ENOUGH ALREADY: A DIRTY DOZEN TO GO

You don’t have to be a fan of the Edmonton Oilers to feel bad about how this season is ending for them or to hope nobody else suffered an injury on the flight home from Pittsburgh today after they got their butts kicked 5-1 by the Penguins. Enough.

With word that captain Shawn Horcoff had his left foot in a walking cast after being hit by a Magnus Paajarvi shot in the third period, I’m trying to figure out exactly what this franchise did to piss off the hockey gods. No team deserves the ridiculous run of bad breaks and injuries the Oilers have endured the past five seasons.

With Ryan Whitney, Taylor Hall and Sam Gagner already out for the season and Ales Hemsky injured again, the Oilers limp home from a five-game road swing after four straight losses with a now-gimpy Horcoff possibly out for some or all of the final 12 games.

There is a no rebuilding plan — not a well-thought out one, not the one the Oilers have undertaken — that can compensate for the loss of so many top-end players from a line-up that is this inexperienced and this overmatched. This is ugly.

It’s going to be a Dirty Dozen.

MAKE IT STOP

Aside from the Oilers having a lock on 30th place and the best odds of winning the NHL draft lottery for a second straight season, you’ll have to look long and hard to find any redeeming qualities or good that can come from these final 12 games.

The overmatched and undermanned Oilers are 23-38-9 and they’ll be lucky to finish this season with more than 25 wins because they only play the equally feeble Colorado Avalanche twice more. I don’t know anybody who wants to see a team gets kicked when it’s down like this.

Whitney had a superb season ended by an ankle injury. Hall was coming on like a freight train and was giving fans something to cheer about when his season came off the rails in a fight with Derek Dorsett. Gagner goes out with a cut hand. Hemsky can’t stay healthy.

Now rookies like Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle get thrown in the deep end because there’s not enough healthy and able bodies to protect them. Ryan Jones becomes a 20-minute-a-night forward. Tom Gilbert continues to lurch around without so much as a shred of help. Devan Dubnyk? Good luck, kid.

With the flawed roster GM Steve Tambellini assembled, 2010-11 was going to be a long season even if everything went as planned. This, the pitch went, was about patience and process. Fans, for the most part, bought in. Now? There is no process in what we’re going to see over the next 12 games. It’s become an unfunny joke.

GET IT OVER WITH

With no definitive word on Horcoff, with Hemsky still out and Whitney, Hall and Gagner reduced to spectators, the Oilers have a three-day break before they face the Phoenix Coyotes. One can only hope nobody falls down the stairs between now and then.

I’d like to have seen Hall take a run at the Calder Trophy and drag Paajarvi and Eberle along with him in terms of enjoying at least a modest bit of personal success. That’s part of the process. But, no.

It would’ve been beneficial for the organization to have Whitney help bring Theo Peckham and Jeff Petry along. Nada. I wanted to get a read on where Gagner is as his fourth NHL season comes to a close. Uh, no.

Likewise, it would have been helpful to see how Dubnyk would perform behind a defence with half-a-chance. This group is not that group. That, too, would have been part of the process. Maybe next year.

All the Oilers, at least what’s left of them, can do is strap on the gear and file out against the Coyotes at Rexall Place on Thursday and do what they can because they get paid handsomely to do so. Then, rinse and repeat 11 more times after that.

Some process.

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

  • Draft Larsson.

    A 2014 line of Hartikainen, Lander and Omark would be a nice 3rd line, with Lander hopefully covering up Omark’s difficulties in his own end.

    Throw in Gagner, Pitlick, Hamilton (along with Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi and Horcoff) and you’d have a top 9 loaded with size and skill. I would move Gagner to wing and be a set-up man for Horcoff and Pitlick.

    Add a flexible “4th” line of Cogliano, Vande Velde and Reddox – you could roll all four lines.

    If Whitney, Gilbert and Larsson were added to more mature versions of Smid, Petry and Peckham or Marancin – you’d have a pretty nice young team.

    A lot of “ifs”, but it is nice to dream.

  • The Oilers wanted nothing to do with Glencross at $1.8 million a season two years ago, so do you think they want him at $2.5 million now? He might get it somewhere, but it wouldn’t be from me.

    I had greater expectations of Upshall going into his draft. I thought he might become another Brenden Morrow and he’s fallen well short of that. He’s better than Ryan Jones, but by how much and for how much? Not sure about him at the money you’re talking about.

  • 9 Inches Uncut

    Two things must happen to appease the hockey gods.

    1. Ryan Smyth must return to the Oilers and right Kevin Lowe’s wrong.

    2. At the last home game of the year. Before the start of the game Darryl Katz must fire Kevin Lowe at center ice much the same way Vince Mcmahon used to fire guys in the ring in the WWE.

  • Jason Gregor

    Giroux has been sent down and Teemu Hartikainen has been recalled. Brule is questionable at this point, Jacques is getting another X-ray on his foot. He is on crutches right now. Horcoff seems unlikely to play Thursday.

  • D

    Here’s what happened and why the Hockey Gods keep pulling the rug out from under this team:

    March 2006 – After pulling off several of the best trades of the post lockout (Pronger, Spacek, Samsonov). The team that was lower in the standings than their play indicated. K. Lowe says to the Hockey Gods (devil) — please get me to the Stanley Cup Finals (note that he forgot to say WIN the SCF.

    Hockey Gods provide the Oilers with the following ridiculous events:
    – the funny and hilarious Samsonov OT winner against the Falmes (Dion trips over stick)
    – clinch a playoff spot on game 81 (FU Giguere) — note Karma owed to Ducks on this one
    – unlikely win versus the Wings
    – comeback from down 2G to none versus the Sharks
    – overcome 14 guys with the flu to beat the Ducks — additional debit of Karma in favour of the Ducks

    Proceed to G1 of the SCF, and the Hockey Gods come to collect for all that good stuff they just gave K. Lowe:
    – when Jason Smith pinches, its never a good thing. 3-0 lead becomes 3-1 and the track meet is on.
    – promptly throw MAB and Andrew Ladd onto Roli’s leg
    – make the Oilers unable to score on a 5-3 PP ever again
    – Conklin is the name of a circus right?

    With all that +Karma, the collection continues:
    – Pronger requests trade
    – Lowe forgets all his mgmt abilities that served him when he had no money to spend, and starts spending ridiculously
    – Hossa
    – Pitkanen
    – Heatley
    – Souray
    – Decimate the team with injuries

    So, note to self. When asking the Hockey Gods for a favour, remember to say “WIN the Stanley Cup Final.”

  • John Chambers

    We screwed up letting Glencross go for 1.5M per over 3 years. He is destroying that contract. Heck, I’d give him the 2.5M per over 3 to come here next year. We can afford to overpay, and he solves some problems for us. He scores a bit, he’s tough, a decent size, and he stirs it up. How is that not worth 2.5M? I would also pay Jonesy up to 1.5M per over 3 (the Glencross contract). We keep begging for size, and then we turn down Jones and Glencross? Shake your heads. We need these kinds of 3rd liners, and they aren’t lining up to come here.

  • John Chambers

    you’re right that 83 can’t stay healthy.

    but guess who else can’t?

    Ryan Whitney.

    Other than that, I really liked your jab at the Oilers rebuilding process.

    • D

      Whitney doesn’t have a long history of injury problems.

      He missed part of one season after having off-season surgery to repair what, essentially, is a birth defect — improper alignment of bones in his feet. He had off-season surgery last spring to repair the same condition in his other foot.

      Having the ankle let go this season — we still don’t know if it’s related to the foot problems but I suspect it’s a factor — is the first major “injury” he’s had. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be concern, but Whitney certainly hasn’t had anywhere near the same list of issues Hemsky has — shoulder, groin, concussions.

  • D

    I think one thing that this season … and maybe even the last couple … proves is that, yeah, injuries can be a problem.

    I know I sound I like Captain Obvious for saying that, but I always get a chuckle out of those who say that “injuries are no excuse. All teams deal with injuries.”

    Well, I think that’s a bunch of bunk. A weak team with a spate of injuries is going to be in worse shape than a good one. That’s why a team like Pittsburgh is able to “deal with injuries” and –teams like the Oilers cannot. The Pens have depth, the Oilers don’t.

    For the Oilers, losing Whitney is like the Pens losing two players. Losing Whitney, Hall, Hemsky, Gagner, etal … well, that’s like the Pens losing 10 players.

    I don’t know if that constant string of injuries, year-to-year, is a result of the Hockey Gods getting back at us for that 2006 final … or even the five Stanley Cups, but sometime, it’s gotta stop.

  • D

    When the Oilers were on top they were notoriously injury free. When you are bad and always half a step or more behind and handle the puck like a live granade you get injured. Speially on a team that has no balance. Forget about hockey gods and bad luck.

  • D

    I have to mention this because it kind of pisses me off. Going back to the Oilers Pens game how about that Brule hit on Letang. Don’t think it qualifies as a charge under the nhl rule book. But what pisses me off isnt the crappy call and that the ref wasnt looking at the play and had his head down(look at the play ref didnt even put his hand up when the hit was delivered). What pisses me off is the penguins commentators. I hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhate them. They are out of control. This whole my team does no wrong holier then thou crap is annoying. I have penguins fans that tell me they can stand them sometimes. I watched the game with a good friend who loves the pens and thought letang got caught admiring his own pass (keep the legs moving he says). They sat there and ripped brule a new one (by the way i thought the hit was clean). Talking about going for the chin. What’s under the chin? oh yeah your neck to chest which is where he was hit. Anyways they seemed pretty fine when kunitz slashed gilbert in the hands took the puck and scored the goal (my buddy saw it also). “It was hard work behind the net”. Just baffles me that when I watch games with canadian broadcasters they preach both teams (sometimes a little preachy toward the canadian team, just a little) but american commentators there teams do no wrong. Go down the line, Penguins, red wings, stars, are the worst. I dont know just wanting to watch HOCKEY and not soccer.