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Recently, before the major earth shaking signing of a certain Craig Conroy distracted me, I was being called out a little for putting up the hockey news prediction of the Oilers finishing last. The Hockey News has in the past bashed Edmonton a little, they published a survey that said Edmonton and Buffalo were the two worst cities to play pro hockey in according to the Players. Edmontonians, before you flip out on me please read, "by the players". Now they have come out and had the audacity to accuse the worst team in the NHL last year of perhaps being one of the worst again! Can you believe it?? Then today I log into Hockeybuzz to read Vetter and Newman's take on Conroy and see Cloutier has posted another very long winded blog about how the oilers will improve presumably because of all of the things that went wrong last season. I'd like to address that if I could and explain why I agree with The Hockey News.

Injuries: Cloutier believes that the injuries last year hindered the Oilers ability to be competitive, and it did, no question. Where he goes wrong is believing it won't happen again, this happens every year in Edmonton and having a new training staff for one summer probably won't make a difference. The same players that were injured last year...are still on the team! Notably amongst these Hemsky, Souray, Khabibulin and Gagner which are just a few key components for their success. To Richard I say count on having at least a couple important players injured, if you do plan for the worst you can be prepared but right now the depth is razor thin for the Oilers and a couple key injuries will put them right back where they were. Khabibulin was caught driving under the influence in Arizona, that is a jail time offence and if found guilty in any way the Oilers could have an out from the contract, I say they should take it! He's 90, dump him, it's not like there isn't a thousand goalies looking for jobs right now, I personally feel Edmonton dropped the ball not going after Nabakov who is used to playing a ton of minutes and can win you games. Some other teams that had HUGE injury issues last year...Vancouver and Detroit. Just saying.

Coaching: Cloutier said that the oilers stop following Quinn half way through the season and quit. Well if the players quit half way through the season it's a problem in and of itself but there is something else to this. Quinn was expecting effort and Renney was the x and o guy, they quit on the motivator and that says something about the players, most of whom are back again. If the injuries were so prevalent the shouldn't the players who had a chance play harder? If coaching was an issue is just firing Quinn addition by subtraction? Now that Renney has full control is he the Messiah behind the bench? Likely not, not a bad coach but probably not the answer either.

Morale: Was it the coaching situation Cloutier or was it what every player who has come there in the last five years has said? I WANT OUT! I know no Edmonton fan wants to hear it but the city is really cold in the winter, in fact the coldest place on the planet last year at one point, and it doesn't offer a lot to players and their wives in terms of attractions. The once proud mall that was a landmark is basically a huge dump now known more for it's dead dolphins then it's stores. I know you will point at me and say, "whatever, that's what a Flames fan would say!", and you're probably right, but it's also what Pronger, Smyth, Heatley, Nylander and who knows how many other players who have turned down Edmonton have said. Even players like Souray want out. This goes beyond the coaching situation and how players are used unfortunatley. Not even players who have had good experiences stick around there, Pretty sure Gretz doesn't winter there you know?

Special teams: Yeah they were bad last year, maybe they will be better this year, maybe not. Power play has as much to do with coaching as it does with players so we'll see. I don't know who is going to be the Penalty Kill either, Cogliano maybe? he's good.

Team Design: Cloutier said the Oil were too small and got pushed around...last time I checked if you had skill this league is wide open now, small skilled players excel in fact, the lack of skill is actually what you mean by team design. Size is relative to the will you have to succeed, don't believe me, meet my friend Theo Fleury.

If we pretend that it's last season and everything goes like you wanted to then a few things would happen. They would have been better for sure but better than worst is still bottom 5 in the league and perhaps last in the west still, just like the Hockey News said. Throw in a bunch or rookies, as skilled as they may be, and you will have defensive lapses and rookie errors that may result in more minus than plus shifts for them and I think at that point it's safe for you to take the rose coloured glasses off.

The defense getting bigger and better...than last... sure. I'll give you that!

The future looked bright for Oilers when Gagner and Cogliano were breaking into the league but now it's Hall and Eberle and everyone can't wait to ship Cogliano out! An Embarrassment of riches or just embarrassing? I guess we'll find out After this season.

Filed Under:   Flames   Oilers   Hemsky  
August 12, 2010 11:47 AM ET | Delete
WOW. this is my favourite blog ever!
August 12, 2010 11:50 AM ET | Delete
Well said. Maxbone's a huge homer, and while I do believe that the Oilers will be stronger this year, competing for wins rather than rolling over, I still see them struggling through the first 50-60 games or so. When you look at the other teams in the West...
August 12, 2010 11:56 AM ET | Delete
The Oilers are going to be solid competition for Columbus, Minnesota, and you could maybe throw Dallas into the mix too. IMO, even optimistically, the best that the oilers could hope for is an 11th or 12th place finish.
August 12, 2010 12:29 PM ET | Delete
August 12, 2010 12:32 PM ET | Delete
Nice job Sane!! Ive had my oiler buddies rib me about conroy last night. They get defensive when I throw stones back. They dont get it. You need at least 3 core/franchise players
August 12, 2010 12:33 PM ET | Delete
Who aren't all rookies...
August 12, 2010 12:35 PM ET | Delete
They think they have them with kids who havent even played 1 NHL game!! they say we sign
August 12, 2010 12:40 PM ET | Delete
I just hope they don't get another 1st overall pick
August 12, 2010 1:05 PM ET | Delete
You know a lot of their fans may have some ammo in two years for sure but THIS year I think THN is correct.
August 12, 2010 1:22 PM ET | Delete
Hey, I am touched...a blog named after me. Of course, I don't agree with everything you have to say, but I agree with your right to say it. Well done.
August 12, 2010 1:50 PM ET | Delete
Don't get me wrong! I read you!
August 12, 2010 3:05 PM ET | Delete
Fleishamn is being traded for a d hey?? Kaberle? ....Sarich? lol
August 12, 2010 4:13 PM ET | Delete
Sane, where'd you see/hear that? Is it legit? The Flames could really use a good 2nd line centerman ;)
August 12, 2010 4:18 PM ET | Delete
August 12, 2010 4:18 PM ET | Delete
I think the truth lies somewhere between Richard's optimism and Sane's pessimism. The extent of the Oiler's injuries last year was freakish. Colorado had a similar streak two years ago which ended up netting them Duchene and look what happened to them. I see a similar thing pattern happening in Edmonton.
August 12, 2010 4:18 PM ET | Delete
On a side note, this is one year where I would be hesitant to bet which of our teams will finish higher in the standings. The Oilers are one of the youngest and greenest where the Flames are one of the oldest and most experienced. Youth has seemed to beat out experience lately it seems.
August 12, 2010 4:26 PM ET | Delete
I think that Edmonton will realistically finish 13th in the West this year. 80-84 points, ahead of Columbus and Dallas. I would be very confident in any bet that stakes the Flames against the Oilers for even money this year. Next year though... :(
August 12, 2010 4:37 PM ET | Delete
yeah for me when it comes down to comparables they are especially weak in net. As I said before this was the year to get that goalie and ditch the bulin contract...
August 12, 2010 8:16 PM ET | Delete
flames are going to be terrible in 3-4 years. You have old balls players and NOBODY coming up through the pipeline (backlund is your only decent prospect)get your laughs in now flames fans....
August 12, 2010 9:44 PM ET | Delete
"get your laughs in now flames fans"... Oh, we have been. Nothing is funnier than the Ryan Smyth press conference. Not because he's not a great guy, but because of what it did to E-Town! Also, in 2 years, more than half of the salary is off the books. In 3-4 years this could be and will be a whole new team. They might blow hard, or the prospects might develop (Brodie, Wahl, Irving, Nemisz, Arnold etc). It's not as bad or as good for either of the Alberta teams I think...
August 12, 2010 10:39 PM ET | Delete
They sure seem to have this thought process that they are the only ones that have a future, that a gilbert, Gagner, Cogliano, nilson outcome cant happen to the next wave of kids.
August 13, 2010 2:54 AM ET | Delete
Love the blog. You said what I was too lazy too.They needed 12 more points last year to be tied for dead last. I do not see any kind of 6 win improvement this year.
August 13, 2010 9:45 AM ET | Delete
This was the same debate I have been having the last couple years with Oilers fans.. Youth vs. Experience.. I just want to say we swept you last year! You won't be better than the flames this year either. sorry.
August 13, 2010 9:49 AM ET | Delete
On another note.. Jtommy.. Flames really don't need a 2nd line Center, more like a First! or at least.. I think, more depth on the RW. Eric Fehr?? Brooks Laichs is also more 'Sutter' material..
August 13, 2010 9:51 AM ET | Delete
Oilers REALLY need to sign Niemi! that would be a start..
August 13, 2010 10:09 AM ET | Delete
what they need is semin on their 2nd line rw!! lol I don't care if I dream...
August 13, 2010 3:15 PM ET | Delete
oilers are in a win-win situation right now. If we finish as poorly as the 'experts' are predicting we end up drafting another future franchise player. If we surprise people and have a good season, then it means we took a step forward and the rookies can start to play in a more 'winning' atmosphere. The only way the flames have a productive season is if they win the cup. Not even close to good enough for that and not bad enough to draft a good prospect. Enjoy mediocrity "future leafs"
August 13, 2010 4:27 PM ET | Delete
Backburner, my sarcasm transmitter must be malfunctioning... Gretzky your optimism is refreshing. let me remind you that sucking now is by no means a guarantee of future success. Look at the Panthers, Thrashers and Islanders. All three of those teams have been bottom dwellers for the past decade, and none of them are significantly better today than they were 5 years ago.
August 13, 2010 4:30 PM ET | Delete
The oilers have a bunch of highly touted prospects. That's all they are, until they prove otherwise. Vancouver hasn't had a high pick in years, and will likely be the class of the West this year. Same with Detroit. Just because we don't get high picks doesn't mean we can't consistently beat your ass. All I have to say to you is 6-0... Your boys need to bring something before you start spouting off...
August 13, 2010 5:30 PM ET | Delete
Hi Gretzky- Yeah that is true, if you finish poorly you draft better but really isn't that just a consolation prize for being a loser? You can't be a fan and hope your team does poorly because they have a shot at drafting a better player. Have some pride in your team!
August 13, 2010 5:40 PM ET | Delete
August 13, 2010 10:23 PM ET | Delete
Oilers could have a playoff team if they spent some $$$, made a few trades, they have the kids to fill in. Is Katz not wanting to spend????? Lots of profit icing an AHL team in the NHL.
August 14, 2010 3:14 AM ET | Delete
and now, here to to tell you all about the wonderful benefits of Sutter-Aid: Kevin R!! *applause*
August 14, 2010 1:52 PM ET | Delete
August 14, 2010 11:04 PM ET | Delete
Sanf, you should try some, might help your perspective
August 14, 2010 11:06 PM ET | Delete
Maybe even some confidence. Im concerned about your wanting to be a loser disposition. Is that why you're here?
August 16, 2010 8:20 PM ET | Delete
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