THE CULTURE OF LOSING

Robin Brownlee
November 01 2013 11:20PM

"And lastly, I’ll say that there’s one other guy in hockey today that is still working in the game that has won more Stanley Cups than me. So I think I know a little bit about winning, if there’s ever a concern."

Well, yes, as fans of the Edmonton Oilers will tell you after watching their team miss the playoffs for seven straight seasons, there is a concern -- one inflamed by the defiant words of president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe during an exchange with reporters this pre-season.

Lowe, of course, did nothing but win as a member of the Oilers. Lowe won five Stanley Cups in Edmonton, the first two coming by the time he was 25 after making the playoffs in his first six NHL seasons. He won another with the New York Rangers in 1994. Lowe knows about winning, to be sure.

It's quite a different matter when you look at the core of the 2013-14 edition of the Oilers, a group assembled during the seven seasons the team has been on the outside looking in since reaching the 2006 Stanley Cup final. It's a span, counting the first 14 games this season, in which the team has won just 217 of the 554 games played since.

Seven years out. Back-to-back last-place finishes. The only thing the Oilers have won since leaving Carolina in June of 2007 after a Game 7 loss is the NHL Entry Draft lottery, getting Nail Yakupov with their third consecutive first overall pick.

The glory days are a distant memory. The last Cup celebration in 1990 came before some of the Oilers wearing Edmonton silks now, those hailed as the future of this franchise's return to contention, were born. Those players have done nothing, it seems, but lose.

LONG TIME GONE

Taylor Hall, 21, wasn't born when Lowe and the post-Wayne Gretzky Oilers won Edmonton's fifth Cup. Neither was Jordan Eberle, 23, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Yakupov, both just 20.

Hall, in his fourth season, has played 180 regular season games without a taste of the playoffs after winning back-to-back Memorial Cups with the Windsor Spitfires. Eberle, who also broke into the NHL in 2010-11, has played 209 games. Nugent-Hopkins, in this third season, has played 114 games, while Yakupov, in his second season, is at just 60.

Beyond the youngest and biggest names on the marquee, Sam Gagner, 24, in his seventh season, has 415 games in the books without so much as a playoff game. Ladislav Smid, 27, has 471 games in eight seasons. Jeff Petry, 25, has played 170 games with the Oilers, none in the post-season.

Then, there's Ales Hemsky. Long the most offensively gifted player in Edmonton before the wave of kids arrived and injuries slowed him, Hemsky, now 30, was part of the 2006 Stanley Cup team that came within a game of making it six Cups for the Oilers. He's played 400 of the 554 games since.

THE ROAD AHEAD

With so much rich and proud history in the rear-view mirror and mostly defeat and disappointment for this franchise since 2006, is any of the above significant here and now? I think so – how can it not be? -- although I've got no way to prove it, nothing I can put my finger on with certainty.

I can't help but think about what GM Craig MacTavish said last off-season when he was talking about the possibility of moving captain Shawn Horcoff, which he did, and Hemsky.

"Both players are really at a similar crossroads," he said. "Sometimes change is good for both the organization and the player. At the same time they’re valuable players, and we’re not in a position where we’re going to be able to move them without getting something substantial in return.

"When you have been in an environment like Edmonton has had over the last little while you start, as a veteran — and maybe it’s just subconsciously — you start to lose your belief in your ability to win. Given the history with these players…"

When I juxtapose the comments by Lowe and MacTavish, it seems obvious to me one, Lowe, is somewhat detached and out of touch with the players in the dressing room today, while the other, MacTavish, fully understands the toll taken on players here these last seven years.

I wonder if any of them, be they the baby faces like Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins and Yakupov or more seasoned veterans like Gagner, Smid and Hemsky, are at or are approaching the kind of crossroads MacTavish spoke of. With it looking very much like it'll be eight straight years of losing, of being out of the playoffs yet again, I'd wager some are.

That possibility should send a shiver down your spine.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 gongshow
November 02 2013, 12:57AM
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Here's an observation. Would love to hear feedback on it:

A few yeara back when it sounded like there was a fractured dressing room with the vets (Moreau and co.) on one side and the kids (Taylor and friends) on the other side, something apparently had to give. Tambo made his choice and sent the vets packing.

At the time I thought 'good riddance to get rid of these old guys who must be soiling the dressing room with their bad attitudes'. Now, in retrospect, I wonder if the old dudes with less talent but huge work ethic that dragged a team of grinders to within a win of Cup #6 weren't the voice of reason and the beacon of hockey common sense. Is it possible that Tambo chose to run with the dark side?

There aren't many present Oilers who will battle for an inch in the crease, who will block a shot with their face etc. Strikingly, the top 6 and muck if the D corps are lacking these types. Does working one's way up through the system create a stronger work ethic? Does being a highly touted draft puck that skips the seasoning in the minors lead to a sense of unwarranted entitlement?

How good would younger versions of Moreau, Horcoff, Pisani, Reasoner, Jason Smith, Staios, Rollie etc look in Oil silks right now.

Maybe the old guys were the problem.... Then again, is it possible that the answer is maybe not?

I have no insider knowledge of the current workings of the dressing room. Just wondering.

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#2 Retsinnab5
November 02 2013, 12:06AM
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If we win tomorrow i'll go Naked to school

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#3 SmokeyXIII
November 02 2013, 12:18AM
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A few weeks ago I read a blog here about the history of trading away first overall picks. There was an example given about how Quebec was the only other team to get first overall 3 consecutive times, and they traded all of those players away within 5 years. And then won a cup.

So this week it's had me thinking that maybe we don't need to trade away Yakupov, Nuge, or Hall. Maybe we need to trade them all.

Build a team full of guys who work, don't get injured weekly, aren't broken from years of defeat.

That or add in another first overall and see what happens with another 18 year old on the team.

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#4 Quicksilver ballet
November 02 2013, 08:40AM
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@Hammer

Knowing Sheldon Souray brother in law, was told the harassment and childless games Kevin Lowe and Craig Mactavish were giving Souray when he was hurt.

_____________________________________________________________________

There are some holes in your theory. MacTavish was in Chicago (Wolves) when Souray was having a difficult time here. Craig wasn't back in the fold here till long after this issue was set in stone. It was Tambellini and Lowe ruling the roost here then.

Seems like an odd error to make, when it came to your story. It appears to be as much fabrication as it is fact, if you ask me.

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#6 Ari Gold
November 02 2013, 01:15AM
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gongshow wrote:

Here's an observation. Would love to hear feedback on it:

A few yeara back when it sounded like there was a fractured dressing room with the vets (Moreau and co.) on one side and the kids (Taylor and friends) on the other side, something apparently had to give. Tambo made his choice and sent the vets packing.

At the time I thought 'good riddance to get rid of these old guys who must be soiling the dressing room with their bad attitudes'. Now, in retrospect, I wonder if the old dudes with less talent but huge work ethic that dragged a team of grinders to within a win of Cup #6 weren't the voice of reason and the beacon of hockey common sense. Is it possible that Tambo chose to run with the dark side?

There aren't many present Oilers who will battle for an inch in the crease, who will block a shot with their face etc. Strikingly, the top 6 and muck if the D corps are lacking these types. Does working one's way up through the system create a stronger work ethic? Does being a highly touted draft puck that skips the seasoning in the minors lead to a sense of unwarranted entitlement?

How good would younger versions of Moreau, Horcoff, Pisani, Reasoner, Jason Smith, Staios, Rollie etc look in Oil silks right now.

Maybe the old guys were the problem.... Then again, is it possible that the answer is maybe not?

I have no insider knowledge of the current workings of the dressing room. Just wondering.

I would do ANYTHING to see a guy like Jason Smith on the Oil right now. Bloody anything.

Seriously,

Anything.

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#7 Batfink
November 02 2013, 07:46AM
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Off topic, but how does the Gazdic non-fight get broken up for 'player safety' but the refs seem happy to let Emery repeatedly punch Holtby in the back of the head?

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#9 Loweblows
November 02 2013, 09:03AM
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Calgary rookie monahan has 7 goals-thats tha same as yakupov, hall and rnh cobined-sad very sad indeed

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#11 mlcsellil
November 02 2013, 01:19AM
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Agree completely. What a pathetic state of affairs. Klowe is stuck living in the past and has no idea how to effectively run an organization. I wonder if the players were to be honest, how many would want to be traded to a team with a chance.

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#12 Fresh Mess
November 02 2013, 08:16AM
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@Rheal1

Then the big question remains: "WHO SHOULD REPLACE KEVIN LOWE AS PREZ OF HOCKEY OPS?" .................................

the answer: no one. 'president of hockey operations' is a ridiculous and superfluous position for such a small business. The controller of hockey operations should be the GM.

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#13 Andrew
November 02 2013, 10:58AM
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The development of a losing culture takes a toll on more than just the players. What about the fanbase? The dedicated hard working types who have labored loyally through the last 21 seasons. There are a lot of fans whose hopes are smashed annually. I don't expect the Cup finals every year, but throw me a bone every oncein a while. It's hard to ignore the cloud hanging over the organization.

I sincerely wonder how deep the fan's collective patience runs before this culture of failure comes to an end. There are people not getting the job done on and off the ice.

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#14 oilredemption
November 02 2013, 09:10AM
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I wish the oilers could be more like the flyers and push back a little after being throttled. Show some emotion. Show you care and stick up for your team. Show we aren't a bunch of girls and easy to play against. Show some damn pride...

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#15 Harry
November 02 2013, 12:44AM
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SmokeyXIII wrote:

A few weeks ago I read a blog here about the history of trading away first overall picks. There was an example given about how Quebec was the only other team to get first overall 3 consecutive times, and they traded all of those players away within 5 years. And then won a cup.

So this week it's had me thinking that maybe we don't need to trade away Yakupov, Nuge, or Hall. Maybe we need to trade them all.

Build a team full of guys who work, don't get injured weekly, aren't broken from years of defeat.

That or add in another first overall and see what happens with another 18 year old on the team.

Out of those 3 RNH os by far the keeper.

He has the most hockey sence and pire skill.

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#16 Loweblows
November 02 2013, 08:21AM
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I wonder if they will even get a goal tonight let alone the win.

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#17 Serious Gord
November 02 2013, 08:50AM
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Spoils wrote:

The city knows how to win. This team needs to catch a wave and hold on to it.

Oh and cover when the D pinches etc.

What the heck does "knows how to win" mean?

The city hasn't had a nhl champ for decades. The minor pro football team fluked a couple of championships a while back, but it's glory years go back even further than the oils does.

The city has been in one it's darkest losing phases in its sports history. And in both football and hockey the looks to be more darkness than light for some time yet.

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#18 dougtheslug
November 02 2013, 10:48AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I don't share the frustration of fans out there but I certainly do understand it. That said, I didn't write this item as a vehicle for people to pile on Kevin Lowe, although it was certainly predictable some would.

Let me say this about Kevin, and you can take it for what you think it's worth. I've covered sports for 30 years now as a writer. In that time, I've never met a person more driven to win than Lowe. He has a competitive streak that, frankly, borders on unhealthy at times. I've seen it. No second-hand information here.

At the same time, I can't think of anybody I've met who cares about this organization more, was prouder to wear the jersey or who wants to see the team succeed as badly as he does. This I know, again, first-hand.

None of the above, of course, means Lowe deserves a pass on the failures fans have endured these last several years. He doesn't. It's not to say, "Poor Kevin. He cares so much, so look the other way and give him a break." Results matter. Always have, always will. Context, though, is important

Anybody who thinks Lowe is sitting in the background, pulling the strings, enjoying a fat pay cheque and shrugging his shoulders in indifference while MacT takes the bullets as GM is mistaken. If you're in the growing camp that is shouting, "Kevin Lowe can go to hell," you can take some solace. He is there now.

I'm not interested if he cares about winning. I'm much more interested if he knows anything about building a winner in the modern NHL. And the answer seems to be no.

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#19 Quicksilver ballet
November 02 2013, 08:25AM
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@SmokeyXIII

So this week it's had me thinking that maybe we don't need to trade away Yakupov, Nuge, or Hall. Maybe we need to trade them all.

Build a team full of guys who work, don't get injured weekly, aren't broken from years of defeat.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

That's thinking outside the box. Many here have wondered what Hemskys career would've been like had he been drafted by a team like the Red Wings. Would Edmonton sacrifice each one of these kids potential by keeping them here, and break their spirit like Hemsky has resigned himself to. One thing is certain, none of them appear to be enjoying the game all that much, so far.

After these last 7 years, Edmonton appears to have become the black hole/abyss of the NHL.

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#20 DSF
November 02 2013, 01:24PM
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D wrote:

I'm no expert, but have run a fair share of small companies over the years. Every time somebody like Lowe resigns or is fired, the organization loses institutional knowledge - whether it's something as large as strategy or as small as the minute details of a contract negotiation.

I was happy to see Tambellini go and have argued numerous times that you can't build a winner with someone who couldn't get the GM slot with the Vancouver Canucks. But even with Tambellini's departure, institutional knowledge was lost for the Oilers. MacTavish, being privy to most of that knowledge, was able to slide in easily. But there is still a loss of continuity at a business level.

In this case, the continuity you are promoting is likely more of a negative than a positive.

Often it is necessary to totally clean the slate and start over and perhaps find another way to recapture the institutional knowledge.

The most recent example would be the Colorado Avalanche who, while retaining Greg Sherman as a figurehead brought in Joe Sakic in the power position and Patrick Roy as head coach.

While the appearance in Denver is also one of nepotism the dynamic is different in that Sakic and Roy don't have the baggage being carried by Lowe and MacT but instead have great track records of winning.

Lowe's track record as a GM is horrible and MacT, while a rookie GM like Sakic, doesn't have a successful track record as a coach to fall back on with his team only reaching the playoffs twice in 8 years.

If you were launching a new expansion franchise next week, would Lowe, MacT and Eakins even be on your radar to run the club?

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#21 Gret99zky
November 02 2013, 12:29AM
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No playoffs until the new rink is ready.

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#23 Ari Gold
November 02 2013, 01:10PM
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So Lowe loves winning and is borderline obsessive over it.

Great.

So he's not lacking motivation nor integrity, only competence.

Still, looking for thoughts on this:

The Avs have a very similar team on paper to the Oil. Terrible D, great young forwards, questionable goaltending. Why are they doing so much better? Is Roy that much superior to Eakins?

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#24 Shooter
November 02 2013, 01:28PM
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I don't have any rings except my wedding ring but somehow I do know a little something about building a winning team. Most of it is common sense. For instance, you can't have a team full of little soft skilled players. If the Oil of the 80's had been made up of 20 Wayne Gretzky's they would not have won a cup. This team has been soft for years and continued to draft and sign soft players year after year. Nobody fears the Oilers. They're the easiest team in the NHL to play against. Then they went and gave the kids huge contracts already when they haven't proven themselves. It's human nature that when you get the big bucks your give a sh*t level drops. But the Oil just handed out the money again the same way they did to everyone after the lucky 2006 cup run. Can you believe we are this bad and the team is capped out already? What a joke. Compare the best 4 forwards salaries on any other NHL team right now and then be prepared to puke. For what the Oil are going to pay Hall, Ebs, Nuge and Gags next year you could have Toews, Kane, Sharp, and Hossa for the same price level. Who would you rather have? And if you say the 4 Oilers kids you basically know nothing about hockey and how to build a winner. You could have Kopitar, Carter, Brown, and Richards for that price. You could have Krejci, Bergeron, Lucic, and Iginla for less money. Now the Oilers have dug another hole that will take years to get out of. Unless Mac T can work some magic this is going to be ugly for years to come, and I doubt he will be able to work much magic considering trades are hard to come by and he is a rookie GM.

Want to make the fan base happy Katz? Dismiss every former Oiler in the front office not named Joey Moss and spend your money on intelligent hockey minds. Since the Lowe regime began there have been a long list of available, experienced, proven hockey managers and coaches we could have grabbed along the way but here we sit with Six Rings, Howsen, Mac T (again), Bucky, Smith, and Eakins.

Oilers fans have every right to be fed up.

This is a mess.

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#25 Ari Gold
November 02 2013, 09:39AM
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To all those stressing patience, I urge you to compare the Oilers to the Aves. Top to bottom the teams aren't terribly different.

How has Roy been able to get these results from his team after a terrible last season? Why does it appear that Eakins has zero effect on the team?

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#26 Walter Sobchak
November 02 2013, 11:10AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

So this week it's had me thinking that maybe we don't need to trade away Yakupov, Nuge, or Hall. Maybe we need to trade them all.

Build a team full of guys who work, don't get injured weekly, aren't broken from years of defeat.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

That's thinking outside the box. Many here have wondered what Hemskys career would've been like had he been drafted by a team like the Red Wings. Would Edmonton sacrifice each one of these kids potential by keeping them here, and break their spirit like Hemsky has resigned himself to. One thing is certain, none of them appear to be enjoying the game all that much, so far.

After these last 7 years, Edmonton appears to have become the black hole/abyss of the NHL.

We have to keep what Smokey says here in perspective.

The Nordiques traded Lindros for a King’s Ransom, that's what won the Avalanche the cup.

In fact out of the rest of those trades Quebec got absolutely smoked on the other deals.

In hindsight Sundin & Nolan were terrible trades that didn’t need to happen.

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#27 Rheal1
November 02 2013, 06:46AM
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The Oilers have been compared to the NYI often and even nicknamed the Islanders of the west, well let's see the stats. Standings 2012-13: Edm 24th NYI 16th-made playoffs 2011-12: Edm 29th NYI 27th 2010-11 Edm 30th NYI 27th 2009-10 Edm 30th NYI 26th 2008-09 Edm 21st NYI 30th NYI best player: Tavares. His last 3 seasons: 48gp/47pts; 82/81; 79/67 for a total -24 & 88 goals. Eberle has most goals for Oilers for past 3 seasons and is 68/-12. To compare Hall has 65/-7 followed by Gagner at 47/-18

So far this season Tavares has 14pts and Eberle/RNH have 10pts each. While the NYI have the edge in every comparison they have 658 goals against during the same period and Edmonton shows 642. Conclusion: while the NYI seem to be a moderately better team, they would probably fare worst if they were in the west. While it is encouraging to see that the Oilers would be a marginally better team if in the east, the problem is likely to rest in two areas: poor player development and a senior management that has troubling vision and poor decision making skills. Since every problem/shortfall brought forward should be accompanied by a solution, I propose the firing of Kevin Lowe and to hire more fitting player development staff. Then the big question remains: "WHO SHOULD REPLACE KEVIN LOWE AS PREZ OF HOCKEY OPS?"

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#28 Hammer
November 02 2013, 08:23AM
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Great organizations come start with the top. The oilers don't have it. Knowing Sheldon Souray brother in law, was told the harassment and childless games Kevin Lowe and Craig Mactavish were giving Souray when he was hurt. Not once did they see him in the hospital but they had time to call him and complain and harassed him. Signs of a great organization. I feel sorry for the young talent. Young guns need to get out of Sour Oil City in order to succeed. I want them to succeed, not under Kevin Lowe or Craig Mactavish.

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#29 oilredemption
November 02 2013, 09:16AM
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@oilabroad

As for hall being untouchable. He would my first vote off the island. He would bring in the biggest reward. I think the problem with the team there is two many friends and not enough business. Eberle and hall need to be split up and we would see a reality check and more desperation. And I think hall brings back the biggest return.

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#30 Shooter
November 02 2013, 01:05PM
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@Serious Gord

The media are scared to call out Six Rings Lowe or anyone else in management because if they do, they will be barred from the dressing room. Six Rings runs the Oilers like a communist country. Say anything negative about the job their doing and you will be banished. Lowe should have been canned back when he was GM. He did a horrible and instead of being fired or demoted he was promoted to president? That's about the time when the Oilers started to become a joke in the NHL and the laughs just keep on coming. It's ok though Six Rings, I'm allowed to complain because I'm one of the paying customers.

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#31 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
November 02 2013, 05:43AM
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gongshow wrote:

Here's an observation. Would love to hear feedback on it:

A few yeara back when it sounded like there was a fractured dressing room with the vets (Moreau and co.) on one side and the kids (Taylor and friends) on the other side, something apparently had to give. Tambo made his choice and sent the vets packing.

At the time I thought 'good riddance to get rid of these old guys who must be soiling the dressing room with their bad attitudes'. Now, in retrospect, I wonder if the old dudes with less talent but huge work ethic that dragged a team of grinders to within a win of Cup #6 weren't the voice of reason and the beacon of hockey common sense. Is it possible that Tambo chose to run with the dark side?

There aren't many present Oilers who will battle for an inch in the crease, who will block a shot with their face etc. Strikingly, the top 6 and muck if the D corps are lacking these types. Does working one's way up through the system create a stronger work ethic? Does being a highly touted draft puck that skips the seasoning in the minors lead to a sense of unwarranted entitlement?

How good would younger versions of Moreau, Horcoff, Pisani, Reasoner, Jason Smith, Staios, Rollie etc look in Oil silks right now.

Maybe the old guys were the problem.... Then again, is it possible that the answer is maybe not?

I have no insider knowledge of the current workings of the dressing room. Just wondering.

Moreau and Hall were never on the same Oiler team but I see what you're getting at. Personally, I think the beginning of this turd parade was when we started chasing after big names like PenneR, Jagr, Nylander! Heatly etc.

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#32 Serious Gord
November 02 2013, 11:11AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I don't share the frustration of fans out there but I certainly do understand it. That said, I didn't write this item as a vehicle for people to pile on Kevin Lowe, although it was certainly predictable some would.

Let me say this about Kevin, and you can take it for what you think it's worth. I've covered sports for 30 years now as a writer. In that time, I've never met a person more driven to win than Lowe. He has a competitive streak that, frankly, borders on unhealthy at times. I've seen it. No second-hand information here.

At the same time, I can't think of anybody I've met who cares about this organization more, was prouder to wear the jersey or who wants to see the team succeed as badly as he does. This I know, again, first-hand.

None of the above, of course, means Lowe deserves a pass on the failures fans have endured these last several years. He doesn't. It's not to say, "Poor Kevin. He cares so much, so look the other way and give him a break." Results matter. Always have, always will. Context, though, is important

Anybody who thinks Lowe is sitting in the background, pulling the strings, enjoying a fat pay cheque and shrugging his shoulders in indifference while MacT takes the bullets as GM is mistaken. If you're in the growing camp that is shouting, "Kevin Lowe can go to hell," you can take some solace. He is there now.

None of what you describe of Lowe speaks to the key issue:

Competence

And he has exhibited little of that.

He has been a cronyist below and a beneficiary of cronyism above. That is undeniable.

While his level of involvement in the day to day is debatable - we have no evidence either way of that - he symbolizes all that is wrong with the oilers organization:

Cronyist

Living in the past

A tin ear when it comes to public statements/public relations.

A paralysis when it comes to letting go friends, pals and players who profess love for Edmonton and of the organization. (See cronyist above).

Terminating him from the position of pres of hockey ops and replacing him with someone with no ties to the org and a bona fide CV for being a POHO would send a signal to fans AND players throughout the hockey world that the cronyism and living in the past has ended and that the unfettered quest for the cup has well and truly begun.

And that is why it is imperative that he be fired post haste.

And if that gets Klowe out of his current purgatory/hell, consider it a fringe benefit. Better yet Klowe could do the HONOURABLE thing and

RESIGN.

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#33 Serious Gord
November 02 2013, 12:00PM
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@Serious Gord

What really frosted me regarding the Edmonton sports journo institution (ESJI)(if i can call it that) was regarding the firing of Krueger and the hiring of Eakins (two decisions that clearly involved KLowe - he was in the first interview for sure and probably in subsequent contact prior to the announcement. But I digress as that is not the topic of this post).

Prior to that happening, I neither heard nor read any of the journos calling for Krueger's termination. Sure, there was some criticism of his tactical coaching abilities but no case was made by any of the ESJI for his firing. Essentially they parroted the line from oilco that a assistant should be hired to help with the tactical side.

Then out of the blue Krueger is out and Eakins is in. And miraculously the ESJI spouted forth hundreds of thousands of words describing all of kreugers failings and the necessity/merits of his sudden termination and complete removal from the organization. Which very much adhered to oilcos new position.

This was firm proof that the ESJI is either: A group of Ignorant journos who regurgitate what oilco feeds them.

Or

A group that knew damn well that kreuger was incompetent OR that oilco was being idiotic in its handling/decision making, but even with that knowledge, they were loyal sycophants and covered oilcos traces/ protected oilco both before and after the event.

It was a damning example of the weakness and lack of independence of the ESJI.

And I see little evidence that that level of disreputable conduct has changed in the interim. To wit, I have yet to hear or read and EDM journo oped calling for Klowes removal. Not one. Regardless of whether you support that or not, the monolithic conduct by the ESJI goes a long way towards proving their lack of backbone and their sycophancy towards oilco.

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#34 K_Mart
November 02 2013, 07:30AM
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gongshow wrote:

Here's an observation. Would love to hear feedback on it:

A few yeara back when it sounded like there was a fractured dressing room with the vets (Moreau and co.) on one side and the kids (Taylor and friends) on the other side, something apparently had to give. Tambo made his choice and sent the vets packing.

At the time I thought 'good riddance to get rid of these old guys who must be soiling the dressing room with their bad attitudes'. Now, in retrospect, I wonder if the old dudes with less talent but huge work ethic that dragged a team of grinders to within a win of Cup #6 weren't the voice of reason and the beacon of hockey common sense. Is it possible that Tambo chose to run with the dark side?

There aren't many present Oilers who will battle for an inch in the crease, who will block a shot with their face etc. Strikingly, the top 6 and muck if the D corps are lacking these types. Does working one's way up through the system create a stronger work ethic? Does being a highly touted draft puck that skips the seasoning in the minors lead to a sense of unwarranted entitlement?

How good would younger versions of Moreau, Horcoff, Pisani, Reasoner, Jason Smith, Staios, Rollie etc look in Oil silks right now.

Maybe the old guys were the problem.... Then again, is it possible that the answer is maybe not?

I have no insider knowledge of the current workings of the dressing room. Just wondering.

I can't help but agree with you on some level. But I think the fact that these skilled guys never had to worry about the details of the game is more telling.

When you are so dominant offensively in junior you can get away without backchecking, blocking shots, covering for pinching d men, etc...

These kids are so focused on offense that they've forgotten about the rest of the game. Until they put team success ahead of personal success, we will never see the playoffs.

Eakins has the toughest job in the NHL IMO right now. He has to break habits that are 10+ years in the making for some of these kids.

Winning involves doing the right things, and making the right choices ALL THE TIME. As Lombardi said, you dont just do it some of the time. It's an all the time thing. Winning is a habit, but unfortunately, so is losing.

I'm sure Eakins sees it, and that's the first step.

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#35 K_Mart
November 02 2013, 07:44AM
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If we make the playoffs this year, I will get a tattoo of every player number from the roster, on my arm as a reminder of the people who were able to end the worst oilers Era in history. And maybe I'll get D.E. initialed on my left ass cheek.

I'll do it, I swear.

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#36 oilfaninvic
November 02 2013, 10:57AM
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@gongshow

Regarding Kevin Lowe:

I think he knows a thing or two about losing at this stage of his Oiler's presidency.

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#37 kale
November 02 2013, 12:15AM
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Excellent article Robin, as usual. For some reason though I know this team has got it...these are the same kids that lit Chicago up last year. Some how some way this team has got to find itself.

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#38 Harlie
November 02 2013, 12:38PM
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I long for the days when Stauffer was a staunch critic of the Oil and Tencer was a bandage you wore on your limbs, not a local radio star.

SG, Gregor's recent article in the Journal and his recent rants on the radio and around here on ON have been the closest thing we have seen from the local media calling for KLoew to be accountable.

I still believe that if KLowe was removed it may not make a difference on the ice so other than optics I'm not sure the relevance of the move.

I am in agreement that if KLowe gets his walking papers then many others in the Org should as well. I'm looking at Howson, Smith, Cheeseburger, and maybe even MacT, Eakins and Acton.

Change is good right? Just ask 2 term Obama who Clinton likens to a lucky dog with two peens.

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#39 He Who Knows
November 02 2013, 01:54PM
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I love reading the articles by Brownlee and Gregor on this site. Kevin Lowe is a buffoon, I could care less about his passion, actually he can shove his passion where the sun don't shine. Burke was not kidding when he said Lowe put this organization in the gutter or something along those lines. Smith and his burger pal can also shove it. Katz buying the team was a mistake. EIG would have held Lowe accountable and kicked him out of town years ago. Jock sniffers do not make for good owners. Ask Sabres fans. Pegula is the Katz east. I digress, until next time, suck it Lowe.

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#40 oilredemption
November 02 2013, 09:18AM
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I think nuge and nurse should be the only untouchables on this team going forward.

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#41 Andrew
November 02 2013, 12:29PM
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If 'he of the six rings' is so driven to win you would think by now he'd have got his crap together and built an organization that was at the very least competitive. I don't know what your vantage point is but I don't think you and many Oiler fans are on the same book let alone the same page.

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#42 6 ring circus
November 02 2013, 07:13PM
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Danny Maciocia and Kevin Lowe are to blame for ruining Edmonton's once great and proud sports franchises!!!Unfortunately for Eskimos and Oiler's fans, it will be years before both these teams recover from managements stupidity and ego's!!!

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#43 oilabroad
November 02 2013, 08:27AM
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Obviously trading all of them would be retarded, but there is no question that at least one has to go. We cant possibly get the pieces we need by giving up bits and pieces from our reject pile. I think Yakupov, Marincin, Lander, Klefbom and Eberle are all moveable for the right player. There should be few untouchables on a last place team (RNH, Hall and Nurse)

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#44 Johnnydapunk
November 02 2013, 01:53PM
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The one thing that firing KLowe could bring albeit in an indirect way is a bit of a wake up call to the rest of the Management and coaching staff that they have to be accountable for the results, which I don't think they feel that they are. You have Eakins benching players to make sure they are accountable for their actions and his big mantra is accountability, but the management don't seem to have to worry as old 6Rings seems to be keeping everything the way it is.

Personally, I am alright with what Eakins is doing, he has a bunch of young players who were used to being the stars and not have to worry about playing a complete game as they were the "scoring heroes" in junior. They need to learn to play a complete game and I think that Eakins is the man to teach them that as he has had experience in developing players. I don't think the Oil Have had that type of coach in ages. Eakins will also make mistakes as it is also his first year as an NHL coach, but he will also learn.

My expectations are insanely low so I'm not overtly worked up about the lack of results and I will be shocked and impressed if they actually make the playoffs.

It could also be that I remember as a small child watching the Oilers and how they were the best team in the world, they were the gods of hockey. Rules were changed because the Oil were so dominant. Those times made me so happy and those memories also make me happy. Fans from Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa or Winnipeg have never had a team like the Oilers, Fans from Toronto and Montreal did, but you're going back 50 some years to find teams that were as dominant as the Oil were in the mid 80s. All of that makes me still feel alright to be an Oiler fan, and I know the winning will come someday soon.

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#45 Zed
November 01 2013, 11:45PM
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If you're sassumption is true with a player or three, which do you choose? This conundrum may be a direct result of a few more grey hairs on McTavish's head over the next few months.

Bah who am I kidding, I could do his job.

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#46 VK63
November 02 2013, 01:08AM
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yes... there is a lot of inertia that comes from playing with so much indifference for such a long time.

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#47 nWo4life
November 02 2013, 03:44PM
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Shooter wrote:

I don't have any rings except my wedding ring but somehow I do know a little something about building a winning team. Most of it is common sense. For instance, you can't have a team full of little soft skilled players. If the Oil of the 80's had been made up of 20 Wayne Gretzky's they would not have won a cup. This team has been soft for years and continued to draft and sign soft players year after year. Nobody fears the Oilers. They're the easiest team in the NHL to play against. Then they went and gave the kids huge contracts already when they haven't proven themselves. It's human nature that when you get the big bucks your give a sh*t level drops. But the Oil just handed out the money again the same way they did to everyone after the lucky 2006 cup run. Can you believe we are this bad and the team is capped out already? What a joke. Compare the best 4 forwards salaries on any other NHL team right now and then be prepared to puke. For what the Oil are going to pay Hall, Ebs, Nuge and Gags next year you could have Toews, Kane, Sharp, and Hossa for the same price level. Who would you rather have? And if you say the 4 Oilers kids you basically know nothing about hockey and how to build a winner. You could have Kopitar, Carter, Brown, and Richards for that price. You could have Krejci, Bergeron, Lucic, and Iginla for less money. Now the Oilers have dug another hole that will take years to get out of. Unless Mac T can work some magic this is going to be ugly for years to come, and I doubt he will be able to work much magic considering trades are hard to come by and he is a rookie GM.

Want to make the fan base happy Katz? Dismiss every former Oiler in the front office not named Joey Moss and spend your money on intelligent hockey minds. Since the Lowe regime began there have been a long list of available, experienced, proven hockey managers and coaches we could have grabbed along the way but here we sit with Six Rings, Howsen, Mac T (again), Bucky, Smith, and Eakins.

Oilers fans have every right to be fed up.

This is a mess.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

This team is as soft as butter. Every game it's men against boys. The Hanzal forearm shiver to Petry's face was a prime example. And not one of these ladies did anything about it.

If I see Yakupov or Hall try to skate through 2 defenders again I will vomit. Eberle needs to realize he isn't playing in the all-star game and make the simple play.

I've had enough.

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#48 Zarny
November 02 2013, 08:00PM
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Shooter wrote:

I don't have any rings except my wedding ring but somehow I do know a little something about building a winning team. Most of it is common sense. For instance, you can't have a team full of little soft skilled players. If the Oil of the 80's had been made up of 20 Wayne Gretzky's they would not have won a cup. This team has been soft for years and continued to draft and sign soft players year after year. Nobody fears the Oilers. They're the easiest team in the NHL to play against. Then they went and gave the kids huge contracts already when they haven't proven themselves. It's human nature that when you get the big bucks your give a sh*t level drops. But the Oil just handed out the money again the same way they did to everyone after the lucky 2006 cup run. Can you believe we are this bad and the team is capped out already? What a joke. Compare the best 4 forwards salaries on any other NHL team right now and then be prepared to puke. For what the Oil are going to pay Hall, Ebs, Nuge and Gags next year you could have Toews, Kane, Sharp, and Hossa for the same price level. Who would you rather have? And if you say the 4 Oilers kids you basically know nothing about hockey and how to build a winner. You could have Kopitar, Carter, Brown, and Richards for that price. You could have Krejci, Bergeron, Lucic, and Iginla for less money. Now the Oilers have dug another hole that will take years to get out of. Unless Mac T can work some magic this is going to be ugly for years to come, and I doubt he will be able to work much magic considering trades are hard to come by and he is a rookie GM.

Want to make the fan base happy Katz? Dismiss every former Oiler in the front office not named Joey Moss and spend your money on intelligent hockey minds. Since the Lowe regime began there have been a long list of available, experienced, proven hockey managers and coaches we could have grabbed along the way but here we sit with Six Rings, Howsen, Mac T (again), Bucky, Smith, and Eakins.

Oilers fans have every right to be fed up.

This is a mess.

I don't disagree with your sentiment; but also consider it's human nature for the expectations of big contracts to overwhelm players.

There is no question that today the 4 Oilers kids are not at the same level as Toews, Kane, Sharp and Hossa. But that's not surprising. You're talking about a much more experienced group of men.

I think there are a few things to consider.

You can't have Krejci, Bergeron, Lucic and Iginla. Bos has them. Ditto for Toews, Kane, Sharp and Hossa. Can't have them. Chi won't give them up.

You have to find your own players. The anticipation is that Hall, Eberle, Nuge and Yakupov can get to that level.

That's not unreasonable. Hall was only 5 pt behind Kane last year. He beat Toews. Ebs had 76 pt in 78 games. Nuge had 52 pt in 62 games as a rookie. You're right they haven't proven exactly how good they can be but they've proven to be very good.

And capping them all at $6M long term mitigates risk.

Hall was on pace for 91 pts last year. That's better than Tavares' 3rd year. Nuge and Yak have only played 114 and 60 games.

It's entirely possible that 1 or 2 might not quite live up to $6M/yr but they won't be far off. And it's entirely possible 1 or 2 could be real bargains at $6M/yr in 2-3 years.

For a city like Edm which is one rung above Buffalo for least desired free agent destination that's not a bad bet. And even if you had to trade them all totally doable.

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#49 vetinari
November 02 2013, 09:22AM
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I said it before-- right now our stars refuse to play as units, night after night, and our record is a product of that. What we need is a 250 pound grinder-- not to scare the other team but to scare our guys into playing as a team.

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#50 Serious Gord
November 02 2013, 12:01PM
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What really frosted me regarding the Edmonton sports journo institution (ESJI)(if i can call it that) was regarding the firing of Krueger and the hiring of Eakins (two decisions that clearly involved KLowe - he was in the first interview for sure and probably in subsequent contact prior to the announcement. But I digress as that is not the topic of this post).

Prior to that happening, I neither heard nor read any of the journos calling for Krueger's termination. Sure, there was some criticism of his tactical coaching abilities but no case was made by any of the ESJI for his firing. Essentially they parroted the line from oilco that a assistant should be hired to help with the tactical side.

Then out of the blue Krueger is out and Eakins is in. And miraculously the ESJI spouted forth hundreds of thousands of words describing all of kreugers failings and the necessity/merits of his sudden termination and complete removal from the organization. Which very much adhered to oilcos new position.

This was firm proof that the ESJI is either: A group of Ignorant journos who regurgitate what oilco feeds them.

Or

A group that knew damn well that kreuger was incompetent OR that oilco was being idiotic in its handling/decision making, but even with that knowledge, they were loyal sycophants and covered oilcos traces/ protected oilco both before and after the event.

It was a damning example of the weakness and lack of independence of the ESJI.

And I see little evidence that that level of disreputable conduct has changed in the interim. To wit, I have yet to hear or read and EDM journo oped calling for Klowes removal. Not one. Regardless of whether you support that or not, the monolithic conduct by the ESJI goes a long way towards proving their lack of backbone and their sycophancy towards oilco.

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