Vulnerable

vulnerable

When we get greased we get hungover. When we get hungover we have unusual clarity of thought and 2 times out of 10 we get super vulnerable about stuff. This could be for a variety of reasons. Perhaps we have taken down a lady of questionable quality. Perhaps we threw a whisky bottle at a friend. Perhaps – well perhaps a variety of things Nation. We do a lot of questionable stuff.

Last night we went out and had ourselves a good ol’ time. Why not – we have nothing to be excited about anymore. All is lost. Afterwards we came back to the crib and read our most beloved non pornographic website into the early morning. And we have come up with one vulnerable conclusion:

What in the hell are we doing with our life?

We started this website because we love the Oilers. When we say things like “we have an Oilers garbage can in our room that we have owned since we were 7” we mean it. If you told us “Wanye, stand in front of a Souray slapper and somehow time will reverse itself and the Oil will make the playoffs” we would do it in a heart beat. Why is this? We have no idea. Something must have broken in our seven year old head that makes us live and die with the powerplay of the local hockey squadron. We can’t tell you when our Brother’s birthday is. But we can tell you that Jason Soules was one of the worst draft picks in the last 25 years. He didn’t even want to play the game professionally and still the Oilers drafted him in 1989. What the hell? Why do we know this?

Look what you have become “Wanye Gretz.” We invented an acronym suggesting the coach – a grown man of unusual dedication to the city of Edmonton and it’s citizens – be fired from his job. We call Dustin Penner – an obviously skilled but unhappy player – a Donair eating cylinder monkey. What the hell?

100 kidding points awarded

Let’s not sit around and kid ourselves Nation. Probably half of the Oilers could give two squirts of rocket sauce about this City, it’s fans or even really about the team itself. But before you get your gun and go looking for an undedicated Oiler know that this is the case all around the league. A lot of players view this as a job. A lucrative, groupie producing j-o-b. Gone are the days when a player will stick around here in the off season and his neighbor rebuild a fence over the summer. The instant the season ends most of these guys hop on a solid gold private jet and are summering in the South of France, eating truffles and drinking imported mineral water within 24 hours. That’s just the way it is.

But you know who is here in the off season? By complete choice? Craig MacTavish and Kevin Lowe. Let’s not kid ourselves here. These guys could be pretty much anywhere in the league, doing the same job and making the same money. They don’t have to put up with the snow and the lack of urban density in the downtown core if they don’t want to. They could be living in the Big Apple eating sushi with Keith Urban seven nights a week if they wanted. Instead they choose to live here in Edmonton and consider the South Side Keg to be a fancy place to take the Wife – just like we all do. Do we ever give them credit for sticking with it for as long as they have? Of course not.

Ales Kotalik was traded here and had no choice in the matter. Kevin Lowe returned here from the Big Apple to set up shop, build a mansion on the frozen tundra and do his best to make the team he unquestionably loves – a champion once again. MacTavish too. Let’s be honest – no one can question their dedication. Results? Sure. But in an era when most people view the NHL as a paycheck to fund their Faberge egg habit these guys care a little more about you, me and the City of Edmonton than we give them credit for.

Know who else cares? Ethan Moreau. We know this for a fact. Don’t think it just kills him that the Oil are going to miss the playoffs for the third time in a row and the second under his Captaincy? And what do we do? We tell him to hit the bricks. Steve Staios cares. Jason Strudwick cares too. Sam Gagner too cares bless his little heart.

And how do we repay them? By ragging on them mercilessly and demanding they be replaced with more high priced free agents who want to get the hell out of here at every opportunity.

100 more kidding points awarded

We have a sneaking suspicion that we are all kidding ourselves when we think we are the best fans in the league. With the exception of the Cup run, we collectively ride the Oilers harder than O’Sullivan’s dad when he was in Pee Wee. 99 minutes out of 100 we are filled with unbridled hatred and the other 1 minute we are irrationally euphoric and going through Sheldon Souray’s garbage to see what kind of gel he uses. Know what that makes us? Good fans? No.

Insane stalkers. That’s what it makes us.

Things are clearly broken here in E-town. This team leads the league in least bang for your buck. The players in the room that care the most aren’t capable of scoring eleven goals in the third period and leading us to victory. The players that are capable of this feat don’t care enough to get off their platinum asses and do it with the season on the line. So what do we do? We learn the wrong lessons and rail road the well meaning role players and management out of town. We cheer loudly when a player comes into town hoping that this is going to be “the guy.” Then when he isn’t the guy we turn on him too. Then we collectively blame the weather when they demand to leave.

Ask yourself the hard questions Nation. Look your bloodshot eyes in the face and really ask yourselves these questions:

  1. Of everyone collecting a pay cheque from Kay-Z this season – who is the most dedicated to the team we collectively love? Outside of a handful of players in the room who really cares about restoring this team to the glory of years ago? Is it the 20 something millionaire that can’t wait to get his last paycheck of the season so he can go to Kelowna and ball like a member of G-Unit? Or is it the two middle aged men who still get up in the morning, look at the frozen wasteland that is our City and think “yep. This is where I want to be. This place used to be the shit and it I could make it awesome again.” The only the only people in the league who will ever think this way are the same people we are demanding get boxed up and shipped the F out of town.
  2. Lame ass audio clips aside – are we really holding up our end of the bargain as fans? We have watched games in a great many arenas now. Half of the fans in Anaheim are just excited to see ice for heavens sakes. They don’t care about the coach making third line players into grinders. Hell they don’t even know what a grinder is. They stand up at the weirdest points to cheer. They all look confusedly at each other when icing is called. We sit and scream at one another how a guy that is on pace to score 17 goals should be sent to the ECHL where he play third string goalie. You know, to teach him a lesson. Are we really the best fans in the league?
  3. Would you want to play here in Edmonton if you were in the NHL? The cheques cash the same all over the league playboy.

We pride ourselves on ripping on the Oil whenever we get the urge. We get a special little thrill every time one of you good people join in, comment on an article or send us an email. We are thunderstruck at the popularity of this website and that real journalists like Robin Brownlee and Jason Gregor have humored our little business and treat this thing seriously. And what do we do the instant we have the privilege of being able to address our fellow Oilers fans? Things like this:

“It is you who is letting us down Edmonton Oilers. Get that very, very clear in your collective minds.”

And who are we again to talk like this? Nobody? Oh that’s right. Nobody.

A MacT/K-Lowe-less future

This team is clearly broken. The statement we have heard is that “this is going to be the busiest off season in the history of the Oilers.” Who is going to come back here and replace the departing folk? More high priced players who don’t really give a shit? When MacTavish leaves and Kevin Lowe finally decides “screw this. I have shaved a good ten years off my life for this team and for this City. I’m going to assemble a kick ass sword collection and mail it in” who are we left with? Will anyone in power even remember when it was expected to win a Cup in this City?

When they go, so goes the last link to the Oilers expecting to be a contender year in and year out. Then it’s going to be a bunch of hired guns who collect the cheque and the only link to better days will be that dented Oilers garbage can in our room.

Great.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    I watched drunken Ajax Amsterdam fans getting in fights with each other in the subway a couple of weeks ago, and this was on the way TO the game, before it even started.

    NHL players, by and large, have no idea what "really" living in a [their sport]-crazed city.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    I think MacT is an intelligent man, but he has lost his mojo here. Being a coach in the NHL has a short shelf life. His time is up shortly.

    Oh, and Kevin Lowe needs to move on too.

    Feeling are a big part of life, but assess the management performance by the results, please!

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Do you propose that this sad-sack NHL hockey franchise continues to go forward with Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish considering their performances over the past 8 years? (Clearly, they were not volunteers.) Can we expect a different outcome with the same cast again next season? Will you accept another 11th or 12th finish net year? Do you expect the fans to continue to pay really big bucks for the brand of entertainment that has been offered over the past three years? Do you expect sponsors to shell out big bucks next season to the Oil when the entertainment value of the product is unsatisfactory and their companies are laying off staff/workers? Would you object to see someone like Brent Sutter the HC next year with Tambellini being the real GM? The answers to these questions are probably NO, NO, NO, NO, NO and NO. Do we still think Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish are good people and desirable Edmonton citizens, definitely YES. But the two different sets of questions are mutually exclusive. On behalf of the fans, it is time for Darryl Katz to move on in a different direction. In the end, it is the fans that really own the franchise because without the fans' solid support there wouldn't be an Edmonton Oilers. Wanye, get over it.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Gretz, I'm not really a fan of your work but your last two articles (is that the right word?) have been fantastic. You bring up some great points, especially about how the fans are shitting all over people who truly care about this city and its hockey fans. And your right, in this day and age that is truly rare and commendable.

    The fans have changed a little bit this season. While I dont judge the fans, we have become crusty and resentful. If I were a little more articulate, I would compare Oilers fans to a jilted lover after a great five year relationship has gone horribly wrong. The most important thing that Oilers fans need to do, is just start enjoying the game again. Overanalyzing the team is fun and part of the game's appeal but I think when we all become these furious, holier than thou armchair GM's, part of the magic is lost.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Wow.

    I was almost expecting a note at the bottom of this post saying "From the desk of Patrick Laforge." Heh heh.

    But seriously, you have a pretty decent point there Wanye. Although I wouldn't take the cross-section of fan responses here as a large-sample representation of fans here in Edmonton. Every game I'm at, most are just happy to be in their seats, politely sitting on their hands and ordering 3L cokes and chips for their kids. And those $250 jerseys are always flying out of the Oilers store on the mezzanine (to my utter amazement).

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Are you actually inferring that no one has the heart or the conviction to do the same job that k-lowe and mactavish do? Because if you are we are no better than the board of governors for GM.

    I commend them both men for their dedication to the organization, but the very same thing was said when Slats left, and how well has he done?

  • I'm a Scientist!

    I don't think anyone doubts the commitment of Lowe and MacT, but this is business. The results aren't there and most of the blame should go onto those players who are not living up to the value of their contract, MacT and Lowe (Lowe in particular) have made a number of poor decisions in the last couple years that will hinder the team's development in the future and need to be held accountable. There is no guarantee that the team will be better with different management or coaching, but it is worth the effort to try.

    With the recession tightening everyone's wallets we will start to see empty seats next year and Katz will need to show fans he is committed to trying to build a winning team. Loyalty only goes so far.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    I really don't know how to feel about this right now. Shame? Pride? Regret?

    I'm gonna have a good think, a cry, and rub one out. That usually sets things straight.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    What were you drinking last night? Whatever it was, it sure brought about a dramatic change. I must admit to you that I've been pretty taken aback by some of your rabid posts lately, but I too have been calling for a cleansing of all things related to the glory days lately. However, after reading John Mackinnon, Terry Jones and your own column this morning, I must admit that I too am having second thoughts about any upcoming purge. Mactavish and Lowe do care greatly and are here by choice, the young millionaires probably not. There are no easy answers. Would Marc Crawford, Guy Carbonneau or Pat Quinn bring much of a different approach?

    The one thing I can say is that people do get tired of hearing the same voice over and over. I'm a teacher and had to work in a school where I taught the same group of kids multiple subjects, in consecutive years. I got to the point where I was sick of them, had no patience with them, and if I'm honest with myself, did not give them the benefit of the doubt the way I would to students whom I had just met a few months earlier. And maybe more importantly, they got tired of my act even quicker than I did of theirs. To me this is what's happened with our hockey team. If I had to guess, I would say that many of the vets have tired of the same voice, speeches, and gameplans over the years. They've become complacent – frustrated – uncaring (or all three) and it's rubbed off on the young players, affecting the whole group.

    Is firing the coaching staff the answer? I don't know. However, if we do fire MacT and his replacement is no better, deep down we will probably miss him. Just my two cents.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Don't get too down and don't be too hard on the fans Wayne. Sure we're hard on the team, coaches and management, but that's because we care. This is also the case with all great franchises in professional sports. Do you think Ranger fans are any better? If they are, it's only because they have 7 pro sports franchises in town to direct their angst towards. We only have one (I don't count AA baseball or CFL, sorry).

    Fans at Manchester United riot when they're upset. A soccer player from Uruguay (I think) was killed after scoring an own-goal in a World Cup qualifier. Rider fans dumped manure on the lawn of their field goal kicker. The list goes on…

    When you play for passionate, caring, and knowledgable fans you take the bad with the good, and unfortunately right now is a bad time. It WILL get better and will be that much more enjoyable after we've had to struggle to get there. Have faith Oil Nation, have faith.