CHARACTER

So something named Craig Custance does an informal poll of 10 NHL
agents and concludes that Edmonton isn’t high on the list of places NHL players will willingly move. Colour me surprised – this isn’t exactly a secret but is
yet another kick to the ballular region for a city that gets these sort of bootings
on a regular basis.

It doesn’t disappoint me in the least that the ESPN dude
wrote this article or that agents would report this back from their players.
People love bad news — it makes for big traffic. People also love slagging on other cities and Edmonton is an
easy whipping boy at the moment.

You know what is disappointing? That not a single player –
those collecting $68,944,000 in Edmonton generated payroll for efforts that
have ranged between “non existent” and “brutal” on most nights – steps forward
to defend the city.

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Not. one. single. player. No one stepped forward to say, “I
read that article and it is a bunch of bullshit and I for one love playing here.” Or maybe, “Sure it’s
cold but given the all-you-can-eat crap buffet that we have served up on so
many nights there are few places I can think of that will be better to play in front
of with a winning team than Edmonton.”

No one saw fit to stop this latest negative wave of
publicity in its tracks and beat it back with positivity clubs. You know where
is a legitimate Robocopian hell hole? Detroit. Worse weather. Worse City. Worse
Taxes. Do you see it on the list of places people don’t want to play? Nope.
Know why? Pride. Winning. Honour.

None of our leaders or superstars or grinders or muckers or
glue guys or fourth line players stepped forward to defend the city.
This fact goes to show you why a great many players don’t want to play in
Edmonton and it has nothing to do with the city itself.

It’s not a problem with Edmonton, the weather or anything
like that. It’s a lack of character among the men that are charged with the on ice
and off ice performance of the hockey club – our most high profile institution
whether you are a sports fan or not.

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80s Oilers as we have seen are quick to rep Edmonton as the
greatest place since sliced bread. The Great One continues to applaud
everything about Edmonton down to it’s curbs at every opportunity and he hasn’t
played a single game in Oilers silks in almost 30 years. 90s era Oilers still speak
highly of their time in Edmonton – Doug Weight, Bill Guerin, Todd Marchant, Janne Niinimaa
have all gone on record in the media saying what it meant to them to be an
Oiler and play in the city of Edmonton.

ONCE AN OILER ALWAYS AN OILER

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What the hell does this mean anymore?
Does it mean throwing teammates under the bus on and off the ice? Does it mean
not taking it upon yourself to make an impact in the
community? Is there a single micron of pride in each other, the city and the
logo on the front of the jersey in the room?

The recent silence answers the question.

What more of an opportunity could be provided for one of these
guys to man up and stand before a microphone to give an equal blast of
positivity back to the eternal echo chamber of sports media, saying that
Edmonton is a perfectly great place to play and things are on the up and up?

The city is getting nicer, not grosser – the 159 cranes on
the skyline and the new arena district can attest to that. It isn’t getting any
colder – global warming is seeing to that. We aren’t a small market team anymore, developing players for the richer teams – the salary cap and Daryl Katz’s endless money has solved that problem too.

It isn’t any materially different
than it was in the 1990s when the Guerins and the Weights of the world were
here and loving life before they had to leave for money reasons. Except in one important way.

It’s gotten a hell of a lot more losery.

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This is why people don’t want to come play in Edmonton. It’s
this dark cloud hovering over every aspect of the franchise that is keeping players away. It’s a team
awash in bad karma which is spoken openly about in NHL circles. It’s a dressing
room riddled with bad attitude and loser mentalities that is preventing this
lineup from playing to its potential.

Character matters. 

Pride matters. 

Honour matters. 

We can
draft 100 Connor McDavids or switch the coaches 1000 times a year and it isn’t
going to make a lick of difference until these fragile little “me first men”
calling themselves Oilers take a look in the collective mirror and decide that
this is where they make their stand as professional athletes, that it is a matter
of honour to stand up for themselves, their teammates and their city, and crawl
their way back to respectability.

Look at the resurgent Yak City. It took Derek Roy – Derek
Roy, of all people
– to come in here, take some interest in our resident Yak
herder, pump his tire and restore some level of pride and confidence in
himself. The rest of the room was seemingly fine with watching a #1 draft pick whither on the vine.

And look what happens when someone took the kid aside and showed him an ounce of leadership. The kid is on fire. Character matters. Leadership
matters. Pride matters. We have precious little of it at the present time.

I am sick and tired of these “play anywhere that pays, give spotty
efforts and count my millions at the lake in the offseason” types coming to
Edmonton, gliding around Rexall ice and not showing an ounce of courage or
honour the entire time. Then we left wondering why we spend to the cap, draft #1 every other year and still don’t win. And we read articles like this ESPN poll that seem to suggest Edmonton itself is the problem which could not be farther from the truth.

Edmonton is one of the best places in the world. Every
single day that I have to be away chasing my own hustler’s ambitions is a day I
know I will never get back. I can’t wait to come home and laugh at the potholes
as I saunter down Jasper Avenue. And I know I am not alone among Edmontonians –
many of whom have opportunities to leave on the regular and elect to stay and
put down roots because of a deep love of the city.

It’s a crying shame none of our most high profile citizens seem to be of the same mind. And Edmonton continues to pay the price.

We have lost our way. 

  • Serious Gord

    Detroit is a far better team locale than EDM for an NHL player. Better climate, far nicer housing, and far lower cost of living, eastern travel schedule, closer to other big cities, better recreation options.

    EDM is the worst city in the NHL for these guys save possibly Winnipeg. That’s the fact about OFF-ice issues.

    On-ice it only gets worse. The Katz/klowe/mact (and now Nicholson) group are the worst in the league with a track record to back it up.

    • Rob...

      Really,have you been to Detroit. I have clients in Detroit, lived there for two years and let me tell you it is not a very nice city. The population of the city has drastically decreased over the years, that does not strike me as a city people are wanting to live in. I will give you the travel schedule but weather, housing and a better locale, oh so WRONG.

      • Serious Gord

        I have been travelling to Detroit to visit with relatives since I was born. I have spent months worth in total – been to tigers games, Uofm football games and spent time in pretty much every suburb of the city as well as downtown including at night. Some pretty spooky areas to be sure. But then New York and LA and Toronto and Montreal and Vancouver have some pretty nasty areas too. Several of the suburbs around Detroit are doing quite well and are much more well-heeled than anything you will see in Alberta. We are talking old money going back to the start of the railways. I’m sure the players – with the incomes they have – live very well.

    • Rob...

      You can’t really be that blind. Of all the examples you could possibly use, you use a city where the weather is not great, where entire neighbourhoods have been abandoned due to the recession, and there are neighbourhoods you just don’t go into if your skin colour doesn’t match that of the locals.

      They do however have less travel and win way more than they lose and have a coveted coach. THAT is the reason Detroit is higher on the list. Mentioning anything else is just plain silly.

      • Serious Gord

        Wanye cited Detroit not me I’m correcting him on his miss-informed impressions of the Detroit area.

        Some of the suburbs around Detroit are amount the wealthiest in all the U.S. Google images of housing in Grosse pointe for example.

        EDM has its share of bad neighbourhoods that you and I avoid and as I stated I am referring to the players who are not impacted by recession. And EDM has its race issues too.

        If Detroit had a record as bad as EDM and equally bad management it would still be far more desirable to players than EDM.

        • Gord –

          Any city that NHL security recommends teams don’t stay the night after or before the game if they don’t have to due to safety concerns is not a great place to play. I don’t care if Grosse Point is swank.

          It’s a subjective opinion and you aren’t right just because this is your schtick to come on here and piss everyone off with your constant know it all-ness correcting everyone.

          Kindly piss off.

          Love,
          Wanye

          • Serious Gord

            Do any of the oil live in the north east corner of EDM?

            I highly doubt it.

            Nor do kings players live in east LA. Is LA not a great place to play?

            Grosse point is a burb of Detroit just like spruce grove is of EDM. So your rebuttal is pointless

            And spare me the cynical ad hominem you – embarrass yourself

          • PutzStew

            The Weather hasn’t changed any from the 80 until now. winters are still cold, icy and snowy. Why are players more willing to complain about it now? Detroit has crappy weather too but we don’t hear about it. You are right their the bad neighbor hoods in Detroit make the ones in Edmonton look as harmless as a RNH smile. Poor jobs, run down and abandon buildings, Check, Check. but Detroit is a preferred place to play then Edmonton. So look at why.

            Bad management, Losing record, No stable coaching, poor record with prospects, poor record with veterans, an owner that only cares about his bank account and doesn’t try to hide it, consistent circus show (see Surray, Comrie, Kruger, Atkins, the entire works of Klowe). Detroit doesn’t have any of those things or if they do they are very well hidden.

            We have seen a number of people step out in recent years and talk about what a joke this team is. Some body on here mentioned it started with the Comrie non trade to Anaheim and I agree.

            In the end this is still a job for the players. If they were truly enjoying their stay in Edmonton or their jobs I am sure they would come to the defense of them, but I will be the first to call any of you liars that would if you claim you would defend a job that you hate. One with no leadership, guidance stability and an all round loser mentality.

            I blame the player, if anything good on them for being honest and not just running lip service. I blame the people that turned a very respectful hockey team in the the modern Mickey Mouse club.

            You should write about that. Of course since you own the site you could just keep lipping of everyone that disagrees with you. That wouldn’t ad fuel to the argument that Edmonton fans are not nice people, would it.

        • Serious Gord

          Wow

          There is nothing in edmonton of bad neighborhoods that even compares to detroit’s bad neighborhoods.

          Also if you have been to detroit the separation of the rich to the poor is over whelming so please don’t even compare apples to oranges.

          • Serious Gord

            You obviously haven’t been to hobbema. The gap between rich and poor exists here in Alberta too. It just doesn’t make the news like it does in a media market like Detroit.

          • dw

            I’m not sure you have been to Detroit. The bad neighborhoods aren’t 30 minutes south of the city limits, it is the inner city neighborhoods. I was there one time, driving in a perfectly good area, took one wrong turn and there in the middle of the road was half a couch on fire. The good neighborhoods are right next door to the ones that you have to wear a flack vest to cut through. And if you want to compare the race relations from Edmonton to Detroit (or maybe it was commented by somebody else, my apologies if it wasn’t you)you obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

          • PutzStew

            Hobbema. last time i checked its not in edmonton.

            what are you 12 don’t understand the statement.

            What do you know about hobbema, have you been there or are you searching google. Hobbema used to have some good hockey players.

            Here is a geography lesson Edmonton capital of alberta

            Detroit capital of the rich and the very poor.

            Hobbema is a reservation or community which changed their name in 2013 to Maskwacis.

            And there are 90 kms from Edmonton and oh by the if you don’t understand kilometers then its 56 miles for you dumb americans.

            So please make sure you know what your talking about population Maskwacis is around 7800

            population of detroit 800000

            you can walk anywhere in edmonton can’t say the same in detroit.

            last year in detroit 298 murders population 787000
            last yeat in edmonton 29 murders population
            877000
            so you tell me what is worse

            get your facts straight and remember google is your friend

    • A-Mc

      Do you mean the same city of Detroit that has lost over 50% of its population from 1950 t0 2014. Or the same Detroit that filed the largest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history. That Detroit of course.

      • Serious Gord

        Again the Detroit you describe is not the Detroit the players experience just as the EDM around rexall is an Edmonton most of its citizens only experience – and briefly at that – if they go to a game.

        • Jaxon

          Yes because all players chopper to the arena and then back home. They don’t ever drive through the actual city that has 30% of its structures abandoned and boarded up. Next time your visiting family in Detroit really see it for what it is, at least today. In 10 years maybe it will reinvent itself but today I hazard to guess very few people willingly move to Detroit. Unless million dollar pay cheques are being cashed.

      • PutzStew

        So what do you think s gonna happen to Edmonton when oil and gas become insignificant? Do you think it will continue to thrive??? If anything the city and people of Edmonton should be looking at Detroit and planning on how to avoid the current mess that Detroit is currently going through.

        If the City continues to get raped by Billionaire wanting to line their own pockets then Edmonton is not going to look much better then Detroit one day.

        • Jaxon

          Edmonton has been there and done that in the mid 80’s and early 90’s and now thriving again and looked nothing like Detroit. It will take years for Detroit to recover, which it likely will but at the moment it really does not compare.

        • JSR

          If i could give 600 thumbs up i would.

          Biggest issue with Detroit is their urban sprawl without enough people makes it a development nightmare. If it was built in a tighter area like NY or San Francisco they would probably have been able to reinvent themselves by now.

          It’s going to be an issue for edmonton if people aren’t smart and careful.

  • Well done. Are there others that remember last year, Yak and Hall on a two on one? The defenceman plays pass all the way and Yak makes the right decision to shoot. He had Hall screaming at him all the way to the bench.

  • BobbyCanuck

    Agree with all the comments, just wanted to add:

    Respect for your team mates is an earned commodity, as show me why I should respect you and have your back

    You want to change the culture? Get rid of the first line,and Schultz bare with me as I explain.

    Get paid a lot of money, never have shown why they deserve it

    Play like crap, make the same mistakes over and over again, never get benched, reduced ice-time, or demotion off the first line

    Play like crap, and get spotted closing out the bar after game night.

    Don’t even sign autographs or smooze with the fans that are at the bar

    Don’t stick up for team mates during a scrum

    Players with school age kids get thrashed in the play ground, cause there dad s’sucks’

    Oiler mgmt swears the golden core can do no wrong, Yak makes one little error, and he pays dearly. Hall makes the same mistake ten times a game, nothing happens

    Why would a player stick up for that or defend a city that puts up with that?

    Edmonton may have been a great city 20 yrs ago, all I see now is expensive houses, lots of beggers, and garbage everywhere. Any one that says Edmonton is the greatest or one of the greatest cities in the world, has not travelled outside Northern Alberta

    Trash away, deep in your heart of hearts you know you cannot handle the truth.

    • Jaxon

      classic canucks fan!!

      I am sorry for you, we have 5 you have none. But wait let me answer your question before you stat it!! Yeah you won cups along time ago and you will never win another will you? answer maybe but your canucks can’t even talk about the good old days as there haven’t been any.
      Tell you what mister canuck fan who probably works in alberta and is the very person who who litters in alberta as he is driving back to B.C. and the worst of it all your the one who buys the expensive home and trash talks alberta. Why aren’t you working in your own province. NDP thats why . Expensive homes hahaha thats a funny vancouver and its suburbs have the most expensive homes in canada. So take the 200,000 you make in Alberta and stay there in B.C. buy your season tickets for the canucks who have never won a cup and be proud that alberta supports you and your family.

  • toprightcorner

    Unfortunately the 20-somethings in todays society are filled with entitlement and a “me-first” attitude. They know nothing of loyalty or what it means to actually be wearing an NHL jersey for any team. Team blood does not run through their veins.

    It is very sad and it shows the lack of veteran leadership on the team. You can’t have Andrew Ference as the only guy that speaks to the public about the team and city. Until these players fight tooth and nail for the jerseys on their backs, they will never take that step required to make it to the next level and make the playoffs.

    • Rob...

      I think the “me-first” attitude is gaining prevalence in all generations. Whether it’s the ignorant arse tossing their cigarette butt out the window of their car, or the NIMBY complaining about the noise from an airport that was their BEFORE they bought their house.

      When it comes to the Oilers, there have been more than a few ‘veterans’ with a reputation for being the bad apple in the dressing room, or that dogged-it on the ice with no care for the fans or pride in the jersey.

  • On point Wanye. The real problem is the owner. He’s the one who has put this team in the hole it’s currently in and he’s done it with intent. If even the idiot’s row of commenters on various Oilers sites can figure out how to make a decent team I’m quite sure MacT and Lowe could do the same or more in spades. Problem is, they have a boss with other ideas on his mind. He’s the guy with little or no honour or character.

    • JSR

      Bang on. I’ve tried saying this in other posts but you sum it up nicely.

      This was a team in ’06 that didn’t want to celebrate a 2nd place finish. They did anyway to salute the fans.

      Today they gleefully celebrate last place finishes with the whole Katz family front and centre on the draft stage.

      The dignity this team once upon a time had is gone. And I blame Katz.

  • Rocket

    I don’t really see why Hall or Nuge or Ebs or anyone else who has been part of this for the last 5 years would say Edmonton is a great city to play in. They get booed on a nightly basis. They get chirped at whenever they go out at night. They lose far more than they win. They get pounded by the media.

    I would be willing to wager that if any Oiler, any one of them, was traded they would be truly happy it happened.

    The Oilers not speaking up does not make them bad guys, it just means they aren’t liars.

    • I think if any team iced this mess for the past 9 years they would be greeted with the same boos in every city. Or worse yet a half full building which sadly is on its way if it hasn’t arrived in Edmonton.

      Overall Oilers fans around the world have been VERY patient and willing to wait for the rebuild to bring us back to glory. Some fans are jerks but they are the vocal exception to the rule. Just look at the representation of attitudes of our fellow citizens here. 99% of people are awesome and just want to trade hard earned money for wins on the ice.

      • I agree fully, fans have a right to be pissed off. But that doesn’t change the fact that presently Edmonton might not be a nice place for the Oilers players to live and play. I can understand if they aren’t completely happy here and aren’t screaming in defense of the city, even if its the players performance that’s causing all the negativity.

  • Rocket

    I’ve lived in Regina, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Seattle, Boston, San Jose, and now San Francisco.
    My fondest memories might be from Edmonton. I speeknglowingly of it. Amazing friends, amazing time in my life just after university having fun as a bachelor. But thinking about it, the city itself really does suck. Especially compared to these others.
    Unfortunately, these “post university” aged kids playing for the oilers have been tainted with pretty much the exact opposite experience as I was – bad management, losing etc. Gretzky et co were having the times of their lives in a city they probably felt like they had the keys to
    So its not surprising.

  • SlaveLake

    I would like to think that the players and agents who think negative about us is that they are not dissing the city that is Edmonton, they are dissing the team that is the current Oilers. Katz, Kblowe and MacT have seriously damaged both the quality and reputation of this team.

  • Jaxon

    This is why the Oilers should be mining Northern Alberta for their free agents every summer or trying to entice players with some other incentive. Go after the players who are likely to have a natural pride in putting on the Oilers gear. I think this summer they should pick up 3 UFAs from Northern Alberta and 3 German UFAs ans still chase the 2 College kids that have been on their radar, one of which is a Northern Alberta kid.

    UFAs:
    LW: Blake Comeau – C: Marcel Goc – RW: Scottie Upshall
    LD: Christian Ehrhoff – RD: Johnny Boychuk
    G: Thomas Greiss

    I bet Ehrhoff, Greiss and Goc (pre-trade) loved playing together in Pittsburgh and being the team to cheer for back in Germany. They could continue that in Edmonton. I seem to recall Boychuk has a home in Edmonton that he was renting out to one of the young Oilers at one point. I bet you could get Comeau, Goc and Upshall all for under 5.25 total (1.75 ea).

    College:
    RD: Kenney Morrison
    G: Matt O’Connor

  • SmythsMullet

    absolutely first class comment. I brought my family to Edmonton 20yrs ago and it was the best move we ever made, love the city, love the people, love the Oilers and Esks. Went to BC two years ago and ever since I went I’ve been looking for a chance to get back there.

  • Hemmercules

    Build a winner and they will come. Simple as that.

    Edit: Good article and I agree. I have feeling we hear something from a player or two between now and the deadline about the city and their rank on that list.

    • TKB2677

      Winning helps for sure but at the end of the day, every player is looking out for himself and if you gave him a bunch of truth syrup, I don’t think winning as important as they pretend it is.

      If winning was so important, can someone explain the Kane and Toews contracts that start next year? Their cap hits will be 10.5 EACH next year. That’s 4 mill more per player than this season. The cap is supposed to barely go up if at all. The Hawks today have a grand total of 1.240 in cap space.

      Players due for contracts.
      Richards – UFA – made 2 mill
      Kruger – RFA – Made 1.4
      Saad – RFA – Made .833
      Carcillo – UFA – .55
      Oduya – UFA – 3.383
      Rozisval – UFA -2.2
      Runblad – RFA – .870
      Erixon – RFA – .600

      Even if everyone of those guys agreed to the exact same contract, the Hawks would be almost 7 mill over the cap. So they are going to have to probably not sign a few of those guys and get rid of a few other current roster players just to fill out the line up. Kane and Toews are fantastic players but how much does winning really mean to them when you jump your salary cap hit by 4 mill a piece. Resulting in your having to not sign and get rid of very valuable players just to make it under the cap. If they were truly “committed to winning” wouldn’t it have made sense to take a little less to keep the team together? They already have more money that they will spend in a life time. What if they signed for the same or a modest raise? But they didn’t. They as players are at their peak right now. They will be at their peak for a few years but it’s not like they will have another gear. After this season, other teams around them will get better because they will take players away from them and they will get worse because they will have to lose key guys to get them under the cap. After this season, their chances to win the cup will go down substantially because of their contracts. So how “devoted to winning” is any player really?

      • Hemmercules

        I thought we were talking about free agents, the list that put the oilers at the bottom and team character issues??

        Kane and Toews were drafted by the Hawks, had a winner built around them and won a couple cups. Every player in the NHL wanted to play for them after they won that first cup, not because they loved the city of Chicago, but because they were a likely winner for years to come. I can’t really blame Kane and Toews for taking those contracts. They won that team two stanleys in 3 years and are still two of the best players in the NHL. We are also talking about two guys, its not like there are 50 guys in the league all handcuffing their teams with 100million dollar contracts.

        If the Oilers can build around their draft picks and become a perennial playoff team, players will want to play there regardless of location or weather.