BROKEN

Skills

So, the Edmonton Oilers staged their annual skills competition at Rexall Place today. Fun stuff – skating, stickhandling and shooting, unfettered by the monotony of defensive responsibility, teamwork, good judgment and the willingness to work, just like their games.

This display of flash-and-dash started out at NHL rinks as a chance for fans to see players having some fun snapping the puck around, to get up close and personal with the players they cheer for and maybe get an autograph or a quick picture. It’s supposed to be a break from the 82-game grind of the schedule. A thank-you to the people who fill the building, support the team.

With just one win in their last 21 games and a 7-22-7 record after a 4-1 loss to the Calgary Flames Saturday, this edition of the skills competition came up woefully short in the thank-you department – they didn’t offer each and every fan who walked through the door a refund on tickets they’ve wasted money on.

Destined to miss the playoffs for a ninth straight season, and by at least a $20 cab ride, the Oilers have become a laughing stock. They’re a punchline and a dysfunctional entity that is becoming more like a circus sideshow than a professional hockey team with each loss on the way to the worst season in the history of a once-proud franchise.

Step right up.

A NEW LOW

RockBottom

Fans, of course, have every right to be outraged over the bungling and incompetence they’ve seen from Oiler management and the ineptitude and failure of the team on the ice since this outfit somehow reached the 2006 Stanley Cup final. You pay the freight.

It’s so bad now, however, some of that outrage is pouring over into the ranks of those who cover the team, a media contingent that has long been painted as too team-friendly and hesitant to criticize an organization (even if it isn’t true) that used to win Stanley Cups for fun.

It’s a shift that, as near as I can tell, really ramped up with a question by local columnist John MacKinnon that prompted the “six-rings” response by POHO Kevin Lowe in April of 2013 upon the hiring of Craig MacTavish as GM. It’s one that continues unfiltered now. Some snippets from those who cover the team every day via Twitter last night after the loss to the Flames:


WHAT YOU SEE IT WHAT YOU GET

WhatYouSee

Having first worked alongside Matheson in 1989 at The Journal, I can tell you without hesitation he’s not prone to overstatement. If he calls this the worst Oiler team he’s ever seen, take that assessment to the bank, even if you aren’t old enough to recall the glory days. Those of Matheson’s vintage have, no doubt, already come to the same conclusion.

I never saw the Oilers as utterly beaten, defeated and in disarray as this, even with the awful teams of the early 1990s, during my time as a beat man at the dailies, but, like I said, I’ve only been keeping tabs on the team since 1989. I don’t have the answers.

It’s painfully obvious the people running this franchise don’t have the first clue either. This is a team that, despite having collected three first overall draft picks for all the suffering fans have endured, is worse at the bottom line than it was last season and the season before that and the season before that.

Fire Lowe? Count me in. Fire MacTavish? Sure. Thank Todd Nelson for being a good company man and stepping into this mess as interim coach and return him to Oklahoma City? Can do. Weed out and trade away the sulkers for pennies on the dollar? Might have to. Tear it down. Square one, then. Any other ideas? I’m all out. Perhaps another letter from Daryl Katz.

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Sigh

With two games remaining in December, against the Los Angeles Kings and the Flames this coming week, it’s more likely than not the Oilers will begin the 2015 calendar year with seven wins from their first 38 games. Seven.

If you clean house from top to bottom – management, coaches, scouts, Lowe, MacTavish and the horses they rode in on — you’re looking, at a minimum, of running this seemingly never-ending non-playoff streak to a decade. Go with status quo and the result is likely the same.

Happy New Year. Hope you enjoyed the skills competition. 

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

  • S cottV

    Fans should stop all of the fire Lowe and MacT rhetoric, band together and take aim solely and squarely upon Katz.

    Lead the team properly or sell it to a responsible owner who will.

    Katz needs to hear loud and clear, what a buffoon of an owner that he is turning out to be. Wasting energy on Lowe and MacT only serves to dilute the power of public opinion.

    Katz just flies under the radar and keeps on going.

    Put him on the radar, in the ads and on the billboards.

  • dw

    I don’t disagree with the idea of cleaning house but if we do it right now who is available to fill those roles? Is there anybody that we would want past the end of the year? If we add another coach now, just to relieve them at the end of the regular season (unless it was Babcock or Hitchcock which isn’t happening) it will be one more change of direction, one more head coach on the pile. How many people argued that we shouldn’t fire Eakin’s because we had changed the coach too much in the past? I think we need to wait till the end of the regular season unfortunately.

    • Serious Gord

      Fire Lowe right now.

      Appoint nicholson as interim POHO

      Have him start the search for a new replacement immediately with the goal of having him by draft day at the latest but possibly by trade deadline day.

      Prohibit MacT from making any big moves.

      Let the POHO decide the fate of MacT and the scouting staff (fire them all) and find a permanent coach with extensive NHL experience (ditto the new GM).

      • dw

        Agreed on the fire Lowe immediately, inserting Nicholson (interim or permanent) and restricting any moves by MacT, but it sounds like you are leaving Nelson in as a lame duck coach for the rest of the year and leaving the decisions regarding a very good draft year in the hands of a group that we all agree should not make those decisions. Unfortunately I think we are pretty much screwed no matter what we do but maybe finding competent scouts to insert into certain regions would be something we could do right away. Also, if MacT isn’t spending a lot of time or energy trying to improve the team via trade he can spend the rest of the year behind the bench instead of saddling Nelson with this mess.

        • Serious Gord

          I would have named Ramsey as interim. Now that Nelson is there I would let him finish the season before sending him back to the ahl.

          The oil are in a very difficult spot. But no way would I let the current cretins screw up another draft. If worse came to worse I would just use the public scouting reports to make the picks – they couldn’t be any worse than what the current scouts would do.

  • Hemmercules

    What has become of the oilers? How did this happen? Losing to flames like that just breaks my heart. That picture of hall on the game wrap up is so sad. These guys have stop caring just as much as most of the fan base. So sad. So so sad what this has become. Unwatchable before new years. 5years of rebuilding for nothing. I don’t expect many men will be a part of this team going forward. Management and players alike. Weather they want out or get purged.

  • dw

    “For the colossal stupidity of what the Edmonton Oilers did this past summer … If I had run my team into the sewer like that, I wouldn’t throw a grenade at the other 29 teams and my own indirectly,” Burke said of Lowe. “So I have no intention of speaking to him any time soon.”

  • ubermiguel

    From Oilers website:

    “As for when the transition to Nelson is complete, in some ways it already is. Although MacTavish was still on the bench last game and was on the ice for practice on Sunday, Nelson says he’s in the driver’s seat now.

    “Right now, I’m in control. If he’s on the bench, he’s there to assist me,” Nelson said of MacTavish.

    And now Nelson has had the opportunity to present to the team what he can bring to the table as coach and what he expects from them. That took place on Sunday.”

  • Butters

    If I recall correctly, Lindros was the only number 1 overall to refuse to sign with the team that drafted him. And as I remember, he said prior to the draft he would not sign with Quebec if they picked him.

    I don’t think Eichel or McDavid are as pissed at the Oilers as the fanbase is. Saying either won’t sign here is baseless.

    • bazmagoo

      People seem to be forgeting that the Lindros fiasco was really money motivated for the most part. At the time there was no cap on rookie salaries. The Nordique franchise was suffering (largely due to the low Canadian $) so Lindros’ earning potential was much higher in Philadelphia. Fast forward to now, there is a cap on how much rookies can make. That’s why it won’t bother Eichel or McDavid if the Oilers draft them.

      • Serious Gord

        Money was a factor to be sure – small market team; weak financially. But the parents really disliked the nordiques management and justifiably so.

        Not much different than the current oilers really.

    • Serious Gord

      Gretzky did not sign with the NHL team that drafted him instead he signed at a younger age with a wha team.

      Mario made noises about not signing a d refused to don the pens jersey on draft day of I recall correctly.

      Only Crosby – the third of four generational players to reach draft age in the modern era – willingly joined the team that drafted him – with some convincing by Lemieux.

      • Butters

        Regarding Mario I believe you recall correctly. But he did sign, won two Cups, and now owns part of the team. So staying with the Pens worked out.

        Lindros might have made a ton of money, but the trade with Philly led the Avs to a couple Cups.

        The morale of the story might be to just go to the team that picked you.

        Which NHL team drafted Gretzky? I thought he signed as a 17 year old in the WHA and wasn’t old enough to be drafted. I could very well be wrong though.

        • I’m pretty sure that Gretzky was never drafted. When the NHL absorbed the Oilers, He had already signed a “personal services” contract with Pocklinton. So even though he wasn’t / couldn’t be protected in the expansion draft, he could not be drafted by another team, because he hadn’t signed an NHL/ WHA contract, but a “personal services” contract. He wasn’t “team” property. He was “Pocklington” property. I believe the only reason he was an Oiler in the NHL, and not taken by another team in the expansion draft, was because of a loophole like that.

      • Wax Man Riley

        That’s a TERRIBLE argument, Gord! Who was Gretzky drafted by in the NHL that he refused to play for?

        The other 2 you mention, both played, and will probably end their careers with the teams that drafted them.

        Lindros is the only 1st overall I can think of to not play for the team that drafted them.

        • You’re right. Wayne was never drafted by an NHL team. He turned pro under a personal services contract with Nelson Skalbania, who owned Indianapolis of the WHA. That contract was purchased by Peter Pocklington of the WHA Oilers.

          • Serious Gord

            Technically he wasn’t drafted but he sort of was:

            From Wiki:

            “The NHL had originally expected that Gretzky’s personal services contract would be voided. But Gretzky, faced with the likelihood having to play for the struggling Colorado Rockies if he were to enter the draft, refused to void his contract with Pocklington. As a result, a compromise was reached in which the Oilers were allowed to keep Gretzky in exchange for being placed at the bottom of the draft order in the Entry Draft.”

            http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1979_NHL_Entry_Draft

            So he too refused to play for the team that would have been in line to play for because they were so bad. As a compromise EDM was given gretz via an interleague trade of the pick.

          • Serious Gord

            sort of. Gretz would have been the number one – and he pre-empted it. so the main point stands: generational players have a history of refusing to play for the team they are in line to be drafted by…

          • Wax Man Riley

            The truth is we can’t accurately predict what McDavid or Eichel will do because the situation that is the Oilers is unprecedented. Under Katz and Kblowe’s management this is truly the saddest ever of any pro sports team. Even if there was no Lindros example does not mean the Oilers are safe from the possibility of a player hold out. We never predicted that this team could be as terrible as this but they continue to surprise and reach new lows not even imaginable. If there is going to be another historic embarrassment it will undoubtably happen to this team. #becauseoilers .

            I say this only assuming Kblowe is here at draft time. If Katz actually grows a pair and brings in new management the possibility of a hold out will go away.

          • Zamboni Driver

            You seem to be assuming that Gretzky’s motivation was “because they (the Rockies) were so bad. How did you come to this conclusion? The WHA teams were allowed to keep only 2 goalies and 2 skaters. Sather actually messed this up and the Oil only ended up with 1 skater because they hadn’t signed Bengt Gustaffsen to a contact by the required date. The Rockies + Gretzky likely would have been better than the Oil + Gretzky that year.

            Gretzky’s contact with Pocklington as quite lucrative, by the standards of the day.

          • He was not sort of drafted, you are reaching dude. Either you are drafted or you aren’t. By your logic any player that wasn’t drafted but signed with an NHL was “sort of” drafted.

            If the NHL wanted to they could have not allowed Gretzky to join the NHL if he didn’t void his contract. The NHL had zero leverage in this ordeal so they did the only thing they could have.

            Also Wikipedia is not a reliable source as I could right now go and edit that information.

            You are better than this, pick up your britches and be better.

          • S cottV

            You must not know the history of the merger. In short there was no way edmonton wouldn’t be allowed to merge into the NHL, it was a highly vauled market, among other things *cough* Molson *cough*

            I wouldn’t say Gretzky rebelled against anything he upheld his current contract. Any speculation as to why he didn’t void his contract, is just specualtion. Infact that would be a very good question to ask Gretzky now.

          • I am the Liquor

            Gretzky himself said that he wanted to sign a wha contract and play pro.

            This was years before he was ever draft eligible for the nhl. So he had no idea who he would be “avoiding”.

            You are trucking in nonsense.

            Its quite sad actually.

  • 2004Z06

    Eric Lindros’ decision was a stain on his career and one of the most significant reasons he is not in the HHoF. I highly doubt Eichel or McDavid are using the “Lindros” example as a possible option.

    • Motown Fisher

      This is true and I hope whomever we pick does not hold out. However Gord’s comment about Lindros not Liking Nordiques management is relevant to our situation and this management is beyond the worst there has ever been. We really can’t say for sure what a generational talent will choose for his career because there is no precedent of that type of talent having to come to such a horrid organization as this. Certainly there has been bad teams in terms of talent and skill but it’s the culture of this management that is the poison and the fact that it hasn’t been changed yet might make one wonder if it ever will. You can no longer believe that this team will do what is best for the development of any player.

  • I am the Liquor

    So now McDavid and Eichel are refusing to come here………. as if the team itself isnt embarrassing enough we have to endure the wild speculative nonsense that snowballs into “truth” from the fans.

    In today’s age of top draft picks informing teams with high picks of their intentions not to go to said teams, so dont bother wasting the pick on them, Connor McDavid went to Erie, which, at the time was THE Edmonton of the OHL. So no, I dont think he is looking to Lindros the Oilers.

    Lemieux never dissed the Penguins, despite Gord’s best efforts to have us believe it was imminent, and Gretzky signed with the WHA because he wanted to get paid and wanted to play pro, and not have to wait until he was 20, which I believe is what the draft age was for the nhl at the time. Oranges and apples.

    At the end of the day, we as fans, imo, have much more to worry about in regards to the team than if we get McEichel or not.

    First and foremost this team goes nowhere until the two floating turds at the top of the bowl get flushed for good. Then “if” that happens we need to worry if our clueless owner can actually find the right guy to hire the right guys to turn this thing around. Is that Bob Nicholson? Maybe, maybe not.

    Then we get to hold our noses for another four or five years while the new gm, whoever that may be, tries to assemble a team that is deficient in goaltending, defense, center, and even on wing, at both the nhl and prospect levels. Oh, we also have to hope for a coach and new scouting staff that has a clue.

    Lots to worry about without making up stuff.

  • Even if there is no one to fill the holes left if Katz were to by some miracle clean house in the office. You hire interim people, trained monkeys could finish this show out. This “show” we are watching is going to have the same ending no matter what “station” ie management group , we are on board with. It would at least send a message and set the foundation for trust and a new beginning we deserve, letting the true meaning of accountability rear it’s head. There is no other business or team in any sport that would let the losing carry on, well other then the Washington generals who gracefully let the glob trotters stick it to them. The oilers are the NHL Washington generals!

  • There is no saving this group. They’re all a bunch of pathetic losers, from top to bottom. KBlowe all the way to Hall even.

    When everyone has stopped even attempting to LOOK like they care, its time to blow it all up.

    Personally, I’d love to see them actually forfeit a game. Not even get on the ice—not like that would be much different than their normal games!

  • The only solution is get rid of the pollution.

    That being Lowe and Mac T.

    These two guys couldn’t run a lemonaid stand, and they have a record to prove it.

    It is time fans, enough is enough, we need to be more active and vocal to have them fired. Other great cities with sports teams have done it. Some after only 2 years of incompetence. But we have been complacent as fans for 9 years, it must stop.

    FIRE LOWE and FIRE MACT T.. The Campaign must begin.

  • S cottV

    Pulled this post out of the Sun today.

    carsonagenic • 34 minutes ago

    Another tough night for the Oilers, they dropped a hard fought skills competition 3-2 to the pylons and net targets. After letting the inanimate objects jump out to an early 3-0 lead, on goals by Cone, Pie Plate, and Broom. Scrivens was pulled after Broom swept it through his legs. Perron and Hendricks scored on the empty net after Schultz fell into the net twice trying to set up the screen. That’s another new Oilers low, final score again,
    3-2 Objects

    • bradleypi

      What a bizarre move. I thought pinozotto was one of the only oilers actually fighting for a job on this squad. Guess all that gets you is a one way ticket to the minors… this organization is just lousy…..

  • I am the Liquor

    Here’s the question that’s been running about in my head for awhile. And perhaps one of you plugged in folks can help me.

    The spin for the last while is that Kevin Lowe is not actively involved in the Hockey Ops side of things.
    If that’s the case, what exactly is it that he does to earn his paycheck every two weeks?

    I mean really, the guy has 6 rings and knows a thing or two about winning, perhaps he could be of some assistance.

    • dw

      I really don’t give sh*t whether Kevin Lowe is involved in the day to day operations. Kevin Lowe has hired all the guys who are involved in the day to day operations. that’s on him. In his 9 years he has run this organization into the ground and he has one it as the GM and as the POHO.

      If a large corporation is failing badly, losing market share or failing in their PR relations what do they do? They eliminate the problem immediately to stop the bleeding. If we were talking about McDonalds for example, would they fire the front line employees? No, the fire the people who are making the mistakes and the people responsible for putting those people in their position. They fire the CEO or CFO and the employees at the highest level.

      That’s you k Lowe.

      you have Failed. Everybody you have put in their position has failed.

      I own a business. If I continually hire bad managers and repeat the same mistake again and again when my business fails I have nobody to blame but myself for making those hires.

      Kevin Lowe hired Tambo.
      Kevin Lower hired Mac T.

      How many more GM’s are we going to let this clown go through?

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    To all those blaming season ticket holders for going to the games and supporting the team, you are off base. Your understanding of the secondary market demand for tickets is lacking.

    Yes, weekday games vs no-name teams are selling for $10. What you don’t seem to know is that this has been true for the last 5 years. Its not new and its the same in most markets.

    However even after 1 win in last 20, the weekend games and games vs the popular teams are still selling very well to people in Edmonton WHO ARE NOT SEASON SEAT HOLDERS.

    For perspective, I have 6 seats in 300 level that I sell. I pay $33 per seat season ticket price. Yes I sold those seats for $10 each to some games. But I also sold them for $180 each to other games. It takes alot of $10 games before I lose money when season opener, Habs, Pens and Leafs all sell for $150+. Not to mention all of the middle demand games that sell for $40-$60 per seat.

    The demand is still there for Oilers tickets from Edmontonians as a whole. Its not only the season ticket holders supporting this team.

    So please stop asking me to burn my tickets and not go to or not sell my tickets to the game. You want me to stop buying tickets simply make my investment a losing venture by not buying them from me, then I will drop the tickets immediately. Until then, I will take my 20-50% ROI over the last 5 years and buy something shiny.

    • dw

      I know a few friends who are season ticket holders, and they have been doing the same thing, selling them for a decent profit, as there are plenty of fans of opposition teams , especially of the more popular teams like Montreal, Toronto, and Boston.