So a new word was coined in the game day thread from last night – bipOiler (a quick google search tells me that this term has been around for a few years though, however it’s time to put it in the dictionary).
Main Entry: bi·poi·ler
1 : the effect of being subjected to a mediocre team for 3 or more years, yet you can still remember the days when the team was the best in the game.
Note, the final half of that sentence – “yet you can still remember the days when the team was the best in the game.” That’s the key. Many Oilers fans are still bringing it up to other teams’ fanatics. Arguments go something like this:
Other team’s fan: “My team is in the running for first place in the North West Division!”.
BipOiler fan: “Yah well we won 5 cups back in the 80s/1990! How many has your team won? Eat it! Ha har!”
Sorry folks, those days are behind us. These are the new Oilers, where success or failure is just a period away.
Don’t worry though, our new GM has our back, right? Come on Tambi.. you’re my boy! You’re the best thing to happen to this team since Lowe traded for CFP. Picking up Mike Comrie was brilliant, as was Ryan Stone – the new Curtis Glencross. Getting Pat Quinn AND Tom Renney? Made Kevin Lowe’s work look like child’s play. What say you? “We’ll see how this group reacts and we want to see how the team looks with some people coming back in a couple of weeks. But these situations can present opportunity also, so we’ll see what happens.” Gaw damn it Tambellini, you useless skin sack! I can’t believe you spent the entire off-season hunting down a guy who didn’t want to be here! You #*@^ing piece of $#!@! Kevin Lowe never would have settled for this b.s.! At least he tried to do something to fix the team! Katz needs to fire both you and Lowe NOW!
Obviously that last paragraph is tongue-in-cheek, but there are some points I want to make. We’ve been told for a couple of years now or longer to be patient. It was even the same in 2005/06 when the entire city knew we needed a real goaltender. That real goaltender came in the form of Dwayne Roloson at the deadline. The Oilers squeaked their way into 8th place that season; just 3 points less and they miss the playoffs. This is what we’ve been used to since then – patience from the GM. Patience from the GM got the team into the Cup Finals that year, but patience from the GM has also led to 3 years of missing the playoffs since then, and may lead to a fourth as well.
So what is a GM to do? Well, quite frankly, I think there is some dead weight on this team that needs to be dropped. Mad Mike Milbury (quite possibly the worst team evaluator on the planet) even commented on it in the 1st-period intermission last night. “They got to find the rats and get them off the ship because in this situation guys will start to reveal their character, guys who don’t want to get hit in the corner, guys who don’t want to play tough and dirty. You might as well get rid of them now because they’re not doing any good. You got nothing else to lose, if you’re going to go out, go out with guys on your shield, guys who want to play hard.” Credit to David Staples for the quote. He takes a bit different of a stance on it though, saying that it’s impossible now to do what Milbury suggests.
“The Cleaner”, Cliff Fletcher, would probably disagree though. And while I do see Staples’ point on that (very valid), I think the Oilers are going to have to suffer some acceptable losses in order to send the message that half-assed effort will get you a half-assed finish, which gets you kicked off the team. As much as it pains me to say it, our neighbors to the south have been showing for a few years now that they won’t settle for “maybe 8th place”. Knock them for their salary problems all you want, but they still have Iggy, Quasimodo, Bouwmeester, Kiprusoff and Jokinen in that line up and have several guys in their line up that aren’t afraid to earn a goal. The same can be said for the team that just fed us our lunch last night.
So, wise Racki, what’s your solution? Well, again, it’s about acceptable losses to send the message. I’m afraid that we’re not going to get the return we want on some guys, and I’m ok with that. Mr. Katz is going to have to eat some salary, so I’m kind of hoping that he is OK with that too. Stuff some players in the minors, in hopes they’ll get claimed on waivers. If not, they still come off the cap, and are out of sight and out of mind. Move on with the players who want to play here – guys like Gilbert Brule, Ryan Potulny, Dustin Penner (who would have said that last year?), Lubomir Visnovsky, Ladislav Smid, Zack Stortini, Ryan Stone, Mike Comrie and the other names I’m forgetting. Keep the guys who have played hard every game they’ve been here, and contributed to this team winning. I’ll add Sheldon Souray and Steve Staios to that list too, even though they both have been bad the past couple of games. Steve Staios has looked really good outside of those two games and offers leadership, and Sheldon Souray, to me, is the best leader this team has. Generally with those two, efforts are never questioned anyways. What they bring most nights outweighs the odd night where they get lit up.
So to wrap things up, I think this roller coaster ride will never end until management finally bites the bullet and sends the message that failure is not an option. This team, as it stands, will only be as good as its last performance. It’s not a team that can compete for the division; it’s a team that can compete for 8th though. So as long as management sits around with the wait and see attitude, this team will be floating in the bottom half of the conference. They may make the playoffs, they may not.
Really, management needs to make a big decision here: do we want to be a team that competes now for the division, or do we want to compete for the Taylor Hall / Tyler Seguin sweepstakes. Either way, I think it’s going to take a bit of a re-build and some players are going to have to be moved with little or no return in order to free up salary (which this team will need anyways for next year, given the number of young guys we have on the last year of their contract). Guys we who were once untouchable are going to have to be considered in trades again. The team needs some guys who can put the puck in the net, and this team needs some guys who can keep it out of our net. But then again, we do have some guys coming back that could bring us into 8th place….. no, wait, stay the course Racki!