The dictionary defines nadir as “the lowest or most unsuccessful point in a situation” and Oiler fans know the feeling. The only real question is “which one?” Is it the 2009-10? Is it the 2011-12? Is it the 2013? Or, incredibly, is it now?
Dallas Eakins brought his ideas to Edmonton and on the surface they have failed miserably. The team now sits with a hopeless 3-10-2 record, a goals for-against total of 36-59, a home record of 1-5-0 and a firm hold on 29th overall. Even the Corsi guys like me can’t point this morning to a strong showing last night in shot differential (30-43 overall, the 5×5 close is 3-6 because they weren’t close for long) and for the season they are at Corsi for % of 45 (they were 43.5 a year ago) at 5×5 close.
Injuries are a factor–not having Hall, Perron, Smyth and Joensuu effectively flushes an entire position with replacements who are (without being cruel) not on par with the top end of the injured list. However, even an outmanned team can put forth effort–we merely have to look down the road to see what that looks like–and I’m not going to blame the Oiler fan this morning for viewing this team as pitiful.
This is the point in a comedy where guy one takes off his hat and slaps guy 2 on the upside of the head and says “NOW look at what you’ve done!” and the word “comedy” is probably the best one to retain for Oiler fans today. Whatever your pleasure–family, movie, ahem, a walk–a day spent far from thoughts of the team is probably going to do us a world of good.
Even thinking about this team right now is painful.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
It means another season on the outside, it means long weeks of NHL auditions and it probably means an assistant coach arriving sometime this week. It means the Messier role will be announced under a dark cloud and it means one of the phenom’s is probably heading out of town on a one-for-three. It means that the period of time when the Oilers had all three number one overall picks is probably going to last fewer than 100 games (or so) and it means that some of the men playing this year will not return to the NHL again.
It likely means that we’ll see Oscar Klefbom later than sooner–why would you bring him into this–and it means we’re going to see defensemen sent away and draft picks added at the deadline. It means Ales Hemsky will be dealt and it means the Oilers will be shopping for a #1 defensemen, a goalie and a veteran 2-way winger with size in the summertime.
It means the playoff dream died at Halloween. It means disaster and laughter for others and good men losing their jobs and more questions than answers. It means, ladies, that the lessons to be learned may remain at ownership level and that, despite (I believe) smart men hired and good moves made this organization is broken this morning.
It means nadir. Again.
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?
- The Edmonton Oilers don’t have enough NHL players. Find good players, keep good players. There is something rotten in the decision making–and this goes back forever–that allows this organization to throw away useful things (Chimera, Brodziak, Hartikainen, Dubnyk next summer) like they’re yesterday’s papers. They make a decision and that’s it–there’s a sense of certainty that is ill-advised, a sense of expertise that sadly does not exist. The Edmonton Oilers–at their heart–are not as smart as they think they are, and it bites them in the ass routinely. Many believe the disconnect is Kevin Lowe, many feel owner Katz is too hands on, many believe MacT is out of his element. I don’t have those answers because I’m not privy to the relationships and the conversations. I will say it took Detroit from 1983 to 1997 to climb Everest, and that’s a long, long time.
- Dallas Eakins. There’s a combination of arrogance, piss, vinegar, courage and intelligence that makes him very interesting, but the process of learning and being schooled is going to be difficult to watch. Eakins is a smart guy–I’d wager he’s going to be an outstanding coach for a long time in the NHL–but there’s every chance he’s going to benefit his second team far more than this one. Example: Roster makeup. They’ve shown a willingness to sacrifice effectiveness on the PK in order to have enforcers (two at a time) on the 4line. It cripples the PK, forces their skill forwards beyond 25 minutes and leaves little energy for a 3rd period push.
IS ALL HOPE LOST?
No. The splendid promise of youth remains, the roster has all kinds of possibilities and 20 years from now we’ll be talking about Stanley’s won and pennant races secured. I believe that, sincerely. I believe Craig MacTavish is a smart man, and I believe Dallas Eakins will be a great coach.
This is a nadir–maybe THE nadir because it comes at a time when expectations are high, and that’s unique compared to the recent past–but at some point you and I have to examime the moves made since Darryl Katz took ownership of this team and reach the only reasonable conclusion:
Edmonton Oilers ownership is not focused on winning. Whatever their priority–arena, empire building, friendships–the established ‘best practices’ of hiring good people and allowing them to do their job without interference do not exist with this organization.
Until that is established, they are Nadir’s raiders.