Wasn't that long ago when Pronger announced he wanted out of Edmonton after just signing a 6 year deal there. Pronger along with numerous other Oilers (Spacek, Peca, Samsanov, etc) formed a mass exodus out of Edmonton, the City, not the Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club. A team just 4 weeks prior played in a 7th game of the Cup finals. Pronger had his problems personally, his wife demanded they leave Edmonton "or else", and off he goes. Peca referenced on a Toronto radio station that Edmonton is a tough location for a player with 29 other market choices, given where the city is, and what the city offers. Lowe was shocked to see Spacek leave, a player he was confident from all indications would resign.
Fast forward 12 months, and the Oilers have just dealt away their heart & soul player in Ryan Smyth. Lots of speculation as to 'Will he resign in Edmonton? Complete the Coupe...'. I for one thought it was a strong possibility, only to watch him resign in Colorado. The Oilers then deal for Pitkanen, and pay a fair amount for him, so they can focus their defense around the young and promising defenseman that needed a change of scenery. Rumours break immediately after Edmonton tries to lock him to a long term deal that he was not at all interested in playing in Edmonton and this would be a one year arrangement, one that Lowe's hand would be forced to make a trade.
Lowe then agrees to a contract with perennial 70 point centre Michal Nylander. Prepares the paperwork and faxes it in. Is watching the sports ticker on TV and sees Nylander has signed in Washington. Later it leaked that Nylander had a change of heart after agreeing to a contract, didn't actually want to move to Edmonton so he contacted Washington who pitched an offer to him for less money earlier in the FA season, and signed with them.
Now fast forward to today. Oilers forced to move Pitkanen, albeit get good value in return. Edmonton reportedly offered Hossa $81 million over 9 years, and then after he signs in Detroit a one year deal worth less, they turned around and pitched some cash towards Jaromir for a one year deal worth about the same per season. Looks like he's off to cozy Siberia though.
So thats the past 24 months of disappointments for the Edmonton Oilers and their fans. What's the reason? The Oilers club is well respected, has never pulled crap like what is going on in Toronto right now, and Lowe is considered among the brightest GMs by many circles. The Oilers, although have had a tough 2 years recently, have been a consistent producing team over the past 4-5 years finishing in the 92-93 point range each of the years, so it shouldn't be a competitive issue.
So what else remains? I suggest its the city and today's NHL offers the players lots of freedom. If you can make $4 million in sunny Florida or under the Cali sun and beaches, or move to Edmonton to endure 6 months of snow and blisternig cold to do the same job, I would guess that nearly all would choose the sun over the snow. Travel can be a factor do, you can sign in Eastern Canada or North Eastern US and the most travel you'll have for a typical night is a 1-2 hour flight. Not the case for Edmonton, who travels to Minnesota, San Jose, LA, Dallas, and Detroit... all 'western' teams.
Anyway that's my editorial and opinion. And it's no disrespect meant to the city of Edmonton. I've never been there but always have wanted to go as an Oil fan. It may be a fantastic city. I just think for a spoiled and coddled NHL star today, evidence may suggest Edmonton is not a desirable city to play in.