When schadenfreude is your best option in the second round of playoffs, it’s probably because your team is on the golf course instead of on the ice playing for a berth in the Stanley Cup final. So it goes here for fans of the Edmonton Oilers, who’ve been booking tee times themselves or making plans for the cottage since their team got swept by the Winnipeg Jets.
Laughing at the Toronto Maple Leafs for blowing a 3-1 series lead and getting eliminated in the first round yet again, this time by the Montreal Canadiens Monday, would be cold consolation if it were any other team, but the Maple Leafs and many of the media people who cover them make it more than that. They can’t seem to help themselves. In a fair turnabout, neither can we.
The chirps between fan bases I get. It’s good fun. That’s what fans do. It’s a segment of the MSM guys who can’t help but chime in on Connor McDavid and how he must want out of Edmonton after another disappointing season, and do it year after year after year, I don’t get. This year, it was Breakfast Television host Sid Seixeiro, formerly of Sportsnet, writing “Connor McDavid’s not going to put up with this much longer.”
Cathal Kelly of the Globe and Mail went all-in with: “If McDavid wants out of Edmonton, it’s on him to make that happen. He should do that. He’d be doing everyone involved a favour.” Kelly doubled down by adding, “As long as they have the best player in the known galaxy, the Oilers can continue being operatic failures. People will still pay to see him play. Maybe becoming the new Marcel Dionne and making eight figures is enough for McDavid. Let’s hope so. Because that’s where he’s headed.”
Is that so? Is that right? Well, no, at least not according to McDavid, who again dismissed any talk the lack of success he’s enjoyed here – and there’s no question that’s the case – has him hoping to ply his trade elsewhere. All that unfolded last week. All that we know. Then the Maple Leafs, who last won the Stanley Cup in 1967, imploded against the Habs. It was too easy. Like many of you, I couldn’t help myself, and I picked the Maple Leafs to win. I’m not the only one.
Auston Matthews is not going to put up with this much longer.
— Robin Brownlee (@Robin_Brownlee) June 1, 2021
Look, I don’t really care what Sid or Cathal think. I just believe it’s a bad look in general for MSM writers or commentators to suggest McDavid could or should or does feel a certain way about playing for the Oilers with, obviously, no first-hand information there’s a shred of truth to what they’re saying. I know the media landscape has changed, but writing something that’s based on at least a grain of truth should probably still apply, no?
What compounds matters is that if there’s a better example of people living in glass houses than those who watched their Maple Leafs fold yet again, I can’t think of it. Toronto hasn’t won a playoff series since Pat Quinn was their coach. Sure, chiding the wags out in the Big Smoke about the possibility Matthews might want out is low-hanging fruit, but it’s tough to resist. Impossible, really. So, Sid, and I assume Cathal, got lit up last night.
I’d much rather be watching the Oilers in the North Division final and writing about it, but the consolation prize of waiting to see what Toronto GM Kyle Dubas, the smartest guy in the room, will do now is going have to do. Dubas is up against the salary cap, has a roster that’s the definition of top-heavy with Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner and William Nylander accounting for more than $40 million in salary. Oh, and they haven’t won a damn thing. Can Dubas stand pat? I’d think not.
THE BOTTOM LINE
We know Oilers’ GM Ken Holland has his work cut out. Can he afford to keep Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? Does he want to? If not, he’s going to need to add another top-six winger, and more likely two, to complement McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. He’s got to re-sign Adam Larsson and maybe take a run at doing the same with Tyson Barrie, who is likely priced higher than what Holland wants to pay. What about goal? What about a third-line centre?
Those are questions Holland has had to contemplate since being swept by the Jets. Rightfully so because the results haven’t been there. You’ve got your ideas and I’ve got mine of who and what it might take for us to be watching playoff hockey beyond the first-round next season. Likewise, Dubas, out again. So, for maybe just one day before getting back to contemplating what happens next here, I’m thinking about that. Looks good on you, Toronto.
Previously by Robin Brownlee
- Encore in the Crease
- The Price You Pay
- Grease is the Word
- A Different Kind of Animal
- On Second Thought
- At Random: 55 Down