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:
- Philadelphia 48
- Phoenix 46
- Edmonton 43
- Chicago 42
- 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.