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 

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I know Yak is learning to play away from the puck, but there certainly appears to be a rift between Nail and Eakins.

    Dallas is turning him into a 4th line mucker.

    • vetinari

      I don’t know if I’ve heard very many of the players publicly support Eakins other than the basic “ra ra, know we need to dig deeper” crap, but I’ve never heard anyone say that they’d go through a wall for him or that he was a great teacher or that he knew what he was doing… at least nothing like I heard them say about Krueger or Renney. I think Yak actually loved playing for Krueger, but he’s not a fan of Eakins and his indirect trade request earlier this season was a sign of that. Yak will be the first of the kiddie 5 to be traded– watch…

  • vetinari

    Let me help the coaching staff with the post game interview. You need to acknowledge the outcome but not hurt the feelings of the players. In fact, acknowledge a few of them in some way, whether their long term play warrants it or not because you may need to build up their trade value.

    “Yeah. Not the outcome that we wanted. We came out flat and were lucky to be up 2-1 when they got that SH goal. We gotta be better. The PP will be the focus of our next few days. Dubnyk played good tonight. Gagner didn’t deserve the game misconduct. We need to move past this loss and look ahead to our next game.”

    Spin-doctoring 101 right there folks…

  • YAKCITY64

    Here’s a question for the stats guys, has pulling the goaltender ever worked for Eakins this year so far? Because I’m almost positive that it has not and that, even worse, it has more or less guaranteed a goal scored against us in almost every instance.

    I only ask because I’m absolutely blown away that he has not quite clued in that his powerplay structure is so poorly implemented that it has lead to a staggering amount of SH goals and quality scoring chances against… and he thinks pulling the goalie for the extra attacker is still a good idea.

    As far as I concerned, the third and fourth goals are entirely on Eakins.

    • vetinari

      Hall scored an empty netter against Calgary. But I totally agree pulling the goalie too early and leaving your elite players out for a 2 minute shift at games end is not innovation, its idiocy.

    • 2004Z06

      No blame for J. Schultz or Devin Dubnyk here?

      So it was Eakins that made that idiotic pass attempt to Hall instead of going the other way to the open man?

      Really now?

  • 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.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I haven’t bothered to look this up but I believe over the past five games the oilers power play has been outscored by the opposition penalty kill. What does this say about how this team is being managed?

  • Leon Nugent McEberle

    Why do we need to ask Sakic about losing?? We’ve got that figured out already. If only there was someone around that knew something about winning…

    Hmmmm…there must be someone.

    Anyone, anyone??

  • Zarny

    @AdamfromOilfans

    You seem to have missed the infamous “six rings” presser.

    Team management did tell the players they are expected to win with what they have.

    When half your roster are borderline NHL players at best 11-22-3 is what that gets you.

  • **

    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

  • S cottV

    I don’t know – it’s not looking good for Eakins. Don’t like the body language and lack of response to things going on. Just a dead@ss stare. Do something – a battle cry, lead a cheer, throw a water bottle – anything to show some fight. He doesn’t have the street cred in this league to try looking cool and collected under fire – with no response other than a blank stare. Motivate your guys Dallas – show your humanity – even your vulnerability. Give them something to rally around and maybe they will try to save your @ss.

  • Bryzarro World

    Feels good to be separated from the oil love affair.

    I feel sorry for the fools hanging onto their tickets just to see the new arena. Not worth it now and won’t be worth it then.

    With the lack of accountability this franchise has I can no longer cheer for them. Katz suckin klowe off and viseversa is getting tiresome and are we really going to believe the crap they spew on their own site? Tired of it all.

    I got more to bitch about but i got the flu so I’m popping a few pills and will crash until the Oilers finish embarrassing themselves yet again.

    Why did we fire Renny again?

  • Spydyr

    I see a lot of teams on that list that are perennial doormats.
    The Oilers are as far away from winning a Cup as they’ve ever been.
    What’s it like to pay a few thousand bucks a year on the hope that some over-rated 18-yr-old Dman will be the next Jeebus?

  • Dubnyk in, sam gagner still playing on 1st or 2nd line? was gonna leave work early today and suffer the wrath of the boss (Flames Fan) but whats the point? I have had a standing bet for $10.00 per game oilers/flames and eskimos/stamps.That has made me too broke to go the pub anyway.

  • Zarny

    Instant path to success? Don’t see there being a lot of success for most of the guys on your list there.

    Columbus never won a playoff game during Nash’s time there. He eventually demanded a trade. Atlanta was likewise blanked with Kovalchuk, who declined to re-sign there at the first opportunity to get out (and fellow high pick and star Heatley asked for a trade out too). The Islanders have been almost as bad as the Oilers over the past decade and seem doomed to finish well back again this year.

    Tampa is the only success story there with Lecavalier and that required a house cleaning at the top of that organization, a second round pick turning in to a star in Brad Richards, a brilliant trade for Dan Boyle, an almost unnoticed free agent signing becoming a dominant player in Marty St. Louis, and a big trade for a goaltender. That didn’t even keep them good for long, as they languished back to the point where they could draft Stamkos first overall. He hasn’t seen a lot of post-season success in his career yet, and eventually age is likely to overtake St. Louis which will hurt the franchise again.

    As for Lemieux, it’s ridiculous to put him up as a comparable. The guy is one of the top five to ever play the game.

    With Sakic, you neglected to mention the big item that changed the team’s fortunes ahead of the 92-93 season. It’s unlikely that the Oilers are going to be able to trade anyone on their roster for to six NHL players including a future Hall of Famer.

    This will be the eighth year out of the playoffs for the Oilers. The team has a legitimate shot at tying or breaking the Panthers’ futility streak of 10 straight seasons. Even if the players don’t get too sick of losing, do the fans have the stomach for much more of it?

    It’s not enough to just say “they don’t have the pieces.” Team management needs to start telling them that they are expected to win with what they have. Trades will come later when we can supplement a winning team. As it is now, there’s no player or two in the league who are going to come in and turn things around on their own. The team believes what you’re saying…they are fine believing they aren’t expected to compete yet, and so they’re waiting for MacTavish to bring in more stars. That may never happen (trades are hard, trades for stars are almost impossible and stars don’t choose perennially bad teams to join when they’re UFA), so until the team starts taking it on themselves to better the team, we’re in for a dark, dark time here in Edmonton.

    And if that time lasts too long, then you will see the team bleed away good players who will have relieved looks on their faces as they leave town.

    • Jason Gregor

      You seemed to miss the point of the article. The point was that people saying the kids will ask to be traded because of losing is incredibly premature.

      Many others players lost a lot early in their career and stayed on their teams…

      There was no mention of a correlation to them sucking it up to winning the Cup. I pointed out Tampa only because they won despite some bad trades of high picks. Only 1 team wins every year, the odds the Oilers win is very low even when they become competitive.

      Where did I say the current direction of the team was fine?

      I said Hall should strive to be the star. I said he should ensure he produces even when the team loses just like Sakic did on brutal teams.

      • Puck_In_Throat

        What is the point if not to at least contend for the Cup? Nash and Kovalchuk DID get sick of the losing and moved on. Their teams are still perpetual losers.

        Yes, losing might not push players to abandon ship, but A) it doesn’t help with retention when they do have options and B) it badly hurts a team’s ability to acquire top end talent in the free agent market.

        If we need different pieces around the young core, and we can’t attract those players, then we’re quite possibly on the Atlanta/Columbus model of rebuild – the never-ending ty. It’s already clear that we’re not following the Chicago or Pittsburgh models any more.

        As for getting sick of the losing, I don’t know if the players are there yet, but I am. It’s been eight years without a single playoff game. How many more does it have to be? I don’t care if we keep these guys if it means we turn in to Columbus. What would that matter if we never are competitive? Long odds or not, we need to be Cup contenders, or there’s just no point to the whole exercise. Oilers fans have been incredibly patient – but they’ve been promised a light at the end of the tunnel and that’s not just keeping young guys from demanding a trade.

  • 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.

  • reaperfunkss

    Guys you are starting to get me worried with all the boozing. Think of your livers. I propose a potential class action lawsuit against Rexall, Katz, Lowe and Pronger for the damage to our brain thingers and liverses. We should seek out damages (save your reciepts) in money spent on beer and alcohol (weed as well?) and about 350 mill for arena costs.

    Wonder what meth is like? heard lots about it

  • Blood Orange

    Yikes,

    31 points in a season and they still had a 100 pt player in Sakic.

    I know there was a lot higher scoring back then but jeez. He was still 10th in the league in scoring.

  • **

    Gagner not only back in, but back in the second line after his poor play and that specially horrific game. I have no more good expectations for this team. It is painfully obvious there is something extremely rotten in the vowels of the Oilers organization.

    Arcobello is hurt, ok,make Smyth center the fourth line and bump Gordon tot he second and Lander tot he third. The season is lost. There should be an effort to demand accountability and changing the losing culture.

  • reaperfunkss

    Awesome Shultz pass. Excellent tracking of the puck for the save. I know not dubies fault but here he can steal one and doesnt. Time to sign Shultz to a 6 mill a year deal now.

    6rings and counting

  • I agree the Nords were brutal. I remember it well. Can’t believe it was 1990 that Stasny was traded. The loser point completely changed things. How many of the Nords losses were in OT? How many of the games that were a tie would the Nords have won in a shootou(they had some skill guys that would have done well)?

    It may have changed the way they played in OT. Just different. Look at the league standings and I think that gives a better indicator. Aside from the season where QC got like thirty points the Oilers have been as brutal IMO.

    Personally, I feel they should have gotten rid of the loser point when they brought in the shootout.

  • A-Mc

    My faith in Dubnyk hangs by a thread. If he lets in another weak one from the blue line, i think that thread will snap. I already believe that Bryz is a better goalie. Duby is basically fighting for a backup spot these days IMO.

  • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.