I want to write something about the Hall deal but right now it would be 4,000 words about how stupid it was and everyone already knows.— Alan Hull (@alanhull) June 30, 2016
That was me sometime last night in the blur that was the hours after the Taylor Hall trade. I was struggling to find out how to articulate my thoughts and feelings on the Taylor Hall trade but was struggling to do it in a way that I felt would appropriately convey the sentiment I want it to.
As I was thinking about what to write, it occurred to me just how many completely valid approaches there were to writing up the Hall trade. I could literally spend the next two weeks writing a different article about the trade every day and not run out of material. That's how crazy this was. So, I decided to have a look at some of my options and within 90 seconds I had myself quite a list.
The "Thank you Taylor" approach
Go get it @hallsy04.— Alan Hull (@alanhull) June 29, 2016
I could take the mature, grateful approach by writing an article summarizing what Taylor Hall has meant to Oiler fans and expressing my appreciation for all that he's done and how committed he was to staying in Edmonton until things got good. That's a story worth writing to be certain.
The "Indictment of me as a hockey player" approach
Maybe the right thing to do is to use Hall's words at his post-trade media availability and to correlate his anger and frustration to that of the fans. That could certainly work. I mean, Hall sounded incredibly earnest and heart-felt when he said he wanted to be part of the solution in Edmonton and that's something he deserves credit for. A lot of people would have wanted out a long time ago. Maybe that's the angle?
The "Angry fan" approach
Maybe I should go a different direction and just lose it and unleash all of my inner frustrations in a cathartic rant about the whole thing? I mean, it wouldn't be the first time I've done that and the situation is clearly deserving of someone calling out both the Oiler management team and the media who carry water for them by justifying the "this is what it costs to get a Dman" garbage narrative that is being placed out there to justify a truly terrible decision.
The "Analytics" approach
What if I use data? That might work! What if I use Domenic Galamini's HERO charts or link to Jonathan Willis' article at Sportsnet suggesting that Larsson might not even have been the best right-shot D on his own team? Or I could try to ease the concerns of frustrated Oiler fans by mentioning that some very smart people like Darcy McLeod think that while it was a bad trade, Larsson is better than most people think?
@cptman2152 Oh, I see the reasoning and I like Larsson a lot, but its a poor trade.— Woodguy (@Woodguy55) June 30, 2016
I could say how I absolutely think that Larsson is a pretty good player, which is true, but that that does not excuse the astronomical disparity in value between the two players.
The "Symbolism" approach
Now here's an idea...perhaps the right way to write an article about Hall is to identify him as a symbol of Oiler fans suffering over the last decade. After all, he was the first true piece of what was supposed to bring about better days, right? There's loads of potential in a story that correlates Oiler management letting Taylor Hall go for 50 cents on the dollar to their lack of caring about what the have forced their fan base to endure while continuing to rake in profit and government funding to build them a new building where they can make even more money by continuing to be stupid.
The "How are they STILL this stupid?" approach
Hey! That gives me another great idea. What if I decided to write about how teams around the league are finally accepting the fact that data can help build good teams and that skill and speed are the things that rule the day in today's NHL. I could go on to note that despite teams everywhere getting wise and starting to adapt, the Oilers...despite overwhelming evidence that nothing they have tried has worked for the last 10 years...continue to beat their heads against a wall as one of the few remaining truly stupid management teams in the league. I mean, with all the talk about being "heavy" despite the Oilers being in the top half of the league in size, and the dump and chase approach of the coaching staff that was masked in San Jose because of their incredible talent but is outdated by modern standards...there's a lot of fertile ground to mine here.
The "Male cow poop" approach
Hmmm...fertilizer...that's made from manure...BULLSHIT! Yeah there's a pretty strong smell coming off this entire situation. Lots of things to call bullshit on. For instance, I could possibly point out the absolute fallacy that this was the best deal available for a franchise player and how convenient it is that there is a ready made comeback of "Don't you think a GM knows more than a fan..." narrative to sweep away valid critiques of poor asset management decisions by people who are paid a lot of money to be better than this. I could even point out this tweet from Travis Yost and the corresponding reply from Ryan Rishaug:
Team executive just now: "They should've called us -- we easily put together a better package than Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall."— Travis Yost (@travisyost) June 29, 2016
Any GM suggesting they didn't know Hall was in play has been hiding under a rock since Christmas.— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) June 30, 2016
I could go into detail how I think both statements are true and how GMs all knew there was a possibility of Hall being dealt but they perhaps didn't know how imminent it was or what the cost range might be. The may have thought...for good reason...that nobody in their right mind is crazy enough to trade Taylor Hall for that little of a return.
The "Fire Chiarelli" approach
Here's a good one. I could write about how this transaction is worthy of Peter Chiarelli's immediate dismissal as General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers. I mean, would that be over-reacting? I don't think so. After all, I'm one of the few people who have said all along that while I was glad Chiarelli wasn't a "Boy on the Bus", I was still suspect of the fact that no proper hiring process was performed before he was hired. Darryl Katz, Kevin Lowe and Bob Nicholson saw a guy who "Has won a Stanley Cup" and threw a bunch of money at him hoping he could dig them out of the hell they've created. You know who else has a Stanley Cup? Randy Carlyle and Brian Burke. It only took two Hall of Fame Dmen for them to accomplish that, so they have to be smart, right? And as for Chiarelli...look what he did in Boston! He had Chara, Rask, Bergeron...I mean come on! What's that? Those guys were there before he was? And he backed into a win from the Kessel trade after Toronto was so bad that his bad bet paid off with Tyler Seguin? Oh. So maybe it's not far fetched that a guy who has done all of this wonderful work in less than 18 months on the job should be considered for dismissal:
So Chiarelli has traded away:— Auston Statthews (@statssundin) June 30, 2016
Pick #16 (Barzal)
And got back:
The "How to salvage the off-season" approach
Ok, let's take a step back for a second...things are starting to get pretty dark. What if we take the positive approach of trying to help find a way to navigate the Oilers through the rest of the off-season in a way that puts them in a position to content for a playoff berth next year? I could talk about going out and getting an offensive Dman to complement Larsson, shedding salary in the over-crowded, overpaid, under-skilled bottom six forwards, finding value signings like PA Parenteau, Zach Redmond and Jonathan Marchessault who can deliver balance at the bottom or the roster to try and compensate in at least some small way (though nowhere near enough) for the loss of a true offensive powerhouse like Taylor Hall. There's plenty of meat on that bone for an story like that, right? Or is it not worth the hot air because the Oilers are likely to just trade Nugent-Hopkins for Matt Dumba, re-sign Eric Gryba and call it a summer?
The "Milan Lucic" approach
Wait! I forgot one! The Oilers are supposed to sign Milan Lucic on Friday! I could totally write about how the loss of Hall is mitigated by the signing of Lucic! That's a little bit too light and fluffy for me...best leave that to the guys who carry water for the Oilers in order to maintain their access to the team. Maybe I could look a little more objectively and state that trading your best LW 2 days BEFORE you are supposed to sign another left wing is actually pretty stupid because you've now given all of the leverage in the negotiation to the player and his agent? I mean...they now KNOW you need them. They'd be foolish not to milk that situation for another $1 million per year or an extra year on the term. Lucic is a good player and I'm sure he'll improve the Oilers, particularly now that Hall is officially gone...but they haven't exactly put themselves in a position of strength.
The "Historical" approach
Oh, that "position of strength" concept gives me another one! How did the Oilers end up in such a position of weakness that they were "forced" to pay the ungodly price of their 2nd best player and one of the league's elite forwards for a maybe...someday...average-ish #2 Dman? What deal could have set them on this path? Oh right...in the summer of 2014, then GM - and through some act bizarre act of galactic stupidity STILL a member of the management team - Craig MacTavish made the not-so-brilliant decision to only offer Jeff Petry a 1 year deal even though he was the team's best defenceman and 1 year from unrestricted free agency. Instead he gave a raise to Justin Schultz, the under-performing former golden-boy who was supposed to be a core piece of the group that was to lead the Oilers back to glory. MacT then proceeded to not even attempt to sign Petry throughout the year despite multiple accounts confirming Petry's desire to sign a long-term extension. Instead they dealt him for 2 magic bean draft picks and bet on the guy many had already identified as deeply flawed. That sequence of moron-itude set the Oilers on a path to having zero effective right-shot defencemen in the organization and ultimately led us to the trade of Taylor Hall to fill the hole left by the departure of Jeff Petry, who is in many ways every bit as effective a player as Adam Larsson. Yeah I could go on about that for days ranting about how those dimwits shouldn't still be getting paid for helping the Oiler franchise cannibalize itself.
There are still more?
Yeah I still can't really decide what the right choice is...maybe it's one of these?
- I could say "I told ya so" to all the people who said I painted too negative a picture of the competence of Oiler management in the face of their actions last off-season.
- I could use the famour Michelangelo quote "The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark" and apply that to the Oilers in the sense that they have now prioritized just getting back to mediocrity as fast as possible over the ultimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup. And they are tossing years of Oilers fans' suffering down the drain to do it.
- I could use an emotional outcry to convey the sadness Oiler fans feel. I could talk about how my 6 year old son cried when I told him the Oilers traded Taylor Hall, and I could to people to search out the video (I don't feel comfortable posting it here without permission) that an Oiler fan posted of his son crying into his pillow upon the news that Hall was gone.