I suppose for a first time blogger, a little history might help any readers to see where my biases and allegiances come from. I was born in Alberta in the early 80's the heyday of the battle of alberta. I have 2 older brothers and as one might expect, I wanted them to like me, so I cheered for the teams they cheered for, namely the Gretzky led Oilers.
When I was old enough to realize I didn't need their acceptance, I picked a team of my own to cheer for. I started to follow a certain center from detroit who wore #19 and for the next 15 years was a die hard wings fan. Then #19 retired, and although detroit still holds a special place in my hockey heart, I decided to start to follow and cheer for the team that played in the city I had moved to. The flames had recently come off of a thrilling run to game 7 of the finals so it was pretty easy to cheer for iggy and his compatriots.
Then the wheels started to fall off, but for once I was not going to be a band wagon jumper. I decided that i would support my new team through thick and thin. Which brings us to this season and the complete surprise that is the Flames vs. the complete surprise that is the Oilers.
I need to stress the fact that I am an Alberta hockey fan, with the flames being the team I cheer for, but a strong desire exists to see the Oilers do well so that the BOA can have meaning again. I thought after the first meeting between the two, that the Oilers would wake up and see that it isn't just talent that wins games. They would buy into the system and ethics the coaching staff was trying to instill, and would turn things up and be a contender for a playoff spot.
I was sure, that despite the Flames not quite being there yet, that the coaching staff in Calgary would always have them upbeat and ready for the Edmonton games, and the beginnings of some bitter, hard fought Alberta hockey would soon take place again. Instead, it seems that the two teams are trending in entirely different directions again, and the stage is being set for another bitter Calgary/Vancouver rivalry. Not that I won't enjoy that hockey, but I was so hopeful with the youth in Edmonton and the new direction of the Flames, that a proper BOA could start to be seen again.
I do understand that we are only 1/3 of the way through the season, and that things could change for both teams. However; after watching the MacT press conference today, I am not convinced the Oilers will be good this year OR next! When your coach, captain, and heart and soul forward all say that something in the dressing room needs to change and you try to shrug it off as a management group is beyond ridiculous in my opinion. I know fans would hate to see some low-ball return for one of their young guns, but honestly, if that player that was sent packing was a cancerous entity in the dressing room, does it really matter what the return is? Shouldn't it be dealt with as quickly as possible to ensure it doesn't spread?
I admit, I am not close to the team, and can't say who the problem child (children) are, if there really is one (2,3,8?), but I do see the difference between the Flames dressing room and the Oilers dressing room right now. The Flames believe in one another without question. No one, from the veterans to the rookies, takes a night off. None of them sour after a goal has been scored against. They fight for every inch of ice and have been rewarded thus far.
Is it really coaching that is the problem in Edmonton? The best player on the Oilers doesn't seem to think so. Is it leadership? I kind of doubt it seeing as Ference watched how Iginla worked his tail off before joining another team with an equally fanatical captain in Chara. Is it positional depth? Could be, but it seems that this team should have enough depth to be well out of the NHL's basement! Goaltending? If it is, then why wasn't Markstrom picked up off waivers? Or Brodeur signed after the terrible start, even if he just came in to be a backup/coach?
Blogs are fun, as you get to express your opinion and see what others have to say. Which is ultimately the point of this one. I believe the root of the problem starts with management in Edmonton. It seems that they have a sense of entitlement based on their careers as players. And this sentiment seems to be trickling down to the dressing room. An attitude seems to exist where fighting for every inch isn't in their contract and that they should win by virtue of their draft positions.
So what is the solution? I think if I had that answer I would be working in the NHL! The truth is I don't have an answer, but I want one from those who were put in charge. They are paid some major coin to have the answers and act when problems arise, yet I see no action, and what is worse, I see no accountability. I truly feel for the Oilers fans in Alberta. My heart isn't into this team and even I can't stand to see the injustices this management group continues to do to such a storied franchise.
So tell me NHL fans, as an armchair OWNER, what do you do to turn this franchise around???