Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet?

For the Edmonton Oilers, the 07-08 season is beginning to resemble the 5 hour drive from Edmonton to Medicine Hat my family takes for major holidays to visit the relatives.

The first portion of the trip (we’ll call it “summer fun”) is spent putting gas in the car, getting Tim Horton coffee and Slurpee’s, and playing CD’s (we rotate, one CD per customer, Dad gets first choice).

After the Van Morrison, the music begins to get louder and newer, and by the time we breeze through Cake, Panic! at the Disco and arrive at My Chemical Romance, Dad is getting a headache and a bit grumpy. By hour 4, classics like “I have to pee!” or “Are we there yet?” or “Michael’s hitting me!” have me wondering if a high speed drive to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is maybe the right thing to do.

I think Craig MacTavish must be roaring through Fort MacLeod as we speak. WHAT on earth can you take from these games, aside from “we’re not good enough?”

There are a few things:

  1. Tom Gilbert: Seems silly he was close to being sent out due to the “numbers” game. The numbers confirm this young D is the real deal.
  2. Andrew Cogliano: Faded lately after a solid start, he has all kinds of good things in the toolbox. I think he’s the new Butch Goring.
  3. Sam Gagner: He’s fallen off quite a bit, but usually does something Samwise once a period or so and you can tell he’s going to be a very good player. I’m hoping the Oilers consider letting him play in the WJC’s.
  4. Shawn Horcoff: He is just a helluva hockey player. Virtually unrecognized in a very wide area of Oiler nation, that fact remains the greatest mystery revolving around this club.
  5. Ales Hemsky: On many nights he is the single greatest reason to watch, and is a constant threat offensively. Sick player.
  6. Dustin Penner: I like him. I didn’t like the offer sheet, and I hated the lost draft picks but bottom line is that this guy has some unique skills and he’s young enough to get maybe a little better.
  7. Raffi Torres: I think his nickname should be ‘Psycho Killer’. He hasn’t been the player the Oilers need him to be every shift, but the Oilers need exactly this player every night.
  8. Craig MacTavish: He’s a good coach and a pretty wise man. His interview today re:Stoll is frank, intelligent and concise.

I love the draft, and it will kill me to watch Anaheim pick top 5. However, maybe I’ll take the kids to the park and ride my bike through the river valley. “I always feel like we’re going to win,” MacT said in his interview today.

You bet. As long as Oiler nation takes the long view, as in one year or more from today, I think it’s easy to see a brighter day. Short term?

Well, take a map of Alberta and find Fort MacLeod……

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36 Responses to "Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet?"

  1. Dennis says:

    the long view? Is that the one where we’re still paying Sheldon Souray?

    C’mon, LT..

  2. Lowetide says:

    Souray is going to be an albatross no doubt, Dennis.

  3. HBomb says:

    If someone who’s on the cusp calls at the deadline and wants Souray to bolster their blueline (read: San Jose), you try and make that move, even if all it nets you is a first rounder.

    Yes, he’d have to waive his NTC. His wife is from California and the Sharks are a contender.

    You do it without blinking.

    Oh, and LT….when you say 06-07, you mean 07-08, right? Yes, I know the two seasons are starting to fade into one big crappy mess…

  4. Aaron Paquette says:

    I take that trip 3 or four times a year. It’s always dad’s music, though.

  5. Lowetide says:

    HBomb: lol. Thanks for that. I wonder how many goals Souray will drop off from last season. 15?

  6. therealdeal says:

    I’m not sure. Take away Penner and Souray and I think, sure this is a tank year and then we get an awesome pick like Doughty, suck again, get Tavares and now we’re really smoking. Now we threw away our pick next year, we have no room to move because of Penner and Souray…

    I feel like Moses in the dessert, only we may have to wait more than 40 years…

  7. Lowetide says:

    therealdeal: I agree the smart play (after the Pronger trade and then the decision not to sign Smyth summer ’06) would have been suffer through two ‘Coyote ugly’ winters but then again the timing of the Katz news forced some headline chasing.

    Also, I don’t think Lowe would have kept his job finishing in the depths of the West twice in a row.

    :-)

  8. Pat says:

    TheRealDeal said: I feel like Moses in the dessert, only we may have to wait more than 40 years…

    Well we’re nearing the half-way point.

    It could be worse, I suppose – Toronto has hit the 40 year mark, and I don’t see any signs of the seas parting there. ;)

  9. mc79hockey says:

    Hey LT –

    When are you going to start giving Dennis the business over his support of the Penner signing? I don’t know what to say about a guy who thought signing that tub of lard was a good play. I would be very hesitant to trust a single thing he said.

  10. Lowetide says:

    MC: I’m not good at that kind of thing lol. I have thought of it, though. :-)

  11. therealdeal says:


    Also, I don’t think Lowe would have kept his job finishing in the depths of the West twice in a row.

    Really, the way things have been going I thought this organization rewards failure!

  12. ClaytonMagnet says:

    Regarding Lowe losing his job if the Oilers finish last two years in a row…

    I think that the Oiler fanbase is semi-hockey wise, and blue collar, standup people. I think if he came out and said that the organization was going to follow in Pittsburg’s footsteps, and build from within, and this might mean a few lean years, the fans would keep buying tickets, and he’d be fine. The beauty of it would be that he’d circumvent the whole no-one-wants-to-sign-in-Edmonton public relations nightmare by saying that we don’t want them anyways. And, it could be sold as another link to the glory days…you know…we built the heart of the 80′s team through the draft, we’ll do it again.

    And, seriously, if he can ‘run this team into the sewer’ the way he has, and get a 4 year extension, nothing would get him fired.

    This team needs a true franchise player, and the only way that happens is to get a top 3 pick. No one’s trading these guys away.

    And, yes, that means I don’t consider Hemsky a franchise player.

  13. Gret99zky says:

    I don’t mind losing as much as not being entertained. The boring defensive style this team is playing is a real drag to watch.

    I would love to see them Run and Gun. Total offense! Even if they lose 7-5. At least we get to see some speedy forwards drive toward the net, shoot the puck, and score some goals!

    Also I’d like to see some more physical play out there. Not dirty (like the Flyers) but physical. Lots of checking.

    And sign Shelley so we could see a fight every game. Fights are fun to watch and add some anticipation to that opening faceoff.

    Have some fun tanking the season. Everytime Ovechkin or Crosby scores a goal they look like it’s their first in the NHL! Laughter and High Fives! When Penner scored against Minny he looked like he had just taken his first dump in a month. Yes, THAT relieved. Does Torres even know what a smile is? This team is too wound up and so are the fans. Have some fun playing the game for goodness sake.

    I just want to be entertained by this team. I don’t care if they win or make the playoffs. I want to look forward to watching them play their next game.

    Is that too much to ask?

  14. Dennis says:

    Yes, the one time I support a major Lowe move;)

    The lesson is, anytime Lowe makes a big move that doesn’t involve receiving Pronger, chances are it will be a disaster.

  15. Dennis says:

    Though, in my defense, I said that I thought Souray would improve the PP to the point that our first rounder pick would be devalued as to Penner being more valuable than said pick.

    I didn’t think we’d make the playoffs, mind you, but I was thinking we’d be like 10th worst and that Penner would be as valuable as anyone we’d pick up in the slot.

    Clearly, the Oilers should’ve given Danny Markov what he wanted for about two years and not bothered with Penner and got ready for another high pick. Maybe Horc gets sick of losing and walks after ’09 but that’s the only bad thing I could think would happen because of tanking.

    BTW, so many things have gone against us, it’s hard to believe. Lowe decides to fuck Smyth and fuck everyone on Pronger and then the team tanks and if they don’t beat Cgy the last night of the year, they wind up getting the first pick and Patrick Kane. That’s not to slag Gagner but Kane looks even better.

  16. Slipper says:

    They don’t necessarily get the first pick, do they? Would that Chicago lottery ball have been the same ball if the Oilers’ had lost to Calgary?

    Like, the exact same ball?

  17. godot10 says:

    //Souray is going to be an albatross no doubt, Dennis//

    With the loonie at 110 cents, the Oilers are now officially wealthy enough to buy out Souray if need be, or bury him in the AHL (I don’t think he has a no move, does he?)

    Souray is earning less in loonies than Doug Weight ever did as an Oiler.

  18. Bruce says:

    Raffi Torres: I think his nickname should be ‘Psycho Killer’.

    Psycho killer, qu’est que c’est?

    Does Torres even know what a smile is? This team is too wound up and so are the fans.

    I can’t seem to face up to the facts
    I’m tense and nervous and I can’t relax
    I can’t sleep cause my bed’s on fire
    Don’t touch me I’m a real live wire

    [Talking Heads -- Psycho Killer]

  19. Pat says:

    Gret99zky said
    And sign Shelley so we could see a fight every game. Fights are fun to watch and add some anticipation to that opening faceoff.

    I know that MacT talks about team toughness but he has, or at least has developed, a fundamental aversion to it. Two things come to mind. First, I recall him on Tencer’s show around late July or early August. Tencer softly asked the question about team toughness, alluding to Boogard. To his credit, MacT admitted that they got pushed around. Now this is the part I don’t get. In response to Tencer’s perfectly logical follow up question (this is all paraphrased): “do you plan to address that?”, Mact responds with a resounding “no”. Seriously. He went on to say something along the lines of addressing it by committee, etc.

    Second, there’s this quote from MacT last year:

    “I think it’s definitely time to ask the question and start to gather some information in terms of the elimination of fighting.”

    What more do we need to know about MacT and toughness?

  20. mike says:

    I enjoyed watching a couple games this year, the Philly game, the Detroit game, but that last one against Minni was one of the most painful things I’ve done for the oil ever.

    I’m all in for the development of the picks at a major league level, I like the idea of running Brodziak instead of Anson Carter this whole year, and I’ll wait my turn to have another cup contender. Even if it takes five full years.

    Mostly though I think the Oilers need some better veterans. When the core of the veterans includes Moreau and Reasoner, its a bit of a stretch to think the team is going to be competitive any time soon.

    I don’t think its because of K Lo or Mac T that the team sucks, I think its because the oil have all of one player who has a chance at the all star game. And mostly I think that points to the drafting of the mid 90′s as being some of the worst team management in the history of pro sports.

  21. Bank Shot says:

    I don’t think its because of K Lo or Mac T that the team sucks.

    Yes, yes it is.

    Calgary and Vancouver have had shittier drafting then the Oilers over the last ten-fifteen years and they actually have valuable assets on their teams.
    Sutter has stolen guys like Huselius, Tanguay and Kipprusoff. Burke took the basement dwelling Canucks and turned them into a regular season powerhouse.

    Lowe made the Pronger deal as the one jewel in his crown. All his other deals range from bleh to awful.

    I guess Mactavish is probably around average as far as coaches go. He certainly doesn’t have the goods like guys like Sutter, Ted Nolan, Hitchcock, even Lindy Ruff.

    These guys can compete for a playoff spot with rosters of dogs.

    I just heard on a broadcast the other day that the Sabres haven’t lost more then 3 games in a row in 7 years. 7 years! They had some bad seasons in that time period as well. The Oilers on the other hand have a 5+ game losing streak or two every season.

    I think the Oilers level of success in recent years is a direct result of average to below average off ice management.

  22. MetroGnome says:

    I would love to see them Run and Gun. Total offense! Even if they lose 7-5. At least we get to see some speedy forwards drive toward the net, shoot the puck, and score some goals!

    As a Flames fan, I’d love to see the Oilers employ that strategy. Because they wouldn’t lose 7-5, they’d lose 7-2. Edmonton doesn’t have the horses to duke it out with most of the opposition in the NHL, even for the purposes of losing “in an entertaining manner”, if such a thing exists.

  23. Black Dog says:

    LT – at least Souray’s plus minus is on pace to be better.

    :)

  24. mike says:

    In ten years I think we’ll have a better idea of what K Lowe’s off ice efforts have been. Towards the end of 2006 I think we were all still pretty impressed.

    Apart from that SCF appearance, I’ll agree that Edm under Lowe hasn’t done much. Granted, that is more than almost every GM in the league, but hey. Standards here are high.

    KLo, since that little SCF fiasco of 06, has reassembled a troop of kids. its hard for me to say if any are worthy of the HOF just now, maybe there is a chance for one or two, plus a couple allstar appearances for more than hemmer and sam. Hard to say when they’re all 22.

    I don’t remember Buffalo winning the SC despite their consistent regular season play. I do remember Edmonton being in the SCF on more than one occasion, and more recently than all but three teams.

    What do you want? A team that consistently shows up in the regular season and is out in the second round (read Calgary)? Or do you want a team (read Buffalo) who just can’t seem to ever get it done?

    As for me, I’ll take the team that hits peaks and then tanks for shots at crosby or tavares.

  25. Sean says:

    Gret99zky’s comment was one of the smarter ones I have read all year. Honestly, it’s obvious that when players come to Edmonton, they seem to have no fun, which possibly explains the nosedive in their performance. Every time I read the Sun or Journal, some Oilers player is quoted as as saying “We just have to do this better” or “we just have to do that better” or “I’m trying to find my game” or “I’m just clutching the stick a little too hard”. If people hate their job, or their work environment, they’re not going to work their best. I think the time came many seasons ago where the Oilers had to fire MacTavish. As smart a hockey mind as people say he is, I don’t believe he’s good at making it a good environment in which to play hockey. Players who play under him just lose their excitement and their desire to play I think.

  26. godot10 says:

    Lowe & MacT: Is 11th out of 30 good or bad?

    http://mirtle.blogspot.com/2007/11/30-team-era.html

    //For all of the talk of relocation, expansion and tumult in the NHL, it’s been seven years since we’ve seen the shifting (or creation) of a franchise. The 2000-01 season was the beginning for Columbus and Minnesota, and the end to the league’s latest, four-team expansion plan.
    A look at how all 30 teams have fared in the 30 team era://

    GP W L T/OTL PTS
    1 Detroit 492 304 113 75 683
    2 Ottawa 492 283 137 72 638
    3 Dallas 492 274 143 75 623
    4 New Jersey 492 273 143 76 622
    5 Colorado 492 266 146 80 612
    6 Vancouver 492 257 163 72 586
    7 San Jose 492 250 165 77 577
    8 Toronto 492 250 170 72 572
    9 Philadelphia 492 237 167 88 562
    10 Buffalo 492 250 182 60 560
    11 Edmonton 492 222 182 88 532

  27. Master Lok says:

    As smart a hockey mind as people say he is, I don’t believe he’s good at making it a good environment in which to play hockey. Players who play under him just lose their excitement and their desire to play I think.

    Do you have any justification for thinking this? Because players tend to look at the camera and yell “I love playing for Mike Keenan WOOO!” and MacT doesn’t have people yelling that?

  28. Bank Shot says:

    Godot: I guess they’ve faired alright since 2000-2001.

    Although 4 of those teams have only been around since 1998 and later so you’d have to think they’d be at a pretty big disadvantage starting from scratch and all. Even still Minnesota is only 25 points behind the Oilers and closing fast. Nashville is 2 points behind.

    Then you take into account the fact that the Oilers are trending downwards and most if not all of the teams behind them will gain ground or pass them and by this time next season the Oilers are probably sitting 14-16th.

    Pretty average by that metric.

  29. Sean says:

    Masterlok

    As smart a hockey mind as people say he is, I don’t believe he’s good at making it a good environment in which to play hockey. Players who play under him just lose their excitement and their desire to play I think.

    Do you have any justification for thinking this? Because players tend to look at the camera and yell “I love playing for Mike Keenan WOOO!” and MacT doesn’t have people yelling that?

    My justification for this was in my original post, and is based purely on observations and inferences from what I see on the ice, what I hear from the players mouths, and what I read in the media. Just today, we read about how MacTavish blasted his team:

    DENVER – Edmonton Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish lit into his entire team on Tuesday.

    Their legs weren’t burning, but their ears certainly were as MacTavish called out most of his players, questioning the heart of the worst team, at least statistically, in the National Hockey League.

    There it is, players’ hearts aren’t into it. They’re not enjoying what they’re doing, and they’re not putting their all into their play – that’s from the horse’s mouth himself.

    Furthermore, the circumstantial evidence also supports my position: I don’t know about you, but I always enjoy my work a lot more when my boss tears me a new asshole and questions my heart. This isn’t a new thing either – we hear all about the bag skates and bash sessions. After a few years of this, I might look for new employment.

    Also, I didn’t know a layperson’s observation in the comments to a blog necessitates the references and evidence required to support a graduate thesis.

    Therefore, given I don’t have any real evidence other than this to back up my comment, your sarcastic response obviously added a lot more to the discussion than my observation. Keep up the good work!

  30. Art Vandelay says:

    To give people an idea how straight the road is between Medicine Hell and Calgary, I used to point the car (’86 Camaro, doing 120 kph) and see how long I could keep my eyes closed. Personal record, 21 seconds.
    Do not attempt this at home.

  31. Slipper says:

    I love how people see a few Highlight reel goals from Ovechkin on Sports Center and conclude that it’s a big fucking party over in Washington. Try watching the other 59 and half minutes of a Caps game, or I’ll summarize it for you: BORING.

    And to whoever suggested we wait ten years before assessing Lowe’s ability as a GM: That’s a fantastic suggestion! In ten years all of Lowe’s hard work will culminate in a bonafide winner, but by then my hearing and eyesight will be gone, so I’ll only be able to take your word for it. Genius.

  32. mike says:

    If in ten years Oilers do in fact produce a bona fide winner, rather than the “good” team moniker currently associated with Ottawa, Buffalo, San Jose, Nashville…then in 12 years Oilers will have both a stanley cup title (bona fide style) and a game 7 heartbreaker near miss where the back up goalie won three games. Not bad compared to the other 29 teams.

    No matter how you do the math, KLo and MacT did get the team of nobody and Pronger to the SCF far more recently than basically all the other 29 teams.

    They together have way more rings than me, so I’m content to give them the benefit of the doubt with this fresh crop of kids, unless the plan becomes to finish between 12th – 19th over all consistently, then I’ll cheer for the leafs because they at least get air time on tsn.

    I hope they go for broke then dismantle the team indefinitely. this was the best off season I remember ever, and the playoff run of 06 was pretty fun too.

  33. Dennis says:

    Nobody and Pronger????

    Do we have to go over this again?

  34. NBOilerFan says:

    What is funny about all this is that the Oilers are sitting in 15th in the conference while the Flames are in 6th with just one more win than us. Sure they have 3 OT loses, but they are still losses in my book and this getting a point for a OT loss system is ridiculous (don’t get me started on that).

  35. Slipper says:

    It’s funny that somneone would credit a guy for assembling a team of Pronger and nobody. So in the same breath you’re basically saying he didn’t get the team there on his own merit, and getting the team there was an accident.

    For the sake of all you dolts, who are impressed that your organization completely deconstructed all the while remaining a cap pressed team, you’d better hope that NHL revenues don’t plateau.

  36. Ribs says:

    You know, it’s probably the thing I love most about the Oilers and the thing I hate most about the Oilers.

    They want to win.

    Lowe could have tanked two, three, or more seasons and built a team through the draft but didn’t because he does not accept losing. Can you fault him for that? Can you fault MacTavish for forcing every player to play a defensively sound game when they could be lighting the lamp while losing?

    I can’t. And it hurts my brain to think about it.

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