Might Sound Crazy But…

mcdavid-canada-usa-gettyI’m going to get right to it.  I believe it is in the Edmonton Oilers best interest to trade Connor McDavid.  We all drool about what he will do for this organization.  But the team is already solid without him.  All this talk of trading Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for a D-man is nice, but McDavid brings back a legit number 1 D, probably two or three 1st round picks, a top 9 centre and if it’s the right team a potential power forward.  Think of a team like the Panthers.  If the Oilers were to add a Griffin Reinhart to the deal, I don’t see why the Panthers wouldn’t do Ekblad, Crouse, Bjugstad, and three 1st rounders for McDavid.  This gives the Oilers the pieces needed to round out the hockey club.  Still great down the middle with Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins and Bjugstand.  The blueline is solidified with Ekblad joining Nurse and Klefbom not to mention he has that big RH bomb from the point on the PP which the Oilers have lacked.  Crouse will step in next season and give the team that big body and edge in the top 6 that this team has lacked forever.  And finally while getting these 3 pieces you also load up the system by adding the 1st round picks. With all that added to the Oilers, they would be in just as good of shape to win multiple Stanley Cups moving forward.

 

You didn’t really buy that, did you?  IDIOT!!!  (like what I did with the picture and how it ties into both?  I know you’re all thinking “Soups you sly little devil”)

 

What might sound crazy, isn’t that crazy (actually what I suggested up top probably isn’t overly crazy either, but from a business point of view it’s insane when you have other valuable pieces you can use to fill in around McDavid).  I’m personally going to be pulling for the U.S. to beat Canada in the opener at the WJC on Saturday morning.

 

Why?  Well it’s pretty simple.  Historically teams that face adversity early in these tournaments are better off later on.  I think back to the 2010 WJC in Saskatoon.  Canada played a sloppy game and yet somehow managed to beat the U.S. on NYE 6-5 in a shootout.  When they faced off in the gold medal game, the U.S. got down early but really controlled a large majority of that game.  Now people will say it ended 6-5 in OT so it could have gone either way, they’ll say that Jake Allen was awful that night, and both are true statements.  But the U.S. had the better team that Tuesday night in Saskatoon, and you could feel it.  Even after Jordan Eberle tied it with 2 late goals I recall texting with one of my buddies and saying “I still don’t feel good about this”.

 

And that was far from the only time, especially in recent years.  2012 we steam rolled everyone in the round robin, then faced a good Russian team and had no answer for them until it was too late.  Again with the U.S. in 2013.  We got them in the round robin, then got punted in the teeth by them in the semi final.  And I really believe what happens is that the loss forces teams to re-evaluate themselves.  They put in that extra bit of work, they’re a little hungrier the next time around, they don’t have that invincible feeling.  Sometimes that invincible feeling is good to have…when it’s true.  In 2005 that team was head and shoulders above everyone.  Last year, even though the gold medal game got tight nobody would debate that team Canada was the best team all tournament by a pretty wide margin.  This years team isn’t nearly as loaded as last years team though.

 

Marner and Strome give Canada an awesome offensive duo up front.  I really don’t care who is put with them (Point, Crouse, whoever), those two are going to drive this team offensively.  But this is such a young team, and it has holes.  The blueline is talented, but it has a lot of the same guy and nobody stands out.  And between the pipes they’re solid, but both McDonald and Blackwood when he returns are unproven guys.

 

We saw it today.  They went up 5-1, and sure it’s an exhibition game and so it isn’t going to harm anything if they let off the gas.  But they’re flawed.  So a loss to one of the tournament favourites right off the bat might not be a bad thing at all.  I don’t think Dave Lowry would mind, it gives him something to work off of.  That way the players can’t say “we’ve won every game so why change anything?”  The coach can say “remember the U.S. game?  You guys can be beat, so here is how we’ll avoid it”.

 

Of course Canada can win Saturday morning and win the tournament.  They can go undefeated.  They can go undefeated every year.  That’s the dirty little secret of this tournament is that we are always the best, we just don’t always come together the best or play the best, but talent wise even without some of our best under 20’s we are still the most talented team.

 

Just a hunch, but I think this could be one of those years where the team that faces adversity early, overcomes it to win gold.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

The Seedy Under Belly

HarvElliottThis is a Soups on Sports special report, brought to you by Man’s World…it’s not just a man’s world anymore.  And by Lloyd Mall.  Lloyd Mall, it’s the heart of it all.

 

For years now, all I’ve heard about is how great the L&L Flyers hockey club (now known as the Flyers Athletic club K, or FACK) is.  Always winning, great crew of guys, everything seemed perfect.  But being the respected blogger I am (as most bloggers are), I knew there had to be some dirt I could dig up on this team.  So I went undercover, disguised as a guy who could barely play hockey anymore to find out the real truth.

 

As expected, the on ice product with the Flyers has been tremendous once again this season.  After dropping the season opener in Lashburn, the Flyers have rattled off 8 straight.  But with success, power struggles ensue.

 

The issue of the number 1 goaltender has been a hot one in the room of late.  Dustin Harvie opened the season as the clear cut number 1 guy between the pipes.  Harvie was solid through the first 4 regular season games, capturing the FACK belt after a stellar performance on November 15th.

 

But controversy arose after Harvie inexcusably left the team on December 6th.  You hear every kind of rumour as to why this took place.  A sale on Jordan’s, a sale on pictures of different people wearing Jordan’s, a sale on skinny jeans, you hear it all.  Nobody can figure out why, but Harvie was M.I.A. for 2 games.

 

In his absence, Chad Elliott was the Mike Condon to his Carey Price.  Yes, a no name, pretty awful goaltender just like Condon, went between the pipes and not only exceeded expectations but created a goaltending controversy.

 

Elliott stood on his head, but that wasn’t without it’s share of controversy either, in particular after the first start when Elliott…who was the recipient of the FACK heavyweight title on November 22nd, decided he need not give it up after the game on December 6th there for becoming the first ever back to back winner.  This didn’t sit well with some on the squad.  Said one anonymous player “Who the f**k does this guy think he is?!  Giving HIMSELF the belt?!  I’m Jordy f**kin Dougan and every night I’m the best player on the ice yet he gives himself the belt over me…keep this between us though Soups.”

 

After the December 9th game there was much deliberation as the whom to go with for the December 13th showdown in Lashburn.  The horribly named Molson Muscle were on the docket and FACK need to go with their number 1 guy.  Harvie got the nod.

 

With limited work thanks to rock solid defensive play, particularly in the 2nd half of the game with Kayne Rowley and Casey Phipps benched, the Flyers won easily.  But then came last nights game in Hillmond and Harvie was once again out, this time with an upper body injury (bad hair cut).  So once again Elliott was back between the pipes.

 

THIS time around however, Elliott really dropped the ball.  The Flyers definitely didn’t need good goaltending in this affair as Casey Phipps was a man on a mission, out to prove that he was the best player on the ice as he led the Flyers to a 27-4 drubbing of the Bea Fisher centre.

 

So heading into the Christmas break it has become apparent that Harvie can’t be relied on to show up, and Elliott can’t be relied on to stop a change up.  Meanwhile there is also a controversy brewing between the club and star Jordy Dougan.

 

Dougan has been in the midst of contract negotiations with the Hillmond Hitmen, yet with no out clause in his deal with the Flyers he is forced to play with both clubs.  Dougan shone for the lowly Hitmen over the weekend, yet struggled to keep up to the pace while back with the Flyers on Sunday.

 

To make matters worse, life long Hitmen fan Lee Caretaker joined the Flyers post game celebration, and he didn’t really come off as much of a Dougan fan.  So it remains to be seen if Dougan can A) pull double duty and B) play 2 completely different styles.

 

The Hitmen’s system is a lot more simple of game than the Flyers.  The Flyers have a good 50-60 breakouts they run, continually switch from man to zone coverage in their own zone, and always keep the opposition on their heels defensively by a style that can only be described as controlled chaos offensively at times sending 5 men in deep but fooling the opposition by not forechecking, and at times by only sending 1 man in….and not forechecking.

 

Then there was the infamous tampering incident between brothers Henrik and Daniel Rogers.  In the Marwayne game on December 9th, Henrik, disguised as island escapism leader James Buffett, led the team to a big win over the Imperials which of course landed him the FACK title.  But failing to carry the disguise over to the Lashburn game that Sunday, Henrik was outed while giving brother Daniel the belt in yet another decision that didn’t sit well with the Flyers board of trustees.  All that was missing was one of the spray painting RWO (Rogers World Order) on the belt, it was that much of a screw job.

 

As for myself, I’m pretty sure I’ve maintained my cover.  Everyone is in the dark and actually buys that I’m this horrendous player who has barely played since retiring from the Sask-Alta in late 2001 due to multiple knee and elbow contusions.

 

Will I be able to keep up this charade the rest of the season?  That remains to be seen.  But I can already see more issues on the horizon such as the captaincy of the club between Tyce Lowrie and Tyson Pihowich, the return of “Kranky Kayne”, GM Jesse Gruepner’s alcohol issues, Sam Sayeed’s connection to ISIS, and of course…the cuts that will have to be made for the tournament in Wainwright.

 

It’s a grueling season that promises to be one like any other, and we’re only halfway home.

Crosby Was Under Better Management This Summer at Tim Horton’s

RutherfordMorehouseDL4I would just like to start off this piece by offering my condolences to Todd Nelson.  Todd Nelson for those who don’t know is the head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins.  Pretty good gig.  So why condolences?  Nobody died.  No, Todd was the interim coach of the Edmonton Oilers last season.  Had a real good 2nd half of the season, and looked to be a serious candidate for the job in Edmonton, and perhaps coach Connor McDavid.  But Craig MacTavish declined to name a coach, then the draft lottery happened.  So Todd moved on from the Oilers and he had a lot of options, including the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins gig.  He chose Grand Rapids instead.  Had he gone to the Penguins, he would likely now be coaching Sidney Crosby.  That…that’s not good luck.

 

So I have mentioned this before on twitter, but now I’m going to write about it.  Anyone else notice the Penguins are completely ruining the prime of Sid Crosby and Evgeni Malkin’s careers?  The big panic in the hockey world when the Oilers won McDavid was that they would ruin him.  Completely warranted too.  But the Oilers, whether it was through the league placing a call to Daryl Katz, or perhaps McDavid’s agent Jeff Jackson, whoever it was I don’t think it was any coincidence that it was that following Monday that the overhaul of the organization began.

 

But the same hasn’t happened in Pittsburgh.  If anything, they had a good situation with Ray Shero running the show.  Jim Rutherford is awful.  I always hear about how he is one of the best people in hockey, and all those years he was in Carolina talk was that players were treated like absolute gold.  That’s terrific, but that’s not the number one job of a GM.  The number one job of a GM is to win.  Now sometimes that simply can’t be right away, but over a certain amount of time, you better win.

 

Please, do not be the moron who points out to me how his team won a Cup in 06 and also made a trip to the final in 02.  06 was a messed up season and I truly believe that was the worst team to ever win the Cup.  Three of the four rounds in the playoffs they needed major injuries occurring to the team they were playing to shift the momentum in their favor.  And 02 they were just as lucky.  Getting the Devils coming off back to back trips to the final, the Habs upset the Bruins that year and so Carolina got home ice being the #3 seed (even though they were 8th in the conference in points that season, what a division the Southeast was), and then they got the Leafs who were coming off two absolute wars against the Islanders and Senators.

 

Jim Rutherford wasn’t some brilliant architect of a GM in Carolina.  No, he got lucky a couple of times.  The guy was the GM of a team that missed the playoffs in 15 of 20 seasons.  15 of freaking 20!!!  Kevin Lowe thinks that’s embarrassing!

 

So what do the Pens do?  They hire him, just because he’s a good guy.  Pens CEO and President David Morehouse didn’t like Ray Shero, so I would venture a strong guess that he simply wanted a guy easier to work with.  Great.  You won’t win, and you’ll piss away the best player in the games prime, but at least things will be easy for you Dave.

 

Why did it not raise more eyebrows when Rutherford publically admitted before last offseason that he wanted to build this team on the wings?  Excuse me?  So in a league that is dominated by great goaltending, strength down the middle, and D core’s, Jim wants to build on the wings.  And not just that, but he acquires a bunch of one dimensional wingers like David Perron (this time last year), Phil Kessel, ships out a real good two way centre in Brandon Sutter, his top D-man is PURELY a PP QB, and on top of all this he had a coach in Mike Johnston trying to have this team play an air tight defensive game.  This my friends is the definition of an organization with no plan.  Why in the hell did they trade James Neal?  At least Neal had size and proven chemistry playing with Malkin, not to mention Neal is a lot more of a power forward.  A year after trading Neal they go pay a bigger price for Kessel than what they got back for Neal.  None of it makes sense.  Just a complete mess.

 

So now they turn to Mike Sullivan.  What a track record he has.  Does Jim ever sit there and wonder why Sullivan hasn’t been hired, or really even considered for a head coaching gig since being fired from the Bruins after the 05-06 season?  I’m going to GUESS there is some reason.

 

And I said this a year and a half ago, Willie Desjardins turned down the chance to coach Crosby and Malkin.  The Pens offered him the head coaching job and he turned it down to go to Vancouver to coach a team that was clearly in decline.  THAT should have been the tip off to the rest of the hockey world (not me, because I’m awesome and called it at the time…take that people who dislike my antics) that something was seriously wrong in Pittsburgh.

 

So some might ask why Sid is struggling?  I think it’s a combination of things, mainly that he knows full well the mess the organization is in.  It’s all mental with the guy right now.  I’m sure some of it is knowing with Sutter gone and the depth at center that made them a powerhouse in 08-2012 no longer there he is putting more on himself to do a lot of heavy lifting defensively.  The PP being complete shit doesn’t help, which is a coaching issue.  That much talent to work with and Mike Johnston’s power play was 15.6%, 27th in the league.  Are you KIDDING?!

 

The Pens better fix this REAL quick, because if they don’t they’re going to ruin what could have been a damn glorious career for one of the best talents we’ve ever got to see.  Although if your a Leafs fan, you hope this shit show continues the remainder of this season, because your team owns the Pens 1st rounder.  Remember when you all bitched about the return you got for Kessel?  Won’t suck so bad if that pick ends up top three now will it?

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

Trying To Regain Momentum

Lloydminster_bobcats2Why bother to sugar coat this?  Fact of the matter is it isn’t the best of times in Lloydminster.  Oil prices are horrible, there for a lot of people have either lost their job or are facing a very uncertain near future.  Bill 6 has people outraged and looks to be something that would change the face of farming in Alberta.  And the government in power both federally and provincially (at least for those on the Alberta side) aren’t what you would call “prairie friendly”.  Dark days are here and they look like they’re not going away any time soon.

 

Not the most uplifting start to this piece is it?  Merry Christmas by the way…

 

But this is a TOUGH f’n town.  Where guys who own companies drive the most beat up vehicles, could care less about personal appearances, and put in 16 hour days.  Ok, so maybe I can only think of 1 guy who does that (and those who know me know exactly who I’m talking about), but it embodies what the town is all about.  Whether you’re in oil, ranching or farming, you have to bust your ass to make a go of it.

 

So where am I going with all this?  Well we have a pretty damn good AJHL team in this city right now in the Lloydminster Bobcats.  And they’re at a crossroads in their season, ironically enough at the midway point.

 

The season started pretty much perfect.  They started off 7-0 and even in the 8th game which they lost 4-1 to the defending AJHL champion Spruce Grove Saints.  And the Bobcats really dominated that hockey and deserved a better fate that night.  They managed to get their revenge 8 days later, in Spruce Grove with an impressive 5-4 win, and just like in September the Bobcats rolled through the month of October.

 

But November was a completely different story.  Back to back home loses to the Sherwood Park Crusaders and the next night to the last place Fort McMurray Oil Barrons.  They escaped Sherwood Park with a 2-1 OT win on the 14th, but then fell once again to the Saints a week later.  They swept Fort McMurray in the last set of games in the month, but they were a lot closer than expected as they had to come from behind in the 2nd game to pull out a 4-3 OT win.

 

A flip of the calender didn’t do much good as they dropped one at home to the rival Bonnyville Pontiacs in OT.  Now, a 5-4 stretch isn’t anything to get too worried about for most teams.  But when you’re hosting the RBC Cup, expectations are sky high.

 

Some of it without a doubt is transition.  Gord Thibodeau is in the process of tweaking his hockey club, and things on the ice obviously aren’t going to be smooth to begin with.  It’s been a lot of tweaking too.  Since September 15th:

Out

Brett Everson

Ryan Ternes

Pat Geary

Allan McPherson

Ryan Hendrix

MacKenzie Bauer

Taylor Lotoski

Josh Giacomin

Zach McNeill

Brendan Kallis

Austin Yaremchuk

Marco Ballarin

 

In

Adam Berg

Stefan Wood

Greydon Robinson

Kris Spriggs

Brett Smythe

Greg Moro

And we still have a month to go until the trade deadline for Thibodeau to continue to make moves to ensure he has the roster he wants heading into the playoffs, and into the RBC.

 

And so Wednesday night the Bobcats reached that crossroads I talked about earlier.  Lose, and people are going to be asking what’s going on with this team which looked like a world beater in the first 2 months of the season.  Win, and that gets buried at least for another few days.  Oh and wouldn’t you know, it was the defending champs, top team in the league, and number 4 ranked team in the country rolling into town.

 

Like the last few weeks, it was a bit of a roller coaster for the Cats.  A dominant 2nd period left them with a 2-0 lead headed to the 3rd, only to let it slip away as the Saints tied it with under 2 to play.

 

But they didn’t fold.  They stuck with it, got the game to a shootout where they pulled out the 3-2 win.  Overall you probably wouldn’t say they played that well, nothing pretty.  But it rarely is when you’re looking to break out of a funk.  Nevertheless, that’s a huge win under their belt as we head into the 2nd half of the season.

 

Now they just have to build off of that momentum.  That’s what this town is looking for right now.  Something to build off of, get that momentum back.  It won’t be easy, and there will still be peaks and valleys, but the team just has to stick with it.  The talent isn’t going to be the problem, they’re pretty loaded.  If they want to win the Gas Drive Cup, and win the RBC Cup, they just have to take the cue from the people of this town.  When that momentum isn’t going your way, you just have to grind it out and find ways to win.  Eventually it’ll turn.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

It’s Been 20 or 30 Years…

warriors-ringsSo this is interesting, at least to me.  Before the season started I wanted to do a piece, maybe two about the NBA.  20th anniversary of the 96 Bulls who won 72 games, and the 30th anniversary of the 86 Celtics who won 67 games (41-1 at home).  Easily 2 of the greatest of all time.  For whatever reason I didn’t get around to doing the piece, and ironically my laziness, ineptness, whatever have you, paid off because now we’re talking about the Golden State Warriors in the same breathe which makes for a MUCH better write up!

 

There was a lot more dynasty stuff going on in the NBA when the 95-96 Bulls were doing their thing.  Houston Rockets were back to back defending champs, the Red Wings had their own record setting season going on and looked to be the next dynasty in the NHL.  The Braves had finally got over the hump and were set up to rattle off 2 or 3 more World Series titles before the end of the decade.  And the Cowboys in January of 96 claimed their 3rd Super Bowl in 4 seasons.

 

The Bulls were right in the middle of their dynasty in hindsight, but at the time they were looking to reclaim their dynasty.  Entering the season the talk was all about how they wouldn’t be able to get past the Orlando Magic led by Shaq and Penny Hardaway.  The Magic beat the Bulls in 6 games the previous year and won the Eastern conference (although they were soundly swept by the Rockets in the finals).  A month before the season began, they traded for Dennis Rodman, but Rodman was a head case and he was 34, so it wasn’t looked at as a move that would have the massive impact that it ended up having.

 

That team couldn’t be beat.  I think I recall every loss they had that season.  I swear I’m not looking this up as writing this!  2 against the Pacers, obviously the one remembered in Canada was against the Raptors in their first season, 1 against the Magic….ok, I can’t remember.  I’m going to GUESS the others were against the Rockets, Sonics, Spurs, Jazz, Knicks, and I’ll guess the Cavs who had a nice little surprise season.  Ouch!  I should have got the Barkley led Suns even though they fell off a bit that season.  Lost to the Nuggets in Denver, a bad Nuggets team.  In Miami, at home to Charlotte.  I was right about the Knicks and Sonics.

 

They went 39-2 at home.  Both were late in the year and meaningless games (the Pacers I believe were without Reggie Miller in that game due to a late season eye injury that forced him to miss 4 of the 5 games against Atlanta in the playoffs that season).  This team literally could have beat any team they felt like beating that season.

 

10 years previous were the Boston Celtics.  Bird, McHale, Parrish, Bill Walton, Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge, this team was amazing.  40-1 home record.  67 wins on the season.  67 is impressive, but it’s 5 short of 72.  However many would be quick to point out that 1996 was an expansion season.  The Raptors and the Grizzlies entered the league which watered down the league.  And there wasn’t another power in the association in 1996.  The 86 Celtics had the Lakers to contend with.  So the bottom end of the league was much better, and the top end of the league was better.

 

But the Bulls had MJ.  And Michael just had a way of making his team so much better, and totally opposite of the way that Magic or Bird had made their teams better.  Jordan didn’t share the ball a ton, although by 96 he was sharing it a lot more than in the late 80’s/early 90’s.  And he definitely wasn’t a guy who was always smiling and being a great guy!  Jordan basically scared his teammates into being better (google the Will Purdue story).

 

So this all is the long winded way of talking about this seasons Golden State Warriors, ironically on the 20th and 30th anniversary of these 2 legendary teams.  Neither of those teams started the season an amazing 23-0.  Last night was one of the most impressive wins of the bunch, on the road against a very good Pacers squad.  The 71-72 Lakers record of 33 straight wins is now within reach as the Warriors head to Boston for a Friday night game against the Celtics, before finishing their 7 game road trip in Milwaukee Saturday night.  Neither is an easy game, but with the level the Warriors are playing at right now, I would be shocked if they lost before heading home.

 

Christmas day might be an even bigger media circus than was expected when the schedule came out as the Cavs head to Oakland for a finals rematch with what could by then be the 28-0 defending champions.

 

Are the Warriors in the same class as the 96 Bulls, 86 Celtics or 72 Lakers (69-13 in addition to the 33 game winning streak)?  It is obviously too early to tell right now.  There is A LOT of season to go, and I’m not sure I would take the Warriors in a 7 game series against the Spurs which would mean the Warriors don’t even make the NBA finals.

 

And are they better than those great teams?  Probably not, because this is a luxury tax/cap era.  And the game has changed drastically.  When the Lakers were doing their thing, there was no 3 point line in the NBA.

 

The Celtics and Bulls played in a very similar era, and while most would pick the Bulls don’t forget that the Celtics were built to play any style of basketball.  They preferred to play a half court game, but when they matched up with a team like the 80’s Lakers, they could get out and run.  The Bulls really couldn’t run as talented as they were.

 

But the Bulls had a lineup that featured 4 starters who could guard any forward or guard position.  In the 98 Eastern conference finals Phil Jackson used Scottie Pippen to guard Mark Jackson.  In those days, Jordan was the most physical 2 guard in the game.  Jordan might actually be a little less effective in today’s game because he didn’t shoot the 3 that well and couldn’t man handle players like he could in the 90’s.

 

But if you were playing by 80’s and 90’s rules, the Warriors would be DOMINATED by anyone of those 3 teams, or any of the great Laker teams of the 80’s, or the 60’s Celtics, or the early 2000’s Lakers or Spurs.  But that is really what makes these debates so great.  There isn’t a right or wrong answer, just educated opinions.

 

Steph Curry is entering the same realm as guys like Jordan, Bird, Magic, and LeBron.  Of those 4 he is far more like Magic in that his a finesse player who can do virtually anything offensively.  It’s really special to watch.

 

34 straight?  It’s possible.  73 wins?  It’s possible.  41-0 home record?  It’s possible.  If they accomplish 1 or 2 of those feats, along with winning back to back NBA titles, there is no doubt the Warriors would have to be included in that same class as those other all time teams.

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

Oil Going Up

OilersbeatStarsIt’s been over a year since I wrote my most viewed blog.  As absolutely miserable of a time that was, man did I ever make the most of that!  It wasn’t my intention, I just took what I had seen that late November weekend that saw the Oilers completely quit in back to back home games and wrote about what I thought.  Worked out well for me.

 

I’m not expecting the same thing this time around.  But thanks to a mangled finger, the site has been on the DL for a little over a month if you haven’t noticed.  Well, I’m back, annoying as ever!  And why not check in on the Oilers, as they’re never dull.

 

So last week they roll into Toronto and absolutely stink the ACC out.  Just an atrocious showing in the hockey capital of the planet.  I didn’t have work that day, so I got to hear a lot of the pre game talk out of Toronto, and despite coming off a weekend where they took 3 of 4 points in Detroit and Pittsburgh, the Oilers were still being shit on.  Maybe it’s the Oiler fan in me, but I really do get the sense that there is a level of giddiness from the Toronto media that the Oilers are so bad.  But then again, that’s the media.  They love having something to talk about so as Jim Rome always says “give me an A or give me an F” and the Oilers have given an F for 6 years now.

 

Anyway, Darren Dreger hosts Leafs Lunch that day on TSN, and Dreger along with Jeff O’Neill and Jamie McClennan were going on and on and on about how awful the Oilers are and how they need to make a big trade, and then about how the Oilers young stars aren’t worth anything.  So I’m asking “how are they supposed to make a trade when nobody is worth anything?”  And as expected the day after, that sentiment was coming from EVERYONE in the Toronto media once again.

 

And I have no problem with people shitting on the Oilers.  I’m the last Oiler fan who it’s lost on that they’re the laughing stock of the league.  Thankfully the Sixers have surpassed them as the biggest joke in sports, but that’s not saying much!

 

But while the media and fans take pleasure in kicking athletes and teams while they’re down for some reason, is it too much to ask that they at least get it right!?

 

The Oilers young core isn’t worth nothing.  The reality of it is that every time you hear non Oiler fans and media outside of Edmonton talking about how they need to make a big trade, they say it with anger.  Well, why anger?  Because they think the team they have interest in will then fleece them on a deal.  It isn’t like that is talked about, but make no mistake, that’s the case.  I’m sure its the case for some of the media too, and then the rest of the media wants it because it would be a big story.

 

What really bugs me about it all, is that while everyone screams “make a big trade”, nobody ever has a suggestion as to what that trade is.  They’re just supposed to sell everyone.  Make a suggestion as to whom they should acquire!  And you never hear that.  The last I checked, you need 2 teams to make a deal.

 

I don’t expect this from fans, but could the media, specifically the Toronto media, PLEASE smarten the f*** up?!?  A guy from Lloydminster who blogs for free shouldn’t be able to figure this out before you do.  Trades are nearly impossible to make in the league today, they’re even more difficult to make for a top pairing D-man, and it is basically pie in the sky thinking until June rolls around.  Travis Hamonic?  The Islanders don’t want to move Hamonic.  If they did, they wouldn’t have an unrealistic asking price for him.

 

Darren Dreger believes Peter Chiarelli should give up Oscar Klefbom for Hamonic.  Smart.  You’re awful on the blueline, so give up your best D-man for a slight upgrade.  That’s really going to fill that hole hey Dregs?  Quit your job.  Seriously, if you ACTUALLY think trading a bigger, younger, more talented and higher point producing D-man for what might be a slight upgrade today and likely a downgrade moving forward is an answer, just quit covering hockey.

 

And while I love Hamonic’s game, he’s not a game changer.  He’s a solid D-man in the EAST.  Anyone else notice how much better players look in the East than the West?  I sure do.  Mark Fayne, top 4 guy in Jersey.  Healthy scratch for the Oilers.  Hamonic is good, and might be better suited for the West, but he’s not becoming a number 1.  Hell, the people suggesting he’s now amazing never even gave him a thought as a top D-man in the league a month ago.

 

Then you have the hack writers.  They usually work for publications such as The Hockey News.  Ever wonder why The Hockey News doesn’t get any recognition?  Well, they choose to employ hacks.  Mike Brophy, proved once again why he is considered by most a complete hack when he came out with his piece….4 days late…about how the league can’t allow the Oilers to get another top overall pick.

 

Now, aside from the fact that I don’t get why this is such a concern to the media, and aside from the fact that it isn’t as if the Oilers have been intentionally tanking this entire time, he DOES realize the league has pretty drastically changed the way they do the lottery, doesn’t he?!?  And he DOES realize 1/3 of the season hasn’t been played yet, RIGHT?!?  With the Oilers win on Sunday night vs the Sabres, they moved within 3 points of a playoff spot.  Good job Mikey!

 

The fact of the matter is that the Oilers have been much better this season.  This team isn’t getting blown out every night.  They are battling back in games, they are playing with a lot of structure, and despite the fact that everyone wants to ignore it….Connor McDavid is an Oiler and losing him is a pretty damn significant injury to overcome.  You lose 2/3 of what was your top line for the first month of the season, I would say it’s going to hurt your hockey team.

 

I’m actually impressed with the way this team has rebounded after the humiliation in Toronto, and before that Carolina.  They weren’t playing as good as they had been, and while they’ve won 4 of 5 and got points in 5 of 6, 2 of those wins were in a shootout, 1 was in 3 on 3 OT.  But they’ve hung around in games and they definitely didn’t do that the last 2 seasons!  It’s not much of an accomplishment, but you have to crawl before you can walk.

 

And thanks to an awful division, they have a pretty big game against the Sharks tomorrow night.  Win that in regulation, and they’re officially in the hunt.  Anders Nilsson is playing terrific right now, while they aren’t great defensively they do have everyone buying in defensively, and Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle look to have their games going again.  If they can stay in the hunt until McDavid gets back (and I personally expect him back earlier than anyone else, perhaps January 4th), he might give them the jolt they need to make a serious playoff push.

 

I would honestly be shocked if they were a serious contender for Auston Matthews.  If I did, I wouldn’t be writing this piece.  I would be writing about how humiliating it is yet again and to boycott the team yet again.  1-0 loss in Washington, comeback from 3-1 in LA only to fall short 4-3, OT loss to Chicago, these are respectable loses and proof that they’re really close the breaking out.

 

And again, they aren’t where people want them to be.  But at least it’s coming.  From what we got to see with Dallas Eakins and Craig MacTavish running the show, that is a MASSIVE improvement.

 

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