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 

  • it’s a bit much to pin the oilers playoff futility from 2007 – 2011 on Hall, Eberle, RNH & Yakupov. Maybe Hall was expected to drag edmonton into the playoffs by 2011. I guess he never got that message. I’d like to give him at least 5 years before we declare him a bust. Maybe by this time next season, some team in the NHL has decided they can’t afford their #1 Defenseman anymore, or there’s some kind of trade to be made to balance the mix out in edmonton…until then, just watch the process evolve. or…just keep whining that you haven’t get the winning team you expect,a nd see if it accomplishes anything for you other than giving stomach ulcers and headaches.

  • 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.

  • **

    WHAT REALLY PISSES ME OFF! What really pisses me off is how this coach and Mac T are going to get a free pass all in the name of continuity. We had a coach in Kruger, and it was Mac T’s decision to replace him, so if the new coach is not better than the previous, then why should they not be held accountable. The media and management will try to defend Mac T and Eakins as hard as they can but the truth is…… WHO GIVES A RATS ASS ABOUT CONTINUITY. I WANT TO SEE WINS. YOU CAN SIT BACK AND WAIT FOR A COACH TO START WINNING AND YOU MAY WAIT FOREVER BUT GOD DAMN IT, YOU BETTER DO SOMETHING. HOW MANY YEARS WILL WE HAVE TO WAIT AND GIVE EAKINS AND MAC T THE BENEFIT OF DOUBT??? What a load of BS!!!

    • Zarny

      Good grief.

      Krueger coached this team to 24th place; not 4th.

      Fans seem to forget about the 10 game losing streak last year. Krueger’s coaching excellence included doing nothing during a 10 game slide.

      MacT wasn’t even with the franchise last year. He’s a GM not God and half the roster needs to be turned over. Are you really daft enough to think that was going to happen by Christmas?

      • Arius Mumin

        Actually, MacTavish WAS involved in the organization last year, with a hand in the decision making. Krueger said that MacTavish was part of his interview process before he was given the head coaching position.

        As for Lowe telling them the time was now to win, that was last spring in a press conference where MacTavish promised to change over a third of the roster to make the team competitive – He did just that over the summer – Ference, Gordon, Perron, Joensuu, Acton, Gazdic, Belov, Larsen, Grebeshkov, LaBarbera and Bryzgalov weren’t part of the team last April and Arcobello had played all of one game with the NHL squad. You talk about half the roster being turned over? Well, it already happened. Are we shuffling all those guys out and just bringing in the next shift?

        This year, MacTavish has said in more than one interview that his team doesn’t have the right mix. Regardless of whether or not he believes that to be true, it’s foolish to say so, because he has given his team an excuse for losing. How do you come down on them after they post yet another terrible year if you’ve said specifically that they aren’t built to compete? Not to mention, the pieces that MacTavish has identified as the missing links are among the hardest things for a hockey team to acquire. He’s saying they need a top pairing defenceman and a big body, productive forward for the top six. Either of those are big asks, so suggesting that your team can’t compete until they’re in place? Well, it isn’t exactly pushing the team to be the best it can be.

        The team needs to be challenged to be better. It just hasn’t happened, especially with regards to that inner circle.

      • **

        Sorry (not really) to correct you, but Mac Tavish has been with the Franchise since at least june 11, 2012 when he was hired to be part of hockey operation by the Oilers. Also, Mac Tavish did turn over 40% of the roster in the summer. He just failed to get all the pieces the team needed.

      • reaperfunkss

        Mact was brought back June 11 2012 as VP hockey operations. Almost every media member in this town at the time said he was going to be the next gm He was credited by the sportsnet sycophants for being decisive for bringing in J. Schultz and helping hire Krueger as Head Coach. no pass for MacT on this one. Good try tho

  • Spiel

    Notice that the Nords/Avs two best players Sakic and Forsberg were not their first overall picks. 1st overall does not necessarily mean best player.

    In fact, I don’t think any of their first overall picks were on the team when they won the Stanley Cup as the Colorado Avalanche.

    Maybe Hall is more Mats Sundin or Owen Nolan than Joe Sakic. First overall picks who played in a Canadian market and never went past the conference finals…

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    I was always of the opinion that 2 wrongs do not make a right!!! But if we traded Dubnyk & Gagner for absolutely nothing in return, could that make it right? Goals against would be better.

  • smiliegirl15

    If the Oilers were to deal one of their prized kids, it’s an easy answer today to say that the Oil should keep Taylor Hall over Nail Yakupov. But, I think if you dig deeper, this is actually a tough decision. Yak’s age-relative stats, with the exception of this year, are superior to Hall’s. I’ve also noticed Yak winning pucks a few more battles along the boards and beating his checks off the wall a lot more as of late. I think he will be an excellent producer off of the cycle very soon.

    I just wonder if we do trade Yak, in a few years we might be saying, wow, maybe we should have dealt Hall and kept Yak.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    I think the fan-fretting over the kids is worth putting in context like this…

    i.e., most of the time teams acquire top 5 picks because they are terrible and it takes a lot more than fresh-faced top 5 picks to drag a terrible team to the promised land.

    BUT… the concern isn’t exactly without merit.

    Sakic did his serious damage as an AV. I doubt Nords fans take much solace in that.

    Nash is a NYR. Columbus got to see many of his prime years go to waste and now won’t get to see him do anything as their guy.

    The Isles showed some signs in the lockout but can’t buy wins in the useless East and Tavares, stud that he is, isn’t winning right now when he’s in his age of flourishing.

    These are, basically, the concerns.

    That a team will finally be ready to contend but only after missing out on prime years from their kids (and prime contract bargaining position).

    Or, that a player will finally be on a team ready to contend, but a team other than yours.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      And the Nux held the Sardine Tins through their growing period and reaped the rewards. They took a LOT of flack from their ‘fans’ who are now happy, but still classless.

  • S cottV

    As compared to Sakic’s day, top end young players – feel much more entitled and are less likely to suck it up for any great length of time. Not a criticism – just changes in society between now and then.

    No question that Hall would be lights out right now, had he gone number 2 and presently on the Bruins first line with veteran compliments and Chara pushing everthing up ice.

    Clearly he has to suck it up, while RNH matures and the Oilers are able to acquire the right mix around these guys. Dont think that Hall has embraced this to the extent that is necessary. You see traces of entitlement in his game and in his demeanor. He should develop his 200 ft game and show more self sacrifice for the good of the team. Comes down to leading better.

    It would be easier for Hall to suck it up if the organization was clearly doing its part. Hall must be concerned and this probably makes it harder for him to check his entitlement at the door.

    This is the price that Katz pays for less than stellar organizational leadership. When Katz doesn’t lead, it is difficult to foster leadership thoughout the organization, including – amongst the player group and specific to team captains, including Hall.

    What was a brief period where hockey pundits were predicting a can’t miss Oiler resurgence with 3 first overall picks, is giving way to – this doesn’t look good and may not happen at all.

    So – the Oilers better get it going or today’s tendencies toward entitlement will surely gain more and more traction, with Hall and others.

    Only way out of this is strong leadership and doing the right things – top to bottom.

  • D

    The Detroit argument is full of holes. They bought their way out of mediocrity. Pre salary cap they were one of the highest spending teams.

    The Nordiques did not have the same option as the Red Wings or the Pens. They were saddled with a 66 cent dollar and a tax structure that in Quebec that ultimately led to their sale to Denver.

    The Canadians and Leafs even at 66cents on the dollar were well heeled due to TV and advertising revenue.

    The Oilers sold their best players because they could not compete in the pre salary cap era. After PUCK sold Wayne the teams dissolution was assured. It was inevitable. Once the players saw the money that was being thrown at marginal players the Oilers were done. They could not compete financially because PUCK was insolvent and bleeding red from his other interests. Its was only a matter of time before he sold the team. The EIG could not compete also. Thus the flaccid 90’s occurred.

    My point is that the QNordiques could have been very successful if they were able to compete on the same playing field as teams are required to do today. thus the push for a team back in QC. 7 teams in Canada produce near 54% of the HRR.
    The QN traded players partly due to money. And partly due to inability to sign Lindro’s.

    The Oilers need better compete from their current players.I hear all the naysayers. I agree we need to get bigger on the back end. We need to find a couple of bigger/heavier forwards. But what I do not hear is which of the other 29 other GM’s is going to provide us with the players we need without gutting the current core of our team.

    No pain. No gain. I hate losing. But what I hate more is the thought that trading an Eberle for a coke machine is going to bring us a CUP.

    A naïve view.

    We need to let the guy steering the ship some time to get this Titanic out of the way of the iceberg. MacT has been on the job less than 10 months.
    Its Christmas. Feel free to pray for a miracle. Feel free to rant. Chant Fire Klowe. Scream foul. Give up your season tickets. Boycott the games. Do whatever. It will not get any less painful.

    Remember this when you look at those Nordique stats. They no longer have a team to complain about in the dead of December. We do. Just sayin.

      • D

        How does your statement make his argument null and void? The fact that Colorado was a huge spender pre Cap, and was able to compete on the same playing field as the elite teams of the day bolsters his argument that Quebec could have been successful ceteris paribus.

    • Arius Mumin

      Best post in days. (Not that I read ’em all). Best post because I agree with it, and because Michael is Bang on: the Oilers play stupid and don’t fight hard enough. Ask David Perron if size matters. Props, mike.

  • 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.

  • Jason Gregor

    Dubnyk is between the pipes. Gagner is on the second line. Eakins is the class clown. Battle of the rookie coaches and we tank even further. Looking for some hope. #Unfrickenreal

  • 2004Z06

    Any past team comparable that kept a guy like Lowe in a high up position during the entire streak of futility that we can look at to give us hope? I can’t think of one… It’s very possible the Oilers will break the 10 season playoff drought record with Lowe at the helm the entire time and beyond.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • Spydyr

    Do you think the Oilers will score a goal tonight? With DD in goal I expect at least 2 softies. This team couldn’t even make it to Christmas This could be the worst Oiler team OF ALL TIME. My wife believes all katz owns this team for is to get a tax break. I am starting to believe this to be true. Lowe Smith Bucky must go. Can santa claus make this happen. The hockey gods can be very cruel.The losing culture is getting deeper and deeper.Wake up Daryl

  • 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.

  • 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

    • 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.