Permanent Revolution: Oilers Trade Smid for Magic Beans

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

In a time of great change in the National Hockey League, at least we have the Edmonton Oilers to show us that their incompetence is eternal.

The Edmonton Oilers traded Ladislav Smid and Olivier Roy to the Eternal Enemy for Laurent Brossoit and Roman Horak.

Brossoit is a mediocre-ass goalie from the Dub, and as a former Edmonton Oil King was always going to be outrageously overpaid for by Kevin Lowe at some point. Roman Horak is a six-foot-nothing centre who can't score much professionally and was a bit player on the Czech world junior teams in the era when they couldn't win shit. Ladislav Smid is one of the two Oilers defensemen who could play a bit of defense, obviating what tradition compels me to call our depth at that position. But we needed to clear his salary to sign Ilya Bryzgalov, apparently; Alan has already dealt with this aspect, finishing his article before mine because I am still trying to find something original to say about a trade we've seen so many times before.

That concludes the intelligent analysis portion of today's program.

You see, Smid is a good player but a replaceable one. I think fans outside Edmonton tend to underrate him because he has never played for a decent NHL team and doesn't post the counting numbers; he is the only blueliner on the Oilers who hasn't made me go "oh goddammit what the hell is he doing on the ice?" since we moved Lubomir Visnovsky. But we are talking about a reliable own-zone player making $3.5 mil, and there are a few of those in the league. The Oilers could find another one, or at least that's what I would say if they hadn't consistently demonstrated their inability to do so. The upshot is: the problem with trading Ladislav Smid is not, inherently, the idea of trading Ladislav Smid.

The problem is... oh what the fuck's the point?! You know what the problem is! The problem is that the Oilers have once again traded an established NHL player for once again guys who, if we're very lucky, will become nearly as good as Smid, once again sacrificing play at a position where they absolutely cannot afford to sacrifice it, all once again out of the hope that something good will somehow come of trading decent players for inferior ones. We have finally reached the point which people like me have been warning of for seven years,  where the young players that we acquired because we had to trade our veterans have become veterans we have to trade to acquire young players. Smid was one of the never-to-be-sufficiently-damned Five Assets we got for Chris Pronger, and now he's been flipped for a mad stab at the future, making Horak and Brossoit our first but certainly not our last second-generation rebuilding blocks. Somewhere Leon Trotsky is an Oilers fan, because who better demonstrates his philosophy of the permanent revolution?

Since Smid arrived in Edmonton he has not seen a single playoff game through absolutely no fault of his own. It was his curse that he arrived on a team addicted to the idea of always getting younger, even to preposterous extremes, with the only exceptions being when they overpaid for nearly valueless veterans like Ilya Bryzgalov and tried with decreasing credibility to convince us that this time we were totally going to make the playoffs.

This is more of the same old Oilers, yet another trade that amounts to saying "don't worry, slugger, we'll get 'em next time", and as somebody who wanted Steve Tambellini drawn and quartered for years, seeing Craig MacTavish pulling the same tricks has convinced the small part of my brain that still knew about hope that this entire coprophagic organization needs to be napalmed until nothing remains but the cinders and a small patch of horrible hair that used to be Daryl Katz.

My god, how does anyone even pretend to believe in this? How is there any possible chance this team will ever round into something with management going around like this, leaping at anything shiny and new, jumping at shadows, and making excuses every single time to trade good players for bad? If there was a single solitary exception to this seven-year reign of failure in detail I might be able to grasp at straws, but there isn't.

The idea that you need good hockey players to win hockey games is self-evident to anyone who isn't an Oiler or part of their sycophantic support circle that even now clamours for the team to move Ales Hemsky, the last man on this team who can tell us what winning feels like. The fact that we still care for a team led by crooks and windmill-tilting imbeciles of the first rank is a testament to the sheer, bloody-minded irrationality of man. If any of us had a hint of logic in our hockey-loving heads we'd have long ago found a more rewarding hobby, like heroin.

Even if Horak or Brossoit turn out to be good NHL players — and that is a staggering "if" when we're talking about a zero-dimensional centre and a young goalie who has proven nothing against anybody and had a career WHL save percentage lower than Devan Dubnyk's NHL save percentage — it won't take away what this trade means. Swapping talent for the hope of it, giving up on at least another season and possibly two (in November!) barring the sort of miraculous trade that the Oilers brainless trust has proven consistently unable to provide.

There is no reason to hope for anything, and I don't just mean in 2013-14. The general manager has changed but the philosophy has not, and that philosophy has been a proven loser for longer than this site has existed. The players we were once told are our hopeful future are now being moved out at firesale prices to chase the same dragon. Seventh verse, same as the first.

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