The Oilers: Do they have a losing culture?

Do the Oilers have a losing culture?

The NHL is a results driven business, and right now it is impossible to say they don’t.

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The Oilers have been the worst team in the NHL since the beginning of the 2006-2007 season. They have played 640 games during that span and won only 249 games.

They win only 38% of the time. That simply isn’t good enough, no matter how you spin it.

They haven’t made the playoffs in eight years and they are all but guaranteed to miss them for a 9th consecutive season.

What concerns me the most is that the actions and words from everyone associated with the organization suggests things are progressing nicely. 

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I don’t expect a coach to call out his players constantly. The Oilers have played well in some games and lost, but the harsh truth is that they don’t win often enough, and I wonder if losing is becoming acceptable?

Actions speak louder than words and when their words sound like, “We did get the start we wanted. It’s hard to look at anybody in our lineup and fault them,” said Dallas Eakins, but their actions have them sitting 6-10-2 through 18 games, it is obvious the entire organization is to blame.

In professional sports the only statistic that matters is winning, and the Oilers are the worst at what matters most.

The great Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi said,

“Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.”

Nic Saban once said, “To be a good player on your team, you have to affect someone else on the
team. You have to cause them to play better by the way you play.”

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How many Oilers players can look in the mirror and say they’ve done this on a regular basis? Less than five?

What about Craig MacTavish, Kevin Lowe and the scouts? Can they look in the mirror and say they have affected the organization positively?

Lowe hired a GM with no experience, who then hired a head coach with no experience who had to coach a team filled with inexperienced players.

And this season MacTavish elected to give a second-year head coach only two proven NHL centres to start the year with, and he expected the coach to make them competitive. 

Is that cultivating a winning culture? I don’t think so.

“Building a great team is not just about feeding the positive. We must
also weed the negative. Identify it. Confront it. Remove it,”
said best-selling author Jon Gordon.

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Are the Oilers weeding out the negative, or are they simply trying to cover it up?

When players leave town and state the Oilers practices aren’t that intense or fast-paced, then the Oilers should listen to that. Look in the mirror and realize that maybe what they are doing isn’t good enough.

At some point this team needs some controversy.

You never see or hear about a battle drill during Oilers practice that becomes so intense that two players have to be separated. The players work hard, but they only work as hard as their teammates and if none of them are pushing the others to improve, then they feel they are battling and working hard enough.

I don’t put too much stock in post-game comments, especially when they are in a scrum. Players will give stock answers, as most of us would when we are asked to answer a question in front of multiple people. Often you will get a more honest answer in a one-on-one setting.

This season, I’ve heard many players state they felt like they played well. The scary part is that I think they believe it. They are playing just well enough to lose. They aren’t playing awful, but they also aren’t putting in the extra 5% necessary to win games.

To me that is a losing culture.


“Players who take ownership on the field is what all coaches strive for
as they are the ones who make the team successful,
 ” said former Irish rugby player and now coach Bernard Jackman.

This group of players needs to take ownership of the team. Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are the ones who need to demand more from their teammates. It is difficult to stand up and challenge your teammates, but that has to happen.

Maybe it has happened behind the scenes, but if it has, it isn’t working.

The Oilers aren’t winning.

They need to win.

The other statistics are simply white noise at this point.

It is up to the players to strive for more, and at the same time the coaches, scouts and management team need to surround them with better players.

The Oilers are not a good organization right now. If they don’t realize that what they are doing isn’t working then this team will remain a laughing stock in the NHL.

I believe this organization has more to offer, but it only matters what they think.

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  • AlleyDalley

    i echo plenty of the sentiment in these comments but let’s be honest with ourselves. we’ve openly talked like this for a couple years now. with some dissuasion by the rebuild theory. for the most part though fans have been angry for a long time. rightly so. yet i do not believe anything will change. it hasn’t, it won’t. what can we do? what will we do? some good suggestions but i suspect no follow thru. i’m no different, i’ve no time to go and boycott a hockey club. or desire. my apathy has grown strong and my emotional rage, to a situation unlikely to change, has tempered.

    good ideas, one and all, but apathy is inevitable and nice.

    • Proper Perspective : The rebuild was over the day they hired MacT. as the new GM to take us to stage two of rounding out the support personnel to make us more competitive . That led to changes in coaching and strategy as well . MacT. has not done a good job of doing anything but taking us backwards with his moves in personnel , etc.. I do not see MacT. being successful, certainly not by his results on ice so far . MacT. also having no more success than Tams in procuring personnel to move club forward in a positive direction . MacT. is a bust unfortunately .

  • “And this season MacTavish elected to give a second-year head coach only two proven NHL centres to start the year with, and he expected the coach to make them competitive.”

    I get that MacT didn’t get a centreman in the off season, but what were his options? Ribero? His wife wasn’t gonna let him go to a hockey market, that was well known. Jokinen? His best days are behind him, I don’t even think he’s scored a point this year. Legwand? We might have been able to get him but he wanted to go to a competitive team. We’d have to drastically over pay him to even get him to think of coming here. He’s a third liner anyways. Our issue is a 2C.

    This past summer the market had no UFA’s. I don’t see how he “elected” to not improve the team in that aspect. That’s basically saying he chooses to keep the team in ruins…

      • Kr55

        How? Ribero wasn’t coming here no matter what. Just look at Jokinen this year (rip) and Legwand is at the age that he wants to be on a contender. How would any improve our team and how would we have gotten them?

    • bazmagoo

      If Legwand was adamant he wanted to go to a “competitive” team, why did he choose to go to Ottawa? You can read my posts from back then, but that signing was when I realized the Oilers were planning on tanking for another season. Two seasons at $3 million per, hard to believe the Oilers couldn’t have offered more to secure his services. Heck they threw $4.5 million per season at Nikitin, but I doubt even they are incompetent enough to think that Nikitin signing was ever going to pan out.

      The team is tanking on purpose, and has been since the 2009-2010 season. Tambellini was the first lame duck/stooge, Eakins or MacT (or both) is the second round of stoogeness. The only way it makes sense is if Lowe sold Katz on the idea of tanking for 5 years straight in order to get high draft picks/elite players.

      Unfortunately for us we are into season 6, so it could also just be absolute incompetence. D’oh!

      • bazmagoo

        Valid point. But how does Legwand improve our team to the point that overpaying him is worth it? Legwand has 6 points in 17 games. Arcobello has 7 points in 18 games and for arguments sake of you’re worried about size, Draisaitl has 5 points in 18 games. Legwand would not be the upgrade that would change our team. He would come in at an inflated price and fans/media would harp on him for not being the big 2C that some wanted him to be.

        • bazmagoo

          Agreed, but it would have given Leon the chance to develop properly and not burn a year on his entry level deal. Legwand for 2 years at $3.5 – 4 million would have been a competent management decision, imo.

    • bazmagoo

      And yet, as if by magic, other GM’s managed to aquire goalies and centres this summer, they made the tough decisions to dump salaries, make trades etc, odd and remarkable as that seems it’s pretty much what seperates a good GM from a bad one.

  • BlazingSaitls

    We don’t have a leader behind the bench or on the ice. We don’t have an owner that can separate his friends from his business. The fact is, until the management changes, this isn’t going to change. We also allowed all these young potential stars to get used to losing year-after-year by not bringing in a few veterans, who have won the stanley cup, to school them.
    We’re too small, and too fragile…I believe the team should be exploded and start from scratch again. This team will NEVER win a divisional title, let alone a stanley cup…and you can quote me on that.