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Remembering life before the first overall picks?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?


  • Ted

    Yes Bettman has his claws into the referees as there can be no other explanation to this horrible one sidedness! The writing was on the wall in the playoffs against Anaheim when such blatant calls ruined the Oilers hopes! Come on holding the goalies pads down in the crease is an allowable offence! Please the league become a joke with such inconsistency! Remember the movie Eight Men Out and the corruption that tainted baseball, Well Bettman the world is watching and we on to your corruptions! BOOM!

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      i saw basically the same hit watching the Avs/Lames game last night where a albeit slightly more intense crosscheck into the boards was called with the ref standing right there. and an extremely borderline call on Johnny “Hockey” for embellishment as he was taking a high stick close to his face and happened to jump just a little bit. wow, i’m just not getting what the ref’s are seeing these days on the ice? no wonder Hathaway had some choice words for the refs after the game was over and the Lames lost ! 🙂 if i’m the Oilers, i’m documenting the bad calls and non calls and confronting the league at the end of the season with it !

      • Glencontrolurstik

        Let’s go back to the LA game, were that goal had to be reviewed twice for the win.
        If McLelland hadn’t challenged, we would have lost.
        Why should he have to challenge that in the first place???
        The Refs clearly saw the infraction & didn’t call it?
        They reviewed it once after for another reason & didn’t call it?
        McLelland asks for a review for a different reason and it’s called immediately.
        Why wasn’t this called earlier & why does it take a coach to question it?
        Also, I can’t remember the game, it was recent.
        The ref (against Oilers)blew his whistle to call a play dead. Points to an opposing player, the penalty box opens even. A quick discussion (not involving Oilers) occurs & there is a faceoff in the Oiler zone.
        Penalty box closes, end of story… What the hell was that all about?
        I will say it again, never, ever again will we see 2 Canadian Teams in a Stanley Cup Final.
        US networks would care less & all those “beach-teams” will slowly become “meh” to their fans.
        If the Oilers of the last 10 years were in Anaheim or LA or any of the Southern non-winter states, they would be long gone by now. My point is the league has asked the refs to make sure that doesn’t happen, I firmly believe that.

  • OriginalPouzar

    I’m an Oilers fan – I watch each and every game. I watched each and every game before McDavid and before Taylor Hall and i will continue to watch each and every game. If McDavid wasn’t an Oiler, I would still watch each and every game – I am sure glad he is an Oiler though.

  • OriginalPouzar

    They aren’t going to make the playoffs and may only win a third or half of the games left but each game has a story to tell and each game has things I will watch for:

    – can Talbot continue his recent string of solid play reminiscent of his play in 2017/18? That would be huge going in to the off-season

    – can Strome continue to have success at the 3C and PK role – if so, it provides the ability to play both Nuge and Drai in the top 6 and fills a top 6 winger role internally so management doesn’t make the mistake of spending cap with term on a veteran – a stop gap solution until we have prospect graduation

    – can Khaira solidify himself as an NHL center.

    – can Slepy continue to find chemistry with Stome to form a solid 3rd line paring or prove he can be an every day top 6 winger?

    – Can Aberg earn an every day middle 6 role?

    • lee

      When your top left winger hasn’t scored in 27 games, and Hall is having a superstar season that’s on management. They traded Hall, and they brought in Lucic to replace him.
      The Oilers had been bad for a lot of years and were set to be power house team for years to come until PC showed up. Now this team in going back to a mini rebuild, average to terrible goal tending, weak defense and the poorest collection of wingers in the league.
      This is what PC has produced in 3 years where he was given a team most GM’s dream of.
      TM also has to take it on the chin because he has only added to the misery that is this season.

  • percy

    .It’s going to be interesting to see how this organization addressess this situation in the off season. I would strongly suggest that management start by reading some of the comments on oilers nation, it might help them find the right pieces for the puzzle. This is so frustrating…..

  • Connor McFly

    Chiarelli has managed to gut this team of most of the talent. At his last presser he stumbled around the issue of RNH’s place on the team. If ownership and top management keep this clown around he move Nuge. In his tenure he has sent away Schultz, Hall, Eberle and possibly RNH.
    The Oil aren’t the only issue. The Bakersfield group is not developing any prime candidates. Even the Oil Kings suck. The Oilers organization is in big trouble. I won’t even get into Chiarelli’s bad trades and contracts. The coaching staff have no answers
    either. The glass is not half empty.. it is dry. Something has to happen here.

  • I can understand everyone wanting change but if they let Chia go this is still a losing club. What I mean is players value isn’t increasing if Chia is shown the door. I wonder about the coaching with the drop off of the team. I mean the the special teams are embarrassing. When Nurse scored that OT winner in Vegas he should of been promoted ahead of Oscar and awarded for the job he was doing. It feels like T-mac is loyal to a fault and it blocks growth.

    To improve our defence it’s going to take a high draft pick trade or god forbid Nuge. Now before you trash me how do you suggest this gets fixed. Cause I don’t want to see another kid leave when he is about to shine.

  • Battman

    Just had a thought. With all the people saying that bettman has the refs in his pocket and that is the reason that the oilers don’t get calls who thinks that actually would make sense? Wouldn’t bettman, since I’m sure that when the oilers won the McDavid lottery there was 29 other teams complaining, want the oilers to win? A more marketable franchise that already takes in tons of money, more success to the next great player, could potentially have a oilers leafs finals(the league and I can dream can’t we?) that would generate millions and a potential Matthews/McDavid rivalry story the league would love. I can’t see any reason why bettman would want the oilers to lose and have a better chance at the lottery. If we started getting the worst possible pick in the lottery then I’d be thinking bettman was conspiring against the oilers.

    • Response to first question. Because it is glaringly obvious to anybody with a set of eyes and common sense. Think it is a coincidence all this draft luck happened after the taxpayers of Edmonton got swindled? Wouldn’t be surprised if Bettman and Mandel joint ventured on the money made by ripping off taxpayers.