Thoughts on the Oilers: Culture, gossip and trade speculation

pimg003I’ve never understood the infatuation with having a “winning culture” in hockey, as if it’s something you can just instill in your club. Really, the only way to obtain the elusive “winning culture” is by, you guessed it, winning. Not by dumping players (i.e., Souray, Horcoff, Gilbert, etc), naming captains, replacing photos in the locker room, or coming up with team mottos.

But culture remains one of those topics that people tend to gossip about when a team isn’t performing. It’s a vague, subjective concept, that suddenly becomes the basis for trade rumors and speculation.

Of course, when your team is dead last, you can expect a jump in these kinds of topics like culture. Teams that struggle are discussed more (see Oilers, Edmonton). Fans have opinions, losing teams clearly need lots of help, so the discussion will naturally center around the culture of the team, why the team is bad and how to improve the team.

This leads us to the rumors about Taylor Hall being a problem in the Oilers locker room and how the Oilers might deal him. It’s frustrating to hear about as an Oilers fan, but the majority of us get the whole rumor cycle and how the machine works.

The source of the rumor is, of course, unnamed. Why would Dreger or any insider give that up and risk their relationships and lose out on future material? It’s his job to inform, but we know, or at least should know, that his messaging is influenced by his employer, team managers and of course player agents. These sources have their own interests and agendas that we know nothing about. Instead, we get tidbits here and there through hockey reporters and are left to discuss and spread the information across our networks.

If the Oilers had an interest in dealing Hall, why would they diminish his value by leaking that he might be “uncoachable”? Add to the fact that Hall has been very productive for the club, providing good value for a very reasonable contract, and you can begin to see where the holes are in this rumor.

It’s obvious that whoever leaked this to Dreger is either trying to motivate Hall, who is mired in a slump right now, or is just trying to get other general managers talking and releasing information on who they might be looking to offload in a trade.

One former Oilers GM put it best in 2000:

Glen Sather, general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, recognizes the value of rumours.

“It is part of selling the game,” he says. “I think rumours are good for the game because they create interest.”

“A player reads a rumour in the paper that he is going to be traded, so all of a sudden his game picks up,” he says.

Sather points to Vaclav Prospal of the Ottawa Senators as an example.

“He was brutal until the stories came out that he was going to be traded, and all of a sudden he is playing a lot better.” (National Post, January 2000)

Now of course, there is always the possibility that a  player gets dealt. The Oilers have a lot of holes to fill, and Hall could get you a decent return. I just don’t see how leaking negative information about your player to a reporter would help facilitate any trade process.

Related: Oil City Speculation (2009)

Thoughts on the Oilers: Rookies; Rumors; Trades; Shots on Net

Source: Edmonton Journal

Source: Edmonton Journal

The Oilers continue on their four-game road trip, where they picked up a win in Florida, but dropped a decision to Tampa Bay. I thought the Oilers played well in both games, even though they lost in Tampa Bay and ALMOST blew it against the hapless Panthers.

Taylor Fedun

Great to see the young defenceman make it to the NHL and score a couple goals right away. Fedun has made a remarkable recovery coming back from a shattered leg which he sustained on an icing play. Since the injury, the NHL has smartened up and introduced hybrid icing to reduce the number of accidents occurring.

Trade Rumors

As long as the Oilers struggle on the ice, they’ll be mired in absolute garbage trade rumors. Nothing irks me more than garbage information, so it’s been a challenging week hearing about Nail Yakupov and Jordan Eberle potentially on the trading block.

Hockey fans have to remember that teams use media outlets and “insiders” to throw off rival GM’s and potential trade partners. Unfortunately, this leaves a ton of garbage information for fans to decipher through and digest.

Trades

Friday was a busy day for the Oilers as they dealt away defenceman Ladislav Smid to Calgary for prospects, and then later signed free agent goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. As you can imagine, Twitter was flush with junk information on who would be next to go on the Oilers.

I’ll never quite understand how teams justify shipping out players for prospects. Shouldn’t the objective of every team be to find good players and keep good players? Can’t be shocked that the Oil pulled this off once again, I but remain surprised that the team is taking a chance on Bryzgalov. Dubnyk has struggled and the case can be made that the players may not have a lot of confidence in him. But I don’t see how Bryzgalov is a major upgrade, as he was recently bought out by the Flyers. Regardless, lets hope the Oil can get their act together and get some wins on this current road trip.

Shots on Net

Great point by the Oilers Radio Bob Stauffer last night after the loss in Tampa Bay.

Recommended Links

“The Grass Is Always Greener” Is Not To Be Taken Literally – mc79hockey

Omark and Eager Returning to Oklahoma City – The Copper and Blue

Permanent Revolution: Oilers Trade Smid for Magic Beans – The Copper and Blue

The Remarkable Story of Taylor Fedun – OilersNation