MAD TROMBONE: NAME THAT TUNE

Near the end of tonight’s 4-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Rexall Place, somebody Tweeted a picture of Edmonton Oilers’ coach Dallas Eakins staring off into space, looking stunned, distant, dazed.

Likewise, I’m sure, were many of the fans who filed out of the rink after yet another loss, although I’m guessing just as many headed to the parking lot flat-out pissed off after seeing more of the same old, same old.

As they should be. New season or not, new coach or not, injuries or not, the latest edition of the Oilers Selling Hope Campaign hasn’t even hit November yet and it sure looks from where I sit like it’s come off the rails – again.

"They’re banged up. They’re tired," post-game radio host Rob Brown offered as he and Bob Stauffer did a post-mortem on the latest stiff. Brown, to be fair, is probably right. Still, tired beats sick and tired, which it seems a substantial portion of the fan base is after seeing their team drop to 3-9-2.

VENTING

A cross sampling from fans here at Oilersnation and Twitter:

SPYDYR: "The Oilers poop the bed and still over 250 comments. This Management team does not deserve fans like us."

REXHOLEZ: "So are we throwing the season away again or are we getting a defenceman this week?"

#SIXRINGS: “And lastly I’ll say that there’s one other guy in hockey today that is still working in the game that has won more Stanley Cups than me. So I think I know a little bit about winning, if there’s ever a concern.” — Kevin Lowe.

BY THE NUMBERS

The Oilers are 3-9-2 for eight points, a total that ties them for third-worst in franchise history through the first 14 games of a season.

The 1993-94 Oilers hold the mark for ineptitude at 2-11-1 for five points under Ted Green on the way to a 25-45-14 record and 64 points. The 1990-91 Oilers are next, going 2-10-2 for six points under John Muckler on the way to 37-37-6 for 80 points. The 1979-80 Oilers under Glen Sather debuted in the NHL at 2-8-4 for eight points, finishing at 28-39-13 for 69 points.

Here’s Edmonton’s record through 14 games in the seven seasons they’ve missed the playoffs since getting to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup final (as season in which they went 7-6-1 for 15 points in the first 14 games).

2012-13: 6-5-3 15 points

2011-12: 9-3-2 20 points

2010-11: 4-8-2 10 points

2009-10: 7-6-1 15 points

2008-09: 7-6-1 15 points

2007-08: 5-9-0 10 points

2006-07: 7-6-1 15 points

NEXT YEAR BECKONS ALREADY

After hosting Detroit Saturday, the Oilers play four straight on the road with stops in Florida, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and Chicago. They hit the 20-game mark, nudging up against the quarter-pole of the season, against the Dallas Stars in their first game back at home Nov. 13.

Simply put, history shows if the Oilers don’t occupy a playoff spot through 20 games, which seems unlikely, to understate in the extreme, they’ll be up against long odds to be in the post-season mix after 82 games.

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

  • Bishai in the Benches

    So to add to my comments about the oilers partying, my roommate got a snapchat at 5am from one of his friends of Jordan Eberle playing guitar naked…. Sorry Wanye but your golden boy is a big DB with no cares in the world after going -3 in a brutal loss. Any player who gets wasted after a loss where he blew coverage multiple times shouldnt be playing in the future. Sit him. There NEEDS to be consequences for this team.

    • Benny Botts

      Did you see the snap chat??? No? Then don’t bring in those kind of rumours in here. What is this TMZ?? I heard from a guy that heard from a guy that knew a guy that talked to a guy that said he saw the oilers at a bar..

      Let’s talk about the game and not their personal lives

  • YFC Prez

    I’m at a total low point as fan. Not sure what to even say any more. Teams like the Leafs and the Islanders were worse then us when we started this never ending rebuild and have already turned the corner and we’re still trying to find our identity as a group and a team. Never figured Garth Snow would of had a better plan then the grate 6 time cup winner KLOWE. Even managed to take a proven winner like Hallsy and made him so confused and frustrated he was believing playoffs this year. Every team knows how rattled this group is and takes liberties every night. Thanks MacT for addressing the goaltending, defense and character. I’m sure Ference and Perron are tickled pink to be here.

  • Aitch

    Hate to say it. But this team from the start regardless of system/compete blah blah blah… WAS NOT making the playoffs. They do not have a 3rd or 4th line aaaaagain. They DO NOT have a top pairing D man. IF the goalies(Dubnyk) had played reasonably well they would of had 2 more wins at this point. And people would say they are improved. But they still were not making the playoffs under any circumstances with this cast of characters.

    Last thought: Time to get rid of Smith and Bucky. Sorry no track record of success. Shultz is regressing! Time to make a change in the coaching ranks.

  • To everybody:

    Let’s keep the focus and comments hockey related. I understand the frustration, but let’s avoid turning this site into a gossip forum about what players do off the ice on their own time.

    Win or lose, players are allowed to live their lives away from the rink. They don’t give up the right to have a beer, or several, or hang out as young men tend to do just because the team is in the tank.

  • Bishai in the Benches

    I don’t condone spreading rumours and gossip about the team. Those comments were made to provide evidence to prove a point. There is no sense of accountability on the team. I have no problem at all with the guys going out and having beers. It’s actually probably good for the team, good for the city, and good for them. I’m saying that immediately after a 4-0 loss, when your team is already playing awful, going out to party is probably not the best idea. But this “who cares” attitude and losing mentality will continue to happen until there are consequences. That’s my point. There needs to be accountability and consequences in that dressing room, and it starts with the young guys.

    • You are reaching in the extreme.

      Snapshots of Eberle playing the guitar naked? That’s not gossip? There’s no need to go there and there’s no justification for it no matter how you spin it.

      Consequences for substandard on-ice performance come in the form of extra drills, diminished ice time, added video work etc etc.

      Accountability does not involve being ordered to go directly home and cry yourself to sleep to show you care after a lopsided loss or having your personal life away from the rink dissected every which way — especially in the form of comments about playing the guitar naked. Just stop.

      • Bishai in the Benches

        Valid, but I think you’re missing the point. I’m asking the question, where was ferrence to say “hey boys, maybe not tonight”. I probably shouldn’t have included details, but they support my claim that the team doesn’t care. There is a lack of accountability and maturity. There isn’t a way that you can possibly spin it that they are young and “22 year old boys will be 22 year old boy’s”. Someone in that room needs to step up and teach some pride.

        • Spydyr

          I don’t condone gossip or the highlighting of alleged off-ice shenanigans either however….after the loss last night, the team they lost to, the score (or lack thereof)and the general feeling of disillusionment that could be felt around the city last night….maybe different choices could have been made.

    • PlayDirty

      Who cares what they do outside the rink? Stop gossiping. Honestly what does it matter off ice? Dont need to run players out of town because of what they do off ice What they do on ice matters.

  • PlayDirty

    Good column, Robin, as usual. I’m not going to attempt to argue with you, but I am going to attempt to bring some positivity into this discussion. It seems like everyone’s revelling in the Oilers pity-party (or rage-kegger) right now.

    Robin, I agree – the first 14 games of the past seven seasons are an interesting – and depressing – study but I think it’s for a different reason.

    In five of those seven seasons, the Oilers were over .500 and, presumably, somewhere near a playoff spot. Two years ago, they were a glittering 9-3-2. But then, of course, we all know how things finished after that.

    So yeah, you can look at those seven seasons and say, “Well, hey, all of these teams had a better start than this year’s model and all ended up sucking sloughwater. And so shall it be again.”

    Yes, … or you can look it this way: For five of those past seven seasons, the first 14 games didn’t really mean that much. And just as there were other points of misery in the season that sunk the 9-3-2 team two years ago … is the inverse not possible, as well?

    In other words, there’s still room for the Oilers to go on a decent run the rest of the way. There are 68 games left in the season – plenty of games – to make a go of it.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying the Oilers can or will make the playoffs. Furthermore, this team as it stands right now wouldn’t be much more than a minnow (to use a soccer term) in the playoffs, anyway. But they can make a fight of it.

    But if we’re going to go back seven years to look at starts-to-the-season, how about we go back 24 years, just for fun?

    Robin – you’ll remember the fall of 1989 well. It was the season that came after the Oilers blew the 3-1 series lead to the Gretzky-led Kings. Muckler had taken over as coach. The Oilers “narrative,” as generally agreed upon by most in the media at the time, was that they were going to go away quickly and quietly and miserably. The Dynasty was over.

    And, through the first 20 games, they followed the script. The Oilers were 6-9-5, last in the Smythe Division. Fuhr had a wonky shoulde and Ranford was largely unproven. Gretzky pulled ahead of Gordie Howe on the all-time points list … with a game-tying goal in Edmonton the Kings won in overtime. Carson, the centrepiece-return in the Gretzky trade, asked to be traded. The season looked and felt lost. The only bright spot was Messier, who was having his best-ever season.

    I’m not really sure what happened after that – whether it was the CFR-road trip in November that bonded everyone or the Carson trade (for Klima, Graves and Murphy), but the Oilers’ record over their next 20 games that year was 15-3-2. At the halfway point of the season, they were 21-12-7 – second overall in the entire league. We all know what happened after that. Second place in the division, Bill-Ranford-transformation, Stanley-Cup-win, Messier-wins-Hart.

    OK, yes, the 1989-90 season is an extreme example. This team has none of the veteran leadership (or superstars) that the Oilers last Cup team did. And, yes, the league also didn’t hand out points for losing games back then (although they did award points for ties, so … same difference).

    Need a more contemporary example? Consider the 2007-08 season. The Oilers were 11-14-1 through October/November and 16-20-4 through December. For the last four months of the season, they went 25-14-2. That included a glittering 10-4-1 run in March that came right after a Sun Media columnist (no, not TJ) said he’d eat a copy of his newspaper if the Oilers made the playoffs. They ended up finishing ninth and three points out … but, for a few weeks, a lot of naysayers were wondering what kind of wine they should serve with crow.

    The NHL season is a long one. Streaks happen. Trades can turn around teams. Pucks bounce. Players emerge. Things can change.

    The NHL isn’t the National Football League. Every game isn’t huge. Every game isn’t Any Given Sunday. NHL teams still can – and do – take a month of a season off and manage to scramble back to respectability.

    The Oilers can emerge from this funk – probably not all the way to the playoffs, but certainly to something that more significant and promising than the lost year it looks to be right now.

    Hang in there, everyone. Don’t let October grind you down.

  • PlayDirty

    After trashing many for constantly bashing the team, I am nearing my breaking point too but I’m not ready to give up yet. I’ll offer a 50% retraction of my previous vents.

    The thing I cannot stand is watching the guys (Eberle) staring down at the ice when there is anything remotely resembling a scrum in front of the net; avoiding eye contact and hoping no one notices him there. Total chicke$hit that let’s the other team know you’re scared.

    I would love to see some these guys get their a$$es kicked to wake them up. It would be good for them.

  • Ned Braden

    Haven’t posted on here in a long time. I am only a Tier 2 fan so I know I don’t matter much.

    I stopped attending/watching/listening to games at the start of last year. Not to prove a point to Katz or Lowe but for my own sanity. I couldn’t take it anymore.

    I can handle cheering for losing teams (I was a fan through the 90’s) but I cannot cheer for teams that don’t play hard. When it seems that I care more than the players or management, what is the point.

    My advice, quit watching! Your food tastes better, the weather is warmer, life is grand.

    **Still come to Oilersnation. I don’t need Wanye sending secret assassins to my house**

  • Spydyr

    As a guy who can remember seeing the Alberta Oilers playing in the Gardens, this might be as bad as it gets. I fully understand the disappointment and venom. At least believing your team might have a chance at winning is important. Many fans don’t feel the Oil could beat anybody at the NHL level.

    However, as the Space guy mentioned things could turn around. How bad were Columbus last year off the start? If the season had been 50 instead of 48 games they make the playoffs.

    I any event the Katz must fire Lowe to regain some credibility.

  • Spydyr

    Oil put Grebeshkov and Potter on waivers…. Flames will put Jackman on waivers and pick up both…Oilers will claim Jackman off of waivers… also, Simmonds and Hartnell about to become Oilers…. here we go – hang on to your hats Oiler fans… the next 72 hours are going to be quite the ride….hang on… here we go……Dubbie or Labarbera may be next for the waiver wire……….ooohhhhhh woooowwwww…my opinion only…not for sure…

      • Spydyr

        A very interesting lunch conversation with someone near the heart of the oilers- a true blue insider. By the way, I forgot to mentioned that the waiver transaction was also to open up a d spot for Derek Engelland who is about to become an Oiler very shortly – will definitely improve the lack of toughness on the back end. Oh yeah, and MacIntyre is quietly skating and in the very best shape of his life – very lean, mean and almost ready to go – and I mean go! – with anybody, anywhere, anytime!

        • Spydyr

          Must have been a liquid lunch….lol….Oilers have contract issues to bring in that many people as well as cap issues unless they offload a couple of the kids.

          • Spydyr

            I was going to quit blogging cause it makes me crazy when people are rude to the Wonger but….I just wanted to remind all Oiler fans-and nobody loves the Oilers more than the Wonger- that “IN TIMES OF DESPAIR THERE IS THE GREATEST HOPE”( sh!t I just made myself cry). Even if the Oilers finish bottom 5 this year-MAC T will sign more free agents to fill holes. With all the bad luck the Oil have had this year I can see them winning the draft lottery and Connor McDavid. All of a sudden the future is much brighter….Eakins gets more experience and his greatness begins to shine….YOU GET THE PICTURE! RELAX EVERBODY…THE NEXT 10 YEARS WILL BE THE GREATEST 10 YEARS IN OILERS HISTORY!!!!NOW I AM RETIRED!!!!BYE FOREVER!!!! I know Brownlee will miss the Wonger and all of his WISDOM!

  • Puck_In_Throat

    The worst part about this team is that at least in the mid 90s when my dad would take me to games the last 5:00 would have about 10 fights.

    The 2013-2014 cOilers won’t even give us that.

  • You know I have admit I bought and drank the kool-aid. I thought this really was a team that would challenge for a playoff spot. That dream is gone, and reality bites.

    Now, moving on to the reason for my post, and that is drafting the best player available vs drafting for need. I am starting to doubt the validity of drafting the BPA. Let me explain.

    The Oilers used that approach and as a result we have a group of smaller, highly skilled forwards. Now the premise is that you draft the BPA with the intent that they will be the most valuable player from that particular draft.

    Obviously, that value can be used either on the team itself, or used in a trade. The problem is that when you have a poor mix of players like the Oilers do, the team as a whole under-performs, and then generally players as individuals also under-perform as a result. The end result is a substantial reduction the actual value of the player drafted. This negates the entire reason as to why you’d draft the BPA in the first place!

    So, if the Oilers traded Yakupov, they won’t get a return worth what Yakupov’s value truly is, it will certainly be much less. He’d get traded to another team and would inevitably light it up, unless of course he gets traded to another team full of small, skilled forwards…

    It really sucks to be an Oilers fan. I now have a love-hate relationship with them…. I hate to love them.