I’m from Boston, a town that truly asks the question “What have you done for me lately?” It’s also a town that was smart enough, four years ago, to realize that it had a General Manager that was killing the local hockey team and proceeded to chase that man out of town. Unfortunately for Oiler fans, that man ended up in Edmonton as the club’s General Manager. Now? Peter Chiarelli will never have to be worried about being chased out of town again.
Why is that? Because Edmonton’s mainstream ‘media’ group is simply either too scared to question him, or too stupid to realize what is actually going on with this team. Instead, a certain someone has decided that it is open season on Connor McDavid. In one of the truly moronic displays of ‘journalism’ I have ever seen, Sportsnet’s Mark Spector laid the listless Oiler loss yesterday at the feet of Connor McDavid.
No, you aren’t reading that incorrectly, Edmonton’s 6-3 loss was laid at the feet of the best player this organization has seen since Wayne Gretzky. The same man that drove Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle out of town before now has squarely turned his guns at McDavid, among others.
The Edmonton Oilers, an #ACTUALLYBAD hockey team, lost again yesterday by a final score of 6-3 to the Dallas Stars. It was a day filled with poor goaltending, coaching mistakes and very poor mistakes by an Edmonton squad that is awfully close to being pushed well out of the playoff race before Santa eats a cookie.
Connor McDavid registered three points, including a goal, but was labelled the goat of the day by organizational water-carrier Mark Spector. While Spector was quick to point out McDavid’s line was hit with four goals against, I truly questioned if he actually watched the game or if he simply took the directive from the man he protects at all costs, Peter Chiarelli.
On Dallas’ first goal, Cam Talbot surrendered the marker from behind the goal line on what can only be described as a horrid goal against. On Dallas’ second goal? Alexander Radulov makes a nice move to beat Matt Benning and then rifles a perfect shot past Talbot. Goal number three? Devin Shore tips a pass home by beating organizational savior Kris Russell and Oscar Klefbom to the slot and tipping the point shot home.
Goal four? Klefbom caught out of position again, but Drake Caggiula fails to mark his man. That man was Radek Faksa, who tapped a pass into the back of the net with ease. Goal five? A double redirect. Goal six? An absolute stinker allowed by Talbot that has no business going into an NHL net.
Notice a trend there? Connor McDavid wasn’t the main culprit on any of the four goals he was on the ice for, let alone any of the six that his team surrendered on Saturday afternoon. So, why the lazy and pathetic narrative, zeroing in on the team’s captain instead of the actual issues?
One imagines it’s because Spector is scared. He has to believe that either he will lose face time with the team or that he will be shut out of inside scoops (which Bob Stauffer or the TSN guys get anyways). So instead of actually doing the hard journalism of asking the tough questions, he zeros in on young players.
He did it with Hall, helping to chase him out of town, and did it with Eberle too. Earlier this season it was Oscar Klefbom. Now? Somehow, some way it is Connor McDavid. Truly unbelievable and truly a pathetic take.
If you want to make a case that McDavid could be better defensively, fine. It’s not a battle I’d pick but if that is your prerogative, go for it. That said, blatantly blaming the young captain and saying he is costing the Oilers is a lazy and, quite frankly, tired narrative when it comes to this team. Taylor Hall dealt with it. Jordan Eberle did too. Maybe they are the lucky ones, dealt away and enjoying success in other cities while Edmonton once again debates which top prospect to select at the top of the entry draft.
What baffles me is the lack of hard question asked by the media members. In fairness to Spector, who I’ve picked on in a big way here, it isn’t just him. Anyone not employed by the team should be asking the hard questions, but instead they act like an extension of Edmonton’s PR crew. Masterful job by JJ Hebert and staff, but a truly a pathetic display by those paid to cover the team and represent the fans of this organization.
Bottom line is, the Oilers were made a worse team this past summer and have been leaking talent since the day Peter Chiarelli took over as GM. Instead of asking the hard questions about the team’s lack of offense, horrid special teams and poor decisions with the defense, we are left blaming Connor McDavid. I’m sure it was up to McDavid to ignore Andrej Sekera’s injury and to trade away almost every talented winger in the organization.
It took Edmonton ten years to amass the kind of assets needed to truly be the next dynasty in the NHL. They got rid of those assets in two seasons but the man responsible skates free of criticism, free to further damage a once proud franchise (just like he did in Boston) with his poor decisions. Meanwhile, the media is ready to crucify his best player.
That the media is willing to blame the best player in the league for the misfortunes of his team is truly amazing, but until certain people in Edmonton are willing to ask the tough questions, this is how it will go. The Oilers will be free to waste their Stanley Cup window with poor decision after poor decision. Don’t worry though, a young gun will be chased out of town each year to keep things interesting.
Edmonton could sure use a touch of Boston when it comes to applying the heat to the city’s teams.