GDB 13.0: Nothing could possiblie go wrong

Jonathan Willis
October 27 2013 09:08AM

Tonight’s game features a tired Oilers team that lost a one-goal game to Phoenix last night against a rested Los Angeles squad that when last seen trounced those same Coyotes by a 7-4 score on Thursday.

What could possibly go wrong?

The Lineup

There has been no official word on lineup changes yet, but up front there are two items of note. First, Tyler Pitlick left on crutches after getting caught awkwardly by a hip check; hopefully any injury is less serious than the knee injury that sidelined him back in January. Second, Anton Lander was scratched by Oklahoma City last night, so it seems probable that he will be in the lineup for tonight’s game (to which I would imagine Linus Omark’s reaction is a mixture of happiness for his good friend and ‘I just scored FOUR GOALS in ONE GAME’).

Update: The Lander news is official.

With at least one probable lineup shift, I’m just going to guess here and update later once we get official word. I don’t imagine we’ll see major changes to the forward unit, and I’d guess that Nick Schultz draws in as fresh legs on the blue line.

  • F1. Nail Yakupov – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
  • F2. David Perron – Mark Arcobello – Ales Hemsky
  • F3. Ben Eager – Boyd Gordon – Ryan Jones
  • F4. Luke Gazdic – Will Acton – Anton Lander
  • D1. Ladislav Smid – Jeff Petry
  • D2. Anton Belov – Justin Schultz
  • D3. Andrew Ference – Nich Schultz

Devan Dubnyk will almost certainly start.

Update: I still think Dubnyk starts, but this is interesting.

Coaching & Signs of the Apocalypse

I knew, what with all the talk of firing coaches and whatnot, that things were getting awfully grim. But I didn’t realize how low spirits were until I started noticing the reaction to DSF’s comments:

  • -8/+25 on a comment saying the Oilers had mostly played Eastern Conference “cream puffs”
  • -6/+18 on a comment saying Vancouver had all of Edmonton’s adversity but was playing great
  • -4/+12 on a comment agreeing that Dallas Eakins was in over his head
  • -4/+11 on a comment extolling the Canucks’ virtues

I won’t argue against the Canucks – they have handled some tough circumstances extremely well, and while like the Oilers they have mostly played ‘Eastern Conference cream puffs’ (8 of 13 games) they have also had a road-heavy schedule early. They just went 5-1-1 on a seven-game road-trip, which is insanely good.

What I will say is that it’s way too make Eakins the scapegoat, something that was being done in the comments here yesterday. Certainly, he’s done things I haven’t liked – he was awfully quick to haul last year’s leading goal-scorer out of the lineup, rotating a bunch of skilled first-time penalty killers into the PK all at the same time hasn’t worked well, and the Gazdic-Acton-Brown fourth line never appealed to me – but isn’t it abundantly clear at this point that firing the coach isn’t the solution?

Besides, we’ve seen this play out in reverse before. When Pat Quinn came in, the Oilers jumped out to a 6-2-1 start – one built on getting outshot badly but posting insane percentages. Quinn turned out to be probably the worst head coach in team history. This is the reverse situation: the Oilers have built a losing streak based on decent shot totals and terrible goaltending. I doubt it lasts either.

I can’t definitively say that Eakins is the solution to the problem, but the problem definitely predates his arrival.

Predictions

Game day prediction: 3-0 Los Angeles.

Obvious game day prediction: Mark Arcobello will take three shots that, while all scoring chances, somehow catch the edge of a pad or bounce off the outside of the post or something like that.

Not-so-obvious game day prediction: In the third period, with the score still 2-0, Nail Yakupov will get a glorious opportunity from the right faceoff circle. Jonathan Quick will flash the leather, then immediately skate to centre ice with his arms stretched out in the air before sliding to his knees at the middle of the ice. Don Cherry will chuckle as he’s playing the tape of it on Coach’s Corner next Saturday.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, 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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#1 Mikey
October 27 2013, 09:13AM
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Can it be at least 3-1 LA? One goal would be nice.

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#2 I tried it at home
October 27 2013, 09:20AM
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I still have faith in Yak City. Now would be a great time to see him explode for FIVE (5) goals and then call up Linus Omark collect from center ice anx tell him "sorry man but thats how we do it in the big leagues". Damn, I wish I had been drunk when I came up with this.

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#3 Cameron
October 27 2013, 09:24AM
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We have a rookie coach getting his first look at the NHL. Isn't it appropriate that we give him the same respect and time that we give any rookie player entering the NHL?

New coach, new systems, lots of new players...what did you expect.......

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#4 Ambassador humantorch
October 27 2013, 09:25AM
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"Quinn turned out to be probably the worst head coach in team history."

George Burnett says hi.

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#5 Loweblows
October 27 2013, 09:25AM
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Gameday prediction. We lose. KLowe keeps his job.

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#6 Woogie63
October 27 2013, 09:29AM
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If you could trade the coach and GM as a package is there another coach/GM You would not trade our coach/GM for.

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#9 Loweblows
October 27 2013, 09:31AM
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7 points out of a playoff spot, st loo has 3 games in hand- this season is OVER. Book it! This organization is sick, this team is broken and the fanbase is furious. Thank god we have KLowe. He has 6 rings ya know.

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#10 Zack
October 27 2013, 09:32AM
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Yeah because starting the first chunk of the season with one legitamite NHL calibre center and below .900 goaltending can totally be pinned on the coach.

It is extremely frustrating though, don't get me wrong but pinning this on Eakins doesn't really make too much sense.

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#11 Ambassador humantorch
October 27 2013, 09:33AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I'm too young to really have a clear picture of Burnett. In straight up wins/losses Quinn's record was worse, though naturally that may not be the whole story.

The W/L record definitely gives Quinn the win (or loss, depending on how you look at it), but ol' Georgie only lasted half a season (going 12-20-3 in the process) and has the distinction of giving the captain's C to the worst Oiler captain in history, Shayne Corson.

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#12 Oasis
October 27 2013, 09:38AM
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I didn't think my expectations this year were too high? I merely wanted to watch meaningful games in November.

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#13 GTL
October 27 2013, 09:39AM
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Looking outside sums up my oiler optimism . It's a long time to draft day and free agency ... Then training camp and new season..rinse and repeat... In any other relationship I be long gone... A fan since '76 I'm 'bout done....

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#14 Woogie63
October 27 2013, 09:40AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Off the top of my head? Holmgren/Berube.

Agree with the mess in Philly... But after that ....

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#15 Islanders of the North
October 27 2013, 09:41AM
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I made a prediction not that long ago the oilers are the new islanders of the NHL.

Examples.

1)Run a high end talented potential superstar out of town because he can't help the team any more. How many times did the islanders do this and these individuals go on to have very good careers somewhere else?

2)How many high draft picks did NYI get and yet were still the bottom feeders of the league? Sound familiar?

3)NYI team management mismanaged players and contracts. Nothing will change until Lowe and the rest of the of the apple dumpling gang are removed.

4)Crazy owner with money

5)Terrible arena nobody wants to play in.

I don't see anything changing anytime soon.....

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#17 Chaz
October 27 2013, 09:46AM
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Has Kevin Lowe been fired yet? The fact he is still employed boggles my mind. The only way to kill this dragon of losing is to cut off its head, and the head is K-Lowe.

I'm going to design a shirt to sell: "k-Lowe Must Go" *

* May or may not actually get around to doing this.....

Proceeds to go to the Depressed Oiler Fan Support Network

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#18 hockeycrazed
October 27 2013, 09:47AM
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I agree 100% on Coach JW, not only do we have a mediocre no. 1, but we also have an unspectacular second stringer in goal! (I have long stated that choosing Labarbera over Rimmer was a mistake, you can argue hindsight is 20/20). I still think the Oilers is not dead yet, given the more than 30% turnover of their line up, and high injury rate on their top performers doesn't help either! Although, I do suspect the hungriness of some players on the team, as if they were holding back for something to happen, during pre-season play the Oil looked promising, partly due to the opponents they were playing, but most importantly because they have some prospects who tried to make the team and put in 112%, and that's the difference between winning possessions of the puck or not!!! And that, my friend, is not the coach's problem, it is each and every player's responsibility to perform to their capabilities, so the onus is on the players. Of course, traditionally, it's easier to point the finger on one person than 16, right?

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#19 Ryan
October 27 2013, 09:48AM
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We need a #1 defensemen and have since pronger left.

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#20 oilers2k10
October 27 2013, 09:48AM
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I'm usually pretty good a making predictions, today I just got that feeling when I woke up, Yakupov scores 5 goals and has a 9 point night.

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#21 pelhem grenville
October 27 2013, 09:48AM
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...whoweee... look at JW taking a shot at the Yak slide in the not-so-obvious part...

seconded here...thanks JW

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#22 Greg
October 27 2013, 09:53AM
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Cameron wrote:

We have a rookie coach getting his first look at the NHL. Isn't it appropriate that we give him the same respect and time that we give any rookie player entering the NHL?

New coach, new systems, lots of new players...what did you expect.......

^ it's because of this kind of thinking we still suck a**. (Sorry Cameron I'm going to rip on you here).

It's because of fans like this that our team sucks. I'm sorry to say. It's obvious Katz is fine with things as long as we sell continue to sell out. Fans who honesty believe it's just a matter of time we get better. It's not a matter of time! It's a matter of bringing in the right mix of players. The easy part is finishing last and getting high draft picks. I'm tired of fans being like " it's fine, let's just wait and see". My god grow some balls! Enough is enough! I love this team too much to just turn around and jump ship. But as a fan who wants to see this team get better, I am going to sit here and b*tch till changes are made. Real fans don't sit there and blindly cheer for a loosing team. Real fans make their voices heard and don't give up till the team starts winning!

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#23 Loweblows
October 27 2013, 09:55AM
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I wholeheartedly disagree with you willis. Eakins has destroyed the PK. He has destroyed the PP. He has decided that now, the year we were supposed to make gains, was the year we needed to overhaul basically everything these kids have been taught years previous. What a disaster. Fire Eakins now.You mention you dont like some of the things he has done but fail to mention what he has done right. Please tell me one thing he has done right?

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#24 onlyoil
October 27 2013, 09:55AM
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What is sad to me is, we aren't even in Nov yet and the playoffs are not realistically achievable. Do you believe in miracles?

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#25 Rheal1
October 27 2013, 09:56AM
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L.A. to win 3-0

At that rate will the Oilers ever friggin' win? Copy/paste the present roster say, into Columbus, Montreal or even Calgary and you would get a great .700 team. What gives in Deadmonton? Kevin Lowe's head must roll ASAP. Then Katz better stick to Rexall's business plan, not sports.

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#26 Smokey
October 27 2013, 09:57AM
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@hockeycrazed

Rimmer? The WHL/ ECHL kid? What you talking bout Willis?

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#27 A-Mc
October 27 2013, 09:57AM
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Such a strange season....Please just win tonight oilers. Pllllleeeeaaaaaasssseeeeee

1-0 Oilers Ben eager scores it.

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#28 Smokey
October 27 2013, 10:02AM
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JW, at what point do the Oilers give Bachman a shot to see if he's got the fire to steal a game or two. Every year some team decimated by bad goaltending or injuries calls up an AHL goalie who may steal a game or something.

I think you bring up Bachman and say here's your damn shot. He can't be any worse then this tandem.

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#29 onlyoil
October 27 2013, 10:04AM
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GTL wrote:

Looking outside sums up my oiler optimism . It's a long time to draft day and free agency ... Then training camp and new season..rinse and repeat... In any other relationship I be long gone... A fan since '76 I'm 'bout done....

Ya me too, it's pathetic actually, I don't chirp Flames fans or Nuck fans anymore, I live in the present and this organization is a huge joke, Thank you very much Kevin Lowe, Kelly Buchberger, Steve Smith. I like MacT and I like Eakins, I think with time these two could do some good things. Tambi used up all the patience, I think.

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#30 fatso
October 27 2013, 10:04AM
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Mite be faster to become a crazy billionaire then pay Katz double for the oil($400million), then we will see a oil change.

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#31 Henry
October 27 2013, 10:07AM
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Ryan wrote:

We need a #1 defensemen and have since pronger left.

Jeff Petry may be turning into a real 1D. I can't think of 30 guys that I'd play over him.

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#32 @schmidty66
October 27 2013, 10:09AM
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I realize that the coach carousel with the Oilers has to stop. That can only happen when new management hire a decent NHL coach. First Quinn then his asst Renny then his asst Kruger now Eakins all the while keeping the core of asst coaches like Bucky Smith and Chabot around? With coaches like Ruff, Tortortella and Vigneault available last year I can not figure out how we ended up with Eakins an unproven coach who seems to have lost the room already. I have had season tickets for nearly 15 years every year lately I kick myself for renewing them. Usually it takes until January before I can't give them away this year it is November. I am a diehard fan it kills me when they play this bad but I think the only way this team gets better is if we the fans just stop going. Then and only the will Katz be forced to make a management change and stop living in the 80s glory years.

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#33 HOFFFF
October 27 2013, 10:11AM
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-14 degrees for Monday in Edmonton and it's still October. Good time to be an NHL Player in Edmonton....going on 8 years of suck. Could have almost completed 2 rebuilds in that time. Drastic changes in a bad culture that started with Pronger pullin the chute need to start at the top, not in the AHL. Drafting high year after year and pulling from the farm seems to be changing nothing. This once proud franchise is now turning into one of the most embarassing in NHL history. How did they manage that?? Through management!! In any other business the entire management group would be given pink slips. Even Joey! Hell, the Oilers were weak even before the flukey 2006 run.

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#34 K_Mart
October 27 2013, 10:14AM
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While it is too early to put any real blame on eakins, and it is too early to say that our record is a true reflection of our play, it is NOT too early to say the playoffs are out of reach.

They are. I could realistically see things turning around this season, and us closing out the season with a record near or even at .500, but our start has put us too far out.

My guess is we might reach .500 by game 70-75 but we will most certainly not reach the playoffs.

Our goaltending, despite my faith that Dubnyk is good enough to be the man, has essentially already cost us the playoffs.

So yeah, a turnaround is still likely, based on the numbers, but missing the playoffs is even more likely.

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#35 Avatarget
October 27 2013, 10:15AM
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Rheal1 wrote:

L.A. to win 3-0

At that rate will the Oilers ever friggin' win? Copy/paste the present roster say, into Columbus, Montreal or even Calgary and you would get a great .700 team. What gives in Deadmonton? Kevin Lowe's head must roll ASAP. Then Katz better stick to Rexall's business plan, not sports.

Ok...so the consensus is that KLowe must go...who should replace him?

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#36 onlyoil
October 27 2013, 10:16AM
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@schmidty66 wrote:

I realize that the coach carousel with the Oilers has to stop. That can only happen when new management hire a decent NHL coach. First Quinn then his asst Renny then his asst Kruger now Eakins all the while keeping the core of asst coaches like Bucky Smith and Chabot around? With coaches like Ruff, Tortortella and Vigneault available last year I can not figure out how we ended up with Eakins an unproven coach who seems to have lost the room already. I have had season tickets for nearly 15 years every year lately I kick myself for renewing them. Usually it takes until January before I can't give them away this year it is November. I am a diehard fan it kills me when they play this bad but I think the only way this team gets better is if we the fans just stop going. Then and only the will Katz be forced to make a management change and stop living in the 80s glory years.

They are playing pretty descent hockey 5v5, goaltending, pp/pk have been way below average. Can't win with these 3 brutal aspects of their game right now. With time they probably will come around..who knows.

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#39 Mikey
October 27 2013, 10:18AM
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Woogie63 wrote:

Agree with the mess in Philly... But after that ....

The guys in Buffalo, Dallas, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, New Jersey.

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#40 Hair bag
October 27 2013, 10:19AM
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Greg wrote:

^ it's because of this kind of thinking we still suck a**. (Sorry Cameron I'm going to rip on you here).

It's because of fans like this that our team sucks. I'm sorry to say. It's obvious Katz is fine with things as long as we sell continue to sell out. Fans who honesty believe it's just a matter of time we get better. It's not a matter of time! It's a matter of bringing in the right mix of players. The easy part is finishing last and getting high draft picks. I'm tired of fans being like " it's fine, let's just wait and see". My god grow some balls! Enough is enough! I love this team too much to just turn around and jump ship. But as a fan who wants to see this team get better, I am going to sit here and b*tch till changes are made. Real fans don't sit there and blindly cheer for a loosing team. Real fans make their voices heard and don't give up till the team starts winning!

Time for you to get ripped. It's easy for you to bitch but how exactly do you suggest they fix it - names of trades or free agent signings that are realistic, that other teams would legitimately agree to or guys that would actually sign here........yea that's what I thought smart guy. I feel your frustration but the Oilers have had no depth for a really long time which means they have no chips to offer any other team except their young draft picks which they are trying to build around - the only thing that can be done is to be patient. The team had been run so far into the ground after the 06 run that the sad fact is it is going to take a really long time to crawl out of the hole. They have come a long way but there is still a long way to go - since 06 the Oilers have been the equivalent of an expansion franchise with the talent they have had on the roster. Lowe is responsible for thinking he could turn sh*t into gold after 06 and delayed a true rebuild by 5yrs, and then Tambo didnt help things at all. But I think MacT is on the right track, unfortunately only more time will tell....you bitching will do nothing to implement change but feel free if it makes you feel better.

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#41 DSF
October 27 2013, 10:20AM
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onlyoil wrote:

They are playing pretty descent hockey 5v5, goaltending, pp/pk have been way below average. Can't win with these 3 brutal aspects of their game right now. With time they probably will come around..who knows.

The Oilers are 0.83 5V5F/A...22nd in the league.

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#42 6 ring circus
October 27 2013, 10:21AM
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If Kevin Lowe's contract was up there wouldn't be any other NHL team stupid enough to hire him!!! 7 years of mismanagement going on 8 Lowe deserves his walking papers and it's time Katz brings in someone with NHL success and experience. The Oilers fan base deserves better than this gong show we've been watching for the past 8 years.

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#43 madjam
October 27 2013, 10:22AM
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Any chance they can add Nurse from junior to shore up defensive lapses ? Have no fear Sam Gagner should soon be here . The way we play to lose you'd think I was a sin to win ?

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#44 TeddyTurnbuckle
October 27 2013, 10:25AM
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I've watched all of the games this year and have to say this is the best Oiler team since 06 despite their record. We would have won last night if Dubnyk was in net. I find it really pathetic how people are constantly taking shots at K Lowe on this site. How about offering constructive criticism instead of recycling the same old K Lowe bashing. Go to some other forum and take your uneducated hockey opinions with you. The Oilers are competing hard every night which is a vast improvement over past seasons. The team is obviously still too young so a little more patience is needed. Yakupov has to stop giving up 5 star to the other team with his poor defensive play. He is directly responsible for at least one goal against us every game. That being said he is getting better at using his teammates.

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#45 Serious Gord
October 27 2013, 10:27AM
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Andrew Ference may in time be known as the worst captain in oilers history - though I confess I am not familiar with what happened vis a vis corson.

Hiring a rookie coach who needs, at the very least, some on the job seasoning was a mistake for a team that is of the type that the oil are - young, talented, looking to make the next step as a team. And that is 100% MacT's fault.

While the teams failure is not 100% Eakins fault, he is clearly a net negative on the team thusfar. Thusfar he is part of the problem - not part of the solution.

That may change in time, but presently that is the reality. And with the season now lost leaving him in place does little extra harm. He can either develop into a above avg nhl coach or be replaced at the end of the season.

Were I MacT I would already be looking for a replacement - making a 24 hour decision like he did in hiring Eakins will likely only precipitate another disaster.

LA wins - in LA-sutter speak "easily", 2-1. The oil will never really be in it having been ingested in the belly of the LA python by the middle of the second period and not realizing it until five minutes left to go in the third.

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#46 DSF
October 27 2013, 10:28AM
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K_Mart wrote:

While it is too early to put any real blame on eakins, and it is too early to say that our record is a true reflection of our play, it is NOT too early to say the playoffs are out of reach.

They are. I could realistically see things turning around this season, and us closing out the season with a record near or even at .500, but our start has put us too far out.

My guess is we might reach .500 by game 70-75 but we will most certainly not reach the playoffs.

Our goaltending, despite my faith that Dubnyk is good enough to be the man, has essentially already cost us the playoffs.

So yeah, a turnaround is still likely, based on the numbers, but missing the playoffs is even more likely.

The Oilers, according to Sports Club Stats, currently have a 6.4% chance of making the playoffs.

If they lose to LA tonight, that drops to 4.4%.

If the playoff cutoff is 95 points (it might be even higher if the WC continues its dominance over the EC) the Oilers would need to go 40-22-10 to hit 95 points.

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#47 michael
October 27 2013, 10:31AM
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Who is Carolina's back up goalie. With Ward down for a month might the return of Bachman spell the end of LaBarbra in Edmonton? Yesterday's game did not endear him to the coach. Carolina may be looking for some NHL experience for short term help.

Klowe is not the problem. Good lad folks your conspiracy theories are getting tired and banal. Try looking elsewhere to satiate your paranoia.

Oilers bounce back and win 3-2 with a PP goal scored to boot.

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#48 Serious Gord
October 27 2013, 10:36AM
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TeddyTurnbuckle wrote:

I've watched all of the games this year and have to say this is the best Oiler team since 06 despite their record. We would have won last night if Dubnyk was in net. I find it really pathetic how people are constantly taking shots at K Lowe on this site. How about offering constructive criticism instead of recycling the same old K Lowe bashing. Go to some other forum and take your uneducated hockey opinions with you. The Oilers are competing hard every night which is a vast improvement over past seasons. The team is obviously still too young so a little more patience is needed. Yakupov has to stop giving up 5 star to the other team with his poor defensive play. He is directly responsible for at least one goal against us every game. That being said he is getting better at using his teammates.

You are full of it. It being sycophantic loyalty to the old, failed guard. Cronyism has destroyed the reputation of this once great franchise - largely by some of the members of its most successful roster. That cabal has been able to wreak said damage because of enablers like you.

Firing Lowe and replacing him with a bona fide, quality president of ops with no loyalties to the owner or the old guard is the only thing that will begin the the true long term rehabilitation of this decrepit organization.

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#49 Serious Gord
October 27 2013, 10:40AM
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Further to my post above:

screw your anecdotal observations - they are worth less than the ether they are displayed via (especially when your bias is taken into consideration.

Point to one stat from these first 12 games that provides real prof that "this is the best Oiler team since 06 "

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#50 Greg
October 27 2013, 10:40AM
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Hair bag wrote:

Time for you to get ripped. It's easy for you to bitch but how exactly do you suggest they fix it - names of trades or free agent signings that are realistic, that other teams would legitimately agree to or guys that would actually sign here........yea that's what I thought smart guy. I feel your frustration but the Oilers have had no depth for a really long time which means they have no chips to offer any other team except their young draft picks which they are trying to build around - the only thing that can be done is to be patient. The team had been run so far into the ground after the 06 run that the sad fact is it is going to take a really long time to crawl out of the hole. They have come a long way but there is still a long way to go - since 06 the Oilers have been the equivalent of an expansion franchise with the talent they have had on the roster. Lowe is responsible for thinking he could turn sh*t into gold after 06 and delayed a true rebuild by 5yrs, and then Tambo didnt help things at all. But I think MacT is on the right track, unfortunately only more time will tell....you bitching will do nothing to implement change but feel free if it makes you feel better.

Ok I'm going to make things a little clearer. I'm not going to suggest and trades or signings because I don't want Klowe doing anything. Whit I mean by the oilers having to make changes. It's all upstairs. We can change all the players and coaches we want, but the root if the problem still remains. As an oiler fan I would find it easier being patient if it wasn't with Klowe. My patients has run out with that guy. I would feel more comfortable if I knew we were climbing out of this hole without Klowe. there it is, that is the change I want people to get fired up about making, simply put, stop being patient with Klowe

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