On Choosing to Lose
David Staples thinks the Oilers will get the last laugh after reading Jay Feaster’s response to a fan who wondered why the Flames didn’t decide to adopt a scorched earth policy last year. Here’s what Feaster had to say:
“I’m sorry — Edmonton finished where last year, caller? Want to wager on where we finish relative to Edmonton this year? I’m tired of this question, I’ll tell you very honestly. I’m getting a little sour. How many teams . . . every year, for the last 10 years, five years, eight years, have finished in the bottom five, bottom seven, bottom 10? They’ve had a pick anywhere from No. 1 to No. 10 year after year after year after year, and they still wander in the desert. And they’re no closer to getting out than they were 10 years ago.
“You know what? I look forward to the Battle of Alberta for the next X number of years. If the idea is, ‘Burn it to the ground,’ then (Flames president) Ken (King) can find another manager to do it.”
Staples responds by noting that 1) Calgary is going nowhere fast, and 2) in two years, the Oilers will have the better team. Even though I agree on the first count and I won’t be surprised if David is right on the second, he is still ignoring the issue. The question is whether the Edmonton model is the correct one, if Calgary should have followed that path last year.
And I think Feaster is right. Were the Oilers right to blow it all up? No regrets with the Smyth trade and the subsequent moves that brought the Oilers to this point? It has been a four year rebuilding project – five out of the playoffs – with no end yet in sight. Even if Staples is right and the Oilers pass the Flames in 2012-13, that does not necessarily make them a playoff team after six years of wandering in the desert. The St. Louis Blues were the first post lockout team to “blow it all up” and six years later they still look like a team that is going nowhere. Years of pain and lost seasons can only possibly be worth it if the result is a genuine contender and the Oilers are miles away. They may never get there with this crew.
Brian Burke has endured a lot of criticism in the Leaf media for not adopting the Oiler model when he came to Toronto, but as his remake of the Leafs enters its third year, he looks like having an outside chance at a playoff spot. Did the Bruins suck for years to get to where they are? Did the Canucks? The Wings? The Sharks?
It isn’t hard to imagine that the Oilers will be a lot better than the Flames in five years, but a lot of water will flow under the bridge between now and then. We can’t say for sure. I can say that, as a fan, I don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about where my team will be in five years.
All Feaster is saying is, “I’m not going to choose to lose until I hopefully find a franchise player in the draft. I think choosing to lose is a stupid strategy.”