I have been a diehard Edmonton Oilers fan since I was seven years old. I was privileged to watch the many greats who have donned Oiler orange and blue throughout the years. Yes maybe we were spoiled by a lot of that earlier success after all the Oilers won their first Stanley Cup in only their fifth year of existence in the NHL. Now it has been twenty-three long seasons since the Oilers won their last Stanley Cup. The past seven seasons the team has missed the playoffs. Oddly enough the last time the Oilers were in the playoffs they were two goals away from winning the Stanley Cup as they lost in game seven to the Carolina Hurricanes. I still cannot believe they lost that year.
The Hockey Gods have not been positive towards the Edmonton Oilers in recent years. As a hockey fan this truly has become something of a difficult thing to accept. I now, for the first time ever, question my faith to the Edmonton Oilers. I am really thinking that I need a new team to cheer for. I cannot continue to support a team mired in futility.
What is Wrong With the Edmonton Oilers?
The Oilers franchise was once storied with the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey, Mark Messier, Grant Fuhr, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Doug Weight, Ryan Smyth and others who hockey fans admired and loved to watch. The run and gun style of the Oilers made them an entertaining team perhaps the most entertaining team to watch in all of professional sports, but things have changed.
- Gone are the consecutive Stanley Cup championships
- Gone are the yearly trips to the post season. (The Oilers are now the team with the longest consecutive missed playoff streak.
- Gone are the scoring frenzy games won 8-6
- Gone are the multiple 100 point seasons
- Gone are the Chris Prongers, Sheldon Sourays and Mark Messiers
If we look at the fourteen seasons since the greatest player of all-time and one of the greatest Edmonton Oilers of all-time, Wayne Gretzky, retired, here is how poorly the Edmonton Oilers have been:
- the team finished an average of 21st overall; not having finished higher than #12 as they did in 2000-2001.
- the team has averaged 33 wins during the regular season. Out of 82 games this is below the elite teams of the NHL
- the team has averaged 34 losses per season during this same time
- the Edmonton Oilers have averaged 79 points per season
- their winning pct is a paltry 0.498
- the Goals per Game has averaged 2.65 goals per game
- their goals against has been 2.84
The futility continues and it is hard to watch for long time hockey fans of the Edmonton Oilers. So then the question is just what exactly is wrong with the Edmonton Oilers? From this fans’ perspective here is a list of ten areas that have set the Oilers back.
- The Old Boys Club – I liked Kevin Lowe as a player. As management he has made more poor decisions than good ones. Along with Craig MacTavish, Scott Howson and a few others, the country club atmosphere of the management team of the Oilers needs to be reset. These guys have simply not been able to produce. The number speak for themselves.
- Weak Defense – the Oilers have always been a high flying team. While I, as a hockey fan, would never ever want them to play a trap style of game, their defense over the past decade has been weak. Let’s be honest the Edmonton Oilers give up a lot of shots and as a result too many goals.
- Goaltending – the Oilers have not had a true all-star goalie for years. Dwayne Roloson for as much as I dislike his playing of the position was solid in Edmonton’s run for the Cup in 2006. Since then no one has taken the reigns. Devan Dubynk has been decent this year, but he has not been able to make the save when the team needed it the most. This is a far cry from Grant Fuhr who might given up three or four goals, but you knew he wouldn’t give up the fifth. It would be nice to see a top calibre goaltender such asRoberto Luongo join the Edmonton Oilers, we just don’t see that happening. Regardless the Oilers need an upgrade in the goaltending position.
- Too Many Small Forwards – the Oilers are in need of a power forward or two. Taylor Hall is emerging as a Mark Messier/Glenn Anderson hybrid, but he needs some help. On too many nights the Oilers are being out-muscled for the puck. They need a couple of solid fowards who can hit and core the key goal from time to time.
- The Winning Ways have turned to Losing Days – there has been too much losing for too long and while management continues to talk re-build, the fans deserve better. The young talent of the Oilers deserve better. A winning environment is a must. You can preach positivity as much as you want, but the bottom line is that you have to win hockey games.
- The Ryan Smyth Hex – I love Ryan Smyth as a player. On that trade deadline day in 2007, it was reported that Smyth and the Oilers had agreed to a new deal then 15 minutes later it was announced that Ryan Smyth had been traded to the New York Islanders. This was a terrible mistake by the Oilers and by Kevin Lowe. I put my own hockey fan hex on the Oilers stating that they would not win another game that season. And you know what? The hex worked as the Oilers won only two of their last 19 games that season.
- The Chris Pronger Jinx – Getting Chris Pronger was one of the greatest moves made by the Oilers brass. Pronger was a warrior for the Oilers and took them to game seven of the Stanley Cup finals where Pronger probably should have (and would have) won the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP had the Oilers won the Stanley Cup over the Carolina Hurricanes that season. Instead, just mere days after losing in game seven, Chris Pronger asked to be traded away from Edmonton. Speculation was that his wife did not like the city, but there were other rumors as well. Regardless the Chris Pronger era in Edmonton was bittersweet.
- Inconsistency – it is almost unbelievable as to how inconsistent the Oilers have been in recent seasons. Take this season for example. The Oilers won five games in a row to jump into a playoff spot. Since then the Oilers have only won one of their past ten games. Their compete level has entirely disappeared. They will never be a Cup contender if they cannot overcome these inconsistencies.
- Players not being accountable – why was Ales Hemsky given a contract extension and a raise last year? Why did Kevin Lowe offer a ridiculous contract to Shawn Horcoff. Why is Shawn Horcoff captain and not Ryan Smyth? In recent years the Oilers have signed and paid players who quite honestly should not have been playing in the NHL (Marcus Nilsson anyone?)
- Lack of Compete – the Oilers have not shown that they can compete with the elite of the League. They are not the Pittsburgh Penguins of the Chicago Blackhawks.
You have to think that the Oilers will be better next year. But will they?