FORE: MIND IF WE PLAY THROUGH?

Golf season for the Edmonton Oilers won’t officially begin until April 11, but they will get a two-day respite from the grind of a fifth straight season out of the playoffs with a two-day stint in Palm Springs, starting today.

Taylor Hall will tee it up. Andrew Cogliano will chip and putt. Sam Gagner will amaze with his sand play. And coach Tom Renney will gain valuable perspective on yet another difficult campaign, watching his men attempt to play a game they are REALLY lousy at.

The golf getaway is on despite a lousy, half-hearted performance in a 6-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks Friday, a result that leaves the last-place Oilers with just one win in their last 12 games.

A year ago, you might remember, a grumbling Pat Quinn pulled the pin on a similar team trip to the links after a 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks. Instead of cheating on their scorecards after a stretch in which they won just once in a dozen games, the Oilers were put through their paces with two-a-day workouts at Rexall Place. Sour? Oh yes…

Mercy, did the Oilers ever tear it up the rest of the season.

NEW APPROACH

Of course, Quinn’s approach didn’t do one iota of good in terms of turning the season around. Letting his players and their wives lounge around the golf course and the clubhouse with the team in the toilet — the Oilers had a 16-23-5 record for 37 points — wasn’t going to help matters, other than to provide a mental break from the monotony of constant failure. Even so, with the standings just as bad now — 13-20-7 for 33 points — it’s no surprise Renney is fine with taking a couple of days to rest and hang out with owner Daryl Katz before the team moves on to get pumped by the Dallas Stars Tuesday.

Aside from the possibility of Ales Hemsky or Hall taking a wayward tee-shot in the temple from Bob Stauffer — Bob is the dictionary definition of a hacker (I’m no threat to get a PGA card, either) and a menace to anybody within his range of 77 yards when he has a driver in his hands — what’s the harm?

Quinn proved definitively a year ago that having the players pissed off at the coach won’t change the results out on the ice. The Oilers will be a lottery team this season, whether they play golf in Palm Springs or not.

HORCOFF HEALING

The best news to come out of the no-show in Vancouver is that captain Shawn Horcoff will likely return from a sprained knee sooner than the two months he was expected to be out. From Jim Matheson at The Journal today:

"… Shawn Horcoff might be back much earlier than the original eight-week diagnosis after his MCL knee sprain.

"It’s coming along faster than I thought, said Horcoff. "It’s been four weeks, but it might only be another 10 days to two weeks before I can play."

Horcoff collided with Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry on a play at the blue-line on Dec. 7 at Rexall Place.

"The knee’s fully healed, but it’s just not strong enough yet. I need more skating, I need to get into some battle drills, get some timing back. If I can get three legitimate practices next week, I should be ready to go after that."

With Jordan Eberle due back from a sprained ankle during the current road trip and Horcoff likely ready to go by the time the team returns home for a game against Minnesota Jan. 18, Renney will have some decisions to make up front.

WHILE I’M AT IT…

— Andrew Alberts should be thanking his lucky stars Steve MacIntyre gave him a break and didn’t beat the tar out of him after Alberts took exception to getting crushed in the corner Friday.

On one hand, it was an honourable move by MacIntyre. Then again, given how cheap the Canucks can be, a right hand or two before the take-down was probably in order.

— Speaking of lucky, Hemsky got off big-time easy after hacking, hooking and poking at Tanner Glass after the Vancouver forward steamrolled him. The altercation ended in a dog pile with Glass at the bottom. If you’re going to react like Hemsky did, you better be ready to back it up. Glass would have taken him apart.

— So, Kurtis Foster was really upset about being a healthy scratch for the 2-1 win over the New York Islanders Thursday. Could have fooled me. it certainly didn’t show against the Canucks.

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

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      Did you really expect to find one? Really? A city where an inch of snow is a major snowfall. Where wearing sandals in December is fashionable. You really expect that there is anyone outside the few who atend the Nucks games to give a %^^&**. This is a city where the closest anybody gets to ice is in thier drinks while sitting on thier decks. I am surprised that someone took the effort to build the site.

  • Plus, you cant tell me that faced with the choice between Winning the final game of the Regular season to JUST make the playoffs and lose in the 1st round with only 2 home games played OR Losing the final game and picking Crosby/Ovechkin 1st overall, the Oilers wouldnt bring Joaquim Gage out of semi-retirement to suit up for one final game.

    • Chris.

      Killing the Oilers? Death spiral? Many teams have languished at the bottom of the league for years DESPITE multiple top five picks. It’s far worse for me to watch honest teams who compete hard get stuck in mediocrity for years without hope. The Oilers would have never landed in last place had the system been set up different. The fact that this proud franchise had to hit such a low to break that cycle is proof that things are screwed up. Any system will have wrinkles… The current one is so flawed it’s disgraceful.

      • I respectfully disagree. If there was a better system then at least one of the other professional leagues would have come up with it. It doesnt matter what sport or league, the worst teams pick first in an effort to maintain competitive balance.

        You cant WILL the Oilers to win. They need players to do it.

        It’s almost impossible to say that the Oilers would never be in this situation if the draft was different because those Oiler teams were from a different era, a different CBA. Teams had players until they were 31, there was no Cap, Trades were easier to complete. Take the current CBA and apply it to the past and many things would be different I’m sure.

        At least those teams that languished at the bottom even with top 5 picks had an opportunity to add key players. Where is that opportunity now if the worst teams dont pick 1st?

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          Taking Chris’s idea the team would have drafted:

          29th

          9th

          3rd

          5th

          14th

          Since the lockout, the likely would have produced a nice crop of talent harely what I’d call “killing the Oilers”. (all obviously hopothical picks as we’d obviously see different moves if teams weren’t motivated to lose at the end of the year).

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Players picked in those slots were:

            Chris Summers/Logan Couture/Zach Bogosian/Braden Scheen/Jaden Schartz

            So we’d have our future #1 and #2 Center and #1Dman, with one guy a question mark but still a solid prospect. Not bad in 5 years of drafting

            I’d say that group of prospects/young players stacks up resonably well with what we actually recieved with our picks under the current system.

            Edit: not sure why I’m self quoted…

  • It seems fans across Canada have slipped into a mass coma.

    Following are the comment counts on our sites for the last five articles posted on each.

    ON — 61, 71, 19, 21, 61.

    FN — 7, 8, 18, 4, 52 (Willis from here)

    LN — 2, 0, 0, 52 (same Willis item), 84 (Lowetide from here).

    CA — 0, 0, 52 (Willis), 0, 0.

    Says something about the passion of fans in this town compared to the apathy elsewhere.

      • It’s not that easy to get plugged in guys in NHL cities.

        Most of the beat guys and people who actually cover the teams for somebody who I know can’t freelance on the side to sites like this because everybody is doing the website thing now. Those who aren’t writing elsewhere are idle for a reason — they’re not that good.

        Not a lot of radio guys write as well as Gregor does and not a lot of guys who aren’t credentialed contribute the insight and analysis that Willis and Lowetide do.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        Ya I think the hit counts are more a reflection of the quality of writer and/or the stage of infancy of each “nation” then it is on the passion of the respective fan basses.

        • Original West Coast Oil

          The traffic probably is weak due to the teams behind the sites more than anything. I have been in internet for ages and usually what you find is tech guys who figure they know how to market because they can program a website. How many of us have been on a badly designed website with a ton of comments?
          What the oilersnation sister sites need is someone who actually knows how to promote awebsite

  • Chris.

    The KHL uses a system like I propose.(I’m not smart enough to come with this by myself)… In fact, most European leagues use the threat of relegation to keep the competition level and sheer effort honest for the ENTIRE season. The only place on planet earth where sport franchises are rewarded for failure is here in North America. It’s dumb. Even the socialists know it’s destructive to systematically reward failure.

  • Oilchange64

    I have been coming to this site for a long time & it seems traffic is down here as well, though I cannot statistically prove that. Some regular contributors seem to have gone away & have been replaced by sh!t disturbers. Maybe related, maybe not. Seems like the general relevance (& iq) of the comments has gone a little downhill. But I am mostly a reader & rarely a commenter, so take my thoughts for what they are worth. The writers here are great, even though I often disagree. But one of the perils of an anonymous Internet is that a few can ruin it for the majority. Many sites have fallen victim to their own success.

    • You might be right about traffic lately but I don’t know because I don’t have the numbers and don’t know how to get them.

      Personally, I’d like to see us toot our own horn a bit more and run a page-views/hits/whatever weekly count like Lowetide does on his website. I think that if we looked up and posted a list of the numbers of the top 10 Oilers-related websites in the country, we’d be very high on that list. Just a guess, though.

      We’ve grown here in leaps and bounds the past two years and I’d like to see that continue and spread to the other ON family of sites. That’s going to take content, though, and it’s not always easy to come by.

  • Oilchange64

    I thought the signing of 26 was worth a gamble because the freight wasn’t bad and it was only for two years but it’s simply not working out.

    He’s a considerable minus considering his quality of opp and he’s not bringing the offensive so it’s an all-around bust.

    Maybe what should have been considered a bit more was he was playing with the best teammates in TB and in a division that’s terrible.

    Anyway, let’s hope he garners something at the deadline and we can forget about it.

    • Horcsky

      I haven’t been overly thrilled with Foster either, but my biggest beef with his play is that he doesn’t get in the right spots to shoot from the point, and doesn’t hit the net or miss the shot blocker with regularity.

      It seems like a fixable problem, one that should start with him not sliding over to the boards to wait for the one-timer every time Gilbert gets it in the middle. He puts so much space between him and the puck, it’s impossible to get a pass through.

      IMO, he could use some one on one discussions with the coaches and video of where the best shooting lanes are for him (if this isn’t happening already). Also, it wouldn’t hurt to have a few forwards on the PP that could open some space for him by being more dangerous themselves.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    The drawbacks of an upside down draft far outweigh the potential benefits.

    There would be literally nothing to help the bottom teams out of the basement. I understand the issue this idea attempts to remedy, but there is already pressure against purposely icing a poor team or intentional losing in the forms of fan support and more importantly ticket sales.

    Both systems have some undesirable results, but the idea put forward here has no opposing force to the negative consequence.

    ELPH makes me want to puke. It is exactly zero comfort to me when I watch them lose. Intellectually I know it’s for the best in the long-term, but that doesn’t make it feel good. However, the intellectual argument has to trump the emotional one if I ever want to feel the thrill of ultimate victory again.

    That will keep me buying merch and tickets until brain implodes somewhere in year 3 of the rebuild if no gains are made. Imploded brains don’t buy gear and seats, and Katz, if no one else, knows it.

    Side note: The writers make this site. They are the reason I read. The comments are great, but make no mistake, I come for the insight of Robin, Jason, Jonathan, and LT. Also, Wanye thinks my baby is cute.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Again, the stance makes sense in theory but doesn’t work out so well in reality.

      Very few teams spend more then a year or two in lottery territory, and for those that do, you could make a strong case were their on purpose.

      When you look back at teams that finished 30th/29th/28th, they also finishished 11th/12th/13th or better in the year or two before or the year or two after their last place finish…. teams simply don’t get stuck in the wooaaa is me spot for long.

      One or two years in the bottom five (without a top 5 pick to compensate) wouldn’t be the eternal penance you guys are making it out to be.

    • Chris.

      Undesired results? The last place team still makes a top 15 pick… And the competative integrity of the game is NEVER in doubt… Right down to the last game. Isn’t that what paying fans deserve?

      • Where's Your Towel

        The 15th pick in 2005 was Ryan O’Marra, who has played a total of 12 NHL games. Would the Pittsburgh Penguins be where they are had they selected Ryan O’Marra instead of Sydney Crosby?

        In 2006, the 15th pick was Riku Helenius who has played in 1 NHL game. Would the Blues be so hopeful for the future and as far down the road to respectability without Erik Johnson?

        In 2007, the Oilers were fortunate enough to draft Alex Plante in the 15th spot. Pretty much equivalent to Patrick Kane, right?

        I don’t need to continue, do I? After all, I’d trade Taylor Hall for Derek Forbort any day of the week.

        There is a huge difference between a lottery pick and a top 15 pick. A lottery pick has the ability to energize a team, often play right away, and can help turn a team around. A top-15 pick is just another pick, just as likely to be mediocre currency as a key to the future.

        • Original West Coast Oil

          Somehow I think if teams needed to compete for a draft pick they would invest in more actual NHL players for their roster. The Oilers for example would probably try to fill the holes in the line up rather than have the attitude of oh well

        • Original West Coast Oil

          Good points there because all first round picks aren’t equal and neither are draft classes and that has a tonne to do with it.

          Bringing up ROM reminded me of when Stauffer was leading the propaganda train on old 94’s trade by saying the Oilers dealt off Smyth for “three first rounders” with ROM and Nilsson already having been picked and then the Isles ’07 pick was in play as well.

          Well, how did that turn out? All kinds of birds in the bush but none in the hand and how much did that have to do with draft seeding and draft classes?

          Absolutely everything.

  • BarryS

    Archaeologuy stated: “I want to see the Oil win and I haven’t seen a better proposal for how they can do that other than through the draft.”

    How about the Detroit Redwings? And the Vancouver Canucks haven’t drafted in the bottom 10 since the Sedins came into the NHL. These teams are prospering in a salary cap era because of good management. And UFA are signing where the management and coaching are top notch. Maybe not in Edmonton, where the management is at best problematic and media and fans sometimes have legitimate concerns about coaching and developing prospects. Trades are difficult because of toxic contracts due to smart agents and dumb GMs.

    There is mention of relegation by Chris. Relegation in soccer leagues and the IIHF drops the bottom teams (usually 2 I believe) into a division below. If the NHL had relegation, the Devils and Oilers would drop into the AHL and the two top AHL teams would move into the NHL. For many practical purposes this wouldn’t work; however, wouldn’t be interesting if the GM, coaches and players of the bottom relegated teams earned AHL salaries while doing penance for unsatisfactory performances? What a great motivator!

    • BarryS

      Of all motivators money is the least effective and always has been, Seems to me we all complain about the player who gets a big contract and disappears from the stat sheets. Don’t notice those players playing for less money this year playing any better or worse than they did last year.

  • BarryS

    Can it be perhaps some viewing is being reduced because the constant mention of the evil’s of Tambelini/Lowe is getting old?

    Used to be fans talked about players, and plays not management and who should be traded or not.

    It gets tiring reading the constant running down of people. Sports used to be a release from the day to day drugery of life, not a constant whining about how bad things are.

    It’s entertainment folks, not real life, not a video game. Don’t like it, don’t go. There’s lots more entertainment out there.

  • BarryS

    Gentleman,
    It should come as no suprise that this is the most visited sight as far as oiler propagana goes.

    Exellent wrighting surrounded by the most knowledgable fans in the country is going to make for some interesting reading.

    Just sayin.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Not sure the public banning process that seems to happen regularly helps at all, wouldn’t it be easier to just add an ignore feature and not have to see all this soiled underwear period?

    After reading someones stuff for a decade or so in local newspapers the opportunity to pick their brain is appealing in itself, without a Kay Corbett or a Dick Chubey, Terry Jones or a Jim Matheson type it must be difficult for the other markets to even get off the ground. If it wasn’t for Brownlee tolerating people who know alot less about the game than he does, oilersnation would have much the same issues as the other efforts are having.

  • Chris.

    BTW. Quick poker update… I did my absolute best to win: and finished one place short of the money. Maybe I should have folded every hand till I landed in the money… (You know: In the spirit of competition.)

  • magisterrex

    Lack of comments may not be a lack of visitors, but there are a couple of issues that this site has that might be posing problems (with the caveat that all of this is simply the opinion of some nameless guy on the Internet):

    1. Oilersnation.com loads slowly. Alexa.com puts it at the bottom 8% of the entire Internet for loading time. All those Oodle Noodle ads might not be the best strategy.

    2. Robin’s propensity for banning people he loses his patience for. The actual bans might very well be justified, but the public display of irritation turns other posters off, especially if a double standard appears to be in place regarding actual or veiled personal attacks. BTW, I actually enjoyed “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” when it came out, and I’ve never been considered to be a simpleton, even by those who dislike me enough to use the real-life IGNORE button.

    3. The rise of mobile computing. Is this website optimized for handheld devices such as the iPhone or Android? Copper & Blue is an example of a website that does this well (although, paradoxically, their non-optimized version loads even slower than this one on a standard PC).

    That being said, I would much rather visit this site than other Oilers-related blog/websites (with Lowetide’s mathelete site being the lone exception).

    • The Don’t Worry Be Happy reference made me smile. It reminds me of how my point of view on whistling came about and how we form our biases and outlooks on personal experience.

      My uncle worked at a sawmill in New Westminster. He got me a summer job there when I was, like, 16. It was a dirty and physically demanding job but great money, like $5 an hour. I had to start out on the lowest rung, the dreaded green chain. Most of the guys were students like me, willing to do the grunt work for two months for all that dough. A few of them, though, were in their 30s and 40s, which seemed old as dirt.

      The older guys were lifers, They’d been there for years, grinding it out, never moving up, never moving out. It was mind-numbing, monotonous labor a monkey with a strong back could do. I thought to myself, “These are dead-end guys, guys with no future etc etc.” They all whistled all damn day long to break the boredom. They were whistling the day I started the job and whistling the day I quit to go back to school. Maybe they’re still whistling. It stuck with me.

    • O.C.

      Lack of comments may not be a lack of visitors, but there are a couple of issues that this site has that might be posing problems (with the caveat that all of this is simply the opinion of some nameless guy on the Internet):

      1. Oilersnation.com loads slowly. Alexa.com puts it at the bottom 8% of the entire Internet for loading time. All those Oodle Noodle ads might not be the best strategy.
      =============

      100% Agreed
      I monitor this off an iPad and it’s horrible to wait for the wireless download.

      Whoever programs these sites should take action or be be cut loose.

      Other suggestion… A contact us button and suggestion box.

      Spell check.

      95% of the stuff on here is 1000% better than any other NHL blog. The members are generally informed and willing to share. We all have good points, and once in a while when we post out of impulse, our stupid or lame ideas get corrected. The open interaction is miles better than sites that have a censorship feel to them.

  • I am over here at ON after being primarily on another site for the last few years.

    The reason is simply because this site seems to moderate its infighting a lot better. I don’t know about everyone else – but discussion on what’s best for the Oilers is good, but reading a bunch of personal attack posts is a waste of time.

    Not that I have been involved with them – just get tired of scrolling down through 30 posts of it!

  • O.C.

    Is there any way to add a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” counter beside every post? A Yea or Nay total would add another dimension to the site, gauging readers overall sentiments. Other forums I visit employ this feature, which I find initiates and adds spark to many good discussions.

  • While I at it . . .
    I really like forums where a reply to a post stays underneath the post in a waterfall(?) format. It keeps discussions way more focused and eliminates having to bounce all through sometimes hundreds of posts to carry on a meaningful dialogue. It encourages interesting little side journeys.

    Example:
    bighollywood.com

    Check out it’s comments formate. (If you don’t like the flavour of the site, don’t visit)

  • Where's Your Towel

    Examples, backed up with statistics or not, of how most teams climb out of the basement with in a couple years are proof that the current system works, not evidence against it.