2017-18 was bad for the Edmonton Oilers. The team stumbled early and outside of a brief period around Christmas, they never truly got back into the mix. A lot of people blamed expectations, blamed down years and blamed injury for the problems that plagued Edmonton. Peter Chiarelli had a plan, according to Bob Nicholson, to get the Oilers back to the playoffs.
Fast-forward a year and everything is eerily the same. The Oilers once again failed to hit the 80 point plateau and will once again be watching the playoffs from the comfort of their living room. The team, one could argue, actually got worse year over year. Head Coach Todd McLellan bit the bullet in November and was fired, while Chiarelli joined him in late January.
It was a frustrating year in Edmonton, another great disappointment for an organization that seemingly cannot get out of its own way even if they tried. Four years into the McDavid-era and Edmonton has made the playoffs just once, finishing below 80 points in each of the other three seasons.
To call 2018-19 a disaster would be polite. This season was a colossal mess and a massive disappointment. Fans are frustrated, players are frustrated, and there are far more questions than there are answers at this point.
Rehashing the disaster that was Peter Chiarelli is a futile exercise. We all know the trades, the contracts and the other mistakes. What is done is done, and now the focus must turn to how to fix the Edmonton Oilers. Another spring outside of the playoffs in 2020 is, quite frankly, unacceptable and could result in everyone’s biggest fear: A trade request from Connor McDavid.
Today the dust will settle, the Oilers must look around and assess the burning inferno that is their franchise right now. The focus can no longer be on what was, it can no longer be on the plan set forth by Chiarelli. The Oilers must look to the future, to October 2019, with the idea of icing a far more competitive and skilled product.
They owe it to themselves, they owe it to the fanbase, and most importantly they owe it to the players who busted their asses almost every night to try and drag this broken roster into the playoffs. No more screwing around, the time to get things right is now.
Connor McDavid spoke today, less than 24 hours after suffering what appeared to be a major injury, and said it “doesn’t matter what has to be done, let’s just get this right. That’s it.”
No more excuses, no more mystery plans, no more special burgers. Just figure it out and build a competitive team around the best player in the world. Daryl Katz and Bob Nicholson owe that to everyone reading this, and more importantly to McDavid and his teammates.
2018-19 was tough for everyone. It was a frustrating year that pushed arguably the most loyal fanbase in sports to new limits. It was honestly tough for me, on a personal level, to see so many die-hard fans like myself become numb to this organization. It was tough to watch at times, and anger eventually turned to indifference.
No one wanted it this way, no one wanted this team to be the butt-end of every joke around the league. We are still here, however. Another dark day has mercifully ended for Oiler fans everywhere.
The Promise Of Tomorrow:
As always, a new day awaits. Last year there was cautious optimism that the Oilers would be able turn things around and return to the playoffs with rebound years from some key players from 2016-17. It didn’t work that way, and it is quite clear there must be change to both the management team and the roster.
Both are coming, that much I can promise you. The new day will start immediately, with the process of building a competent organization getting underway this week. Bob Nicholson, interim GM Keith Gretzky and potentially more will speak at some point this week, while the NHL’s annual Draft Lottery goes on Tuesday night.
The promise of a new tomorrow has kept Oil fans in the seats for years, but the promise must now turn to action. The right GM must be brought in to add both speed and skill to Edmonton’s lacking roster. A supporting cast worthy of franchise talents such as McDavid and Leon Draisaitl must be built, or at least be in the process of being built, by the time camp opens in September.
The Oilers have one, two at the most, off-seasons to get this right and prove to both McDavid and this fanbase that they can get it right. That starts right now. Enough with the ‘Old Boys Club’, enough with ignoring advanced stats and analytics and enough with the perceived ‘character’ problems on this team.
The Edmonton Oilers need to get this right, and it starts right now. The hires in management and the subsequent roster decisions will tell us a lot not just about the short-term future of this team, but their long-term outlook as well.
Buckle up, Oiler fans. This season was a wild ride that ended in frustration and anger. This summer has the potential to represent another new low, or the beginning of a long overdue climb from the depths of the NHL.
I hope you’re ready, because this off-season is going to be one helluva ride…..for better or for worse.