Hear me out on this. First off I don’t like doing a lot of Oilers stuff on here. But I went to my editor (me) and asked him if it would be cool. He agreed, as long as it was cool with the owner. So he went to the owner (me) and asked if Soups (who is all 3 of us) if I could do a piece on the Oilers. After a long discussion, had a meal together, watched some hockey together, showered together, slept together….we finally decided it would be cool.
The Edmonton Oilers so far this season have been terrible. Now this is by no means a finished product. This team is weak down the middle (oh yes, don’t think I’m not going to bring up Gagner again), they’re awful in their own zone (it’s not just on the blueline), and they lack veteran leadership. But this team is way too talented to be THIS bad. Just 2 wins now in their last 10 games.
By no means am I looking to fire the coach already, but Ralph Krueger thus far has done a simply awful job. Like I say it’s early, so don’t get me wrong here but this team has no structure in their game at all, and come out flat a lot more often than not. This was a guy who was hired because he was both a strong technical coach and a hell of a motivator. He’s been neither.
The one thing this team has lacked for a long time now however is a guy that was willing to go out and do something about it. Now, Hall’s hit was dirty. It wasn’t knee on knee, but he was looking to do some damage. And this isn’t about how it couldn’t have happened to a better guy (although I’m pretty sure most hockey fans outside of the “State of Hockey” were all saying the same thing: “Karma’s a bitch bud!”). But while most people aren’t going to go around saying “this is what a leader does”, because it was cheap….but this is what a leader does. Mark Messier would do the same thing. Mess would likely use his elbow, but he would do the same kind of thing. Brendan Morrow would do it, Dustin Brown would do it, Doan would do it, Iginla would do it (a lot of wingers are captains). He was a player who was flat out disgusted with practice hero’s like Matt Cullen running their show because he’s fearless when playing the Oilers and decided to do something about it.
This team is fully capable of being a playoff team this season, but they need to get their act together because with a 9 game roadie coming up they’re in danger of picking yet again in the top 5….which is now unacceptable in Edmonton. Sure, 5-10 years down the road Oiler fans might be saying “that 1 extra top 5 pick was so worth that bad 48 game season”, but at some point you have to take the next step.
I’ve been a guy who has been a lot more patient about the rebuild than most. Most don’t understand that the actual rebuild didn’t start until the 2010 trade deadline. Most don’t understand that the Oilers were a much bigger mess than most franchises (Jason Gregor compared the Habs to the Oilers this week, does he not realize that the Habs have a franchise goaltender, franchise power forward, and franchise d-man already in place?!). In fact, the Oilers at the start of this rebuild didn’t even have a competent farm team to develop guys. Hardly any money was invested in developing players, and they didn’t have any truely valuable pieces already in place. This was as close to an expansion team as any team has ever got. So I’ve understood this would take a while. But this team needs to be better than this by now. Maybe not a playoff team this season, but definitely competing for a playoff spot.
Which brings me back to the Hall hit. While it was cheap, and he might be suspended for it, this team needed a wake up call and he tried to deliver it. You might not like it, in fact I’m sure most won’t. But his intent out of it was to say to his teammates “maybe we should start to give a damn about how awful we’ve been playing?” It was a message that needed to be sent to this team. I’m sure its been discussed at length in the room quite a bit over the last 10 games, but that wasn’t working. A new message has been sent, we will see if this team gets it.
Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups