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.
So did anyone expect a different result tonight? I know I didn’t. I said in the last post that the mini-camp wouldn’t be successful because the end result was the same players and the same team leadership (or lack thereof). I was right. The Nashville Predators beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-3 which was flattering to the Oilers in the end.
It appears that many of the Blue and Copper faithful are feeling the same way. I usually follow Oilers tweets on Twitter during the games and it was pretty consensual tonight that most fans didn’t expect any difference. Many had similar reasons; others were just hoping the Oilers continue losing to get the best chance at the first pick this summer in the NHL entry draft.
If I remember correctly, there are 2 terms going around for this idea. The “Fall for Hall” was one and the other was the “Dive for a Top 5”. I think I like the “Fall for Hall” the best. If this is the way you are thinking right now then you will be happy to know that the Carolina Hurricanes won tonight leaving them only 2 points back of the Oilers for dead last in the league.
Do the Oilers have a chance now to make the playoffs this season? As I said before, only if and when the sun starts rising in the west.
I did expect, at least, the Oilers to come out for the first 1 or 2 games and play like they had learned something in the mini-camp before they fell back into their old habits. It actually only took 5 minutes for those old habits to creep back into their game and by the 5:27 mark, 2 giveaways and some weak goaltending and they were down 2-0. That was pretty much it.