Losing is one thing. Failure to muster the gumption to compete, to go down swinging and instead laying down while an opponent buffs his boots on your backside is quite another. The Edmonton Oilers are there now.

The Oilers have assumed the prone position and they aren’t getting up. They aren’t even pushing back now. They’ve quit. At least that’s the way it looks to me after Monday’s 6-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.

Adding embarrassment to ineptitude, the Oilers, save for Mike Comrie and Jason Strudwick, took an Arizona ass-kicking without even a hint of pride or backbone on the way to a franchise-record 10th straight road loss. Aside from the smallest player on the team and another at the bottom of the pay scale, it was, "Please, sir. Can I have another?"

If the Oilers are half as pissed off as their fans are about a season in which they’re destined to finish 30th, they didn’t show it. They didn’t compete. They took whatever the Coyotes felt like giving them without protest. Did you see the look on Robert Lang’s face after he sashayed in front of Jeff Deslauriers and flipped a backhand into the net?

From losers to laughing stocks, this outfit.


"We were passive on the ice, passive in the net. We didn’t compete," said a flabbergasted Pat Quinn. "As long as we’re that easy to beat, we’ll be looking at ugly scores like this one." They are easy to beat. The book on the Oilers is straightforward: stay on them and they’ll spit the bit. They’ve been outscored 13-3 in the first three games of this road trip — a 4-2 loss in Minnesota, a 3-0 whitewash in Denver and Monday’s 6-1 "No mas" fold job.

Fans get it that this team isn’t talented enough without Ales Hemsky and Sheldon Souray in the line-up. They understand Deslauriers isn’t ready to carry the workload left him because of Nikolai Khabibulin’s back injury. They’ll allow that man-games lost to injury and illness have been a factor. Most are even willing to console themselves with the possibility something good might come from the Dive For Five.

But "We didn’t compete?" That’s as damning as it gets. Where was Ethan Moreau Monday? Would another bad penalty by The Captain, maybe a two-hander to send a message, really have hurt when it 4-0 or 5-0 or was he too busy anchoring the "checking" line? Where was, well, anybody else outside Strudwick and Comrie?

A punch in the mouth or a face wash in a scrum isn’t going to make the penalty killing better. It isn’t going to dress up Shawn Horcoff’s minus-31. It isn’t going to fill the gaping holes in the line-up or force GM Steve Tambellini to address them. But it’s something, no? It’s better than just taking it, no? Maybe, like Tambellini, I’m looking at too short a sample size here. I think not.


I know it’s a cliché and a bit naive, given some of the contracts the Oilers are burdened with, but I’d like to think at least some players on this roster — aside from those who’ll be asking their agents to inform Tambellini they want the hell out of Edmonton (hello, Lubomir Visnovsky) — are playing for jobs. Times like this can tell you a lot about a player. Character, or lack of it, gets exposed. Talent being equal, I’ll take the guy who hates to lose over the guy who shrugs his shoulders or turtles when the going gets tough every time.

We’re seeing way too little of the former and too much of the latter. Are Kevin Lowe, who put this mismatched group of players with fat contracts together, and Tambellini, who continues assessing and hoping somebody will take a stiff or two off his hands, taking the same notes? We’ll see.

For now, it looks like fans are stuck with what they got in Phoenix. As the third period began, Sportsnet play-by-play man Kevin Quinn made a point of mentioning to his audience Ilya Bryzgalov had a shutout going. When Dustin Penner scored, Quinn chortled, "Ha, ha. It works every time." Right. "This is as bad as it gets," Horcoff said.

Yes. Yes, it is.

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

  • Vaclav

    We can only hope the NHL negotiates another clause with the next CBA that allows buyouts of contracts.

    Why didn't Bryan Pitton get his cup of coffee last night? Did Quinn think things could get any worse out there?

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I've always been against demoting veteran guys into the minors, I've always thought they deserve a certain amount of respect, but this is enough. Period. No More.

    If Tambellini has no takers than dump 'em into the AHL, at least then one of the franchises will win SOMETHING! Send a message, until you're officially traded, you compete, you give it your all, have some pride for goodness sake! To be able to don the Copper and Blue should be an honour, an honour some clearly don't deserve. Every time they ice an effort like last night is a disgrace to everything this franchise means to the city, and I for one am tired of it.

    Last year Kevin Prendergast issued an apology to the city of Springfield for the poor team they iced, when do we get ours? As far as I'm concerned, we're seeing the fruits of the brain trusts labour, and as far as I'm concerned it's a sour bunch.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Indeed! AND its renewal time for the people who will be asked to fund this sh*t show for another year.

    I think to make it a total slam dunk either Brian Burke or Darcy Regeir should take a run at Gagner with an RFA offer sheet. Just to rub a bit of salt in the wound that incompetence leaves.

    Tambo stated a while back that they would be evaluating until the Olympic break deciding on who wanted to be an Oiler. Its going to be a pretty short bench.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Robin, I poked a little fun at Gregor last week and you came to his defence. I applaud that, good on you for sticking up for the little guy. Do you think you could teach the Oilers how to do that?

    Moving on… you saw Moreau last night. There is no way another GM in this league is taking that piece of meat. Ask yourself why?

    At what point is Steve 'No Trade' Tambellini in trouble with his job if this continues. Next year?

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    This team is an utter joke. What the hell is this management team waiting for? The city is ready to riot, I dont know what the delay is. I dont care if the Oilers have bad, fat contracts. I dont care how publicly (spelling) bad it may look to put some of these veterans on waivers or send them down to the farm team. Im sick of watching these players play uninspired hockey while management sits with their collective thumbs up their ass's. Do something and give a glimmer of hope that you actually give a crap about this team. All we hear from these veterans of this shinking ship is "Well thats rock bottom" "Thats as bad as it gets" Funny that they should say this 2 weeks after we already had hit "rock bottom" Ive been an Oiler fan for plenty of years, and I tell you this year I am ready to turn in my Oilers Card. Im not a bandwagon jumper and I was never as pissed during the mid 90's as I am right now. What this management team is doing is bloody murder. If there isnt changes by the summer to this team (and yes I mean before July 1) I will personally start a petition to remove Lowe and Tambellini from this team because obviously they dont give two sh*ts.

    • Vaclav

      This team is ugly, in the loner girl in the corner, with acne on her face, 1940's glasses, a little thick on the hips, trying to play dodgeball during a basketball game, in 7th grade phys-ed class kind of way.

    • Dyckster

      maybe the petition should be addressed to Katz: 'if you don't care or don't have the time for this team find other takers!'

      sad to see a thing you love be scre@#d around with…

      • Ender

        Well, since I hacked it from Scientist's Supercomputer, I shouldn't take all the credit . . .

        Oh what the heck. I'm taking all the credit. Scientist can get his accolades by winning a Nobel or something. This one's mine:

        1) Katz hires a secret front-man to purchase an expansion franchise from the NHL. They name the team the Edmonton (insert cool new name here) and choose green & gold for their colors to match the Eskimos. Now the city can look tacky but unified. Price: a mere $250M. Good thing Katz is committed, right?

        2) An expansion draft is held, with the new team picking from all the unprotected players on the other 30 teams. In a shocking development, Hemsky and Gagner are 'accidentally' left unprotected and are picked up by the new team.

        3) The 2010 entry draft proceeds normally, with the Oil picking up Hall or Seguin.

        4) Following the draft, the Oilers trade several of their better players to the expansion franchise for prospects. The resulting scandal results in the Oilers GM being fired. Odd that he looks so happy about it . . .

        5) A month following the draft, Katz announces he's folding the Oilers. They will not play the 2010-11 season. A complete mercy because at this point, the UofA ringette team could dominate them. A dispersal draft is held, but there are no takers.

        6) The new Edmonton team takes the NHL by storm, with newcomers Eberle, MPS, and Hall/Seguin combining with seasoned journeymen from around the league to win the Stanley Cup in the first year of the franchise. In unrelated news, on the same night that the Cup is presented, Wanye’s house sustains severe structural damage.

        7) Katz buys the new team for a dollar. People wonder how a guy could be so lucky. Right place, right time, we guess.

        It's a flawless thing of beauty. How could it miss?

  • yeap. nobody cares…

    good to see things are moving in Montreal, Columbus, Carolina, Toronto and even Calgary.

    hockey is alive as well. we just have a very biased, distorted point of view.

    they'll rebound next year.

    after all: this is a proud bunch!