THANKS FOR COMING

oilersnwild1

The official sign golf season was underway used to be the opening of Golden West Golf Course, but with the modest old track now closed, the Edmonton Oilers have taken over as the official beacon that’s it’s time for fans to move along and tee it up.

If taking 40 minutes in the 76th game of the season to play with some passion and purpose in a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild isn’t a sure sign it’s time to dust off the sticks and think temporary greens instead of hockey in April for a third straight season, nothing is.

Playoff teams, which is what the Oilers were supposed to be when coach Craig MacTavish deemed them contenders for a Northwest Division title in pre-season, don’t lose to a team playing it’s 14th road game in a 17-game stretch like Minnesota was.

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When a team like the Wild straggles into town for the second of back-to-back games at the end of a hellacious stretch, you jump on them early and knock the try out of them. You go for the throat. Not yours, theirs.

Playoff teams don’t drag their asses and shrug their shoulders for the better part of two periods like the Oilers did before trotting out their tiresome here-come-the-heroes act late to make it interesting. Playoff teams, at least ones with any chance of contending, don’t have as many passengers as the Oilers did against the Wild. They don’t sit back and say, “Let Dwayne Roloson do it” on the way to their fourth loss in the last five games.

FEEBLE EFFORT

On a night when the Oilers lost ground to Nashville and saw St. Louis and Anaheim vault over them in Western Conference standings, the Oilers didn’t show the will, the smarts or the gamesmanship to seize the moment and put the weary Wild away for keeps. It was close to a total team effort in terms of a no-show for two periods.

“Too many guys are just too content to be a non-factor rather than be a factor and step up and make a play and be assertive in a game you desperately need,” said MacTavish, the sound of defeat and frustration dripping off every word.

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“With six games left, we’re still looking for a team that will take charge of an opportunity.”  There were some pretty good examples of some guys who played with the intensity and the passion in the game, but not enough. At no point this year have we exhibited the ability to grab the game within the game. You have to take charge of the game. We just haven’t had that ability.”

One question: if not now, after 76 games, then when?

THE UGLY TRUTH

While Roloson didn’t come up with the best effort of his 32 straight starts against the Wild, let’s not forget this team would be in line for a lottery draft pick if it wasn’t for him. It’s been Roloson’s jam and competitiveness that’s masked a multitude of flaws in the stretch drive.

— When you’re 16-14-6 at home and you can’t mount anything resembling a sustained effort until the third period of a game you have to win, you don’t deserve to get into a playoff game unless you buy a ticket.

— The Oilers power play is 3-for-34 in the last nine home games.

— The Oilers have been outshot in seven of their last 10 games, including 54-20 by Anaheim, 44-26 by Detroit and 43-31 by Chicago.

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— Shawn Horcoff has two goals in the last 18 games. Andrew Cogliano has one goal in the last 10 games. Patrick O’Sullivan has one goal in 13 games since being acquired from Los Angeles. Dustin Penner has three goals in his last 20 games.

— Ales Hemsky wants to be the go-to guy? Nice job by Dan Barnes of The Journal getting Hemsky to spill his guts last week, but go-to guys don’t vent in the newspapers and score one goal in an 11-game stretch when the team needs them to produce. They shut up and get the job done.

NOW WHAT?

So, do you really think the Oilers have the backbone to climb back into a playoff spot with six games to play? I have my doubts. And, even if they do, does it really make the season a success? Depends on your expectations, I suppose. Would eighth place mean more than two homes dates worth of playoff revenue?

Rhetorical question.

Maybe they can give up 50-plus shots against Anaheim again Tuesday and ride Roloson to another win. Maybe they can show the grit Nashville and St. Louis has and put together a late charge. They’d better, because they’ll need four wins in these last six to have any chance. But, well, no.

Be disappointed and angry at yet another mediocre season if you must, especially those, like MacTavish, who honestly believed this edition of the Oilers had a legit chance of taking a run at a division title.

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Not me. Playing bad golf beats watching bad hockey any day, and I’m ready to play some. To steal from noted orator Dennis Green, the Edmonton Oilers are who I thought they were.

Not good enough.

— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.


  • David Staples

    Hey, Robin, I know you predicted the Oil wouldn't make the playoffs, but did you not catch Oilers fever this year in November-December?

    I could be wrong, but I recall some prediction from you that the team was about to go on a massive winning streak, and you challenged some poor soul to point out the games the Oilers were going to lose, saying you just couldn't see them losing the coming 15 game stretch . . . . . . Anyway, this is a small point. … You've been consistently realistic (pessimistic), so that's why that one moment of optimism from you is sticking with me
    . . .

  • mjsh

    It has been a sad year for the fans. I wonder how many of the players actually care. I had a bit of hope until last night. I am not on the blame Mac T bandwagon but i would be prepared to bet that he resigns at the end of the season. I would too if I had this underacheiving group and no contract. Some day the true story will come out and we will hear about the discord in the room.

    I think you could count on one hand the number of games this year that the Oilers played to their potential. The lack of heart says to me that no one was able to get this group playing as a team. And still too much snow to golf.

  • AlBundy

    Maybe owner doesn't care cause it is all about money and the BOYS ON THE BUS.
    If the owner doesn't makr management changes, we will know what his intent with the team is@ Sandra:

  • Quinn

    mjsh wrote:

    It has been a sad year for the fans. I wonder how many of the players actually care. I had a bit of hope until last night. I am not on the blame Mac T bandwagon but i would be prepared to bet that he resigns at the end of the season. I would too if I had this underacheiving group and no contract. Some day the true story will come out and we will hear about the discord in the room.
    I think you could count on one hand the number of games this year that the Oilers played to their potential. The lack of heart says to me that no one was able to get this group playing as a team. And still too much snow to golf.

    I would get behind this even more if there were some management resignations (though I think Tambellini gets some rope), especially KLowe should fall on his sword for this team's performance.

  • jayoilfan

    Put a fork in them they're done. I can't see them winning out (which they have to do in order to get in).500 hockey is not good enough and with the Blues, Ducks and Preds playing wery good, there will be no room for our beloved Oilers.

    I totally wish that they would've found the 'jam' but it is too little to late folks.

    Next year country now. Now that I've come to grips with reality and have accepted their position, I can relax and live a normal, healthy life without the mental breakdowns and such that being a Oiler fan gives you at this time of year.

  • Peter Pan

    Can't clear my mind. Things I'm pondering:

    Why don't Grebber or Gilbert ever shoot?

    Why doesn't Penner use his size?

    Why is our 4th line the most effective line we have?

    Why did Hemsky quit on the team?

    Why does O'Sullivan suck as an Oiler?

    Why is Horcoff getting paid as much as Hossa, Spezza, Heatley, Zetterberg, etc?

    Why did Visnovsky have to get hurt?

    Why is MacT et al still running the bench?

    Why is Nilsson always the guy to sit out?

    Why is Rollie going to resign in EDM?

    Why did Pronger's wife have to be such a bitch?

  • Sandra

    AlBundy wrote:

    correct, I do think MacT will step up in the organization as ass’t head of hockey operations. Craig Simpson will be new head [email protected] Rick:

    Simpson had asked Lowe if there was a chance of being a head coach here before he took the job at CBC, Lowe said no, as long as he is here, so will MacT. Time for Lowe to go. Tambo is just a puppet for Lowe so the rest of the league will trade with the Oil.If Lowe goes, he will not find another job in the NHL. He played 20years in the NHL and went to University and he has all the knowledge of a 6th grader.

  • T-O

    Lets hope MacT quits. Katz will not fire him, in his first press conferenc ewhen he bought the team he said the Coach and GM (lowe at the time) hae a two year free pass. Heres to looking forward to another year of reddox on the first line and Cogs on the third.

  • Sandra

    T-O wrote:

    Lets hope MacT quits. Katz will not fire him, in his first press conferenc ewhen he bought the team he said the Coach and GM (lowe at the time) hae a two year free pass. Heres to looking forward to another year of reddox on the first line and Cogs on the third.

    and a cap team

  • swany

    RB so what do they have to do at the draft and on UFA day to fix this team. Will they keep Kotalik, will they resign Roli, what trades do you think will happen, I think Gilbert will be moved along with Nilsson, Schremp (because he wants out). The big change will happen behind the bench. Mact will become Ass to president of hockey ops. My pick for coach is Brent Sutter he wants to come back to his Family, and I think he would do very well. They still need that 40 goal guy and a true shut down D man. Hopefully next year we turn into the Hawks- one year miss by 3 next year end up in 4th.

  • Scott

    They are done this year, and even worse, I am not sure anyone in the room really cares. I think there is some sort of chemistry issue with the team, I don't know if it is MacT losing the room, or vets v. rookies, but the team is just a bunch of individuals.

    So, I have put my (and any other Oiler Fan who has had enough) support up for auction on Ebay. We need to send a message to the team, and this might get some play if enough people get onside. All money raised will go to the EOCF, at least they do some good in town.

    Let's get a few hundred fans in this, at least it will raise some money, and I will send the cheque on behalf of "Fans who support Oilers Hockey, not this year's team"

  • Mike

    This team is a reflection of its coach. When was the last time our stunned 'coach' looked pissed off or got emotional following a goal?!?

    Personally, I loved his comment about a lack of a fore-check when he's the brilliant mind who had them in the trap/torpedo immediately following the 2-0 goal. Isn't the trap reserved for when you're winning or tied?!?

  • I say we bring back Peter Puck put him in charge of Rexal sports give him a few years to screw everybody and then we will run him out of town again,Bring back Slats as GM and have K Lowe apprentice under him once we start to win under slats guidence lets ask him to leave,Bring in a coach not a ex Oiler somebody who has a winning record did I mention we dont want a ex Oiler to see what this team can do, give them 4 years if he has a winning record he stays if he has a losing record get rid of him, dont wait 8 years before running him out of town.

    Lets just hope Katz does something anything will be better than sitting there and going through the motions like our hockey team.

  • roughneck

    Scott wrote:

    They are done this year, and even worse, I am not sure anyone in the room really cares. I think there is some sort of chemistry issue with the team, I don’t know if it is MacT losing the room, or vets v. rookies, but the team is just a bunch of individuals.
    So, I have put my (and any other Oiler Fan who has had enough) support up for auction on Ebay. We need to send a message to the team, and this might get some play if enough people get onside. All money raised will go to the EOCF, at least they do some good in town.
    Let’s get a few hundred fans in this, at least it will raise some money, and I will send the cheque on behalf of “Fans who support Oilers Hockey, not this year’s team”

    a link for said auction?

  • Clarkenstein

    David Staples wrote:

    Hey, Robin, I know you predicted the Oil wouldn’t make the playoffs, but did you not catch Oilers fever this year in November-December?
    I could be wrong, but I recall some prediction from you that the team was about to go on a massive winning streak, and you challenged some poor soul to point out the games the Oilers were going to lose, saying you just couldn’t see them losing the coming 15 game stretch . . . . . . Anyway, this is a small point. … You’ve been consistently realistic (pessimistic), so that’s why that one moment of optimism from you is sticking with me
    . . .

    David I'm not sure why you stuck that "pessimistic" jab in there for Robin. Robin is a realist. I picked the Oilers for 12th at the start of the year and barring a last minute surge from Dallas I will miss it by one spot. Just because RB doesn't see this club with the rose coloured glasses a lot of the fan(atic)s do does not make him pessimistic about anything. Kevin Lowe, and nobody else, has turned this organization into something bordering on dysfunctional. He is a pi$$ poor leader and grader of talent but he is a good speaker which has made him more of a salesman of the team than anything. Clean house Mr. Katz or you will be confirmed as the rich boy "jock sniffer" that many of us suspect you to be.

  • Deans

    The "bears are who we thought they were" is a pretty good analogy for this season. Unfortunatly we (oilers fans) are Dennis Green and we are getting progresivly more pissed off and we might be a few more questions away from breaking down in tears/rage.

  • Robin Brownlee

    Harlie Chuddy wrote:

    Robin – wasn’t it only a week or two ago that you wrote that you were wrong and that they were going to make the playoffs? You flip flop more than an ex lib PM who was in office shorter than Bowl-A-Rice’s career with the Oil!
    I ain’t tryin to defecate on your corn flakes…just givin you a hard time.

    David Staples wrote:

    Hey, Robin, I know you predicted the Oil wouldn’t make the playoffs, but did you not catch Oilers fever this year in November-December?
    I could be wrong, but I recall some prediction from you that the team was about to go on a massive winning streak, and you challenged some poor soul to point out the games the Oilers were going to lose, saying you just couldn’t see them losing the coming 15 game stretch . . . . . . Anyway, this is a small point. … You’ve been consistently realistic (pessimistic), so that’s why that one moment of optimism from you is sticking with me
    . . .

    Don't try to take the edge off my gloom and doom prediction. David, I don't catch Oilers fever. I don't have that kind of emotional investment in their success or failure.

    I conceded they might prove me wrong a couple of weeks ago because several other teams were struggling ridiculously, but I never changed my position — you can't be proven wrong if you're flip-flopping and saying, "Changed my mind. They'll make it."

  • Archaeologuy

    @ Robin Brownlee:

    Robin, when you started as a young Sports reporter was it difficult to remove yourself emotionally from the teams you covered?
    If so, was it purely through sheer will power that you changed how you felt about sports teams or did the Oilers simply kill your ability to cheer for such a bad team like they've done to so many of us?

  • J-Bird

    Kevin Lowe must be fired. MacT and his staff must be fired. It is time to start fresh. This princess soft team, both physically soft and especially mentally soft, is no where near good enough. They are more than a "tweek" away here. A major overhall is needed.

    Too many players that are the same, and in a bad way. Highly skilled supposedly, soft as marshmallows, SMALL, SMALL, SMALL. Who leaves town with any bruises after a game with the "mighty" Oil? And the fans get crapped on for having no life in the building. As a season ticket holder, WTF have we had to cheer about? A good dump in? Or another stupid turn over at the blue line? The reason it's quiet is because they suck a lot of the time.

    The coach makes his players watch hockey (meaning watching, thinking, and then reacting…..oops, too late!) instead of playing hockey. His system is reactive instead of pro active. He really needs to simplify and get bad thoughts out of players heads instead of putting (more like FILLING) their heads with consequences and doubt. I can't watch it anymore. I mean since 2006 I would be willing to bet if somebody had the time to go through and look at how many games they've been outshot, it would be over 60% of the time, AT LEAST.

  • deepoil

    it seems that there are many converted oiler fans that want to fire everyone today…… lowe and mct must go….

    just some food for thought….. if the dark knight is the caretaker founder of rexall ….like the late dave thomas from wendy's (founder) – then the real backers (mckesson) should really clean house….. if the dark knight really owned the team – it would be owned by DK and not rexall or rexall sports…… we have a conglomerate ownership group that says nothing, does nothing and only cares about maximizing the brand of rexall itself….. remember if DK actually owned the team, he would own it…..being the founder of a company is more like a puppet or figurehead – and someone else is really pulling the strings here…. and could care less about the win loss record as long as the brand is out there……long term this will come back and blow up on the rexall brand if the hogans heroes approach (see nothing – know nothing) keeps going

  • Phil

    humantorch wrote:

    Also, Nickelback? Seriously? If “the industry” thinks that they’re worth 3 awards at the Junos, someone needs to get fired over there even more promptly than the Oilers office needs to get cleaned out.

    haha that was a complete joke.

    the junos are complete garbage. embarrassing actually.

  • Robin Brownlee

    Quinn wrote:

    Robin,
    does the loss of Smid mean we have seen the last of him in Oiler silks? I am a huge fan of the kid and feel that he has been jerked around this organisation like so many other prospects have. Will he want to come back? Or does he find greener pastures elsewhere in the offseason?
    And if Smid goes, who takes up the tough guy defenceman role to back up Souray? Lots of questions, I know, but I really feel that we need a Smid to complement the Gilberts, Grebeshkovs and Visnovskys of the D-corps.

    Jerked around? How?
    I can see why Smid would, and did, ask to be traded if he's being pegged as a third-pairing guy in the longterm, but he was being used more with Visnovsky out and played a bigger role.

    He can't go anywhere unless the Oilers decide to trade him. I'd suggest Tambellini will have a good, long talk with Smid's agent and try to clarify what the team's view of him down the road will be.

    Personally, I can see Smid developing into a second-pairing guy who can play a shutdown role. He won't ever provide enough offence to rise above that, but being pegged as a No. 3 or 4 would likely ease his worries about being buried behind Souray, Visnovsky, Grebeshkov and Gilbert.

    My best guess is one of those guys (probably Gilbert) gets moved and Smid stays.