THE SEVEN-YEAR ITCH

Robin Brownlee
December 09 2013 05:42PM

For all the differences between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Edmonton Oilers, including the cities they play in, the two teams that contested the 2006 Stanley Cup final have one thing in common – it's pretty much sucked to be a fan of either organization since then.

Fans in Edmonton, who watched the Oilers sneak into the playoffs in 2006 and then come within one win of celebrating a sixth Stanley Cup, haven't had a playoff series to cheer about since then. It's a seven-year drought that's about to become eight straight years. The Oilers haven't only missed, they've missed by a mile. This, we know.

The Hurricanes, who come calling at Rexall Place Tuesday, haven't taken the has-been bit to the same extreme as the Oilers, but they've missed the playoffs for four straight seasons and have made the post-season just once – in 2009 -- since they hoisted the Cup in Raleigh. They're in contention in the Eastern Conference this season.

That's an uncomfortable comparison for both teams, to be sure, and a relationship that's an anomaly as far as I know – just one playoff appearance combined for the teams over the past seven years. I haven't been able to find two Cup finalists from any year previous to 2006 who combined for just one playoff appearance in the following seven years.

When the Oilers and Hurricanes missed the playoffs in 2007, it marked the first time in NHL history that both Stanley Cup finalists from the previous year failed to qualify for the post-season the next year.

LONG WAY DOWN

The Hurricanes, as Edmonton fans are all-too aware, at least got their names engraved on the silverware in 2006 and then made the conference finals in 2009. They've been in playoff contention in other years as well. The Oilers? They got first overall picks in Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov and a ham sandwich.

Just five players from the 2006 Cup final remain with the Oilers and the Hurricanes. The lone Oilers are Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth, while Radek Dvorak now plays for the Hurricanes, joining Eric Staal and goaltender Cam Ward.

The teams have gone through eight coaches since then. Edmonton's had now-GM Craig MacTavish, Pat Quinn, Tom Renney, Ralph Krueger and Dallas Eakins behind the bench. Peter Laviolette, Paul Maurice and Kirk Muller have run the gate down on Tobacco Road.

I remember chatting with Chris Pronger going into that 2006 Cup final and I recall him hammering on the point about seizing the moment and leaving everything on the ice because there was no way of knowing when, or if, the opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup would come again.

Fans filing into Rexall Place for this match-up of the 2006 Stanley Cup finalists can certainly attest to that after seven years, going on eight, of nothing but futility since.

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

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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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#51 Freewheeling Freddie
December 10 2013, 10:34AM
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Tikkanese wrote:

He didn't want out. His wife thought a change of scenery would stop Chris' extra curricular non marital affairs he was having. True story. Watch his exit press conference.

That was probably part of the reason. However there has to be more to it .Peca wasn't exactly happy to be here and left after 1 year. I have to believe K Lowe pissed them both off just my opinion. I am sure they both would have stayed if Ken Holland or Stan Bowman were running the team.

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#52 hall the time
December 10 2013, 10:41AM
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hall the time wrote:

Pearon would fit right into the 06 team, same with Arco maybe Hall and Ferance.

Besides height they play just as hard and if they had to throw down they would.

Some kind fans these days.

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#53 Tikkanese
December 10 2013, 10:48AM
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Freewheeling Freddie wrote:

That was probably part of the reason. However there has to be more to it .Peca wasn't exactly happy to be here and left after 1 year. I have to believe K Lowe pissed them both off just my opinion. I am sure they both would have stayed if Ken Holland or Stan Bowman were running the team.

No, there doesn't have to be more. He got another woman pregnant. His wife made him deal with that and then demanded the change of scenery. The reporters even questioned him on it during the exit press conference and his reply was "ask her, is she pregnant now?".

All the smoke screen stories of how his wife didn't like the cold don't make any sense. He just got a massive raise to play for the Oilers and almost won a cup. Got all the playing time he could handle, was the toast of the city. No way K Lowe would or could have pissed him off enough to want to leave the city. It was 100% save the family effort.

Peca thought he was better than he was at that point of his career. That's why he left. Most of the others were rentals and all got to much $ on the open market to match.

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#54 camdog
December 10 2013, 11:06AM
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Zarny wrote:

Unlikely.

Peca is an American. He simply didn't want to live in Edm.

Pronger leaving simply boils down to happy wife, happy life.

Nothing would have changed if Ken Holland or Stan Bowman were running the team I'm afraid.

Peca and Pronger's wife would still have preferred a different postal code.

Peca has a gold with team Canada, he's from southern Ontario.

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#55 Zarny
December 10 2013, 11:09AM
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Love the articles about the 2006 Oilers because I think it highlights the fundamental flaw in the Oilers rebuild and the path forward.

The 2006 team was characterized by depth. All contenders are. Depth down the middle, depth on the blueline, depth in net.

The current Oilers are the antithesis of depth.

As we've seen if 1 or 2 of the top 6 F are injured half their forwards become borderline NHL players.

Conventional wisdom with young players who are prone to making mistakes is to support them with veterans.

Instead the entire 4th line has even less NHL experience than the kids.

And they are supported by a below average D where only Ference has more than 200 games experience. Heck, Ference and Petry are the only D with over 100 games experience.

And in G is a 27 y/o "prospect" who may or may not be good enough to make the playoffs.

The bold moves for a top pairing D, 50-60 pt power F or elite G will not easy; but adding basic NHL depth should be.

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#56 Tikkanese
December 11 2013, 09:13AM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

I was told from a fairly reliable source that there was an agreement between Pronger and Lowe that it would be a trial run for 05/06 to see how the family liked Edmonton(his wife is a daughter of the Dupont empire) and if it didn't work out he would be traded to a contender in the states. This does make sense since they even rented their furniture, if this and the extra curricular things are true then that is why the deal with Anaheim happened so quickly. No one in their wildest imagination thought this team would be one win away from winning the cup including Pronger and Lowe. Lets hope Darnell is the next "Rake".

Well I have two sources. First the exit press conference question and answer from Pronger himself. Second, I played ball hockey with a former teammate of Pronger's from that very season. He said many details of it, including Pronger's pick up line, who the girl was, what her job was(entry level sports reporting of some kind, I don't remember now), etc.

Not to mention, the sheer speed of the deal immediately after the season ended. Lowe did the classy thing and got him out as fast as possible, given the situation. Lowe could have been typical Lowe and waited for the best possible deal or to screw the guy over(Comrie etc). That alone disproves the theories of the wife didn't like the weather/city. They had all off season yet to get a deal done. The whole family could have stayed anywhere they wished during that time.

By the way, the "renting of furniture" doesn't really line up with Prongers' story of how all his furniture was burned by angry Oiler fans. He went off on that on the Jim Rome show one time.

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