They Got Lucky, Just Like All Other Good Teams

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.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

Time for Reflection

I don’t know if there is a more nostalgic person than me.  I’m just a complete sucker for pretty much anything in the past.  And since my mom joined Facebook it has been easy for me to figure out where I get this from.  It’s a trait that can be annoying to some I’m sure.  I’m constantly looking back on what’s been done and how I miss seemingly everything that’s happened.  It’s made worse by how good my memory is.  But for pieces like this, it’s pretty useful, and with the Oilers on the brink of officially qualifying for the 2017 postseason I believe it’s the perfect time to reflect on some things.

 

June 19th, 2006.  We all know what that date represents for the Oilers.  That ended up being one SHITTY night.  Since that night, the Oilers fan base has been laying on their backs, spread eagle, and having fans from the other 29 teams in the NHL take turns punting them in the balls with steel toed boots on.

 

How many false starts did we see in the last 11 seasons?  In April of 2008 if you told an Oilers fan that Tom Gilbert would be basically shit the rest of his career we would have laughed you out of the room.  Not even hesitated.  I met up with a friend at a Jays game in early April 2008 and at the time this friend was VERY close to the team.  And I recall us talking about what Gilbert’s contract would be (as he was an RFA that summer) and he said “I don’t know, but they better get that kid locked up…he’s DAMN GOOD”.  He was the guy they were going to build around on the blueline.  6’3, terrific skater, RH shot, already proving he could log big minutes, 13 goals and 33 points while playing in a shutdown role for the second half of that season, and only 25 years old.  How could he miss?

 

Another D-man I always freak over is Ryan Whitney.  And for all the disgusting decisions Oilers management made over the years, you don’t get to be quite as bad as they were without some horrendous luck too.  Whitney (and I apologize if you read my stuff, I bring this one up a ton) had 27 points in the first 35 games of the 2011 season.  The guy was a rock on D as well.  He had three years left at a four million a year cap hit.  He was just hitting his prime at 27 years old.  He was becoming the top pairing defenceman he was always projected to be.  And then in game 36 against Buffalo he injures his foot and never again gets close to being that player again.

 

Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson.  This is it!  These are the kids who are going to lead us on deep playoff runs.  We just missed the playoffs in 2008, but those days are done because this trio is going to lead the Oilers to the top.  Wrong.

 

Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (was soon to be just Paajarvi).  In the spring of 2010, sure the organization had sunk to the bottom.  But that’s what needed to happen.  Now, with these three kids leading the way, the Oilers are going straight to the top.  Hell, they even have another slick kid coming over from Sweden named Linus Omark!  Only straight up from here, right?!  Nope.

 

2013, and those three (unfortunately for Mr. Omark not four) have now been joined by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, and Justin Schultz.  Imagine that, all things were equal in bidding for Schultz and he picked EDMONTON!  Finally, the Oilers were back!  If this wasn’t confirmation, I don’t know what will be….Wrong again.

 

It really did take some VERY SPECIAL awfulness to completely fuck up things to the degree the Oilers did over all these years.  I knew it was bad in the moment, but as time goes by it just looks worse and worse and worse.

 

What can you say about the 2014 and 2015 seasons?  This fan base had already gone through what were supposed to be the worst times, and then the team got so much worse.  It was pretty literally depressing.  It had become clear that a losing culture, something the organization fearful of from the start of the “rebuild” in 2010, had become embedded in the team.

 

I don’t know how so many of you stood by the team the way you did.  I never stopped being an Oilers fan at any point.  It’s what I was born into, and I don’t quit on things, and even though I’m not much of a jersey wearer these days and do my best to look at everything objectively….I’m still an Oilers diehard, it’ll never leave me.  But having said that, I definitely got to a point where I was pretty apathetic to them.  I remember when I wrote my most read piece in November of 2014 which absolutely tore this organization to shreds for their incompetence, fans were still in their corner and coming to their defence.  The building was still packed, sure tickets were easy to come by and we were seeing empty seats on a regular basis, but for an organization which had not only been awful, but always found a way to make things even more embarrassing than they had to be like when Katz wrote an apology letter in the newspaper or Lowe told Mark Spector how he had six rings (as a player) so he knows a thing or two about winning, a lot of you STILL kept at it.

 

The nightmare really ended April 18th, 2015.  Sure, another tough season was still to come, but the reality was that it was a fresh start.  I might get more pissed now than I did that night and/or the days after when I go back and read or listen to what was being said from outside the market.  “They don’t deserve him”.  Remember that?   Edmonton and Northern Alberta in general were just supposed to be a laughing stock for fans and media, they weren’t supposed to have anything good go their way.

 

I know none of you have forgot any of this, but I feel like it’s good to reiterate it.  The Oilers got INSANELY lucky to get Connor McDavid, and any success this team now has that’ll always be the go to for any detractors.  Who cares.  Fact is that this fan base deserved something good to break their way for a change.  As big of a break as landing McDavid?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But they deserved a big break and he was it.  If you’re a fan of another team reading this right now, and you disagree with that, let me ask…did your teams superstar force a trade and piss all over your city in the process?  Did your team trade the face of their franchise the same day they were honouring and retiring the number of one of the greatest players to ever play?  Did your team have an owner who was more worried about having his buddies work for him than winning hockey games?  Did your team have a 1st overall pick in one of the worst years to have it?  Did your team have a near flawless attendance record for 10 seasons while not making the playoffs once?  Hell, they only even came close in two of those 10 seasons!

 

Oilers fans have gone through so much shit to get to this point.  The point being that they clinch a playoff spot with a win tonight.  And while I know it’s anti-climatic seeing that we all know they’re in and the real focus is on the seeding.  But take a moment to remember all of what’s gone on.  The first time they’ve had a game to clinch a playoff spot since April 13th, 2006.  Most of us didn’t know what Facebook was and thought Myspace was the next big thing.  Let all that sink in.  Enjoy it and embrace it because if you’re an Oilers fan there are very few sports fans on this planet who deserve a little success more than you.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

BETTER?! Why Make it BETTER?! That’s Insane…

HAHAHA he was behind a plant!!!  Do these guys EVER stop with the laughs?!?!  So the GM meetings came and went last week with very little news to come from it.  Oh, there was what Darren Dreger reported on Twitter which was that the GM’s were rattled that the weather was poor in Boca Raton.  I hope everyone was feeling for them in such trying times.

 

There was lots of talk about possible changes to a few things.  Of course, nothing really came out of it.  Right.  The way these guys see things, it ain’t broke so why fix it.  Fact is, it’s very broke.  But because they focus on how much money they’re making and not on how much money they’re missing out on, they won’t change much.  There are no pressure points to do so.  The only time this league has ever gotten serious about not just increasing scoring but making the game as exciting as they can was coming off the 2005 lockout when they were legitimately worried about how many fans they turned off during that year off.  With no pressure point, this league likely won’t ever get off it’s ass and make the changes they needed to make their game as exciting and entertaining as it can be.

 

People can say what they want about the NFL, but the NFL is far and away the most progressive of the four major North American sports leagues.  And what pressure point do they ever have to change things?!  The league brought in over 9 BILLION dollars last year, and yet they’re always looking to make changes to better their league.  The NHL?  Nope.  Status quo.  We’re good.  The dinosaurs are happy so everyone should be good.

I would really kick ass in those meetings.  And I’m far more of a traditionalist than most, but it’s clear to me that some major changes need to be made to the pro game to get it to the level which it should be at.  The problem I see with these meetings is that the NHL, when it comes to the on ice product, just has far too many dinosaurs (as I alluded to earlier) and/or guys with only their own interests in mind, trying to figure out how to make the league as a whole better.

 

Case in point, Lou Lamoriello wants to move to the points system back to 2 points for any kind of win, no loser point.  I know what you’re going to say, the Leafs are horrific in shootouts.  Yep, but I would consider that a fluke and/or an easy fix moving forward.  What isn’t an easy fix is how good a team is at 3 on 3, and the Leafs are really well built to play 3 on 3.  So he wants to reward teams for winning gimmicks, and punish teams who aren’t good at gimmicks.

 

The whole “loser point” is necessary because teams should be rewarded for getting the tie after 60 minutes of actual hockey.  They shouldn’t be punished for losing at a gimmick which is designed to eliminate ties and allow teams to make their flights that night.  That would be absolute horse shit if the league went that route.

 

The 3 point system makes MUCH more sense.  Rewards teams who go for the win in regulation (don’t kid yourself, most of this league look to just simply get games to OT), you still get something for getting it to OT, but you don’t fully reward teams who live off winning in 3 on 3 or a shootout.  Yes, the standings won’t look near as sexy as they have the last 10 seasons, but they’ll be a lot more honest so to speak.

 

But that likely wouldn’t have much of an impact on the game, so I’m going to look at what would.  Some of these are things that I fully believe they should do, and some are just idea’s that they could at least take a look at.  Don’t get livid with me, I’m just tossing suggestions in some cases.

 

Do away with ROW, just RW

This isn’t a big change, but it’s something I noticed yesterday and should have been fixed last year, if not in the 2015 offseason.  If the Flames lose to the Stars tonight, and then the Oilers happened to lose to Vancouver in regulation tomorrow night, the Oilers and Flames would be tied in the standings.  The Oilers would have one more win in regulation time than the Flames, and they swept the Flames in the season series.  Yet the Flames own the tiebreaker, because the NHL apparently hasn’t figured out that their three on three gimmick is worth much more than it should be.  You cannot seriously put the same value on a three on three win as a regulation win, yet the NHL…as only the NHL would do…does.  Fix it, because it’ll be well beyond ridiculous if that scenario plays out.

 

Ear pieces and microphones for each official

Another simple change that I could see being added if the officials prefer in the next few seasons.  I just think if you had all the officials on one frequency with the ability to talk to each other throughout the game that it could really help with what is being seen on the ice and help them be even more of a team out there.  Too many times over the years you’ll see situations like both referees with their hands up, and they’ll be calling different penalties on the same team, yet only one call is made.  No, this is horse shit for lack of a better term.  Call what you see, and I’ll hit on that a lot as this goes on.  But as is the case with so many of these I’ll start with, does the league or their officials even want to be better at their job?  Because I sincerely mean this, it sure doesn’t seem like it.

 

Eye in the sky official

You could go so many ways with this.  I think everyone would agree that having an official off ice, up top to help out the ones on the ice (again, ear pieces and microphones to communicate) would only be beneficial.  But what’s wrong with calling a penalty after the fact for example?  Let’s say a referee misses something, what’s wrong with having an eye in the sky tell the referee that he reviewed a situation and a penalty was missed?  You don’t have to interrupt the play, just simply have an official upstairs at all games, with video of the game (no play by play audio so you don’t have a play by play team influencing the call), and if he sees something he thinks was missed he can go back and look.

 

He would have until the drop of the puck after the next whistle to call a penalty.  No game delay to give him time to review something, but if something is missed in the moment you can give the eye in the sky the ability to call it after the fact (once the play is dead).  The eye in the sky could also have a quick look in slow motion at any puck over glass or high sticking penalties.  Added bonuses, if the eye in the sky were to see a player embellish a phantom high stick call the refs on the ice perhaps could change their call and get that player for delay of game or unsportsmanlike conduct which would then REALLY cut down on the diving.  Another is that it would at least in theory get rid of those horse shit make up calls that have been one of the most garbage yet accepted parts of hockey for as long as I or I’m sure anyone else can remember.

 

If the refs on the ice get the call wrong, it’s simply the same as the refs picking up a flag in a football game and you don’t call it.  And again, this isn’t for every single little thing, which is why no review time would be allowed, but it could really help.  Again though I’ll state, I’m not sure how much the league or the officials would want something like this because I’m not sure they want or care to be better at their gigs.

 

Recognize the stick as part of the player

The one thing that goes on in today’s game above all else that exposes how absolutely embarrassing and moronic the game is officiated today is when a players stick gets slashed.  It’s perfectly fine apparently, unless the players stick breaks, then it’s two minutes.  WHAT!!!!!?  How in the FUCK does this make any sense?!?!?!?  When I get really pissed off it is rare that a non curse word comes out of my mouth, and I’m having a lot of trouble not typing a bunch of them right now or any time I think about that.  I really want to punch somebody when I think about it.  Just fix this already.  Those hacks are out of desperation and really don’t do anything anyway, so call them.  I don’t care if it’s two for a slash or two for stupidity, just call the damn penalty.  A quick lift of the stick, no problem.  To me that’s a good defensive play that you can’t do without good positioning and effort.  However, lifting it and continuing to keep the player tied up, you could call that a hold.  Again, this is an easy fix, and more power plays means more chances.

 

Of course this could also fall under one umbrella which Gord Miller hit on last week:

PREACH GORDY!  Just simply call the damn game.  Tampa Bay leads the league in power plays per game with just under 3.5.  4 pp’s a game is low, and no team is even averaging that.  WHAT?!

 

Quit trying to keep things even, and officiate to the score like they so freaking blatantly did in Edmonton last night, like how they won’t call 5 on 3’s anymore.  The only time they’ll do it is if a team is trailing, or if they have to call one because of a puck over glass penalty or something along those lines.  Again, we seen it in Edmonton last night.  Chara with a trip on Draisaitl, couldn’t have been more obvious, but the Bruins were short handed already and the game was scoreless.  At 7-3 Edmonton though they had zero issue calling Russell for a trip to make it a 5 on 3.

 

There was another blatant example of this in the Pens and Jets game last week.  Jets were on the pp, Carl Hagelin clearly hooked someone (can’t recall who), and no call.  I couldn’t help but notice the Jets were up 3-2 at the time against the defending champs….Then, the Pens got a pp, and while the Pens were on their pp, someone got hooked, arm goes up, and the Pens get a 5 on 3, because they’re the defending champs and they’re trailing in the game.  Not coincidentally, that is where that game turned.  “We don’t want to decide the game”, yet you had no problem deciding the game there.  “We don’t want to decide the game” is code for “we have zero balls to do our job when the pressure is on”.

 

The officiating has gotten WAY out of hand.  Zdeno Chara stood out to me last night as he should have had three minors called against him by my count in the first period alone, but had none.  It’s not just “veteran calls”, it’s a strategy.  Teams will challenge the refs to call everything, because they know the refs won’t, which is really beneficial to a team like the Bruins who have such a strong penalty kill.  Again I go back to Tampa leading the league with only 3.5 PP’s a game.  They no longer officiate the game, they try to manage the game.  That’s not your job.  As Bill Belichick would say “just do your job”.

 

You FIX the review process, don’t get rid of it

Something isn’t working right in hockey “get rid of it!!!”.  Do you not remember that we put this in for a good reason?  I believe two things need to be done.

 

1) it’s a delay of game penalty if you lose a challenge.  In the days since the meetings, others have suggested this, but I have the text messages to prove I have been preaching this for a long time now just in case anyone believes I’m stealing ideas here!  This couldn’t be more obvious.  No coach has a fear of losing his time out.  It’s helpful to have, but it’s not a penalty of any kind to lose it and a review…even a short review…is longer than a time out.  So now you have coaches asking for reviews on just about anything just because worse case scenario they can settle things down if need be.  But if there is a risk of putting your team down a man, NOW it’s risky and you better be damn sure you can win the review.  You still keep the rule that you need to have your time out in order to ask for a review, and you lose it as well if you lose the review, but there has to be more of a penalty for this.

 

2) put a limit on the review.  This one they actually have proposed, and I’ve again been saying this forever so it’s nice to know they may at least do this.  One of two things here: either the refs get 60-90 seconds to look at the play, or else they get a max of three looks at it.  If it’s not an obvious call, then it’s inconclusive.  Some fans I’ve seen bitch about “so they aren’t supposed to get it right?!”  Look…moron…you put a limit on it so you aren’t going through it with a fine tooth comb literally digging for anything you can find to overturn the call.  Limit the looks because the spirit of the rule was to have the ability to get the obvious calls overturned, not the ticky tack ones.

 

3) no extra time for coaches to take a look.  This is garbage as well.  Refs will delay, and delay, and delay some more for coaches looking to see if they believe they should challenge a goal.  No.  If it’s obvious, they’ll see that it’s obvious.

 

This shit is real simple to fix, but if you ask me you have the wrong people in the room looking to change this, because they’re likely looking at it from their teams POV and worried about hurting themselves in certain situations.  Again, the spirit of this rule was so we could eliminate the blatant misses that happen from time to time, like the Matt Duchene goal in 2013.  It’s not to nail the guy who had his foot 3 mm off the ice as the team entered the zone which had absolutely zero impact on how the goal was scored.  So if they implement these three rules, it would likely clean up most of the problems with the process.

 

Making offensive zone pick plays legal

Now I’m going to get into the ones which are a little more controversial and in no way am I saying these should or shouldn’t happen, just tossing it out there.  If a teammate of a puck carrier in the offensive zone simply skated into the path of a defender chasing the puck carrier, otherwise known as a pick play, it would be two minutes for interference.  Why?  In the NBA this is perfectly legal, and I know this isn’t basketball, but if we are looking to create more offence then why not allow this?  In so many other area’s of the game we would call this “a good veteran move” which is code for “a player who plays dumb but knows exactly what he’s doing and the refs look the other way”.  I’m not saying that in the offensive zone we should allow the offensive players to maul the defensive players, but I believe pick plays, barring laying guys out while setting the pick, could be something they look at.  It would change the look of the game, but perhaps for the better.

 

Power Plays

This is the area I’ve given the most amount of thought to over the years.  Why are teams allowed to ice it killing off a penalty?  And the team killing the penalty can ice it legally, yet the team with the power play can’t?  What about offsides?  What if the team with the power play didn’t have to worry about offsides, or only an offside pass would be called but not if the puck is carried in with a teammate already in the zone?   Or perhaps make the redline the entry point to the zone instead of the blueline?  And why does the power play end after a goal?  There really are a lot of different things they could look at to make a man advantage a lot more of an advantage.  I’m not saying I would do any of these things, but I do believe they’re worth looking at.  You don’t want to go too far the other way though.  Top power plays being up near 25-28%, that would be great.  Power plays being up over 50%, that goes too far the other way and you don’t want to get it to a point where you discourage physicality and intensity on the ice.

 

Bigger nets

YEP!  Most of you won’t like this, but I’m 100% with Mike Babcock on this one.  And it’s simple for me.  The size of today’s nets are for goaltenders who were 5’9, 170 pounds.  Today’s tendy’s are AT LEAST 6’3, 220.  I know the concern from people is this would basically eliminate any chance of a goaltender 6’0 or under playing in the NHL again, but it’s heading that way regardless.  No goaltender while on his knees should be taking up the whole net, yet most of these guys do.  And even if they finally get the goaltending equipment under control, these guys are still taking up most of the net.

 

When most hear bigger nets, at least with the people I’ve talked to about this, they think noticeably bigger.  I’m not saying that.  What I would do is take the size of the average goaltender at a certain time (for example, the 1980’s), and the average size of the goaltenders today and adjust the nets accordingly.  All of a sudden, players can score from the outside, which then forces teams out of any kind of trap.  Because that’s the root of this scoring problem is that teams started forcing players to score from the outside and goaltenders got bigger and bigger, as did the equipment, and players no longer could score stepping over the blueline and ripping it.  And ask Wayne Gretzky, records are great for the game, offensive records in particular.  So many people are worried about what will happen to the records if you increase the size of the nets, yet nobody had a problem with goaltending records getting smashed as the Michelin men started ruling the crease.

 

You’ll hear dip shits who’ll tell you that “I’ve seen a lot of good 1-0 games”.  You do realize that you’re arguing for the exception rather than the rule don’t you?  Think about the future of the game too.  Popularity with kids is going to be much greater with a higher scoring game, because higher scoring games keep their attention more.  Hell, they keep my attention more!

 

I don’t want it to go too far where NHL games are ending in 18-14 scores, which is what would happen if every suggestion I just put down happened.  But the NHL should want to get to a 5-4 league rather than the 3-2 league it currently is.  Smaller goal equipment would help that if they ever get serious even about that, but we need more whether it be things that I proposed or other ideas.  They’ve talked about increasing scoring for 20 years now, and outside of one season it’s never happened.

 

It’s baffling that the league and the PA can’t figure out how much money they’re leaving on the table here.  More goals is more excitement, which is massive for getting kids into your game specifically.  Offensive records being set would also draw more casual fans in and give the league more media attention.  More goals also makes the game more bettor friendly, and don’t underestimate that.  One thing that hurts the NHL a lot is that it’s a difficult league to bet.  Every game is an over/under of either 5, 5.5, or 6 and the spread is always -1.5.  If you could have games where the spread is -2.5 or even 3.5 with an over/under of 7-10 the betting then becomes a lot more interesting.

 

But at the end of the day, all of this is likely a pipe dream.  Until the dinosaurs start to get out of the way and the league starts to look at a bigger picture, it’ll be all talk, little action.

 

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I Thought We Established That D-men Should Cost a Ton?

I may as well just be honest.  I’m bitter about this, so let’s just get right to it.

 

Last night the Habs got Steve Ott for a 6th round pick.  Ott is essentially done in his career, but he does have a ton of experience, gritty as hell, from every account a terrific guy in the room, he’s a 4th liner but he’s a total glue guy.  Analytics guys probably hate him, but analytics guys will argue up is down if they can find any numbers to back that argument.  Had the Edmonton Oilers pulled the trigger on something like Ott for a 6th round pick, I would have been ok with it.  I would probably prefer a guy like that heading into the playoffs then a guy like…say….David Desharnais.

 

Add to this, you have the NY Rangers who added Brendan Smith from the Red Wings.  They paid a pretty good price for a guy who has been ok, but disappointing in his NHL career.  I’d say Smith is a solid number five guy.  Brandon Davidson I would also consider a number five guy.  I don’t like Davidson AS much, but just last season in my opinion Davidson was better than Smith.  I would say a 2nd round pick for a guy who has a nice contract for next season (1.425 cap hit) and can anchor a bottom pairing is fair in what is expected to be a shitty draft.  Smith got a 2nd and a 2019 3rd.

 

So a 2nd round pick for a 6th round pick is essentially the value going out and coming in here for Peter Chiarelli.

 

I do not get this at all, and I’ve had a pretty good grasp on players trade values for the most part over the years.  I have a very good memory, I’m a hockey geek, so it’s not difficult for me to think back to past trades and past situations where certain players were dealt and what the return was.  I’ve been thinking about this one for hours, and I just can’t for the life of me figure out what Chiarelli was thinking.  How do you not get a better offer than THAT?!  And if you don’t, how do you not just say “fine, I’d rather have him for the stretch run and either try to address it in June or lose him”.

 

Sure, the Oilers have a lot of depth on the blueline (especially on the left side) throughout the organization and they were likely going to lose him in the expansion draft.  I get all of that.  But having depth on defence is vital to an organization heading into the playoffs.  And what the hell does Desharnais add to this club?  No size, he’s not all that fast for only being 5’7, he’s a lefty shot, he’s subpar in the dot, he’s nothing great in his own zone, and his offensive numbers have done nothing but decline since getting 60 points in his first full season in the league all the way down to just 10 points this season in 31 games.  I.  DO.  NOT.  GET.  THIS.  F******.  TRADE.  Anton Lander fills needs for the Oilers better than Desharnais does, and the Oilers got him in Bakersfield.

 

This is now the 3rd deal Chiarelli has done where I’m just completely dumbfounded.  I 100% back the Larsson/Hall deal, and pretty much have since day one.  But it isn’t as if I didn’t believe they were ridiculous to not get more.  The Devils seriously wouldn’t have gave them Boston’s 2nd round pick in the 2017 draft for a 2017 4th?  They seriously wouldn’t have added THAT?  Come on.  And the Reinhart trade…I’ve lost my skull about that one from the moment it went down and I’m still hot about it.  I really believe that you can blame that deal for Taylor Hall being dealt.  And I love Adam Larsson, please don’t get me wrong, but I’d rather still have Taylor Hall and have used a Joel Eriksson Ek package to land the D-man they needed.

 

Three deals where the man seemingly got completely fleeced.  It’s bizarre, because I do trust Chiarelli.  The man turned the Bruins into contenders with one top five pick (5th), and he’s done some great moves in his time with the Oilers (the Talbot trade, the Maroon trade, the Benning signing), and a lot of really solid moves.  I’ve never seen a GM seemingly THIS bipolar for lack of a better word.  It’s as though once he zero’s in on a guy he likes (I wouldn’t put Reinhart in that group, I believe that was massively influenced by the clowns who remained from the old regime) he’s willing to simply cave to a price that’s asked.

 

I can’t speak for all Oilers fans, but the ones I’ve talked with since the deal all shared the same opinion…we’d rather lose Brandon Davidson just like a UFA after the season then get Desharnais…and still lose possibly Reinhart (who as much as I’ve dogged him in this piece, is playing great in the AHL right now) in the expansion draft.

 

But let’s talk about how the man can salvage this deadline before I end this blog this morning, put a bit more of a happy face on all this.

 

I really believe Jarome Iginla is a possibility.  There are so many connections to the organization, and he is a right handed shot who can still rip it on the PP.  He also wouldn’t have to play in a top six role with this club, they could shelter him a little bit.  I’m not saying I love the idea, and now I’m getting gun shy to the idea of Chiarelli trading for any player he may like because the return here could be Puljujarvi at the rate he’s going….but I don’t think bringing in Iginla would hurt anything.

 

Sticking with the Avs, not that I have any inside knowledge of this stuff but a guy I maybe would keep an eye on is Carl Soderberg.  He’s a big cap hit at 4.75 million for another three seasons.  But he doesn’t HAVE to be that big of a cap hit.  Could Chiarelli do Soderberg with the Avs eating 750,000 for Pouliot, maybe a guy like Lander and a prospect?  Pouliot only has two years left on his deal…but I’m just thinking out loud, don’t read anything into this, it’s just a thought.

 

I do think Pouliot could play a role in a move today.  He maybe has slightly negative value at the moment, but I think he’s very moveable, especially to an analytics heavy team like Arizona or Florida.  The Panthers have a guy like Nick Bjugstad who word is they’ve soured on quite a bit, and he’s virtually the same cap hit as Pouliot.  No idea if those rumours of the Panthers souring on Bjugstad are legitimate, but if they were I’d definitely have time for the kid.  And again, I believe Pouliot could be part of the deal simply because he’s big, can skate, and has always had very good analytic numbers…not to mention good numbers period.  He was well worth the 5 year/20 million dollar contract the Oilers gave him up until this season.  A guy like Bjugstad who is still young, huge, can really skate for a guy so big, and a right handed shot on top of all that will still bring in a lot in a trade even if he isn’t living up to his contract this season.

 

Another guy that you don’t hear a word about is Bryan Little.  And hey, probably because Kevin Cheveldayoff has zero interest in moving the guy.  But he’s a UFA after next season, and this team is loaded up front.  Are they wanting to pay him 5 mil per to be on their 3rd line moving forward?  Right handed shot, great in the dot, and can produce five on five (23 ES points in 41 games this season).  He obviously wouldn’t be cheap, but I wonder if he could be had?  And if so do the Oilers have the right pieces to make it happen?  Again, just spit thinking out loud, though I’m sure someone is going to look to fight me for even bringing it up in the comments section….there’s always one knob who takes these things far too seriously.

 

Then you have the backups.  I won’t go in depth on any of them, but it sure would be nice to land someone Todd McLellan has some confidence in so he can give Cam Talbot a little more rest down the stretch.  Halak even with the Islanders eating 50% of his deal is still 2.25 million next season.  Do you really want to pay your backup goaltender that much?  Even though he’s having a tough season I’ve always like Neuvirth, but I wouldn’t give up much for him.  Maybe a 5th round pick.  Depending on his health I would be interested in Ondrej Pavelec if the Jets retained 50% of what’s left on his deal (UFA after the season).  Reto Berra is another guy who has been mentioned as a possibility.  Not sure he’s an upgrade on Brossoit, but it’s not as much about that as it is Todd McLellan having confidence in the guy.  I don’t understand why Brossoit hasn’t been given a couple more games to prove his worth, I think he’s looked solid when given the chance this season, but if they can upgrade I still think they should pull the trigger.

 

But I’m not getting over this Desharnais/Davidson swap by the end of the day.  Clearly Chiarelli, who seen Desharnais a ton while in Boston, loves the kid.  He better be right on him, because if he’s not this fan base could turn on him in a hurry and we don’t need that kind of drama back in town.

 

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