GDB 37.0: ASK SAKIC?

As the Oilers get set to face the Colorado Avalanche trying to end a four game losing streak, Taylor Hall and company can take solace in knowing that some other young stars endured many years of losing, before tasting the sweet nectar of victory.

They should ask Joe Sakic, the Avalanche’s Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations, about losing. He lost way more than these kids have early in his career, and it didn’t break him, and he didn’t pout about it. He persevered and became a Hall of Famer.

Hall has played 200 games, Eberle has been in 231 games, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has dressed in 136, while Nail Yakupov is at 82 games and Justin Schultz has played 76. No one should be suggesting that all the losing is going to wear down these kids. I don’t believe any of them are that fragile, but even if they thought about having a pity party, they should do a quick search of Joe Sakic’s career.

Sakic was drafted 15th overall in 1987 by the Quebec Nordiques. He played one more season in Swift Current before debuting with the Nordiques in October of 1988. Keep in mind that in his first three seasons he played in a 21-team league where 16 teams made the playoffs.

In Sakic’s first three seasons, the Nordiques finished dead last every year. The Nordiques drafted 1st, 1st, 1st and 4th in his first four NHL seasons.

1989: They went 27-46-7 for 61 points.
1990: They were 12-61-7 for 31 points.
1991: They went 16-50-14 for 46 points.
1992: They went 20-28-12 for 52 points.

In 1993, they were literally twice as good picking up 104 points going 47-27-10, but in 1994 Sakic and the Nordiques dipped back down to 76 points with a 34-42-8 record.

In his first four seasons, Sakic’s Nordiques won a measly 75 of the 320 games they played. Sakic dressed in 299 of those games, and he learned much more about losing than he did winning.

Despite all the losses Sakic played exceptionally well.

YEAR       GP      G       A      PTS
1989        70      23     39      62 
1990        80      39     63     102
1991        80      48     61     109
1992        69      29     65      94

In 1990, the second leading scorer on the Nordiques was Peter Stastny with 62 points in 62 games before being traded. In 1991, Sakic had 50 more points than his closest teammate; Mats Sundin tallied 59 points.

Sakic didn’t let the losing get to him. He kept battling and kept producing. 

WINNERS KEEP WORKING DESPITE LOSING  

Hall played his 200th game on Tuesday, and despite another loss, Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins haven’t come close to experiencing the type of losing that Sakic had to face.

Hall’s Oilers have played 248 games since he entered the league and they’ve won 87 of those. Sakic’s team won 75 of 320 during his first four seasons. Losing sucks and I’m sure it can wear down a player, but if Hall wants to become one of the greats he needs to keep playing hard, and hope that eventually he will be surrounded by better players. He needs to continue to show determination and play strong, and like Sakic, at times he will need to carry the Oilers on his back.

Hall was the Oilers most dangerous forward in LA. He needs to keep playing like that, regardless of where the Oilers are in the standings or how often they are losing. Hall has the ability to be a franchise player, and considering how much he has improved in his last 100 games, I suspect he’ll only keep getting better.

I’ve heard some people suggesting the kids will get tired of losing and want out of Edmonton, but competitive people don’t think like that. There will be games where they look frustrated, and understandably so, but many elite players have started their NHL careers tasting defeat more often than victory, and the last thing that Hall or any of his teammates will do is feel sorry for themselves.

They need to be part of the solution, and when they start to win the victories will be more fulfilling because of what they learned in their first few seasons.

MORE TOUGH STARTS…

Mario Lemieux missed the playoffs in his first four seasons, and five of his first six. The Penguins drafted 2nd, 4th, 5th and 4th in his first four years.

Steven Stamkos has missed the playoffs four of his first five seasons. The Bolts have drafted 2nd, 6th, 10th and 3rd during those four losing seasons.

John Tavares has missed the playoffs three of his first four years, and the Islanders are poised to miss the postseason again. They have drafted 4th, 5th and 5th thus far in his non-playoff seasons.

Rick Nash played five full seasons without the playoffs, and he missed the dance in 8 of his first 9 years.

Ilya Kovalchuk missed the postseason his first four years and seven of his first eight seasons.

Vincent Lecavalier missed the playoffs his first four seasons. The Bolts were scheduled to pick 1st, 5th, 3rd and 4th in those years.

**Sidenote**.. Rick Dudley was the GM for Tampa Bay in 1999 and he traded the 1st overall pick. He moved down to 4th, and then traded again and didn’t pick until 47th. He ended up with Dan Cloutier, Andrei Zyuzin, Shawn Burr and the Rangers 1st round pick in 2000. He could have used the first pick on Patrik Stefan or one of the Sedins, although those two had made it known they really wanted to play together.

The next year, Dudley traded the 5th pick to the Islanders for Kevin Weekes, Kristian Kurdroc and the 31st pick. The Islanders selected Raffi Torres. Despite these horrific deals, the Lightning still won the Cup in 2004. ***

Losing stinks but Hall and company aren’t the first group of young stars to endure losing seasons, so let’s stop the suggestions that they will want out of Edmonton. Anyone in the media or fan base who suggests these kids have endured too much losing need only look at the career paths of other young stars. Rarely is it an instant path to success.

Winning is difficult and as painful as these past few seasons have been for Hall and company, they need to learn from it, and be willing to ensure they improve their play so the team becomes more successful. Hall is good enough to lead this team to better times ahead, and he’ll likely inspire his teammates to follow him in the coming seasons.

LINEUP…

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Perron-Gagner-Yakupov
Smyth-Gordon-Hemsky
Jones-Lander-Gazdic

Ference-Petry
N.Schultz-J.Schultz
Belov-Larsen

Dubnyk

Arcobello got rocked by Drew Doughty in the 3rd period of Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the Kings, and hasn’t skated since. Lander will draw in for Arcobello. 

The Oilers will need to get scoring chances from someone other than Hall tonight. The Avalanche are 6-5-1 in their last 12, and after a 16-5 start they are starting to look more like the team people expected. They aren’t a force like the Kings, Bruins or Ducks, but they will provide another solid test for the Oilers.

Dubnyk gets the start. I’m not one who buys into the "Dubnyk plays better when pushed" theory; however, it is obvious that Dubnyk needs to be more consistent.  I want a goalie who plays well regardless of who he shares the net with.

WHAT SEE YOU?

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers will end their trip on a high, with a 4-2 victory in Denver.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Bordeleau and Gazdic drop the gloves. Fight fans love it, while anti-fight crowd will complain. This will never change.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Usually it is former Oilers scoring against Edmonton, but tonight Ryan Smyth bucks that trend and scores against his former team ending his 10-game goal scoring drought. In 16 home games, Erik Johnson has only been a minus player twice, but he ends up -1 tonight.

DAY 15 MONTH OF GIVING…

Yesterday we raised another $3,850 bringing our total to $58,700. Incredible. Thank you.

Today’s packages include:

Package #1:

Today’s package is courtesy of The Maximum Fighting Championship:

  • Two season tickets to all three MFC shows in Edmonton in 2014, starting January 17th.
  • VIP dinner for two at the Shaw conference centre prior to each show.
  • Be a cornerman during one of the fights… **You must be 16 years of age or older***

Package #2:

  • $1,000 gift certificate/store credit at Reside Furnishings
  • Pair of club seats (section 112 row 14) for Oilers vs. Penguins on January 10th.
  • $50 bucks in Oilers money to use at the game for beer or food.

You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or 1.800.243.1945 between 2-6 p.m. today.

Thanks in advance. All proceeds will go to the Christmas Bureau.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

  • **

    that was such a bs call on Gagner. Both he and Statsny lumbered each other. If anything take both guys out for 2 minutes. Can’t beat the Oilers playing hockey, let’s act like a bunch of princesses and get man advantage. Pu$$ies.

  • Johnnydapunk

    Hall getting an unsportsmanlike was a bit Pete Tong, and Eakins looks like he is ready to snap! Let the board rattling and water bottle tossing begin!!

  • Serious Gord

    Hall’s Oilers have played 248 games since he entered the league and they’ve won 87 of those. Sakic’s team won 75 of 320 during his first four seasons.

    That’s actually not a HUGE difference. About 12% more wins for Hall, but is that really a lot?

  • bazmagoo

    One of the young guns demanding a trade is definitely my greatest fear as a long struggling Oilers fan, so this article was a great read. Still think the mix of the team needs to be addressed, hopefully we can unload Gagner at some stage and not wait for his next 8 point game. He’s been absolutely brutal this year.

    Still hoping we can turn the corner sooner rather than later!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Dubnyk tonight, good. 90% chance they lose with Devin in goal.

    Every time they start Bryzgalov, i fear he’ll win the game on his own. Good thing the Oil have been shut out 2 of his last 3 starts.

    5-3 Colorada. Can just gift wrap Hemsky and send him to the Sabres?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Im sitting here watching the Leafs Coyotes game and I find myself thinking if only Yak could commit and play a 200′ game like an EAKINS TAUGHT Kadri.

    That would be sweetness

  • Jason Gregor

    I don’t think that Hall or Eberle or any of the kids got to this level by being fragile or quitting when the going gets tough. That said, players now can become free agents at a younger age so I think it’s important that the winning starts sooner than later.

    As for tonight, the Avs will come out much better tonight. I’ll say 4-3 Oilers.

  • Mikey

    @jasongregor

    “**Sidenote**.. Rick Dudley was the GM for Tampa Bay in 1999 and he traded the 1st overall pick. He moved down to 4th, and then traded again and didn’t pick until 47th. He ended up with Dan Cloutier, Andrei Zyuzin, Shawn Burr and the Rangers 1st round pick in 2000. He could have used the first pick on Patrik Stefan or one of the Sedins, although those two had made it known they really wanted to play together.

    The next year, Dudley traded the 5th pick to the Islanders for Kevin Weekes, Kristian Kurdroc and the 31st pick. The Islanders selected Raffi Torres. Despite these horrific deals, the Lightning still won the Cup in 2004. ***”

    the last 8 words. you mentioned winning the cup.

  • Serious Gord

    1. Re: the young starlings

    It has been and remains my opinion that there could be as many as 4 HHOF quality players on this roster, and like many before them they struggle or at least their teams struggle in their early years.

    But the sakic/colorado scenario is more the exception rather than the rule.

    All too often these player never get the supporting cast they need to become true contenders for – and in some cases winners of the Stanley cup.

    And that latter – more common scenario is what seems to be developing here in EDM. And it is what i think is at the root of much of oilersnation frustration. To wit: it looks like supporting calvary/cast (mixed metaphor – actually chimeric metaphor – sorry) of defence, fierceness and goaltending will arrive too late and these stars will have moved elsewhere, been traded to make cap room, or developed very poor habits due to lousy coaching and a lack of veteran mentoring (not all stars are born top percentile leaders like Sakic was).

    2. The game tonight has ominous notes going in:

    Dubnyk in net is inexcusable. HE has had his chance and should not start unless there is an injury or a bac-to-back. But just as MAct couldnt bear trading Gagner to fill a need but rather signed him to a ridiculous contract he now can’t admit defeat with starting the season with DD and yet again throws him into the breach. (i have no doubt that MAct Insisted on DD being played). And that he IS playing is a microcosm of what is wrong with this team’s management.

    Colorado i bet has had this date marked on the calendar since they got shellacked by the oil two weeks ago…

    That said the avs have been struggling and may not respond as well as they may hope to.

    AVs win – 4-3 DD lets in two very weak ones…

    • D

      Serious Gord,

      Enjoy reading your comments and also hearing them on the radio. My hope is that Dubnyk is starting because the Oil are trying to showcase him to move him to . . . anywhere.

      If that’s not the case, then Dubnyk playing tonight (or any night where Bryz or BTO are available) is mismanagement to the core.

    • vetinari

      Live, I thought that Gags was totally in the wrong but it the replay, you could see that he got high sticked in the jaw first… I would have likely done the same thing too to Statsny… I hate to say it, it leaves us one centre short but after how he’s recently been playing, sitting out the rest of the game may not necessarily be a bad thing.

  • Rocket

    OK The Avalanche completely dominated the first period. Physically, pace-of-play, puck possession etc. but The Oilers were winning so I thought that was cool.

    But those two late calls against The Oilers were bogus and now Oiler players are not sure what the refs are gonna call. WTF!

  • Spydyr

    I wonder why there are so few trades nowadays.There are a few teams that suck just like the oilers,Buf,Philly.etc.but no one trades anymore,they cant be waiting for help from the draft,if they are that will be a long wait.

  • Johnnydapunk

    Really useless fact but I have the same model of gloves that Sakic has except I got the long cuff version (proper old school) They were a bastard to break in but once they did, butter soft and comfortable :-)))

    But the thing with the Avs is they built around goaltending and having a pretty decent core of players and the missing piece was Roy, which if the Avs never moved from Quebec, would have never happened as I could only imagine the craziness if Montreal and Quebec traded players.

    I still think the Oil need to build from the back up, it’s not the freewheeling 80s high scoring anymore and until they get that sorted, I don’t think the maintenance men at the Rexall Coliseum will have to worry about finding space for banners anytime soon.

    Man the Nords were one of the team I kindof liked as a kid, the Stastny brothers, Mario Gosselin, Michel Goulet, the blue dasher boards of the Le Colisee, oh happy days …..

    As for predictions, if the Avs score early, lights out, if the Oil can put a few by, then we will end the night happy. I just don’t trust Dubnyk after he lets in a goal as that’s usually followed by many more.

  • PutzStew

    Hey Jason.

    Why don’t you mention the turn of round of the Nordiques and Penguins also coincide with the arrival of Pierre Page and Craig Fitzpatrick as GM’s?

    So here a few question for you Jason.

    Let say Katz’s plane crashes and leaves you the Oilers in his Will, Do you keep the current management as it is? What do you change, if you do decide to make changes? Why don’t you make changes if you don’t think changes need to be made.

    Honestly I think you are to scare of the wrath of Klowe and Co so you blow off my questions.

  • Johnnydapunk

    So that’s what happens when you hit Gags in the face, fair play.

    The call as much as it annoys me, is not terribly wrong wrong as he did cross check him in the throat/face. I would have thought that a double minor would have been suitable as he did seem concerned right after that happened. I also know that “sympathy” is not a big deal, but most times when a player does something violent, they aren’t checking up on them, seemingly trying to stop play.

    I don’t know what you would call what Stastny did as it wasn’t really high sticking, and if you are all technical about what a cross check is, it’s not that either, but it is something, maybe hooking ?

    Maybe Gags should be getting a bar or two between that open space that he has between his visor and half itech shield thing.

    Hopefully they can kill the rest of it and perhaps some on the fly line rotation could be good.

    They got the first goal out of the way, and that usually means they can at least beat Varlamov, so fingers crossed, the result could be positive.