And with a thunk (7-2 loss) the Oilers are officially last in the West. The holiday roster freeze is currently in effect, meaning we can’t make any moves right now (except in an emergency).
Really though, this team needs work. I wore a “virtual” brown bag on my head in hopes of MacTavish getting canned. I do think the firing was the right thing to do, and in the end I think we have the better coach. However, I can now say that this team wasn’t a bad team because of coaching. It’s a bad team because a bad team has been assembled.
We all know it. The CBA and the booming Canadian dollar ruined this team. The pockets opened up for Kevin Lowe, and in the words of Brian Burke, he ran the team into the sewer, albeit unintentionally. I don’t think the players he picked up were bad choices or anything. However, I think most would agree that the spending was too free and it has handcuffed the team, and acquiring several players with the same skill set also hindered the team. So how does Tambellini fix the Oilers? Well, he prepares to shell out big money to other free agents (unsuccessfully) and trades for another high salary player (unsuccessfully due to NTC… although this may have been salary well spent) and then signs an aging goaltender to a ridiculous term for a bad salary when goalies in the league currently carry low value.
So 4 years of failure in, we’re now on our 2nd set of coaches, our 2nd GM, and have cycled through several players. What gives? I think a lot of guys in head office have their hearts in the right places, but I don’t think their actions have been to do what is best for this team.
The Oilers apologist will say “well we are only 7 points out”. However, I don’t think this team is good enough to have that fight in them to overcome these odds. They are a borderline team. As a fan, I compel you to stop settling for mediocrity here. Look to our neighbors to the south. They aren’t a team fighting for a playoff spot year after year. They’re fighting for the division title now. Until the Oilers change, we will always be fighting for 8th spot because the team constantly on life support. Our GMs refuse to make decisions until the trade deadline. By then, the team teases us with what looks to be a playoff possibility. “We’re only a few points out.. we just need a good run”.
But what this team needs to do, in my opinion, is write this season off. It’s time to jettison the dead weight. Other teams do it. Katz (if only you could actually hear me): it’s time to bite the bullet; it’s time to eat some high priced contracts; it’s time to clean up the contract mess.
I already know the argument – “but Racki, we have enough troubles signing free agents!”. Well, this is how you do a re-build: drop the expensive contracts and try and build through the draft. The team should only be resorting to free agent signings for cheap savy guys like Betts, Malhotra, Whitney, Roloson… guys that you need to complement your home grown stars. Tambellini and Lowe have been looking for home run deals – one superstar fixes – for a while now that they’ve clouded their vision and overlooked the several areas that this team needs help with. The Rangers have proven year in and year out that this is not the way to do it.
I can point out the big issues on this team (defense, skill with size), but I think the first thing that is going to have to happen before correcting anything else is to stop the bleeding. Cut your losses: waive, waive waive. Make trades for picks. A lot of this may be best saved for the trade deadline, but this team SHOULD be completely cleaned before then. I will have far more respect for Tambellini if he wipes the slate clean than if he keeps trying to apply band-aid fixes. Moreau, one or more top-4 salary d-men, O’Sullivan, Nilsson, Staios (as much as I hate to say it), Pisani (unless he takes a big pay cut) – all of these guys are gone, whatever it takes. Trade for picks, send through waivers.. it doesn’t matter. This is addition through subtraction. Horcoff’s contract does bother me, and I’m a fan of his. But I think that one is one we’ll have to make the most of. He’s a guy that is a good leader though anyways and does always give a consistent level of effort, so I’m not upset about keeping him if need be.
In addition, the Oilers are about to make some decisions on contracts at season’s end – Gagner, Cogliano, Pisani, Comrie, Grebeshkov, Pouliot, Brule, Stone, Jacques, Potulny (for guys currently up on the big club). Of these guys, not a damn one gets a significant pay raise unless it is a short term contract. We’ve been bitten in the ass too many times by one-hit wonders who collect their check and put it in cruise control. We’ve got Eberle, MPS and others coming up that can replace them. I hate to put it that way, but this is all part of the new-look Oilers that no longer pays players for potential or for one year of good play. Anyone that tries to draw a line in the sand with us is going to have to go, unless it’s obviously within reason. The Oilers are going to have to start playing some hardball. But if we’re in re-build mode, it’s necessary. There shouldn’t be any reason at this point to cave into a particular player’s demands because there are more coming through the draft to replace them (or a trade can be made to replace them).
I know this rant sounds like the same old “we lost another game, time to get pissed” rant. Maybe it is… but I’d say almost four years of mediocrity is enough to call it by something else… just calling it the way I’ve seen it for almost four years now.
Anyways, I plead to Tambellini, Lowe, and Katz… pull the plug on grandma. Let it go already, and let the healing begin.
27 Responses to “The roller coaster ride just hit rock bottom”
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.