Dear Jay Feaster: Hi.
As an Oilers blogger, I’m suppose to hate the Flames, right? I’m suppose to declare daily how great my team is and how bad the Flames are. Is my motivation for being here just to become Jay Feaster’s favorite worst nightmare?
The 13 of you reading this blog who are familiar with my work on other sites are saying, “this must be some sort of completely unfunny The Hockey Writers joke.” Nope. This was my idea. Don’t hate the website; hate the playa.
I have no plans on discontinuing with the Oilers blogs. After three years of writing them, I finally think I’m getting the hang of it. For a while now…well, ever since Jay Feaster referenced a blog I wrote about his “skill” as a GM during an interview aired by Hockey Night in Canada. Something something unemployed bloggers living in their parent’s basements who know nothing about the fate of Jarome Iginla.
Believe it or not Flames fans, I’m not here to make fun of you or to trash your team. I’m here to help. Alberta should have two NHL teams, not one.
Lemme tell you a little story:
I use to live in the UK. The day I returned was also Game 1 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals between the Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes. Everything was going well until I came back. If you follow hockey at all, you know what has happened to the Oilers since those finals: The team has been awful. At first, team management tried a number of frantic lunatic moves in an attempt to avoid going full-rebuild. It didn’t work. Actually, it made things worse. Oilers fans had to suffer through a number of seasons watching 11th place hockey until management realized the situation was hopeless. You can’t put a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. Into the tank the Oilers went. It was purposeful.
How I see Edmonton and Calgary now is as follows: These are two teams in the same situation handling things in completely opposite ways. In Edmonton, management intentionally allowed the team to tank so they could draft elite players. The Flames have refused to give up on their roster, and views each season as its own challenge. Some might say there’s no plan in Calgary, and I would be one of them. The difference between the Flames and the Oilers is the difference between living to today versus planning for the future.
It might sound like I’m being critical, but I’m not. I’m just being honest and truthful. You can’t look at Feaster’s utterly random drafting of Mark Jankowski last June and tell me there’s a plan in Calgary. Aside from the fact that Jankowski’s value as a draft prospect could not be properly evaluated because he played in a league filled with 12 year-olds and kids who can’t skate, Jankowski would have been still available in the 2nd round. What was Calgary’s 2nd round pick…42nd overall? He would have been there. The Flames could have picked up a mule like Henrik Samuelsson or a hot-shot D prospect like Olli Maatta, who were both still available when the Flames drafted in the 1st round. But no, they drafted Jankowski on a hunch. Running a team with hunches is a lousy way to run a railroad.
I’ve had a moral dilemma with the Oilers rebuild strategy for years. On the one hand, I agree that finishing last and drafting high is the easiest way to acquire elite young talent. On the other hand, the experience has been extraordinarily painful for the fan-base to endure. In normal cities, fans would have abandoned the team by now. But Edmonton is hockey-mad, and both management and ownership realize it. They know that the community will support the team no matter how they play…so therefore, going full-rebuild is a viable strategy to use. Calgary could go full-rebuild if they wanted to, but do fans and ownership really want to watch three to five seasons of abysmal hockey? There’s something to be said for having a team that has enough immediate talent that the playoff race isn’t already over by the 1st of December.
So if I’m not here to make Flames fans feel bad, and if I’m not here because I hate the Flames, why am I here? Supply and demand.
Hate the Oilers all you want Calgarians, but Edmontonians are massively involved on hockey websites. There are so many blogs; so many bloggers; so much daily fan involvement. It seems to me no one wants to talk about the Flames much, and curiosity insisted I explore that.
I’m a curious little Dickens…I live to poke sleeping bears just to see what they’ll do when they awake. Maybe hockey blogging is beneath Calgarians? Maybe they’re too evolved for this? Or maybe the fan base has fallen asleep like much of the current roster? I don’t know the answers, but I really want to find out what they are.
Before you all punch your screens and throw your computers out the window, I’ll share with you that I lived in Calgary for several years. When I was there, I cheered for both the Oilers AND Flames. I loved the city, especially the people, and I’ve considered moving back there several times over the last 16 years. I am a proud alumni of Mount Royal University, but I’m not sure I took enough courses at the U of C to be considered alumni there. I lived two blocks for the uni, so that must count for something. Go Dinos.
By attempting to blog for the Flames, I promise to attempt to watch Flames hockey. I’ll attempt to understand just what the hell Jay Feaster is doing. I’ll attempt to like the team. Hell, I’ll even attempt to offer handy suggestions, like trading away all the old guys before they have absolutely no worth, or switching to whole wheat. Anything to help you folks from the south.
Because I’m a twit, I’m on Twitter: @rdcloutier. I look forward to hearing from you. Blog ideas! You must share your blog ideas with me. Let me entertain you.