September 01 2012 07:35AM
The Edmonton Oilers have their window. The Hall-Eberle contracts mean their window of opportunity is the rest of the decade. By 2020, they'll have a 6th Stanley, be on their way to it, or the subject of many words on the internet involving snafu, tarfun and fubar. Destiny awaits.
The problem is you develop a past. My wife knows I pass out about 10 minutes before its time to clean up the mess, the broadcast media company I work for knows I can do a two hour radio show but may not remember things like my password to get into the building. I'm sure both would like a sharper mind, but have learned to make the best of addled.
Edmonton Oiler fans are like that with their ownership and management, but it is harder to get a feel for things because the owner is (somewhat) new and rebuilds look exactly like sucking badly until you hit the highway and take it to the limit.
- We know Daryl Katz is successful in business, but is he going to be successful in the hockey business?
- Steve Tambellini was second chair for a long time, but can he build a championship team by signing reasonable contracts and making reasonable trades?
- Kevin Lowe made beautiful music at the 2006 trade deadline but faltered thereafter, can he be the 'behind the scenes' brains of the operation, holding back on emotional decisions and making the right choice?
- Craig MacTavish seems to have a sense of the reasonable, but can he put aside his coaching background and help with the longer term choices?
- And what of Ralph Krueger, he of the impressive international resume?
And then there's the players. Can Taylor Hall stay healthy? Will the pressure of the big contract--and the competition for playing time--make it more difficult to post those brilliant boxcars?
We have our principal actors, we have our timeline (8 seasons, through 2020), but we won't know for some time whethere we're watching a drama, a comedy or a tragedy. There are ways to keep count, and some of the major items are:
- addressing weakness
- signing value contracts
I personally believe that Steve Tambellini, Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish had a very good summer. The trio did in fact address weakness on the blue (Schultz) and signed value deals. Signing Justin Schultz as a free agent, getting the Smyth deal done, drafting Nail Yakupov and making sure the rfa's of value (Gagner, Petry and Dubnyk) were signed. I can entertain questions about dollars and term, but these men are under contract and with the exception of Smyth no one is free at the end of their deal. I am over the moon about the Hall contract, and the Eberle deal is in the (high) range of expectation. I believe there are consquences (if Eberel's boxcars graduate to the mean that contract will be untradeable) but there's nothing toxic or fatal that will guarantee a poor decade of underperformance for the Oilers.
The lollygagging may be an unfair criticism. If Ryan Whitney's situation is as positive as Robin Brownlee's article suggests then the Oilers blueline situation will be much better than expected. That's a huge item, and you could make a case that the management group backed off acquiring another defender when they saw the price (Methot acquisition was a crazy transaction) and heard the Whitney news.
In the end, it doesn't matter what I think or believe, or what we collectively agree is the logical road for the Oilers at this time. Luck, timing and good bets will decide how this turns out, and what is in the suitcase. We're along for the ride, nothing more or less.
Steve Tambellini and the management group have more 'skin in the game' and based on what we know, and what they needed, I'd suggest this has been a very good summer. Combined with recent drafts and player development, things are beginning to rhyme.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
While it is true that a rebuild and a genuine turn in fortune look the same until the meter clicks, there is evidence that the Edmonton Oilers are in fact on the edge of a new reality. Huge changes in direction are rare for sports organizations--the Oilers of the NHL were an expansion team (79-81), a powerhouse (82-91), a young team of promise (92-04), a Stanley run (05) and lost in the flood (06-12).
That's what, 5 sharp turns on a long road? Man, progression and regression can take forever.
The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee.
NATION RADIO hits the air at Noon today, Team 1260. Emails welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can leave comments below. Twitter is likely the best spot, @ItsNationRadio and @Lowetide_ works.
Scheduled to appear:
- David Staples from the Cult of Hockey. We'll talk about the Hall-Eberle signings, estimating point totals and the CBA negotiations.
- Gus Katsaros from McKeens and Leafs Nation. We'll talk about the Leafs 12-13 season, projecting numbers for individual players and the best way to develop draft picks.
- Robert Cleave from Jets Nation and Flames Nation. We'll discuss the Bogosian injury and recovery timeline, along with the Jets prospects for the second season in 12-13.
- Kent Wilson from Flames Nation. We'll discuss the Flames in 12-13 (Kent did an exceptional job sussing things out here) and chat about NHL Numbers
There are a couple of other irons in the fire, hope you can join us.