C13 – Pt1

It stands to reason that Ethan Moreau isn’t going to be the Captain of the Oilers for much longer. Even if Dieciocho sticks around for the 2010-11 NHL season fulfilling the final year of his contract, sooner or later the reins are going to be handed over to a new proverbial chuckwagon driver to pilot the next leg of the journey. 

And hey – as luck would have it, not only is the heir to the Captaincy going to be the dreaded 13th Captain in the history of the Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club, but he will be taking over a franchise that counts both its NHL and AHL affiliate as dead last amongst their on ice peers. 

In addition, the Big Club currently sports a dressing room so poor that Oilers brass recently decided to send superstud Jordan Eberle to the Springfield Falcons for seasoning, the theory being that "the Falcons might also be the worst team in their respective league, but at least Eberle will retain a will to live beyond 2011. This cannot currently be guaranteed in Edmonton."

C13

Captain 13 will be inheriting a room that is dead, a team that’s in last place in the league and a meddling braintrust/coaching staff that numbers in the thousands – though the decisions they have actually made can be counted on less than a full hand of fingers. Free agents are shunning Edmonton with alarming regularity and a child was recently roughed up at a local school after being caught crying on the scoreboard at Rexall.

In short: things are dire in the OilersNation.

Sounds like it’s time for someone to step up doesn’t it?

This is something we are going to debate right into the ground over the summer and we thought we would kick it sooner rather than later. There is little else to get excited about locally – though it should be noted that the Rush have clinched a playoff spot in the NLL.

It has been so long since something Edmonton based made the post season we almost forgot how to appropriately cheer as we were in attendance last Saturday night, but luckily remembered at the last possible second and drank everything sold by everyone.

Anyway, back to the Oilers search for a Captain. There will undoubtedly be four separate schools of thought on the matter:

1. GO WITH YOUTH

"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it."

                                  — Dwight D. Eisenhower

There are a great many veteran players in the Oilers dressing room who may or may not buy into a new regime in the years to come. There are other veterans who may not want to wait around until the Oilers return to respectability, fearing it will come late in their careers when they will be long past their prime.

Going with a young Captain ensures that this player will be a key part of the new team. Many folks have been quick to jump on this bandwagon screaming things like "that’s what Chicago did! That is also what Pittsburgh did!" and these points are valid for some teams looking to go with youth. 

It should however be noted that these two teams were looking at the Toews’ and the Crosbys of the world in their internal search for the great big C – established premiere NHL players who can withstand the pressures of leadership and being called on to produce despite their young age.

Standout players of that magnitude aren’t exactly growing on trees here in E-tizzy. In the absence of a guaranteed HHOFer (Croz) and one of the most intense players on the planet (Toews) certain Oilers could be considered to fall into the category of "Captain of the Youths." More on Eberle, Gagner, Cogliano, Hall and possibly even a Seguin later in this series.

2. GO WITH EXPERIENCE

"Good leadership consists of showing average people how to do the work of superior people."

                                  — John D Rockefeller

The counter point to handing over the keys to one of the greatest franchises in Pro Sports to some punk assed kid is to tap a veteran player for the job. This would seemingly go against the "don’t trust anyone over 28" segments of the OilersNation but might bear some further thought even if the team is looking to get younger for the 1,575th time in Franchise history.

Know what will be everywhere in the dressing room at RX1? Youth. Know who runs the show of youth quite effectively? Veterans. Perhaps the firm hand of experience is exactly what this team will need for the next few years.

3. TRADE FOR A CAPTAIN

"Leadership is diving for a loose ball, getting the crowd involved, getting other players involved. It’s being able to take it as well as dish it out. That’s the only way you’re going to get respect from the players."

                                  — Larry Bird

"Can’t find a worthy replacement to Ethan Moreau on your current roster of not quite Superstars, unproven talent, bubble players and soon to be forgotten journeyman? Get on the old telematrix and make a deal for one then!" This is what we would suggest to the brain trust of the Oilers, should they ever return our daily letter to Central Command.

A year ago, a great many in the Nation would have been on board with this line of thinking. Virtually every single NHL team currently has a Captain* and with the Oilers shedding salaries like Arizonian Home Builders of late – money does exist to bring in a hired gun to take the helm.

In an era where many US cities are sweating bullets due to the economy, Edmonton has been mercifully spared the worst parts of the economic meltdown currently underway south of the border and is one of few teams with salary cap space and the ability to shoulder large contracts.

However if the embarassing summers of 2007, 2008 and 2009 have taught us anything, its that the Oilers are going to have a tough time luring free agents up this way until they start winning. Spare us the idea that "no one wants to play in Edmonton ever." If the Oilers start winning, the UFAs, RFAs and ZFAs will start arriving en masse.

But until that time the Oilers may elect to save us all from the 56th free agent rejection in the past 36 months and look inside the dressing room for C13.

*16 of 30 teams at last count

4. GO WITH AN INTERIM CAPTAIN

 

"To have long term success as a coach or in any position of leadership, you have to be obsessed in some way."

                                  — Pat Riley

It has been ages since the Oilers did this hasn’t it? This option effectively allows the team to hedge their bets between options 1, 2 and 3 allowing them to see what cream will rise to the top for a long term solution to the problem.

With all due respect to Jon Willis, a Jason Strudwick type player might just be what this team needs to elect as C13 until they can figure out the long term player to fill this role. Not the greatest player in the NHLPA, a Strudwick type player could still command the room with his grizzled veteran presence and allow the next generation of players (including the future C14) to develop free of the pressure of being the Captain of a losing NHL hockey team.

IN CLOSING

This is a matter that is going to be an awesome debate over the summer and we have taken a look at several players. Height, weight, turn ons, turn offs. This will be part two in the series.

In conclusion, we conclude.

Concludingly,

Wanye

  • OilFan

    Stortini he is the only guy that never takes a shift off. But I think it will be Horcoff. Is Moreau gone ? I think we should wait to see if they do trade/waive Moreau

    • OilFan

      Who do you think Calgary is going to replace Iggy with ? Staios ? I think Sutter has to trade Iggy or Reger at the draft to save his job. Firing your coach every years hasn't seemed to work

  • Maggie the Monkey

    I think the C should go to Whitney. He sounds like a guy that knows that there's something awful going on with the current team and wants to change it. He's also played a huge role on the team since coming in from Anaheim, doing just about everything you could ask of a defender on such a horrid team. He's not young but not a grizzled veteran and will likely be sticking around the team for a while.

  • Maggie the Monkey

    Even though we're apt to take a lot of flak for it, I agree with Bombstradamus about Horcoff being the best candidate. Yes, he's had a horrible season, and yes, some consider him to be damaged goods (because of injury), but he was also an integral part of the most successful team in the past 20 years and has a strong professional work ethic by reputation. His intellect and communication skills also contribute to leadership abilities.

    I'm not going to pretend otherwise: he's been one of my personal favourites for years and I hold out hope that he'll have a bounce-back season next year. Unless I'm mistaken, if Moreau is traded Horcoff will also be the longest serving Oiler, and history has to count for something.

    • Cowbell_Feva

      I know Edmonton has a bad history of rewarding stupidity (ie, KLowe now Prez- Danny Maccocia director of FB ops) but giving Horcoff the 'C' would take the cake. With any luck he WON'T be here much longer!

  • 1) My kid reads those Captain Underpants books. They're good times.

    2) It's a gamble, but I think the Next Captain of the Oilers should be Hemsky. I know what you're gonna say. "Arch, you're crazy. He's an ok 'A' but not a 'C'."

    Look. The guy is a free agent in 2 years. There are rumblings he will test the FA market. He's already the Oilers' best forward. He's young but he's also a veteran. He could fit every every category listed by Wanye. If he's gone in 2 years he was only an Interim. He's young and a Vet, and he's the only difference making forward that plays with any consistency. It's just a thought.

    EDIT: And maybe, if he is destined to leave, being a Captain adds to his trade value.

    • THEBIGD

      Are you nuts?The best move the Oilers should make,but won't,is to trade Hemsky.And as soon as you can.As what has he done to help the Oilers?Nothing as he won't pass,shoot avoids the media by hiding?This guy could not lead my dog let alone the Oilers.Please tell me why they believe he is such a great player.He is not and will be good trade bait either for young players or draft picks.As this guy drives me nuts.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        I really don't understand how the Hemsky haters could still be out in full force. Look at our offensive production these past 50 games vs the first 20 man… or these past 50 vs any of the last couple of seasons.

        Wake up please.

      • ^^^^^ is crazy speak. First off, props to me for predicting the fact that you'd call me crazy. If watching the best forward on the team, the guy who averages a point a game, drives you nuts then you must have been in heaven this year watching no one doing all those stupid things like creating offense and quarterbacking the powerplay.

        ~Hemsky sucks~

        Read the rest of the posts I made. I lean towards having no Captain next year.

        • While I have nothing but admiration and respect for both you and the rest of the Archaeologists around the globe I must disagree.

          Not naming a Captain would be a mistake for a rudderless Franchise such as this. Co-Coaches, a President who thinks he is still GM, a GM who still thinks he is an Assistant GM, no AHL squad these past few years and now no Captain too?

          Any wonder why this team is in last place?

          • I think this team is in last place, in part, because it has no solid leadership. If someone doesnt grow a set and take control from within the locker-room then I think it's a mistake to name a Captain. It's something that should be earned, not given by default.

            I'm not privvy to the kind of access that would confirm my suspicions about the heartlessness of the club, but from the outside looking in, that's what I see.

            They could rotate the C or other gimmicky things, but that's just hiding the fact that no one cares enough to take the duties full time.

            It's my hope that, Moreau present or not, stripping the team of a Captain would stir something inside some guys enough create a desire to prove their leadership. Do it at the end of the year and let them think about who wants to lead over the summer. Someone needs to take initiative.

    • Bombstradamus

      I like Hemsky, and think he should be part of this rebuild which in my opinion is already in year three. I just dont like his work ethic.

      Now if you want to gamble, how about Horcoff? He works hard all the time, and it seems that he's going to be here a while, a long while.

      I miss Ryan Smyth.

      • I've never had a problem with his on-ice work ethic. Plus, what better way to push a guy than make him the Captain? (not entirely serious, please keep that in mind before you respond)

        Seriously, I dont know if this team has a captain, and I dont think slapping the C on someone who doesnt want it will help*. Maybe this team goes without a Captain next season.

        I am fundamentally opposed to Horcoff getting the C. How are the Oilers going to take it away from him before his never-ending contracts runs out? Plus effort is one thing, but why should effort alone qualify someone as the Captain? Horc isnt a difference maker anymore. He had a good 50 game stretch a couple years ago but that's over. If effort was good enough then I'd take Stortini over Horcoff.

        *See Oilers leadership under Moreau

        • Hemsky would be a horrible choice. His body language when things get rough do not even whisper 'captain'. I hope he has a great year with some new energy (and maybe a couple of new linemates), but he's Sir Lancelot, not King Arthur.

          However, fully agree with the rest of what you're saying. I think we've got some potential captains on the roster…but no current ones. Whitney hasn't been here long enough, but an 'A' on his sweater might be OK.

          No 'C' next year.

    • ~ pause ~

      ~ pause ~

      and he showed his leadership in the past…how?

      I'd vote for Struds, as the option 4 suggested.

      We get boatloads of kids coming in: give them time to sort out the locker.

      Besides: am I totally out to lunch or Struds helped Chorney get a bit better lately?

      Too bad Gags' not there yet…

  • Travis Dakin

    Do the old Minnesota thing of rotating Captains every month. Its retarded, but there really is no other option for now. Its pointless to slap the C on someone until they earn it. I say rotate it for one year and then decide.

  • Kyle S

    Has anyone actually shown any sort of leadership coming down the stretch? I sure have not seen anyone step up.

    Of course, half of the opening night line-up are out with injuries right now, so maybe that's where C13 is.

    I say go with an interim captain until someone proves themselves worthy to be C14. No clue as to who the interim C13 should be though. Maybe rotate the C around and see who steps up?

  • I really like the Comrie idea (thanks to whomever suggested that in the last thread), assuming we resign him.

    Plays his ass off every night, scores, hits & even fights sometimes. He is a secondary(plug) type player & has been in the league for a long time so has probably heard every motivational speech ever made.