Put the Edmonton Oilers in the Bin

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Last week, while Western students soaked up the rays and sipped drinks in southern climes, much happened in the NHL. While goons like Ottawa’s Chris Neil and New Jersey’s Cam Janssen staked their own claims to some time in our infamous Sin Bin, the crown goes to the Edmonton Oilers franchise.

Oiler fans had bloated heads and blew plenty of hot air as their team was one game away from winning the Stanley Cup last spring. The departure of crucial blueliner Chris Pronger and the team’s vanilla play this season indicated the Oil likely weren’t as good as advertised, being merely a team that got hot at the right time.

Edmonton has struggled to keep its head above water in the Northwest Division all season. With Western Canadian powers Vancouver and Calgary pulling away and Edmonton’s playoff prospects looking weak, the team was active at the trade deadline.

To the horror of fans from Camrose to Jasper, Edmonton dealt beloved hometown hero Ryan Smyth to the New York Islanders last week. Smyth had been a cornerstone of the franchise for years; “Kid Canada” displayed all the qualities in a hockey player many Albertans find so endearing. In turn, Smyth was very attached to the Oilers " he was highly emotional upon the news of his trade " and moped his way over to Long Island.

Last Tuesday, the franchise held a ceremony to retire long-time captain Mark Messier’s jersey. It seemed clear Oiler fans’ minds were elsewhere, as were the team’s; the squad fell to Wayne Gretzky’s Phoenix Coyotes 3-0. After the Smyth deal, Edmonton was shut out by division rival Minnesota and lost to the hated Calgary Flames.

Not even a year removed from tremendous success, it seems this franchise can’t get anything right. Joffrey Lupul, newly acquired this year, is playing like he has a telephone pole up his ass. Defenceman Jason Smith’s influence is often nowhere to be found. Goalie Dwayne Roloson is playing exhausted, and the team is battling a barrage of injuries.

So stuff general manager Kevin Lowe, coach Craig MacTavish, the Oilers players and all the team’s faithful followers in the Bin and make sure there’s an ample supply of Kleenex to dry their tears.

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