Charlie Sheen talked all of 2011 about “WINNING” and for 2 ½ years the Edmonton Oilers have been talking about building a “WINNING” mentality and rebuilding this once proud and winning franchise by drafting talented winners. The problem with that whole scenario is that you need to fill the rest of the team with winners. The Oilers are failing to do that.
Last night the 28th place Oilers were humiliated at home by the 29th place Anaheim Ducks. They were embarrassed, shamed and disgraced in front of their paying fans. Other than Taylor Hall and Sam Gagner, the team were just bodies on the ice. The so called leaders of this team are so used to losing that they are fine with getting spanked every night.
Like many true fans, I was resigned to the team losing more than their fair share for 3-4 years while the team built a winning team, but like most, I will not be satisfied with losing the way they did last night. This team showed no heart or desire to win. NO GUTS!! Even after Sam Gagner went toe to toe with Francois Beauchemin, bloodying his face and knuckles in the process, the team didn’t show up to support his effort. Gagner’s fight is one more than Ben Eager has this season. Ben Eager was signed by this team to give the team grit and toughness yet other than taking stupid penalties and scoring the odd goal, he has done nothing to help this team. Like Eager, Darcy Hordichuk was also signed to add the grit and toughness but he too has been a huge failure. When your best player (Taylor Hall) gets run and the only guy who has the balls to stick up for his team mate is Sam Gagner, you know this team doesn’t care.
The problem is they don’t care on more than one level. They don’t seem to care about winning or losing and more importantly they don’t seem to care about each other. When team mates see a player like Hall being lined up for an annihilating hit and Gagner is the only one to defend him, your team doesn’t care. Beauchemin should have been made to pay for his attempt more than once. The whole team should have played harder and hit him harder for the rest of the game. Instead they treated it as if was a tiddlywinks match.
This team needs a quick infusion of heart, desire and caring or they will be finishing 30th for a 3rd straight year. Veterans like Horcoff, Smyth, Hemsky, Sutton and Belanger need to start playing like veterans…like leaders. How are the young players supposed to feel good about themselves or their team when the players they look up to don’t bother to show up?
I am willing to give this team until the end of this year to start showing improvement and start caring for themselves as players and for the team. While I don’t expect them to win more than they lose yet, I will not accept a team who has given up and just shows up. Losing because you aren’t good enough is expected at this point of the rebuild, losing because you don’t try is not. This team better turn it around before the end of the season or heads better roll. The fans will not put up with a team that doesn’t care. And the head rolling had better start at the top with the Lowe, Tambellini and the entire coaching staff replaced by a group who can get this team to care and win.