Survivor’s Guide to Being an Oilers Fan

This is Thomas Steen. The expansion Winnipeg Jets were craptastic until he (and others) arrived on the scene.

In 79-80, the Jets lost 49 games. They had some really good young players though, including Morris Lukowich (23 years old and he popped 35 goals), Scott Campbell (looked like a winner on the blueline before injury), Craig Norwich (had a really nice season at a young age), Dave Christan (was a killer the moment he turned pro), and a few others with promise. They were an interesting team to watch, but pretty much everyone knew the result before pushing through the turnstiles for a game.

80-81 saw them lose 57 games, fall down the elevator shaft and land with a resounding thud. Lots of promise though, Dave Christian had a tremendous rookie season (71 points in 80gp), Norm Dupont and Danny Geoffrion were scoring goals, Dave Babych at 19 showed flashes of being an impact defender, Doug Smail and Jimmy Mann arrived in the NHL.

The 81-82 team lost 33 games, and won 33 too. Dale Hawerchuk was the big star that season, a tremendous center with a wide range of skill who arrived and played like he owned the joint. Paul MacLean showed up, Steen too, Tim Watters, they traded for Lucien Deblois. They were at that time a good young hockey team. The NHL had raped the best team in the WHA and it took them 2 full seasons to get back to even and make the second season.

The current edition of the Edmonton Oilers is on pace to lose 50 games. That’s a really poor team in today’s NHL. Last season, these were the teams with the most losses:

  1. Philadelphia 48
  2. Phoenix 46
  3. Edmonton 43
  4. Chicago 42
  5. Columbus 42

Edmonton is probably going to be in the top 2 this season in the L category, with the added bonus of not having their first round pick.

For Oilers fans, the longer view is probably the best one. This time next season, Stoll and Pitkanen will be signed or dealt, Horcoff-Hemsky will be another year older, as will Cogliano, Penner, Gagner and others. Hopefully the veteran role players will be healthier, and we’ll have seen signs from the group of kids that includes Pouliot, Jacques, Nilsson and Schremp. Gilbert will be signed.

I don’t think we should count on them being a lot better though. A longer view is the wise one, with the possibility of being in the Taveras sweepstakes in clear view.

So for us, the 07-08 Oiler fan, it is wise to enjoy games like last night’s not only for the W but also for all the good plays made by players under 25. Those are the names to enjoy and to remember, because when the Oilers get good again it’ll be on their backs.

As Louise would say, small steps.

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20 Responses to "Survivor’s Guide to Being an Oilers Fan"

  1. Steve says:

    I agree completely that we should be watching this game with an eye to the future, but I just can’t see us being in the Tavares sweepstakes. Even this year, the team’s better than its record would indicate, what with the injuries to three of our top six defensemen.

    With Gagner, Cogliano, Gilbert, Hemsky, Greene and maybe one or two nice surprises currently in the AHL two years better, I think this team should be in the 2010 playoffs – provided we have a goalie, which we should be able to get for Roloson’s salary.

    Neither Stoll nor Pitkanen looks to be in line for a big raise (unless Anaheim or Buffalo signs Stoll to a big offer sheet, in which case we take the picks).

    I’m an optimist by nature, but I think the 2009-1020 edition of the Oilers looks like a playoff team.

  2. pboy says:

    Best hockeysite on the web LT. Thanks!

  3. Shawn says:

    I still think we will miss the playoffs, but returns from Pitkanen, Souray, Pisani, Moreau should help.

    By next year I expect middle of the pack.

  4. Art Vandelay says:

    At this point, shouldn’t the Oilers be looking to peddle Pitkanen the minute he shows he’s healthy?

  5. Steve says:

    At this point, shouldn’t the Oilers be looking to peddle Pitkanen the minute he shows he’s healthy?

    Depends what you think he’s going to cost next year. I don’t think it will be inordinate, so I’d say we should keep him – in fact, I think we should try to lock him up before he’s an RFA, in contrast to Stoll who I’d really like to dangle in front of Buffalo and Anaheim in the hopes that one of them will give us a bunch of draft picks). What’s your thinking?

    (Incidentally, I should have included Pitkanen on the list of guys who, being two years better, will make us a playoff team in 2010.)

  6. Dennis says:

    Ana’s got enough of their own guys to worry about and I doubt Burke has the ability to create the space needed to try and sign someone away from us.

    Someone brought up Pitkanen and it brings me to a point I’ve been throwing about for awhile: I don’t like that the Oilers brought him in and didn’t sign him right away. Then again, maybe they were wary of his injury history and wanted to see how he’d hold up as an Oiler. I’m getting a bad vibe about JP and it’s like the old saying that it’s much easier to crush on your buddy’s GF when you don’t have to live with her and put up with her shit. And by old saying, I mean I just made it up:)

    LT, I’m wondering if you listened to the Oilers Live bit with Lowe and I’m wondering if that made you change your mind about him making any deals in the near future.

    I think it’s pretty much required listening for anyone that has the stomach to hear just what the Oilers have planned. Plus, Lowe also tries to explain why they did some of what they did and he also throws out some excuses for why guys aren’t performing better.

  7. Lowetide says:

    Dennis: I haven’t had a chance, but will listen to it as it has been referenced a few times now on the net.

    It seems as though Lowe’s ‘truth meter’ is on target in early off-seasons but somewhat erratic anywhere else on the calendar so I don’t know how much you can trust it.

    I think it was you who mentioned Lowe saying something about hoping MP would be a physical factor or some such and that’s kind of out there (I recall the scouting reports saying he had a temper, but physically he’s not an imposing figure).

    Fun listen, I’m sure.

    As for the trade, it only makes sense for the Edmonton Oilers to trade for veteran help. Right now you’ve got three guys who can hit ninth.

  8. PunjabiOil says:

    it’s like the old saying that it’s much easier to crush on your buddy’s GF when you don’t have to live with her and put up with her shit. And by old saying, I mean I just made it up:)

    LOL Dennis. Keep it up.

  9. jon says:

    I think the pace will lessen once Mr. Glass, Pizza, and the D gets healthy.

    As for Pitkanen though, I admit I’m not that impressed. I saw quite a bit of him in the post-lockout season and he was dynamite. A few bad injuries and a season later however, he’s a noticeably flawed player without a dominant quality.

    If I were to go merely on instinct, I’d deal him quickly before anyone in the league gets a good read on him.

  10. Rod says:

    Then again, maybe they were wary of his injury history and wanted to see how he’d hold up as an Oiler.

    Pitkanen has played four seasons in NA. Three of those were over 70 games. The other one was 58 (abdominal surgery in Dec. ’05). After the surgery and the Olympic break, the kid picked up 20 points in 24 games. Not bad.

    Basically asking what injury history?

    Unfounded questions or rumours are surfacing, and I just don’t get it. Like Bob Stauffer talking about a rumoured low pain threshold today (from Pitkanen’s days with the Flyers). Yeah, whatever. Their training and medical staff has all the appearances of being incompetent. See the comments on Mirtle’s post about Gagne’s concussion for an interesting viewpoint on why Pitkanen left Philly. Seems to have just as much credence as “low pain threshold” rumours.

    A talented 23 year old d-man (now 24) with his experience and potential is a rare commodity, and should be developed, not traded away. The Oilers should not repeat the Flyers mistake.

    I admit I’m a touch biased–Pitkanen was the most exicting Oiler pickup of the summer in my view–so I don’t get the rush to judgement. He’s played all of eight games for the Oil. Give the kid a chance to play and develop. There’s no reason to rush him out the door.

  11. dwillms says:

    At this point, shouldn’t the Oilers be looking to peddle Pitkanen the minute he shows he’s healthy?

    Realistically, what do you guys think he’ll re-sign for? The d-men in his age range who has been extended recently are:

    Matt Carle (4 yrs @ $3.4)
    Brent Burns (4 yrs @ $3.55)
    Kevin Bieksa (3 yrs @ $3.75)
    Paul Martin (3 yrs @ $3.8)
    Ryan Whitney (6 yrs @ $4.0)

    Just on numbers alone, he compares closest to Whitney. Depending on how this season goes, I’d say if we get him for 4 yrs for somewhere between $3.5 and $3.75 mil, I’d be happy.

    Some other big names who are also RFA this summer:
    Bouwmeester, Phaneuf, Seabrook, Suter, Weber, Meszaros, Ehrhoff

  12. Asiaoil says:

    I still think the oilers have the potential to catch a serious run in the last 3rd of the season when the kids are feeling comfortable and the vets return.

    Still waiting for Lowe to pull the trigger on a trade LT – no way he does anything until late January and it’s all about buying assets on the cheap – noty about winning with this franchise. EIG is just way to Wirtz for me……

  13. Jonathan says:

    I disagree on the bleak outlook for the Oilers this season. Admittedly, I don’t think they’ll be in the playoffs, but 10th-12th in the West is where they’ll probably land, once the injured players get back. Moreau and Pisani are exactly what this team needs and doesn’t have up front, and Souray/Pitkanen/Greene, while not an ideal solution, are certainly better options than Smid/Grebeshkov/Rourke.

    As for Pitkanen, he’s got undeniable physical tools, is quite young, and, barring a miracle run when he comes back from injury, should be coming off one of the worse seasons in his career. Signing him longterm to reasonable dollars seems like the solution, and I don’t care if Souray to some extent takes some of the offensive role a guy like Pitkanen would usually get. And I really don’t care what the Flyers have to say about Pitkanen. This is an organization that, almost habitually, runs down departing players, mis-diagnoses injuries, and does some of the nastier things in hockey.

  14. mike w says:

    mis-diagnoses injuries

    Yeah, remind me again of what happened to Stoll last year?

    Didn’t he play through a concussion before he had time to properly heal, and then made it worse for himself by playing anyway?

  15. Mightyoil says:

    After years of trying to acquire Pitkanen, I would almost go out on a limb and say that Lowe would never trade him, unless the return was out of this world.

    Besides, this season couldn’t be going any better for the Oilers in terms of RFA negotiation.

    4 years 12.5 mil

  16. LittleFury says:

    It’s just one kick in the balls after another. This year: good draft, crap team, but no early first rounder. next year should be a slightly better squad, which won’t mean playoffs, but also means no Taveras. Year after that we should be settled back into comfortable mediocrity.

    Fuck, this team can’t even suck properly.

  17. heed says:

    i begrudgingly agree with your assessment. that being said, the 07 / 08 oilers have been entertaining so far. i still have my hopes that we won’t be giving burke a spot in the lottery or at very least i hope he chokes to death on a piece of sushi at the pond. now that would make good tv viewing. i just see lowe standing in front of hime laughing as he turns blue in the face. i’m hoping they keep pitkanen for three reasons: his speed is absolutely amazing, his accent makes me chuckle every time and last but not least i’m hoping the nickname “mini-sticken” sticks!

  18. Dennis says:

    Mike, not hard to look up because it was during Ana’s second visit to Edm and we all remember what was going on at the time of the first one;) but Stoll got hurt when he was drilled from beyond on a very dirty hit by Pahlsson. Then, I believe he got hurt next during a game vs Van.

    Not a surprise that he came back early because the Oilers have always been an org that seemingly pushes for it. My favorite memory is York coming back early from a broken wrist and being promptly put on the PP point for a 5 on 3;) but there’s been other cases too like Grier with the shoulder and of course Smyth coming back early in that game vs the Rags in ’02 so he could be ready for the Olys.

    As for Pitkanen, I heard him speak yesterday and there has to be a language barrier with this kid. I heard a little bit about that before but the guy’s english hardly even seems passable. The reporters were asking him questions and he was more lost than Portia De Rossi at a singles bar.

    Overall, I haven’t been impressed with his early Oilers play but I’m hoping there’s something in there that resembles the ’04 and ’06 Pitkanen’s. I wouldn’t look to deal him right now, either. It’s just worrisome to me that they didn’t sign him right off the bat. And, let’s be honest, I don’t even think we ever read the obligitory, “I am so glad to be in edm because they play uptempo hockey, have a great history and it’s cold like Finland.”;) story.

  19. Rod says:

    True enough that Stoll was cleared too quickly as they seemed to miss his initial concussion–they announced his injury as a broken nose.

    Then there’s Philly. As Mirtle pointed out, Philly kept saying Gagne was on the shelf with dizziness and headaches, while they refused to call it a concussion.

    The Oilers haven’t been perfect to be sure. That said, it’s the Flyer track record that’s disturbing. Babych, Lindros, Primeau, and now Gagne. I highly doubt that’s an exhaustive list.

    Anyway, here’s the dates re: Stoll’s concussions last year:
    - Jan. 18: Pahlsson ran him into the end boards-Oilers deemed it a fractured nose
    - Jan. 26: returned to the ice vs. SJ, 17:29 TOI
    - Jan. 27: vs. LA, 17:36 TOI
    - Jan. 31: vs. COB, 19:09 TOI
    - all of those were home games
    - Feb. 1: at Vancouver, 8:26 TOI, Stoll was knocked out for the season (deemed a concussion at that point)

    And for Gagne:
    Oct.24: knocked out of the lineup by Bouwmeester
    Nov. 5: played @ NYR, 17:30 TOI
    Nov. 7: @ Pitt, 18:40 TOI (but dizziness returned after a Roberts hit)
    Nov. 14: diagnosed with a concussion…finally

  20. Uncle Buck says:

    Mo dizzle, LT. Did you just herald the arrival of Jimmy Mann as a positive? Jimmy came to my dressing room in Nova Scotia one time when he was hurt and handed out these giant hockey cards of himslef. I think they were made by Kraft or Schwartz or someone like that.

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