Alliteration is fun.
Got some interesting news today from former Oilers coach Tom Renney. Seems management wanted him to play their young stars with full knowledge that those players were hurt. Turns out that both Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall had shoulder surgery in Renney's second and final season as head coach. Management was "selling hope" that winter! And it wasn't the first time.
Remember when Ryan Smyth got traded for nothing and the Oilers went 2-17-1 down the stretch, but it was all going to be alright because the Oilers had cap space that they could use on free agents, but then nobody wanted to sign here? Remember Sheldon Souray signing that summer? Management was selling hope with him, too. And like those young guns from 2011-12, Souray was pressed into action despite not being fully recovered from a - you guessed it - shoulder injury, and re-injured himself early in the season.
Management's response to these defective players? Run Souray out of town (but not before humiliating him in the AHL), and fire Tom Renney when he was reluctant to play the kids, even though his team seemed to be trending in the right direction (2010-11, 2011-12). Do those sound like even and measured responses to you? Or do they sound like the responses of a person who is known for anger - viciousness, even? Wink wink, nudge nudge:
Whatever you believe, the way the Oilers handled Souray's trade request certainly doesn't seem to fit the personality of ol' Mr. Dithers, Steve Tambellini. And Kevin Lowe was the man in charge of everybody when both of these incidents happened.
BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!
I find the conversation about Leon Draisaitl staying the NHL this season to be another classic example of the Oilers doubling down on their own stupidity. We knew going into the off season that the Oilers needed to add a center. That became especially important after Sam Gagner was traded. The team's response was to draft a center, not give him any competition at camp, hand him a roster spot and hope he was good enough.
Now that it's clear that Draisaitl is not ready to be an impact player in the NHL, the team is stuck in a terrible, albeit predictable situation.
No matter what anyone says, I find it hard to believe that the best thing for Draisaitl's development is to play twelve minutes per night in the NHL (one of the lowest averages on the team). If it makes more sense to have Nurse back in Junior, then it makes sense for Draisaitl for the same reasons.
Except that the Oilers can't send Draisaitl back because there's nobody around to take his place. Whoops. And, maybe even worse, players like Bogdan Yakimov, who is nowhere near ready, could be pressed into service when injuries strike. Yakimov only played eleven minutes in his NHL debut, and couldn't be relied upon any more than Draisaitl if the Oilers need to recall him again.
Ironically, there are voices among the fans who say the Oilers can't send Draisaitl back to Junior because the logical replacement, Anton Lander, can't handle the job. And yet, Lander is a perfect example of why you don't rush a player to the NHL and play him ten minutes a night. Here's a former second round pick who could have devoured loads of playing time in a lower league, and whose development was hindered as a result of staying in Edmonton. Does anyone want that same fate for Draisaitl?
JUST FOR GOOD MEASURE
A final thing I need to get off my chest is the painfully stupid decision to
sign Andrew Ference make Andrew Ference the captain. The man was 34 years old when he signed his new deal. Not very many NHL players of that age can just rattle off a full 82 games per year, especially not middle-to-bottom rotation players. If you can't scratch Ference for a game or two here and there - even just to give him some rest - because he's the captain, then why is he the captain?
When it came time to get Darnell Nurse into an NHL game, somehow Jeff Petry found himself healthy scratched against the Stanley Cup Champions. The choice of who to take out certainly wasn't made solely on merit, and Ference's name never even came up as an option because he's the untouchable man with the C.