Bromides

Jonathan Willis
March 31 2009 12:00PM

Moreau

Certain bromide salts were once used medicinally as a mild sedative. It's an apt description for the vast majority of interviews with players in professional sports, although it's particularly applicable to the NHL.

The quest for "consistency" is one of these banalities that are trotted out for the media; very rarely after a win of course, because consistency isn't actually what these teams are looking for. Matt at Battle of Alberta made this point very well awhile back so I'm not going to get into it any further; suffice to say that when most players say they want consistency they mean that they want to consistently be better than their average performance.

Jim Matheson reaches for the consistency label in his latest piece, although he uses it in the context of the team consistently being hard to play against:

But were they harder to play against, consistently, with less skill? Yes, they were, although Moreau qualifies it. "We're in the same position as we were then, but we just looked better. In the past we had a bit different makeup, more experience up front, guys who could elevate their games, but having said that, we were still in the same position then with a less talented, more physical, hard-working team."

(bolding mine)

That quote's both good and bad; a frequent thing for Moreau. I've seen him say incredibly insightful things, and been mystified by other comments. I have two mild issues with that quote, both of which are bolded:

1) guys elevating their games 2) less-talented team

On the first point, one of the many problems with the platitudes we discussed earlier is that they occasionally contradict each other, or (as in this case) reveal that neither platitude is sincerely meant. In this case, the question becomes: which is a greater virtue - a player elevating his game or being consistent? Because if a player elevates his game for the playoffs, he's been playing at a lesser level during the season. Do general managers really want to see players at less than their full effort level over the 82-game schedule? On the other hand, a player who consistently shows the same level of performance is not a "clutch" player - he doesn't elevate his game when the playoffs are near. Do general managers really want their players to be unable to take that next step?

It's a fun paradox, with the simplest explanation being (in my opinion) that people tend to put far too much weight in hokey theories about "clutch players", "consistency" and a thousand other oft-repeated adages. Some of those adages have a basis in reality; others have just become so traditional that they're repeated and believed without thought.

On the second point, were the Oilers of the past really less talented? There isn't a forward on the team (including Ales Hemsky) with a career that matches Doug Weight's. If, on the other hand we jump past Weight's time with the team, we're left with only a span of 2002-04; a time span where the team included Anson Carter/Radek Dvorak, Mike Comrie, Dan Cleary and Mike York. The argument could be made that Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson are more talented players right now than Comrie, Carter, Dvorak and York were then, but that argument is clearly wrong. It's a narrative, and an inaccurate narrative at that.

On the other hand, Moreau does point to experience, and there he is on to something. The Oilers of those years didn't boast a lot of top-end talent, but they did have a lot of older players; veterans who cheated to defense, players who made a career out of playing good positional hockey. That point is what illustrates the chief problem with the bulk of the Oilers' roster:

Youth.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#1 Archaeologuy
March 31 2009, 01:09PM
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*furrows brow, searches his library for now dusty Dictionary, Bromide...Platitude...Banalities*

Willis youve been gone and I'm used to reading Wanye. You should have re-entered the Nation slowly and kept the words to 2 syllables or less. My thinking pants are in the laundry.

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#2 Caloilfan
March 31 2009, 01:24PM
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this is probably the world's worst place to do this, but does anyone wanna buy tickets for Thursday's game? I figured I'd offer them to the Nation before trying stubhub or something...they are nosebleed seats - section 301, top row, but center ice - certainly not the worst seats in RX1. $48 / each...I've got seats 1&2.

call or txt four oh three eight three five zero five sixty six

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#3 Jonathan Willis
March 31 2009, 01:24PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

Surely that masters degree is good for something! And in all fairness, I did explain "bromide" ;)

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#4 I'm a Scientist!
March 31 2009, 01:40PM
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@ Archaeologuy: @ Jonathan Willis: I guess Jonathon Willis missed the smarty pants new stat of Ch/Gr. Masters degree is totally more than wall art today Arch!

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#5 Jonathan Willis
March 31 2009, 01:57PM
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I'm a Scientist! wrote:

I guess Jonathon Willis missed the smarty pants new stat of Ch/Gr.

I did... I haven't been following ON at all this weekend (buddy's wedding).

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#6 Robin Brownlee
March 31 2009, 01:59PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

FFS, Jon. Wanye's world is imploding in front of us. He's torn between locking the garage door, firing up his 1984 Dodge Diplomat and slipping Don't Fear The Reaper into the 8-track or showing up at Rexall Place with C4 taped to his backside and his finger on the button and you're going all egghead on us? Bromides?

If you found yourself at Bike Week in Sturgis at a party with the Hell's Angels and people were doing burnouts inside the local tavern, drinking quarts of beer and every hot chick in the joint was flashing her breasts, would you get into it, or crack open the Encyclopedia Britannica and treat everybody to a narrative on the history of the two-stroke engine?

This is no time for reason.

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#7 I'm a Scientist!
March 31 2009, 02:05PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Not to worry... you will hear about it soon enough!

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#8 Jonathan Willis
March 31 2009, 02:08PM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

I'll be sure to grunt an apology to Wanye when I see him.

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#9 Jonathan Willis
March 31 2009, 02:09PM
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@ I'm a Scientist!:

No time like the present...

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#10 Archaeologuy
March 31 2009, 02:16PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Dude, the U of A hands out degrees like beads at Mardi Gras, I cant be held responsible for the cheap education that I received. Truthfully, I knew all those words (minus Platitude) but it seems like forever since I've read any of them on the site. Welcome back.

ps. A Master's Degree in the Arts is relatively useless. If you apply for anything that does not specifically request a MA people look at you like youre from the moon. The dead look in their eyes as they look over my resume is only rivalled by the dead look in the eyes of the Oilers these days.

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#11 Jeff B
March 31 2009, 02:19PM
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Less talent than average and still up against the cap for the forseeable future... Young players without any meaningful playoff experience or the hope of any in the near future... I think I must have taken some of this bromide stuff...

Of course, a big win tonight and my attitude could do a 180, unless Nashville also wins...

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#12 Archaeologuy
March 31 2009, 02:34PM
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This is how the new stat has flushed itself out Willis.

Jay wrote: hitting = cheering scoring = cheering scoring chances = cheering sweet dangles = cheering

missed passes = silence/groans giveaways = silence/groans penalties = silences/groans

Judging by this scientologically approved formula, one can see exactly why there is little cheering at Rexall these days

Wanye wrote: @ Jay:

I have taken a preliminary look at your calculations and they seem to be valid. We will need our resident scienticians to give this a read:

Archaeologuy, Iamascientist! thoughts on this?

I chimed in: I’m sending this one through I’m a Scientist!’s binary translation devise, to give it more credibility.

And again: The only other thing I could add to the formula is that any of the items on the list of the same Groan/Cheer value (from here on out understood as the symbols Ch or Gr)executed consecutively increases the value of Ch or Gr exponentially.

I'm a Scientist re-calibrates the equation: *adjusts glasses*

Well, after running the formula through my computer, and crunching the numbers i find that there is one missing part of the equation. Mostly Jay was correct, but he must have forgotten to carry the one.

*clears throat and adjusts glasses nervously again*

The missing part is this:

Monkeys = cheering

*awaits applause*

I make some claims that likely cant be followed through on: sir, wait no longer because you’ve earned it. I’m faxing this work off to the Nobel commitee of Hockey statistics.

WE FINALLY BEAT WILLIS ON A STAT!

Nevermind Corsi, +/-, G, A, P, SO, or even W, L, OTL. Ladies and gentlemen, we have developed a trackable stat that appeals to the whole world. These stats will even make it possible to compare players from different sports to each other (once we develop Ch/Gr values for Baseball, Soccer, and Football).

I'm a Scientist agrees that we're the smartest people on Earth: @ Archaeologuy: Make sure you name is included in the nobel prize application form. The creation of the Ch/Gr factor is pure and simple genius. I knew there were smart people on this site before, but this is beyond my expectations.

I make sure that credit goes around as long as I dont have to share a statue: @ I’m a Scientist!: We cant leave out Wanye or Jay either. Well we could and people would take our word over theirs, but I can share a Nobel prize…unless they only give one medal to share. It better be like the Oscars where they make enough statues to go around.

I'm a Scientist! agrees: *grabs some paper, an erasable ink pen and starts to compose his speech, making sure to thank both Wayne Gretz and the Academy*

I hope the prize includes monkeys that are trained to shoot imaginary AK47’s in the air as a celebration. It would be difficult to share that with the others because it would just be so damn cool. Sacrifices I guess. Jay DID build the foundation and 4 of the walls, all we did was put a roof on it and let it roll.

And that's how the Ch/Gr factor came to be

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#13 I'm a Scientist!
March 31 2009, 02:42PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

And that’s how the Ch/Gr factor came to be

That is like watching the birth of Jesus. Painful but Earth shattering at the same time...

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#14 Peter Pan
March 31 2009, 02:47PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

@ Jonathan Willis: FFS, Jon. - you’re going all egghead on us? Bromides? - would you get into it, or crack open the Encyclopedia Britannica and treat everybody to a narrative on the history of the two-stroke engine? This is no time for reason.

HAHAHAHAHAAA!!!

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#15 David S
March 31 2009, 02:47PM
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Nice post Jonathan. I couldn't agree more. To the same line of thought, I imagine MacT has known this since game 1. He's been hooped from the get-go and taking the brunt of the fan criticism this year when Lowe has merrily gone on his way. I hope MacT gets a HUGE severance bonus. He deserves it.

BTW - lucid thoughts are still welcome on the most important game day of the year.

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#16 Ogden Brother
March 31 2009, 02:47PM
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Bang on Jonathan, this team is going to live and die with it's youth. Two more years before we are a serious threat to win a playoff round.

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#17 Jonathan Willis
March 31 2009, 02:48PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

Thank you for that. It's epic.

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#18 Archaeologuy
March 31 2009, 02:50PM
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@ I'm a Scientist!: I should know, I was there. You think a regular birth is tough to watch? That glowing disc over his head was the same size at birth as it was at his death...and re-birth! Should have saved the cord, those stem cells could have gone far...

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#19 JRocks247
March 31 2009, 03:03PM
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This edition of the Oilers has me more confused than Micheal Jackson in a whore house... pleeze o pleeze show up tonight, gimmie something to cheer about! Even if it's a cross check to Pronger's face

LET'S GO OILERS!

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#20 Archaeologuy
March 31 2009, 03:05PM
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JRocks247 wrote:

pleeze o pleeze show up tonight, gimmie something to cheer about! Even if it’s a cross check to Pronger’s face

A cross-check to the face of Pronger in Edmonton has a +10 Ch value.

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#21 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
March 31 2009, 03:10PM
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Since when does Jim Matheson write for the Herald?

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#22 Jonathan Willis
March 31 2009, 03:16PM
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@ Jack "FMNF" Bauer:

IIRC, the Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal are both CanWest newspapers.

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#23 Mike
March 31 2009, 03:33PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

ps. A Master’s Degree in the Arts is relatively useless

Noooooooo, really? :)

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#24 Archaeologuy
March 31 2009, 03:41PM
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@ Mike: ouch. It was fun while it lasted, I just happened to graduate in a time of financial turmoil. I get a discount on my car insurance too, i guess. And if I want i only need another 4 years to make everyone call me Doctor.

I did it mostly for the ladies. Once they find out you speak 2 dead languages they cant help themselves...sigh.

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#25 5Cups without another in sight
March 31 2009, 03:42PM
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Moreau's as well the other vets comments of the past couple of days only serve to underscore the divide in the room. The vets do not understand what it is like to actually have skill (Moreau being the case in point) and the kids don't really understand what it is like to have had to grind out a career like the Strudwicks, Moreaus and Staios' of this team. As far as all of their interviews go, they are both blaming each other. One group saying they don't work hard enought, the other saying they are not good enough. Don't think they have had this problem before with such a divide in the room. Moreau has not been able to instill his ethic on the team because he has lost respect for both his lack of discipline and ability.

All in all, they are a mess! Suppose they still have a shot so Go Oil! but I don't see it being a good summer for them to stay in Edmonton

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#26 Andrew
March 31 2009, 03:59PM
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Youth is also another bromide.

There are several teams with a younger average age than the Oilers (ie Chicago) that are doing very well.

Try skill.

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#27 Clarkenstein
March 31 2009, 04:05PM
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A team that's 4 games under .500 shouldn't be in the playoffs anyway... but I digress... what is with these big numbers beside each blogger's name. Is there a prize for being number 50,000??? May I suggest 2 prizes... first place would be 2 tickets to an Oil game and second prize would be 4 tickets!! I may even have the tickets to give.

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#28 Quinn
March 31 2009, 04:45PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Mike: ouch. It was fun while it lasted, I just happened to graduate in a time of financial turmoil. I get a discount on my car insurance too, i guess. And if I want i only need another 4 years to make everyone call me Doctor. I did it mostly for the ladies. Once they find out you speak 2 dead languages they cant help themselves…sigh.

Sounds like so much alte Geschichte to me.

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#29 David S
March 31 2009, 04:46PM
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Andrew wrote:

Youth is also another bromide. There are several teams with a younger average age than the Oilers (ie Chicago) that are doing very well. Try skill.

Try heart.

None of these "skilled" wunderkinds ever had to try for anything. They breezed (relatively) through junior and barely broke a sweat getting into the NHL. Now it's the big boys league and they're woefully unprepared to play with the big boys. The best learning experience that could happen to this team is to make it into the playoffs and get scraped off of Detroit's boots. I suspect that's been the plan all along.

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#30 Quinn
March 31 2009, 04:47PM
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Cursed interweb - it was supposed to show my sadness over my failure to get a job in the history factory that the profs at UofA promised me.

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#31 Archaeologuy
March 31 2009, 05:00PM
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@ Quinn: ahh the old history factory. I heard they tore that down to put in a sociology mill.

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#32 AlBundy
March 31 2009, 05:37PM
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Well boys and Sandra,it's off to the game I go. My sign says "Oilernation rocks". Let's see if I can get it in. I bet no.

I truly believe the boys will come out flying tonight and win big, probably 4-1. Roli will play great and be first star, J.F. and Zack will both fight tonight, Captain Oh Captain will take a couple of penalties but they will be good for the team.

Princess Hemmer will be flying. Cogs will win every draw, Sammer will not give up the puck once, and Sourey will score from the point.

My throat is going to be sore from hollering the whole game- Here we go Oilers here we go.

Now, for some unknown reason if they come out flat are are losing bad, it will be KLOWE MUST GO!

I feel sorry for MacT, what else can he do. Do you think he will get promoted in the organization or leave for a coaching opportunity elsewhere?

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#33 Quinn
March 31 2009, 05:43PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

Things could be worse, we could be 'geers.

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#34 Jonathan Willis
March 31 2009, 05:46PM
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David S wrote:

None of these “skilled” wunderkinds ever had to try for anything. They breezed (relatively) through junior and barely broke a sweat getting into the NHL.

Ummm... beyond Gagner and Hemsky, who are we talking about here? Maybe you want to toss Cogliano in too (though he didn't play junior), but I'm really not seeing what you mean.

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#35 Quinn
March 31 2009, 05:48PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

David S wrote: None of these “skilled” wunderkinds ever had to try for anything. They breezed (relatively) through junior and barely broke a sweat getting into the NHL. Ummm… beyond Gagner and Hemsky, who are we talking about here? Maybe you want to toss Cogliano in too (though he didn’t play junior), but I’m really not seeing what you mean.

Maybe he means the skill types too good to T. Peterson it up~

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#36 Archaeologuy
March 31 2009, 05:59PM
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Quinn wrote:

Things could be worse, we could be ‘geers.

yeah, at least I know enough of the Queen's English to express my inability to find meaningful employment on free and anonymous interwebs. In your face people who make enough to pay bills!

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#37 David S
March 31 2009, 06:55PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote: Ummm… beyond Gagner and Hemsky, who are we talking about here? Maybe you want to toss Cogliano in too (though he didn’t play junior), but I’m really not seeing what you mean.

Quinn wrote:

Maybe he means the skill types too good to T. Peterson it up~

Yeah. Along what Quinn said. But after I put this down I was thinking this post was overreaching a bit too. Maybe Nilsson in that mix, but he did spend some time in-between. It's probably my utter inability to understand how guys who theoretically have the goods can play so far below their ability. Sometimes I have alot of empathy for MacT because he must feel like that 10X.

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#38 Michael
April 01 2009, 03:18AM
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Regarding elevating your game. I think a better way to describe it would be matching the level of the game and your position. Who cares if you elevate your game in a 10-2 drubbing? A hat-trick? No big deal. Two goals in a tight game with the 9th place team on the last day of the regular season though. HUGE. Maybe you didn't play better but you got it done when it mattered. That's clutch.

I can't agree with your talent argument though. Although Weight may have been more talented than our best forward (Hemmer) is now (and that's a big IF if you ask me), generally the rest of the forward line up was about even. Goaltending was better one or two years when Joseph / Salo were doing well, but that's marginal. The big key for me is I can't find a D line up that is close to matching the Oilers this year in skill. The closest is 97-98 with Hamrlik, Niinimaa and Bobo. Can you argue that they match up to Souray, Vis, Greb and Gilbert? And that's not even mentioning Drake Berehowsky, Bob Dollas and Greg DeVries. Smid is more skilled than any of them, Staios and Struds are probably on par.

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