It was a nice scene last night at Rogers Place. It was long overdue for Oilers fans to see their team finally back in the playoffs. I know I went over it all just yesterday, but from June 19th, 2006 on, this organization, city, and region has taken way more shit than anyone ever deserved. A little anti-climatic as most of the players and fans focus is on the race inside the Pacific division and much bigger games upcoming both tomorrow night and Saturday, but it was still a great moment and nice to see the monkey finally off the organizations back.
But of course in today’s day and age where bitterness and fake toughness is king, there was a complete hack media member who took to Twitter last night in a desperate attempt to troll Oilers fans.
I’m not going to put up the tweet, I’m not going to mention his name even though I’m sure you know who it is, but also this is not near as much about the tweet as it is with a perception in general. Had it not been for Darcy McLeod and another buddy of mine responding to it, I wouldn’t have seen it. I don’t follow hacks on twitter, and trust me this has been my opinion of this particular guy LONG before last night. I don’t waste my time with people who I know have pretty much zero respect from their peers and are looked at as being purely schtick. I can promise you that you’ll get far better hockey insight reading anything I’ve wrote than the garbage he comes up with, and I’m far from an egotistical guy. But a lot of Oilers fans were pretty pissed off about the tweet, so I’m going to poke an extremely large hole in not only that tweet, but the opinion which has reigned around the NHL since April 18th, 2015.
I will never be the guy who will say the Oilers weren’t lucky to win the Connor McDavid lottery. But a ton of people outside of Edmonton can’t wait to tell Oilers fans that. Anytime this squad is going to win anything, we’re going to see and hear people who are bitter/butt hurt/hate their lives/hate themselves/whatever have you, who will go to this. So allow me to list off other teams who “got lucky”.
I’ll start with the one I put on Twitter last night to the hack Devils fan who inspired this piece. The Devils won three Stanley Cups in large part due to having Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer. I think it’s safe to say that without both those guys, the Devils wouldn’t have won a Cup. The Devils were literally given Scott Stevens as compensation for the Blues signing Brendan Shanahan away in 1991. The Devils “lucked” into getting Scott Niedermayer thanks to the Leafs trading them their 1991 1st round pick in 1989 for Tom Kurvers. Did Lou Lamoriello know in 1989 where the Leafs would pick in 1991 when doing that trade? Or was he lucky that in 1991 the Leafs were awful?
We all know how the Pens got lucky a few times, didn’t they? Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, you can even throw Evgeni Malkin in there. The Pens got pretty lucky didn’t they? Craig Patrick apparently did nothing to win those back to back Cups in 91 and 92, it was all luck. Ray Shero did nothing to win his Cup in 09. Sheer luck. Take those banners down Pens fans!
The Chicago Blackhawks. Three Cups in six seasons. They won the Patrick Kane lottery, and to that point had been terrible for eight of the previous nine seasons. Went from 5th to 1st in the lottery, and the only reason they were 5th and not 6th, was because the Calgary Flames discovered they had clinched the 8th seed in the West during the 2nd intermission of their 81st game against the Oilers. The Oilers came back to win the game 3-2 to bump the Hawks down a spot in the standings. Not only that, they got Jonathan Toews the year before. Was it not lucky the Pens chose to take Jordan Staal instead of Toews? Toews was ranked ahead of Staal for most of that season and easily could have been the 2nd overall pick. Wow, that whole Hawks mini dynasty thing really was just all luck I guess.
No fan base loves to play “the Oilers just got lucky” card more than Calgary Flames fans, a lot of whom have this belief that they’ve simply worked real hard and have earned everything they’ve got in recent years unlike those insanely lucky Oilers…
In 2011 nobody in Calgary knew who the hell the Flames took with their 4th round pick. Johnny Gaudreau being a college kid could have very little to do with the Flames organization during his time at Boston College. He played exactly zero games in the AHL. The Flames didn’t get “lucky” that he turned into the player he has? That was just all amazing drafting and developing by the Flames hey? John Weisbrod and Jay Feaster knew that Gaudreau would become a 1st line player in the NHL and also knew that they could wait until exactly the 104th pick in the 2011 draft to take this 1st line player did they? No luck involved? What about the Hurricanes passing on Sean Monahan for Elias Linholm? Not lucky? All a genius plan devised behind the scenes? They let Mark Giordano go to Russia, yet there was no luck involved in getting him back and then developing into a top pairing defenceman? It’s weird, teams usually don’t lose guys who they know are going to be top pairing defencemen to the KHL.
Speaking of late round gems, how about the New England Patriots? They got a QB in the 6th round once upon a time, 199th overall in the 2000 NFL draft. It wasn’t lucky that they picked him? They knew he was going to be the greatest QB of all time did they? No luck involved?
The Chicago Bulls in 1984 had the 3rd pick in the NBA draft. Did Rod Thorne and Bulls management at the time know something the rest of the NBA didn’t and that they were about to draft the greatest basketball player of all time? They didn’t? So we can just ignore six titles in eight years because the Bulls got lucky to get Michael Jordan so they actually didn’t win anything. I got that right don’t I? Seems to fit that same logic.
It might be the worst argument going in sports right now that the Oilers are where they are now because of “luck”. Two of the four 1st overall picks have been moved out. One of the others, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, has yet to live up to his potential. This team isn’t in the playoffs this year without Cam Talbot, Andrej Sekera, Patrick Maroon, Adam Larsson, Kris Russell, go down the list of all the moves Peter Chiarelli has made. No doubt, McDavid is the biggest reason they’re in this position and will soon be a contender, but not a chance this team is anywhere near this position without a lot of the tremendous moves that Chiarelli has made.
And Bob Nicholson brought in Chiarelli. And Kevin Lowe is the reason Daryl Katz knew Nicholson and then hired Nicholson. So by the same logic as the “the Oilers just got lucky” people, I’m going to say that Lowe is to thank for all this. Because he made them awful for all those seasons, he was the reason Katz brought in Nicholson, who brought in Chiarelli, who brought in McLellan, etc, etc. So Lowe made it all happen, isn’t that right “the Oilers just got lucky” people?!
The truth in all this is you have a lot of bitter people about this because they don’t like change and they don’t like being wrong. The Oilers were the whipping boy for most of these people, and now they had their whipping boy taken away. This is a psychological habit for a lot of people. When they see someone looking to better themselves or go further than others believe they could or should, they’ll look to hold those people back. They’ll mock and trash those people because consciously or subconsciously they don’t like the change and they don’t like seeing people improving themselves. They could point at the Oilers and laugh, and proudly say “see, told you there rebuild wouldn’t work”. They took pleasure in it not working, and in large part that was thanks to the Oilers who marketed their rebuild like no other in league history to that point and had a lot of arrogance about how it wouldn’t fail.
But the actual truth is…as much as “the Oilers just got lucky” people don’t like to hear it…is that it has worked. It took a lot longer than it should have, but in 2010 the cry not just around Edmonton but around the league was that bottoming out was the way to go because you couldn’t get players like Crosby, Toews, Stamkos or Tavares unless you went that route. Well the Oilers were down there in 2015, just as everyone in 2010 said they needed to be to get that kind of player. And let’s not forget, they were the one team in 2015 that wasn’t openly tanking to move up in that draft. The Sabres, Coyotes and Leafs weren’t the least bit shy about getting as many ping pong balls as they could. While they were doing that, the Oilers were, much to my dismay, helping the Flames put a nail in the coffin of the LA Kings.
Could you not argue that the Oilers were “unlucky” in 2010, 2011 and 2012 that the clear cut 1st overall picks were two wingers and an undersized centre? By no means am I saying management wasn’t a complete joke, the amateur scouting wasn’t a complete joke, but had those three 1st overall picks been Ekblad, McDavid and Matthews they sure as hell wouldn’t have taken so long to get their rebuild off the ground.
Give me ANY TEAM IN PRO SPORTS who have had success, and I can point to a very fortunate bounce that they got to get them to that point. Get the fuck over it ladies and gentlemen. The Oilers are good. They got extremely lucky to win the pick that netted them Connor McDavid, just like any team with any kind of success got extremely lucky somewhere along the line.
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