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.

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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.

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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. 


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.

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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.


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.

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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.

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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.


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.


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.


  • vetinari

    Another SH goal????

    We’ve totally abandoned putting a player directly in front of the opposition’s net and we now go with a wide umbrella formation around the perimeter and when he give up a turnover near the blue line, it’s always an odd man rush back.

    Fix this Eakins…

      • vetinari

        What frustrates me the most is that the old system worked better and Eakins keeps stubbornly ramming this system down our throats. It doesn’t work. Teams pressure the lone defenceman (and I use that term loosely) at the point and there’s always a turnover. Always. Spread out two defenceman who can bomb the puck at the points, bring a centre to obstruct the goalie and have the wingers cycle for position. Why the heck does he keep going back to the wide umbrella???

      • **

        It seems that no matter who’s in point they turn it over. The formation needs to change. The difference between the goal and the stop for Dubnyk was that on the goal he buried himself in the crease and for the second breakaway he was right by the top of crease.

  • 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.

  • 2004Z06

    Having Schultz or Larsen play the point on the pp is always a disaster.
    Neither can shoot, both consistently turn the puck over, and neither can defend after said turnover.

  • I tried it at home

    Just for fun, every once in a while I think about what would happen if the Oilers had actually invited Bryz to training camp at no cost or obligation whatsoever, and had an open competition, and what this season would look like. Then I get really really drunk.

  • Alsker

    And another thing …., someone tell Louie Debozo that a real neat , cutesy nickname for “blue paint ” is…. Crease . Try it, Lou. Viewers will love it .

  • Tikkanese

    Eakins is way over his head in coaching this team, the problem began in preseason they didn’t play the main core so they get chemistry together. Instead they played other young players for auditioning then sent them back to the farm and junior teams. Now the team is struggling to jell together and have chemistry. The lines have no set plays when they in other team zone, they should watch the old tapes of the Gretzky team games and learn their set plays. The drop passes, the no look pass, the dump ins. Each player should know where the puck is going and their linemates are going on offense. On defense the 5 players come back as a unit, forwards cover the open men support their defensemen. When they control the puck in their zone then come back to attack as a unit. Too many individual moves out there, puck carrier don’t look up to see where his team mates are to pass the puck to. They kept turning the puck over and give aways for the other team to score against.


    Guys, STOP DRINKING when you all get liver disease and you have to buy your medication guess where you will buy that medication…. REXALL its totally a conspiracy and Katz business plan. 1. Buy the Oilers 2. Let 6 rings run it into the ground. 3. Watch all the fans start drinking 4. $$$$$$

  • Serious Gord

    Looking further ahead on the schedule the next game against cgy should be a real Waterloo. If the oil lose to the flames surely something needs to happen in the mgmt ranks.

    • Arius Mumin

      Didn’t Calgary win the last one? Look on the positive side Gord, Oiler’s will pick before Calgary at the draft and I’m sure there will be a diminutive offensive player available.

        • reaperfunkss

          We will get to see if Katz kid has been on the Eakins diet and workout program,he should also be at least a foot taller since the Oiler’s first lotto pick.

          • S cottV

            Yeah Rod – that has always bothered me. Like what were those kids doing in the room while team execs pondered the Hall vs Seguin decision in Oil Change? My God – Now boys make sure you don’t text your friends about the decision we just made – ha ha ha. Mickey Mouse Club..

          • D

            I like the way ROY and Sakic did business leading up to the draft. “We’re taking Mackinion that’s it!”

            Oilers have to consult with all the ghosts of Oilers past and Stevie Y before making the decision. They treat it like an episode of the Bachelor. So much drama and spectacle to determine who next they select to screw.

          • Tikkanese

            So you’d rather announce pre-draft your pick? Not having a chance at getting a trade offer you can’t refuse?

            So many possibilities can happen by not announcing your pick pre-draft. Even the team picking 2nd overall may be nervous about who you’re taking and offer something great to swap picks. Not to mention forgoing all the free press coverage hilighting your team and the anticipation, excitement and hype built off of that?

            I like how the Oilers and every other team does it.

    • Alsker

      “Needs to happen” and “will happen” are two completely different things. No way any changes take place as any admittance of guilt/error by mgt ends up coming back to the Lord of the 6 Rings desk. Someday hopefully.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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


    Not trying to make excuses for a pathetic team, but can someone please explain the officiating tonight? I was at the game tonight and Gags’ penalty was CLEARLY announced by the ref as “2 minutes for high sticking” (~thank goodness for their mics so that everyone knows what’s going on~) then suddenly Gags is sent off after the replay on the Jumbotron and the penalty changed to cross checking? Not to mention all the bogus icing calls early in the game? It’s bad enough we have to watch this Mickey Mouse team. I’ve just about had it with this league. I think I’ll start spending my time and money on something else.

  • 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…

  • 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.