Don’t worry, be happy

I never did hack my ears off with a rusty butter knife back in the days when Bobby McFerrin’s mindless ballad for simpletons, Don’t Worry, Be Happy, used to grace the radio airwaves, but I wanted to.

Like I wrote back on Dec. 31, it wasn’t my nature as a young man to be the eternally optimistic sort. Fake and staged optimism, like fake and staged anything, used to drive me nuts. You know, that person who was always "up" without any good reason.

We’ve all known that guy at some point in our lives. Loses his job on Friday. Wife leaves him for his best friend Saturday. Dog takes a hike to join the circus Sunday. The Ned Flanders guy who’d whistle a happy tune up until the minute he locked the garage door and fired up the family sedan.

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I’m hearing a lot of optimistic talk in the Edmonton Oilers dressing room these days, and at a time when they have plenty of reasons to feel sorry for themselves between injuries and a six-game losing streak — and with the Detroit Red Wings coming to town to beat them for fun Tuesday.

None of it, circumstances be damned, sounds fake to me.


While it’s obvious that playing the woe-is-me card when things have gone sideways doesn’t solve anything, it’s a rut that we all fall into from time to time.

Enough lousy breaks — the Oilers have had their share with a line-up that is already lacking depth trying to get along without captain Shawn Horcoff and Ryan Whitney, then seeing Jordan Eberle go down — can make it difficult to turn that frown upside down (maim the person who coined that term and I’ll give you money*).

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I’ve got to admit, though, the positive talk I heard Monday morning seemed genuine. While nobody’s the least bit happy about a losing streak that stands at a half-dozen and yet another brutal string of injuries to guys who matter, nobody sounds like they’re folding.

After many years when that wasn’t the case, when you’d walk into the dressing room and the stench of defeat was such you’d swear you were locked in an elevator where somebody had just farted, the attitude these days is refreshing. This is not that team.


"It’s tough for guys who haven’t through something like this, younger guys," said Andrew Cogliano. "You have to keep the mood very good in here. You have to keep things upbeat.

"When you’re missing your leaders, it puts the onus on other guys to step up, not only on the ice but in the room. It’s been tough. I’m not going to lie. Guys are trying and the results aren’t there. There’s really no excuses. We have to push through the injuries, the tough games and get wins."

No self-pity there. No bogus rah-rah tone, either.

"They’re playing hockey," offered coach Tom Renney, who went over the top on the Flanders Meter last month with his talk about making the playoffs. "We’re doing what we love to do. It’s not always easy. It’s not always pretty and it’s not always fun, but it’s always a challenge and it’s always worth it.

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"I don’t need to get philosophical here, but there’s a lot of people in tougher situations than our guys having to play through this. It’s game on for us. Let’s just go play and try to put our best foot forward every single night."


Easier said than done. While most fans will happily settle for ELPH if the team remains competitive and stays in the hunt for a lottery pick in the 2011 draft, which it will, the players dismiss the idea.

"You can’t really look toward the future when you’ve got a game on that day," said Cogliano, who has stiffened his resolve lately after a brutal start to the season personally.

"You have to focus on one day at a time, one game at a time. You can’t worry about putting streaks together. You’ve got to worry about getting the first win and moving on from there.

"Everything is about winning now. I know all these guys in this room want to win right now.

People talk about the rebuild, this and that. For guys in this room, it’s about winning. Every game, we’re putting our best foot forward and giving the effort to win today."

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Again, what Cogliano says isn’t going to make up for this team’s obvious shortcomings or prompt the Red Wings, or anybody else, to take it easy on them. Still, it’s a welcome departure from the sour and dour outlook of recent seasons.

*Just kidding. Maiming is bad. Do not maim anybody, even if they did coin that term and are sitting beside you at the dentist’s office whistling right now.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Jodes

    Again, what Cogliano says isn’t going to make up for this team’s obvious shortcomings or prompt the Red Wings, or anybody else, to take it easy on them. Still, it’s a welcome departure from the sour and dour outlook of recent seasons.

    I just hope that the crowds at Rexall can still support this team after the stinkbombs of the last 5/7 games (Colorado and Columbus excluded) and hope their attitudes don’t turn sour and dour come the trade deadline.

    As I’ve mentioned many times, this is a very slippery slope the Oilers are on.. It could in the next few years propell them to the NHL elite, or it could very well back fire and we could be facing this type of hockey for the next decade or more.

    As a mighty 80s supergroup once said “Only Time Will Tell”..

    Lets just hope its a fun ride..

  • Jodes

    For the most part, the effort is there for 3/4 of a 60 minute game. Seems to be no one / group on the team that can provide the consistency and drive all the time.

    Doesn’t help that our D have around 10 goals in total. Won’t win many games with out a timely goal from the point.

    I’m slowly coming around to the concept of ELPH. I actually cheered for NYI to win last night! 1 point out of 2nd pick!

  • Where's Your Towel

    I like hearing the right things coming from the players, and I trust your ear, Robin, for their sincerity.

    However this must be the last year the phrase ELPH is uttered. No matter how genuine the desire to win, ELPH is a cushion the players better not get used too. In Oil Country there is usually no conciliation prize, and continued losing-hockey will not be tolerated.

    I’m excited and a little worried to see how the kids react when they start to feel not only the sting of losing, but the full unbridled wrath of rabid oil fans, without a portion of the fanbase sedated by ELPH.

    What they’re saying bodes well, I’m probably worried for nothing. Right? Right?!

  • The current group doesn’t look deflated after each goal or penalty given up which is refreshing.

    There are 8 or 9 new faces in the room that can’t hurt the overall vibe either.

    The kids aren’t used to losing so I’d say they’re naive to the situation, which is why I’m glad they kept Jordan Eberle away last year
    It’s probably been thought of or suggested by better people than me but wouldn’t a Souray/Rolston trade work?

    NJ could benefit right away which would increase the Oilers odds at #1 overall.

    The money & term is close enough right?

    Rolston’s a good guy and can shoot…

  • Dyckster

    I really like a lot of what I am seeing and I am really excited to see what the Red Ox can bring to the table I have cheered for him for a long time because of his work ethic and how I hope it becomes an infection the that the whole team catches!!! Next year we will squeak in to the playoffs and do some damage It will feel like Oilers Vs Montreal way back and I can hardly wait!!!

  • @RB,

    Everyone was a captain with the Wild but wasn’t Rolston one of the better ones?

    The Oilers don’t have many vets, he could be a decent fit temporarily.

    If Souray doesn’t play another game for the Oilers and Tambellini can’t get a draft pick for him, then at least improove a team the Oilers are competing with for a lotto pick.

  • Today should really just be “smack a flames fan day”

    no real reason… just sitting here listening to my co-workers talk about how the Flames lost last night because of bad officiating. To me it looked like the Isles were all over the Flames but good luck saying that to these idiots…

    • Dyckster

      Reminds me of the movie Caddyshack –

      “[Carl to Ty, about Judge Smails] If he bothers you, I’ll take care of him. What you’ve got to do is cut the hamstring on the back of his leg right at the bottom. He’ll never play golf again, because his weight displacement goes back, all his weight is on his right foot, and he’ll push everything off to the right. He’ll never come through on anything. He’ll quit the game.”

      That’s a quality maim right there folks. LOL

  • Zamboni Driver

    The really telling part to me is the way that the leaders…you know Hemsky and Penner… are really standing up, getting out there and being positive.

    Wait, what?

  • 9 Inches Uncut

    After many years when that wasn’t the case, when you’d walk into the dressing room and the stench of defeat was such you’d swear you were locked in an elevator where somebody had just farted, the attitude these days is refreshing. This is not that team.

    Don’t worry with Tambi and Lowe on the prowl the stench of defeat isn’t far and it’s only a matter of time before the new kids are “Oilerized”.

  • Caynetra

    I once made the grievous error of calling someone a simpleton. It was the most embarrassing thing I ever said. But you go right ahead and embarrass yourself. Besides we all know happiness is an illusion. As for the current flood of optimism, I believe it comes down to one word HOPE. Without HOPE we’d be…well ask Calgary fans to articulate.

    • Ribs

      Right from the Urban Dictionary:

      1. “A person who is felt to be deficient in judgment, good sense, or intelligence; a fool.”

      2. “A person using the fake name Caynetra who tells Brownlee he is “embarrassing himself,” without doing his homework and finding out it isn’t the first time and won’t be the last time that Brownlee has done this.”

  • Management is hanging these kids out to dry. Nobody can win with a roster lke this. Even the slightest hint would help. Pick somebody up on waivers, a minor trade, not to talk about the Souray BS. But nothing is happening. Of course the players know. How msu Hemsky feel. He has been in this situation for years. cant be good. Management sucks big time.

    • Sorensenator

      You obviously do not follow the Oilers closely. This team is in complete rebuild mode. There is no point in picking up a player off waivers that another team has discarded. Let alone make a trade for immediate gratification.

      The last problem is the management. Tambo could not have made better moves in the off-season considering who was available.

      This team is going to take time to become a contender. Despite the current six game losing streak, all of those games were one goal games except the loss to buffalo which ended with an empty netter.

      I don’t know about you, but I see great improvement from last year in terms of effort and not giving up. The oil need to get into the habit of playing a better first period, something they have struggled to do all season.

  • On the Injury front

    In the “Throw the blame in the air and see where it lands category”

    strange issue arising…. for the most part of the miserable seasons since 2006 – I believe most of the serious injuries have occurred on home ice has it not??

    all the way back to Moreau popping his shoulder out against the Redwings way back when injuries where an oddity for Moreau — like I said waaaaay back.

    and Rexall’s Ice which was as glorious as a sheet of ice as was the Dynasty has long past its shelf life as a playable NHL surface.

    Whitney even mentioned his ankle gave up after hitting a rut in the home ice.

    so next time at the rink… find the ice technician – turn the mics on and hit record and demand some answers!!!


  • Dyckster

    In my opinion there is quite a bit of work left for Tambo and his interpid band to do outside the draft. There are 5 or 6 players on this team that need to be replaced before we can start to talk about contending. I am however as optimistic as I have been in a real long time that this thing is moving in the right direction.

    As to the ELPH comment I agree completely, I want to see improvement now. It is not as if the prize for utter futility this year is a superstar, it may not even be a star, just a good player and by all accounts there will be a good player available well into the first round. After all there were no less than 27 players get at least one top 10 vote in the preliminary poll last fall.

    Win some bloody hockey games before the loser mentallity does take over!!!

    • Sorensenator

      Your fishing in a lake with no fish. Yes, lets pick up Brian Rolston and hope we make the playoffs. That will solve all our problems.

      “patience is a virtue”

      An optimist will look down the line of all the Oiler prospects and smile.

      With the exception of a #1 center and a top pairing D man, which will almost certainly be attained via the draft and through prospects, the Oilers need time.

      TIME TIME TIME. Not picking up a washed up player on waivers, not chasing a heatley or Vanek, and not making a big blockbuster trade at the deadline.

      “You people” need to sit back and relax.

  • Sorensenator

    Bobby McFerrin playing in the background as I’m reading Brownlee’s dry sense of humour is friggin priceless. It had me thinking of What About Bob for some reason, haha. You make me laugh you, crusty old bastard! hahahaha