IT’S MORNING IN EDMONTON

Our minds can barely accept the events of last night but they are so very true. The Edmonton Oilers won the draft lottery that mattered and have hockey’s latest chosen one in their sights. There are myriad stories surrounding the Oilers and McDavid but there’s only one thing that matters this morning. They won the damn lottery!

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

For fans like you and me? Party! Come the hell on!! These ARE the good old days. Enjoy them. Don’t you dare let anyone get you down today or feel guilty. EVERY NHL city wanted McDavid but too damn bad, they didn’t get him. Maybe next decade. I don’t feel sorry at all for any other team, as a fan I think it’s absolutely acceptable to walk around all damn day with an enormous smile. In fact it’s mandatory, dammit!

WHAT HAPPENS FOR MANAGEMENT NEXT?

Oilers fans don’t need to think of these things today, but it’s important to acknowledge Oilers management are not heroes in this scenario. Edmonton has been mired in the second division for what seems like a lifetime, and the period that covers Katz ownership is the absolute nadir.

For management, things just got really real because there’s no damn way they can return with the same bunch on defense and in goal. If they go to this year’s draft, use all of the picks, and return with shoddy goaltending and a defensive group that is addled? Mr. Katz needs to fire them all.

WHO WILL COACH?

I like Todd Nelson but the Oilers would be wise to wait and see what is out there. We’ve heard the name Todd McLellan mentioned and Mike Babcock to Toronto rumors are so common I’m always surprised to see him in Detroit behind the Red Wings bench.

If the coach next season is Todd Nelson, one assumes the club will have looked about at length before deciding to proceed.

WHO WILL MCDAVID PLAY WITH?

Taylor Hall! After that, I’m not sure. MacT was talking three scoring lines the other day, and if we think of these lines in pairs (Nuge-Eberle, McDavid-Hall, Roy-Yakupov) then maybe we’ll see something explosive on three intriguing lines this fall. Early days, plenty of blacktop remains.

IS THIS THE BEGINNING OF SOMETHING INCREDIBLE?

God I hope so. One thing I wanted to mention this morning, is a story Mark Napier told me on the old Nation Radio show years back. I asked him if free agents would eventually want to come to Edmonton, and he related a story about his own career.

Napier began his NHL career in Montreal, and told me everything there was first class and the expectation was winning. Every year. After a few years, Napier was dealt to the Minnesota North Stars, who were a struggling organization, and Napier found things difficult.

In January 1985, Edmonton acquired him and of course that was a strong team. Napier instantly recognized he was back in a winning situation, and instructed his agent to sign a contract for the following season if the Oilers were at all interested.

For Napier, a winning environment was key. I don’t think hockey players have changed much in the 30 years since, and if the Oilers can get back to winning games consistently, good free agents will come here to play with these tremendously talented kids.

THE HEAT IS ON!

The Edmonton Oilers frittered away the entry-level contracts of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov. They’re wasting Hall’s wonderful contract as we speak.

Wasting Connor McDavid’s entry-level deal is not acceptable. Buy out the also-ran’s and the never-were’s and let’s get on with it.

The heat is on. Starting now.

  • Petrolero

    many are saying the pressure is now off Oilers management, but I think it is the opposite, because if they allow the team to start sucking again with McDavid on it, fans will burn the New arena to the ground, and they won’t wait ’till the season is over to do it.

    • Anton CP

      I agree, if they screw this one up then they will have no excuse left and should fire themselves. This will only buy them a little bit of time until fans will start a riot against the management and the ownership.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    Listen… I think we all need to tone down the discussion about whether or not this franchise or this management group or this fandom “deserved” to win the Connor McDavid Sweepstakes. If the rest of the teams in this league want to bitch and moan, let them take it up with Gary Bettman, their local mathematician, or the designer of the lottery-ball machine.

    But, today, my conscience is clear. In my mind, the Hockey Gods finally stepped in for the Oilers.

    On a hot August day 27 years ago, hockey fans in northern Alberta were told that Wayne Gretzky had gotten too big for Edmonton.

    We were told that trading Gretzky to L.A. was, ultimately, “in the best interests of the league.”

    We were told that this needed to happen.

    We were told to put up AND shut up.

    Save for a one-last-gasp Cup win two years later, economics forced the Oilers to play the smalltown, Canadian underdog role for far too long.

    Since the mid-1990s, hockey pundits in the U.S. and Toronto have been one-upping each other in its jeers and sneers of this franchise and this city. They tell us we simply can’t – Won’t! Shouldn’t! – attract top-end free-agents or hang onto our superstars because the city’s too small. The downtown’s too dumpy. The arena’s too old. Pocklington’s a bozo. The 37 owners don’t have enough money. Our winters are too cold. There’s too much travel. Instead of gaining recognition for the booming, interesting capital city of one of the healthiest, wealthiest jurisdictions in North America, we’ve been called a “northern outpost” that should feel fortunate that it was allowed into the league at all.

    But, two and a half decades later, on a windy spring day in northern Alberta, the Hockey Gods finally delivered a long-overdue piece of payback for this franchise.

    We have much work to do and we must not allow poor management or bad coaching to waste this chance … but we must not apologize for getting it.