What We Learned Wednesday: Chia’s gone, but very real problems still exist
Today, at least on paper, was a decent start by an organization that’s in utter dysfunction. The team has been spiraling out of control for over a decade, and the resulting torture has left me with have a hate boner that could touch the bottom of Slave Lake. And the architect behind the most recent four years of bullshittery has been told to pack his shit, get in his car, and drive to goddamn Nisku. Like the Boomers leaving us with an environmental disaster and saying “good luck fixing our shit,” Peter’s final transactions as Oilers General Disappointment involved leaving the next GM with a team strapped to a salary cap dedicated primarily to mediocrely inadequate roster players. Yes, in his final acts of wildly absurd incompetence, ol’Petey racked up a dickshitting $10.525 million in extra salary for next year. That doesn’t include all the ridiculous contracts he obliviously gifted to about six other players (Lucic, Brodziak, Sekera, Russell, Kassian, and Benning account for $20.5 million of salary hell next year, assuming some of these players are not traded by the deadline or the offseason). Every team has at least one or two players under unfortunate contracts, but our now former GM treated the salary cap as something more complicated than a 400 level mechanical engineering textbook. I think every player ever signed by his dumbass Harvard degree have a no-movement clause. Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle accounted for $12 million in salary. Those are two useful players that we could have easily kept, and then signed other players who are, at worst, as ineffective as the 9+ players I just mentioned with the remaining $19 million. Alas, this is the position we’re in.
Today was a day that I, like many of you, had been looking forward to for too long to count. I had a bottle of champagne that I was ready to pop the moment Peter took his now clearly useless Plan with him on the unemployment line. And last night, for like five minutes, I felt that bliss. Then today, I woke up and was painfully reminded that there are obvious organizational plights that still inexcusably exist. Bob Nicholson stepped in front of the microphone for what I believe is the first time since he proudly backed Peter’s bullshit plan in the spring and proceeded to dance around most if not all of the appropriately difficult questions fired his way. First, he stated what we all kind of expected:
"Going forward today, Keith Gretzky will take on more of the general managers duties and I will take on hockey operations. My key duty is finding a general manager." -Nicholson #Oilers— Oilersnation.com (@OilersNation) January 23, 2019
No surprise here. We all hoped that the team would actually go through an extensive GM search for the first time in the entire history of the Edmonton Oilers, and it looks like that’s going to be the case. Keith Gretzky can play imaginary GM until we find someone actually capable of running a functional operation in the current NHL climate. It’s a long shot to think that Steve Yzerman will want to subject himself to this catastrophic nightmare of a franchise, but all we want is someone who’s cognizant of what it takes to win in today’s NHL, not someone who holds his accomplishments as a player from 30 years ago as a precedent for understanding what it takes to win. I’m speaking of Kevin Lowe, obviously, who is still perplexingly employed by the organization that he helped destruct. This is where the rest of the press conference took a turn to Oh-Fucking-Shitville:
Bob is, at this stage, clearly clueless to the fact that this team went on a PDO heater from hell during that stretch, something that everyone with a moderate knowledge of analytics fully understands. If he believes in the pieces already in place, that means he believes in the moves that Peter had made, moves of which the majority of rationally intelligent adults thought were unmitigated madness when General Disappointment was sculpting them. Bob Stauffer, the Mayor of Propaganda Island, asked if the team will shift the organizational approach of building a big and slow team to one that emulates what actual successful hockey clubs have been transitioning too in this new generation of hockey. This opened the door for an answer that could have been as simple as “Yes” followed by “We realize that speed and skill, with the willingness to buy into an analytical approach, are what we will do going forward.” Did that personified burger say this?
He did not.
That culture and character idea is what genuinely concerns me the most. We have to move past this, as an organization and a fan base. Many called for this exact shift when Peter was first hired. We needed to fix the locker room, according to many people who didn’t have a clue. So we traded Taylor Hall. We traded Jordan Eberle. We gave Milan Lucic a contract bigger than his chest. We did all of this with the thought that yes, injecting an intangible like character into this team will somehow make the team more successful, intentionally ignoring the fact that it is, indeed, scoring goals that ultimately wins hockey games. Now, instead of admitting this egregious mistake, we’re doubling down on the character issue that is recklessly inaccurate. We’ve had 72 different players play at least one game for the team since 2015-16. If 72 different players can’t solve the character issue then maybe there isn’t a character
Oh no. Please stop?:
Okay or don’t stop. There’s something in our water? Ya, man. We know what the problem is. We know what the common denominators are that this owner continues to pander towards. Apparently, you do not. Or, even worse, you’re intentionally defending a lackluster group of abhorrently incapable egos who feel that they’re archaic resumes as 80s players and failed GMs are sufficient enough to get this team out of the black hole they’ve helped create. Congratulations, Bob. You have successfully created the next slogan for us – the savage faithful – to bite our teeth into:
“Here Come the Oilers.” “The Price You Have to Pay.” “
Blame the water, I guess?
I’m happy we’ve started with this. I’m happy enough that I’m ending that boycott I promised would continue until a managerial change was made. I’m looking forward to writing game day and morning after blogs once again. And I want to be optimistic about the franchise moving forward. I do. I really do. But they’ve never given me any sort of hope that they’re definitely on the right path before, and after that predictably unfulfilling press conference, I still lack that certainty. Perhaps a new face and a somewhat different approach to asset management, combined with four of the five teams currently ahead of us in the wild card standings continuing to play as miserably mediocre as ourselves, will help this team sneak into a playoff position. Time, as always, will tell. I hope we figure it all out sooner than later. Connor needs it. I need it. We need it. I love you, Edmonton. Let us pray for results after the break. Godspeed, Oil Country.
Thank you to OilersNation for the press conference quotes.