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 2007: Although 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
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.