Monday Mailbag – January 12th

MailTruck

It’s Mailbag time again! I’ve taken your questions and sent them out to our writers to get the answers you’ve always been looking for. I say it every where, but this segment is entirely dependent on you guys to make work so send me your questions. You can email me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk.com.  It’s time to kill some company time, Nation.  With that, I present this week’s Mailbag.

Chimp

1) Matt Davis asks – What is the most fulfilling/trying part about covering hockey for a living?

Jonathan Willis:

Learning about the game. You read smart people, you talk to smart people, and the more you do it the more you realize how much there still is to discover about what, superficially, is an incredibly simple sport. It’s awesome.

Robin Brownlee:

Enjoying the game itself aside, I took a lot of pride in being one of a select few to earn the chance to cover the NHL. You had to be damn good just to get the shot. When I came up in the early 1980s, attending J-school was a must. You usually had to spend a couple of years at a small weekly. If you were good enough and a job came open at a daily, you got a bottom-rung job there — still a long way from getting any piece of covering the most coveted job in Canadian cities, the NHL beat. You had to do the work, jump through the hoops and wait your turn in a sports department where only a couple of guys out of a dozen or more got to cover the NHL. Guys who had those gigs kept them for decades.  That was the system, for better or worse, before the internet. Real sense of accomplishment when (if) you finally got the chance. No blogs. No websites. Was select company. Took pride in that. Now, if you’ve got an internet connection, you can write about hockey. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just different from when I came up.

As for the trying part, it became the travel and the time it took away from family and a personal life. Still, a great job.

Lowetide:

I’m a hockey fan so the best thing is being around hockey more. I also like meeting cool people (Jason Strudwick is a really funny, engaging fellow, as an example) and what little ‘inside info’ trickles down to me. 

Negative? Nothing really. I’ve had a lot of jobs in my life and there are always irritations and things you’d like to change, but nothing major. 

Jason Strudwick:

The most fulfilling part is pointing out a play or tendency of a player that educates. The most trying part is reading all the comments that blast the players.

Jason Gregor:

Hockey is just one facet of my job. I enjoy covering all sports, but about hockey the best part is the passion it invokes within people. I love my job and that makes it very easy to go to work everyday. Even amidst nine years of losing there is always something different to discuss every day.

Jeanshorts:

The most fun part so far has been that I still find the idea of getting paid to watch and talk about hockey ridiculously cool. I mean, watching the Oilers is mostly a chore, but I’ve had much worse jobs, that’s for sure. 

The most trying thing is constantly having to deal with all the downers who take watching hockey WAY too seriously. We get it, the Oilers are terrible. But as we’ve seen no amount of bellyaching is going to change anything so why not try to make the best of it? Lighten up Francis!

Baggedmilk:

The best part about my job is that I get paid to watch and write about hockey. Period.  How can it get any better than that?  The downside?  Probably how angry this team is making all of us on a regular basis.  Being a sports fan shouldn’t be this hard, but the Oilers seem to want it that way. 

RightOrWrong

2) Francis A. asks – Is it wrong for Oiler fans to be cheering for losses just so that the team can draft Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel?

Jonathan Willis:

No, it’s not, and I’ll tell you why: All this “fans must behave in such-and-such a way” stuff is  garbage. This isn’t a religion and there’s nothing sacred about it; any hockey league is a business and the product it sells is entertainment. So if you think getting to watch Connor McDavid 82 nights a year is going to be more fun and do more long-term for the team you enjoy watching than finishing 25th this season will, that’s entirely your call.

Robin Brownlee:

It’s understandable, but I think it’s a mistake to believe any one player, especially a teenager, can turn around the fortunes of a team as flawed as the Oilers. The Oilers have three first overall picks in the line-up now. How’s that working? Even if McDavid or Eichel are a cut above Hall, RNH and Yakupov, it’s going to take a lot more to return this team to contention.

Lowetide:

No. The rules allow for tanking and these two are apparently generational talents. Cheer what you want, it’s a free world!

Jason Strudwick:

It doesn’t really matter to me what the fans do. As a player often times you don’t even know who could be the top pick from year to year because they can’t help you out of the hole you are in this season.

Jason Gregor:

Be careful what you ask for. If the team truly is bad enough to finish 30th and guarantee they get one of McDavid or Eichel, then don’t whine or complain next year when they aren’t competing for a playoff spot, because an 18 year old won’t magically change their fortunes. If you are cheering for losses, that is fine, as long as you are aware that they will be followed by more next season.

Jeanshorts:

I personally don’t think it’s wrong. I understand the argument on the other side that it comes off as a defeatist attitude to hope they’re the suckiest bunch of suckers that ever sucked, but for a lot of us the thought of acquiring coveted young talent who will theoretically lead this team toward the promise land ANY DAY NOW *glares at Oilers* is the only thing that keeps us coming back for more punishment. And I don’t think that many people are literally cheering for the Oilers to lose, but will 5 extra wins in February do more for the Oilers than a shot at a franchise centre? I really doubt it. 

I also think it’s dumb when someone tries to tell other people how they’re supposed to act or feel, but I digress.

Baggedmilk:

I would probably think it was wrong if this was the first year the Oilers were going to miss the playoffs.  It isn’t.  This is the 9th straight year outside the dance.  If the Oilers want fans to stop cheering for losses so that we can draft another 18 year old saviour than maybe they should ice a competent hockey team.  I say, cheer for all the losses you want – if that’s your thing – and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  

BrokenRecord

3) Douglas R. asks – The current NHL record for consecutive seasons outside of the playoffs is the Florida Panthers at 10 years out.  This year, the Oilers will be out of the playoffs for the 9th straight years.  Do you expect the Oilers to tie the record next year?

Jonathan Willis:

The playoffs should be an attainable goal for the Oilers in 2015-16, but I don’t have confidence that this management group will do all that is necessary to attain that goal. Right now, I’d say I don’t expect them to make the playoffs, but with a good summer it’s entirely possible.

Robin Brownlee:

A month ago I would have guaranteed it’ll be at least 10 years. Now, while I think it’s unlikely the Oilers can climb from finishing 28th-30th overall this season to a playoff spot in the span of one year, I’m less certain of it. Lots of variables — who’ll be the coach, player moves etc.

Lowetide:

Yes. I don’t think they can get there in one season. Too far to go. ONLY possibility: they find an impact goalie ala Curtis Joseph.

Jason Strudwick:

Yes I do.

Jason Gregor:

At this point, yes. Unless they make major changes in the summer, they will be hard pressed to jump over six teams in the standings next season.

Jeanshorts:

As of right now, absolutely I do. I thought MacT made some pretty okay moves going into this season, at least enough for a 10th place finish in the West and some excitement about being a bubble team. Obviously things didn’t quite work out that way… 

A lot of it obviously depends on which kind of personnel moves are or are not made this summer, but unless there are some earth shattering trades coming up I don’t see them going from 30th to the playoffs within a year. 

Ask me this question again in August and I’ll be full of optimism as usual and swear to the heavens that this is the year they go straight to the cup! 

Baggedmilk:

Unless MacT can significantly improve the roster between now and the start of next season, we’ll be tying the record for most consecutive playoff misses. That means better goaltending from the jump, and that means no more spending millions of dollars on the Nikitin Nikitins of the world.

BestWorst

4) Nathan Staver asks – Who has the best jerseys and worst jerseys in the NHL?

Jonathan Willis:

The worst uniform, hands-down, is Buffalo’s third jersey with it’s terrible yellow, duct tape sleeves and mismatched colours on the name and number on the back. As for the best, I like Detroit’s jersey but feel it’s a little unfair to pick any of the original six teams so instead I’ll say I really like the Dallas Stars’ recent re-design.

Robin Brownlee:

I like the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings, home or road, the best. Don’t care for Calgary’s jersey and Dallas doesn’t do much for me either.

Lowetide:

Best: Chicago Blackhawks. Worst: Arizona Coyotes.

Jason Strudwick:

Best – Rangers, Worst – Carolina

Jason Gregor:

Best: Hartford Whalers. Worst: Flames. (I have a healthy/respectful dislike for Calgary)

Jeanshorts:

I really love those Tampa Bay jerseys. It’s such great shade of blue, and the design is fairly minimal, compared to some other recent jerseys we’ve seen anyway *looking at you Sabres*. They’re damn sharp is what they are! 

As for worst, I’ve never, ever liked the mustard yellow Predators jerseys. I appreciate the fact that they went way off the board with their colour scheme. It’s ballsy and feels like a perfect fit for a non-traditional market like Nashville. But I still think they look ugly as hell.

Baggedmilk:

Best jerseys? I’ve always been a big fan of the London Knights’ green jerseys, but they’re not in the NHL.  Best jerseys in the NHL has to be the Oilers or Blackhawks.  Bias? What bias?

Worst jerseys? Gord… There are so many of them! Calgary’s are vomitous and I don’t know how anybody wears them in public, the yellow Buffalo jerseys are gross, and the Predators have been looking ridiculous for 10+ years now.

KingQueen

5) Chris Ryan asks – Who is the biggest pre-madonna at OilersNation?

Jonathan Willis:

Do you mean pre-madonna as in Madonna before she was Madonna or prima donna as in opera singer? Either way, I hear Strudwick has a fantastic voice. Wait, I knew exactly what you meant but made a point of highlighting your spelling mistake anyway – it’s me, isn’t it? 

Robin Brownlee:

I am.

Lowetide:

Lord. I don’t think we have one. I think all of the people at the Nation are cool enough to have a beer with and it’s a pretty good group of guys. Gregor spends a lot on clothes but he also goes back to the farm and helps with the calving. So, no, not a prima donna. Willis has weird ringtone music, that’s as close as I can get for you.

Jason Strudwick:

If everyone isn’t on the same page here I will be floored!. It is easily Gregor. If I have to hear one more story about how he took Valley Hills hockey to the top I will lose it!

Jason Gregor:

No one. Wouldn’t tolerate that within the Nation. We like to chirp each other, but from my vantage point no one I’ve dealt with acts spoiled or entitled.

Jeanshorts:

I get like 45 emails a day from The Royal Half asking where his “funking frappuccino” is.

Baggedmilk:

There are two things that I hate, Oilers losses AND WAITING FOR MY GORD DAMNED LATTE!

  • tileguy

    s it wrong for Oiler fans to be cheering for losses just so that the team can draft Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel?

    Depends if you were brought up catholic or not.

    • atleastwehavethekhl

      How’d he pump his tires? He said how difficult and rare it was to cover an NHL team and said how lucky and proud he felt to get the opportunity.

      Why are there so many dicks in the comment section at the nation?

    • Derian Hatcher

      I don’t always agree with Brownlee but his articles are a must read for me. In fact, all of the writers do excellent work here and a lot of the comments are well thought-out. I just ignore the haters…they are sprinkled everywhere in life, and always mad at something or other.

    • I love the game of hockey for all the reasons people usually give, but the question was what was most fulfilling about covering the game for a living.

      I answered the question. Like I said, it was a damn tough gig to get with the system that was in place during the era I came up in and I got it. Proud of it.

  • freelancer

    I think fans have every right to cheer for a 30th place finish. However if this team continues to show no signs of improvement, you will start to see more players ask for trades or bail at the first chance they get.

    Don’t tank, do whatever you can to win now, see who will and won’t help you win here. If they still finish last, great. McEichel to the rescue. But maybe if they can start to move ahead, the players that are here will still want to be and maybe other players in the NHL will actually want to buy in as well… you know instead of paying Nikitin 4. mil to come.

    • Serious Gord

      Losing runs the risk of losing the spirit of and perhaps some of the core players.

      and while the evaluation would be nice there are going to be several of those players not here next season – key amoung them being petry but also possibly Roy and Klinckhammer and a bunch of others – so i wonder how much benefit the information will be.

      so there are pros and cons…

      • freelancer

        Completely agree. It’s still a very small sample size, but it’s impressive to see what the addition of some veteran and new blood will do. You look ahead to next season and I think Nurse will make this team, whether he should or not. As of right now who does he learn from on how to be a physical, offensive defense man? Look at last night, Ekblad has been on fire, but he’s also been paired with Campbell who’s had a great season. You need players to learn from vets with the same kind of experience. Ference isn’t going to cut it.

        • Serious Gord

          I am not really all that impressed by the recent success.

          The beat the kings who have one of the worst road records in the league – and are clinging to a playoff berth. (detroit is 28th in the league on the road BTW)

          beat the islanders via some terrible screw-ups by the NYI goalie and defence – NYI pressed for much of the game

          beat chicago – a team that was playing their back-up goalie and were playing their 3rd game in four days.

          and they lost to a very mediocre FLA. The east is far worse than the west – if the oil played in the east they likely would be 10th or so.

          Let’s see how this road trip goes….

          nelson has been very conventional in his coaching and hasn’t done anything that a very large segment of the fan base hasn’t been calling for for some time now and he has had the benefit of all last change for all of his wins.

          ….

          It would be dumb to play nurse more than a handful of games with the oil next year. Ekblad is a far better d-man than nurse is. I time that might change, but for now nurse needs lots more maturation time and its not like the oil are going to be super fantastic next season…

          • freelancer

            I still feel the jury is out on Nelson too. Unless there is some magnificent improvement I don’t want Nelson as coach next year. Maybe an associate. As for Nurse, I agree he should only get a few games. But we both now the difference between expectations and reality. My point was more from the fact that this team needs more veterans in prominent roles so that when young players do come in, they aren’t expected to carry the load.

          • Serious Gord

            We agree on all points it seems.

            If the current management remains in place, Nelson will be made permanent coach and nurse will play for the season. Both likely very big mistakes.

            BTW – I think nelson made a huge mistake letting mact co-coach. I doubt any established nhl coach would let that happen – it is a lack of independence – or perception thereof that will take a long time for nelson to dispell. Right now he looks like an internal hire who owes all of his promotion to those above him rather than being the best of a search.

          • freelancer

            You can’t blame Nelson for “letting” MacT co-coach a few games. When you’ve never coached in the NHL and your boss says come coach in the NHL but I’ll be on the bench with you for a few games there’s not much you can do.

          • Serious Gord

            You can stand up to him and say “no”. Don’t discount the leverage Nelson had – who the heck else is MacT going to get mid season who doesn’t have the credentials to be more independent / autonomous than a HC from the farm team.

            MacT and Klowe want supplicants below them – not people who might challenge their ideas.

          • freelancer

            Interesting point about Nelson. I feel that his past relationship with players like Hall, Nuge, Eberle, Schultz, etc would help him earn respect in the room. Look at Adam Oates, he had been a coach with Washington before coming to Jersey and now working with Lamoriello behind the bench. It was a short stint and I don’t think the players would look down at him for that.

            Now saying that, if the Oilers have a mediocre finish to the season and Nelson stays as HC then I think the internal hire looks worse.

          • Serious Gord

            When you say “if the Oilers have a mediocre finish” do you mean mediocre relative to the NHL or to the oilers? Because Finishing off at a .500 pace would be mediocre to the NHL but would be an amazing feat rarely seen done by an oiler team in the last 25 years. It’s all relative I guess

          • freelancer

            If Nelson was able to get this team to a .500 pace is it too late to vote him for the Jack Adams? In all seriousness, no matter what I would like a veteran coach behind this bench. Half a season isn’t enough time to judge how a rookie coach will handle a full season.

          • Serious Gord

            It’s not respect in the room I’m concerned about. It’s how much starch/spine Nelson will have when a he and KLOwe/MacT have difference of opinion on how to coach the team/roster choices – and there will be differences. So far I am not encouraged that he has much of one but it is early.

            I think eakins was very flaccid in his working with his managers – that shultz hunt etc levels of play were directed by MacT/KLowe and eakins didn’t resist.

          • TheBirdOfAnger

            Friendly reminder that Florida is in a playoff spot currently.

            Idk. Just wouldn’t call a team that finally deserves respect mediocre- especially with where we’re sitting at.

            * loud sobs

  • Serious Gord

    During the first eight seasons of FL’s record-setting playoff drought they averaged 0.945 points per game played.

    The oil averaged 0.891 – far worse.

    I wonder if that is a record?

    0.674 is what they are averaging so far this season – they would have to average 1.24 PPG just to meet FL’s overall average above.

    the nine year point PPG for FLA was .944. The oil are currently at 0.877. and they would not catch up to FLA even if they won all of their remaining games. (they would only get to 0.939)

    I think it highly unlikely that EDM will make the playoffs next season – the west is far more competitive/better than the east is. So they very likely will tie FLA for longest playoff drought and the tiebreak would go to the oil. (FLAs ten year PPG average is 0.937.

    • Oilers have had the “benefit” of playing with the SO in effect as well. Florida didn’t have that when their drought started in 99-00.

      serious question here for Serious Gord…..why is PPG even relevant? Seems just another example of trying to prove how inept mgt is/was…..kind of wasting your time, no?

      • Serious Gord

        PPG is from the dept of redundancy dept i guess, but when it comes to crowning which team is the worst in league history it is probably one of the most relevant stats… and tangentially relevant to question 3 above…

  • I won’t be cheering for the Oilers to finish 30th…..but on the same hand wouldn’t be disappointed if that happens. I just want to see competitive, consistent, and passionate hockey…