THE VILLAINS


There’s been lots of ranting and raving, justifiably so, about the state of the Edmonton Oilers. Trade the players. Fire the coach. Fire everybody. A losing streak that reached 11 games (0-7-4) in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets Wednesday will do that to fans. I get it.

Amid all the anger, frustration and disappointment, an Oiler fan and a follower of mine on Twitter took the time to send me a link to the video at the top of this item. I thought it was worth sharing, which we already did on social media going into the game with the Jets. If you haven’t seen it, give it a look.

With eight consecutive seasons of failure in the books and a ninth straight year out of the playoffs looming, fans of the Oilers have made their displeasure abundantly clear in a myriad of ways. Sites like this one serve as a compilation of WTF moments. There are more empty seats at Rexall Place. Jerseys have been tossed on the ice. Tickets jettisoned on Stub Hub.

Emotions run from righteous outrage to indifference. The ineptitude has spawned hashtags and memes. Here come the Oilers. Pictures of dumpster fires complete with the Oiler logo. Last night, a tight shot of GM Craig MacTavish staring at a monitor in the press box made the rounds. I was one of those in on that. There was a burn from, of all people, Jay Feaster on Twitter.

RINGS TRUE

image (25)

With the Oilers already done at 6-15-5 and going nowhere fast, it’s all fair game in Oil Country for all the reasons that have been discussed and debated on sites like this one until they’re worn out. The level of futility we’ve seen from the Oilers is unprecedented. So is the level of venom, expressed with indignation and laugh-out-loud creativity.

While I’m not coming from the same place Oiler fans are, I couldn’t help but think the six-minute video Ryan Robinson took time to put together and put out there would ring true with the vast majority of you. No gimmicks. No tongue-in-cheek schtick. Straight-on stuff addressing the big picture – the sense of sadness the Oilers have become a punchline, a laughing stock.

Robinson’s out line on the video, his narrative about “arrogance” and “the villains,” stuck with me. Having covered the team every day for years, seeing what I’ve seen and knowing what I know, it rang true. So much so I passed it on to both Dave Mitchell at CTV and Ryan Rishaug of TSN to see if it might gain any traction in the MSM.

Maybe owner Daryl Katz will see it, not that it’ll matter a bit given that he’s obviously not as big on firing his friends as he is on hiring them and that the value of his hockey empire is already showing a huge increase, based on the latest valuation by Forbes Magazine.

Well said, Ryan Robinson. Well said.

THE WAY I SEE IT

SadRobo

The Oilers actually played with some jump and some jam Wednesday in Winnipeg after surviving an early physical pounding by the Jets, but in the end the same old fundamental mistakes bit them again.

David Perron failed to support a pinching Oscar Klefbom on the 1-0 goal. On the 2-2 goal, Andrew Ference couldn’t displace Dustin Byfuglien in front of the net – you need an earthmover to do that – and he failed to tie up his stick to prevent the deflection that found its way behind Ben Scrivens. Justin Schultz made a weak attempt at retrieving a loose puck on the OT winner.

Perron’s play was a mental mistake and failure to read the play. The other two, though, were weak efforts in one-on-one battles. If I’m Dallas Eakins, I’d be spending some time in containment and one-on-one drills when the team gets back on the ice tomorrow.

When the Oilers do play hard enough (which is rare), they often don’t play smart enough. When they play smart enough, they don’t play hard enough. It’s a moving target. Details that can make a difference.

WHILE I’M AT IT . . . 

Speech

Of course Taylor Hall’s remark yesterday — “It’s an exciting rink with a good atmosphere, another reminder of how fun it is to play in the NHL” – was a shot back across the bow at Ference, who’d suggested too many of his Oiler teammates have been moping around.

I’m fine with that. There should be some friction and discontent when things are going this badly. I’ve seen and heard worse inside the room from Oiler teams that hung together and played for each other once the puck dropped and the gate opened. Losing should make players sour.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

  • taz115

    “It got to the point where it wasn’t even funny. How long has it been for them? Three years? Five? Seven? Probably closer to nine. Well, it’s about time they got their act together. They’re ruining the whole league. They better stop running a Mickey Mouse organization and put somebody on the ice.”

    – Wayne Gretzky – Nov. 19, 1983

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    All these negative comments from Craig Button and Jay Feaster and all the other ex GMs etc on the TV shows are guys that will be the first to send in their resumes if any thing should open in the Oiler organization ..I hope we deposit every one of them in the waste basket.

  • The video perfectly sums up the problem. I hate the 9 years of failure, but it’s made so much worse by the arrogance.

    I feel bad for Bob Stauffer who spends 2 hours each weekday getting speedbagged by disgruntled fans. He has no impact on what goes on on the ice and in the board room, yet there he is taking shot after shot for the team.

    I hope Katz and Lowe don’t think this will just blow over, because the venom coming from the fans can and will get a whole lot worse if nothing is done.

    This madness has to stop.

  • Torcida

    What I don’t get is why there isn’t any changes are being made. This is 9 years without playoffs. Something is not working..Is it the players, then make a bold trade with one of the core guys, is it the coach then find a new coach. Not sure what they are expecting to happen here. They will no magically just start winning without changes. How long can you just sit on your hands and expect a different result..

  • I met Ference recently at a non-hockey event. Had a chance to chat a bit with him, not much on the hockey end as I didn’t want to fan boy it up.

    I just want to say that he is a really cool guy, has a level head on his shoulders, actually does possess a sense of humour and was an all around great guy to be around.

    One of the people I was with asked him about being an NHL player and all that jazz.

    Andrew’s response was “I’m just a normal guy like everyone else, who just happens to have an incredibly cool job.”

    This guys IS Captain material. I stand by him and will continue to stand by him.

    • ubermiguel

      I’ve said it before, if Ference’s hockey play matched his amazing character he’d be a perenial Norris and Hart winner. If Ference can’t lead this team and hold them accountable I have my doubts anyone except Messier at his prime could.

  • Gerald R. Ford

    I hope that Katz looks at this video, I think it sums up what many long time Oiler fans think. I have followed the fortunes of this club since the Alberta Oilers in 1972. The current situation is he most frustrating and just sad throughout this time.

    There is a meeting of the NHL board of governors next week in Florida. I expect that the Oilers rep will be treated something like the guy at the office everyone knows is out of his league. Treated respectfully when he is around but a lot of head shaking and “isn’t it so sad” when they are not around.

  • elgruntus

    Great video. While I’m not sure I agree with the exact moment where things went sideways, I do agree with the assertion of arrogance.

    The Comrie to Anaheim deal, the Souray banishment, the dismissal of the training staff, forcing injured players back early and all the way to gifting Brad Hunt/Will Acton/etc, NHL games for “being good soldiers”. It seems that putting the best team on the ice a secondary concern over doing things “the Oiler way”.

    While the hockey is far from entertaining this year, I am finding the soap opera wildly entertaining, in a Honey Boo Boo train wreck kind of way. And yes, in this story, we (at least the royal we) are indeed the vilians

  • Joe Mamma

    Really? Who cares anymore. Nothing is going to change. Upper management is too naïve to stop this flaming butt crap of a season. I spent almost 6 months anticipating an exciting season, and now I’m basically waiting again until the next season starts. It’s pathetic. I’m a tired fan and there’s nothing to be proud about anymore. It’s going to be very hard to be pleasant during Christmas…

  • Derian Hatcher

    The author of the video has an experience that closely mirrors my own, and I feel very similarly about anything. The Oilers I loved were the little guy in the fight, but they always punched above their weight and would battle any team any time, even with half the budget and talent that they really needed to compete. Ryan Smyth was maybe the most iconic player they had, but truthfully they had a team full of guys that had a similar way of doing things.

    On a different subject: I really can’t get behind all of this reading into Taylor Hall’s comments as a chirp at his captain. He said something perfectly compliant with what Ference said earlier and he did it without the slightest hint of bitterness or sarcasm in his voice.

    Hall, more than any other player I’ve ever seen, is the willing soldier. He wants to do *everything* right, and he does it all with enthusiasm. He’s trying to show his good attitude. This is the same reason he had the problem with dumping the puck in too much last year. The coach told him to dump the puck in more, and he did it with classic Taylor Hall enthusiasm to a fault.

    • BubbaZanetti

      Seriously…
      At the end of last year, I felt Hall should be named Captain and then lead this team.
      After watching him during this season and in particular this losing skid No frickin way, I was so wrong. So wrong. Yes, I know, he’s talented, he has all the tools to be a “good” player but he lacks it between the ears. I’m starting to think that maybe him and rest of the precious core got their noses out of joint when they brought in Ference and made him Captain.

  • Joe Mamma

    Has anyone out there gone back and done a analyses on how many games we have lost this year ( and last) where Justin has made the major mistake leading to a goal that cost the oilers a loss..In other words how many games and points in the standings has he cost us in the last two years. One of you analytics guys out there must have that at your finger tips.

  • Derian Hatcher

    you know what I don’t understand? How does Katz think that this shiny new rink is going to be filled if they can’t put a proper product on the ice? There have been a lot of empty seats lately and my guess is that those are people with season tickets or people that bought ticket packs as they “sold out” again.

    this to me, means that the extra 1800 or so seats are going to remain largely empty on any given night on top of any of those season ticket holders that simply don’t show up. anyone else remember the early 90’s?

    Katz is a business man, how does he not see this?
    To convince people to buy up those extra season tickets and the open seats this team should be competing now. Not “next year” or when the arena opens… NOW!

    The person I believe should be held responsible right now is Katz. this is his team, his dream.
    He has to see that there are things only under his control and it is time to do something to right this ship. He wouldn’t allow this kind of ineptness to go on in one of his pharmacies…

    Punt Lowe, then there is no doubt that any moves MacT makes are his alone to take the credit/fall for.

    Keep the coach or fire him, I don’t think it even matters at this point but a clear path that both MacT and Eakins are to follow must be laid out and again that might have to come down directly from the owner.

    /EndRant

  • Derian Hatcher

    Lucky enough to be in my late teens during the glory years. Of course being young and mostly stupid, took it all for granted. The games and cups were unbelievable. More unbelievable was the players coming into a night club regularly and mixing with us “regular guys” After the girls were finished throwing themselves at the players (we all stood there in a jealous state of awe), it was nothing for Mess, Gretz, Andy, Simpson, McSorely, Meclelland, Lumley and others to share a pop at a table of fans. They seemed to genuinely appreciate the support of the fans so much so that I saw the Stanley Cup at a few establishments during those years, with the players encouraging fans to get a picture or some even took a drink out of it. Those players made themselves part of the fabric of the city. It was an incredible time, which my buddies and I often reminice about…now, as they say, anger is just sadness disguised.

    Sorry for the boring trip down memory lane, but i lived what it is like to be part of what a special Oiler team can be, how they valued the fans, all the fans, no tiering, no bragging, no entitlement. I just feel sad for all the fans…we deserve better.

    Out

  • smiliegirl15

    That slack jawed look on MacT’s face is a common one. He had it all the time when he was behind the bench. Google some images of him; there are a lot.

    Stupid me, I let myself hope at about minute 3. Moments later the game was tied and in OT, they weren’t even ready.

    This team just makes me sad now. 🙁

  • elgruntus

    I don’t even bother watching games anymore. In some weird Pavlovian way my only joy in following the Oilers is reading Oilersnation post game comments. Katz 8===> (o}:# Lowe.

  • Randaman

    Robin great presentation,and candid video
    from young Robinson! Here’s a guy who sounds he could be part of the O N group.If not, then he should take up acting…

    The video could be titled: ” The article Jim Mathson never wrote”.

    As a point, its a shame that Oiler fans have to now watch sports desk, hockey panels etc. day afther day,on what terrible organization and team the Oilers are.Craig Button can’t wait to jabber on this topic.

  • Derian Hatcher

    …..well oilers can’t be expected to play much better, it would surprise me if we won a game in December if things remain the same. 3.26 left and we are actually 2-1 up, it seemed as if Winnipeg just thought we are going to score so they did all the necessary things and we let them do anything they want. Too soft a defense, are these guys scared too smudge their make-up? they are pansies.
    Ryan I share your sentiment and am beyond disappointed. I believe when there are no consequences players don’t even realize they have had a bad game.
    It seems obvious to any Oiler fan the continual giveaways caused by the same players, the lazy uncaring attitude, goes unpunished. If my performance at work was sub par everyday my employment would be terminated.
    Schulz giveaways are the main reason we are where we are and yet he logs big minutes, Marincin who has a more defensive approach is sent down.
    Why did Oilers ever trade Mike Brown, he was exactly the kind of guy we need and needed then. Always doing the dumb moves. This managements arrogance is causing the demise of a once proud organization

  • jamboy

    This guy nailed it. I grew up in Red Deer in the 80’s!!! Growing up in Red Deer in the 80’s was hockey ambrosia!! Half way between Edmonton and Calgary, we actually had a choice of which great team we cheered for. I’m even related to Lanny McDonald. But sadly, I chose the Coilers. I was obviously a fan of the great 80’s teams, but I didn’t become a diehard fan until the 90’s. Year after year of barely making the playoffs, half the salary of the big teams like New York, but those teams snuck in every year on nothing but hard work and missing teeth. It doesn’t matter who we trade….it can’t get worse. We need a hard ass coach and players who work their asses off, or get sat when they don’t! That great oil drop emblem is fast becoming a joke

  • M22

    Robin Brownlee wrote:

    “Maybe owner Daryl Katz will see it, not that it’ll matter a bit given that he’s obviously not as big on firing his friends as he is on hiring them and that the value of his hockey empire is already showing a huge increase, based on the latest valuation by Forbes Magazine.”

    True enough. Also, consider this: How much of an ego rub must it be to have your former hockey idols/heroes on your payroll as employees. Nothing wrong with that, but it helps me make sense of the circus of inertia.

  • paul wodehouse

    Seems pretty evident there is a rift in the locker room. When Hall, an assistant captain, jabs back at your captain, Ference, publicly through media interviews, there are bigger issues in the locker room. Btw…who has been here through all of this losing?? It certainly wasn’t Ference and he certainly isn’t the one sounding “entitled”. Someone’s gotta go…bye bye #4, don’t let the door hit you on the way out ya big baby!!
    On a separate note, I have not heard one good thing about Hall as a player, person, or as a teammate from people close to the organization…that says a lot! And no, the scripted interviews don’t count.

  • paul wodehouse

    Kevin stays not going anywhere no way no how not gonna happen…fire Eakins…

    MacT can Coach and GM this trainwreck til the season’s over …

    The Otter is possible…

  • paul wodehouse

    News Conference scheduled for 9 a.m. tomorrow ….. I wonder what is up.

    First Ference calls out Hall et al. then Hall chirps back at Ferrence and the Fans in Edmonton.

    Eakins now has to choose sides between the guy he chose as Captain and the guy(s) the organization has chosen to lead this team forward….

    A whole lot of Crapola for MacT to address…. any change to the balance of power in the dressing room and this whole organization might just implode!!!!!

    Bravo Darryl, well done, you will single handedly make every OILER fan regret the passion with which they save this team when it was on the brink of relocating south.

    Well done.

  • Gordie Wayne

    Awesome story – only thing wrong with it is that you said:

    “I realized then that the guy is a bit of an arrogant jerk…”

    it should have read:

    “I realized then that the guy is a massive arrogant jerk…”

  • Chuck U Farley

    Joe, thanks for confirming what we all thought was true.

    I shared season tickets with my dad thru the eighties and saw it all. I too thought it would last forever. To have my team be a laughing stock hurts. And to have it caused by the boys on the bus is unforgivable.

    Shame on you Kevin and Co.