Every great team since 1967 spring can point to the draft as a major source of raw materials for their dynasty. NHL teams figured out the importance of the draft long ago, but it doesn’t always work; sometimes the light switch does nothing when engaged, sometimes the tumblers don’t tumble, sometimes there’s a friggin’ in the riggin’.
Most often, the rebuild takes much longer than expected.
Marcel Dionne was an exceptional young player in the spring of 1971. Scouts had Dionne and Guy Lafleur graded out as the top amateurs in the land, and when the Red Wings called his name in 1971 it should have been the beginning of a run to glory. Things started out well enough, Gordie Howe nicknamed him “Little Beaver” and early on it became obvious Dionne would be a prolific scorer in the NHL.
That was 1971-72. Just a few short years later, Dionne forced his way out of Detroit. The story is long, so it comes in bits:
If you click on the first one, you can read the entire story. Bottom line for Detroit: in his 4 seasons there, Dionne’s coaches were Johnny Wilson, Ted Garvin, Alex Delvecchio and Doug Barkley. The worst GM in NHL history presided over the mess and is got so bad Gordie retired, Dionne walked and darkness fell over Hockeytown.
This isn’t darkness with Harkness, but if the Oilers don’t start winning games consistently and pushing for the playoffs then bad things will happen. Not signing Ales Hemsky doesn’t do the 12-13 Oilers any favors, and trading him for picks and prospects means you are moving back the wins again. At some point, teenagers grow into young men and agents have the long term view for their clients.
The Edmonton Oilers are owned by Darryl Katz, relatively new to the franchise running industry and sure to make a few missteps along the way. The Dustin Penner trade a year ago meant Oscar Klefbom was an Oiler and someday he can help. However, should the Oilers deal Ales Hemsky for picks and prospects, I think we can begin to ask some questions that will be uncomfortable.
Questions like “how many years will Taylor Hall and Oscar Klefbom be on the same team?”
Despite what Alex Delvecchio said in that 37-year old article posted, Marcel Dionne didn’t leave for dollars, it wasn’t about the money. It was about survival: sooner or later things have to get better or the frustration becomes too much. Ask Marcel Dionne, ask Rick Nash.