The plight of the fans is what has been most discussed in Edmonton during the lockout. In the NHL's northermost city, where the winter is long and the hours of daylight are short, the winter blues are a reality. For some, the blues are combated with the obsession over the home team, that and beer consumption that just seems to make everything seem a little less important even if just for the time being.
Knowing just how badly the city of Edmonton wanted the NHL back, the Oilers got a little creative and played their first game outdoors, in the park. And didn't sell a single ticket.
In an odd turn of events, the Oilers may have too many defencemen. But by too many defencemen, I mean one too many defenceman. But that’s a welcome change from past seasons and scrambling to put warm bodies, including Cam Barker into the lineup every night. And of course, the injury bug has already struck the Oilers, and the team may have just enough players at this given moment thanks to GM Steve Tambellini’s efforts.
The draft rankings can get a little murky once you pass the top five. Even after the top three one tends to see a lot of variation from scout to scout, and so for many teams it becomes a matter of what they value and need the most that will lead them to pick one player over another.
For Edmonton Oil King centre Curtis Lazar bouncing around first round draft ranking has been something everyone constantly reminds him of this season, but somehow remains something he claims he never thinks about.
So the lockout is over, well in theory at least. And now begins the speculation that should have happened in September; which team made the biggest and best improvements. For Oil Country the additions of Justin Schultz on the blue line and Nail Yakupov up front gave hope for the next season, but hope for a 29th place team may not amount to much. After all even improving by one place may prove to be a challenge as evidenced by the previous two first overall picks.
The CHLPA is still in it's infancy and the loudest cry is for a better scholarship program. To those involved with the CHLPA the amount of time a player has to choose to take the scholarship money is too short. In the WHL it is the September of the year after the player's final year of WHL eligibility. While I cannot say that I am for or against the idea of a players union for the CHL players, I can say that I want to know more. But, it is excellent news to hear that so many players are taking advantage of available scholarship money this year.
Western Hockey League Commissioner Ron Robison announced today that a total of 301 WHL graduate players have been awarded WHL Scholarships for the 2012-13 academic year.
The WHL Scholarship recipients are enrolled as full-time students in 68 different post-secondary institutions throughout North America.
This season 183 of the 301 WHL Scholarship recipients are furthering their education while playing elite hockey in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Association. In Western Canada 125 of these student athletes are playing in the Canada West University Conference, including Mount Royal University which joined the Canada West Conference for the 2012-13 season, and have combined their WHL Scholarship with additional financial assistance from their University to receive Western Canada’s Premier Hockey Scholarship.
For some, hockey bloodlines run deep. And while those bloodlines may help a player get their foot in the door, that’s going to be as far as it can take you. At some point, talent has to take front and centre stage. With Edmonton Oilers' prospect defenceman David Musil, his bloodlines helped develop him into a WHL player, but it was his talent that got him drafted 31st overall at the 2010 NHL entry draft, and a position on the 2012 Czech Republic World Juniors Team.
This was not the start they had hoped for, but it is what the Edmonton Oil Kings got. Instead of picking up right where they had finished last season, the team has suffered through its share of ups and downs. Now however, the team may be turning things around.
The Edmonton Oilers may have finished dead last in the spring of 2010, but they could finish first in that year's draft class. While teams hope for one or two players to make the NHL, or a significant impact in the AHL, the Oilers may have struck gold with each and every pick.
While on his visit to Oklahoma City, Terry Jones of the Edmotnon Sun was able to catch up and on each of the 2010 draft picks, all of which find themselves on Edmonton Oilers affiliated professional teams.
With the exception of Bunz, last year’s WHL goaltender of the year who they want to play 60 games with Stockton in the ECHL, they’re all here this year, they’re all members of the Oklahoma City Barons.
In 2010 GM Steve Tambellini gave MacGregor the bullets. It was essentially the year Tambellini and staff put together the development model to take the Oilers to a place they’d never been before, one only the Detroit Red Wings had ever aspired to become, and realized, as an organization.
It happened without fanfare, it happened without a big public address, but it happened just the same. The NHL season is cancelled for the foreseeable future and the players are locked out. For some, that means nothing but more uncertainty. Do they pack up their families, pull kinds out of school and chase a paycheck in Europe, do they spend a year away from their families if they can find a team to play for? Not every player will be able to find a team, and certainly not every player will feel comfortable with the risks of taking less pay and the risk of getting injured and forfeiting their NHL salary if the season can be salvaged.
For the Oilers, several players on entry level contracts (ELC) have been assigned to play in the AHL with the Oklahoma City Barons, some have accepted that they will not be playing hockey unless the NHL starts up again, and of course a few are making their way to various leagues in Europe.
Saturday’s deadline looms, and there isn’t much hope on the horizon. The Edmonton Oilers are split down the middle; guys who can’t afford to miss a year’s salary because they are in the final half of their careers, and guys who just starting their career and who can’t get rusty. And so none of the players look forward to any kind of work stoppage.
Currently, only Nail Yakupov has come out and said that he will play in Europe, the KHL more specifically should the NHL season be cancelled. The rest, many are preparing to receive an assignment to the AHL and the Oklahoma City Barons.
About Oil Patch
Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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