The Oilers. Ouch.
Wasn’t this the year that the Oilers were finally going to start delivering on the “We’re going to suck our way to success” strategy? Or was that last year? I forget. How long have they been rebuilding now? Seven years? Five? For as long as Kevin Lowe has been around? I forget that too.
It’s almost enough to make a guy feel sorry for the fans in Edmonton. They’ve been at this for what seems like forever and they still don’t look like a hockey team. At what point do the fans sit up and say, “How did Colorado suddenly become the team of the future?” The Avalanche went the full rebuilding route at about the same time as the Oilers and they look to be miles ahead despite the fact that Edmonton has had superior draft position. Even the Leafs – where Brian Burke was criticised for refusing to adopt the scorched earth strategy – are clearly a better team than Edmonton five years later.
(And yes, I realize that Toronto is probably not as good as their record, just like I know New Jersey is supposed to be a lot better than they are given their secondary statistics. Corsi numbers may signal different results for both teams in the long run but all the games are played in the short run. And the short run is a lot longer than we think. Leaf fans are happy to be enjoying the present.)
Even Calgary – with their own rebuilding project just underway – is well ahead of Edmonton in the standings so far. Is it possible that the Flames will again be the best team in Alberta this year? Would that make for some salt in the Oiler wounds?
For all their lousiness, the Oilers have found one terrific player (Taylor Hall) and a few more good players. The early story this season has been goaltending, but I think Dubnyk is at least decent and is probably capable of being a quality starter on a better team.
The Oilers are surely better than they appear to us now. They might even go on a run like the one the Avalanche are enjoying and get back into the playoff fight. But they had better hurry because the season slips away very quickly – they already have to go 40-22-12 the rest of the way to get to 95 points. I don’t think that even Kevin Lowe is stupid enough to trade Nail Yakupov for James Reimer or Ryan Miller but I do think he is dumb enough to make some sort of a panic trade if the Oilers don’t turn it around soon.
My solution to Oiler problems hasn’t changed in 15 years. Will another disastrous season finally be the last straw for Kevin Lowe?
We can only hope. Even Oiler fans deserve better.