WHY DID WE HAVE ALL THESE KIDS, ANYWAY?

Lowetide
December 22 2013 10:12AM

We're almost 40 games in to this season, and the Edmonton Oilers are in a world of hurt. Nothing rhymes, the shooters aren't shooting, the defenders aren't defending, the goalies aren't stopping anything, and the fans are increasingly indifferent. WHAT can Craig MacTavish do? Aside from rescinding the Smid trade, there are a few things he can do.

PROBLEMS!

  1. Too many kids! This one is obvious. If we name all of the Oilers with less than 200 games NHL experience (Nuge, Yakupov, Justin Schultz, Petry, Arcobello, Belov, Larsen, Potter, Joensuu, Gazdic) it's almost half the roster.
  2. Too many kids in feature roles! Hell, Taylor Hall just passed 200 NHL games for crying out loud—and maybe that's the best way to frame this issue—there are too many kids in important roles. The entire 1line lacks experience, the top pairing many nights is Belov-Petry and the veterans (Ference and Nick Schultz) are overwhelmed.

INDIFFERENCE

The smart move for Craig MacTavish should be 'stay the course' and wait for a trade that makes sense. However, fan rage is giving way to indifference, and that's a very dangerous neighborhood for a sports franchise. I think the odds of Edmonton making a significant trade went way up last night, and the chances of seeing one of the gifted youngsters heading out of town rose with it.

Bold can be beautiful, but you better be right.

WHO'S GOING?

The 2014 1st rd pick, Nail Yakupov, Justin Schultz, Jeff Petry and any combination of that group. I don't think they club moves Hall, Nuge or Eberle, and until last night would have included Yakupov on that list.

No longer. The die is cast.

WHO'S COMING IN?

Christian Ehrhoff, Brian Campbell, Dustin Byfgluien, a veteran defenseman who can play big minutes in all three disciplines.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

From the 2010 draft through MacT's arrival as GM, the Oilers were basically running in place, gathering talent. This next move—the bold one—is going to send away a significant piece of tomorrow for some sunshine today.

And Craig MacTavish has to make that deal with 29 jackals. Next stop, Pottersville.

C2a6955161684b5e3189319acfa5ebe4
Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#1 Greenlingj
December 22 2013, 10:16AM
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You don't trade 1st overall picks without having a full season under their belts.

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#2 Rheal1
December 22 2013, 10:19AM
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I wonder what MacT might be thinking now? "What the hell did I got myself into?" I wonder what Eakins might be thinking now? "I really miss my Marlies now". I wonder what Kevin Lowe might be thinking now? "We ought to auction that jersey that was thrown on the ice last night". I wonder what Katz might be thinking now? "Another $ell out la$t night!!!!!"

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#4 Slanto
December 22 2013, 10:21AM
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Find someone with a set and some drive to fill that jersey tossed onto the ice. It's almost time for scorched earth from the top down. I don't even care anymore....trade every single one of them just don't send them to the Canucks.

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#5 Concur
December 22 2013, 10:22AM
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This all started with Tambo, the word 'rebuild' was used and the concept of losing was deemed 'ok'. Losing is never OK. If losing happens, deal with but do not plan for and expect it. That was a loser vision from the start. The losing atmosphere was probably here before the number one overall because the team was performing terribly thus the need for a 'rebuild'.

MacT has inherited this losing atmosphere and it should have never been here. The objective of the team is to win. It doesn't matter that they had to turn over half the roster back in 2009. But not having a bar set and a plan set for your number one(s) to learn and grow was a terrible strategy. They team needs to be better now just like MacT said at the start of the season.

A trade is coming...

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#6 Serious Gord
December 22 2013, 10:23AM
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There could not be a worse time to make a trade. Lack of Oilers negotiating strength And mgmt desperation make it so.

If Katz really cares about this teams future he should prohibit any trades until the deadline is close.

That said, fans are rightfully demanding blood/change. And something needs to happen to take the heat off of these young players.

Thus Lowetide the correct thing to do is fire one or more of those in management. And the best choice - the one that keeps the wolves at bay the best is KLOwe. That you did not begin this post - the first one after the abomination of last night makes your position as an unbiased (read: not a lapdog for management) commenter suspect in my eyes at least.

And it's high time you make the same gesture as the jersey thrower and abandon the moniker Lowetide.

Now that would send a message...

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#7 Serious Gord
December 22 2013, 10:23AM
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Edited version above.

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#8 Zamboni Driver
December 22 2013, 10:27AM
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...errr...Lowetide's name is Alan.

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#9 -30-
December 22 2013, 10:27AM
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Why trade out of desperation?

Expect the Oil to stink the joint out. Expect #1 draft picks to get their feathers ruffled.

Aren't we really FOUR years into the actual rebuild. Pittsburgh, Chicago and LA all took longer than four years to rebuild.

Do something hasty and you hurt the product down the road.

Wait until the trade deadline. Deal if it's there and then again wait until the draft and see what is available.

Doing a trade out of desperation almost never works. MacT hasn't even been on the job a year yet.

This is like saying something you don't mean in an argument and then having to take it back afterward. They don't offer refunds in trades.

-30-

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#10 Slanto
December 22 2013, 10:27AM
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We need a partnership with a liquor store chain where they offer a steep discount to anyone flying full Oiler kit just to have a good reason to wear full Oiler kit. Have it prorated to how badly our team gets killed. 6-0 shutout on home ice=50% off and a free slap back to reality.

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#11 Concur
December 22 2013, 10:28AM
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For the people that talk about the problem of bringing in Eakins. Eakins is the hire of MacT and the team was doing better under Kruger. People think that replacing Kruger was the problem. The real problem was replacing Tom Renney with Ralph Kruger. I don't want to knock Ralph Kruger, but the for the people that talk about consistency, this is where it was lost for me.

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#12 Taylor Gang
December 22 2013, 10:28AM
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Position of strength: skilled wingers who can* score.

Position of weakness: everywhere else

Solution: Time to make a trade

*I say can score VERY cautiously

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#13 Rheal1
December 22 2013, 10:30AM
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A rookie GM hired a rookie head coach. Either the rookie GM forbid the rookie head coach to fire the assistants or the rookie head coach was too green to hire his own assistants. Bottom line is that it snow balled from there... What to do? Trade(s)? No. The fingers are pointed solely at the development staff & the assistants.

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#14 Chet134
December 22 2013, 10:32AM
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Lowetide, ur evaluation of our players is as bad as managements. U can't trade yak, Schultz,petry, Gagner or hemsky cuz there value is at an all time low. To get value u have to give value. We will lose those trades. Imagine if macT gave up Eberle for Sequin or Bobby Ryan. Oh ya those clubs didn't want to trade with us. The Oilers life story. Management and most of the press make excuses why we don't give effort, put there bodies on the line for each other, win one on one battles, dont pay enough attention to detail to the gameplan etc. Hey we learned a valuable lesson last night. Great. I was surprized that more jerseys weren't thrown on the ice. Oh ya cuz there expensive. Cha Ching more money in Katz pockets.

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#15 Zamboni Driver
December 22 2013, 10:34AM
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-30- wrote:

Why trade out of desperation?

Expect the Oil to stink the joint out. Expect #1 draft picks to get their feathers ruffled.

Aren't we really FOUR years into the actual rebuild. Pittsburgh, Chicago and LA all took longer than four years to rebuild.

Do something hasty and you hurt the product down the road.

Wait until the trade deadline. Deal if it's there and then again wait until the draft and see what is available.

Doing a trade out of desperation almost never works. MacT hasn't even been on the job a year yet.

This is like saying something you don't mean in an argument and then having to take it back afterward. They don't offer refunds in trades.

-30-

This is probably all true.

But the exact same thing has been said year over year, and the results are at best the same (which is to say, horrific).

People pay A LOT of money, tax payers of Edmonton are on the hook for millions of dollars for these guys - to sit there and do nothing cannot be. As Lowetide mentions, the real problem is apathy.

Empty seats, $300 jersey tossed on the ice...it's getting ugly.

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#16 D
December 22 2013, 10:35AM
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A trade right now would be selling low and I hope that the Oil resist the temptation. If fan indifference is becoming an issue, then the owner should step in and address the fan indifference.

But to start moving pieces that took years of bad hockey to acquire would essentially convey that all those years were a mistake, and that might be even worse from a fan perspective.

This team used to be able to find the Jason Smith's of the world with a lot less talented team on the ice and ownership with fewer resources. Are we conceding that the Oilers cannot do that anymore?

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#17 D
December 22 2013, 10:35AM
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Edit. Double post.

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#18 Serious Gord
December 22 2013, 10:36AM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

...errr...Lowetide's name is Alan.

I know that - read wrong footer from a different post. - corrected it but old post remained.

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#19 Zamboni Driver
December 22 2013, 10:38AM
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I would say the axe at least should fall on Steve Smith and Kelly Buchberger. A REAL NHL coach should be brought in to help.

I actually think this won't change much as I'm quite sure Smith and especially Buchberger contribute nothing, but it would be a demonstration that the 'braintrust' knows that something is, in fact, wrong.

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#20 Gaz
December 22 2013, 10:38AM
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This team needs to move significant pieces (read: two of the anointed "kids"), bolster their blue line to the point where J. Schultz can develop on the third pair and pp time, and develop a team-wide work ethic and expectation of effort (not expecting to win; that's a byproduct of the effort).

All that said, I am against a trade at this time. Management is inept. They can not and should not be trusted to move significant pieces. Aside from Perron, there is nothing to indicate senior management is capable of executing a proper transaction.

Off season plans should include retaining the head coach (its never been about coaching). Hell, they should probably beg Krueger to come back in some bench role too. Then allow him to choose his own support group (bye bye Bucky). Then - here's the biggie - remove senior management. There is no persuasive argument that can be made in favor of retaining them. Well, maybe Howson; make him the salary cap brain. Otherwise, adios.

This post, like the season, is off the rails.

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#21 Oilers42
December 22 2013, 10:39AM
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I wouldn't trade any of those guys you listed including the 2014 pick IMO Yak has been one of the only players that is actually trying but Eakins continues to give him the Kadri treatment

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#22 Zamboni Driver
December 22 2013, 10:42AM
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Oilers42 wrote:

I wouldn't trade any of those guys you listed including the 2014 pick IMO Yak has been one of the only players that is actually trying but Eakins continues to give him the Kadri treatment

Okay this is insanity.

Who exactly would you move?

Hemsky? Good luck.

Gagner? Funnier.

None of the 'huge upside great skill talent', also not this year's pick....what in the world is left?

(P.S. Yakupov is running away with the NHL Green Jacket this year.)

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#23 Cam
December 22 2013, 10:45AM
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Great article LT,

Sad to say but I'm almost happy to see them lose at this point. Maybe the whole Tambellini experience helped condition us to think that the only way changes will be made is for us to tank. I'm a fan of the teman since I was 5 in 78', so it's with remorse I admit that. As soon as the 'Rake' left town, Spacek, Bergeron... And the C's in Marty, Jarret, and Michael the problem was created. No defense coupled with lack of strength up the middle spells DONE. I know you have respect for KLowe as a citizen and former Defender, but I do believe his failure to adress the issues will forever mark him in this town. It has to be terribly uncomfortable for him whenever Big D calls... Hard to put lipstick on this pig. Whatever happens I hope they hang onto Belov and Larssen. I don't think the big Russian has been given near enough credit for what he's come into here. No NHL experience, and barely any camp. I think he's a depth defender on many good teams in this league. Larssen might be just what we don't need at times given his lack o size and grit... But I remember a smart man by the name of Slats say one time how important a mobile defenseman is. (Talking about Coffey). Phillip may not be Paul, but damn if him and Justin aren't the fleetest defenders we've seen here since those days. I watched Darnell close up at the Bears Rookie game, and he went end to end from a standstill behind his net twice. It was a walk in the park for him. Add him into the mix and we might have one the best skating defence in the leauge if we can shore up 4 more spots rounded out with a legit top pairing. One more thing... Oscar K was to my limited view not that great. I hope it was a popr sample at that Rookie game but he was outclassed by several Bears forwards that night which leads me to believe he is no answer. Love your stuff LT!!! Keep it up and Merry Merry Cam

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#24 Harlie
December 22 2013, 10:46AM
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What we really need is our players to be 3 - 5 years older and more experienced than what they are. If we were a middle of the pack team that is showing improvement I'd prefer to wait. But we're in the dumps and appear to be getting worse. Something has to be done and will be done, but be careful for what we wish for?!

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#25 oilers1168
December 22 2013, 10:47AM
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what was interesting was the Blues is one of the shortest teams but they also are the 2nd heaviest in weight. Short heavy players with a low enter of gravity is a good thing.

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#26 GTL
December 22 2013, 10:51AM
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You reap what you sow, .... Case in point, Kevin Lowe

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#27 Pumpkinjerk
December 22 2013, 10:54AM
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This rebuild is only 4 years old. It took many years for the other top teams to arrive there, and years of drafting well. When the oil was owned by the Edmonton investors group, there was little money for scouting. We are paying for that now. For crying out loud, we didn't even have a farm team to develop the picks even if we had some. Other teams have those picks to plug in right about this stage of the rebuild. Sure they would be moved on when the better picks develop, but the Oil don't even have those. It's like having an expansion team. This rebuild is going to take a looong time. Be patient, dont trade the pick, find some free agents to plug holes on the d, plug the developed d- men when they are ready. It is time to consider some trades though. Consider being the word. Let's not go all Millbury. Be bad for Ekblad . Sigh.

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#28 The Real Scuba Steve
December 22 2013, 10:54AM
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I'm disappointed I really expected to see that jersey on the ice on the front page on The Sun or The Journal, What better image to send to Katz, What happens NOTHING! Every sports channel outside of Edmonton made remarks about it. In Edmonton nothing, all you writers in Oilernation have yet to comment about it. Does the Oiler WarMachine really have every media outlet in Edmonton by the balls?

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#29 oilerjed
December 22 2013, 10:59AM
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Was there a game last night? 2-0 St louis when I fell asleep watching my PVR'd game. Third one in a row as a matter of fact, that I did not bother to rewind and watch the end. Like many the oil are my religion and with center ice haven't missed more the a handful of games in years. Many more out there like me or worse. I guess what I am saying is that Lowetide is right, indifference should be keeping this teams owner up every night. Even still I dont advocate a trade for this reason alone. To me the main reason for making trades now, yes even at a losing price, is that at what point do we start the real apprenticeship of our #1's? Without quality to instruct them how exactly are they ever going to learn the right way to get it done? Yak, hall and Nuge should be off the table other then that...........

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#30 oilers1168
December 22 2013, 11:00AM
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@Oilers42

I believe in Yak. I feel Yak is a dangerous player to make an example of. By giving him the business and the others get away with it, Yak will demand a trade or run to KHL and then we are selling low. If he is not part of the core play him make him successful then trade him.

This is a lost season. Accountability now shifts to development of the player and that is on eakins and his coaches

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#31 outdoorzguy
December 22 2013, 11:00AM
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Now that Rogers has come on board as sponsor of the new building and they get mentioned every 12 seconds on the radio broadcast it's fitting that the worst cell phone company is now linked to the worst hockey team. I listened to some of the game last night on the radio and ended up turning it off because every third word out of Stauffers mouth was a sponsor. Sponsor of this, sponsor of that. I even think some sponsors had sponsors ads!! This was all nicely worked around the every 12 second Rogers ads. No wonder nobody wants to change anything with this team. The $$$$$ just keeps flowing in. I don't go to games, I don't have one piece of clothing with an Oiler logo on it and I don't shop at Rexall. There is a lot of talk of fans doing something, a boycott, an effigy burning, anything to let management and ownership know we are not happy. Whoever threw that jersey on the ice last night should be the catalyst for change. But nobody in the rink supported him. No other jerseys or hats were thrown on the ice. This person was just like the guy in Tiananmen Square who stood in front of the tank and sparked a revolution. Just picture Lowe driving the tank, with Katz sitting behind him. Ensconced in the steel, deflecting all the bullets of criticism, oblivious to what is happening around them because they are afraid to stick their head out for fear of what they might see. We see it! If you were at the game last night, and truly care about this team, you should all have thrown your jerseys on the ice. I don't hear any "Fire Lowe" chants (not sure if he even goes to the games?). The fans are proving to be just as uninterested in driving change as the management/ownership team is. There was a chance to take the bull by the horns last night, and out of nearly 17000 people at the game, only 1 chose to stand up and try!!

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#33 Pennerwise
December 22 2013, 11:03AM
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I really think a statement needs to be made on mass.

Pennies for change! Throwing coins on the ice creates a very real disturbance. Would get lots of attention in the media. Very little cost. It would send a message that we, as fans, are fed up with spending our hard earned money on an inferior product. We would be" tipping" the Oilers organization for their hard work and effort. Plus we could all wish for some real change.

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#34 Lowe Expectations
December 22 2013, 11:03AM
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I think this is karma biting us the ass for all the years Gretz & the gang ran the score up and simply handed there lunch to rest of the NHL. Now I know what a Canucks fan circa 1985 felt like.

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#35 Rheal1
December 22 2013, 11:05AM
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oilers1168 wrote:

I believe in Yak. I feel Yak is a dangerous player to make an example of. By giving him the business and the others get away with it, Yak will demand a trade or run to KHL and then we are selling low. If he is not part of the core play him make him successful then trade him.

This is a lost season. Accountability now shifts to development of the player and that is on eakins and his coaches

Amen to that!!! Accountability, however is irrelevant when Kevin Lowe keeps his master's coffers full of ca$h.

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#36 Gb3199
December 22 2013, 11:12AM
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Did anyone catch the HNIC round table after the game. Weber's name was brought up again as a perfect fit for the Oil. If you're trading a Hall, etc Al, that's the kind of return. And why no talk of a deal with the Islander? The suck just as hard. Now is the time to go after a Tavares.

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#37 "Frank the dog"
December 22 2013, 11:16AM
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The Real Scuba Steve wrote:

I'm disappointed I really expected to see that jersey on the ice on the front page on The Sun or The Journal, What better image to send to Katz, What happens NOTHING! Every sports channel outside of Edmonton made remarks about it. In Edmonton nothing, all you writers in Oilernation have yet to comment about it. Does the Oiler WarMachine really have every media outlet in Edmonton by the balls?

I have a great respect for LT but it does seem weird that my comments on another of LT's blogs and other's comments on this blog about the constant being Bucky (and perhaps Smith) are simply ignored while everyone obsesses over which deck chairs to move around.

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#38 Arius Mumin
December 22 2013, 11:19AM
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.!..FIRE EAKINS..!.

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#39 Walter Sobchak
December 22 2013, 11:20AM
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Ehrhoff, Campbell and Dustin Byfgluien!!

No offense LT but This makes me laugh out loud.

Both Ehrhoff & Campbell are overpriced & Byfgluien never meet hamburgers, fries & a milk shake he wouldn’t destroy!

This is what the Oilers need two butter soft players and fat guy playing hockey! This will make us so much better!! On the other hand it seems to be working for the Jets, the Panthers and Sabers.

Everyone not named Hall or RNH should be traded along with picks & prospects, this crap has to end!!

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#40 "Frank the dog"
December 22 2013, 11:22AM
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Pennerwise wrote:

I really think a statement needs to be made on mass.

Pennies for change! Throwing coins on the ice creates a very real disturbance. Would get lots of attention in the media. Very little cost. It would send a message that we, as fans, are fed up with spending our hard earned money on an inferior product. We would be" tipping" the Oilers organization for their hard work and effort. Plus we could all wish for some real change.

Paper clips are more effective and cost even less. But in view of the harm either would do to a player tripping over one, I think doing either verges on criminal.

What if a player that tripped on a coin or paper clip smashed himself full speed into the boards head first, crushed his neck and died?

I'd suggest the top tier fans start wearing paper bags over their faces at games until further notice.

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#41 Walter Sobchak
December 22 2013, 11:27AM
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Pennerwise wrote:

I really think a statement needs to be made on mass.

Pennies for change! Throwing coins on the ice creates a very real disturbance. Would get lots of attention in the media. Very little cost. It would send a message that we, as fans, are fed up with spending our hard earned money on an inferior product. We would be" tipping" the Oilers organization for their hard work and effort. Plus we could all wish for some real change.

This is an insane response to the Oilers! Be better than this!

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#42 Paq Twinn
December 22 2013, 11:28AM
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A jersey was actually thrown on to the ice lastnight. Cheers to that fan. Someone had to and we all know every single last one of us WANTED to or still does but can't justify doing it after forking out $200 plus for the damn thing. Oh and go oilers.....I guess or whatever.

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#43 bazmagoo
December 22 2013, 11:29AM
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Doubt the Oilers do anything except offload salary at the deadline. Nor should they imo, unless the right deal comes along. Panic deals are rarely good deals. Just hoping they can find the next diamond in the rough (Jason Smith). The one constant through all the agony has been Kevin Lowe and the two assistant coaches. It's time they all go. Will it happen? Not likely until Katz starts losing serious amounts of $.

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#44 Oilergasm
December 22 2013, 11:30AM
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Might seem a little NHL14ish but what about a deal beginning with Eberle for Datsyuk?

I know other pieces would have to be involved, but I think in the long run Datsyuk would make Yak, Hall and especially Nuge much better players long term.

Wow, reading it again... that's a tough pill to swallow, a 23 year old future all star for a 35 year old entering his twilight.

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#45 Pouzar99
December 22 2013, 11:32AM
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There is no simple solution, but the first move should be for MacT to fire Eakins and go behind the bench for the rest of the season. Eakins is obviously in Way over his head and is increasingly panicking. MacT is a far better coach and working closely with the players for half a season will help him get to know them better and judge more effectively who is and isn't salvageable.

I share the concern about the fan base who are increasingly passing through rage to indifference. The team has clearly been grossly mismanaged and a new man, Brian Burke would have been ideal, should be brought in at the end of the season and given free rein to clean house and bring in his own people. The problem? Who is competent to make the decision who to bring in?

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#46 DieHard
December 22 2013, 11:34AM
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Lowetide wrote:

Couldn't agree more. So, Eberle?

Got to keep all 3 1st overalls. Plus Perron, Hemsky and the first pick this year (get a big center or defenseman).

All others can be traded.

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#47 Bringback_egar
December 22 2013, 11:34AM
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It seems that the Oilers have a belief that instead of letting your young kids spend some time in OKC and build some confidence and size to compete in a big mans league, they would rather throw them to the wolves and instill a culture of losing and disappointment.

Yakapov is -26, worst in the entire league and yet he continues to play. Really, this guys is a none factor every night and he still is getting 15min per game. He has no idea what to do without the puck and when he gets it he "jitterbugs" to the middle of the ice and gets surrounded and turns it over. Pretty sure he would benefit from some time in OKC to gain some confidence and get his game going.

Don't trade him, he will be a key piece of the future, but leaving him on this team at this time is going to destroy his future. Egar can play on the 3rd line and he brings some energy and size up front, is a veteran presence in the room and has a Stanely Cup ring. Pretty sure he can be better than a -26, but it is just not the Oiler way!!

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#48 Cold Hard Truth
December 22 2013, 11:35AM
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What, oh what, will it take for the ex-Oiler cabal to finally be purged from this organization?

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#49 K_Mart
December 22 2013, 11:36AM
Trash it!
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The mix is wrong. It's obvious. No amount of patience will ever make a combo of Ebs,hall,Nuge,yak,gags,hemsky, and Perron into a winning top six.

3 of those pieces have to go. Get good players, keep good players is a great philosophy, but I don't necessarily consider more than 2-3 of the players on that list good.

I also think we have the worst d core in the league. And none of our prospects are close to ready. Nurse, Marincin, Gernat, Klefbom... Maybe in 3 years, 2 of those 4 will be ready for the NHL.

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#50 Spydyr
December 22 2013, 11:36AM
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The only thing left to do to fix this mess is to fire the training and equipment staff....... Oh wait.

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