For the most part, Oiler fans have been pretty accommodating during ‘the rebuild’.
I put this ‘rebuild’ in quotations, because I’m beginning to doubt that it has a finite timetable to it, and while I’m not certain, I’m beginning to get the inkling that the ‘plan’ is to ‘look good sometime in the future’.
There are two things that I’ve come to realize with this rebuild.
- it’s taking too long to be competitive, and
- a startling number of fans are complacent with that fact. When management sends proven NHL players away for picks / prospects, everyone is OK with it. When the team stinks, it’s OK.
I read Tyler Dellow’s piece Eleven Years of Pestilence, dealing with how media tends to find a scapegoat every year only to have him driven out of town, and this year it’s Ales Hemsky. Ales Hemsky was -4 in last night’s Oilers loss, and some folks are taking Hemsky to task even though Hemsky didn’t have a damn thing to do with the goals against. Even more frightening (impressive?) is the fact that some are letting Cam Barker off with nothing more than a caution after a ghastly performance that led directly to more than one Leaf goal.
"Ales Hemsky should be playing for the Oilers in March and April. I predict Hemsky will be playing with the Detroit Red Wings presented by Amway after the deadline, and trading this near PPG career player will net the Oilers a second round pick plus a prospect that plays defence. A second round pick and Sebastien Piche, cause he had a great season in the E, y’know? Then we’ll hear about what a great deal it was for both Hemsky and the Oilers. If the Red Wings make a run into the playoffs with Ales Hemsky, I will drink enough to paralyze the entire nation of Lichtenstein. How awkward it would be to pull for Hemsky in a Red Wings sweater. I hope it doesn’t happen."
-My panel answer from The Copper and Blue as to where I think Ales Hemsky will end up after this year’s trade deadline (09 JAN 2012)
If you’ve followed this site for more than ten minutes, you know that I’m a pretty ardent supporter of Ales Hemsky, and if you’re not, I understand, although you’d be wrong not to be. I’m 99% sure that Hemsky is going to shipped off in two weeks to a team that’s better than average, ready to make a run to the cup. What will the return be? I fester around that idea like a gourmand does a dinner table. Maybe it’ll be something great. Maybe he’ll be packaged up with a prospect and a pick, and this team will finally land some NHL defence in return. Maybe it’ll be filet mignon, or prime rib. Something deep, rich, and profitable. Something worth Ales Hemsky being traded.
But what if this team moves Ales Hemsky: a pretty damn good hockey player (and a guy on the last year of his contract which screams Rental Player), for a pick? That’s a side salad with imitation bacon bits. IMITATION BACON BITS HERE, PEOPLE.
I’m not happy with that result if it happens, but it’s what I expect to happen. And nothing against Sebastien Piche, who I’ve seen on the Internet a total of three or four times, he’s not yet worth what Ales Hemsky now is. And if you don’t like Hemsky, again, fine. But if this team throws Hemsky away for imitation bacon bits, people should
RIOT be VERY upset.
Why? Because now, you’ve got to either trade for a RW, or draft one. And do you know which one this franchise is likely to do?
The latter. You know, the rebuild, unless the Oilers do a complete 180 with Linus Omark (holds breath).
It baffles me to see the team trade away actual NHLers often for prospects who have not yet played the game. Something that is worth more than a dollar and a quarter is being sent away for something that’s worth considerably less quite often around trade deadline.
But hey, the rebuild.
WHICH BRINGS ME BACK TO MY ORIGINAL POINT
The team is scoring goals. That end is holding up and, if you stack it near last year or the year before that, looks a lot better. The last three games, the Oilers have started to see what a full roster looks like. They’ve put up totals of 8, 5, and 3 goals. That’s 16 goals in three games, or more than 5 on average. That’s pretty good against teams like Detroit and Chicago, don’t you think?
But we’re rebuilding, which means that this team can’t win on a consistent basis. Why not?
You’ve got this rich talent up front that should only get better with time. You’ve got RNH (who will be out for a week or two with his shoulder injury), you’ve got Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and guys who provide savvy like Ryan Smyth. But there’s more that needs to be done.
Why isn’t the argument “Why can’t this team be competitive”? It’s bloody obvious the defence needs dressing up. This team has scored more goals this year compared to the last two, and is almost identically bad in the standings as those years previous. And while radio guys like Bob Stauffer say that the team needs to address the defence (this is Bob Stauffer saying this), the team sits idly by.
You know, the rebuild.
The only plan I see is ‘be terrible, draft high’. You, I, this guy, that girl, and the guy who owns the loud pickup truck with the exhaust problem down the road can see pretty well enough that if this team were to spend a couple million dollars to pick up a few defencemen over the summer last year (Hannan, Stralman) that it wouldn’t be half as bad.
Why can’t the team do that? Just be competitive. You know, quench a playoff drought that’s been going on for the better part of a decade. A couple more defencemen, and this ship would likely sail until April, instead of running into choppy waters in November. You know, get into the playoffs.
It’ll be six years without playoffs this April, and I will reserve drawing the kitchen utensils until after the trade deadline. Maybe Tambellini whips out a whopper, sending Hemsky away for filet mignon or a fatty tuna platter. That’s not usually what happens, and if you’re complacent with sending something good away without getting some good back, then I have some 1990 Pro Set hockey cards that I can make yours for $25 a pack.
You’ll get varying degrees of accountability as to when ‘the rebuild’ began. Some say 2008, but I’m inclined to agree with Jason Gregor here and say that a cap team (2009-10) isn’t trying to rebuild. Even if it’s been two or three years of ‘the rebuild’, it’s not okay to suck. Not now, not tomorrow, and not ever. You shouldn’t accept a product that sucks, and if it does suck, there should be active and aggressive means taken to make it not suck.
I love this team, don’t think for a minute that I don’t. But it looks like we’re going in circles here. And guess what, guys? 14-91-4’s entry-level contracts are up at the end of the 2012-13 seasons.
How long are we to remain complacent with the rebuild?
Why is this okay?
Que sera sera.
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