This post is from guest writer Ktown. We’re shutting the blog down soon, but he wanted to squeak one post in before doing so…
Setting the Facts Straight
I was recently pointed in the direction of a Flames blogger who wrote about the state of their team. That in itself is likely a misleading statement, as the author wrote primarily about the state of the Oilers, under the theme of “We don’t suck as bad as them”. This opened up a lively debate with a friend of mine (as avid a Flamer as I am an Oiler). Throughout our banter, I heard more of the same “facts” spewed back at me, attempting to demonstrate the Oilers’ futility in the last few (several) years.
Now, before we get too far, I want to state clearly – this is not a defense of the Oilers, nor an attempt to say “they don’t suck that bad”. The levels of suckage, futility, insanity and pure, abject failure within the organization are beyond debate. What I am submitting now is more of a simple supplication to other fan bases (and even our own) to at least get some facts straight before engaging in any spirited debate.
Facts are important in any “informed” discussion, and so the level to which facts are misstated, misquoted, or simply falsified in Oiler diatribe has become detrimental to any discussion where the team is concerned. Let’s just take a moment now to set some simple “facts” straight, in the hope that one day, we may actually be able to have a simple, “informed” discussion about how bad the Oilers suck without having to resort to myth, gossip, or even imagination. To be perfectly honest, the pure level of suck really doesn’t require exaggeration or hyperbole in the first place.
Probably my favorite thus far, and the one I hear most often is “they suck so bad, they’ve been last in the league for 4 or 5 years.” I love this one not only for the absurd level of exaggeration, but also for the most absolute falsehood within.
Let us put this on the ground floor now, and agree to be bound by the truth forever after – the Oilers did not finish dead last the past 4 or 5 seasons. They didn’t even finish dead last in 3 of those 4 or 5. They finished dead last twice. Let me restate that for clarity – they finished dead last TWICE. 2010 and 2011. In those two seasons, yes – the Oil were the epitome of losers in the National Hockey League. They sucked so bad that “rewarding” them with the 1st overall draft pick was hardly fair compensation to the fanbase that died, was buried, and returned from the dead only to be killed again.
In statement of FACT, the Oilers have finished 24th, 29th, 30th, 30th, 21st, 19th and 25th since making their last run at the Stanley Cup (oh, such a distant, happy memory now). Unless my grade school teachers failed at teaching me the true meaning of “greater than”/”less than”, that shows me just 2 (two) complete and total last place finishes in the last 7 pride swallowing, fan decimating, NHL seasons.
This is where we Oilers fans get the inevitable sand kicked in our face – “but they drafted 1st overall three years in a row!”
Yes. They did. That is indeed a FACT. However, in 2012, having finished SECOND TO LAST in the league, the Oilers hit a (just less than) 1 in 5 shot (that’s 20% for you mathematically challenged folk) and won the draft lottery – beating out the eternally lost Columbus Blue Jackets for the coveted first pick. The Oilers should not be inappropriately berated for their 3rd last place finish in a row (myth), but rather should be lambasted for robbing the Blue Jackets of what should have been their hard earned 1st overall. Selfish bastards, those Oilers.
The other misstatement I hear so very often is as follows – “The Oilers suck so bad, even with all those first overalls on their team, they can’t do anything.”
Depending on your definition/quantification of “all those” there could be any number of misconceptions happening. Again, let’s set the record straight – the Edmonton Oilers have exactly three (3) first overalls playing on the team right now (2½, really as Yakupov has been either 4th lined or press-boxed much of this season). Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov are the only Oilers players that have legitimate pictures of themselves at the draft with their fingers raised in an internet worthy proclamation of “FIRST!” As well – so we’re not at liberty to disagree, those photos happened at the drafts of 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively.
The vitriol spewed at the Oilers – when faced with this last FACT – is invariably met with the “well, they have a lot of guys that could have been first overalls.”
Let’s examine that statement. Had the draft in 2008 been redone in an epic NHL do-over (sorry, Senators fans – there’s no such thing. History will remember Alexandre Daigle), there is a strong possibility that the names Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz would have been announced much sooner than 22nd and 43rd (respectively). Of course, to suggest they would have been the first names called would be to assume that names like Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty, and Alex Pieterangelo had not been in play at that particular run of the tables. I’m a big Jordan Eberle fan – I have a jersey with his name stitched on it – but if someone were to suggest to me a Jordan Eberle for Steven Stamkos trade, I’d take it in a New York minute, and then run for fear of police, arrest and charges of grand larceny.
No, the FACT is that Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz were not, and have not magically become, worthy of first overall draft status. In fact, I’d go further to suggest that wouldn’t have been the case had they been drafted a year earlier (Patrick Kane) or a year later (John Tavares). By the way, the year the Chicago Blackhawks drafted Patrick Kane (2007) they – like the 2012 Oilers – did not finish last in the league. Funny thing, that NHL Draft Lottery – robbing teams of their rightful firsts since 2007.
The Oilers have a lot of young talent, that is undeniable, and their success despite this abundance of talent is really inexcusable. However, to suggest that players like Eberle, Schultz, Paajarvi (departed now in favor of David Perron), Gagner, etc. should have been 1st overall picks in their respective years would be to disqualify oneself from any legitimate hockey conversation for the next decade at least (“Hey, Richard! 10 years for being a fool!”).
Now, these are just a few of my favorite examples, but there are more. I’m sure over the last 7 (going on 8) seasons, we Oilers fans have heard it all. I personally don’t think there is a better cautionary tale, or tale of futility that can compare with the full blown Greek tragedy that is the current Edmonton Oilers. However, I implore my fellow Oiler fans, fellow hockey fans, and even fans of the most hated Calgary Flames to be mindful of these FACTS when discussing the suck level of the once proud franchise to which I still maintain allegiance. Please don’t mistake gossip, myth, or banter as statements of fact, and please for the love all that is great about the game of hockey don’t misapply these fallacies to comparative analyses of your own teams.
In FACT, the simple truth is that the Oilers of 2014 (and recent memory) are a horrible hockey team that strain the bonds of love and loyalty. They don’t need anybody’s exaggerations to make that worse.
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