While the NHL pause frighteningly lingers on, it may be fun to take a break from spiraling thoughts, wondering if the Edmonton Oilers will finally get a chance to enjoy the playoffs, and play a short game of Would You Rather. I’ll provide the scenario, and you and I will choose which player or coach we would rather have or perform in certain situations.
Are you ready? Game on!
Would You Rather See Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle Get Traded Back to Edmonton?
Fans once fell in love with the idea of Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle leading the Oilers to success, but that dream quickly vanished when general manager Peter Chiarelli dealt Hall to the New Jersey Devils in 2016 and Eberle to the New York Islanders in 2017. Connor McDavid also took over as Edmonton’s poster boy of hope.
Who would you rather get traded back to Edmonton?
While both players would (and have) fit nicely with either Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or No. 97, we need to consider one thing: who and what would the Oilers have to give up to bring either of these players back? The team would have to pay a higher price for Hall, which makes Eberle my choice for who I’d rather see back in Edmonton.
The 29-year-old, slick-handed right-winger got nagged by fans for his playoff performance in 2016-17, but he proved that he can compete in the playoffs when he notched nine points in eight games in 2018-19. He’s a valuable forward with some amazing hands.
Meanwhile, Hall’s attitude continues to spark the same debate among fans — is he a cancer in the locker room? And he gets injured way too often. I’d hate for Ken Holland to give up a lot and then have the Hart Trophy winner sit out several games due to injury.
Would You Rather Have Dallas Eakins or Tom Renney Replace Dave Tippett as Head Coach?
Yeah, I know that these aren’t the best options.
Dallas Eakins had no idea how to deal with the Oilers’ rising stars, and he tried to implement an intense defensive system that backfired.
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Under Eakins’ reign, Edmonton continued their basement-dwelling ways and garnered 67 points. Thankfully, he was fired halfway through the 2014-15 season when the Oilers had just 7 wins in 31 games. The highlight of his coaching tenure? When Hall smashed his water bottle on the bench and ended up soaking the former head coach, who did not take the incident very well.
Meanwhile, Tom Renney didn’t have the best coaching performance during his time in Edmonton. The team had 62 points in 2010-11 and 74 points in 2011-12.
Most critics and fans didn’t like the fact that he relied too much on veteran players like Shawn Horcoff, and Ryan Smyth when he came back, which significantly slowed down the pace of the game, instead of giving more ice time to the exciting, young stars: Hall, Eberle, and Nugent-Hopkins.
I remember getting so frustrated during these games. They were boring (unless the youngsters were on the ice) and, to be blunt, the team just sucked.
Who would you rather replace Tippett as a head coach?
Since Eakins couldn’t instill confidence in players and had no control over the team, I would definitely pick Renney. He wouldn’t dare give McDavid and Leon Draisaitl limited ice time, would he? Plus, Nugent-Hopkins is now a veteran, so his minutes would go up for sure.
Would You Rather Have Paul Coffey or Esa Tikkanen Come Back From the 1980s and Play With the Oilers’ Current Roster?
The Oilers could do some severe damage in the playoffs if they had either of these players join the current roster. Oscar Klefbom is slowly cementing himself as a viable No.1 defenseman in the NHL, quarterbacks the best power play in the league beautifully, plays valuable minutes on the second-best penalty kill, and has been an integral part of the Oilers success in 2019-20. However, Paul Coffey could step in and bring Edmonton’s defensive core to the next level.
When Chris Pronger arrived in 2005-06, the team already had decent blueliners, but his presence helped carry the Oilers to the Stanley Cup Final. Coffey could help do the same. The current defensive core is definitely the team’s best since that Cinderella season, but the best defenseman in franchise history could help take the team deep into the postseason.
Meanwhile, Esa Tikkanen could be the missing puzzle piece on McDavid’s left wing. It’s been tough finding the ideal linemate for No. 97. If only the season could resume, so we could see if Tyler Ennis and the captain can build some chemistry!
The gritty, talented winger found a home on a line with Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri. Tikkanen added some toughness to the potent line and could keep up with the two superstars. The lethal combination of No. 99 and No. 17 had struggled to find an ideal winger before the belligerent forechecker joined them. Sound familiar?
Imagine McDavid, Zack Kassian, and the Finnish Frank J. Selke four-time finalist on the same line? You would get offensive power, unbelievable speed (mostly from the captain, of course), a lot of toughness and aggressive forechecking, and defensive coverage (Tikkanen excelled at this).
Who would you rather have come back from the 1980s and play with the current roster?
This one’s tough. I feel like the obvious choice would be to choose Coffey, but Tikkanen would slide nicely next to McDavid. However, it was very difficult to replace Klefbom’s puck-moving skill on the power play during his injury, which Coffey could help cover if that happened again. The Oilers would have two amazing power play units.
Plus, the Oilers have two superstars in McDavid and Draisaitl, a dangerous second line, and depth at forward, making less of a need for Tikkanen. And you never know how Ennis and Andreas Athanasiou will impact the roster!
My pick? Coffey! He could anchor the blue line like Pronger and help lead the current roster deep into the playoffs.
Would You Rather Have Georges Laraque or Dave Brown as an Enforcer?
The current NHL may be moving away from the need for enforcers, but fights will always be considered highly entertaining. Battle of Alberta 2019-20, anyone? I’m still buzzing about the whole turtle saga between Kassian and Matthew Tkachuk. The Oilers have had numerous great enforcers over the seasons, from Marty McSorley, Dave Semenko, Dave Brown, Zack Stortini, Steve MacIntyre, Georges Laraque, and the list goes on.
Both Brown and Laraque could mess opponents up with wicked left throws. And tough guys and fighters around the league had nothing but respect — and some fear — for the two enforcers:
Paul Bissonnette discussed the prospect of fighting Laraque: “I’m not really afraid of anyone, but if I were to fight him, I’d probably be shaking.”
And Kelly Buchberger said this about Brown: “He’s probably the scariest guy I ever saw aside from Sammy (Semenko).” (from from ‘Edmonton Oilers have had some of the NHL’s best enforcers’, Edmonton Sun – 23/2/13)
Who would you rather have as an enforcer?
While both players got involved in roughly the same number of fights (Laraque: 143, Brown: 148), effortlessly intimidated the opposition, and rarely lost a throw-down, I would choose Laraque over Brown.
In the late 1990s to the mid-2000s, Laraque’s friendly, welcoming personality off the ice paired with his in-game enforcer-mode made him a fan favourite. He was an Oiler from 1998-2006, while Brown only spent three seasons on Edmonton’s roster (1988-1991).
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Both enforcers didn’t contribute much offensively, but Laraque has a slight edge on Brown. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound winger had 153 points in 695 games, while the 1962-born right-winger had 97 points in 729 games.
Well, that was fun. Let’s hope the NHL resumes soon so that we can see the Oilers in the playoffs and discuss real-life hockey scenarios rather than make-believe situations.