AS GOOD AS IT GETS?

Remember the sales pitch about how a new collective bargaining agreement was going to alter the fundamental economic structure of the NHL, level the competitive playing field and, at long last, give the small-market Edmonton Oilers a fair chance to run with the big boys? How’s that working for you?

With the Oilers on their way to missing the playoffs for a sixth straight season after a blip on the success screen that was the unlikely run to the 2006 Stanley Cup final against Carolina, the answer for fans who’ve been footing the bill and biding their time since then is obvious – not very well.

Over at MC79Hockey, a site run by Toronto lawyer Tyler Dellow, the string of dismal failure that’s been the Oilers performance under the new field-leveling CBA everybody was waiting for has been put into numbers for all to see. It’s here if you care to have the grim reality of your existence as an Oiler fan put to math.

A skein of ineptitude that produced Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as first overall picks is no surprise to Oilers fans, but putting numbers to it drives home the point critics of organization and the people at the top of it since the lockout have been making.

Through the 550 games the Oilers had played under the new CBA at the time Dellow ran the numbers, the Oilers were dead-last among the NHL’s 30 teams in terms of points. The Oilers were 226-263-61 for 513 points and a .466 percentage. That left them behind the Columbus Blue Jackets (226-257-68 for 520 points in 551 games) and the New York Islanders (226-256-68 for 520 points in 550 games).

Level playing field? Better days ahead? The cheque’s in the mail . . .

ARE WE THERE YET?

As Terry Jones pointed out over at the Edmonton Sun today, there have been three constants since the ink dried on the new CBA (failure in all but one of those seasons comes close but doesn’t count): former GM and now-president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe and two players Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky. There’s three polarizing names for you.

Changes have been many since the Oilers shut things down and offered up the AHL and the Edmonton Road Runners as a Plan B during the lost lockout season. Cal Nichols and the EIG, which dragged the small-market Oilers through the last CBA as owners, have given way to Daryl Katz. No more small potatoes. An ability to spend to the salary cap.

Craig MacTavish, who lost the dressing room and the desire to fight to get it back, was replaced by Pat Quinn. Quinn was, ahem, re-assigned to a pivotal position as senior advisor and replaced by Tom Renney. When Lowe was bumped upstairs by Katz, Steven Tambellini took the GM’s hot seat.

The staff of assistant coaches has been turned over. The scouting staff, training staff and equipment people have changed to varying degrees during the course of the new CBA. All part of the plan, or so the pitch has gone, of rebuilding a once-proud franchise and a return to better days.

How’s that working for you?

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

  • Two observations:

    1. Reaction to the Jones article by some Oil fans is hysterical and talk about drinking the Koolaid
    such as this gem

    “Well done Jones. You go from sniffing Gretzky’s jock strap to putting down the organization. You should NEVER be allowed around this team again or to write a story on them. Then maybe you will realize that they have paid your salary for many many years. It’s easy for garbage like you to ride them like Seattle Slough when they are a winner, but then turn on them when they go through the rebuilding process. A Real Class Act you A@#!@.” . . . nice

    2. That the Article that Brownlee referred to also has some other key findings the Top 7 Best Post CBA teams only had 1 Stanley Cup in those teams. Hmmmm.

    What the CBA did was create parody (the stats from article also prove this out). Some teams are more “parodous” (sorry about that Mr. B.) than others and if it is Management that can get you that intangible thing to get you in the playoffs year after year so you have a “shot” – then Oilers have failed miserably.

    Add some more “suits” some “smart suits” – Billy Walsh.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      That second to last paragraph is amazing! I’m not sure if that’s a spoonerism, a malapropism, a Freudian slip or a parody… either way it was very funny and rather illuminating!

      (ps. not trying to be a dick about grammar/spelling etc. on the internet. I genuinely find this “slip” funny)

  • CaptainLander

    Actually, its working out quite well for me. You are taking a small sample size and making conclusions based on it, that it is the salary caps fault the Oilers suck.

    Not true, we have been rebuilding during most of your small sample size. In fact, if you take the next CBA period of 10 years, and look at it, you will probably jump to the conclusion that it was the best CBA of all time, when this is not true.

    False assumptions have led to a faulty conclusion. Control your variables, and increase your sample size.

  • O.C.

    Frak, lost my post. This is a ReDux

    Revisit this in three years. It’ll be YES. Before there was no hope, now there is.

    If we forget, that Decade of Excellence Fifteen Years of Crap that followed 1990 was a generation of instilled mediocrity with flashes of potential.

    That doesn’t change right away. Before it was:

    Get Talent. Develop. Lose Talent to the “Haves” (repeat)

    Ask MLB teams how they like that system.

    Now… NFL has it right. NHL… close. MLB is a mess. NBA is (what am I doing… who cares? Basketball sucks)

    This year (and a bit last maybe), there is a change and there is hope. People want to come here.

    No one wanted to go to Chicago 6 years ago – how’s that working now?

  • db7db7db7

    Love your articles Mr. Brownlee even though I really don’t like how you come across at times.

    I didn’t read Jones or the other article but I think the CBA to the Oiler’s failure is more of a timing issue than anything.
    I’m tired and frustrated with the past few years but I do see some light in the horizon. I fully expect the Oiler’s will be playing meaningful games in Jan/Feb next year.
    If not, then I’ll . . . well I don’t what “I’ll”, but it wont’ be pleasant.
    The difference betweent the before and now is that the Oiler’s no longer can use $$ as a reason to not be competitive. Here’s hoping we won’t be seeing future Coffey’s, Messier’s, and Weight’s leaving the area for better financial security. With this in mind, I was pleased that Hemsky got re-signed.

    And here’s hoping Katz doesn’t have some ‘assinine’ plan about holding back sucess till the new arena arrives, as has been suggested by people over the past couple of seasons. Really – to what benefit would that be?

    • “Love your articles Mr. Brownlee even though I really don’t like how you come across at times.”

      Thanks for coming to our site and taking time out of your busy day to comment.

      A heads-up: I don’t give one ounce of bag sweat if you like how I come across. There, I’ve loved down to you expectations.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      “Love your articles Mr. Brownlee even though I really don’t like how you come across at times.”

      Thanks for coming to our site and taking time out of your busy day to comment.

      A heads-up: I don’t give one ounce of bag sweat if you like how I come across. There, I’ve loved down to you expectations.

      _____________________________________________________________________________

      You’re one of the few lucky ones Pucker. Although it may not have that appearance. Deep down inside Mr. Brownlee really does like you. He doesn’t take time out of his day to respond to just anybody, only the ones he cares for. Under that crusted exterior is a man who cares for us all, deeply.

  • DSF

    I won’t tell you that I have been following the Oilers for very long and so I don’t have the knowledge of what has happened in the past like you guys have. I only started getting interested in the Oil about the time Eberle and Hall were drafted and started playing. With the addition of Nuge this year the team has turned into an exciting one to watch, not always successful but exciting. So last year I thought if they improved by 10 to 15 points in the standings, I would be happy. Neveer did I have such optimism though that they would make the playoffs in 2011-12. I’m not even sure if they will make the playoffs in 2012-13, but after I would expect it. Bad contracts are running out and lots of potential in the minors. Go oil and lets have some patience and optimism.

  • Chris.

    There is a history to the suckage of the recent CBA, isn’t there? Like the signing of Pronger, Peca, the trade deadline aquisitions of Spacek, Samsonov, Hejda, Rolonson, the brilliant coaching of MacT, an exhilarateing ride to within a whisker of cup #6. The bolting of Pronger, the hasty trades, the “seemed good at the time”contracts based on faulty interpretations of statiscally anomalous seasons or partial seasons. The souring of the dressing room, the unlucky injuries, the horribly mistaken undervaluing of the draft and farm systems. The dawning realization that a chewing gum and baling wire solution wasn’t going to work. And today – a stable of the best young talent in the world (“Gushin Oil” I believe Hockey News terms it). A first place AHL team. A plan in place. And this year, tantalizing glimpses of what might be future brilliance. I have been as frustrated and angry as the reat of ON at times, but not now. Hope is there, and for a fan, that is enough for now.

  • DSF

    And DSF, this an Oilers fan site. Find a few of your fellow Panther fans (if there are enough to form a foursome) and book your tee times. We are only going to beat you to the first tee by 10 days at most.

    • DSF

      Does a cup win work for you?

      The Hawks acknowledged that Tallon was the architect of the cup winning team, gave him a ring and had his name inscribed on the Stanley Cup.

  • DSF

    Talon Gained a team in florida which had some nice Pieces and had tons of cap space to fill in the gaps. If you don’t think its lucky to get middling goalies, to have excellent years by their last few years as a standard and to get a defenceman who no one else wanted to have a complete resurgence…. I guess there is nothing left to say!

      • I’m reluctant to dive into your convoluted argument about the Panthers, but if your contention is Theodore is “hardly the reason” Florida is doing better, you are even further out in left field than it appears, and that’s saying something.

        Theodore’s saves percentage is ninth in the NHL among goaltenders with 40-or-more appearances. That’s first-rate goaltending in any season and by any measure. Period. Argue in circles if you must — it’s what you do — but don’t attempt to sidestep and brush off legitimate arguments just because they don’t fit your take.

  • DSF

    People, people, please! There is a sad, strange, pitiable character named DSF who trolls intermittently on ON, and believes that the Florida Panthers, one of the least successful teams in NHL history and currently boasting the longest playoff drought in league history (which finally may end after a modest winning season), represent the zenith of team building wizardry, and are a model which all NHL franchises should now emulate. Please do as I say, and not as I do, and ignore his incoherent ramblings until his Mommy tucks him in and kisses him goodnight.

  • Poolanov

    Nice RB. Been saying the same thing for awhile. Even posted comments on the local dailies website. Usually get insulted by the the self-professed “real fans” when I do.

  • Poolanov

    Didn’t the Panthers have about 48M dollars in cap space last summer and they had to spend a bunch just to reach the floor? Also years of inflated contracts that Lowe created has hamstrung Tambellini, not to mention the Khabi contract that Tambellini created himself. While Veersteeg surprisingly took the ball and ran with it players like Scottie Upshall were a little disappointing, even with the injury taken into account. Florida remains a work in progress, much like the LA Kings who are also in a similar boat to the Panthers in they boast a good prospect pool and have good talent on the squad but haven’t been able to put it all together yet, although Lombardi has less rope than Tallon does.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Tallon>Tambellini

    Can anyone logically believe otherwise? Take off the homer glasses and really take a good look…

    I don’t even have to know any of Tallon’s faults or successes. Tambellini has put together losing teams every single season as a GM in the NHL. Any manager in the NHL (minus Howson) I believe to be better than Tambellini.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Couple of comments: without the new CBA, the run to the SCF would never of happened as we would not have gotten Pronger or Peca.

    And the Oilers pathetic performance has nothing to do with the new CBA and everything to do with the fact thay are a poorly run hockey team. Toss Holland of Shero or Chirelli into the GM chair and thigs would have been different.

    The problem with the Oilers is not the new CBA. The problem with the Oilers is the old boy’s network, the boys on the bus, that were great hockey players but don’t know how to assemble a winning management team and therefore winning hockey team.

    If it were me, I would clean house. Lowe – gone. Tambo – gone. Renney – gone.

    I would change the uniforms. take the “spawn” uni and swap the Oilers crest on the shoulder with the meteor (or whatever it is) on the front. I would declare a new era going forward. I would hire the best damn GM candidate out there and find two additional good hockey minds to work with him as assistants. I would blow out the pro scouting department and start fresh.

    The CBA isn’t hurting the Oilers, and a new one won’t help them. Katz stop giggling around his boyhood idols and instead tossing them out of thier collective asses, and hiring some real hockey people with a plan is what will turn this team around.

  • DSF

    Robin,
    Just wanted to serve as a counterpoint with regard to Mr. Pucker – that I for one do enjoy your articles and enjoy even MORE how you come across in those articles. Your candor and insight are balanced nicely with timely humor. It’s refreshing reading your articles in the often cliche-ridden world of sports reporting. Even when I don’t agree with you, it is always well written – and most of all interesting! Keep it up sir! Salamat!

    • Thanks.

      While I do get cranky from time to time in the comments, I generally respond with the same kind of tone I’m approached with. Look for a beef, you’ll get one.

      If I do respond to somebody abruptly when it seems like they’re making a reasonable argument, it’s often because they’ve wised off in the past, and I have a long memory (and a knack for checking archived comments). If somebody’s “you don’t know what you’re talking about” query seems like their standard MO, they likely won’t get a response they like.