Kukla's Korner Hockey
The team is sitting in last place in the Western Conference with a record of 16-25-5 and just 37 points. They’ve lost three in a row, they’re eight points below the next-lowest team in the Blue Jackets, and their playoff prospects are impossibly bleak.
Normally, a team mired in that bad of a situation can at least look forward to a brighter future - the idea being that they can really only go up. But when it comes to the Oilers, could things be looking equally shaky for the long term?
“I get the idea that they want to peddle hope - and they should - and there’s a major rebuild that’s going to go on here,” says TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie. “But this is a last-place hockey team with a first-place payroll, and they’ve got some serious financial issues they have to address.”
Those financial issues are going to provide a major obstacle for a team whose immediate priority is simply to climb out of the NHL’s basement. The first step?
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal via the National Post,
The Edmonton Oilers don’t plan any quick fixes to help their goaltending situation, with Nikolai Khabibulin having surgery Thursday in Los Angeles to repair a herniated disc in his back.
They will ride young netminders Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk rather than make a trade for New York Islanders’ goalie Martin Biron, who is No. 3 on their depth chart behind Rick DiPietro, who is back from a knee injury, and ex-Oiler Dwayne Roloson. A trade like that might cost the Oilers a middle-round entry draft pick.
There is also no truth to rumours the Oilers may be interested in acquiring Jaroslav Halak from Montreal, which would cost them infinitely more.
To the KK readers who have emailed me about the made up rumor of Halak to Edmonton, there is your answer…
EDMONTON - Edmonton Oilers’ General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin will undergo surgery Thursday in Los Angeles to repair a herniated disc in his back.
Khabibulin, 37, has appeared in 18 games for the Oilers this season with a 7-9-2 record, 3.03 GAA and .910 save percentage.
from Dan Barnes of the Edmonton Journal via the National Post,
Roads are bad. Weather stinks. And so does the team. They are all factors in the rise in empty seats and the fall in resale prices. Have a look at Kijiji, the online classified ads site. Club seats that retail for $235 are available, in abundance, for as little as $100 apiece. The $50 ducats can be had for $20. It’s a scalper’s nightmare, a spendthrift’s dream, as long as you don’t mind actually having to watch the games.
I have heard, admittedly secondhand, of some Edmonton-area businesses that maintain season tickets and regularly give them away to clients but are now having a hard time finding takers. People trying to sell off season tickets, even at reduced rates, can’t connect with buyers. Laforge counters that they have a list of 1,800 people waiting to buy season tickets but only 300 become available each year. Clearly, these people need to communicate with one another.
from Dan Barnes of the Edmonton Journal,
Oilers defenceman Sheldon Souray said Friday he is open to waiving his no-trade clause if the team needs to deal him to improve its fortunes.
He stressed that he is not looking to get out of Edmonton and that any new destination would have to “make sense.”
In other words, it would have to mesh with the fact his children live with their mother in California and regularly fly to Edmonton to see him during the National Hockey League season.
from John McGourty of NHL.com,
Barrie Stafford is currently in his 29th season with the Edmonton Oilers’ organization and in his 28th as the team’s head equipment manager. Since joining the Edmonton training staff in 1982-83, “Staff” has contributed greatly to the success of the Oilers as a member of five Stanley Cup championship teams….
the former Vice President of the Society of Professional Hockey Equipment Managers is the logical choice to ask about the arduous process of moving an NHL team from city to city during a season.
NHL.com: When the Flyers played Dec. 30 in New York and then had to get to Boston for practice the next day, the Rangers gave them a truck to make the trip. Meanwhile, the players, coaching staff and team executives took a train. There’re different travel arrangements sometimes for the equipment staff than there is for the team. The equipment managers don’t always leave with the team?
Stafford: Our training staff works independent of the team and pretty much all teams in the NHL work that way. It’s a little different in the East Coast than it is in our conference because there’s a difference between cities. But, generally speaking, the home team supplies the vehicle that we use to go wherever we might need to go. The Toronto Maple Leafs came to Edmonton last week after playing the other day in Pittsburgh. Our truck driver, after their practice, packed up their gear and took them to Calgary….
from Dan Barnes of the Edmonton Journal,
Yes, it has been an embarrassing week and a costly, frustrating half-season for the Oilers, who cannot win for losing. They lost Tuesday to Phoenix in OT, Saturday in San Jose, Friday in the Saddledome and again in the court of public opinion after getting into a beef over a massive dinner bill at a Cowtown restaurant. Those headlines were unflattering and they will be written out of the playoffs soon enough, too.
They would have to go 25-9-5 or something similarly out of character, and still hope that all eight playoff-bound teams in the west played no better than .500 hockey until the end of the schedule, just to sneak in and offer themselves up as first-round hors d’oeuvres for San Jose.
It’s not a mathematical impossibility, but it’s pretty safe to say 39 hockey games stand between the Oilers and their first sanctioned golf games of the new decade.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
Look—we’ve all been part of a bad bill before. And, yes, NHL players can become targets in a situation like this one.
But the end result was 20 millionaires didn’t suck it up. Men who get more stuff for free in a year than anyone reading this column does in a lifetime, refused on principle to come up with less than $1,000 apiece for them and their spouse/girlfriend on New Year’s Eve. Instead, they created an incident that stained a once proud organization’s reputation from coast to coast.
Another dent in a train wreck of a season—in Calgary, no less. Like the story of the Oilers dine-and-dash wouldn’t have legs in that city? Sheesh.
Within days, team owner Daryl Katz had canceled a planned golf trip to Palm Springs for the players and their wives. The Oilers say the two incidents had nothing to do with each other, but we can only hope that isn’t true.
Now, the players will stay in minus-20 Edmonton for a mini-training camp instead of teeing it up in the sunshine. And their wives will sip Tim Horton’s coffee instead of Cosmopolitans by the pool.
from Spector at Fox Sports,
The Blue Jackets entered 2009-10 coming off their first playoff appearance in franchise history, while the Oilers — having made changes behind the bench and in goal — were expecting to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Instead of being in playoff contention both clubs enter the New Year mired in the bottom of the Western Conference standings and in danger of falling out of the postseason chase….
Goaltending has been a common issue. The Oilers brought in veteran Nikolai Khabibulin last summer to be their starter but he struggled with a bad back which eventually sidelined him in late November. Backup Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers has done his best but it’s clear in relief that he’s not yet ready to be a full-time starting goalie.
The Blue Jackets made the playoffs last season in large part to the goaltending of Steve Mason, who won the Calder trophy as rookie of the year with his 33-win, 2.29 GAA, 10-shutout performance. This season, however, Mason is mired in a sophomore slump, with only 11 victories in 32 games, a bloated 3.18 goals-against average and only two shutouts.
from David Staples of The Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal,
Heading into this season, there were two worries in regards to the goaltending of the Edmonton Oilers, that starter Nikolai Khabibulin would get hurt and miss a huge number of games, and that the young-ish Deslauriers wouldn’t prove to be a capable back-up, let alone being able to carry the load as a starter….
Khabibulin had been slowed and knocked out of the line-up in Chicago on numerous occasions during his four years as a Black Hawk. In 2005, he missed ten games with a groin injury. In 2006, he missed 13 games with a knee injury. At age 36, he wasn’t getting any younger. If he was having injury problems before, one would expect they would only get worse.
As for Deslauriers, he had never been a dominant goalie in the minor leagues, just an OK-to-good one. In his brief appearances in Edmonton, he had looked shaky in net, not strong or balanced on his skates. It was certainly possible that a goalie who looked so unorthodox would still have success at the NHL level, but I’d be curious to know if anyone can point out a goalie with Deslauriers’s poor positioning in net and tendency to wobble so often who has become a stand-out goalie at the NHL level.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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