I have been a long time supporter of the "rebuild" in Edmonton, but I was under the blinded faith that we would see a team lose a bunch this season (I had them pegged as 12-14 in the West) but at least we would see a team give it everything they had each and every night.
Watching the Oilers play the last 3 or 4 games it is starting to look eerily similar to last season. In case you were under a rock last season was plagued by a bunch of veteran players that looked and played like they were defeated before the drop of the puck to start the game. Rumors swirled around that there was a divide in the dressing room.
Fast forward 10 and a half months and this last weekend looked like a bunch of the players shown the door had returned wearing different jerseys. I thought that Tambellini had done a decent job in the off season by moving some of the "dead-weight", almost an addition by subtraction theory. I still believe that they are a better team than last season.
I have a long list of fears for this young Oilers team. I am afraid that they are going to start accepting the losses as they mount. I am afraid that they will not realize how difficult it is to be a great team. I am afraid that they will play as individuals and not as a team more often than not. The only thing that can put me at ease is seeing a big culture change in the near future.
As the trade deadline approaches and UFA's become available the Oilers have to try and get a winning attitude in the dressing room. They need to address some big holes in the line-up to try and get the rookies into a situation where they are able to succeed. We need to get a leadership group that will do whatever it takes to win.
Every season there is a veteran or two that have big shiny rings on their fingers with the words "Stanley Cup Champion" that are passed their prime that are looking for a place to play. Would it hurt to sign two of these players for third line duty for a couple of seasons, even if we do have to overpay?
If we can show the current crop of players what it takes to be competitive and let the next group of prospects mature for another season or two in the AHL of juniors will it hurt?
Once Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi, Peckham and Omark all understand the sacrifice needed to be competitive in the NHL the grizzled veterans will be done their contracts. We will then have room for the next crop of rookies and they might be able to succeed quicker.