I spent this past weekend in Kelowna watching some good old fashion junior hockey. I even had the chance to say hello to former Oiler captain Jason Smith, who’s now the coach of the Kelowna Rockets — I wasn’t thinking at the time, but I should’ve squeaked in an interview with him. It was a couple of fun games to watch, there was almost always an effort, and the players looked solid playing their systems, a big change from what we’ve watched the Oilers do all season. At the same time, I was following the Oilers, and while they’ve picked up a few W’s as of late, it had me wondering things.
Decade of darkness before Taylor Hall
Just one season removed from the glorious Cinderella run, I continued to watch the Oilers, just like everyone. They struggled, and we were given Sam Gagner. How could you not love the kid’s moxie? His hands were incredibly gifted, and he always made a shootout all the more exciting.
So what if the Oilers hadn’t moved on from Ethan Moreau, Marc Pouliot, Denis Grebeshkov and other guys? They gave it their all (I know the standings say otherwise). I had to tune in to see my Oilers to see if they could kick it into gear and win. More than 50 percent of the time, the answer was a no.
First round picks change things
Just when my hope was starting to fade, the Oilers won the draft lottery. The team had a chance to draft a star in either Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall. The Oilers selected the latter and games became that much more exciting — and it didn’t hurt that Eberle was joining him as a rookie.
It became like Deja vu again and again. We were gifted with first overall picks that kept me hooked. I had to see the next best thing that was going to hit the ice.
What if there was no Connor?
I’m not sure I would be watching Oilers games right now if there was no McDavid on the roster. Don’t get me wrong, this roster does have some solid talent — we’re blessed to have guys like Leon, Puljujarvi, Nurse and more.
Jack Michaels tweeted out the expected lines for the game against the Sharks. That was when I thought, come on man!
Kassian did not finish Anaheim game and isn’t skating this morning.
— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) February 27, 2018
Do I really want to spend my night watching Lucic play top-six minutes and look skyward every time he misses whacking one in to break the goalless streak? How about Cammalleri? How many more games can you watch him play top-six minutes as well? There could be other elements that keep me hooked, but the stubbornness of our coaching staff has me uninterested at times.
I will note that the line of Puljujarvi-Strome-Aberg does have my interest piqued. Regardless, I still tune in faithfully, because I can’t miss watching the magic that McDavid creates every game.
Don’t even get me started on the referees. Do they have it out for the Oilers? It’s not fun to watch a game where it isn’t called evenly at all.
Did you faithfully watch pre-first overall pick life? Would you watch this team right now if there was no McDavid?