It’s disappointing when something doesn’t meet your expectations. It’s even more disappointing when your expectations weren’t even that high to begin with.
My prediction at the start of the year was that the Oilers would finish between 10th and 12th in the west. RNH was recovering from shoulder surgery. Gagner got hurt in pre-season. And, compared to playoff teams from last year, the Oilers defensive core lacked NHL talent and experience. Add to the fact you had a coaching staff with very little experience and a very young top-six, I just couldn’t see this club making the playoffs as a wild card.
Going through my Oilers posts from this season, I’ve compiled what I think were the positives (believe it or not, there were some) and negatives.
- The addition of Andrew Ference, Boyd Gordon and David Perron were great, and I thought all three met or surpassed expectations. All three added talent and experience in very specific roles, something that was lacking last season.
- When goaltending faltered, MacTavish was quick to make changes. I don’t think Tambellini, or even Lowe, would’ve been this aggressive in adding and removing roster players. You might not agree with all of the trades, but I think it’s beneficial to have an aggresive GM rather than a passive spectator.
- When a defenceman wasn’t acquired, MacTavish took a flyer on Anton Belov. It didn’t work out perfectly, but I thought it was a great sign that the rookie GM was looking to Europe for players. Belov wasn’t horrible either in the role he played and would’ve been a decent depth defenceman for the Oilers. Here’s hoping MacTavish isn’t discouraged from tapping into the KHL pool in the future.
- The send off for Ryan Smyth. Memorable night to celebrate the career of one of the best Oilers.
- Losing lots and losing big. Dropping 53 games was bad. Getting destroyed by the Flames at home on Hockey Night in Canada was just ugly.
- I don’t recall a season where fans were dragged through the mud for the actions of others. Fans can do as they please. But the jersey tossing, the apology letter to the Oilers and the Fire Lowe campaign all reflected very poorly on the fans.
- It’s safe to say that the more the team loses, the more bogus rumours and misinformation is generated around the club. The Yakupov trade speculation stands out as an example since he’s still a high-end prospect learning the NHL game. And even with the season over, narratives surrounding the Oilers continue to include things like a players trip to Las Vegas and Anton Belov’s departure.
One final thought: Regardless of how bad the season was going, fans and bloggers continued to create high quality content pertaining to the Oilers. Bloggers, especially, don’t get enough credit for the work they do. Not only are they contributing their time and energy, but they’re also playing a critical role in reducing the amount of misinformation about the Oilers.