The Edmonton Oilers are doing what they’ve done so many times in the past few seasons — starting to embarrass themselves. The breakdown that came during the third period and a loss to the Chicago Blackhawks was a low on the 2018-19 NHL season. With that loss now festering and starting to filter through the roster, something needs to be done and it needs to be done now.
The Oilers are outside of the playoffs and looking in and with each passing day, the likelihood they make it to the postseason is slim. Does that mean the season should be a write-off with the Oilers looking at their long-term plans, drafting and shipping pieces out, waiting for next year? Some would argue that should be the case. I would argue that would be a mistake.
What Are the Oilers Saying to Connor McDavid?
Connor McDavid has to be frustrated beyond belief. Any fierce competitor would be but for McDavid, there are so many good reasons to be upset, it’s hard to know where to start. As such, the Oilers need to do something, anything, to get him back to being less frustrated and more optimistic about the future.
Should the Oilers not make the playoffs… again, McDavid will have all summer to stew over just what’s wrong with this team. He’s said that if there are players in the locker room that don’t want to be there, they should leave. He was probably telling the truth. But, what if he becomes one of those players? The Oilers cannot afford to let McDavid sit outside the playoffs with four months to think about things.
The captain of this team has watched as the organization has traded most of its valuable pieces away. They’ve had a general manager, who was among the worst at his job, run this team into the ground. And, currently, the team doesn’t have a manager to take over with Bob Nicholson and Craig MacTavish rumored to be running the show. These two men were partly to blame for where this team is at. How can they be trusted to dig the team out of this hole?
A positive move… any positive move, could go a long way. No move, to McDavid, could be the same as giving up or throwing in the towel.
What Are You Saying to Your Fans?
It should never happen, but there’s a reason fans threw their Oilers jerseys on the ice just before Tuesday’s game came to a close. The fans are tired.
Currently, the Oilers are finding creative ways to lose games versus figuring out how to win them.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 6, 2019
This is a fan base that can and will speak loudly with their wallets. Skyboxes are up for renewal as are a huge amount of season tickets. If Oilers Nation quits on this team, it will sting. The Oilers need to give Edmonton fans a reason to feel positive about the future.
Oilers fans are forgiving. But how forgiving is starting to become a real question in Edmonton.
Dissention in the Locker Room
During Tuesday’s loss, Cam Talbot was upset and rightfully so. He walked off the ice after being pulled from the game, went straight to the locker room and didn’t return. Rumors (unfounded) floated around that he’s requested a trade, and while that wasn’t accurate, it was clear he was upset. The rest of the team was upset for him. Talbot later came out and apologized for staying in the back. Sure, he had his gear on, watching video versus joining his team on the bench, but his actions speak loudly as to what the rest of the team must be feeling.
Said Hitch had a team meeting this morning, sat next to Talbot and told the team Cam was starting next game. Other players echoed the sentiment today that they’ve been hanging goalies out to dry, and need to be better for them.
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) February 6, 2019
Talbot can’t be the only player upset. How is this streak not disheartening for a team that can’t get on track? Why can’t the Oilers seem to figure out a way to do something positive? That is a question the team must be asking itself right now. And, if you’ve ever been around a defeated locker room, you know turning the tide on your own is one of the hardest things to do in sports.
The Oilers might not make the postseason now, but they need help; they need a glimmer of hope that they can. Adding a piece or two that allows them to go on a run is important. What it takes to do that is unknown and it could mean sacrificing a bit of the future, but the way things are going, it might be worth considering it.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”