WTF? No new articles on the Nation today? We will expertly stick handle this opportunity with a real think piece on just how far the Oilers have come economically with their signing yesterday of Taylor Hall. You may not have realized it but the Oilers are officially now a Have in a league of Haves and Have Nots.
We are just iced out with swag up here aren’t we Gucci Mane ft Souljaboy? BRRRR indeed.
Oh so long ago – say like 1996 – the Oilers had some major obstacles in being a high impact team in the NHL. Rich US teams like the Rangers and the Coyotes (yes the Coyotes) were signing players left and right and guys like Bobby Holik were making $5 million a year to occasionally find the twine.
The Oilers had plenty of of a high calibre players in those days. Players might have cringed when they heard the news that they had been traded to Edmonton, but the likes of Billy Guerin, Doug Weight, Curtis Joseph and Co were waiting for them when they finally took to the ice. It might have been cold but there was a reasonably good chance you would find success in an Oilers jersey.
But high performing players had a shelf life in a City that was battling a low Canadian Dollar, tepid corporate support and an economy that was in tatters. The three aforementioned Oilers all played great and were forced out of town for economic reasons and have stated since they would have been happy to continue to stay in Edmonton had the team been able to pay. OilersNation hearts were routinely broken in those days as part of you always knew that your current hero was going to be on his way out of town to a larger market.
Unless your current hero was Brad Winchester. Then you had a different pile of problems.
MILDLY OLD TESTAMENT
Enter Daryl Katz.
We can recall when Shawn Horcoff signed his Titanic deal. At the time many of us were happy that the Oilers were finally able to fling a flatbed truck piled high with cash at someone who we would have traditionally lost to free agency. "It sends a message to the league" went the thinking at the time, "that the Oilers aren’t the broke kid in class anymore."
No we certainly weren’t that anymore. Offers were tendered to Thomas Vanek, Marian Hossa, Dany "I am a heartless bastard" Heatley who all passed on signing in good old our town for various reasons including "Edmonton sucks" "My (wife/mistress) doesn’t want to shop there" and other nonsensical problems we all convinced ourselves were to blame.
In reality the Oilers were a crappy squadron (with a few bright spots) who couldn’t offer players in the prime of their careers any real chance of winning in the forseeable future. But Katz was there not only agreeing to throw down wads of cash at these players’ feet but also often being involved in the pitch himself – jetting around in the name of Edmonton.
And we did our part as fans too. It isn’t easy ponying up $65 to watch Patrick O’Sullivan wrist a muffin into a goalie’s crest and go sit down every other night but Oilers fans found a way to support the team regardless of the product on the ice. Sellouts every night they say – although some games we can’t help but think a bill for 1500 tickets would show up the next morning at Katz’s offices in order to keep the streak alive.
Bless his heart for finding a way to find a way.
It was at this point that Katz and the Oilers brass wisely decided that pitching woo at every UFA wasn’t going to end well. It was time to draft kids and draft em early on in the draft so that when the Oil wave tens of millions of dollars in their 21 year old faces they can’t help but say yes.
2012. New heroes, fresh whispers of a return to awesome after so many years on the outside looking in. The Alberta economy is one of the strongest in North America, if not the world. A newly strong Canadian dollar trades on par with the American eliminating a massive forex advantage for the US teams.
And thankfully our heroes are here to stay as we have seen with Taylor Hall signing a trillion dollar long term extension yesterday. Jordan Eberle is soon to follow and the Nuge was reported as clapping with glee when he heard that Taylor Hall had signed for big bucks before being put down for an afternoon nap.
No longer do we need to worry about a few strong seasons leading to a one way ticket out of town for our local heroes. Sure some team may come along with a preposterous deal that may send a key piece of the puzzle out of town but the embarassment of riches that is the forward corps aged 18-23 can be preserved for years to come and a kick ass team built around it.
We may not all realize it but the market conditions and lineup have arrived that should set up the local squadron for years to come.
Taylor Hall is set to make 42 million. As an Oiler. And there are probably 3 more guys set to get similar deals in length and cash.
SOLID WORK ECONOMY AND DESTINY