43 DAYS: A MATTER OF PERCEPTION

All the suggestions around here that Tom Renney isn’t the right coach for the Edmonton Oilers and that GM Steve Tambellini has bungled the rebuild and should be out the door ass-first sooner than later is great for debate.

Likewise, all the discussion about who is and isn’t in the plans for the Oilers and who fans would either like to see, or expect to see, sent packing by the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 27, which is 43 days from now.

While that’s a lot of fun, it also goes to show how quickly perceptions can and do change over a relatively short period of time. That’s especially true in Oil Country, where the bandwagon can be rolling like a runaway train on a winning stretch of road with fans feeling like there’s no end in sight, only to end up upside down and on fire in the ditch around the next corner.

Might many of you still think Tambellini is a boob in need of a pink slip 43 days from now? Sure. Might you still shudder at Renney’s use of personnel then? Maybe. Should the Oilers, 17-23-4 for 38 points and hopelessly out of playoff contention as of today, be willing to trade anybody not named Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle by Feb. 27? Done.

Then again, 43 days is a long time. If you go back that far, to Dec. 5, Oilers fans were in a distinctly different mood than they are today. How have your perceptions about this team, and what it needs in terms of personnel moves and changes in the front office or behind the bench, changed since then?

BACK IN TIME

— On Dec. 5, the Oilers were 13-11-3 for 29 points, which had them sitting in 10th place. San Jose held down eighth place with 29 points and Phoenix was ninth, also with 29. Did you think Tambellini a bungler then?

— Back then, the Oilers were five points ahead of the Calgary Flames, who were 11-13-2 for 24 points. Was Renney overmatched as a tactician? Today, the Flames are nine points ahead of the Oilers with a 21-20-5 record.

— On Dec. 5, the Minnesota Wild sat atop the Western Conference with 37 points from a record of 17-7-3. Wasn’t Mike Yeo a candidate for the Jack Adams Award? Today, Minnesota sits eighth at 22-16-7 for 51 points.

— In the 43 days since Dec. 5, when the Oilers sat within a whisker of a playoff spot, they’ve gone 4-12-1. It’s a skid that’s been greased by the losses to injury of Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Tom Gilbert and Ryan Whitney. At what point did you decide Ales Hemsky had to go? Or do you still beg to differ with those who feel that way?

Sure, some of you wanted Tambellini gone 43 days ago regardless of the standings at the time. He still hadn’t put this team together right, it just wasn’t as obvious. And, yes, some of you were screaming about Renney’s lines and who he used in certain situations even when this team was in the hunt, just not as loudly as now. Granted and granted.

Suffice to say, it’ll be interesting to see what the pulse is here an hour before and an hour after the trade deadline comes and goes 43 days from now. A lot can change between now and then. Just saying . . .

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

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Kudos, Robin, for your attempt to bring some mature perspective on the season so far. I’m not sure how far it’ll go with the howling masses that are calling for the heads of Tambo, Renney, Lowe and/or MacTavish right now, but good try.

    Here’s my questions to some of the more shrill posters on this article (and others over the past few days):

    – How many of you thought that the Oilers were going to make the playoffs this season? C’mon, hold those hands high so I can see them. You know who you are.

    – Did you or did you not implore/beg/plead for the Oilers to go out and find a guy who can win faceoffs? And was offence – any offence – really the second-requirement for that guy?

    – Where are all the people who were imploring/begging/pleading for Khabibulin to be traded last year? It’s awfully quiet on their front this year.

    – Which is better, in your eyes – trading for a 5-6 defenceman or calling up guys like Teubert, Plante and Petry and putting them in difficult situations where they can develop? Personally, I think it’s the latter. Exhibit A is Laddy Smid. Exhibit B is Tom Gilbert.

    – How many of you actually believe that this rebuild that we’re under right now started in fall of 1990? Again – hold those hands high so that you might be seen.

    – Why doesn’t, as one poster suggested, the run to the Cup final in 2006 “count” as a point for certain members of the current administration (i.e. Mr. Lowe)? How many teams can make that claim over the last 20 years? Does that not suggest that it is exceedingly difficult to get there?

    • I never thought the Oilers had a chance to make the playoffs this year based on this roster.

      Had the team made better decisions on defense in the off season i believe it could have happened.

      Props to Tambellini for signing Belanger, Potter and Eager. I was happy with the signings then and can’t flop just to rag on ST.
      Boos for signing Barker, Hordichuk.

      Khabibulin should be traded. He had a mirage start to the season .964 sv% in first 9 games, since then he has a .898 sv%. That is a fail on ST to enter teh season with Khabibulin.

      Renney has done a good job with the top kids but failed on Paajarvi and Omark (partly their own fault). Line matched hard and it worked until Smyth/Horcoff burned out. I’d give him the plus there for the effort, but he seems to have given up line matching since. The defense has been brutal but he has no choice on who to play. Great job on PK/PP. Overall Renney is not the problem.

      Regardless of the date management publicly declared a rebuild, this team has been garbage since the 06 cup run. Realizing that you are doing a bad job doesn’t absolve you from doing the bad job in the first place. So many bad moves were made to get the team to that point in the first place. i.e. signing Khabibulin, the Souray fiasco, letting go of quality depth guys in Brodziak/Glencross while chasing the Hossa’s of the world, looking like fools chasing Heatley, not paying to keep Grebeshkov at maybe $3.15mm but signing Barker for $2.25mm?.

      Good job on the cup run by Lowe. I liked Lowe’s moves 50% of the time (Pronger, Peca, Spacek, Roloson, Samsonov), the other 50% he made colossal errors. e.g. Comrie/Perry fiasco, Smyth trade, Moreau/Staios/Horcoff overpays(i like Horcoff but he makes too much for too long). Essentially Lowe did a good job when this was a small budget team and in the first cap year, once the cap was put in place he just did not get the game anymore…. aside from taking advantage of teams way over the cap in year one.

    • Good points, and not just because you puckered up big time in that first paragraph.

      — In terms of point production, Belanger is headed for his worst season in the NHL and it isn’t even close. He’s been a lock for 33-35 points for eight seasons and was coming off a career-high of 40, so it’s not like there were signs over recent seasons the wheels were falling off. A good signing that’s gone bad.

      — Ben Eager had not looked right since he got concussed in pre-season. When signed, he fit to a T the player management and fans said they wanted: tough, physical and able to play a regular shift in the bottom six. He’s been a horrific flop who has not done his job — and I don’t care how many times he “asked” Beauchemin the other night. Eager has skated fast and . . .? A good signing gone that hasn’t come close to providing the desired results.

      — Cam Barker. Getting a still-young third overall pick on a one-year deal was a reasonable gamble. Reasonable doesn’t mean “very likely to work out,” it means there’s a risk. But Tambellini wasn’t hoping Barker would be the final piece of a defense that would make the Oilers a Cup contender, he was taking a chance that a guy with pedigree could re-find his game and rescue his career. It’s a reasonable signing that has not worked out so far and with the ankle injury, that’s unlikely to change.

      I’ve pointed out what I’ve seen as flaws in Tambellini’s approach, and they are many, until I’m blue in the face, but people really do let frustration impact their perspective and they get carried away. You know that Tambellini controls the price of gas and that it will be a $1.50 a litre by May, right?

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      *I think you’ll find an extraordinarily small minority thought the Oil were PO bound. This is a straw man. The more pertinent question is one of progress. Who thought the Oil were better than 12th (that’s my over/under mark) in the conference? Probably still a small number. I think you’d do better addressing the expectations (reasonable and unreasonable) at play. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable (even allowing for injuries) for fans to be frustrated that we still appear to be a lottery team and have so far only managed to move down the draft poll a few spots.

      *The team is much better in the dot this year. There are looming questions about the impact of FO% that we can leave aside. But, by and large the frustration around Belanger has not been the signing per se (although I’ve heard some, IMO, reasonable questions surrounding the length of the deal), but his uncharacteristic lack of offence (not ST’s fault) and his inexplicable place on the PP (Renney’s dept.). I don’t see how discussing either of these things should be considered “shrill.”

      *Khabbie has reignited his career this year. There is no doubt about that. However, the reality of the story is broader than his .910% suggests:

      -His % has considerably dropped after his hot start. Hopefully he can keep it at .910% for the full term. But that would mean playing better than he is now for the balance of the season.

      -He just turned 39 and isn’t the long term solution to the G problem on the team.

      -It is possible, however, unlikely (IMO) that for the next year and a half of his contract he will manage a .910%. If he does… amazing and congrats to ST and Khabbie. If not… what are we paying for? I don’t think we can definitively put Khabbie in the win for ST column yet and I think it is reasonable to ask ST about the Oil’s long term plans at G, about the length of Khabbie’s contract and about the possibility of moving him while he is still hot enough to maybe bring in a return.

      *What’s the trade scenario you are envisioning? I competely agree shopping for 5-6 D is a pointless exercise at the moment. If we ever manage to find 1 or 2 legit top 4s we will find ourselves lousy with guys fighting for 5-6 positions. As for development, I don’t think time in the AHL is the hinderance some people do. But, I also agree that I’d rather ice prospects within the Oil than trade for another 5-6.

      *1990… well here’s another straw man. Saying we’ve had a lot of organizational trouble since 1990 is a lot different from saying we’ve been rebuilding (ie. a single team executing a conscious plan) since 1990.

      -For what it’s worth I think its fair to keep several time periods in mind when evaluating the organization

      1. Since our last seriously competitive team (someone said 1992 but at any rate we can agree it was a long time ago). That is just to remind us how long we’ve been outside the hunt.

      2. Since the lockout. This erased a lot of structural problems that were out of the Oil’s hands and coincides with the reinvigorated CAN $. From then on the Oil couldn’t use $ as an excuse for poor management (not that it was ever a great one)

      3. Since the current team took over under ST.

      I don’t think it is unfair to evaluate the team within any of these timeframes as long as you don’t blame someone for something that is out of their control. Personally I like to think of the admittedly arbitrary time period of a decade: 2 PO appearances in 10. I have no interest in putting that result on ST or KL, but I do have an interest in reminding myself that this team has been on the outside looking in for a long, long, long time now and preaching patience in that context loses a lot of its conviction.

      *2006 was a miracle. Just like the miracle on ice in ’80 it deserves to be lauded and revered. And there is no doubt that KL built an infinitely better team in 2005-6 than we have now (of course having Pronger and a few other choice meats didn’t hurt). But, let’s not overstate things. We stumbled into the POs that year and then went on an unlikely tear (does anyone else remember Pisani scoring 4 less goal in 24 games than he did in 80??). We missed the year before and the year after dropped a massive 24 points in the standings and haven’t had a sniff since.

      all in all I appreciate your pushback on the few who are truly “shrill” on these points. But by and large there is a lot of reasonable debate on these topics that has been more or less intelligently discussed here at ON. I would describe that discussion as far from shill as possible.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Yakubov too small to draft for what we need upfront . We have plenty of his type already , and probably too many good ones already . Hemsky unlikely to resign, as Oilers don’t look to be much of a contender next year under present management and coaching . A trade of Hemsky for J. Bernier (tweaking involved) might be good , or as much as we could hope for .

    Luongo ,i feel Vanc. would move if opportunity arose . Hemsky could be valuable to Canucks . It’ll take more than just Hemsky to pry him away , however . Get the feeling Oilers will probably end up in a position to draft Dumba , but Murray should be gone 1-3 pick overall .

    Will we find away to unload Horcoff and his salary ? Will Smyth resign at a salary we can afford ? One or the other gone, and we should have space for a decent premier defenceman to anchor our squad . We need as a priority to build or stock up on a decent core now , and not 2-3 years down the road . Is there to much emphasis on drafting players at the expense of keeping a less than adequate base ? Maybe we have too many already to develop and not enough time to assemble a decent cored team – like we have now . Replenish the core in a nutshell , rather than focusing on more developmental draftees .

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I’ve thought this over a bit more over the past few days. I am thinking that re-extending Tambellini and Renney for 2 more years maximum would be good.

    It gives them a chance to dig out of the hole we have been and redeem themselves for the past 3 years of losing. If no improvement by the second year I say we let them go and I don’t care if it after 10 games or or mid season or whatever.

    I know it is probably not going to happen but I would love to see Messier, Gretzky and possibly Simpson back in the system in some capacity. Hell even Huddy. And I’m still confused why MacT hasn’t had a break somewhere yet. I think he over extended his stay here but he did a hell of a job in 06′, no denying that.

    • The Blues made a change because they felt they had a capable roster that was underachieving. (they may have been correct)

      The Oiler situation is not like that……. at all.

      Old skool jargon… u cant make a silk purse out of a sows ear.

  • It’s strange to me that we Oilerfans think that the rules of the ‘rebuild’ somehow do not apply to us, that after less than 4 years, we are somehow to be instant Cup Contenders. More like Mr Noodle Cup. My point is, Dan Staples has been comparing our rebuild to two others: Chicago & Pittsburgh, and realistically, it took Pitt 4-5 years, I think, and Chicago about the same to be perennial cup contenders. We are in year 3 – THREE! – of Project Rebuild. We all KNEW this would suck, and more importantly, it would take time. What we needed was a coach that could teach our young players, and a GM that would accept losses and draft well, and a fanbase that would grit its teeth and accept losses knowing that in 5-7 years, this would get better.

    I think we all drank the spiked the koolaid in November when the Oilers went on their tear, not unlike what the Blue Jays do every year: hot May-June, come crashing soon afterwards when all the other teams settle into their grooves.

    My point is, children, chill. Renney is still a great teaching coach, and we need that more than we need wins now. We need wins in the future, but we need our prospects to understand how to play to their fullest, and that takes time.

    Yes we have holes; but we can develop and draft and teach and fill, not buy and fill. Look how well that’s worked for us before, and how well that’s working for Columbus, for NYI, etc.

    Losing sucks, but it’s an important part of learning to win. So, as my wise friend says, “Here is a can of Man and a straw: suck it up!”

  • Spydyr

    @roughneck

    I was not suggesting the Oil make a coaching change this year.It was to show that a change mid season in the right circumstances being a coach or a GM is not always a bad thing.

  • Spydyr

    Great read RB- Yes deception can be tricky and no better to relay this than the 2006 cup run. Was that in fact a true cup contender or was it more a case of a cinderella run ? Hockey minds such as OIl Management saw it one way, that being KLowe, thinking it was a legite run. However when one truely looks at each series and each of the games of said series closely that point cound be argued. Were we out shooting teams ? which team was carrying the majority of the play ? what end of the ice was most of the game played ? I encourage those to revisit and play close attention to which team really should have prevailed in those series.
    In the case of todays GM, my question is who is actually making the final call ? My sense is ST is the GM but Klowe has final say on player movement and such. That said- I have have said this over and over, Klowe is and should be the fall guy. Over stating the 06 run and some of the contracts that continue to hang us. Having said that were did we finish in the years leading up to 2006 and where are we now ? This is not just a two year re-build. Let’s not be fooled !

    • Mitch

      Kevin I agree with you, that team blocked a ton of shots, got outstanding goaltending and understood how to keep hold of the momentum in the game and change it. Pronger was unreal as well. Lowe got the worst return possible on Pronger and that was the point when a rebuild should have begun or at the Ryan Smyth trade.
      This is how poor the pro scouts are they replaced them with Penner and Souray.. we all know how that turned out.

      • OilLeak

        Terry Jones wrote an interesting article a few weeks ago regarding the overall return from the Pronger trade. After most of the picks involved have been selected and subsequent trades of players involved, to directly quote Jonesy from his article: “Kevin Lowe traded Chris Pronger for Jordon Eberle, Ladislav Smid, Colten Teubert, Martin Marincin, Oscar Klefbom, Cameron Abney and a player to be determined. Helluva deal.” I’d have to agree with Jonesey and most certainly vehemently dispute your point that “Lowe got the worst return possible on Pronger.”

        • Mitch

          So your telling people need to be judged by 7 or 8 trades down the line from 1 player… I can only think that you feel trading Gretzky was a “great” deal as well? How about The Ryan Smyth deal?

          • Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m think Klowe nixed a deal that would have had Corey Perry wearing Oil colors. Oh and lest we forget, could have been drafted- but no Pouliet
            Tambo backed out of a deal that would have sent Sourary to the Flyers for Scottie Hartnell. Where would we be for the potential future signing of Hall, Ebs and RHN with a 9 year $81 million contract to Hossa ?
            If it weren’t for Nylanders wife- we would have had another outrageous contract. How about chasing Heatly and letting Glencross go to the flames.
            I’m sorry but this current Oiler management duo has got to go ! Perception or Reality, Horcoff is a first line Center and $24million dollar contract.
            Please , Please, let there be change.

          • It was public knowledge that Pronger asked to be traded. Not exactly an ideal situation for Lowe and far from dealing from a position of strength. I’m not certain how many “superstars” were available at that point in time but my guess is DET wasn’t lining up to swap Lidstrom for Prongs nor was Carolina ready to swap Staal for him. Put in a call to Dean Lombardi and ask him how much fun it was trying to get equal value for Ryan Smyth after his trade request became public. Why would a team overpay for a player when they know he’s going to be moved? Of coure, in Edmonton, it surely wouldn’t have mattered what Lowe did. If he had made him sit, fans surely wouldn’t been ALL OVER HIM for not taking full advantage of a valuable asset. I can only think you’re likely of the mind that a trade for a superstar player (never mind an average-player trade) is a piece of cake to complete and that 29 teams were calling Lowe to offer up their very best assets for Prongs.

            Point is this: history tells us, on most occassions, the team that lands the best player in any trade ultimately wins the trade in the long run. The way Pronger was playing, there was little chance of landing a player of equal stature in return. At the end of the day, Lowe received a player who has turned into a top 4 defenseman for the team in Smid, a player who is tied for 8th in league scoring right now in Lupul (maybe they saw something there after all??) and a potential franchise player in Eberle (who was the direct result of a pick received in the deal). Take away the “7 or 8 trades later” aspect and you’re still landing what’s amounted to multiple solid asset. I’m not saying it’s impossible to land a return superstar for another in a trade but history says it’s difficult and uncommon. Hossa for Heatley is the last one I recall off the top of my head. I thought Lowe did better for Prongs than O’Connell did for Thornton myself. But I have no doubt if you were in Kevin’s shoes that Lidstrom would’ve been the return player cause trading Pronger should’ve been easy as pie. Do you care to offer up any better “realistic” trade scenarios at the time that might’ve made sense for both teams?

          • Mitch

            I think Lowe panicked, I feel that the ducks could have given up much more value off the roster. Pronger was a pro and I think he would have played till a better deal could be worked out, we had the best player in hockey at 32 yr old and gave him away and tried patching the roster up. Don’t stick up for failure. Getzlaf and there 1st or hang up phone.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            I obviously wasn’t privy to inside knowledge at the time but, from what I remember, it was more likely that he would’ve sat out waiting for a trade rather than play. Further to that, I’m sure they wanted to avoid a whole “Pronger circus” during the season at all cots. Not much point in keeping a discontent player on the team – little own in the dressing room.

            I certainly concede Lowe maybe could’ve done better in the Pronger deal. Obviouly didn’t work out as planned (ideally, Lupul was a point/game player here and not in T.O.) but my original point was that I think Lowe did better than getting the “absolute worst possible return” as you feel he did given how all the pieces have played out. Hell, I would’ve been happy with Eberle alone for Pronger if it had come to that. I jut think, given the situation of the public request for trade, there was no way any GM would’ve been able to obtain full value in the form of a “current” superstar and, all thing considered, it could’ve been much worse.

  • Spydyr

    Thanks roughneck…..and since thanks are being given thanks to all the writers and commenters.This site helps me pass my work days(SHHHHHH).Don’t know how some people have the time to leave the long comments you do.It is sure entertaining reading them .The good the bad and the ugly.

  • Spydyr

    What do you guys think about Petrys and Tuebert play last few games overall? I really liked Petrys confidence with the Puck and Teubert physical play. I really think these guys have a good chance at becoming players in this League. Colton was drilling everbody in LA uniform, loved watchin that!

  • Mitch

    Robin I find it strange that with half the season gone, there is no extension annoucements. What is Lowe’s contract terms as POHO?(He’s great for photo ops, considering he was the first pick in ’79). I can only speculate that the deals are already done or it does matter how they finish the last half.

    I want to resign Sutton and Smyth but only for short term bargain deals. We don’t know the dynamics of the new cba. If I’m the GM I better make sure I have all my money to lay down when it comes to resigning the 3 young kids.

    This is why I can’t see resigning anyone before the trade deadline or July 1. If I could I get every draft pick possible in trades.

    This is the problem in Edmonton after the 3 young forwards there is a major drop in talent. Then management would like to have a person think that we have a deep lineup if there was no injuries.

    When we look at statistics people talk about improvements, yes I do agree we have improved in certain areas. But the bottom line is if we look at the amount of points we have there is no improvement. Or does the #3 or whatever it is PP get a guy into the playoffs based on a 60-70 pt season, just checking? We all know the answer.

  • OilLeak

    If anyone though that this defensive squad was good enough at the beginning season to compete, they were either in denial or oblivious to what a good defenseman looks like.

    At the beginning of the season the defense was simply terrible, now? The defense is horrid, brutal, and beyond proper descriptive terribleness.

    Gilbert/Smid – Good

    Petry/Potter – Rookie Defensmen playing over their head and should be the third pairing not the 1st and 2nd.

    Whitney – His career may be over and should not be counted on

    Sutton – Next (seriously, he’s almost 37)

    Peckham – Should be the 7th guy at best if on an NHL team at all.

    Barker – Oh God Why?

    Teubert – Needs another 2 years in the AHL and then re-evaluate.

    Given what we know about the current state of our defense, we need 2 quality top 4 defensemen and I’ve echoed this statement since opening day.

  • Dime a dozen? And you want to be taken seriously?

    If guys like Jones are a dime a dozen, why is it that teams aren’t stocking their bottom six forward positions with energy players who can kill penalties AND score 15-18 goals a season?

    At the very least, why don’t teams have 3-4 players in those bottom six spots if they’re a dime a dozen?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I like Ryan Jones as much as the rest of Oiler fans do but without the top 6 in order, the bottom six have much less importance. If Jonesy is part of the package to get what the Oilers need most, then the Oilers will just have to find another Jonesy in two yrs after all this mess is sorted out.

    Bonus clause for triple digit responses Robin?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    ^^^^^^^^^ everything that is wrong with this site^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Donkey talk? I know some of the conversation can be complete garbage from uninformed simpletons. But I don’t think certain people should be throwing out insults about the trash that is spewed on this site.

  • Actually I am done reading your columns Brwnlee. The fact is you have turned pportions of this site in to your own personal propaganda machine. Quite sad as it used to offer an unbiased informed opinion of people who could accept the fact that their opinion is exactly that an opinion and not absolute truth.

    • Simon, you are truly simple.

      You don’t know the first thing about what is wrong or right with this site. If you did (did I mention you don’t?) you’d know — without me using tildes or HAR-HAR-HAR I’M MAKING A JOKE HERE written out in caps to dumb it down — that comment 103 was me poking fun at MYSELF and that I get an extra 50 cents per comment.

      Your outrage, then, is worth $1.

  • I keep both if I can.

    If I have to move one, I move the guy who gets me the best return in an area of need, either alone or as part of a package. That’s after I get a read if Hemsky wants to re-sign here. Even if he does, I might moved him, depending on the return.

    Confirm my bias? I overvalue Jones because he hustles? Yes, I’m happy as long as a guy looks like he’s trying hard, regardless of results. I don’t like skilled guys unless they grunt and sweat and bleed like the hard workers do. I’m easily fooled by “try.”

    You’ve stepped away from Jones being a dime a dozen player. You remain dead wrong on that. That’s the “end of story.”

  • The changes needed to the Oilers organization are far deeper than a quick trade or two. We are stating to develop a long term culture where we rationalize, make excuses, and dream. In my opinion more fundamental and deep organizational changes are required.

    When did it become so acceptable to fail, and why do so many continue to rationalize under-performance. Our player spend is in the top half of the league. Winnipeg and Ottawa both spend almost 10 million less than the Oilers. Winners in this league never accept not making the playoffs. Losers make excuses and rationalize even when the playoffs are a distant dream. We are rapidly approaching the third season as the worst team in the NHL. How many teams have managed to accomplish this feat historically?

    In business terms we are completely under performing the market in all respects but one. The FANS. As Canadians we continue to support this team, fill the building, buy the expensive beer, etc. all the while making excuses for under-performance at every level but one (our support) – which given our love of this game in Edmonton they will likely continue to take for granted.

    It is becoming increasing clear the Oilers have numerous issues. I suspect there are too many ‘buddies’ inside the organization unwilling to make the hard decisions that might feel like firing a beer buddy. Tough. This is a performance based business. If the Oilers were playing in most of the US markets, based on our current performance, we would be in deep trouble. The building would be empty. The sponsors would be gone. The loses would be growing. Lucky the Oilers are in Edmonton.

    We are a Canadian team with loyal fans and a great history. It is time for D Katz to show us why he bought this team and define a new culture where winning is expected. Where under-performance is not acceptable. Where the fans are not taken for granted. And yes, he might need to fire some friends. Get on with it. The worst team in the NHL for 2 going on 3 seasons! Never as an Oiler should this be acceptable. Never.

    The good news is that we have managed to collect some exciting new players through the draft as a result of our abysmal performance in the past. Guys like Hall, Eberle, RNH are all winners – but they will not stay here long term if we continue to lose. They have won their entire careers. Individually these players are winners. Ask yourself if these 3 will be Oilers down the road if we continue to under-perform as an organization. Not a chance. They will eventually go find a winning team.

    After 25 years as a loyal FAN I have witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly as an Oiler. However, my biggest disappointment is the current level of rationalization, excuses, etc. which continue to come from the organization. Which leader (coach, GM, president) has had the courage to face the media and truly take responsibility for this mess. Admit we are under-performing as an organization.

    I hope they STOP taking us for granted. PLEASE. If nothing else someone needs to step up and take ownership for the mess. We have not be injured for the past 3 years and on ‘paper’ we are certainly not the ‘worst’ in the NHL. We need to stop with the excuses and never ending rationalizations. We need to make the deep fundamental changes. PLEASE D. Katz. Finally make your mark on this team. Clean house.