The exact moment I began to think that this team might not turn out so bad. (Benjamin Massey/Copper & Blue)

Of all the sins I've been accused of in my time at the Copper & Blue, the most virulent accusation has been one of pessimism. I have run a short series on how pessimistic I am about some of the Oilers' top prospects. I have said that their general manager is a fool and their coach is overrated, and that if this team doesn't miss the playoffs by miles it'll be more than a miracle. I've whined about Fernando Pisani and Marc Pouliot leaving, and I've whined about Jean-Francois Jacques and Jason Strudwick, and oh heavens have I whined about Steve MacIntyre staying. I've whined so much I sound like an air compressor.

So will it surprise you to learn that there is, in fact, more than an optimistic bone in my body? That I think there are aspects of this team to look forward to? That the Oilers have done things and made changes that make me sit up a little straighter in my chair, or look forward on this team with some crude emotion vaguely resembling "hope"?

Yes, when I close my eyes and think about it, when I look upon this team critically and impassively as I feel I ought, I do still think we're going to miss the playoffs.

But here's why I'm optimistic all the same.

I believe that Steve Tambellini has made this team better than it used to be. I believe that I am as surprised by this as anyone. Actually, aside from the fact that he thinks goons are useful and doesn't quite understand defensive forwards yet, I believe Steve Tambellini might be slowly learning this business.

I believe that no matter who our captain ends up being, it'll be an improvement.

I believe Sheldon Souray is too much of a professional to drag his hometown team into the toilet just because he's sad. I believe that a lot of his problems were with coaching and training staffs that aren't there anymore and players who have been exiled elsewhere in the Western Conference. I also believe that, while he's overpaid, he's still a pretty good defenseman who might give us a lot of help nobody's currently counting on.

I believe that between Jean-Francois Jacques, Kurtis Foster, and Steve MacIntyre, nobody will have to worry about getting something off the top shelf.

I believe Ales Hemsky will be back from injury. That alone is cause for optimism.

I believe that, while Taylor Hall clearly isn't Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin, he might just be Steven Stamkos or John Tavares and I'd take either one of those.

I believe that the Ryan Whitney we saw last season is a lot closer to the real Ryan Whitney than the one the Anaheim Ducks saw.

I believe in Dustin Penner, almost unreservedly.

Remember that Top 25 Under 25 when I sold low on so many prospects you think are great? I believe those prospects are pretty good too. I believe most of our prospects are pretty good.

I believe that Martin Gerber, whose signing I openly mocked when it happened, will be a lot more useful than I first thought. I also believe that Devan Dubnyk is a pretty good young goaltender, that Jeff Deslauriers is better than some people think, and that Nikolai Khabibulin... but no, I'm trying to be optimistic.

I believe that a defense of Souray, Gilbert, Whitney, Smid, Vandermeer, and Foster isn't that bad. Then again, I said that about the defense last year.

I believe that just because we'll miss the playoffs doesn't mean we're not going to fight like hell to get into them. I believe that this team is more weaknesses than strengths but it still has more strengths than it did last year. I believe that a lot of the dead weight is gone and has been replaced by weight that is still dead but a lot less heavy. I believe that things are trending up, and that's about all we could have asked for at the beginning of the season.

I believe that's pretty good.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join The Copper & Blue

You must be a member of The Copper & Blue to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Copper & Blue. You should read them.

Join The Copper & Blue

You must be a member of The Copper & Blue to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Copper & Blue. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.