Lost Weekend

This is Ray Milland. He’s on his way to pawn his typewriter. He’s in Lost Weekend and that’s one heavy 48 hours. Edmonton Oilers fans know the feeling, headache and all.

This is the first time in the 2010-11 season that the Edmonton Oilers resembled last year’s disaster. Previous to Hockey Day in Canada, the club seemed to display more spirit and a sense of never giving up–despite being WORSE in actual fact than the Quinn Oilers of 09-10.

This weekend the Oilers went back to Nat’s Bar on Third Avenue and drank deep from last season’s movie: a sense of absolute defeat, a deer in the headlights performance and the same damn blank looks as one year ago.

So, who’s the culprit? Is it those season-ticket holders, for telling the Oilers to fix it and get it right this time? Did they know their grandchildren might be paying for their seats before things got better? What about Steve Tambellini? He’s been hired three times now and appears to be slower every time he’s hired?

Is it the veterans? The kids? The veteran kids? 

Some of us predicted hard times (my look at the NW division isn’t spot on, but the overall gloom of the Oilers portion fits the current mood) and specifically in regard to the blue:

  • The Oilers should be able to score goals at a solid clip, but the blueline as it currently stands is the weakest in the division. Gilbert and Whitney are backed up by role players (Vandermeer), still developing shutdown hopefuls (Smid), men on the comeback trail (Foster) along with a dozen prospects trying to gain traction. We can take heart, as we’ll know more a year from now than we do currently about this bunch, but as it stands there are going to be a lot of saloon-door nights along the blue.

Saloon-door nights like this weekend. Ripping Petry and Peckham is ridiculous, in fact I think we’re at a point where pointing fingers at any of the defensemen is beyone the pale. Enough.

They’re simply not good enough as constructed.

As luck would have it, the best defenseman on the depth chart (Whitney) went down with an injury and chaos blue ruled the day. I don’t think we can blame Tom Renney because the foundation isn’t there. In country music parlance "the money ran out and the engine blew." We can point a finger at the coaching staff for lots of things (line matching, the special teams) but they don’t have the horses on defense.

Steve Tambellini? HE’S the guy to blame? Well, yes and no. Tambellini’s job is to build a winner, as described by the fanbase as "get it right this time." Tambellini’s style appears to be "wait and then wait a little longer" which fits the style of a team selling out their barn while losing most of their home games. A big part of Tambellini’s job currently appears to be making sure Stu (Magnificent Bastard) MacGregor’s computer doesn’t run out of juice. There’s no help on the way for these Oilers; in fact the only deals talked about are in regard to dealing off some of the last actual NHL players.

The Edmonton Oilers problem now is the same as it was in fall 2006: not enough actual NHL players. At some point, we’re going to have to agree that Daryl Katz is responsible for the current state of the Edmonton Oilers.

He’s the boss.

  • Hack The Bone

    The stated model for rebuild is the Detroit Red Wings. I know that Chicago and Pittsburgh were able to tank for a few then climb out of the wilderness, but those aren’t the models that KL and ST are following. They’re trying to build a team that will be competitive for a long period of time.

    Lowetide, I’m sure you will remember, the Redwings from 1983 to 1987 were terrible, despite the presence of young superstar Yzerman and the additions of quality players to surround him.

    This rebuild only really got started last year. I think KL was right Saturday when he said 4-6 years realistically. I don’t expect management to go out and solve the team’s problems with that mythical centreman and Dman that many seem to think are all that’s missing from icing a playoff worthy team.

    This team is going to require a slurry of NHL ready talent developed from within. UFAs will not play a serious role on any team that wants to be competitive year in and year out for decades, until a decade of competitive hockey has been played. We need only look at the Red Wings of the 1990s to see their own experience. It wasn’t until they’d been winning it all every few years until the free agents came knocking on their doors regularly.

    There are no quick fixes. Frustrating to watch? Damn straight. Is the current management group the one to build the future? Time will tell, although they are definitely walking their talk.

  • John Chambers

    We knew there was going to be growing pains. Relapses are not unexpected. Given the team’s struggles, we need to focus on individual development. Hall is looking more and more like a star. Eberle and Paajarvi look solid. Omark is exciting and looks more comfortable with each game. Peckham has taken a major step forward this year. Petry looks like he’s been in the league for years. Dubnyk has established himself as the #1 on this squad. Penner has had another solid year. Hemsky is close to being that point per game player we knew he could be, if only he could stay healthy. And we have young guys coming that have had good years in the CHL. And we are pretty much guaranteed a lottery pick this year. Given the stated goal of a rebuild, getting back to back lottery picks is a good thing. There’s size in the top of the draft. Size! Larsson, Landeskog, Couturier.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @ Reagan, the trick isn’t to subtract players, it is to add them. I will say this though, since a good chunk of fans cheered a lot of quality players out the door the last 5 years, I’d say for the most part we are getting what we deserve.

  • Tracie

    This weekend was embarrassing to be an Oilers fan, and you wonder how Tambo is ever going to lure in the veterans we need to fill the holes. But Lowetide’s prospect posts give me a bit of hope…I might be wrong, but it sounds like we are going to ice a team mostly made of up prospects next year…Lander is ready to come up and be at least a third line center, maybe a Swedish line? Hamilton might come up and be that big presence in front of the net that we need on power plays. Larssen hopefully will be coming up as well b/c that’s who’ll we’ll pick in the draft…Dubnyk will be the starter…

    So it sounds like Lowe’s “4-6 years” more means that we will be icing a young team that is bound to make mistakes and have trouble finding consistency for a few years but that timeline gives them time to figure it out and not be pressured to do it in a hurry…is that a pretty good assumption?

    If that’s the assumption, then Tambo still needs to find dmen and a faceoff/pk guy for the lineup…something we’ve needed for a few years now and haven’t been able/refuse to find. And I find it hard to believe that bringing up an AHL team and telling them to grow into NHLers on their own is a very successful plan.

    I really hope there is a better plan out there…4-6 years of this is going to be hell!Especially if teams like calgary and vancouver continue to do well…it would be alot easier to be an Oiler fan right now if the Flamers sucked again! 🙂

  • Tracie

    Big picture. Big picture.

    One weekend does not a trend make. This is expected and a lot worse.

    At year end will we be better than at the beginning?

    Where will be be next year at this time?

    I can’t get worked up about two games.

    -30-

    • John Chambers

      Shouldn’t this say you feel like a Democrat after you voted for Obama ?
      Change we can believe in? How about taking the dollar and turning it into change…

  • OilFan

    Tambellini is 26 games from a first round pick, let the season go… He knows how he has to move this summer, or not resign. My guess is around 5 or 6 guys yet that probably do not deserve to play here.

    On to trade deadline day!

  • John Chambers

    4-6 years? Is the implication then to draft high for a half-decade and hope it will all work itself out? When’s the last time we won on home ice? Who in their right mind is going to buy season tickets?

    That’s not a plan. You can’t select “being uncompetitive” as a strategy … at least not long-term. That’s a recipe for having Penner, Hemsky, and anyone else who matters walk away thinking ‘Good Riddance’ at the first opportunity.

  • John Chambers

    Catching opening sequence of the 3rd period last night, I thought to myself how difficult it must be for Hall and Eberle to feel primarily responsible for creating offense.

    Great article, LT. Captures exactly what I was thinking. ST needs to add some veteran leadership to stabilize this team. Fortunately we’ll walk into draft day and select another key component or two … but for these young players to develop they’ll need bona fide players who can contribute offensively, play against the Perry’s & Getzlaf’s, and give our guys a sense of optimism.

    One has to think that everyone will want out if this lasts for another two seasons.

    • Lowetide

      Except that you don’t want that sense of hopelessness to permeate the room with the kids around.

      I felt the club had done a good job of that until this weekend.

      And of course most of us were expecting an end game to the losing, but after this weekend that’s less certain. IS this team going to be built for a run at the playoffs next season?

      Kevin Lowe said 4-6 years on Saturday during Hockey Day in Canada; Tambellini’s actions reflect that window.