BLUE COLLAR

smyth common

So many years and so many tears, wasted. The Edmonton Oilers cast away good men and true in the name of no one remembers and we walked countless steps to Rexall knowing in our hearts the season was in vain. The good times are on the way, but we can keep track of progress by checking off the boxes in reverse order of their disappearance a decade ago: Balance, reason, common sense. It’s been a decade.

Today in Leduc, the first signs of a new dawn and new day could be heard, using the official language of hockey (add three f-bombs per sentence and you’re there). The words sound like music in this northern city and as our eyes look to see on-ice evidence it’s interesting to go back and look at what we said when the good things were heading out of town.

  • September 2007Although we don’t know the actual makeup of the roster, it would
    appear that the Edmonton Oilers will be lacking in leather (defense). Word today
    in the Edmonton Journal that Patrick Thoresen is likely to be sent out
    means that the Oilers are going “high event” up front and on the
    blueline. I
    don’t really see that it fits the coaching style of Craig MacTavish.
    His best teams have usually have the EV advantage and solid PK numbers,
    while struggling mightily (and hilariously) on the PP.  The Oilers currently boast a nice “roto” roster of powerplay options,
    including Hemsky’s puck wizardy, Souray’s rocket launcher and Dustin
    Penner’s ability to block out the sun. They
    have a terrific group of kids with huge futures, including the
    impressive Andrew Cogliano and the ridiculous Sam Gagner. Robert Nilsson
    lit it up in pre-season too, and there’s a general giddiness about the
    team’s future because of these kids. However, much of the giddiness has
    to do with the wood, not the leather. The Oilers rookie crop boasts some
    big time home run prospects, but can they pick it?  For the second season in a row, this Edmonton Oiler team doesn’t seem
    to fit a Craig MacTavish template.
    Source

Those talented young forwards, and the old ones too, are all gone now, cast to the wind and playing (or not playing) in other NHL cities. The team has a bunch of new, more impressive young names and have gathered some legit two-way and defensive types, both established and emerging (like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who is going to be a vital part of this Oilers team moving forward).

As talented as the gifted forwards are—make no mistake, this is an elite group—a big key to Edmonton’s future success is two-way and defensive types. It appears we’re going to see a transitional group of two-way players this coming season, with perhaps one of Griffin Reinhart or Darnell Nurse and possibly Anton Lander in a feature two-way role.

This is a time to rejoice in the arrival of Connor McDavid, but the thinking man’s hockey fan knows those two-way players must be sprinkled throughout the roster. The Edmonton Oilers lost that along the way and it’s going to take some time to get it back.

It sounds like that journey began today in Leduc. Tape-to-tape, dogged pursuit of the puck, contesting every inch of the ice. This is us, Edmonton. A blue collar team for a blue collar town. With an insane kicker that consists of two incredible scoring lines filled with young, elite talent. What a time to be in Edmonton. Again.

  • WhoreableGuy

    I just hope that the Flames miss the Playoffs so Calgary can go back to not caring about them again and all the hockey forums get back to normal without their idiotic fanbase.

    • Burnward

      Love ya guys too!

      If I may prognosticate…and in no means do so in a trolling fashion. If I’m out to lunch, roast me.

      New faces, new systems and a tough schedule leaves the Oil around 3-7 after the first ten.

      Then from there to Christmas we see McLellan’s impact really kick in. .500 until the break.

      Post break more improvements to the end. 82-88 points and the first real step forward in years.

      McDavid with 22-50-72.

  • TheBirdOfAnger

    I can see reason to be optimistic an pessimistic this season. I choose to be more optimistic this season though I am more optimistic for next season.

    Thumbs up if you’re optimistic about this season

    Trash down if you’re pessimistic about this season

    • Dirtski

      Defense. Defense made me trash to balance the optimism, although I’m hugely optimistic due to the obvious reasons. But our defense is still too scary. If Franson replaced Schultz, our top four would look more like a top 4 -then if we had the Seabrook type on top of that to further push the depth chart I think we’d be an absolute contender and force to be reckoned with. Still I’m optimistic Chia makes the moves through the season, very optimistic because both he and Todd publicly addressed the defense problem. But as the blueline sits now, I’ll admit I’m a little worried – even with what looks to be possibly the most elite top 6 forward crop in the league.

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        I agree our D is avg or below at best. PC chose not to take Franson for a reason. Don’t know why but I am sure he had his reasons.

        Out top 6 is not elite – not yet. They may be someday as they have tremendous potential but there are a lot of other teams with better top 6 players today. The future looks very bright but we have work to do to get from here to there.

  • WhoreableGuy

    @Lowetide: what do you make of Don Maloney’s assertion that Gagner cannot play centre at the NHL level? No one has spoken about it in any consequence.

  • Johnnydapunk

    I also agree that PK’s donation and work related to that makes me like him as a person even more so. He comes off as one of those players that doesn’t forget what it’s like to be a kid and have hero’s. Think he was playing street hockey with some kids and did some other charity work where he took a group of under privelidged kids to a “surprise” day out to the rink and dressed as a bus driver for it. It’s sh*t like that that stays in their minds their whole lives and he seems aware of what he can do.

    donating a year and a half of your salary is a massively impressive gesture and I will be a fan of his when he plays every other team except the Oil.

    • Dirtski

      Great comment. I support the idea that the less of previous failures hanging around the team the better the chances to finally turn this around. But I can’t beleive as many people trashed this comment as cheered it. Just shows how gullible some people are. Lowe has absolutely no respect for the fans. It was because of his ego that this team became the laughing stock of the league for 9 years. If he had any respect for the fans he would have walked away years ago. Instead he kept embarrassing himself and everything Oilers. And I’m sure he will be the first one to pat himself on the back after the hard work of others (mainly Tmac) earns this team some long lost respect.

      • Dirtski

        My point was to say I didn’t want either Lowe or Mac T having any impute as to the decisions Peter C and Todd M have to makes on who to keep and who goes. They have had their chance over the last 9 years and have not shown any skill in that area .

  • Johnnydapunk

    We’re more of a no collar town with white collars running the show. Need more white collar players like Hall, McDavid, Eberle, Yakupov and less so of the Hendricks, Pitlick, etc.

  • CMG30

    False hope has been replaced with belief simply because the organization has strengthened itself with top shelf people in key management and coaching positions. We can see with our own eyes and ears that the players already believe in the new direction after one day of camp. We need to temper expectations but a decade of despair is finely over and we are heading in the right direction. Its a good time to be an Oiler fan again.

  • Lofty

    “With an insane kicker that consists of two incredible scoring lines filled with young, elite talent.”

    I sure hope you’re right but the fact that the incumbents of the teams forwards corps only managed to finish 25th in goals for last year, makes me skeptical.

    I really hope this supposed offensive juggernaut comes together. Its been so painful.

  • CMG30

    Dogged pursuit of the puck and fighting for every inch are the two things that have been lost since 2006. In my opinion, the primary cause of this has been the never-ending stream of rookies invading the lineup. The coaches needed to spend so much time in practice teaching things better learned in lower levels that the players became more concerned with where they were rather than winning the 1 on 1 battles.

    Skill is necessary to be the best but skill alone will get beat by old fashioned hard work any day of the week.

  • CMG30

    Just watched some highlights on TV and saw TMac lay into the guys on the ice. Being this isn’t his first rodeo as an NHL coach he can absolutely do that and these players WILL listen. Love it! Seems like he is the kind of guy that will tell you to “&&@! &$@@!l” on the ice but then ask “how your kids?” off the ice.

    This team needs a royal kick in the keister!

  • CMG30

    I feel McLellan biggest feature is he articulates his messages better than last couple of coaches . Now , can the players assimulate it to better results than we have been accustomed to is the question ? Kreuger was also articulate .

  • Makaveli

    Hey oilersnation… I’m new here but have been reading along for some time. Also this is my first comment. One thing I picked up today that really spoke to what we all were thinking was Taylor Halls comment about Managment. In that he said…. No disrespect to the former management but I think we have the right people in place now…. Not a direct quote but it seems like the players have been thinking what the fans have thought for a while and it seems like they have a new found sense of hope. That alone can be a very powerful thing in how and what direction the team moves forward in. Here’s hoping for the best!

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I was a kid during the Gretzky era, but a hockey card trading teen during the Weight era.

    To me, the Weight era demonstrated blue collar work ethic. Playoff battles against teams that had more skill meant working harder than your opponents.

    I’m excited at the idea that this year, and the next few, we are seeing a bit of both eras.

    Coincidentally I think the same could be said about the Flames. Hartley had the team working hard, and their skill is imbalanced towards the back end rather than the front like for the Oilers. This rivalry can reach 80’s esque levels here!

  • Admiral Ackbar

    @Lowetide, if you were to buy me dinner, wine and whisper this article into my ear, I’d be yours forever. You sure spin a romantic hockey story. Love the writing style.