson and Martin
Marincin in the later rounds, so that’s good right?
Wrong. Because they refused to sign Reider over $100,000
(but they gave $9 million to Nikita Nikitin) and today he is emerging as a terrific
two-way depth forward who is excelling at penalty killing and shorthanded
They decided they didn’t want to sign Gustafsson after
drafting him. Guess where he is now? Playing 2nd pairing minutes on
the Blackhawks defense. So he must not be very good, right?
And Marincin? Well after spending five years developing him
they traded the former 2nd round pick for a 4th rounder
and a player they immediately declined to sign in Brad Ross. Today? Marincin is
getting all kinds of love from Mike Babcock as a really good young top four defenseman
rounding into his own.That 4th round pick was flipped for Eric Gryba who may or may not be re-signed this summer.
So you know what? I’m done. Why should I stay loyal to a
team that can’t even manage to climb out of the bottom five teams in the league
for an entire decade nor identify an NHL player when they are
literally standing right in front of them.
Remember how bad the Islanders were for so long? We all
laughed at Wang and Snow and how mismanaged that team was.
I wish my team was the Islanders right now, okay. It is THAT
Remember in 2012 when the Oilers won the draft lottery to
select Nail Yakupov the same year they won that much-anticipated bidding war
for star college player Justin Schultz?
And how has that gone?
Or the following summer when Dallas Eakins was the
Next-Big-Thing-In-Coaching. Oilers got him over the Vancouver Canucks, so a win
for the old blue and orange, right?
So then I look down south and see this Flames team that from
2013 to 2016 turned over not only most of their roster, but also a big chunk of
their management team, retooled virtually all of their prospect base and had a
magical playoff run last year.
The Flames have a core group with three young centers in
Bennett, Monahan and Backlund, a top-pairing defense of Brodie and Giordano,
with Hamilton right behind them, and one of the best young wingers in the
league right now in Gaudreau.
And where did the Flames come by all these players again?
The highest they have drafted, ever, is 4th
overall. Sam Bennett came by that way. Monahan was 6th. Brodie and
Gaudreau were 4th round picks. That’s right. The 4th
round. You know who the Oilers took before either of those players? Johan
Motin, Travis Ewanyk and David Musil.
And the Flames’ captain? Signed as a free agent.
The Oilers’ captain? Also signed as a free agent, but you
know where he’s been all season long? A healthy scratch because his contract
means the team can’t buy him out.
That’s right. The captain of the Edmonton Oilers has been
essentially mothballed because the team is better without him than with.
The Flames’ captain has been in the talk for Norris
contention the last few years.
Let me put it this way, in 2007 the Oilers drafted three players in the first round, Sam Gagner 6th overall, Alex Plante 15th overall, and Riley Nash 21st overall. Meanwhile, the Flames took Mikael Backlund 24th overall. Plante is playing in Europe, Nash is a depth center for the Hurricanes, and Gagner is trying to pluck what is left of his career off the trash heap after being traded, bought out and waived several times the past two years. Backlund is…well, Mikael Backlund.
Last year the Flames traded their 1st and 2nd
round picks to the Bruins for Dougie Hamilton who has emerged as a good, 2nd
pairing defender who can play a regular shift on the powerplay.
The Oilers traded their 1st and 2nd
round picks to the Islanders for Griffin Reinhart, a defenseman who hasn’t been
good enough to crack one of the worst defense rosters in the league and has
been passed by college free-agents and AHL-ers.
This year the Oilers have sputtered and faltered their way
through another season, beset by injuries and poor performances, they once
again are in the running for that coveted 1st overall draft
For those of you following along, that would make five. FIVE
1st overall selections. Not just in team history stretching back
decades. No, it would make FIVE 1ST OVERALL SELECTIONS SIX YEARS!
And speaking of draft selections, this year the NHL is doing
things a little differently.
The bottom 14 teams all have a chance to move up not just to
1st overall, but to 1st, 2nd or 3rd
overall. That’s right, the 12th, 13th and 14th
place teams by draft order could conceivably pick 1st, 2nd
and 3rd, bypassing all the teams that were worse off.
The league passed these new rules specifically because of
the example set over the past six years by the Edmonton Oilers.
That’s right, the Oilers are now trolling the rest of the
entire league with their horribleness to the extent that it has ruined the
draft party for everyone, so good luck to the next team that decides being bad is the best way to try and get some top-end talent.
Oh, you’re all very welcome.
But in spite of all that you just know that Auston Matthews
is going to end up an Oiler. Because the only time this team seems to win
anything is when dumb luck is the order of the day.
So that’s it. I’m done. I can’t take it anymore and I’ve
decided to look elsewhere for a team upon which to pin my hopes.
A team that has a young core, solid defense, knows it’s
backside from a bicycle seat on NHL talent
That’s right. I’ve decided to become a Calgary Flames’ fan.
Happy First of April, Flamesnation!