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The Few That Remain

January 4, 2010

A lot has been said about the culture within the organization over the past few months and indeed, during the second half of Craig Mactavish’s tenure as the Oilers’ head coach. While it’s obvious to many fans and media types that the the team’s management needs to properly address specific needs on the ice. If it isn’t already obvious to the actual players entrenched in this bush-league situation then something is seriously amiss. Jim Matheson and Sheldon Souray tip-toe around the subject here. It’s tough to come straight out and admit that your team is awful and that you don’t have enough good players, especially for those that were around in 2006, but it seems like people involved with the Oilers are almost ready to call a spade a spade.

In the mid-nineties the Oilers always had an identity, and Todd Marchant defined it perfectly. Not really big in physical stature, though mean enough to mostly make up for it, skates well, decent hands everywhere on the ice except where it really counts, intense and always tough to play against. The Oilers these days are made up of a miriad of different identities and different reasons for playing hockey. Some generally want to succeed, while more of them just like the free gear.

Pat Quinn seems ready to wash his hands of it all, and people defend him because of his so-called lack of good players. I agree with that, they should stop dressing blind guys for every game, but Pat Quinn has the ability and the power to change the culture of the Edmonton Oilers, from top to bottom, with one converstaion. He needs to preach to his troops the need to focus on learning the process of being a professional hockey player. Forget about winning, forget about turning around this lost season, for 90 points and a tenth-place finish is surely the worst possible scenario at this point. Put everyone on the same page, preferably the prologue as opposed to the climax, because if this is as good as it’s gonna get, someone order a package of sharp knives and run a warm bath.

From Sam Gagner to Sheldon Souray, the best thing for this organization is to relax and focus on learning their craft, especially the guys that think they already have it figured out. Take knowlegde from wherever you can get it, such as adopting the Detroit Red Wings’ policy of refusing to accept bad passing in practice. Mistakes will become more frequent, and fans of teams playing the Oilers will be a happy lot, but at least the story will begin to take shape. Veterans and big contracts will be given the peace out handshake as from top to bottom this organization learns how to dedicate itself to long-term stability and passionate competition. Hockey’s a funny game, you’ll eventually get rewarded in some aspect for the time and effort you put into it, it just might be obscure and difficult to see the corelation. To the chagrin of veterans that want to win Stanley before they die, switching to a process driven team rather than results is the way to discover who fits in with the culture. For some of the Oilers, it’s just too late in the game.

P.S. I wrote this before the Oilers played the Sharks. Let’s see if I’m singing the same tune tomorrow.

Edit: Yep.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jenn permalink
    January 4, 2010 1:11 pm

    Hi! I wanted to prove that I could read and find the comment section. Now that I’ve done that I will comment that there must be something to Pat Quinn, since he managed to get Toronto fans to stay true to the Leafs through many unsuccessful years…perhaps it’s like you say, they may not have won Lord Stanley, but they won enough games, and played decent enough hockey, that the fans were convinced they were professional hockey players and enjoyed going to the games. It’s time to let go of the playoff dreams and just try to win a game, and win it well. (not by fluke).

  2. January 4, 2010 4:30 pm

    Good call, winning by something other than total fluke would be nice.

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