When it comes to Canadian hockey teams, the Oilers are the proverbial mullet. Consider the facts: both routinely humiliate their foolish supporters, they're favoured by the misogynistic as well as the toothless, and they haven't been relevant since the 80s. Oh, and the Oilers and mullets share another similarity: they're an absolute mess on the back-end.
If that isn't enough to convince you, and I'm not sure why it wouldn't be, you should probably know that their owner is a greasy slime ball. Even though every owner of a professional sports team is basically a greasy slime ball, I have no problem stating that Daryl Katz is the King of Greasy Slime Ball. He’s the sort who has been intent on crying poor and threatening relocation if it will help him bring public officials— who are quite sensibly unwilling to spend public money to build a billionaire owner a new arena (or at least, they became unwilling after he jerked them around) for a profitable team— to heel.
A few years ago the Oilers miraculously made the Stanley Cup Finals. They were arguably the worst team in the modern era to do so. They had a likable team built around Chris Pronger, one of the best defenseman of his era. That summer it all fell apart because Chris Pronger, like VICE Canada's favorite cartoonist and anyone else who doesn't completely suck, decided "fuck it, I don't want to live in Edmonton."
"No, it wasn't Chris Pronger's decision" the Oilers fans cry, "it was his wife who didn't want to stay here." Let this be a reminder that Oilers fans can't wait to demonstrate how much they hate women. Except Paulina Gretzky of course, Wayne Gretzky’s hot daughter. Yay for hockey daughter clickbait!
Paulina Gretzky, y'all.
No one covers an attractive young lady with an Instagram account and a famous father quite as breathlessly as the Edmonton media. Whether it's who she's dating, who she's not dating, what she wore on Halloween, how she wished us a Merry Christmas (particularly embarrassing line in that link: "she's hockey's it girl!") or where she ranks on the list of most desirable women in the world. If you want some Paulina Gretzky coverage, and obviously you do because they keep producing it, the Edmonton Journal has you covered.
Since that summer, the Oilers have done what they could to ice a contending team and they've failed spectacularly. In 2008 they hired Steve Tambellini, an executive who was passed over like a Jewish holiday for promotion in Vancouver- and by that I mean it happened annually. Over the past five years the Oilers have finished 19th, 21st, 30th, 30th and 29th out of 30 NHL teams, so basically he promptly ran the team into the ground.
Tambellini has failed to win games, but boy oh boy has he managed to sell the fanbase a whole lot of snake oil. Five years ago the Oilers had Highly Touted Future Superstars like Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner, Marc-Andre Pouliot and Robert Nilsson. At the moment, two of those four guys still have jobs in the NHL and only one remains with the Oilers (and is widely thought to be expendable because of the new batch of Highly Touted Future Superstars in Edmonton).
This is where the Oilers really tick me off: they ruin the kids that they draft. Consider Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who was the first overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. I’m a guy who thinks Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is legitimately next in line, but the Oilers mismanaged the living hell out of his rookie season (in typical fashion, I might add).
When you draft a player in the NHL you get to sign him to an "Entry Level Contract" which means that he's yours, on the cheap, for his first three seasons. The Oilers were woeful a season ago, and it was pretty clear to anyone who could read that they were going to continue to suck that year. But the Oilers decided that they'd burn one of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' entry level years anyway so that he could play on a team with no hope, even though he generously weighed about 160 pounds.
What happened? Ryan Nugent-Hopkins dazzled fans and the hockey media (especially CBC announcer Mark Lee, to whom he gave copious boners) because he's really awesome at hockey. He also got injured, because while “the Nuge” is already an uber-talented athlete, he’s also still a skinny teenager playing a contact sport in a man's league. Predictably the Oilers finished 29th.
Now there's a lockout shortened season, so the Oilers "brain trust" will have turned the first two cheapo seasons of Highly Touted Future Superstar Ryan Nugent-Hopkins into a maximum of 110 NHL games (probably even less) and almost surely no playoff berths.
You see life's certainties are as follows: death, taxes, the Oilers squandering any and every advantage they have, and the blind-optimism of Oilers fans. They're the fucking T-1000 of cocky for no reason fan-bases: short of a vat of molten steel, nothing can stop them!
This year they're pinning their hopes on the TSN Hype Machine’s ultimate victim: a 22 year old kid named Jordan Eberle. Eberle had a ridiculously lucky season a year ago and in the offseason he was signed to an exorbitant contract extension that he's unlikely to live up to (Shawn Horcoff two point zero!). Just this week he was named the 25th best player in the league by TSN (over his two more talented teammates Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins).
This season, if Eberle’s luck dries up— oh and it will— it's going to be fun to watch Oilers fans (and the national media that has so embarrassingly bought into this hype) react. That is of course, so long as Oilers winger Taylor Hall, probably the oddest combination of elite athletic ability and complete klutziness that I've ever seen in a human person, doesn't do one of his slap stick routines and, say, fall down the stairs and hit his head against Eberle's head injuring the Highly Touted Future Superstar winger.
The Oilers could relocate, but there’s no chance of that because Edmonton remains one of the league’s strongest hockey markets since there’s absolutely nothing else to do there. Even though that would be a better fate than the continued mediocrity of the Oilers franchise, that level of performance is what the limp-dick Oilers and their hopeless fucking fans deserve.
Follow Thomas on Twitter for more angry hockey nerdery: @ThomasDrance
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