The bigger they are the farther they crawl,
Don't be afraid you never got that tall.
You make a big deal about your neighbourhood friends,
But it's such a drag just to see you again.
So, farewell to all that.
That was the conclusion of year one of our fifth sequential one-year rebuild. And what a successful year it was! Would you believe that, coming into this season, we had a useless, alcoholic, rapidly-aging starting goaltender with an inexplicable contract? That our defense was a bunch of oft-injured gibbons and mediocre youth? That our forwards were either mediocre, always injured, too young, or Dustin Penner? Well, we solved the hell out of that last one, anyway.
This game was typical. The Edmonton Oilers took on the Colorado Avalanche, a rare example of a team that might have been almost as bad as us. You will be flabbergasted to learn that we lost, but we made it interesting. Briefly. Teemu Hartikainen scored, which was fun. Kurtis Foster scored, which is actually impressive: Foster's got a few goals this year and that's a real achievement for somebody who's towed onto the ice every period by the Zamboni and left, motionless, at the other team's blue line. And the Oilers fought moderately hard, considering there was nothing at stake, and they lost, and sure Adam Foote should have had a penalty that one time but, really, you shouldn't need the help of an overrated Jason Smith clone with nine different kinds of arthritis playing his last NHL game to beat the Colorado Frickin' Avalanche.
Yes, what a beautiful rebuild it's been! A whole year of our hockey lives flushed down the toilet and we managed to take the second-worst team in the Western Conference to overtime! Who knows what joys await after another horrendous season of basement-licking turd hockey? Perhaps we'll get the second-worst team in the NHL to a shootout next time.
Tradition obliges me to talk about the game in a post-game thread. But I never liked that tradition, any more than I like the tradition which says "if a goalie wins a Stanley Cup, he could get loaded on vodka and drive the wrong direction down Broadway singing 'New York, New York' but he's still the team MVP". So, y'know, if you're looking for some positivity head on over to HFBoards and talk about how unbelievable Andrew Cogliano is. A team that won five Stanley Cups in the first twenty years of its existence has now finished dead last for two years running.
Besides, what the hell do you want me to say? It was game eighty-two, and our noble Rebuilding Team of the Future has improved not a whit. Partially that's due to injuries thanks to our club's refusal to invest in decent ice-making equipment while assuring us that trading all the good players for bad players is somehow going to totally work out. Partially that's because there's not much educational value in getting run over and being miserable all the time. Partially it's because, in case you haven't noticed, this team sucks.
How do we expect this team to improve? We just gassed the first year of Jordan Eberle's entry-level contract. The first year of Magnus Paajarvi's contract. The first year of Taylor Hall's contract. In exchange, we're going to get another young player who we can sign too early and gas the first year of their contract too. Then BAM! Stanley Cup. The Pittsburgh Penguins did it and all they needed was decades of utterly hopeless teams followed by stumbling into the greatest NHL forward of the century, which is something both enjoyable and completely reproducible. Any comparisons to the Atlanta Thrashers or the New York Islanders are UTTERLY FATUOUS.
Oh, but don't forget that, once we've all bought the Oilers a new arena to lose in, we'll have lots of money to sign marquee free agents like Nikolai Khabibulin, Sheldon Souray, and Kurtis Foster. We also almost got Michael Nylander that one time. Oh, hell.
Look at what five years of borderline-unending hockey suffering have got us. We lost to a team that played Jonas Holos for 23:35. That's not a real player! Mark Olver got 18:32! Daniel Winnik played 17:47! Who are these people? I mean, at least I've heard of Winnik, usually in a sentence that continued "...got burned en route to a goal against." Shawn Belle was in that lineup, and he's so terrible that he couldn't stick with the Edmonton Oilers. Didn't matter. We lost.
Oh my god, just talking about this sends me spiraling into hideous depression. You guys ever wonder why I don't write these anymore? Because Oilers hockey makes me too miserable to express my misery. If I were to try and write down what I felt watching that game, it would be a hockey skate stamping on a human face forever.
And you know what's the best part? Steve Tambellini is still the general manager, Daryl Katz is still the owner. Right now, on the Oilers website, you can bring up the same "draft lottery simulator" from last year and cling onto the hope that we'll get to draft first overall instead of second while lying to ourselves and saying that it could possibly make any difference. And we'll draft some guy, it doesn't really matter who, and we'll sign him to a contract early and we'll go into 2011-12 talking about how the young Oilers have so much talent and athleticism for, ooh, the sixth consecutive season, actually, and we'll lose 4-1 to somebody like Calgary as Nikolai Khabibulin lets in an unscreened wrister from the blue line. And, eighty-two games later, I'll still be here, assuming I haven't knocked my own head in with a history of the dynasty years. And I'll probably be able to copy-paste this exact same post for that post-game.
And we'll keep on truckin', saying okay, this is the year the rebuild really begins, until the heat death of the universe finally puts us out of our misery.
Copper & Blue Reverse Three Stars, as determined by a guy who watched the game knowing he'd have to write this post but truly, honestly, and with every fibre in his body could not possibly have cared less about it:
18th Star: You, for caring enough to read all this. We're well over a thousand words and I haven't said one constructive phoneme. The Oilers are so bad that I'm hoping that you had enough hope left to click the "X" on my negative ranting instead of stumbling through my maze of verbiage vainly seeking some emotional catharsis.
19th Star: Me, for caring enough to write all this. Even as I swear that I won't spend a penny that might find its way into Katz's pocket until he decides to start running a hockey team instead of a scheme for stealing money from the taxpayer, I still watch games and at least pretend to myself that I'm going to write about them. When the Oilers beat the Canucks those two meaningless times in a row, I was the first one up high-fiving guys (and not just because I live in Vancouver). Mine is a sad, miserable sort of fandom. The hockey equivalent of going to the doctor with two black eyes and saying I walked into a door again.
20th Star: the Edmonton Oilers, for their almost overt contempt for their fans. Going on about how this is the first year of the rebuild even though we have been rebuilding since before I could legally drink? Going on about change and then firing the training staff while jeopardizing careers by refusing to upgrade your God-awful ice because that might distract from that new arena you want? Having the orchestrated group of sycophants we mockingly call the mainstream Edmonton sports media line up on bended knees in front of one of the NHL's worst goaltenders to proclaim him the team MVP, while ringing in an era of "Oil Change" by signing the same useless players to the same indefensible contracts while letting the same decent building blocks get away to the same smarter teams for no return?
It's not all good times for the Oilers (BUY A MINIPACK!). But, mere days before concluding yet another season in the worst spell any Alberta sports team has ever had, the Oilers brain trust was before the Edmonton city council asking for money for a rink. Having thoroughly proven they can't run a hockey team, they have the utter shamelessness to backhandedly threaten to move this bunch of useless players to some other city if we don't buy them a new House That Suck Built. What's the worst that could happen, all the Oilers' best and most likable players will wind up in another city? Wait, that already happened, and that city is "Los Angeles".
I hate this organization. Which is okay, because I'm confident this organization hates me. I don't buy tickets, I don't buy merchandise, I'm not even an Alberta tax payer. I am just some guy who desperately wants to see them win games. So, judging by their sense of priorities, I am the least important person on this planet.