GDB 80.0: HOME ICE ADVANTAGE – SAIL ON, NORTHLANDS

ATB Sponsor Banner

Saying goodbye to Rexall leaves me with mixed emotions. The best memories I have as a fan took place on that ice, the best team (I believe) in history played there. On the other hand, there are days when I feel (and I believe OilersNation feels) like poor old Stan Rogers and his journey through the Northwest Passage: Is there a payoff that makes this journey worthwhile?

There was a time in this fair land that the Edmonton Oilers ran all over the Calgary Flames. In fact, I will suggest to you that the one Stanley swinging in Calgary was the result of a decade of hard work in that city, painstaking building of a roster that could withstand the barrage and counter punch to victory. Credit to Cliff Fletcher, he combined genius procurement ability with great scouting and luck and within ten years of moving from Atlanta brought Stanley home. And in those days, the road to Stanley went directly through Northlands Coliseum.

FAST FORWARD

The modern Oilers have been in the second division since most of you reading this were just kids, and that is a fact. You deserve better, I know that, you know that, hell the Oilers know that. What we have seen since Daryl Katz took over running the team is a rookie (owner) learning on the big stage. A steady stream of new managers and coaches, a new hero on the ice every draft day, and every April a shambles.

In a recent article for Sportsnet, Mark Spector wrote about the 2012 entry draft and the decision to select Nail Yakupov. In the article comes confirmation that the Oiler scouts voted 9-2 for Ryan Murray as the No. 1 overall choice, and Spector follows it up with this:

  • Spector: With the advice of their on-the-ground scouts tucked away, the Oilers
    brain trust of the day — Tambellini, president of hockey operations
    Kevin Lowe, soon-to-be GM Craig MacTavish, and owner Daryl Katz — would
    meet that afternoon to finalize the decision
    . Source

The final decision was Nail Yakupov, but this is such a disturbing story. This story, from 2012, tells you everything you need to know about the Oilers organization. By changing everything, they changed nothing, time and again. Now, I happen to think Yakupov was the right choice that day, but that doesn’t matter—you can’t run a company this way, not successfully.

Peter Chiarelli needs a good draft board and he needs to trust it. He then needs to sign the best and leave the rest. The graduates need to find plenty of ice time in the AHL and those young men have to develop. That is how the Flames built their winner and it will be the same for the Oilers. Trust your board, develop your own. Same as it ever was.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 10.53.33 AM

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 10.53.47 AM

Oilers lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 10.54.17 AM

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 10.54.33 AM

Flames lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

QUICK HITS

  1. Connor McDavid should win the Calder Trophy.
  2. Griffin Reinhart and Jordan Oesterle have done enough in the last stretch of games to put themselves in the conversation for next year’s team. Both will likely be callups from the farm, but my guess is that Reinhart’s bonus situation will have a lot to do with his handling (next year is the final one of his entry-level deal) and that Oesterle gets a contract.
  3. Adam Clendening hasn’t shown enough, but Eric Gryba might get a contract from the team. Adam Pardy has also looked good in less time, and is lefty, so I suspect Gryba has the edge.
  4. I think the team will look different at center, but also believe that McDavid, Leon and the Nuge return in 2016-17. How will that work? Don’t know, but LD on RW looked good for much of this year.
  5. Oilers need to replace Teddy Purcell. What about Lee Stempniak? Righty shooter for the power play and he has great skill. Plug and play and should not cost the moon.
  6. The boys from Nation HQ will be taking over the Pint Downtown tonight for a pop-up store with our partners at Apollo Originals to launch some brand new NationGear collaboration gear. The pop-up store starts at 4pm.
    Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 12.00.46 PM

MEMORIES

I am in my early 20s and driving to Calgary for the weekend. It is a Friday night in the fall, beautiful weather, and I have chosen this time to leave because of an Oilers-Flames game on the radio. I choose Peter Marr and the Calgary broadcast (no slight to Rod, I loved his calls) and Marr begins the broadcast with his usual even tone and professional delivery.

These are the years where the is no middle ground, and Red Deer (where I live at the time) is ground zero for the Alberta fan war. I, along with my friend Lorne Starko (who worked at CKRD radio and television at the time) are diehard Oilers fans, and I can feel the excitement build as the anthem comes over the radio.

Early in the game, I mean early, Marr’s voice runs quickly from calm to alarmed, as one Mark Messier enters a scrum (there was a scrum in the anthem in those days) and hammers a player (Macoun?) from behind, and the Flame drops in a heap. Marr is incensed at Messier, I am incensed at Marr! Marr is riled up, telling the Flames fans about this and I am losing it on the highway, slamming the steering wheel and screaming at Marr.

It is fall, it is pre-season. It is war. Please bring it back, Mr. Katz. You can start by staying out of the scouting decisions.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

I checked out Flames Nation, but it mostly involves Rex Libris pretending he is a Flames fan, Calgary chasing college goalie and draft talk. Heh.

  • Kent Wilson on choosing between the Finns: Assuming this is a decision the Flames will have to make (which would
    mean they are picking second overall), Laine is my initial preference
    if only because his results are superior to his countryman in the same
    league. Tkachuk is putting up stupidly good numbers in the OHL (107
    points in 57 games), but he’s riding shotgun to Mitch Marner and
    Christian Dvorak, which is likely skewing things upward for him
    . Source

GAME DAY PREDICTION

GameDay

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Flames run the Oilers show in period one, and the Oilers penalty killing leaks badly. 2-0 and a frustrated Rexall after one.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:
The second period sees four goals, and the Oilers get three! McDavid, Sekera and Eberle all score and it is 3-3 after two. 

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Three more goals in a wild Saturday night, but the kicker this time is all three come from Edmonton. McDavid scores again, Hall too and Iiro Pakarinen with the empty netter in a fabulous 6-3 win. We all hit Whyte Avenue and party!

NOMINATE YOUR HOME ICE HERO!

Celebrate the volunteer, parent, coach or organizer who keeps the game going and asks for nothing in return. 

Nominate your Home Ice Hero and they could win a prize worth $5,000. Nominate your hero.

  • The day the Oilers stop playing to the level of their competition, they’ll win the Stanley Cup.

    Very impressive games against LA and Anaheim, and then they look at the lowly Flames (which are technically speaking pound for pound the worst team in the NHL considering how healthy they’ve been) and decide that it’s a gimme.

    It’s an attitude we’ve seen for a few years now, and it will be very interesting to see how Chia and McLellan address it as compared to the previous management and coaching staff.