The Edmonton Oilers had begun to turn their poor start to the season around when they were waylaid by another string of bad news: star Taylor Hall is injured and captain Andrew Ference may be suspended. If this team were a house, it would need an exorcism.
The Edmonton Oilers began the year looking painfully inept, but had recently saved face (and perhaps the employment of coach Dallas Eakins) with a four-game win streak. However, because no good news seems to go unpunished with this franchise of late, that positivity was soon to disappear: the first sign of trouble’s return came when goalie Ben Scrivens made a sub-par clearing attempt that led to the game-winning, shorthanded goal in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Vancouver; and in the same game, they lost star winger Taylor Hall for 2-4 weeks with a sprained knee. Hall is Edmonton’s leading scorer (six goals and 10 points in 11 games) and his absence on a team that’s mediocre on offense (a 16th-best 2.64 goals-for per game average) could devastate any hope the Oilers have of climbing out of the depths of the Western Conference.
It’s easy to say Edmonton will have to tighten up on defense, but that might also be a little more difficult after Saturday: captain and veteran defenseman Andrew Ference is facing a possible suspension for attempting to de-head Canucks agitator Zack Kassian.
If you’re an Oilers fan, aren’t you asking yourself if the fates are conspiring against your favorite players and the larger management team owner Daryl Katz has assembled?
If it’s not one thing, it’s another with this franchise. At some point, you have to admit it’s not in the cards for you, and set out on a new course. That course can and should include some members of the current core, but as I’ve argued before, the changes that are made cannot be cosmetic. The landscape needs to be significantly different in a way that is visible to the naked eye from outer space. Good players must be moved out in the hope of bringing in different good players who can change things up.
It’s true NHL teams shouldn’t be panicked by a few weeks of bad luck and/or absence of performance and trade away assets who will go on to star for other teams and haunt them forever. But the Oilers are far past that stage. This is more than just bad luck. If this were a house, you’d be calling in an exorcist.
Ultimately, there’s a choice Katz has here: he can make a move of real consequence – one that has a chance of haunting them down the line if it doesn’t pan out – or he can be haunted by not doing anything and watching different set of fangs sink into this snakebitten unit on other nights to come.
Fortune favors the bold, and right now, the Oilers are suffering the death of 1,000 cuts.