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.
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
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 . . .
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.