You remember going to your first dance as a kid? I remember my first dance, because my parents forced me to go. The one thing that got me to go is how my father explained to me about how going to a dance was an opportunity to ask a girl to dance with me that normally I wouldn’t talk to. Now I was in grade 6 when I attended my first dance, and the thing about being in grade 6 is your just learning about what having a crush on a girl was all about. Back then a girl could look at me the right away and I would melt. Things were so simple back then. Anyways I remember walking into the dance and thinking to myself which girl do I choose? I had a handful of girls in my head that were the standouts and I knew I would only have enough guts to ask one. I had to go through a check list in my head of these “super-hot” girls to figure out the one I wanted to ask. I am sure that most of you can relate to this moment, where you had to pick one and live or die with the decision. All those girls had so many different traits, positive and negatives how do you pick just one? It got me to thinking this is how the Oiler coaching staff must feel right now about picking their captain for the upcoming season. Going to their first dance and looking around at all these beauties to pick from.
Taylor Hall, he is like that one girl who was the highly emotional queen bee. The trend setter. When Taylor Hall is going the Oilers are going. He has been at many times the heartbeat of the Oilers in his career. He plays with so much emotion it sometimes borders on reckless abandonment. But he has the capability to take over a game with that. But just like that super-hot trend setter in school with all that emotion also brought a lot of drama. Taylor Hall can often be seen slamming his stick, yelling at the refs and sometimes picking fights that he can’t finish nor has no business being in. You can always tell when Hall isn’t playing at the top of the game, and when he doesn’t get his way he is often found on the bench pouting about it. But with 145 points in 171 games, just like the queen bee in school it’s hard to not look at all the good and forget the bad.
Then there was the queen bee’s best friend. The girl who was always there but never really said much, but you knew she always had a better understanding than anyone else. She was always number 2 but always had this quiet confidence that she was better than even the queen bee. Well doesn’t that just sound like Jordan Eberle? He has played in more games than Hall with 195 games under his belt with 156 points in that time. Eberle might have the most skilled hands on the Oilers and his play can shift the momentum of a game. He has a solid two way game, and with only 48 PIM’s in his career you know he can be trusted in any situation on the ice. He will do anything for the team to get a win. But just like I did at my first dance, is Eberle easy to pass over because of how timid he is. Is he able to lead a locker room, or does he need the queen bee to do all the talking?
You remember that one girl in school who was friends with everyone. She would do anything for anyone and everyone always had nothing but the nicest things to say about her. Enter Sam Gagner into the discussion for the Oilers next captain. Sam Gagner played his way onto the Oilers as an 18 year old, he finished playing the Russian super season and Oiler fans were demanding he play for the Oilers. So he played and he has done everything the Oiler brass has asked him to do. I think the most impressive thing about Gagner is at age 24 he already has played in 414 NHL games. If he can stay healthy we could potentially see him reach 1000 games by the time he’s in his early 30’s. Gagner has been with the Oilers since the beginning of the rebuild, has had many rumors about being traded, yet still has been one of the Oilers most dependable player. He leads by example with his on ice play and off ice training, and has been very beneficial to bringing along the young core in Edmonton. It’s hard to say anything bad about Gagner becoming the next captain. There is still questions about Gagner and if he is apart of the long term future in Edmonton. And that might keep the coaches from putting the C on his jersey.
When I went to my first dance there was also this new girl that just started at our school. I told myself if I was to ask the new girl there was no way she would say no to a dance with me. Andrew Ference is the new kid on the block. But he is no kid and he knows how to lead. Some fans are weary of Ference becoming the next captain of the Oilers because he is new to the organization. But you can’t argue with his body of work. He is an Albertan boy coming to play for the Oilers. He knows how to win, being to the Stanley cup finals 3 times in his career and winning once. It’s easy to tell that he is going to be apart of the leadership group in Edmonton for the time being. He is going to teach the kids what it takes to win and it has already begun, he will be a coach on the ice. Again hard to not look at this guy, but because he is new kid on the block might not get the chance to dance.
Then we come to the last choice on the list of girls to ask to dance. The ugly duckling that you know would never say no. That girl who seemed like she had been around the block a couple times and would do anything for attention. Ryan Smyth is that guy for the Oilers. He’s the guy that everyone has forgotten about. He doesn’t even expect to be asked but who knows. You know he would wear that C with so much pride; like that ugly duckling would be if you asked her to dance. He bleeds blue and orange, has taken so much abuse while wearing the Oilers uniform. Pucks and sticks to his face, constantly battling in front of the net. I don’t know if Ryan Smyth plays past this season, and it would be a nice way to send him off by giving him the C on the jersey he has bled for. Unfortunately for him this season is shaping up to be the first major step forward in Edmonton, and I think they will be looking to someone to lead the team not just for the time being but the foreseeable future. The ugly duckling might get past over again.
Back in the day when I went to my first dance I decided that god always hated a coward, lets just say I went up to the queen bee and asked her to dance with me well at least that’s how it went in my head. I don’t know if I said anything to her all I remember is walking up to her me saying something and then her going to dance with popular guy at my school. They ended up being the queen and king of that dance, and all I could think was that could have been me. And that is one feeling Oiler coaches don’t want. There is plenty to pick from with this young core in Edmonton, just depends on how lucky or not lucky the coaches feel. Oiler fans this is going to be an exciting season and it has already begun with all the talk over who the next captain is going to be.