Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A dark day in Oilers history, Chapter 94

Whoo, it's a fun time to be an Oilers fan, huh?

First off, a quick year in review: losing Game 7; then Chris Pronger; then the rest of our D to free agency; a disappointing regular season; no moves by Kevin Lowe; EIG already groaning about a rising salary cap and greasing tax money for a new arena; no moves by Lowe; no playoffs, Vancouver, Calgary and Anaheim looking great... and then, the ultimate cockpunch of all, losing Ryan Smyth in a hasty eleventh-hour trade for a bunch of longshot prospects.

poor Andy over at BoA was battling hundreds of internet trolls, I was off eating sushi, secure in my little delusional bubble that Ryan Smyth would at least get signed for $5.5 - $6 million.

Instead, it's a deadline deal of deadline deals, for a first round pick in a weak draft, Ryan O'Marra (15th overall) and for cronyism's sake, Robert Nilsson, son of Oilers scout and former player Kent Nilsson (in a manner not unlike that delightful Lupul deal last spring!). Ah, but screw whatever the Islanders threw our way. We'll talk about that later: from what I immediately understand, it's not enough.

What few fans outside of Edmonton know is that Kevin Lowe is a stridently principled negotiator, clearly a man of his word when he lays down an ultimatum.

With Mike Comrie, Oilers fans were behind Lowe 100 per cent. With Chris Pronger, Oilers fans were too confused by his sulky half-explanations and too annoyed by his pre-draft timing for a public trade demand to really blame Lowe. I too, support the way Lowe handled those situations, especially Comrie, and nothing remains unaffected.

However, today's deal is clearly a case of throwing the 30-goal scoring golden baby out with the b
ath water. I wouldn't call Lowe cheap (how else can you explain the loyalty contracts to Staios or Pisani?) but we're talking a difference of a million dollars: a couple of Toby Petersons, really.

This is Ryan Smyth. The man, who, for the record [tears of pure oil welling up in my eye], I've always felt was a much more important player to the Oilers than Mark Messier.

He was our last shot at a real S
tevie Y type: a true blue Oiler with a special failure of imagination to think of playing anywhere else. At one time, I thought things like institutional memory were important, that we weren't just cheering for laundry, the idea that teams could have distinct identities that could span decades.

But alas, the salary cap era has only made players even more expendable. I'm under no illusion that hockey isn't a business, but it's an increasingly cap-fixated, mercenary one, which totally sucks, especially today

If I close my eyes, I can see Ryan Smyth's ferrety face;
his slinky, durable body slipping past a check on the boards; and of course, that small pile of blood and teeth left on the ice during the 2006 playoffs.

Bon Voyage, Ryan, (and say hi to Marc-Andre Bergeron for me once you get to Long Island).


Rich said...

I feel ill. Like I just got kicked in the nuts.

scotty said...

The Oilers brass can go and fuck themselves with the biggest, sharpest cactus in the universe after today.

There's no other way of looking at this... Kevin Lowe absolutely, completely, 110% shit the bed on this one. This is the worst Goddamn management cock-up since Peter Puck sold off Gretzky to keep Gainers afloat.

I love this team, and I'll always be an Oilers fan, but the bastards running the organization are no longer getting a motherfucking DIME out of me.

mike w said...

Maybe it's time to cheer for a new local team?

Are the Edmonton Drillers still around?

Coluch said...

Oilers for the Cup in 2007!

(shhhhh.... just let me do this)

GOilers!!!! Wooooot! Goilers....

*tears streaming down my face*

mike w said...

Poor guy.

{Mike wraps a wool blanket around Coluch)

Sean said...

The "small-market team" struggling with the increasing salary cap argument has already started...I don't think the Oilers are a small-market team anymore! They have sold out everygame for two years, play in a market of over a million people. I just don't understand how they are a small market team! Sure, they aren't New York, but still! With how badly some franchises are struggling...

Garnet said...

Highlight of the Kevin Lowe news conference thus far:
"We’re not insenstive to our fans by any means."

Oh, and after stating in the news release that money was not a factor, Lowe implied that it was. Nice.

mike w said...

>The "small-market team" struggling with the increasing salary cap argument

Hahahaha. Hilarious.

Andy Grabia said...

I'll be at the Golden Bears game this weekend. The only thing that could have been worse would have been if Cagary had picked up Le GG. Can you imagine watching the BoA game this Saturday with Laraque on the Flames and Raffi Torres on the #1 line?

Those pics are too hard to look at.

Garnet said...

Oh, and the TEAM 1260 guys are of course orally pleasuring Lowe in their commentaries, pointing out that the Oil have three first-round picks in this year's draft. All they need now is a farm team to put them on.

James said...


I have to move away from this city.

Greg said...

On the bright side, O'Marra plays for Stephen Colbert's team. Silver lining? I think so.

Loxy said...

When Lowe steps out on the ice tonight, will be bulletproof jacket be on the outside or inside of his suit?

Anonymous said...

A few things to remember:

1. The Oil Kings are opening next season so it makes sense to load up on prospects since we will have a farm team come September.

2. The Oilers have no money. The Globe and Mail reported last week that the Oilers will break even this season. We didn't roll in profits from the playoff run as most people think. EIG is still heavily in debt.

3. The Canadian dollar could kill us. Long-term expensive contracts are okay today, but what happens if the Canadian dollar drops and that $5 million a year Smyth contract over 5 years (around 6 mil Can) now costs us 8 million? We simply don't have that kind of money, let alone for a guy that is prone to injury.

3. While it's sad to see the "heart and soul" of the team leave, most sports critics agree that the sal-cap era requires a new kind of team: lots of prospects and young, inexpensive players, and a few key pieces struck at the deadline. See the Sharks and Penguins as examples.

4. This is all assuming Smyth isn't back in July. My guess is he'll get a taste of how shitty it is to move your family to Long Island and he'll be back in Edmonton (Smyth and his family don't seem to be the New York type, do they?)

-- Bob

Pleasure Motors said...

The Oil Kings are a WHL team, actually, so we're still farm team-less as of right now.

case said...

can't wait for the game tonight!

Eyeris said...

Oilers for the Cup in 2007!

(shhhhh.... just let me do this)

GOilers!!!! Wooooot! Goilers....

*tears streaming down my face*

Mike, can you draw this. I feel like a comic rendition of this will be very fitting for a BoA glossary entry.

mike w said...

The Oilers are doing fine. In a league dependent on ticket sales they regularly sellout, they have a cozy lease, a lemming-like fan base and Canadian TV revenue money that they ultimately share with American teams that receive the bulk share of revenue sharing.

The financial landscape has changed: if the Oilers are struggling and threaten to move (again and again), fine...but they have to get in line behind Pittsburgh, Nashville, Florida, Anaheim, etc.

Enough of this small-market nonsense, already!

Andy Grabia said...

When Lowe steps out on the ice tonight, will be bulletproof jacket be on the outside or inside of his suit?

Probably neither, as the media and the fans will re-write reality so that management and the EIG get off scott free. Watch tonight's game. It will be starting already.

garnet said...

Some commenters seem to assume that the only choices Smyth has are to re-sign in Long Island or return to E-town. There will be 28 other options, and there will be many teams interested, with many dollars to spend.

Oiler Joe said...

I think the blame for this lies with OIG. Lowe has to work within THEIR cap. I think it if were up to KLOWE, he'd have Smytty signed for as much as $6M. Kevin tried to do the best he could for the franchise, as he always does.

Anonymous said...

I realize that this is probably not the right time, but this is a beautiful sentence: "He was our last shot at a real Stevie Y type: a true blue Oiler with a special failure of imagination to think of playing anywhere else."

Isn't that beautiful? That's beautiful writing, people. yay mike w.


Steph said...

Ever since I started following the Oilers, I had that same image of Smytty as the Stevie Y of this franchise - I think that might be part of why I fell so in love with them so quickly. It's like a punch to the gut and every time I think I feel a little better some other aspect of it hits - I just listened to the post-game and ouch.

Anonymous said...

OK, I held it together all f-ing day and now I'm home and a little drunk and I have to say... please let me fuckin' wake up. Please let me wake up and it all be a bad f-ing dream.

This sucks so very very much. The team looked like someone pulled the rug out from under them tonight. Might as well bring the show off, defensively inept, spandex banana wearing kid up from the minors now. Gotta console the masses somehow. Who cares anyway? I finally get season f-ing tickets and they trade away Ryan Smyth.


I hate today,

Anonymous said...

More important that Mark Messier? Are you kidding me? No wonder you fans in Edmonton gave Gary Bettman a standing O, you don't know hockey from a hole in the wall.