Is The Dive For Five Disloyal?

Anyone who has spent any time around Oilers Nation over the past few months know about the Dive For Five, The Fall For Hall, Don’t Win For Seguin, Foul For Fowler and the various other names used to express a desire for the Oilers to lost a lot and end up with a high-end draft pick.

Well, over at TSN, Dave Hodge is quietly raging at all the Oilers fans who support any of the above programs.


My thumb is down to the Taylor Hall sweepstakes, which do exist in spite of the fact that Toronto isn’t involved. Usually, we’re accused of paying too much attention to the issue of "tanking" to get a number one draft pick, because it’s a Toronto issue, but now, it’s an Edmonton issue where Hall is concerned, and they are following it in Edmonton. It’s easy to find a so-called Oilers fan who was happy with Saturday’s loss in San Jose because it kept the Oilers only two points ahead of last-place Carolina. I say this every year – the NHL should pick the draft order out of a hat containing the names of all 14 non-playoff teams – no advantage to finishing last, no need to wonder how hard the 30th-place team is trying to avoid 29th place.


(bolding mine)

I can get behind the general idea that the worst team in the league shouldn’t get the best pick, for the sake of competitive integrity. I also understand that from a business perspective, the NHL needs to be able to sell hope to fans in Atlanta, Tampa Bay, New York, and until recently Pittsburgh and Chicago. But that isn’t the issue.

I take issue with a reporter like Hodge implying that someone is less of a fan because he or she approves of losing for a first round pick. The Oilers this season, and every season since 2006, have been blessed with a combination of injuries and managerial incompetence. That combination of blessings, up until now, has resulted in a delightful combination of no playoff appearances and no lottery picks, locking the Oilers into a loop of ineptitude, like this:

1. Manager puts together a poor team -> 2. Team struggles to stay in the playoff chase -> 3. Manager sells at the deadline -> 4. Team falls, but not into the lottery -> 5. Team gets good, not great pick -> 6. See 1. -> 7. See 2. -> 8. Having traded pick back in step 6, Manager does not much -> 9. See 4. -> 10. Other team gets good, not great, pick -> 11. See 1. -> 12. Manager is promoted, replaced by another manager satisfied with the poor team -> 13. See 2. -> 14. Manager buys and sells at deadline -> 15. Team See 4. -> 16. See 5. -> 17. See 1. -> 18. ???

What can break the loop? Steps two, four and five are all derivative of steps one and three; they’re effects, not causes. Steps one and three are controlled by the manager. It all goes back to the manager.

But there’s hope. Let’s pretend, for a moment, that the manager spent all of last season evaluating the team. Let’s pretend that he went out over the summer and spent all the money he possibly could chasing free agents. Let’s pretend that he had high expectations – playoffs, at least – for his team out of training camp. Now, let’s pretend that despite his best efforts to ice a playoff team, he ices a spectacular failure; his prize acquisition ends up on the injured list (as he has every season since the lockout), his inability to fill simple holes at centre and on the penalty kill comes back to haunt him and aided by some injuries to injury-prone players, he finds his team is the worst in the conference.

Obviously, it would be nicer to break the cycle by putting together a good team, but given the track record of the people involved that seems unlikely. But the pattern we’ve described could result in a pair of wonderful changes: the acquisition a top-end talent through the draft, and the dismissal of the managers involved.

That’s the dream. A management reset and a franchise talent.

And I don’t care what Dave Hodge has to say about it. Because there’s no rule that says fans can’t look at the long-term picture. There’s no disloyalty involved; it’s just that sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better.

  • smiliegirl15

    JW, nice to see you brought up the (mis)management issue, as this is the only threat to DFF.

    The players are doing their part night-in, night-out. I really hope they don't keep the stink up only to see Tambo pissing it away.

    I still remember his speech after firing MacT: players will have to pay for this too. The players that paid: Brodziak…

    As nothing has significantly changed with this team since last 15 games of last season, I'd say Mr. Tambo still owes us some moves.

    Look forward to trade deadline.

  • The Mook

    Yes, both Hall and Seguin are over 6 feet and nearing 200 lbs when they suit up in the fall. That is hardly small. Crosby at 5'11", or Kane at 5'10" by those definitions should be passed up for a nice strapping lad like Jason Bonsignore, at 6'4" and 220. At #4 overall that is the only top 5 draft pick in Oiler history. I hope like hell they pick best talent available for our highest pick in franchise history, and save the need for a sasquatch for round 2.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    What about giving the top pick to the first non-playoff team, and the 2nd pick to the last overall (or vice versa)? It prevents the good teams from deliberately tanking, because winnings games will net them something, too.

    • Ender

      I thought about your proposal and there are some merits to the idea. I wonder, though, if in years when a Crosby/Ovechkin/Kovalchuk were available if you'd have the bubble teams (9th place) tank the playoffs to get the pick? I know that the playoff revenue and the shot at the cup make that scenario unlikely, but people would still think it, I'm sure. You'd also have the problem of needing to reward the 9th Team in the East as well as the West ( I think giving to one and not the other would just anger half the NHL fanbase every year) meaning that there are two less picks available for the teams who (deserving or not) really need them.

      I don't like the KHL system. It may seem fair on the surface that the best (non-playoff) teams are rewarded with the best players, but it accepts the fact that some franchises may be caught up in a cycle of failure from which they can never recover. At least in the NHL, all 30 teams can sell hope every season, no matter how bad your current squad is. (Thank goodness, eh Tambo?)

      • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

        I would be furious if the Oilers were in that situation and people were calling for them to miss the playoffs for a shot at a superstar.

        The way I see it, a shot at the cup is what the teams want. First or second overall could be their "better luck next time".

        How about first overall going to the last-place finish, then 2nd going to the best of the teams that didn't make it? Most of the time you're looking for first overall if it's come to the point where you're jockeying for draft position.

        • Ender

          Just a scenario to think about; a team from the SE Division finishes the regular season with 90 points (just outside the playoffs) after a long year of playing weak conference and exceptionally weak divisional opponents. (And this is a hypothetical; anyone who feels the need to tell me how powerful the East or the SE is this year, save your breath.) Meanwhile, the Oilers also finish in ninth with 89 points, earning the majority of those against (in this scenario) much tougher competition. Under your proposal, the Eastern team would be rewarded with a top-2 pick in the draft while the Oil would get nothing. That's quite a difference that a single non-relative point in the standings is determining. You can argue that the best team earned the pick, but I think that you'd get a lot of fans every single year that would fail to see it that way. The NHL needs a lot of things, but something that polarizes fans in either the East/West who feel cheated is not one of them.

          Maybe the 9th and 10th teams from both conferences have a mini-tourney for the one second-overall pick? That works for the fans and the owners, but you'd have to figure out some kind of a carrot to throw the players who are now playing in a meaningless (to them) postseason.

          • Dan the Man

            @ Ender the Dragon

            And to further your comments towards Oil Kings n Pretty Things

            With the point system, how can this work when so many games are worth 3 points because of the SO's and the regulation games are worth less? That seems dramatically unfair as well with that approach.

            The way it is now is completely fair for everyone, and doesn't need to be changed. What needs to change is Hodge's attitude because his Hero dealt away a potential #1 pick for the next 2 years, sounds like sour grapes to me.

            Hodge, you're officially a tool, which tool, you can decide that one.

  • Arby

    We are true fans and we love the Oilers. It's just that they're addicted to sucking right now, and we're not going to enable them anymore. We need them to hit their 'rock bottom' in order to get the help that they need.

    Luckily for them their 'rock bottom' is finishing last in the league, and not hand jobs for loose change.

  • bigrroberto

    I was talking to a Chicago fan today at work. He was giving me a hard time about wearing my Oilers toque and I responded by saying how a true fan never abandons his colors no matter what.

    He made an interesting point that we could all take to heart. He's been a Blackhawks fan his whole life (in his 50's I'd say) and he, like us Oilers fans, has lived through season after season of heartbreak. After all those hard years his team, now finally, has a ligit chance at a Stanley Cup. He says to me "When they do win the cup the victory will feel twice as nice. The most satisfaction you will ever feel is from something that you've worked so hard to achieve."

    We just need to keep our heads up and know that, in time, things will improve and it will feel oh so good when they do.

  • VMR

    I dont mind his suggestion since it makes chasing for that last playoff spot worthwhile or at least it doesnt hurt your team. As it stands now you cant fault fans for cheering for losses rather than mediocre results that do nothing for your team. Really why would we cheer if our GM brought in a replacement veteran goaltender rather than letting the young guys learn on the job? Does climbing two or three spots in the standings help us in the long term? Is their really a difference between finishing 28 or 30th overall?

  • @ Ogden Brother Jr.:

    I think Motin's at least a year away from regular NHL work. I also think he's behind Peckham right now.

    I like him too, but I don't think he's a fit yet (and even if he were, 'shutdown defenceman' is not generally a job NHL rookies are suited for). It'll be a few years before he's making a positive impact, I think.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      I noticed he has put up decent numbers in the AHL for a stay at home guy, but I really didn't know where he stands on the depth chart there. I just ask because everyone wants the Chorneys, Eberle, MPS and others here next year and then we have guys like Motin who this team has needed for years, yet no one seems to remember them.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    I will say it again, Lowe and Tambo are not cut out the be GMs in the post lock out cap NHL. They should be replaced with someone more capable. I don't want Lowe or Tambo's head on a plate but the record from 2006 till now shows it. Replace management while rebuilding.

  • rampage

    Is it just me or does it seem that Tyler Seguin would be a better fit with the oil than taylor hall. Look at the wingers we have of hemsky penner (eberle and MSP assuming they make the team next year). Fairly solid/great future potential. The obvious holes are at center in the top 6. Sam Gagner could fill one of the spots but landing another top line center would be near impossible.

    • Rampage

      Hall has been interviewed and said his natural position is C, and you always take the BPA at 1st pick. If Seguin is the BPA in the draft over Hall, then so be it, but if Hall is the BPA, then we better tbe taking Hall.

      And doesn't Horcoff count as a top line C? *sarcasm* 😛

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        "Hall has been interviewed and said his natural position is C"

        I was wondering about that, I thought for sure I remember him playing C… but then everything I've seen on him this year lists him at LW.

  • I'd probably take Seguin over Hall if I had to make the choice right now, but it's hard to know. Both are very good players and I'm going to have to think about it some more by the time draft day rolls around.

    Regardless, I'd do it based on which one of the two looks to be the best player, not based on team needs.

    • Jonathan, even if you accepted the "let's see how these guys will play" strategy, its pretty obvious that we're well past the evaluation stage. Although some would disagree, I'd go so far as to include JDD and DD in that statement.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        Ya, I'd agree. Their should really be no more then 1-2 guys being "eveluated" on an NHL roster at a time. Roll players are/were just too cheap and too plentiful to waste spots evaluating guys like Stone in the NHL.

  • Dan the Man

    Do you think Dave Hodge really believes that what the fans cheer for actually happens? Does he really think that players read that fans are cheering for a lottery pick so they make a conscious decision to play poorly?

  • Dan the Man

    @ JW

    Don't forget having AHL talent starting on our team.

    Stone, MAP, Jacques are not good enough to play at the NHL level, I'm sorry if people disagree with me, but they are not NHL quality even at the 4th line role.

    This team could use a make over from the first line down, and keeping an AHL team on the ice for the next couple years will enable us to draft (hopefully) some NHL talent.

    Even with adding Eberle/Hall (for arguments sake) and icing this same team, we'd still finish dead last barring a miracle (like Eberle/Hall leading the league in scoring).

    This team needs some serious work, just curious if T-Lo realizes the same or not, or if he thinks he can plug holes like Special K has been trying to do for the last decade.

  • Librarian Mike

    In response to HottScarrison's remark: "…add in the premier league (soccer) with the bottom 3 getting relegated down. Maybe that would encourage teams to not want to 'tank'. Also encourages accountability amongst mgt. I hope that all makes sense."

    This is a great approach. Don't know if the owners of the bottom 3 teams would like it, but tweeking it by firing the general managers of the bottom 3 would certainly have a positive effect to clean up their messes.

  • Ducey

    Dave Hodge seems to have mixed up the fans and the team.

    His concern is that a team may try to tank it. In Edmonton's case his evidence that the team is tanking is that an Oilers fan is happy with the team losing.

    He ignores the reality that the Oilers really do suck that badly, have spent to the cap, have been hit with all manners of plagues and calamities, have their supposed #1 centre playing hurt, had a mini camp, etc.

    I guess he would happier if we all gave up on any future hope for the Oil, stopped going to the games, and stopped having any reason to tune into TSN.

  • Ducey

    Dave Hodge can say whatever he likes but so can Oiler fans. Personally, I don't believe the Oilers are tanking anything. They have a very mediocre hockey club that was hit with illness, injuries and slumps to key players all in the same year. Furthermore Seguin is probably of greater value than Hall given the holes we have at center ice.

  • Dan the Man

    'Dive For Five, The Fall For Hall, Don’t Win For Seguin, Foul For Fowler' are all phases created with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
    All the fans know this. Does Hodge not know the
    source of irony, sarcasm and other rye humour?
    I doubt it.

    He is on my ignore list.

  • Ender

    Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

    Why not work it like our current lottery system, with the top non-playoff team in each conference getting equal odds to draft first?

    That's actually better than the mini-tourney idea that the KHL uses and I suppose it could work. I wouldn't start lighting torches if the NHL decided to go that route, but on the whole I think I'm with LBH on this one; while a lot of things are hurting in today's NHL, their draft system isn't one of them. IMHO, they shouldn't try to 'fix' what isn't broken.

  • Brocktw

    Great read JW! Dave Hodge is just worried that his beloved savior Jesus Burke is going to be ahead of Lowe / Tambo on the worst NHL exec list. Its to bad he does not realize that when BB traded Torontos next two lottery picks he solidified that position for at least the next two years. No matter how bad the Oil are Lowellini can be no worse than 29th. The Kessel trade put the all mighty Leafs back 3 years.

    Any Oil fans who are looking for at least something positive out of all this, rest assured the Sabres are not using our pick this year to take a top 3 prospect (remember Vanek). Because thats what Dave Hodge is looking at for the next 2 years. Fowler is going to look good skating for the Bruins for the next 10 years.

    The thing that really irritates me about this whole Easteren media whining is that if the Leafs still had their draft pick they would be yelling the loudest about the fact it may be them picking Hall.

  • Gerald R. Ford

    Dave Hodge is an ancient skidmark on the tattered, ripped underwear of Canadian sports journalism. His most memorable career moment was having a hissy fit on a live broadcast, thoroughly embarrassing his employers, getting fired, and unleashing Ron Maclean unto an unsuspecting world. Thanks heaps, douche.

    If he's really wondering why the NHL doesn't pay more heed to his awesome ideas, it's probably because Gary Bettman is too busy trying to find his own league's games on his satellite dish, let alone having time to sit down and watch "TSN Presents: Bitter Old Has-Been Re-Lives the Seventies".

    Maybe he'll PVR it, Dave.

    Err… anyway, this team is awful, naturally. The DFF is humour in the face of insanity. It's also the ONLY light we have at the end of a very long, very dark, tunnel. If this organization refuses to instill us with hope through competent management, I say we grab it wherever we can find it.

  • The DFF is one step in rectifying a 15 year problem that has seen young teams continue to draft poorly from mid position. This is a team that hadnt had a superstar (for more than a season) long enough that Shawn Freakin Horcoff looked so much like a good player that he earned himself a paycheck that rivals the greats in the league. This team's lack of star players has warped the local assessment of talent so bad that the Oilers have become (as noted on TSN) "a last place team with a first place payroll."

    How could hoping for a good player equate to being disloyal? How could finding a way to be positive in the lowest point of this team's history be a symptom of being a "so called fan".

    Simply put: It Can't.

    Dave Hodge might not care about the Oilers enough to think about next year and the year after that, but I do. If losing now means winning for the better part of this decade, then I'm all for it.

  • Ender

    Wow, Dave Hodge knows who the Edmonton Oilers are? And on a day when the Oilers aren't even playing the Leafs…

    What the hell does anyone on TSN know about the Oilers? Exactly nothing, that's what.

  • MR P

    Good read, i seethe with anger towards the toronto sports network as well as the d bags they employ. I just mute the audio and listen to myself get madder at oilers management.

    My money is on Florida or Tampa jumping up from 25th to grab the #1 pick, with the Florida sunbelt being the heartland of hockey, it just makes sense

      • Deans

        Why? It's actually not too bad a scenario; the number one overall pick takes either Hall or Seguin, and you don't have to worry about whether the Oilers made the right choice or not; they got the best forward still available in the draft.

  • VMR

    I think Hodges suggestion was better than any I've seen on here. All non-playoff teams get their names thrown in a hat and draft order is determined randomly, from 1 down to 14. That means teams like the Oilers have incentive to try and win every game rather than play with two rookie goalies and half their team made up of guys who were in the AHL last season.

    But hey talk about diving, the Oilers have an excuse they're injured and sick and bad to begin with. If anyones diving on purpose it's the Flames 🙂

  • Deans

    Good Article. I hope that the Oilers get a top 3 pick. Looking at teams on the upswing like Chicago, LA and PIT, it appears that a top 3 pick can help get an impact player and turn the tide. Look, I still cheer for the Oilers when I'm watching the games but I'd rather they place 27-30 than 18-27. Hodge is out of touch.

  • MrOiler

    There was a reason Hodge got canned from HNIC, his logic is mixed up.

    If you're going to miss the playoffs, who cares where you finish? You might as well maximize your return with a high draft pick that may pay off dividends for years. It worked for Chicago, Pittsburgh and Washington.

    "So-Called Oiler fans"?

    How about "so-called analyst".