We are currently witnessing a time honored Oiler ritual of muddying the name of a player as he heads out the door. Ales Hemsky is getting the same treatment that players such as Paul Coffey, Jason Arnott, Ryan Smyth v.1 and HeWhoShallNotBeNamed got on their way out the door.The media members who get paid by the franchise get out the long knives to stab the player in the back. Then the usual suspects in the media jump on board to grease the rails on said players run out of town. The goal is to put the franchise in the best possible light and frame the player as a malcontent. Usually, the fanbase is on board. This has been well documented on this site and others, and not the subject of this post.
( I would however, like to give Mark Spector a special nod in this specific case. Mr. Spector, in this fans opinion is doing a terrible job in his role as a journalist. His opinion carries weight and is capable of forming and changing opinion, if for no other reason than he gets airtime. He is using his position to advance a narrative pushed by the Oilers rather than any attempt at intellectual honesty or fact finding. If he was doing this in a subject that actually mattered, rather than sports, i would call it reprehensible. I understand the reason for Dan Tensor or Bob Stauffer to follow the party line. I don't understand Spectors.)
According to Cap Geek, next year Ryan Whitney, Ladislav Smid and Nikolai Khabibulin are all UFA's in their last year of a contract. It has been demonstrated that this management group does not hold onto UFAs past the deadline. They traded Smitty, the mullet haired heart and soul of the franchise. They will not hold onto these three, if they can be moved at all.
In an attempt to predict the future, I will now give you the stories, narratives and angles that you will be hearing next year at this time.
"He just can't stay healthy"
"There is some talk that he isn't working as hard as he can to recover from injury"
"Whitney is looking for a long term contract. I don't think you want to tie up that much of a cap hit on a guy you can't trust to be there every night"
"He is a Boston guy and he would be happier out in the Eastern conference somewhere"
"The guy is 30 years old with a history of injury. Does he really fit into your long term plans for the rebuild?"
What absolutely will not be talked about is the Visnovsky trade. Lubo's contract is up the same day as Whitney's. Remember when that trade was made, the prevailing wisdom was that the Oilers were getting a younger player that fit with their plans.
"He just doesn't bring you any offense"
"Laddy has been in the league a long time and he hasn't developed into that top pairing guy the Oilers were hoping for"
"Smid was a high draft pick who never really lived up to his potential "
"Laddy has never really been comfortable with the press. He would be happier in a market where he wasn't in the spotlight all the time"
What absolutely will not be talked about is the Pronger trade. Laddy was the centerpiece of a "five asset deal". What won't be said is all the years of throwing this guy into the deep end before he was ready.
"A Stanley cup winner who is at the end of his effectiveness. He never really lived up to the contract the Oilers signed him to"
"With all the distractions and issues Nik had surrounding the Drunk Driving lawsuit, this maybe isn't the guy you want around your young core of players"
"At his age and with his injury history, he is not the long term answer in net for the Oilers"
There will be no mention of how terrible a free agent signing this was, or how just about every body not paid by the Oilers hated this signing from the day it got done.
This isn't news to anyone who has followed this team for a while. It's just sad and frustrating. Remember only a few years ago when Robert Nilsson, Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner were the new hope? Look what happened to them. Do you think this won't happen to Taylor Hall , RNH and Jordan Eberle? The fans are subsidizing this terrible, incompetent management by going to games and buying into their bullshit. Certain members of the media are doing their part to spout the party line.
If you want to do something about it, there are two ways. Number one, don't pay! Don't give a cent of your money to support this shitty management group. Number two, change the narrative. When talking hockey with your friends and family, ask them to consider if the management group for the worst team in the league over the last 6 years is really the authority you want to be listening to. Call Spec and Maddy on their bullshit. Don't accept the narrative.