20 Things I've Learned as an Edmonton Oilers Blogger
I made a comment on Twitter the other day questioning if Oilers Cult of Hockey/Oilers Nation blogger Jonathan Willis knows anything at all about the team. It wasn't a very nice thing of me to do, to be honest. Just because I almost never agree with what he says in his blogs doesn't mean he's wrong. Half of the people who read my blogs think I'm wrong all the time...I need to keep that in mind. I'll try to be less of a jerk.
Blogging is an educational experience. You learn about yourself, which is neat. You absolutely learn about the team you cover, the fans of that team, the rest of the league...Since nothing interesting is going to happen in the NHL from now until Friday afternoon, I need to kill time. So here's a list I've made: 20 Things I've Learns as the Oilers Blogger.
1. Oilers fans value entertainment over winning
We all want the Oilers to make the playoffs and win a cup again someday, but the last thing anyone wants is for the Oilers team to turn into a boring-to-watch trap team that does nothing offensively. Why do you think the fan base is so angry at the suggestion of the Oilers not drafting Nail Yakupov? The fans want to see the 1980's Oilers again. Even if it means losing.
2. Don't ever mess with Joey Moss
Terry Jones from the Edmonton Sun put a post up on Twitter for about five minutes a few months ago suggesting the Oilers could trade Joey Moss at the trade deadline. It was just a harmless, unfunny little joke. I make those all the time. The fan base who read it went crazy on him. I felt so bad for Terry, because I don't think he has any issues whatsoever with Joey. It was just an unfunny joke. Joey is loved. LOVED. By everyone. Terry Jones included.
3. Don't ever mess with Gene Principe
I made a comment about Principe's lame puns on Twitter, and geez, did I ever get my ass kicked. 100 angry tweets telling me Principe is the nicest guy in the world. Of course he is. My comment had nothing to do with his kindness and goodness. I hate puns. I have a brother and a brother-in-law who both have a black belt in puns, and I hardly ever laugh at them, because they are lame. Sorry guys, but they are. Next to being a prop comedic, resorting to puns is the next lowest form of comedy.
4. Sam Gagner is the most highly debated player in team history
I know hundreds of people who adore Sam Gagner. Most of them are between the ages of 16 and 25, and are female. The more "typical" Oilers fan...male, aged 18 to 34...they see Gagner's offensive skill, but they also see him being mediocre in the face-off circle, his lack of size, his so-so skating, and his yearly point totals that don't seem to increase, and they ask themselves if Gagner's really the guy you want at center on the 2nd line as the team moves forward. I'm not convinced Gagner fits into this puzzle, but it's too soon to give up on him. He's basically the same age as Eberle.
5. People Think Linus Omark has trade value. Honest
I'll admit I was on the Linus Omark bandwagon. I think his skill level is there, and the boy could be a decent forward for the right NHL team. But his attitude is awful. Simply awful. He's cocky, mouthy, and just isn't that responsive to coaching. The Oilers can't go forth successfully with these type of players. He's like Shawn Avery without any toughness. A soccer player in skates. No NHL team wants to touch Omark, and Omark wants to return to play in the safe KHL or SEL next season because he's a star there.
6. Some people think winning face-offs = winning hockey games
Eric Belanger was a huge disaster for the Oilers last season, yet I know plenty of people who defend him...say he wasn't the problem. Why? Because he wins face-offs. There were maybe five players on the roster last season that absolutely failed, and Belanger was one of them. Sure, he could win face-offs, but what else could he do? Useless. I would have rather the Oilers give Nuge 22 minutes a night, and let him be 30% on the dot. At least Nuge has talent and cares.
7. Some people think players who can only fight have value
I've actually had people sending me messages suggesting the Oilers should sign Georges Laraque (who has come out of retirement). Why? What Georges could do well is fight, and that's it. He was a terrible hockey player. Steve MacIntyre: Great fighter, nice guy, terrible hockey player. Darcy Hordichuk, same. Why waste a roster spot on someone who's only role is to sit on the bench and drink water? Teams that win because of a physical "intimidation" factor do so because their whole roster is big and tough. You can't stick one monster who plays three minutes a night on a roster with 19 little guys and think the big guy is going to solve anything or keep the players safe.
8. Leafs fans think we envy them
Ever notice how much Leafs traffic there is commenting on my blogs? Why is that? They comment to tell me how much I suck, which is fine...if it's once or twice. Anything more than that is pointless. A few readers seem rather obsessed, and it's embarrassing. Leafs fans are homers like Oilers fans and everyone else, and that's fine too. Dear Leafs Nation: When we say we think your team is terrible, we're not doing it to make you mad. We're doing it, in our blog section, because we actually think your team sucks. When I go into your team's blog section and start trolling you, then you have the go ahead to suggest I envy your lousy team.
9. Fans have lost confidence in Oilers management
The problem is, management runs the team with arrogance. Fans would feel better about management if they were open and honest, but that isn't how the organization rolls now. Tambellini will say things like, "the goal is for the Oilers to make the playoffs," but then will do nothing for an entire summer to acquire top talent. Fans would feel more confident and trusting if the team would do things like hire a coach or re-sign players instead of letting them sit and be frustrated for months. No one trusts Oilers management because no one can tell what the hell the plan is.
10. Oilers fans feel they are the most knowledgeable about the sport
Read the blog comments from team to team. Oilers fans understand the game. I get some cool people and some real jerks commenting daily on my blogs. Even the jerks...seem to understand the game and things the Oilers could or should do to improve. Part of the reason the fans hate Oilers management so much right now is because they understand the game and can see through the BS.
11. Octane is loved in the community, not at the games
I saw an article...was it on the Oilers site?...saying how Oilers fans didn't know how to take Octane at first, but now, they love them. No they don't. I go to plenty of games, and either I hear fans knocking them, or witness fans pay no attention to what the cheerleaders are doing. This is not to say Octane doesn't have value. They do great things in the community to promote the team and to raise money. If they stayed completely away from the rink, fans would like them better.
12. Edmontonians have a hair fetish
Ryan Jones is an okay player. I wouldn't say he's better than okay, but Oil fans love him. Why? Ryan Smyth...biggest disappointment last season was when he cut his hair. Hall had the flow going at one point, and people liked it. It makes no sense. Long hair on guys...dumb? Hair is hair. People are so weird and care about the most random, pointless things.
13. Shawn Horcoff pisses everyone off
There is no player on the team that gets more fan abuse than Shawn Horcoff. Does he deserve it? Hey, it's not his fault the team offered him a huge, oversized contract. Horcs is a 3rd line center who is paid 1st line money. Everyone gets mad because they expect him to suddenly "start earning" his contract. It doesn't work that way. Horcoff is Horcoff, and it's not like everything he does is bad. He's a decent 3rd line checking center, and the future success of the team has nothing to do with him. Get over his contract, and get off of his back.
14. Fans just want to see the kids play
Why do Oilers fans go to the games? It isn't because of Horcoff, Belanger, or the "vets". They want to see Hall, Eberle, Nuge, Paajarvi...the kids. Why? Because they have talent. They aren't a bunch of slow, disinterested players killing time until their contracts end. The kids play like they care. It matters.
15. The only people who support the new rink are Oilers fans
Objectively speaking, the proposed new downtown arena is extravagant and unnecessary. Will I enjoy going to games there? Yep. I'll love it. Anyone who uses the rink will love it. The owner who will make millions off of this will really love it. But truthfully, this is just a bigger and newer playground to frolic in. I can think of 1,000 better uses of tax dollars than this. But don't tell that to Oilers fans: They'll find a way to justify the rink, saying it's good for the city and will bring in millions. Revitalized downtown core, my ass. It's Edmonton. Who cares about the downtown?
16. Fans are only okay with Devan Dubnyk being the goalie
I am old enough to remember Oilers fans liking Grant Fuhr as much as Messier and Gretzky. I've been a fan long enough to see fans adore Bill Ranford, Curtis Joseph and Tommy Salo. Devan Dubnyk...some people think he's okay, but most fans feel very little towards him yet. Give him a few seasons as a starter and public option could change significantly. Unlike cities like Vancouver and Calgary that eat their goalies alive, Oilers fans want so much to love Dubnyk. Give us a reason, buddy.
17. Ryan Smyth is no longer the fan's favorite
I was there for Ryan Smyth's 1st regular season return to the Edmonton Oilers. The fans went wild. Ryan was crying. Some fans were crying. It was a pristine moment. A year later, and half the fans want him gone. Why? It's not the Ryan has changed; we've changed. Ryan is the Ghost of Christmas Past. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the Ghost of Christmas Future. Oilers fans want to work towards winning again. Nostalgia had its moment. Everyone realizes Smyth is just here to end his career, not to save the team, so they don't really care that much.
18. Fans hate how the Oilers have treated the Swedish players
I get this complaint on Twitter all the time. Linus Omark, Magnus Paajarvi and Anton Lander haven't improved the Oilers much over the last two seasons. To many fans, the reasons they haven't is because they haven't been given a fair shot. Paajarvi in particular has been treated poorly. During a stretch last season, Paajarvi was given two games on the top line...had two points, and looked great. Coach Renney the next game moved Paajarvi to the third line, and then the 4th. Then he went back to the minors. Look, if you want the kid to learn to play at the NHL level, you need to let him play at the NHL level.
19. Dany Heatley might be more disliked than Chris Pronger now
I love booing for some reason. The way people boo Gary Bettman is pretty much my favorite type of hockey booing. A close second was the booing of Chris Pronger, but with him being all the way in Philly, we don't get many chances to boo him anymore. Heatley, the bride who rejected the Oilers at the trade alter, is now the most hated visitor at Rexall Place. To make things even more fun, Heater usually plays great against the Oilers. Tremendous drama.
20. Fans feel sorry for the Flames more than hate them now
Remember hating the Flames, Oilers fans? Why did we hate them? Because they had a better team, mostly. The Flames statistically are still the "better" team, but the Oilers and Flames are moving in two entirely different directions. While the Oilers possess brilliant young talent and will develop into a contender, the Flames have ancient players, bad attitudes, bad contracts, terrible management, and no prospects (well, one, but that's it). It's hard to hate someone who is about has harmful as limp spaghetti.