Zack Kassian wasn’t kidding around on Thursday. Shortly after reporting for camp, the veteran forward spoke to the media and gave a candid response to questions about the club’s attitude. If they are any indication, there will be a humbled group taking the ice later this morning.
“Nobody should be walking around like our s*** don’t stink,” began Kassian. Many people attributed the Oilers struggles in 2017-18 to an over cockiness. After finally making the playoffs in 2017, the Oilers were punched in the mouth the next season. They haven’t recovered two years later.
“We haven’t accomplished what we wanted. We’ve let ourselves, the team and the city down,” continued the depth winger who emerged on the top line last season. Kassian’s words ring very true. The Oilers have not accomplished what they wanted or what they were expected to after the run in 2017. They’ve been a poor team since then.
It’s easy to say, after missing the playoffs, that you let the fans and the city down. To admit you let yourself down is a completely different thing. The Oilers know they underachieved, they know there is more they can do. Kassian, at the very least, acknowledges this reality.
To get back to where they need to be, where they are expected to be, it is going to take a lot of hard work. They’ll need to build a foundation just as they did three years ago in the fall of 2016. “We’re coming in here ready to compete.”
The Oilers will have to compete every single night if they want to return to the playoffs. They don’t have the talent of other teams, and as a result they’ll need to grind it out on a nightly basis. Kassian is one of those guys that can lead by example. The big, physical forward isn’t the most skilled, but he’s carved out a nice career playing a tough game.
Kassian and the Oilers will need to come in ready to go in camp if they hope to rebound. They’ll need to bring both effort and intensity every day as they try to compete with more skilled teams.
They have a chip on their shoulder. Will it matter? We will find out in due time.