by Lisa McRitchie on 05/29/12 at 01:45 AM ET
With the elimination of the Oklahoma City Barons from the AHL western conference finals, that draws to a close the 2011-12 season for all Oiler players. And despite the sour note that all teams finished the year on, you have to think of just how important, just how good it was for the Oilers’ prospects to experience winning and a lengthy post season. No, not because the Oilers will are guaranteed a similar experience next season, but because this is what is needed to help remove that losing mentality from the locker room.
The Edmonton Oil Kings currently only have three Oiler prospects - Travis Ewanyk, Martin Gernat and Kristians Pelss but there are five players from the team that will be drafted into the NHL this June. But those three, and maybe more prospects, may be more prepared than any for their eventual opportunities with the Oilers, and their professional hockey careers.
After bringing playoff hockey back to Edmonton last season, the Oil Kings took their first round exit and built on it exponentially by taking the WHL title. And despite the Oil Kings sweeping two of the series along the way, there is little doubt of the bumps, the bruises and the exhaustion involved. Not to mention the heart and devotion.
And the Oklahoma City Barons and the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL were in much the same situation, even if they didn’t take the Calder or Kelly Cups.
While the Oilers had a much more successful season in some ways than the past two season, after all they did finish 29th and not 30th, the rumours or at least reading between the lines on some comments seems to say that there is still an attitude issue in the locker room. The kids/youngsters, seem to more of a drive and perhaps may not yet have realised just how lucky, and just how hard you have to work to make it to the playoffs let alone the Stanley Cup. And the Oilers who have been with the team for years, or even in the league for years may have become a little more jaded, or maybe even complacent. But that is just a guess, without talking to the players day in and day out, and even then you may not know what they are really thinking.
No matter what though, the long playoff seasons for the Oil Kings and the Barons may have been the second greatest thing to happen to the team this spring. Second only of course to taking the first overall draft pick.
But with all of the positives to take from this season, the Oilers have a lot of questions that still need answering. Although they have decided that Tom Renney is not the man for the bench boss job for next season, it appears as though they have not yet decided just who is. And then there is the matter of the coaching positions in Oklahoma City.
No matter who is behind the bench on either the Oilers or the Barons team, the rosters for both teams should be stronger and more talented and ready to build upon their respective successes from this season. But the players who may be the most prepared for next year, even at this point, have to be the Barons and Kristians Pelss who will be making the move to professional hockey next season. And maybe the first overall pick, should the Oilers decide to keep the pick for themselves. And of course, they really should.
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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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