It’s bad enough fans of the Edmonton Oilers have been subjected to yet another season of futility and frustration by the team they choose to cheer for. It’s worse still that the people charged with running the franchise (into the ground) continue to make mind-boggling comments and decisions.
Losers of six straight as they head into Dallas, where they historically get their teeth kicked down their throats, at 6-13-2 as they stagger past the quarter-pole of a ninth straight season in which they’ll miss the playoffs, the Oilers aren’t offering their faithful much reason to believe anything will change anytime soon.
Granted, I’ve never claimed to be the sharpest knife in the drawer and advancing age is further dulling my intellect, but I find myself scratching my head so often these days over Daryl Katz’s sad sack outfit that the few tufts of hair I still have are getting scarce, indeed. How about you?
So many things I don’t understand . . .
I DON’T GET IT
- Booed off the ice after having their backsides boot-buffed by the Chicago Blackhawks in a 7-1 rout, the Oilers respond by firing goaltending coach Fredric Chabot and bring in rookie stopper coach Dustin Schwartz. What line of thinking, pray tell, made Chabot the right guy to stick with over the summer when there were other options available and the fall guy 21 games into the season?
- Here’s another kick in the ribs for a dead horse: how does it make more sense for GM Craig MacTavish to be looking for a real NHL centre now – and maybe offering up Jordan Eberle to get one – when it was obvious to everybody with a functioning brain stem he needed one this off-season? You think teams overpay for free agents during the off-season? Wait until MacTavish gets the tab from his peers with the Oilers full-on in the crapper and desperate to make a move.
- Rookie Leon Draisaitl gets dumped into the boards from behind by Chicago’s Michal Roszival and nobody does anything except stare at the ice and count the pretty girls in the front row. Coach Dallas Eakins defends the non-action by saying: “I think our guys know when to stand up for each other. It’s a delicate balance in the game. Sometimes it’s somebody coming to your defence, and sometimes you’ve got to look after yourself as well.” It was 6-0 for Chicago. Draisaitl is 19, a boy in a men’s league. What delicate balance? Might as well just tape a sign to the back of every Oiler jersey that reads: “Push Us Around.”
- Why do the Oilers feel the need to act as the Jobs-R-Us of the NHL when it comes to hiring? POHO Kevin Lowe brings back MacTavish, who’d never spent a day in his life as an NHL GM, and hands him the position after a few months as an understudy. MacTavish runs off Ralph Krueger in favor of Eakins, who’d never been an NHL bench boss and brings in Bill Scott for his first NHL stint as an assistant GM. Eakins finally rids the team of Steve Smith and Kelly Buchberger and hires Rocky Thompson as an assistant. Now, Schwartz. How can one reasonably expect success when so many people in key positions are doing their jobs with training wheels on?
THE WAY I SEE IT
Fans and media types have been batting all the above around here and elsewhere as the Oilers lose and lose and lose some more — yet again. Is it any surprise frustration bubbled over after the Blackhawks rolled into town and ran their show? Can management really be so inept, so dysfunctional or so detached from reality they believe they’re doing things right, making progress? I cannot fathom that.
In building the roster, MacTavish and Eakins knew they were thin at centre and said so going into the season. They chose to roll the dice. Now, MacTavish will have to overpay to remedy a weakness that was obvious months ago. I can only imagine how Many GMs are clamoring to help the Oilers in their time of need. How could they bungle it so badly? On and on it goes.
Now, it appears Eakins is desperately trying to hang onto a room that may have already been lost. He refuses to call his players out, at least publicly, for their lack of execution, passion and willingness to play for each other, as in the Draisaitl case. “Take care of it yourself, kid. The situation wasn’t right for anybody to step in.” You don’t want to show up your players — or the GM who brought them in.
Where’s the accountability? Eakins is MacTavish’s guy. Will MacT at some point swallow his pride and fire his hire if things don’t change? MacTavish is Lowe’s guy, a longtime teammate, friend and associate. Will Lowe, at any point, even consider that MacTavish might not be the right guy for the job? At the top, there’s an owner in Katz who is more than willing to hire his friends but is loath to fire them, even if there’s overwhelming evidence is must be done.
The Oilers have become a laughing stock. I fail to see the humor.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.