Is The Dive For Five Disloyal?

Jonathan Willis
January 18 2010 12:48PM

Anyone who has spent any time around Oilers Nation over the past few months know about the Dive For Five, The Fall For Hall, Don’t Win For Seguin, Foul For Fowler and the various other names used to express a desire for the Oilers to lost a lot and end up with a high-end draft pick.

Well, over at TSN, Dave Hodge is quietly raging at all the Oilers fans who support any of the above programs.

 

My thumb is down to the Taylor Hall sweepstakes, which do exist in spite of the fact that Toronto isn't involved. Usually, we're accused of paying too much attention to the issue of "tanking" to get a number one draft pick, because it's a Toronto issue, but now, it's an Edmonton issue where Hall is concerned, and they are following it in Edmonton. It's easy to find a so-called Oilers fan who was happy with Saturday's loss in San Jose because it kept the Oilers only two points ahead of last-place Carolina. I say this every year - the NHL should pick the draft order out of a hat containing the names of all 14 non-playoff teams - no advantage to finishing last, no need to wonder how hard the 30th-place team is trying to avoid 29th place.

 

(bolding mine)

I can get behind the general idea that the worst team in the league shouldn’t get the best pick, for the sake of competitive integrity. I also understand that from a business perspective, the NHL needs to be able to sell hope to fans in Atlanta, Tampa Bay, New York, and until recently Pittsburgh and Chicago. But that isn’t the issue.

I take issue with a reporter like Hodge implying that someone is less of a fan because he or she approves of losing for a first round pick. The Oilers this season, and every season since 2006, have been blessed with a combination of injuries and managerial incompetence. That combination of blessings, up until now, has resulted in a delightful combination of no playoff appearances and no lottery picks, locking the Oilers into a loop of ineptitude, like this:

1. Manager puts together a poor team -> 2. Team struggles to stay in the playoff chase -> 3. Manager sells at the deadline -> 4. Team falls, but not into the lottery -> 5. Team gets good, not great pick -> 6. See 1. -> 7. See 2. -> 8. Having traded pick back in step 6, Manager does not much -> 9. See 4. -> 10. Other team gets good, not great, pick -> 11. See 1. -> 12. Manager is promoted, replaced by another manager satisfied with the poor team -> 13. See 2. -> 14. Manager buys and sells at deadline -> 15. Team See 4. -> 16. See 5. -> 17. See 1. -> 18. ???

What can break the loop? Steps two, four and five are all derivative of steps one and three; they’re effects, not causes. Steps one and three are controlled by the manager. It all goes back to the manager.

But there’s hope. Let’s pretend, for a moment, that the manager spent all of last season evaluating the team. Let’s pretend that he went out over the summer and spent all the money he possibly could chasing free agents. Let’s pretend that he had high expectations – playoffs, at least – for his team out of training camp. Now, let’s pretend that despite his best efforts to ice a playoff team, he ices a spectacular failure; his prize acquisition ends up on the injured list (as he has every season since the lockout), his inability to fill simple holes at centre and on the penalty kill comes back to haunt him and aided by some injuries to injury-prone players, he finds his team is the worst in the conference.

Obviously, it would be nicer to break the cycle by putting together a good team, but given the track record of the people involved that seems unlikely. But the pattern we’ve described could result in a pair of wonderful changes: the acquisition a top-end talent through the draft, and the dismissal of the managers involved.

That’s the dream. A management reset and a franchise talent.

And I don’t care what Dave Hodge has to say about it. Because there’s no rule that says fans can’t look at the long-term picture. There's no disloyalty involved; it's just that sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 David S
January 18 2010, 03:39PM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

The truth of the matter is this:

*ahem*

The Oilers are not tanking to get the #1 pick. They just suck this year.

Not replacing our #1 goalie when he goes down for the season.

Not making small moves to replace borderline NHL'ers (JFJ, Stone) with journeyman NHL'ers.

Pretty much not doing anything, the result being we suck.

The truth of the matter is, we ARE tanking. Personally I think its an insult to the players and the franchise, but by not doing the things so obviously needed to even ice a competitive team there seems to me to be no other explanation.

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#54 LBH
January 18 2010, 03:42PM
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rampage wrote:

Is it just me or does it seem that Tyler Seguin would be a better fit with the oil than taylor hall. Look at the wingers we have of hemsky penner (eberle and MSP assuming they make the team next year). Fairly solid/great future potential. The obvious holes are at center in the top 6. Sam Gagner could fill one of the spots but landing another top line center would be near impossible.

Rampage

Hall has been interviewed and said his natural position is C, and you always take the BPA at 1st pick. If Seguin is the BPA in the draft over Hall, then so be it, but if Hall is the BPA, then we better tbe taking Hall.

And doesn't Horcoff count as a top line C? *sarcasm* :P

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#55 Librarian Mike
January 18 2010, 03:44PM
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@David S

I'm sure Tambellini thought he hit a grand-slam by landing Heatley, and when it fell through he got all gun shy. He must just get the worst kind of flop sweats having to go into a presser and act like this is part of the plan.

I can imagine him sitting at his computer with the mouse icon hovering over 'send' on a bunch of Emails to other GMs. That, or everything's bouncing back because nobody wants to deal with him.

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#56 Dan the Man
January 18 2010, 03:45PM
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Do you think Dave Hodge really believes that what the fans cheer for actually happens? Does he really think that players read that fans are cheering for a lottery pick so they make a conscious decision to play poorly?

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#57 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 18 2010, 03:46PM
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LBH wrote:

Rampage

Hall has been interviewed and said his natural position is C, and you always take the BPA at 1st pick. If Seguin is the BPA in the draft over Hall, then so be it, but if Hall is the BPA, then we better tbe taking Hall.

And doesn't Horcoff count as a top line C? *sarcasm* :P

"Hall has been interviewed and said his natural position is C"

I was wondering about that, I thought for sure I remember him playing C... but then everything I've seen on him this year lists him at LW.

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#58 LBH
January 18 2010, 03:46PM
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@ JW

Don't forget having AHL talent starting on our team.

Stone, MAP, Jacques are not good enough to play at the NHL level, I'm sorry if people disagree with me, but they are not NHL quality even at the 4th line role.

This team could use a make over from the first line down, and keeping an AHL team on the ice for the next couple years will enable us to draft (hopefully) some NHL talent.

Even with adding Eberle/Hall (for arguments sake) and icing this same team, we'd still finish dead last barring a miracle (like Eberle/Hall leading the league in scoring).

This team needs some serious work, just curious if T-Lo realizes the same or not, or if he thinks he can plug holes like Special K has been trying to do for the last decade.

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#59 David S
January 18 2010, 03:50PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ David S:

It's hard to know. I thought the holes on the PK and down throughout the lineup were obvious from day one (J-F Jacques on the top line was a fun place to start), and they sure weren't tanking then.

Jonathan, even if you accepted the "let's see how these guys will play" strategy, its pretty obvious that we're well past the evaluation stage. Although some would disagree, I'd go so far as to include JDD and DD in that statement.

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#60 DonDon
January 18 2010, 03:56PM
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In response to HottScarrison's remark: "...add in the premier league (soccer) with the bottom 3 getting relegated down. Maybe that would encourage teams to not want to 'tank'. Also encourages accountability amongst mgt. I hope that all makes sense."

This is a great approach. Don't know if the owners of the bottom 3 teams would like it, but tweeking it by firing the general managers of the bottom 3 would certainly have a positive effect to clean up their messes.

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#61 Ducey
January 18 2010, 03:57PM
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Dave Hodge seems to have mixed up the fans and the team.

His concern is that a team may try to tank it. In Edmonton's case his evidence that the team is tanking is that an Oilers fan is happy with the team losing.

He ignores the reality that the Oilers really do suck that badly, have spent to the cap, have been hit with all manners of plagues and calamities, have their supposed #1 centre playing hurt, had a mini camp, etc.

I guess he would happier if we all gave up on any future hope for the Oil, stopped going to the games, and stopped having any reason to tune into TSN.

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#62 Wintoon
January 18 2010, 03:57PM
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Dave Hodge can say whatever he likes but so can Oiler fans. Personally, I don't believe the Oilers are tanking anything. They have a very mediocre hockey club that was hit with illness, injuries and slumps to key players all in the same year. Furthermore Seguin is probably of greater value than Hall given the holes we have at center ice.

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#63 Ender
January 18 2010, 03:58PM
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@Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

Just a scenario to think about; a team from the SE Division finishes the regular season with 90 points (just outside the playoffs) after a long year of playing weak conference and exceptionally weak divisional opponents. (And this is a hypothetical; anyone who feels the need to tell me how powerful the East or the SE is this year, save your breath.) Meanwhile, the Oilers also finish in ninth with 89 points, earning the majority of those against (in this scenario) much tougher competition. Under your proposal, the Eastern team would be rewarded with a top-2 pick in the draft while the Oil would get nothing. That's quite a difference that a single non-relative point in the standings is determining. You can argue that the best team earned the pick, but I think that you'd get a lot of fans every single year that would fail to see it that way. The NHL needs a lot of things, but something that polarizes fans in either the East/West who feel cheated is not one of them.

Maybe the 9th and 10th teams from both conferences have a mini-tourney for the one second-overall pick? That works for the fans and the owners, but you'd have to figure out some kind of a carrot to throw the players who are now playing in a meaningless (to them) postseason.

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#64 snoadog
January 18 2010, 03:58PM
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'Dive For Five, The Fall For Hall, Don’t Win For Seguin, Foul For Fowler' are all phases created with tongue firmly planted in cheek. All the fans know this. Does Hodge not know the source of irony, sarcasm and other rye humour? I doubt it.

He is on my ignore list.

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#65 LBH
January 18 2010, 04:06PM
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@Ender

@ Ender the Dragon

And to further your comments towards Oil Kings n Pretty Things

With the point system, how can this work when so many games are worth 3 points because of the SO's and the regulation games are worth less? That seems dramatically unfair as well with that approach.

The way it is now is completely fair for everyone, and doesn't need to be changed. What needs to change is Hodge's attitude because his Hero dealt away a potential #1 pick for the next 2 years, sounds like sour grapes to me.

Hodge, you're officially a tool, which tool, you can decide that one.

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#66 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 18 2010, 04:09PM
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David S wrote:

Jonathan, even if you accepted the "let's see how these guys will play" strategy, its pretty obvious that we're well past the evaluation stage. Although some would disagree, I'd go so far as to include JDD and DD in that statement.

Ya, I'd agree. Their should really be no more then 1-2 guys being "eveluated" on an NHL roster at a time. Roll players are/were just too cheap and too plentiful to waste spots evaluating guys like Stone in the NHL.

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#67 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
January 18 2010, 04:13PM
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Ender wrote:

Just a scenario to think about; a team from the SE Division finishes the regular season with 90 points (just outside the playoffs) after a long year of playing weak conference and exceptionally weak divisional opponents. (And this is a hypothetical; anyone who feels the need to tell me how powerful the East or the SE is this year, save your breath.) Meanwhile, the Oilers also finish in ninth with 89 points, earning the majority of those against (in this scenario) much tougher competition. Under your proposal, the Eastern team would be rewarded with a top-2 pick in the draft while the Oil would get nothing. That's quite a difference that a single non-relative point in the standings is determining. You can argue that the best team earned the pick, but I think that you'd get a lot of fans every single year that would fail to see it that way. The NHL needs a lot of things, but something that polarizes fans in either the East/West who feel cheated is not one of them.

Maybe the 9th and 10th teams from both conferences have a mini-tourney for the one second-overall pick? That works for the fans and the owners, but you'd have to figure out some kind of a carrot to throw the players who are now playing in a meaningless (to them) postseason.

Why not work it like our current lottery system, with the top non-playoff team in each conference getting equal odds to draft first?

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#68 Ender
January 18 2010, 04:25PM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

Why not work it like our current lottery system, with the top non-playoff team in each conference getting equal odds to draft first?

That's actually better than the mini-tourney idea that the KHL uses and I suppose it could work. I wouldn't start lighting torches if the NHL decided to go that route, but on the whole I think I'm with LBH on this one; while a lot of things are hurting in today's NHL, their draft system isn't one of them. IMHO, they shouldn't try to 'fix' what isn't broken.

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#69 Brocktw
January 18 2010, 05:41PM
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Great read JW! Dave Hodge is just worried that his beloved savior Jesus Burke is going to be ahead of Lowe / Tambo on the worst NHL exec list. Its to bad he does not realize that when BB traded Torontos next two lottery picks he solidified that position for at least the next two years. No matter how bad the Oil are Lowellini can be no worse than 29th. The Kessel trade put the all mighty Leafs back 3 years.

Any Oil fans who are looking for at least something positive out of all this, rest assured the Sabres are not using our pick this year to take a top 3 prospect (remember Vanek). Because thats what Dave Hodge is looking at for the next 2 years. Fowler is going to look good skating for the Bruins for the next 10 years.

The thing that really irritates me about this whole Easteren media whining is that if the Leafs still had their draft pick they would be yelling the loudest about the fact it may be them picking Hall.

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#70 Gerald R. Ford
January 18 2010, 07:45PM
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Dave Hodge is an ancient skidmark on the tattered, ripped underwear of Canadian sports journalism. His most memorable career moment was having a hissy fit on a live broadcast, thoroughly embarrassing his employers, getting fired, and unleashing Ron Maclean unto an unsuspecting world. Thanks heaps, douche.

If he's really wondering why the NHL doesn't pay more heed to his awesome ideas, it's probably because Gary Bettman is too busy trying to find his own league's games on his satellite dish, let alone having time to sit down and watch "TSN Presents: Bitter Old Has-Been Re-Lives the Seventies".

Maybe he'll PVR it, Dave.

Err... anyway, this team is awful, naturally. The DFF is humour in the face of insanity. It's also the ONLY light we have at the end of a very long, very dark, tunnel. If this organization refuses to instill us with hope through competent management, I say we grab it wherever we can find it.

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#71 Archaeologuy
January 18 2010, 08:46PM
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The DFF is one step in rectifying a 15 year problem that has seen young teams continue to draft poorly from mid position. This is a team that hadnt had a superstar (for more than a season) long enough that Shawn Freakin Horcoff looked so much like a good player that he earned himself a paycheck that rivals the greats in the league. This team's lack of star players has warped the local assessment of talent so bad that the Oilers have become (as noted on TSN) "a last place team with a first place payroll."

How could hoping for a good player equate to being disloyal? How could finding a way to be positive in the lowest point of this team's history be a symptom of being a "so called fan".

Simply put: It Can't.

Dave Hodge might not care about the Oilers enough to think about next year and the year after that, but I do. If losing now means winning for the better part of this decade, then I'm all for it.

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#72 forsoothed
January 18 2010, 09:24PM
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Wow, Dave Hodge knows who the Edmonton Oilers are? And on a day when the Oilers aren't even playing the Leafs...

What the hell does anyone on TSN know about the Oilers? Exactly nothing, that's what.

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#73 MR P
January 18 2010, 09:35PM
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Good read, i seethe with anger towards the toronto sports network as well as the d bags they employ. I just mute the audio and listen to myself get madder at oilers management.

My money is on Florida or Tampa jumping up from 25th to grab the #1 pick, with the Florida sunbelt being the heartland of hockey, it just makes sense

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#74 Wanye
January 18 2010, 10:58PM
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MR P wrote:

Good read, i seethe with anger towards the toronto sports network as well as the d bags they employ. I just mute the audio and listen to myself get madder at oilers management.

My money is on Florida or Tampa jumping up from 25th to grab the #1 pick, with the Florida sunbelt being the heartland of hockey, it just makes sense

If the Oilers come in 30th and lose the number one draft pick, I may just get slightly enraged with my lot in life as an Oilers fan.

Maybe.

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#75 Costanza
January 19 2010, 02:29AM
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Ender wrote:

@ John K

I don't think it's that Hodge doesn't understand. I think he understands just fine, but what he understands even more is that writing what he did will get a much greater reaction. While I wouldn't paint all MSM guys with the same brush, there are certainly those out there who believe that any attention (even negative) is better than no attention.

I agree look at what he wrote about with Burkes son. Trying to make it seem like we cared that he was gay, I was annoyed that they wasted the intermission on it.

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#76 VMR
January 19 2010, 07:45AM
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I think Hodges suggestion was better than any I've seen on here. All non-playoff teams get their names thrown in a hat and draft order is determined randomly, from 1 down to 14. That means teams like the Oilers have incentive to try and win every game rather than play with two rookie goalies and half their team made up of guys who were in the AHL last season.

But hey talk about diving, the Oilers have an excuse they're injured and sick and bad to begin with. If anyones diving on purpose it's the Flames :)

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#77 Deans
January 19 2010, 09:29AM
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Good Article. I hope that the Oilers get a top 3 pick. Looking at teams on the upswing like Chicago, LA and PIT, it appears that a top 3 pick can help get an impact player and turn the tide. Look, I still cheer for the Oilers when I'm watching the games but I'd rather they place 27-30 than 18-27. Hodge is out of touch.

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#78 PaperDesigner
January 19 2010, 12:38PM
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@Wanye

Why? It's actually not too bad a scenario; the number one overall pick takes either Hall or Seguin, and you don't have to worry about whether the Oilers made the right choice or not; they got the best forward still available in the draft.

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#79 MrOiler
January 20 2010, 01:05PM
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There was a reason Hodge got canned from HNIC, his logic is mixed up.

If you're going to miss the playoffs, who cares where you finish? You might as well maximize your return with a high draft pick that may pay off dividends for years. It worked for Chicago, Pittsburgh and Washington.

"So-Called Oiler fans"?

How about "so-called analyst".

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