Losing and the long walk through hell

Jason Strudwick
November 24 2014 04:30PM


Saturday night after the Oilers lost to the Blackhawks, I witnessed an event that unfortunately we have seen here too often and one that I have been on the receiving end of. Oilers fans loudly booed the players the last minute of the game and it did not stop there.

For those of you who don't know, there is an open area, beside a bar, through which Oilers players must walk to get to their dressing room after each period and at the end of the game. On Saturday night, the fans in that area booed, and gave it to the players for the twenty yard walk from the bench to their room. 

When you win that is a nice walk. When you lose, and have been losing lately like the Oilers, that walk is a walk through hell. I know -- my teammates and I got booed there more then a few times, as we struggled through injuries and weak play. 

There is no where to hide on that twenty yard walk. Your fans are very close to you. By the time you reach the dressing room doors you are two inches tall and simply walk in right underneath them.  It is much different from getting booed on the ice. Getting booed on the walk feels much more personal. On the ice or bench the fans are a sea of people. The noises all blend into one resounding negative vibe. 

As you walk through the twenty longest yards in the world, it becomes very personal. You can see individual faces and hear each specific comment - they no longer blend in with the crowd.  I can still remember some of those faces and have since run into them. That night they were giving it to me and my teammates - the next time I saw them they wanted an autograph. It's crazy.

The struggles of the team lately are well documented and both now and as a player I had no issue with fans speaking their mind. I do however have issue with comments about how players feel about those boos. Too often, I hear on my post game show on TSN 1260 that these "million dollar players just go home or that they don't care". 

ARE YOU NUTS? THAT IS THE FURTHEST RESPONSE FROM THE TRUTH!

FeelIt

Walking through the twenty yards of hell getting abused by YOUR fans gets to you. You don't just shake it off with a shower and some axe body spray. It stays with you. You are already embarrassed by your performance and the outcome and then you are rattled by the response from your fans. You don't just shake it off. Even now, I can still feel that horrible range of emotions.  You don't feel like eating. Sleep doesn't come easy. You are grumpy to everyone around you.

This isn't written to suggest the fans are in the wrong for voicing their displeasure. I have no problem with that. As a player you take the good with the bad. When the team rattles off multiple wins the twenty yard walk is awesome, you feel ten feet tall. 

My goal is to make it clear that the players do hear the fans frustrations and they do not simply forget about it. It does bother them greatly. Don't buy into the noise that players don't care -- they do. What is said behind closed doors is much different that what is said publicly to the media. MUCH DIFFERENT!

5cf6b487166aced0cd781e41bfef915e
Jason hosts the Jason Strudwick show from 9pm to 12am, weeknights on the team 1260. He is an instructor at Mount Carmel Hockey Academy and loves working with the kids. Having played over 650 games in the NHL, Jason has some great stories and unique takes on life in the NHL. He loves Slurpees and Blizzards. Dislikes baggy clothes and close talkers.
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#151 hagar
November 25 2014, 01:17AM
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hagar wrote:

Lmfao!! I have finally reached user name clone status!! I am not even upset!! I am flattered! Thanks above post Hagar!!

Or should I say.... Klowe.

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#152 My2centz
November 25 2014, 01:22AM
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To be honest,I don't care for a second how the players feel about the walk of shame,I watched that game,and many others.the part that disgusted me about this video,was the children that had to stand there,watching their parents do this.what do think those poor kids home lives are like,if their clowns for parents would do something so simple,let alone on TV and in front of them.i sure hope none of those little ones play hockey themselves,could you imagine what kind of things these goofs yell at their children's hockey games,or after them?at least this is one flaw the organization was able to fix,as Katz new barn won't have a walk of shame.

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#153 hagar
November 25 2014, 01:25AM
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My2centz wrote:

To be honest,I don't care for a second how the players feel about the walk of shame,I watched that game,and many others.the part that disgusted me about this video,was the children that had to stand there,watching their parents do this.what do think those poor kids home lives are like,if their clowns for parents would do something so simple,let alone on TV and in front of them.i sure hope none of those little ones play hockey themselves,could you imagine what kind of things these goofs yell at their children's hockey games,or after them?at least this is one flaw the organization was able to fix,as Katz new barn won't have a walk of shame.

I got nothing else to do tonight.. I will stay up and follow these oilers org posts with comments.

You will suck as long as klowe is in the group.

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#154 hagar
November 25 2014, 01:29AM
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If I die it wasn't because of my hydraulic patent app, it was because the oilers got tired of me. Ha

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#155 hagar
November 25 2014, 01:43AM
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2 douche bags in a row, the first called "oilersfan4ever" and the second "my2cents".

I guess they both like to use numbers instead of letters.

Not saying.. just saying.

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#156 What a bunch of p"ssies
November 25 2014, 04:06AM
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You people have sand in your virginias b/c fans booed and heckled The World's Worst Sports Franchise(tm)? Do you people even know how sports works? Anybody who pays money to go see a hockey game at the Edmonton Funeral HOme deserves the pantsless boning they're getting right now. But I'm Sure the New Arena Will Fix Everything (tm)

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#157 Hockey World Laughs at Oiler Fan
November 25 2014, 04:08AM
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taz115 wrote:

That video is tough to watch, but not as tough as it was to watch that game Saturday. I'm on the fence about fans booing the players there but what isn't cool are some of the slurs and profanity going on there. There are small kids hanging around to see thier heros and Oilers game should be a relatively family friendly experience.

The Oilers should change that set-up and move the ropes back until we can ice a real team. Either that or Management needs to nut-up and take the walk with the players.

For Teh CHIDDRUNZ!!!!!

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#158 Hockey World Laughs at Oiler Fan
November 25 2014, 04:15AM
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Gilmore Tuttle wrote:

Because Katz follows the Harold Ballard model. As long as the fanatics keep buying tickets and beer and parking and jerseys, then why would he spend a penny more than he has too? Any extra money is down the toilet, just like a contemporary Oiler season.

He needed the team to get Howie Spendel to ram through the arena to trigger the real estate play. That is what this is all about. Long term leases with the city and multiple flipping of property.

With the revenue streams locked into the new arena, the team value has also gone up, allowing him to sell and buy the Canucks.

Hell, Vancouver Katz is going to make a ton of money with the provincial government breaking their airport hanger lease with his numbered company. Much more than the $350k they donated to the former premier's campaign that they actually got back.

In other words, the Hebrews took local taxpayers to the woodshed. ANd people are worried about a little booing ! Boo fkn Hoo.

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#159 Guy Lafleur
November 25 2014, 05:22AM
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@Loyal Oil

They just need someone to hug them and tell em its all right just do your best it will be ok .

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#160 My2centz
November 25 2014, 05:41AM
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Calamari Hagar was the guy in the video that looks joe dirt,screaming at hockey players,in front of his kids.keep it up squid of the west

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#161 NewAgeSys
November 25 2014, 07:09AM
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Well everything has a flip-side doesnt it?

Why dont we count the steps the Players take down the Walk of Shame and see how much they are being paid for each step,that should give us all a better perspective.

These guys are walking straight to the bank.

The venting Fans are going back to the grinding life-challenges EveryMan and EveryWoman deal with daily,down a few hundred very important dollars.

You pay to watch,cheer,Boo,eat,drink, park,and crap so who cares to what degree or volume you do either one as long as you dont break the status quo rules.

No one broke the Barriers,no one threw drinks or beer or food on players,the only thing missing was K-Lowe and Mac-T walking with the real men.

Its no wonder we cannot turn things around, there is simply to much debate over meaningless things,right from the Oilers Managers to the Online crowd,there is a lack of accurate meaningfull conversations,people are so lost as to what to aim at with their frustrations they are shooting at anything that moves,if the Oilers presented some targets this would not be quite so bad for the Players.

O.E.G is a goddam joke , they are absolutely out of touch with how to connect with the Fanbase and with how to Manage a Pro Sports Image in Edmonton.

It is derelict to not have non-drinking Family Sections,to not give Families some decent space to take their Kids,give a dam discount to the Kids when they walk in the Doors for having to sit in a special section,20 bucks each CASH.....and get the hell on with building a winning team here you Bozos.The Gypsies running the show know most of those 2o dollr bills will be spent in-house anyways.

I swear to god these guys running the show are sleeping at the wheel,they just dont have any creativity or vision,none,they are all following some script,the bloody stats perspective again,the "book" perspective,jeepers this is out of control.

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#162 Steve-smithers
November 25 2014, 07:22AM
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It's when the boos stop after a big loss the Oilers need to worry about. When we just stop giving a damn.

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#163 Spurzey
November 25 2014, 07:29AM
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Managements next move will be to move the fence to the other end of the bar for 30 seconds while the walk of shame takes place.

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#164 Zebsogood
November 25 2014, 08:04AM
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Hockey World Laughs at Oiler Fan wrote:

In other words, the Hebrews took local taxpayers to the woodshed. ANd people are worried about a little booing ! Boo fkn Hoo.

This is a hockey forum pal, keep race and religion out of it. It's obvious you're a lowly troll trying to get a rise out of Oil fans for all the wrong reasons.

In the new arena there is no reason for the team to be walking by a bar patronized by season ticket holders. The players are taking the aggression from the fans, when it was the management's ineptitude that caused this all.

Katz has to realize that his managment team has ran the Oilers into the depths of hell. The only positive under his tenure is the new arena.

The Oilers are a culture of entitlement where no accountability is present.

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#165 PickledPolak
November 25 2014, 08:20AM
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Harlie wrote:

It's low rent to do that type of screaming, even though I've been guilty myself.

I and some friends went to a Gretzky Kings vs Flames playoff game in Calgary back in the day. Got drunk and pissed off everyone around us.

A security guard followed 2 of us in the can and gave us the riot act. As we walked out to the concourse and to the stairs he was still beaking at me.

I took one step down the stairs, he pushed me from behind, jumped on my back when I landed and said I was arrested!! He put cuffs on me so hard that I had cuts and bruises, takes me to a small closet like Security room and interrogates me, then they grab an actual Cop and we both tell our story and they let me go, but kicked me out. I still hate that damn building and the Flames!!

I'm sure you have outgrown that type of idiotic behavior by now, but you should have been given the beating of your life, not just a a$$ kick out the door!

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#166 ubermiguel
November 25 2014, 09:34AM
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Blueliner44 wrote:

Spector's article was bang on. Put Leon between Pinnizzoto and Gazdic with soft zone starts. Still wouldn't win games but at least the kid would feel safe. Couldn't be worse than it is now.

Line combos? We're talking about line combos? "Changing up lines on the Oilers" is going to replace "Shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic" in the common lexicon soon.

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#167 Zarny
November 25 2014, 10:25AM
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Nice article with a good perspective. I think Struds struck the right tone.

Fans should certainly be free to speak their mind within reason. And given the long run of futility in Edm frustration is easily understandable.

But it's also a reality that the toxic atmosphere in Rexall and booing players will have a negative effect on the team and results.

Players are human. It's beyond silly to think they don't care about losing because they make lots of money. They care to the point of not being able to eat or sleep because of the anxiety and frustration. That only serves to compound the negative effects.

Every GM will tell you they want their team playing loose and confident because that is when athletes perform at their best. The Oilers players are undoubtedly the complete opposite of that.

And it started with game 1 of the season when some goofball tossed a hoodie on the ice after the Oilers lost despite making Calgary look like a pee wee team for most of the game. I can only imagine what players like Draisaitl, Pouliot and Fayne thought about that. The team has undoubtedly been on pins and needles and wound up tight ever since. There is a lot to think about in hockey and worrying that every mistake will result in a shower of jerseys only serves to make the players perform worse.

That doesn't mean fans don't have the right to boo or even throw jerseys on the ice, but the effects are unmistakable. You can't escape from the fact that such actions have consequences and only results in making the team worse.

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#168 LOIL99
November 25 2014, 11:00AM
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I would agree with Struds for the most part here. For most players and most teams I would agree. But this team seems different. Losing seems to be accepted. Many of the players here have been losing for 3-4 years straight. Eventually you just get used to it and it doesn't hurt so much anymore. They aren't even trying to hide it anymore. So many players have simply stopped trying because why bother? There is zero accountability by anyone in the whole organization. That's what is happening here in my opinion.

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#169 Pucker
November 25 2014, 11:41AM
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I don't think I'd boo the players but I can't begrudge the people that did. Fans do have the right to boo. When the Oilers play well, they get some darn good cheering making that walk.

It's costs good money to go to the games (whether or not you're on 'free' tickets) and it's a good 4 or 5 hours out of your life.

It's enjoyable going when they win, or at least appear to put in the effort. Too many times I've gone to games and left in a bad mood wondering why I support this hockey and thinking about other things I could have been doing in that time.

I have Oiler stuff I used to not think twice about wearing. Now when I'm heading out of town, it's a debate and I usually end up leaving the hat or t-shirt at home. I'm still an Oiler fan. Just not a proud Oiler fan.

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#170 Joy S. Lee
November 25 2014, 12:10PM
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ubermiguel wrote:

You're onto something there. The Glory Years had Fogolin. At the 1984 celebration this year it was amazing to see how those hockey legends (seriously, the #1 and #2 all time scoring leaders!) still deeply respected and admired their captain. Maybe Ference was supposed to be that guy, but something is not working.

Not necessarily the fault of Ference. It takes two to tango. He can try to invoke his knowledge and will upon the young core, but if they don't want it...then what?

Ference is a major competitor. I suspect this is eating away at Hendricks, Scrivens, and the captain more than most.

If Ference brings his inner-Messier and the kids don't pay any heed, that carries an overall value of zilch.

My impressions are that Schultz, Hall, Ebs, etc. (the young core) don't pay any due to the vets. I mean, they were the core the moment they got here. Without earning it. It's their room. Right?

Entitlement. Oilers team unity appears to have a smell. Until these young stars grow a pair and are willing to trade their glamorous celebrity for work boots and dedication to winning... this will never change, because it can't. It's about focus. The bright lights and perks can be hard to pass on... unless you really want to win a Stanley. Even then, once you've dedicated yourself to do that, that's a whole other journey up a treacherous mountain.

It must be tough to disregard the perks and privileges when they are so... automatic. But, then automatic can begin to feel like entitlement. Especially if you haven't done anything, but you're still king. And then, it can grow like a virus.

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#171 Joy S. Lee
November 25 2014, 12:42PM
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tileguy wrote:

OGDB; Hemsky scores a hatty, Oilers loose 5-1.

To be honest, I'm looking forward to seeing this one, tonight. Just to see what kind of response comes from everything taking place.

I know their shorts might be a little tight these days (well-deserved). But it will be fascinating to see whether they inhale a little courage and fight as a single unit, or if they continue as they are, fragmented and unfocused and fearful and frankly, not really caring that much.

I really think that these next few games may provide a very intriguing tell about the future of this team. I guess we'll see...

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#172 Joy S. Lee
November 25 2014, 12:46PM
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Derian Hatcher wrote:

I, too am beyond frustrated but have no time for mouthpieces who hide behind a red velvet rope and chirp at players as they walk to the room. All the while knowing that if any one of the players walked towards them the "fan"would stain his pants. These are the same tough guys that bang on the glass at players but if that glass suddenly disappeared they would pass out from fright. Reminds me of the old Tiger Williams story when he was at a dinner or event and a businessman would say "no really, Tiger, who really is the toughest guy in the league". Tiger says he had to resist saying "from where your coming from, pal, they're all tough,". Players at this level have displayed more toughness to get to where they are than most of us fans can ever imagine. Not excusing the performance of the players but come on....beaking from a safe zone as they come off the ice....says more about those "fans" than it does the players. Trash away

Not sure who the 11 are that trashed his comment so far, but Derian speaks the truth...

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#173 Joy S. Lee
November 25 2014, 01:18PM
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Zebsogood wrote:

This is a hockey forum pal, keep race and religion out of it. It's obvious you're a lowly troll trying to get a rise out of Oil fans for all the wrong reasons.

In the new arena there is no reason for the team to be walking by a bar patronized by season ticket holders. The players are taking the aggression from the fans, when it was the management's ineptitude that caused this all.

Katz has to realize that his managment team has ran the Oilers into the depths of hell. The only positive under his tenure is the new arena.

The Oilers are a culture of entitlement where no accountability is present.

Pretty much agree with this, but... I think the players took the ineptitude pill, too.

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#174 hotoil
November 25 2014, 10:47PM
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spliff wrote:

The NHL is a very very competitive professional sports league, maybe even more so then the NFL and NBA because many of the American NHL teams must ice a competitive product or they will die in their marketplace.

KLowe, MacT and Howson do not have the skills to compete in a league this competitive, which they have shown time and time again. 2006 involved a lot of luck, and granted a few good moves by KLowe, but that was one playoff run in 14 years for KLowe, but at his 6 rings press conference he still referred to it which is pathetic.

Bottom line, the Oilers management team is getting schooled on a daily basis by other management teams and I"m sure they have next to no respect around the league.

Time for Katz to pay some proven pros to run this team, and pay them whatever they want to drag this franchise out of the gutter.

KLowe and MacT should retire and move down to Phoenix and golf and tell glory days stories or whatever old retired ex-NHL players do.

The Oilers should try a new technique. When hiring the new management for next year, do job interviews and check references.I realize this is a new way but get modern!

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#175 DyeGuy
December 08 2014, 11:06AM
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The problem here isn't the management or the coach.

The problem is what is going on in the Locker Room and the mentality of wrongful entitlement.

Could we have a better coach for the job? Sure. Maybe Eakins wasn't the right man for the job but I don't think he is hurting anything. He has hockey sense and knows what works. Unfortuantely, what he learned as a veteran, might not work on these Oilers because they don't see the big picture. If they bought into it as a collective group and cared about each other, It would work.

Calgary has Bob Hartley, a proven coach in the NHL. The Flames are also a group that care for each other and who don't want to let each other down. Both of those factors equal success. It is easier to coach a team that cares.

We had a hard working team with a great leader in 1997. Not much talent ouside of Weight and Smyth, But they cared for each other. Ron Lowe fed off of that and they upset Dallas..

I have had it with "Lowe must Go". If you had to choose a person to be in charge of the franchise, wouldn't you want a guy who personally loves the Oilers?

Kevin Lowe is not the problem. He Won 6 rings, he played most of his career in Edmonton, he decided to retire here and loves the city. When he was a player, he played his heart out. When he was a coach, he had a winning record and got us to the playoffs. When he was the GM he made the moves he needed to, with what he had and we got to the finals. Now that we haven't made it to the playoffs and he should go? He doesn't have anything to do with the players.

You know who does, that nobody blames? The Enitled fans.

Do you think booing your team helps the mentality in the locker room?

Do you think that if I played for the Oilers and saw a bill board that said "Lowe must Go", that it would inspire me to play here? That Arm Chair team owner should have gave that money to charity instead of trying to bully Katz and demotivate our team.

The fans feel entitled which is fine, but why rub your negative thoughts on the team and the city.

We are not stupid. We see the team is in a major slump.

Craig Button said that MacT's press conference was a joke. Like he would know better. He fired Darryl Sutter in Calgary and then was replaced by him, which led them to the finals.

Fans can have an opinion, but that doesn't mean you are right. If you knew what was best for the team, why are you not working for a hockey organization? The Islanders were a horrible team a lot longer than the Oilers were. Fans wanted Garth Snow fired after he made brutal trades and bad signings. Now the Islanders are winning games and he is still the GM.

How about fans try and help motivate their team instead of whining and yelling at them like spoiled kids. If you can't afford to goto games than don't. If you can and don't want to go, donate your tickets to kids, who remember why going to the game is fun and will cheer our team no matter how bad they are.

Those of you who say that Lowe, Katz, MacTavish and Eakins should't run our team, get over it.

Eakins was successful as a coach in the AHL. Lowe has more than proven himself and is constantly asked for his input on our national teams from people like Steve Yzerman(who I am sure knows what he is doing). Katz could afford the Oilers for a reason. He isn't stupid. MacTavish is a smart guy and has proven that as a coach and player.

Point the fingers at yourselves as bad fans for causing so much grief for the people who are trying to do their job both on and off the ice.

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