GDB 37.0: ASK SAKIC?

Jason Gregor
December 19 2013 12:29PM

As the Oilers get set to face the Colorado Avalanche trying to end a four game losing streak, Taylor Hall and company can take solace in knowing that some other young stars endured many years of losing, before tasting the sweet nectar of victory.

They should ask Joe Sakic, the Avalanche's Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations, about losing. He lost way more than these kids have early in his career, and it didn't break him, and he didn't pout about it. He persevered and became a Hall of Famer.

Hall has played 200 games, Eberle has been in 231 games, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has dressed in 136, while Nail Yakupov is at 82 games and Justin Schultz has played 76. No one should be suggesting that all the losing is going to wear down these kids. I don't believe any of them are that fragile, but even if they thought about having a pity party, they should do a quick search of Joe Sakic's career.

Sakic was drafted 15th overall in 1987 by the Quebec Nordiques. He played one more season in Swift Current before debuting with the Nordiques in October of 1988. Keep in mind that in his first three seasons he played in a 21-team league where 16 teams made the playoffs.

In Sakic's first three seasons, the Nordiques finished dead last every year. The Nordiques drafted 1st, 1st, 1st and 4th in his first four NHL seasons.

1989: They went 27-46-7 for 61 points.
1990: They were 12-61-7 for 31 points.
1991: They went 16-50-14 for 46 points.
1992: They went 20-28-12 for 52 points.

In 1993, they were literally twice as good picking up 104 points going 47-27-10, but in 1994 Sakic and the Nordiques dipped back down to 76 points with a 34-42-8 record.

In his first four seasons, Sakic's Nordiques won a measly 75 of the 320 games they played. Sakic dressed in 299 of those games, and he learned much more about losing than he did winning.

Despite all the losses Sakic played exceptionally well.

YEAR       GP      G       A      PTS
1989        70      23     39      62 
1990        80      39     63     102
1991        80      48     61     109
1992        69      29     65      94

In 1990, the second leading scorer on the Nordiques was Peter Stastny with 62 points in 62 games before being traded. In 1991, Sakic had 50 more points than his closest teammate; Mats Sundin tallied 59 points.

Sakic didn't let the losing get to him. He kept battling and kept producing. 

WINNERS KEEP WORKING DESPITE LOSING  

Hall played his 200th game on Tuesday, and despite another loss, Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins haven't come close to experiencing the type of losing that Sakic had to face.

Hall's Oilers have played 248 games since he entered the league and they've won 87 of those. Sakic's team won 75 of 320 during his first four seasons. Losing sucks and I'm sure it can wear down a player, but if Hall wants to become one of the greats he needs to keep playing hard, and hope that eventually he will be surrounded by better players. He needs to continue to show determination and play strong, and like Sakic, at times he will need to carry the Oilers on his back.

Hall was the Oilers most dangerous forward in LA. He needs to keep playing like that, regardless of where the Oilers are in the standings or how often they are losing. Hall has the ability to be a franchise player, and considering how much he has improved in his last 100 games, I suspect he'll only keep getting better.

I've heard some people suggesting the kids will get tired of losing and want out of Edmonton, but competitive people don't think like that. There will be games where they look frustrated, and understandably so, but many elite players have started their NHL careers tasting defeat more often than victory, and the last thing that Hall or any of his teammates will do is feel sorry for themselves.

They need to be part of the solution, and when they start to win the victories will be more fulfilling because of what they learned in their first few seasons.

MORE TOUGH STARTS...

Mario Lemieux missed the playoffs in his first four seasons, and five of his first six. The Penguins drafted 2nd, 4th, 5th and 4th in his first four years.

Steven Stamkos has missed the playoffs four of his first five seasons. The Bolts have drafted 2nd, 6th, 10th and 3rd during those four losing seasons.

John Tavares has missed the playoffs three of his first four years, and the Islanders are poised to miss the postseason again. They have drafted 4th, 5th and 5th thus far in his non-playoff seasons.

Rick Nash played five full seasons without the playoffs, and he missed the dance in 8 of his first 9 years.

Ilya Kovalchuk missed the postseason his first four years and seven of his first eight seasons.

Vincent Lecavalier missed the playoffs his first four seasons. The Bolts were scheduled to pick 1st, 5th, 3rd and 4th in those years.

**Sidenote**.. Rick Dudley was the GM for Tampa Bay in 1999 and he traded the 1st overall pick. He moved down to 4th, and then traded again and didn't pick until 47th. He ended up with Dan Cloutier, Andrei Zyuzin, Shawn Burr and the Rangers 1st round pick in 2000. He could have used the first pick on Patrik Stefan or one of the Sedins, although those two had made it known they really wanted to play together.

The next year, Dudley traded the 5th pick to the Islanders for Kevin Weekes, Kristian Kurdroc and the 31st pick. The Islanders selected Raffi Torres. Despite these horrific deals, the Lightning still won the Cup in 2004. ***

Losing stinks but Hall and company aren't the first group of young stars to endure losing seasons, so let's stop the suggestions that they will want out of Edmonton. Anyone in the media or fan base who suggests these kids have endured too much losing need only look at the career paths of other young stars. Rarely is it an instant path to success.

Winning is difficult and as painful as these past few seasons have been for Hall and company, they need to learn from it, and be willing to ensure they improve their play so the team becomes more successful. Hall is good enough to lead this team to better times ahead, and he'll likely inspire his teammates to follow him in the coming seasons.

LINEUP...

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Perron-Gagner-Yakupov
Smyth-Gordon-Hemsky
Jones-Lander-Gazdic

Ference-Petry
N.Schultz-J.Schultz
Belov-Larsen

Dubnyk

Arcobello got rocked by Drew Doughty in the 3rd period of Tuesday's 3-0 loss to the Kings, and hasn't skated since. Lander will draw in for Arcobello. 

The Oilers will need to get scoring chances from someone other than Hall tonight. The Avalanche are 6-5-1 in their last 12, and after a 16-5 start they are starting to look more like the team people expected. They aren't a force like the Kings, Bruins or Ducks, but they will provide another solid test for the Oilers.

Dubnyk gets the start. I'm not one who buys into the "Dubnyk plays better when pushed" theory; however, it is obvious that Dubnyk needs to be more consistent.  I want a goalie who plays well regardless of who he shares the net with.

WHAT SEE YOU?

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers will end their trip on a high, with a 4-2 victory in Denver.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Bordeleau and Gazdic drop the gloves. Fight fans love it, while anti-fight crowd will complain. This will never change.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Usually it is former Oilers scoring against Edmonton, but tonight Ryan Smyth bucks that trend and scores against his former team ending his 10-game goal scoring drought. In 16 home games, Erik Johnson has only been a minus player twice, but he ends up -1 tonight.

DAY 15 MONTH OF GIVING...

Yesterday we raised another $3,850 bringing our total to $58,700. Incredible. Thank you.

Today's packages include:

Package #1:

Today's package is courtesy of The Maximum Fighting Championship:

  • Two season tickets to all three MFC shows in Edmonton in 2014, starting January 17th.
  • VIP dinner for two at the Shaw conference centre prior to each show.
  • Be a cornerman during one of the fights... **You must be 16 years of age or older***

Package #2:

  • $1,000 gift certificate/store credit at Reside Furnishings
  • Pair of club seats (section 112 row 14) for Oilers vs. Penguins on January 10th.
  • $50 bucks in Oilers money to use at the game for beer or food.

You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or 1.800.243.1945 between 2-6 p.m. today.

Thanks in advance. All proceeds will go to the Christmas Bureau.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

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
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#101 Alsker
December 19 2013, 08:38PM
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Well that was inevitable, now to kill off the rest of Samwises major..

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#102 **
December 19 2013, 08:38PM
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Well F%$k the refs. That is all.

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#103 Hockey fan 1976
December 19 2013, 08:38PM
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Boy, Dubnuts really enjoys going down to his knees before shot is even taken.

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#104 Rocket
December 19 2013, 08:40PM
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OK The Avalanche completely dominated the first period. Physically, pace-of-play, puck possession etc. but The Oilers were winning so I thought that was cool.

But those two late calls against The Oilers were bogus and now Oiler players are not sure what the refs are gonna call. WTF!

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#105 MattL
December 19 2013, 08:41PM
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Isn't that the same ref that was there for the no-goal Kings game when Yak city was born? Revenge on the Oil fans for making him look like a tool?

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#106 Mikey
December 19 2013, 08:44PM
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MattL wrote:

Isn't that the same ref that was there for the no-goal Kings game when Yak city was born? Revenge on the Oil fans for making him look like a tool?

That is in fact not the same ref.

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#107 Alsker
December 19 2013, 08:46PM
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WTF..blind side hit from behind??? Wow maybe I'm being a homer but thats the same type of hit that put Horcs on IR last season

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#108 Rocket
December 19 2013, 08:47PM
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Hit from behind on Hall. No call. These refs make me drink.

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#109 **
December 19 2013, 08:49PM
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Well the AVS got a firecracker up their b^^t$. Guess it did hurt to lose 8-2

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#110 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 19 2013, 08:55PM
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@Zarny

Mact was brought back June 11 2012 as VP hockey operations. Almost every media member in this town at the time said he was going to be the next gm He was credited by the sportsnet sycophants for being decisive for bringing in J. Schultz and helping hire Krueger as Head Coach. no pass for MacT on this one. Good try tho

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#111 MattL
December 19 2013, 08:57PM
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@Mikey

Hmm, I guess I could have spent 2 seconds looking that up instead of 1 second looking like a dummy.

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#112 Alsker
December 19 2013, 08:59PM
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Physical play=GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLL....Nuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuggggeeee...

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#113 Serious Gord
December 19 2013, 09:03PM
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Hall just missed getting a serious injury on that hit. Crazy reckless way to play.

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#114 Quinn the Eskimo
December 19 2013, 09:11PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

I think the fan-fretting over the kids is worth putting in context like this…

i.e., most of the time teams acquire top 5 picks because they are terrible and it takes a lot more than fresh-faced top 5 picks to drag a terrible team to the promised land.

BUT… the concern isn't exactly without merit.

Sakic did his serious damage as an AV. I doubt Nords fans take much solace in that.

Nash is a NYR. Columbus got to see many of his prime years go to waste and now won't get to see him do anything as their guy.

The Isles showed some signs in the lockout but can't buy wins in the useless East and Tavares, stud that he is, isn't winning right now when he's in his age of flourishing.

These are, basically, the concerns.

That a team will finally be ready to contend but only after missing out on prime years from their kids (and prime contract bargaining position).

Or, that a player will finally be on a team ready to contend, but a team other than yours.

And the Nux held the Sardine Tins through their growing period and reaped the rewards. They took a LOT of flack from their 'fans' who are now happy, but still classless.

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#115 vetinari
December 19 2013, 09:12PM
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Another SH goal????

We've totally abandoned putting a player directly in front of the opposition's net and we now go with a wide umbrella formation around the perimeter and when he give up a turnover near the blue line, it's always an odd man rush back. Fix this Eakins...

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#116 Quicksilver ballet
December 19 2013, 09:12PM
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Yeah baby! Could be the winner for the Avs.

That's the body language of a career back up in Dubey.

4 pts out of dead last overall.

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#117 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 19 2013, 09:12PM
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Awesome Shultz pass. Excellent tracking of the puck for the save. I know not dubies fault but here he can steal one and doesnt. Time to sign Shultz to a 6 mill a year deal now.

6rings and counting

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#118 Cubsfan
December 19 2013, 09:12PM
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I think the Oilers should decline the penalty and thus the powerplay....can you do that?

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#119 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 19 2013, 09:14PM
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vetinari wrote:

Another SH goal????

We've totally abandoned putting a player directly in front of the opposition's net and we now go with a wide umbrella formation around the perimeter and when he give up a turnover near the blue line, it's always an odd man rush back. Fix this Eakins...

Eakins Rocks!! Coach of the year finalist for sure.

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#120 **
December 19 2013, 09:17PM
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reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan) wrote:

Eakins Rocks!! Coach of the year finalist for sure.

It seems that no matter who's in point they turn it over. The formation needs to change. The difference between the goal and the stop for Dubnyk was that on the goal he buried himself in the crease and for the second breakaway he was right by the top of crease.

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#121 vetinari
December 19 2013, 09:18PM
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reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan) wrote:

Eakins Rocks!! Coach of the year finalist for sure.

What frustrates me the most is that the old system worked better and Eakins keeps stubbornly ramming this system down our throats. It doesn't work. Teams pressure the lone defenceman (and I use that term loosely) at the point and there's always a turnover. Always. Spread out two defenceman who can bomb the puck at the points, bring a centre to obstruct the goalie and have the wingers cycle for position. Why the heck does he keep going back to the wide umbrella???

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#122 Alsker
December 19 2013, 09:18PM
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reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan) wrote:

Awesome Shultz pass. Excellent tracking of the puck for the save. I know not dubies fault but here he can steal one and doesnt. Time to sign Shultz to a 6 mill a year deal now.

6rings and counting

How many times have we seen when the games on the line we just don't get that key save...one of many problems we have. Why is all rum gone?

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#123 Mikey
December 19 2013, 09:19PM
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reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan) wrote:

Eakins Rocks!! Coach of the year finalist for sure.

Yea because he was the one who made the retarded pass.

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#124 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
December 19 2013, 09:21PM
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I love the Oilers, but I hate this team. I think that makes sense?

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#125 redhot1
December 19 2013, 09:22PM
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Best 2nd and 3rd period I've seen Gagner play

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#126 Quicksilver ballet
December 19 2013, 09:25PM
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4 first overalls in a 5 yr span is definitely Dynasty territory, no?

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#127 Serious Gord
December 19 2013, 09:26PM
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That is one hell of a power play. - could be 4-2. Amazingly flawed system.

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#128 Rod from Viking
December 19 2013, 09:26PM
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@Jason Gregor

Great article and makes you think a little different, they Avalanche still drafted a better core than the Oilers have and would not have won without Roy. Why don't you see if you can get Burnaby Joe on your show sometime?

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#129 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 19 2013, 09:35PM
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Mikey wrote:

Yea because he was the one who made the retarded pass.

Nope, he came up with the retarded formations that keep allowing Shorthanded goals

aand the post just made an awesome save for dubie

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#130 2004Z06
December 19 2013, 09:37PM
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vetinari wrote:

What frustrates me the most is that the old system worked better and Eakins keeps stubbornly ramming this system down our throats. It doesn't work. Teams pressure the lone defenceman (and I use that term loosely) at the point and there's always a turnover. Always. Spread out two defenceman who can bomb the puck at the points, bring a centre to obstruct the goalie and have the wingers cycle for position. Why the heck does he keep going back to the wide umbrella???

What system? I don't understand the ire against this so called system.

Clearly the Oilers have no system whatsoever!

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#131 vetinari
December 19 2013, 09:38PM
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You know, I wasn't necessarily expecting a playoff spot this year but I was expecting:

1. a competitive team every night; 2. more consistency, development and less mistakes from the kids (Hall, Eberle, RNH, Yak and J. Schultz) and from the journeymen (Gagner and Dubnyk); 3. more leadership and structure from the veterans; 4. more tactical coaching from the "hot shot AHL" guy that every team was courting in the offseason; 5. some bold moves to fill out the roster. Heck, I would even settle for some "not necessarily bold but definitely practical and necessary moves" at this point; and, 6. meaningful games at least until the trade deadline.

This year has definitely been a step back for the organization in most facets. Sure, there have been some goods things (acquiring Perron, signing Boyd), but the bad definitely outweighs the good. This is the first time that I've said it but we are "rebuilding the rebuild". How many more years from here???

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#132 BingBong
December 19 2013, 09:40PM
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Having Schultz or Larsen play the point on the pp is always a disaster. Neither can shoot, both consistently turn the puck over, and neither can defend after said turnover.

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#133 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
December 19 2013, 09:50PM
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Something's gotta give with this power play system. I don't remember ever being so apprehensive about going on the man advantage.

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#134 Quicksilver ballet
December 19 2013, 09:50PM
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I know Yak is learning to play away from the puck, but there certainly appears to be a rift between Nail and Eakins.

Dallas is turning him into a 4th line mucker.

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#135 Serious Gord
December 19 2013, 09:54PM
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6:30 left and Eakins hasn't pulled the Goalie yet?

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#136 dougtheslug
December 19 2013, 09:56PM
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I haven't bothered to look this up but I believe over the past five games the oilers power play has been outscored by the opposition penalty kill. What does this say about how this team is being managed?

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#137 vetinari
December 19 2013, 09:57PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

I know Yak is learning to play away from the puck, but there certainly appears to be a rift between Nail and Eakins.

Dallas is turning him into a 4th line mucker.

I don't know if I've heard very many of the players publicly support Eakins other than the basic "ra ra, know we need to dig deeper" crap, but I've never heard anyone say that they'd go through a wall for him or that he was a great teacher or that he knew what he was doing... at least nothing like I heard them say about Krueger or Renney. I think Yak actually loved playing for Krueger, but he's not a fan of Eakins and his indirect trade request earlier this season was a sign of that. Yak will be the first of the kiddie 5 to be traded-- watch...

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#138 I tried it at home
December 19 2013, 10:02PM
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Just for fun, every once in a while I think about what would happen if the Oilers had actually invited Bryz to training camp at no cost or obligation whatsoever, and had an open competition, and what this season would look like. Then I get really really drunk.

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#139 Brian
December 19 2013, 10:02PM
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vetinari wrote:

You know, I wasn't necessarily expecting a playoff spot this year but I was expecting:

1. a competitive team every night; 2. more consistency, development and less mistakes from the kids (Hall, Eberle, RNH, Yak and J. Schultz) and from the journeymen (Gagner and Dubnyk); 3. more leadership and structure from the veterans; 4. more tactical coaching from the "hot shot AHL" guy that every team was courting in the offseason; 5. some bold moves to fill out the roster. Heck, I would even settle for some "not necessarily bold but definitely practical and necessary moves" at this point; and, 6. meaningful games at least until the trade deadline.

This year has definitely been a step back for the organization in most facets. Sure, there have been some goods things (acquiring Perron, signing Boyd), but the bad definitely outweighs the good. This is the first time that I've said it but we are "rebuilding the rebuild". How many more years from here???

Nice summary and well said . To answer your question: after Sam Reinhart and Connor MacDavid gain a couple years of NHL experience as Oiler draftees .

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#140 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 19 2013, 10:03PM
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2 minutes from another moral victory

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#141 Alsker
December 19 2013, 10:03PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

I know Yak is learning to play away from the puck, but there certainly appears to be a rift between Nail and Eakins.

Dallas is turning him into a 4th line mucker.

Wasn't that what we were saying MacT was doing with our offensive guys a few years(coaches) ago?? No wonder he hired Eakins, saw lots of himself in him.

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#142 Alsker
December 19 2013, 10:05PM
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Alright, the two minute empty net drill again....

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#143 Brian
December 19 2013, 10:06PM
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And another thing ...., someone tell Louie Debozo that a real neat , cutesy nickname for "blue paint " is.... Crease . Try it, Lou. Viewers will love it .

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#144 vetinari
December 19 2013, 10:07PM
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I thought that we were the only ones that could miss an empty net... multiple times too!

EDIT: Apparently, the tenth time is the charm... 4-2 Avalanche...

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#145 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 19 2013, 10:08PM
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4 out 5 moral victories!!!!! Lowetide will love it

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#146 **
December 19 2013, 10:09PM
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Another game, another loss. Good night.

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#147 Serious Gord
December 19 2013, 10:09PM
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Calgary got yet another loser point and are now 7 ahead and with two games at hand.

Oh, the humanity!!

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#148 ?
December 19 2013, 10:11PM
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Hall's Oilers have played 248 games since he entered the league and they've won 87 of those. Sakic's team won 75 of 320 during his first four seasons.

That's actually not a HUGE difference. About 12% more wins for Hall, but is that really a lot?

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#149 I tried it at home
December 19 2013, 10:11PM
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ok, lets see... 1 - 5 on 5 goal. 1 - shorthanded goal 1 - powerplay goal 1 - empty net goal

So, do the Av's win a prize?

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#150 Alsker
December 19 2013, 10:12PM
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Moral victory...baahhh more like another immoral lose...

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