2010-11 OILERS: BOTTOM OF THE BARREL

What the Edmonton Oilers might do in the future or what they could’ve accomplished this season had an already thin and raw roster not been riddled by injuries is up to debate. That this edition of the Oilers will set several franchise records for ineptitude and futility is not.

With a 23-42-11 record, a 10-game losing streak on the go after a 2-0 loss to Los Angeles Tuesday and six games remaining, the 2010-11 Oilers will re-write several dubious entries in the team record book.

Unless the Oilers win two of their final six games, this team will end up with fewer wins than a team so devoid of depth a lumbering farmer from Irma named Gord Mark played 12 games on defence. Mark is the worst NHL player I have ever seen.

Unless the Oilers pick up three points from their last half-dozen games, they will finish with fewer points than a team that featured a blue line loaded with the likes of Greg Hawgood, Geoff Smith, Brian Glynn and Brad Werenka. Not the Cape Breton Oilers. The Edmonton Oilers.

Of course those teams did not have the potential and could not sell hope the way this one can . . .

TAKING STOCK

Two years — or is it three? — into a rebuild that will see the team contend in another four to six years, according to the calculations of president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, the Oilers have set, will set or are flirting with several franchise lows.

— The franchise low for wins in a full season is 25, set by the 1993-94 juggernaut that featured Mark ankling around his own end of the rink and a 33-goal rookie named Jason Arnott.

— The franchise low for points is 60, set a season earlier in 1992-93 by a team whose leading scorer, Petr Klima, managed 48 points with a goofy candy-cane tape job on the shaft of his stick.

— The franchise low for goals in a season is 195, set in 2006-07. The Oilers will need to score 15 goals in their final six games to match that. They’ve scored 11 goals during the 10-game losing streak.

— With just two home games remaining, the Oilers will set a new standard for fewest home wins in a single season. They have 12. The record, set in 1995-96, is 15.

— The franchise record for consecutive losses in one season is 11, set in October and November of the 1993-94 season, the one in which Ted Green got bounced after a 3-18-3 start. They will tie that when they lose for the 17th straight time in Minnesota Thursday.

— By the way, leading scorer Jordan Eberle will need nine points in the last six games to match Klima’s whopping 48. Eberle will be lucky to match the 42 put up by Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky, all out for the season.

WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR

Those entries aside, there’s back-to-back 30th-place finishes. Five straight years out of the playoffs is a franchise first. The old record for missing the post-season is four years, a feat done twice.

As for what could have been without all the injuries this season, where would the Oilers have finished had they not lost Ryan Whitney after 35 games and Hall, Hemsky, Gagner and Shawn Horcoff for big chunks of time? Twelfth in the Western Conference, maybe 13th?

As for what might be next season and beyond, are fans expecting Hall, Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi to build on their rookie seasons or are you allowing for the possibility that one or two of them will take a sophomore step back?

Will the Oilers get anybody with a 2011 lottery pick who can match the impact Hall made this season? Will they even land a prospect who can make the roster out of training camp?

What of Gagner and Andrew Cogliano? As good as it gets? Can Hemsky and Horcoff stay healthy? Will GM Steve Tambellini acquire veterans who will give the kids a fighting chance?

I can’t help but think of that 1992-93 team, and how a talented, young player and future captain named Doug Weight insisted better days were ahead. Then came the 1993-94 team and the 1994-95 team and . . .

There is no question Oilers fans are in for better days because, at least by the numbers, it can’t get much worse. The question is how long the pay off, if it actually comes, will take.

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



  • Oilers4ever

    Totally agree with comments here. If the goal is 6 years then Katz should be embarassed with the mgmt here fire them all. That’s a passive, not aggressive approach and shows that ownership really doesn’t give a rat’s ass how the team does. PERIOD.

  • Dan the Man

    They got nothing left to sell to me this summer. I’ve seen enough of this city losing. It’s embarssing to say i’m from Edmonton when talking hockey to someone from another hockey city. Hype. I for one will not be fooled this time. I am not a season ticket holder, but I spent over $3,000 on tickets to watch garbage this year. I will not do that again.

    I don’t believe Tambilini is the right person for the managing job. You have to be a vulture to do that job, and I dont see him as one. Also when they signed Renny and Quinn 2 years ago I just could not figure out why. Quinn has never really won anything in the NHl, and Renny has had 2 head coaching jobs, and been fired both times. Can this organization for once…JUST ONCE stop hiring losers.

    In goal we have a washed up has been ever since he’s signed here. And a very good back-up, and I do mean a backup(Dubnyk). So that leaves nobody in goal. Roloson would have been the choice of most people in this town, and he would have provided some form of security in net. But instead they let him walk.

    Gilbert is not anywhere near a #1 defenceman. Not even close. And he will never be any better on a team that needs grit all around.
    Smid and Peckham are at best 5-6 defencemen.
    Whitney seems to be a keeper, even though I don’t like his lack of intensity.

    Cogliano is “what you see is what you get” and what you get is not what you want. Let him go.

    Hemsky..bless his brittle bones should have been shoped at the deadline. He is to small and not tough enough. Way to many small weak players on this bunch of shambles. Last time i seen a big truck hit a pickup…the pickup got hurt. Very few small players can play big. Flurry and St. Louis are about the only ones that come to mind that really helped their teams in their prime. And when the going got tough, they were tough enough to take it. St. Louis still is.

    So got ahead and take Nuggent-Hopkins, another fancy toy for real men to beat around.

    Exciting last place hockey? Not for me. I like winners.

    You fan base will dwindle, unless people really love being losers. I think most have had it with your garbage.

    If players actually had to earn their paycheques, do you think we’d be last place for two seasons in a row?

    Sell your crap to someonelse this summer. You are a bunch of losers. And you make the city look the same. Have shame. Lots of it. You deserve it.

  • Slapshot

    Not sure how we can expect to win with the injuries. The first three lines look like this:

    First line – AHL call up- AHL call up – Rookie
    Second line – Rookie – Cogs – AHL call up
    Third line – Jones – AHL call up – AHL call up

    C’on, this isn’t Tambo’s fault

  • FastOil

    I am not one who buys that rebuilds take forever, or that we have to sit and watch for years and hope it all pans out in the end, that success comes down to uncontrollable events. Good managers build good teams.

    Making the playoffs is not some miraculous achievement. Being a contender should not be a generational event. This is hockey, not a peace agreement for the Middle East.

    Winning the Cup is what’s hard to do, winning it fairly often even harder. Any good management team, supported by a committed owner should see the playoffs regularly, and should be a perrenially “good” team. There are many that do this. The ones who don’t often have ownership issues and/or GM’s that don’t understand the game as it is or what makes a good player.

    The Oilers have a good owner, who spends money. One obstacle gone. There are only 3 other reasons why this team would not begin climbing the standings with the talent that is already here.

    For a team with this skill to remain awful can only be from design, in not acquiring needed role players. Utter failure and collapse is not a strategy to build a team, as many have shown on this site and others. Injuries play a role, but if your team is injury riddled year after year it becomes a management issue – lack of balance, players that need to go, perhaps the style of play. Maybe some coaching on how to be in position to take a hit.

    Good drafting needs to be augmented with good acquisitions, and every successful team has done this. To favour one way or the other too much will keep this farce running far longer than necessary and with a lack of results I’m sure.

    Can you imagine any other management group saying that it will take 5-6 years more publicly after missing the playoffs 5 times? And being mostly bad for years before that?

    I can’t. A sense of urgency is definitely missing. Are we becoming Leafs West? Being this bad is not a necessity.

  • Wax Man Riley

    “Two years — or is it three? — into a rebuild that will see the team contend in another four to six years, according to the calculations of president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, the Oilers have set, will set or are flirting with several franchise lows.”

    Sorry, what?!? This team better not actually be shooting for Stanley Cup glory in 2017-18. The fans may be patient, but if we’re only half way through the bad times, this ‘rebuild’ is on the never-never plan.

    The fact of the matter is, in today’s NHL you are constantly dealing with free agency. If the horizon that Lowe and Tambellini are aiming for is in six more years, everyone on the team now, other than Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi will have reached unrestricted free agency before the Oilers are contenders. More players at UFA age are going to look for a place where they’ve got an excellent and immediate chance to drink from the Stanley Cup…not something looking way out in to the horizon.

    As it is, Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, and Tom Gilbert are now four years in to their NHL careers…they’ve never played a second of post-season hockey. You can only lose so long before you become like the Atlanta Thrashers or Florida Panthers…basically feeder systems for the rest of the league. Your players get comfortable and complacent about losing, although they find they’re not particularly happy. In the end, they either ask for a trade, or leave as free agents.

    I was upset to see the Oilers trade Penner for nothing that helps this team this year or (likely) next, because how long can we keep losing and not have that affect the fanbase and the players? Is there any chance if we’re in lottery pick position next season that Hemsky has any inkling of re-signing with the team? If #83 goes, is there any chance that Ryan Whitney’s going to stay the season after that as the Oilers lose their top scorer and likely miss the playoffs again? If Whitney goes too…who’s the next to demand a trade out of town?

    If Lowe is shooting for six years from now, he’s missing the mark completely. This team needs to at least contend for a playoff spot next year. They need to be winning a round or two within a couple, and if they aren’t contenders in three years, then things are going to start falling apart.

    In the article above, the 90s Oilers are mentioned…there always seemed to be so much hope around the team back then too, although maybe some of that was youthful enthusiasm on my part. Still, every time someone started to do well, they moved to another team, and the Oilers stayed mired where they were seemingly forever. And they only missed the playoffs four times…we’re already at five now…this team can’t afford to languish at the bottom any longer.

  • OilFan

    Again another great article with one MAJOR flaw. Petr Kilma’s stick taping at the time was second to none. I remember everyone on our hockey team taping our stick like Klima after his ot winner in the playoffs

  • Well this article makes me want to go behind the woodshed and Ol’Yeller myself into infinity.

    Also, the irony of the promo pictures the Oilers took with the Big Three that is promoting a half built house in the background should not be lost on anyone.

  • Wax Man Riley

    My point is more to illustrate how hard it is to build a winning team. Not all teams can be winners all the time. There will always be Detroits and there will always be Long Islands, and the rest will be somewhere in between.

    Chicago was a bottom feeder that won last year. San Jose/Ottawa has been a top-tier team that just can’t get there no matter how many points they get in the regular season.

    • Ender

      Don’t be absurd. Just because the MSM tries to drum up some response on a slow news day from a market segment that has been punished into semi-consciousness, that’s no reason to drink it up. Think for yourself.

      Teams move because they are haemorrhaging money and have no chance of being profitable in that market for at least the next decade. They could win the Stanley Cup every year and no one would notice. That’s why teams move, and that’s why Winnipeg may finally get another shot.

      The Oilers are not even close to that scenario. Heck, if we actually won a Cup the city would riot. Two seasons of making the second round of the playoffs and you could easily bankroll this team for another 3- or 4-year stretch out of the dance.

      We’re not going anywhere.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I remember that as well Ender. One of the three musketeers waved that relocation flag while they were in Montreal earlier this year. Katz,Laforge and Lowe made a side trip into Quebec city that trip, one of those guys did actually used the words “relocation possibilities” in one of the statements released.

        Even though this is very unlikely to happen, it was a kick in the junk to the loyal fan base.

        • Gilmore Tuttle

          One would wonder why they would keep playing the moving card. If Gary “the Count” Bettman won’t move Phoenix when they are costing each of his employers at least $1 to $2 million a year, how could he move a team that is paying into the equalization fund? Despite all the copper and blue fanatics, they can only cry wolf so many times before their bluff is called.

  • Sorensenator

    A bunch of pessimistic, impatient whiners. Most of you!

    Why are you even posting on an Oilers fan website if you can’t stand them?

    Jesus, these are kids we are talking about here, and lately our team make up has been kids from the AHL….like seriously go cheer for the Canucks, they have a very very good chance this year.

    So many variables and factors come into play when assessing a hockey team. I’ll make a mathematical equation for how the Oilers were destined to do poorly, at least for now.

    3 Rookies starting and expected to make up large part of offense + Lose Best Defenseman Early + Really Old Goaltender + Lose Best Offensive forward for 13 games and then rest of season + lose top goal scorer + lose top goal scorer + lose 1st line C + lose 2nd line C + 500 AHL callups + morale kick to the balls = 30th place team and haters that want to cheer for other teams.

    I was thinking about adding “lose Colin Fraser” but his factor is 0 so it wouldn’t affect the equation.

    Wow that equation was balanced!

    • Wax Man Riley

      Props, props, props, props

      @DieHard

      Props, props, props, props

      Thank goodness there are still some people grounded in reality.

      I can build a winning team on NHL ’11 as well

  • DieHard

    Stop with all the moaning and griping. ELPH was the plan – right! Well, there was some EXCITING times watching the trio (plus Omark as well). But actual LAST place would not have happened without the injuries and maybe we would be picking sixth or seventh. Would anyone be happy with that? I remember when the Oilers were very exciting. Were they going to make the playoffs or not? Fun times, everybody was happy when/if they made it (damn Dallas). Reality was we always ended up with a middle of the round draft pick. Year after year mid-round draft picks – why – because we were always just in or out of the playoffs. Well, hopefully Katz and management’s plan is to ice a top end team year after year but that takes time to acquire the personnel. Once you have that you can sprinkle in the UFA’s who would be willing to come to Edmonton for the real chance for the Cup. Also, when you then have end-of-round draft choices you develop them better (ala Red Wings). Image our trio in their mid twenties and the group that follows! I think we are developing nicely and we, as fans, have to give them the time that’s needed. I also believe we should draft Larson (franchise player), leave him in Sweden followed by one year in OKC. If all this means lottery pick next year – so be it . We will have an exciting competitive team relatively soon. RELAX and enjoy the journey.

  • Slapshot

    Robin Brownlee wrote:Unless the Oilers win two of their final six games, this team will end up with fewer wins than a team so devoid of depth a lumbering farmer from Irma named Gord Mark played 12 games on defence. Mark is the worst NHL player I have ever seen.

    Not even close Robin. Jim McCrimmon played for the Oil in the WHA but actually played 2 games for St. Louis in the NHL in 1974 or 1975. I rememeber the best line about him was written by Wayne Overland, the Journal columnist at the time. He said after a wave of injuries to Oiler D-men, “Things are so bad that the Oilers are down to 3 defensemen and Jim McCrimmon”.

    • I didn’t say Mark was the worst player ever to get into an NHL game. I said he’s the worst I’ve seen.

      Mark actually hung around for 80 or so NHL games with New Jersey and Edmonton because he was big and strong and willing to bang.

      I’m sure there were players who got a game or two during the time I covered the league that were worse, but I never saw them.

      • He still played 80 or so NHL games more than any of us. I have huge respect for any athlete that makes it to the elite level. 15 years in my sport and I never got past the AHL equivalent. I would have given my left nut for 1 day, let alone 80 or so against the best in the world.

        In my book, nobody who makes it to the NHL is a failure. NOBODY.

      • Mitch

        I do remember Ray, probably the skinniest d-man I have every seen in professional hockey. I actually remember when he was signed because we were all real excited on account of the fact he had actually played a full NHL season the year before (although I think it was for the California Golden Seals). Then when we saw him he was so skinny he probably had to run around in the shower to get wet. But I remember running into him at the Safeway near our house one day that season and shaking his hand. Nice guy. One of those nice memories. Thanks for reminding me.

  • Wax Man Riley

    It makes no sense in moving the Oilers to Quebec. Not going to happen. Teams with 300 consecutive sell-outs do not move.

    As someone posted on page one: “Give your head a shake”

  • lostdog82

    Has everyone forgot why we had to start a rebuild to begin with? The oilers ownership group ran this team with very little money. They spent so little on the team we lost our farm team and any hope of player developement.Then Kevin Lowe gets a hold of the team and trades away all prospects and draft picks for the magical 06 cup run. So how can we be surprised when we have very little talent coming up. The team was near the cap when tambo took over.What moves was he to make with no cap space and no talent to trade? If all the players on the team are as bad as everyone says who exactly are we going to get in return for all these trades that were supposedly available to tambo.We have 13 draft picks this year(I think), that’s alot of young talent to enter the ranks. Combine that with the fact that we have lots of cap room,an ahl team to provide much needed developement.Maybe tambo gives a huge offer sheet to weber or someone else ? Tambo has some room to make some moves and some good young talent.Give management another summer and we can have a better idea of the vision in September.

    • “Then Kevin Lowe gets a hold of the team and trades away all prospects and draft picks for the magical 06 cup run. So how can we be surprised when we have very little talent coming up.”

      Here’s the deals Lowe made during the 2005-06 season leading up to the Stanley Cup final.

      MARCH 9, 2006: Marty Reasoner, Yan Stastny and a second-round draft choice in 2007 to the Boston Bruins for Sergei Samsonov.

      MARCH 8, 2006: Traded the Oilers first-round draft pick in 2006 and a conditional third-round choice to the Minnesota Wild for goaltender Dwayne Roloson.

      JAN 26, 2006: Forward Jani Rita and defenceman Cory Cross to Pittsburgh Penguins for defenceman Dick Tarnstrom.

      JAN 26, 2006: Forward Tony Salmelainen to Chicago Blackhawks for defenceman Jaroslav Spacek.

      I don’t see those moves as Lowe emptying the cupboard and leaving the organization devoid of prospects and draft picks.

      While it can be dicey to trade a first-round pick, as they did for Roloson, what prospects did Lowe move? How did Yan (not Paul) Stastny, Jani Rita and Tony Salmelainen turn out?

      • Dutchscooter

        ‘While it can be dicey to trade a first-round pick, as they did for Roloson, what prospects did Lowe move? How did Yan (not Paul) Stastny, Jani Rita and Tony Salmelainen turn out?’

        C’mon Robin, Rita’s leading scorer on his old-timer’s league team, isn’t he??

    • Wax Man Riley

      I agree with everything you have said except the offer sheet. I don’t think it is offer sheet time yet. Maybe next year will be the time to sign the big free agents or offer an RFA a contract.

      There are some good D that are UFAs in 2012, and some even better RFAs. By then maybe it’s worth giving up some picks to sign an RFA as the cupboards should be chock-full of prospects.

      This is a big maybe. I can see it being better long-term to wait until even 2013 for the big signings.

  • O.C.

    Meh.

    I just need to remember what this team was 2 years ago. Even last year by All Star break, everyone knew it would be blown up, so it was a positive fan vibe in spite of a sorry excuse for professional entertainment.

    It almost went too fast, but it had to be slashed. There was a lot of free loading, negative cancer. Slowly, the new team of strangers has developed an identity.

    When the team was great, Sather always said you need to change at least two players every year. When they suck, clearly a lot more work is needed. But not a lot.

    The injuries are a blessing. The team wasn’t going to make the playoffs.

    “…cuz setting a goal to win, where the best you can do is finish 9th in the conference, is just stupid.”

    Now though, there arent a ton of needs and this has great potential. A couple of forwards, a couple of D, and this team competes. The draftees from this year come in next year, a couple key trades, and a contender is born.

    Then maybe a key FA, or another trade dealine deal…

  • Wax Man Riley

    Um… yeah. The sheer Jenna Jameson-esque suckage of this team laid out as plainly as could be. Brownlee, how the hell can ownership continue to support this management team?

  • Wax Man Riley

    Hey Robin,

    I think that Hall proved all his naysayers wrong this season but “who can match the impact Hall made this season” I’d argue that he really didn’t make that big of an impact.

    The Oilers are still finishing last place.

    Hall IS an impact player but his impact THIS season may not have been any greater than Eberle, or Omark, or even Peckham (relatively, not talking about goal-scoring any stat column in particular).

    So if we draft Adam Larsson, or RNH, or whoever, and they might not even make the NHL this season, it shouldn’t be fair to think of it in terms of Hall or whomever else.

  • Horcsky

    Yup, the team needs some vets for next season. The problem is that our idea of acquiring veterans to shoulder the load includes the likes of Jim Vandermeer, Jason Strudwick, and Kurtis Foster.

    We need some veteran depth at forward dammit!

  • Wax Man Riley

    Robin,

    You know what scares me most about your article? The real possiblilty of the #1 overall pick not being an impact player or franchise type player like is and will be. Is the draft really that weak? Over the past few years there was major hype over Stamkos, Tavares, Hedman, Hall, Seguin,etc and their potential to be cornerstone players. But this year, that type of chatter is non-existent. You hear this name or that name, but is there really not one single player that is the front runner? Are we about to draft the next Legwand? Damn! What a waste!

  • I think the thing is that you can expect the guys at the top of the draft to emerge eventually as very good players, very quickly. Tavares is flirting with thirty goals, Stamkos has emerged as a perennial Rocket Richard trophy candidate, Crosby and Ovechkin became 100+ point players immediately, Kane has been a high end winger since year one… these guys adapt quickly. Only Erik Johnson didn’t step in and dominate quickly, and that could be attributed to his position, in part. I think it’s reasonable to expect Hall to break at least thirty goals next year, and possibly do more than that. Eberle they don’t need to do much more than tread water next year, as they already have Hemsky ahead of him, but it would be nice if Gagner took a step forward; his even strength production went up, but they very much need powerplay production from him… if he adds that, 60-65 points is not unreasonable. Paajarvi can just continue to develop quietly deeper down the roster, until he’s ready to light it up. Same goes for Omark, though a few more goals would be nice.

    If Hall scores you thirty goals, if Eberle produces 20-30-50, Horcoff gives you two-way play and scores fifty points, and Gagner can break sixty points, then the team is at least approaching respectability.

    Don’t get me wrong, if this team starts the season with Omark, Peckham, Petry, Paajarvi and Hartikainen in prominent roles, they aren’t going to be a playoff team. But maybe there’s enough talent to start edging towards respectability. My hope and belief is modest; that the playoffs are still a reasonable possibility by January.

  • ClosetGM

    If its 5-6 years seriously Tambellini should be let go right now. I am not the guy who yells fire klowe or fire Tambi at the drop of a hat! But this is riduculous, there is no way that is should take 5 yrs to rebuild this club a lot of the pieces are here or were here. We need to start running this team properly. IE Ryan Jones sign him you idiots. Who cares if he turns out to be nothing. What have we got to lose? Remember Glencross? Lost him for a couple hundred thousand, bad choice. I can see the same thing happening to Jones. We are not at the cap( not even close)overspending to make this a better team now and in the future is a wise investment. It shows the players that you are committed to making the playoffs and to winning. Lets get our heads out of our asses and figure out a way to make this team competitive sooner rather than later. But what do i know i am just a stupid fan that shells out over ten thousand dollars a year to the Oilers with season seats jerseys oilers soothers for the baby, and lets not forget the amount of beer me and my friends drink at rexhall. That in itself probably pays for Jones’ raise. Get it together boys or guys like me might start spending their hard earned money elsewhere.

  • ClosetGM

    PS AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • ClosetGM

      Gold.

      I’m not picking on big Gord. He worked his butt off to get to the NHL. I covered him and his younger brother, Len, as juniors and if you would have told me he would play one NHL game I would have bet anything against it.

    • ubermiguel

      Wow, can’t believe you remembered a 5 year old Gateway comic. Props. Unless you wrote it, then props for that excellent piece of comedy.

      Is it sad I looked at Gord Mark’s stats that year and thought “only -2, that’s not bad.”

  • ClosetGM

    I officially name OilersNation.com the most depressing place on earth. Not that it’s any of the writers fault of course…there just isn’t anything positive to write about these days.

  • OilFan

    I am 100% behind the rebuild. I am not even concerned about the playoffs next year. What does concern me is that we are trusting the rebuild to the same idiots who thought Nik Khabibulin would be the final piece on a competitive team. The current management team could very likely mess this up and then we enter into a constant state of rebuild ala NYI/ATL/FLA etc. Other than a couple of shrewd trades in the spring of 2006 and some salary dumps in 2010, we have no evidence to suggest that these are even good hockey men. We should all be worried about that.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Mr. Katz must be getting near the end of his rope on this. Have to believe accountability will soon replace the trust he has placed in Lowe and Tambellini. Stu MacGregor could probably do better on his own.