7

How can anyone feel confident in the Edmonton Oilers?

Things are rough in Edmonton.

And it’s not like anyone in the city is unaware of the struggles this franchise has endured for decades. For the better part of the last 12 years, to be precise, there have been far more dark clouds than sunny days.

It’s hard to look at that time and see things the organization has done right. They’ve cycled through a revolving door of coaches and general managers, but one thing has remained the same: ineptitude, awful decision making, and nepotism.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can look at the Oilers organization and be happy with what they’re seeing.

For years, the revolving door has welcomed new faces in as the one to turn this organization around only for the door to hit them on the way out.

Ken Holland got hired in Edmonton in part due to his relationship to Bob Nicholson from Hockey Canada. Tippett, too, has connections to that organization from Nicholson’s time.

Peter Chiarelli, Ken Hitchcock, and Todd McLellan all have their own Hockey Canada connections.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Dallas Eakins and Ralph Kreuger were both outside hires, but only coached 161 games between them. The former of the two looks like he would’ve been the right coach, just at the wrong time. Look at what he’s doing in Anaheim.

Tom Renney, Pat Quinn, Craig MacTavish, Kevin Lowe and even Steve Tambellini have had deep connections to the Oilers, too.

Today, Ken Holland and Dave Tippett have been the frontmen of this organization for three years now. In that time, the Oilers have gone an embarrassing 1-7 in the playoffs. An under-matched Chicago overperformed and had their way with the Oilers in the 2019-20 qualifying round winning one of four games. Then Edmonton was bounced in a four-game sweep last year by the Winnipeg Jets leading to the Oilers circling the wagon and acquiring Duncan Keith.

“But Zach! Look what they do in the regular season!”

Yeah, they’re averaging 96 standings points per 82 games over the last three years — hardly enough to scrape by in a loaded Western Conference all the while having the two of the most offensively gifted players in the entire world.

But hey, what does being bounced in the playoffs mean if you have a strong regular season, am I right?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The fire Tippett and fire Holland crowds are out in full swing, and rightly so. The Oilers withered away the best start in franchise history and top spot in the division to go a measly 3-7-2 since the start of December and barely holding onto a wild card spot.

Edmonton’s only won a single game with Tippett behind the bench in that time and it came on the first day of December. Things aren’t looking favourable with tough road matchups against the New York Rangers tonight and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Head scratching lineup decisions don’t help.

The team on the ice? Uninspiring. Connor Mcdavid and Leon Draisaitl do their thing on a nightly basis and do it well, but the Oilers bottom-six is as bad as it has ever been and the defence continues to be filled with holes. Part of that is on the general manager, but part of it is on the coaching staff to properly deploy the players. Those players on the ice, too, need to clearly step up their play as well.

Holland, meanwhile, hasn’t sat on his hands in making moves he could see benefiting the club. Not the worst thing, but the problem is he’s consistently overpaid for assets, and they’ve fallen flat. Tyler Ennis, Mike Green, Andreas Athanasiou, Duncan Keith, Warren Foegele, etc.

Edmonton is now in year seven of Connor McDavid, and they quite literally have nothing to show for it. The team is once again the laughing stock of the league.

My confidence in both Dave Tippett and Ken Holland is waning by the day.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

In an overarching sense, it’s hard not to look at the organization from the top down and see a need for change. A different perspective, some fresh faces, an in-depth analytics department, new pro and amateur scouts.

This organization has been going through the motions for far too long and it’s not unreasonable for those who invest their time and money into the team to ask for more.


Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]