Gut-check time for you...

Jason Gregor
January 19 2010 09:11AM

I think it's fair to say that the last 16 games have really tested the loyalty of many Oiler fans. One win in 16 games will do that to you; so don’t fret — you aren’t alone.

The final 26 games of 2007 were tough when the Oilers went 4-19-3, and they won their last game of the year to finish 25th and draft Sam Gagner 6th overall. In those 26 games, the Oilers were shut out seven times, scored one goal nine times and were outscored 85-37  the Oilers did win two shootouts so you could give them 39 (but it was only 37 goals in regulation).

Fast forward to now and I wonder if you feel the same way? That team was decimated by injuries and had Sebastien Bisaillon and Bryan Young playing defence for goodness sakes. Joffrey Lupul finished at -29, Shawn Horcoff and Matt Greene were -22 and Petr Sykora was -20.

Ryan Smyth led the team with 53 points despite only playing in 53 games before being traded. It was a dreadful final 43 days of the season, but here we are on Jan 19th, the drought is already 35 days old and looking like it will extend another 86 days until the season ends on April 11th.

Many of you said you could handle a season or two of re-building if it meant getting a franchise player or two. Do you still feel that way? This is a test of your endurance, mettle, loyalty and passion for your mighty Copper and Blue.

You thought 40 days and 40 nights was tough, hell you're five days away from kicking Josh Harnett’s ass and could destroy that by reaching 119 days by season’s end.

The fact is, Oiler fans, for most of you these next 86 days will be the toughest test of your fanhood. Even if you were around during the 92/93 season — the lowest point total in Oiler history — you can’t compare because the three previous years you saw your team win the Cup in 1990, and lose the conference championship in 1991 and 1992.

The 1995/96 season is the closest comparison to the despair you are witnessing right now. Back then it was also the fourth straight season of missing the playoffs. However the previous three years saw you draft Jason Arnott 7th overall in 1993, Jason Bonsignore 4th and Ryan Smyth 6th in 1994, Steve Kelly 7th in 1995 and you were once again in the hunt for a top-five pick, which turned out to be Boyd Devereaux, 6th overall in 1996.

At this point in 1996 you still didn’t know for sure that Kelly and Bonsignore would be busts, and Doug Weight was on his way to 100 points, Zdeno "No chin" Ciger and Arnott were on pace for 30 goals... Arnott got hurt, missed 18 games and finished with 28 goals while "No chin" potted 31. Even that season wasn’t this much of a test.

We are in hell right now

I wonder if Quinn will make a speech similar to this to get the boys through the rest of the season. While the rest of this movie was unrealistic, Al Pacino’s speech was spine-tingling.

You guys are the players. You won’t make it through the next 86 days alone. You’ll need Nation readers to get you thought it. You’ll need the humour, the stupidity, the asinine trade requests, the reasonable replies and the level-headed responses.

You’ll need to know that there are many feeling the same pain while watching your team get pummeled again. Now is not the time to be a quitter or a bandwagon jumper. Hell, now is the time to be more vocal than ever. It would be easy to slip into the shadows of real life, start helping around the house or spending more quality time with the missus, or taking that cooking class you always wanted to or reading a self-help book. But what good will that do you? Nothing I tell you, NOTHING.

Because the minute June 1st rolls around you will be playing catch-up, trying to immerse yourself in the knowledge about the upcoming draft on June 25th. Oh sure, you’ll go to a house party and proclaim you watched the horror of the final 86 days, but you’ll do it with a guilty conscience because deep down you’ll know you couldn’t stomach the horror of those days. You didn’t dig deep down and play through the pain, like you expect the Oilers to do themselves.

If you walk away now you’ll be giving up on the one thing that brings you true joy, but also a pain that only compares to when your first girlfriend dumped you for the guy with a cooler hockey jacket. (Don’t pretend it didn’t hurt because we’ve all been there... in grade seven or eight, or last year for my buddy, but we’ve all been there).

Giving up now and turning off the TV, or not listening to sports shows or not reading the Nation would be easy, but like in life, doing the easy thing is sometimes the wrong thing. It will be hard to drag yourself to the game, or watch it at home without channel surfing, and you might cut down your visits to this lovely site that Wanye built from two batteries, some hair from his ex, and a mixture of a 1993 BL and a half a glass of White Zinfindel.

But why?

Because the team sucks?

Because you know that JDD and DD are overwhelmed at this point and will give up a questionable goal or two?

Because the veterans have decided that taking penalties is the only way they’ll get on the score sheet?

Because Pat Quinn’s pressers aren’t as emotionally charged as they were two months ago?

Because the PPVs are more painful than the games?

Because you truly don’t know who will be better in the long run for this team: Patrick O’Sullivan, Robert Nilsson or Andrew Cogliano?

Those are just excuses; they aren’t real reasons to abandon your love of hockey.

While you ponder what to do instead of watching the Oilers remember that you wouldn’t be the fan you are today without those inconsistent, infuriating bastards...

And things could always be worse. Watch one of the most inspirational sports-related speeches of all time right here:

"If you laugh, you think and you cry that is a full day, that is a heck of a day," Jimmy Valvano.

Keep your dream alive that the Oilers will one day return as a powerhouse in the NHL and that they will do so in your lifetime.

That sums up exactly what it is like to be an Oiler fan right now, I’d bet. You laugh when your buddy tells you they will win. You think hard about which players Steve Tambellini should keep for next season, and then you cry when you watch another trouncing like last night in Colorado.

But wow what an emotional day you will have by maintaining your loyalty to the Nation, the Oilers and hockey talk in general.

And the silver lining is that while the Oilers lost last night, the Leafs, Blue Jackets and Flames all lost. The Oilers have a six point bulge on the Leafs for 29th, and a ten point lead on the Blue Jackets, while the Flames got crushed 9-1 in San Jose and are two points from being out of the playoffs.

And don’t fret if you thought about packing in the season, there are lots of people who have much more stupid ideas than that every day. Check it out and feel good about your decision to get back in the shallow end of the pool with the rest of the true fans.

You’ll feel better about it on June 25th... Unless of course the Oilers go on a winning streak and finish out of the top three.

Ddf3e2ba09069c465299f3c416e43eae
One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
Avatar
#301 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 19 2010, 05:28PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Jason Gregor wrote:

Just curious why you used Hemsky...I think it is fair to say that considering Roloson was the Oilers best player last year, that the Khabibulin injury combined with Hemsky makes it impossible to accurately compare what Quinn is doing and what MacT did...

Edit: Nevermind, looks like JW already addressed.

Avatar
#302 Word
January 19 2010, 05:31PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Do you guys not have jobs???

Avatar
#303 Chris.
January 19 2010, 05:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Word

Jobs schmobs. It's best to stay logged onto ON all day... it's a real bummer having to read 300 comments all at once.

Avatar
#304 Matt Henderson
January 19 2010, 05:34PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Word wrote:

Do you guys not have jobs???

I play video games all day for my job. I have some time to kill in between loading screens.

Avatar
#305 dragon
January 19 2010, 05:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Word wrote:

Do you guys not have jobs???

I just had my shoulder surgery...so no, not right now. ;-)

Avatar
#306 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
January 19 2010, 05:44PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Word wrote:

Do you guys not have jobs???

jobs? oh sh*t

Avatar
#307 SirFozz
January 19 2010, 05:47PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Word wrote:

Do you guys not have jobs???

Is water dry?

Avatar
#308 SirFozz
January 19 2010, 05:52PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Poo Czar wrote:

Hey everyone, remember that Leaky Goat picture??? Huh? HUH?!?

Oh Leaky Goat, how I miss you and the fun, innocent times you represented...

*resigned shrug*

EVERYONE IS STUPID AND WRONG!!!!

Do I ever!!!!!!

Gawd I miss that goat. Good times.

Avatar
#309 Travis Dakin
January 19 2010, 06:09PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Chris. wrote:

Jobs schmobs. It's best to stay logged onto ON all day... it's a real bummer having to read 300 comments all at once.

Who reads all the comments? I just skim through the list for the names I like and read them. There are A LOT of you not on that list! haha

Avatar
#311 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
January 19 2010, 06:16PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Travis Dakin wrote:

Who reads all the comments? I just skim through the list for the names I like and read them. There are A LOT of you not on that list! haha

but...but... you told me i was special...

Avatar
#312 jeanshorts
January 19 2010, 06:18PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Travis Dakin

The god damn Ogden's are taking up all the room on your list!

Avatar
#313 SirFozz
January 19 2010, 06:19PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

but...but... you told me i was special...

WHAT?!? He told me the same thing. SLUT!

Avatar
#314 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
January 19 2010, 06:22PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
jeanshorts wrote:

The god damn Ogden's are taking up all the room on your list!

~there is more than 1?~

Avatar
#315 Douggy
January 19 2010, 06:32PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Anyone else think we could get smytty back out of LA for Souray and cogs?

Avatar
#316 RossCreekNation
January 19 2010, 06:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

So... ah... how 'bout those Flames? Oh... they played last night? What was the sco...

*GASP*

Holy Ffffffffffffffff-ffff-ffffffff-ff...

That stupid McElhinney! Whaa? Kiprusoff started? Ummm... my bunghole hurts for some reason. Damn you Dakin!

Avatar
#317 RossCreekNation
January 19 2010, 06:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Douggy wrote:

Anyone else think we could get smytty back out of LA for Souray and cogs?

For what purpose exactly?

Avatar
#318 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
January 19 2010, 06:42PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
RossCreekNation wrote:

For what purpose exactly?

we miss the mullet

Avatar
#319 SirFozz
January 19 2010, 06:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
RossCreekNation wrote:

For what purpose exactly?

So we could then trade for Souray and bring Sexy back.

Avatar
#320 RossCreekNation
January 19 2010, 06:59PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Things have gotten so bad around here, that not even a Flames trouncing can stop the quibbling.

~At least they didn't blow a 5-0 lead this time~

Avatar
#321 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
January 19 2010, 06:59PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

342. RossCreek Renegades 600 -68

225. Team Discovery Channel 614 -54

Oh wow, RossCreek. You're in trouble.

Avatar
#322 Mitch
January 19 2010, 07:04PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I can handle the loses, I'am a true Oilers fan, like many others I have so many questions that could be asked. I want to see star power players here, it's evident that we need to draft them first then others will follow. Blow it up hardcore Tambo take no prisioners, bring us back to respectability we are proud hockey fans and we deserve it.

What does it take to get Steve Ott? Yes bring back Georges were going to have lots of young guys that gotta push the limit, force Georges to do his job. Pisani, Moreau, O'Sullivan, Nillson and Staios out. Go big or stay home.

Avatar
#323 RossCreekNation
January 19 2010, 07:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

Oh, FFS.

Avatar
#324 Eddie Shore
January 19 2010, 07:06PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
SirFozz wrote:

So we could then trade for Souray and bring Sexy back.

Well played.

Avatar
#325 Jonathan Willis
January 19 2010, 07:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Jason Gregor

I probably wasn't clear above: the numbers I've projected for Quinn are the numbers with both Hemsky and Khabibulin (except that I included two games after Khabibulin went down because they made Quinn's numbers better).

Avatar
#326 Clarkenstein
January 19 2010, 07:50PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Jason it is VERY possible to judge what kind of team the Oil have without Crabbybulin and Hemmer. Even an NHL team with Floyd Whitney in net should win more than once a month. And Hemsky was known to take the odd game (or more) off with the Oil winning handily. Not having these guys just gives the apple a couple of soft brown marks... this apple is rotten to the core.

Avatar
#327 Travis Dakin
January 19 2010, 08:03PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
jeanshorts wrote:

The god damn Ogden's are taking up all the room on your list!

I only read your comment because the word "Ogden" was in it....

Avatar
#328 Jmask5
January 19 2010, 09:10PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Jason Gregor wrote:

My point is that coaching is much harder without a goalie, than Hemsky. And comparing 2009 team to this year's without an NHL goalie for the past 27 games is comparing apples to oranges.

I've always said it wasn't just MacT, but for anyone to think he gets a free pass because of this year doesn't make much sense to me.

The Oilers weren't any better with 35 and 83 before they got hurt, but 35 was only on roster for first 21 games, and Hemsky played in 22 of the first 25...

I just don't see how we can try to compare coaching from this year to last. Way too many variables in play that weren't consistent from season to season.

I don't think he gets a free pass but I think that management seemed to believe that MaC-T was the only problem and therefore did not address the obvious needs of this team in the offseason.

The Oilers haven't iced a proper team since 2006 and look what MaC-t was able to do with that team once he got the goalie they desperatley needed. A lot of people were surprised the Oilers got so far in the playoffs but I always believed throughout that season that the Oilers were better than their record and just needed a goalie.

I think people should realize that MaC-T was a great coach and I hope some organization will realize that and give him a chance.

Avatar
#329 dragon
January 19 2010, 09:36PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

320-something, Jason.

Your tongue-n-cheek post woke up the Oilers Pride.

Fan Pride, that is.

The actual team needs 2 more 'high-tempo' skates before some on-ice pride shows again.

Avatar
#330 Bryzarro World
January 19 2010, 09:47PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Jonathan Willis wrote:

Dman169 wrote:

But if you look at Hemsky outside of games, even the coach has said that he is always the first person off the ice during practice and the first to leave the rink.

I don't mean to be a jerk, but so what?

What happens off the ice only matters insofar as it affects what happens on the ice. And whatever Hemsky's practice habits, there's no doubt that the team is vastly improved with him on the ice than off it.

There is a big so what. He is supposed to be one of the best players on the team and somewhat of a leader. What are you showing by half-assing it and not putting in the effort to constantly improve? That kind of stuff rubs off on people and eventually others will start to take on that mentality that if he doesn't put in the extra effort than why should I. Your best player should also be one of your hardest working players to set the tone for the team don't you think?

"Practice? I mean you talking about Practice?" lol guess the quote

Avatar
#331 Jodes
January 19 2010, 10:25PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

He meant special in an Olympic Sort of way Cableguy :P

Avatar
#332 Jon
January 19 2010, 11:15PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Jason Gregor

Jason, can you make those guys running the Oilers website put up their Oilers version of the Al Pacino speech they show at the games every now and then?

Avatar
#333 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 19 2010, 11:51PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
jeanshorts wrote:

The god damn Ogden's are taking up all the room on your list!

I consulted with the rest of the brothers, we want a cut of the action for all the hits we are giving you.

Avatar
#334 Jonathan Willis
January 19 2010, 11:55PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

SerenityNow:

Sure.

But given the choice between hard work and off-ice effort combined with on-ice ineptitude (lets pick on Strudwick, but there are plenty of examples) and incredible on-ice play and the perception of off-ice laziness, I'll take the latter every single time.

Avatar
#335 Marsha
January 20 2010, 12:13AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I can handle a rebuild as long as I know that is the plan. Have a plan, tell the fans and we'll be there. I'm not enjoying the dive for five, I'd much rather be cheering the team into the playoffs but I'm realistic. Rebuild and do it properly please!!

Avatar
#336 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 20 2010, 12:13AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Jonathan Willis wrote:

SerenityNow:

Sure.

But given the choice between hard work and off-ice effort combined with on-ice ineptitude (lets pick on Strudwick, but there are plenty of examples) and incredible on-ice play and the perception of off-ice laziness, I'll take the latter every single time.

True enough. But with any average or below team theirs room for critism and improvement from top to bottom. Consistance, leadership and responsibilty are three areas Hemmer could improve on which would all help this team move up the standings.

Avatar
#337 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 20 2010, 12:13AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Jonathan Willis wrote:

SerenityNow:

Sure.

But given the choice between hard work and off-ice effort combined with on-ice ineptitude (lets pick on Strudwick, but there are plenty of examples) and incredible on-ice play and the perception of off-ice laziness, I'll take the latter every single time.

Double post

Avatar
#338 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
January 20 2010, 07:02AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Jodes wrote:

He meant special in an Olympic Sort of way Cableguy :P

i see what you did there..

har har har...

****runs back to bed weeping****

Avatar
#339 Jonathan Willis
January 20 2010, 07:33AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Original Ogden Brother:

How many wins do you think Hemsky's desire to leave practice early costs the team?

I think the answer is somewhere between 0 and 1. Meaning that when it comes to the list of things to fix, that's way, way down the list.

Avatar
#340 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 20 2010, 07:36AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Jonathan Willis

Didn't the 08-09 struggle to start the year as well and then they turned it up after x-mas, whos to say that the same wouldn't have happened this year barring injuries.

Avatar
#341 rubbertrout
January 20 2010, 07:51AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
SirFozz wrote:

So we could then trade for Souray and bring Sexy back.

That my friend, is awesome.

Avatar
#342 The Towel Boy
January 20 2010, 08:01AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

*Stumbles in late to the party*

Hey guys, what'd I mi....oh...over 300 comments eh?...well...then.

*scans over comments for the word "Ogden"*

I see. I see.

Well. You guys are doing a wonderful job. Keep it coming.

Dakin...your name sorta rhymes with Bacon.

jeanshorts...I'll deal with you later.

RossCreek...9-1?

Avatar
#343 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 20 2010, 08:57AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Original Ogden Brother:

How many wins do you think Hemsky's desire to leave practice early costs the team?

I think the answer is somewhere between 0 and 1. Meaning that when it comes to the list of things to fix, that's way, way down the list.

I guess my point is that on a losing team each player/coach/manager has areas that they need to improve. Everyone always wants to scapegoat 2-4 guys, but it's a team and everyone needs to shoulder some responsibility.

Their is no perfect hockey player (or coach/manager) on this team, not even close.

Also, who knows how much better he would be if he practiced as hard as a guy like Crosby (from reports anyways). I don't really think it can be proven, but it's not a stretch to think that if you take two guys with similar abilities, the one that works the hardest/practices the most will end up the better of the two.

Avatar
#344 Oiler84
January 20 2010, 09:06AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I have a question for you Jason. Lets say we do finish last and get the # 1 pick. Do we need another LW? If Penner is here for the length of his contract and MPS then our top 2 LW spots are gone. Wouldn't Seguin be a better option? Our centers are pretty weak. I like Ganger but he's a few years from being something of a # 1. And obviously we have a few defence prospects right now, Plante, Chorney, Petry, Peckham. So do we pass on Fowler as well? Would it not be better to try and trade this pick away for a corner stone player/goalie?

Avatar
#345 Jonathan Willis
January 20 2010, 09:07AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Ogden Brother Jr.:

The 2008-09 MacT Oilers, by quarters:

1: 9-9-2

2: 11-9-1

3: 10-6-2

4: 7-9-4

If we're looking at the tear after Christmas we also have to look at the Visnovsky injury stretch.

Besides, this team wasn't going to heat up. Even when they were 6-2-1 and everyone was fairly healthy they weren't a good hockey team; they were getting outshot and outchanced the vast majority of the time, but riding an incredible shooting eprcentage wave.

Avatar
#346 RossCreekNation
January 20 2010, 09:52AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Original Ogden Brother:

How many wins do you think Hemsky's desire to leave practice early costs the team?

I think the answer is somewhere between 0 and 1. Meaning that when it comes to the list of things to fix, that's way, way down the list.

Shane Doan is the last guy off the ice for the Coyotes. Nuff said.

Avatar
#347 RossCreekNation
January 20 2010, 09:57AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
The Towel Boy wrote:

*Stumbles in late to the party*

Hey guys, what'd I mi....oh...over 300 comments eh?...well...then.

*scans over comments for the word "Ogden"*

I see. I see.

Well. You guys are doing a wonderful job. Keep it coming.

Dakin...your name sorta rhymes with Bacon.

jeanshorts...I'll deal with you later.

RossCreek...9-1?

9-1?

~Who cares, they got an easy matchup with the lowly Blackhawks next. Whaa? The same Blackhawks that bounced the Flames rather easily last April. The same Blackhawks that came back from a 5-0 first period Flames lead earlier this year to win 6-5. The same Blackhawks that blew the Flames out 7-1 on Flame ice in their next meeting. Ya... this should be good~

Avatar
#348 OILERSORDEATH
January 20 2010, 10:00AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Not sure why but more and more lately I'm having second thoughts about letting Nilsson go. I think if we could form a line where he played with couple of skilled power forwards he could flourish. I think he could still pan out.

Avatar
#349 Chris.
January 20 2010, 10:09AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@OILERSORDEATH

Who stays and who goes may have more to do with who potential trading partners actually want. IMO Brule>>Cogliano>>Nilsson>>O'Sullivan (based on skills and contract)... But let's face it it doesn't really matter which two of these guys goes or stays as long as the returning player/players will immediately or eventually bring better balance to the lineup.

Avatar
#350 fiveandagame
January 20 2010, 10:10AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
OILERSORDEATH wrote:

Not sure why but more and more lately I'm having second thoughts about letting Nilsson go. I think if we could form a line where he played with couple of skilled power forwards he could flourish. I think he could still pan out.

~Yeah I think thats cause even fringe NHL'ers look like NHL players when compared to some parts of our AHL calibre line up~

All kidding aside, I would agree at this point. His cap hit isn't ridiculous and he has so much raw talent it's crazy. If he'd just stop with the blind passes I'm sure his game would come a long way.

Comments are closed for this article.