• Malaise

    by  • December 19, 2010 • Uncategorized • 31 Comments

    I have to admit, I’m not enamoured with the current edition of the Edmonton Oilers and what looks to be another season of going nowhere fast, no matter what Tom Renney says. It’s not just the eight points that they’re currently off the pace – it’s also that they’d have to vault seven teams in order to get there. There’s currently a three way tie for eighth place in the West – Phoenix has 37 points in 31 games, LA has 37 points in 30 games and Chicago has 37 points in 34 games. It took 95 points to make the playoffs last year and it could take more this year. Even if you assume that they need 66 points, that’s a 106 point pace the rest of the way. If you think that this looks like a team poised to rip off a 106 point pace for the rest of the season, please let me know in the comments and we will arrange for suitable stakes.

    By the way – the Oilers have played 19 of their 31 games against teams that aren’t currently in a playoff spot. 33 of their remaining 51 games are against teams that are currently on the right side of the cutline. The astute observer will note that that means they’ve played more than 50% of their games against the bad teams so far. Out of a potential 102 points remaining, they need 66 to get into a playoff spot. It’s over. Already. Regrettably, the best thing for the Oilers is undoubtedly that they spend the rest of the season getting slapped around. I was talking with a friend the other day about how I’m kind of worn down from following games that don’t matter. I enjoy watching hockey for the sake of watching hockey but there’s only so much entertainment you can take from another absurd Jason Strudwick own goal, your girlfriend’s amazement at the hairy guy or calculating how many penalties in a row they would need to kill to have the second worst penalty killing team in the NHL (34, last I checked). All that’s at stake this season is a high draft pick, something that will be endangered if the Oilers win too many games.

    One of the thing I like about following sports is the sense that the result of a single game matters in the arc of something larger. If it doesn’t, they’re al exhibition games. I came to the Oilers relatively late in life (1996-97) and was treated to season after season of absolutely critical games down the stretch for the first decade of my fandom. February, March and April meant scoreboard watching when the Oilers weren’t playing, desperately hoping for a positive result when they did and figuring out where they stood at the end of every night. With the exception of a brief flirtation with the edges of relevance in 2007-08, the Oilers haven’t given me that hit since they lost the game in Minnesota in 2006-07 to fall nine points out of a playoff spot and Ryan Smyth was traded. It feels like a lifetime ago.

    In three of the last four years, the stretch run has meant hoping that the Oilers lose games in order to improve their draft pick. Even in 2007-08, when they had the scent of the playoffs, they were never really in it – you sort of hoped against hope that they could somehow squeak over the finish line but, for me anyway, there was a persistent voice in my head telling me that it was an exceedingly unlikely thing to hope for. At least there was no draft pick that year, so there wasn’t really an incentive to actively root against them.

    The temptation of a high draft pick is a hell of a thing. Having a team that you support is a lot less fun when its in the best long term interests of that team to lose games. You can’t root for the team to lose without it having a sort of corrosive effect on your fandom – at least I can’t – but rooting for them to win is rooting for a continued lousy fan experience, watching a team composed of guys who simply aren’t good enough to do anything more than hope that the hockey gods favour you. It’s not healthy being a fan in this sort of a setup.

    One of the things that I really like about soccer, as it’s set up in Europe, is that, as far as I can tell, it’s never in your team’s interest to lose a game. With no draft, the only compensation that an incompetently run team gets the following season is an easier schedule in a lower division. One of the factors that the English Premier League takes into account in dividing up the TV money is where you finished in the table – the higher a team finishes, the more money it receives. If, like me, you’re a fan of a new Premier League team that everybody expects to be terrible, you still want them to win every game and avoid relegation. I watch every game that Blackpool plays hoping that they can pull out a point or three because that’s what the incentive structure rewards. A higher finish and longer stay in the Premier League means more money for the club, more money for the club means that it can strengthen its position, whether through investment in better players or better facilities, which means that their chances of finishing a little higher in the table the following year are improved and the chances of relegation diminished.

    Now, this isn’t to say that English soccer doesn’t have its own problems – the Premier League has only ever been won by four teams and one of those, Blackburn Rovers, won only once and even then only because an aging local steel baron plowed a large chunk of his personal fortune into winning the Premier League – it didn’t make financial sense. It may not be realistic for me to hope to see Blackpool win the Premier League in my lifetime, barring the complete destruction of the English economy or an aging local amusement park operator spending his accumulated earnings on bringing Lionel Messi to the seaside to finish off Charlie Adam’s passes. Even so, every time I watch a game, I know that the best thing is for Blackpool to win and can root for this outcome without having to consider whether they’ll be better off if they lose. They won’t be. Every game matters in the broader context and the good outcome on the day always serves their long term interests.

    This is, I think, a really good thing. In thinking about this, I started to think about the NHL draft a little bit. It strikes me that it might be a much more interesting league if, instead of the best draft pick going to the worst team in the league, it went to the best team that didn’t make the playoffs. Imagine a system where the team with the best record to miss the playoffs picked first, followed by the team with the next best record to miss the playoffs, the 30th place team picked 14th and then the playoff teams picked in the traditional manner. It strikes me that this might not be such a terrible thing, because the incentive to win would always be there. You might tweak it a bit – maybe an equally weighted lottery for draft position amongst the teams finishing 17th to 21st to ensure that there’s no perception that it’s better to miss the playoffs than to make the playoffs.

    In a system like this, every game would matter tremendously to every team in February, March and April. Teams like the Oilers would have an incentive to do what it takes to win, even if there wasn’t a playoff berth on the line. No longer would a team need to napalm itself in order to have an opportunity to become a real contender – the Oilers 15th place finish in 2002 would have netted them Rick Nash or Jay Bouwmeester and their 17th place finish in 2004 would have netted them Alexander Ovechkin. Kevin Lowe’s competent pre-lockout team building would have been rewarded with players who could vault the Oilers higher in the standings, rather than condemning them to a perpetual existence on the fringes of the playoffs until something finally went catastrophically wrong and destroyed the team as a competitive entity.

    In short, this system would reward teams and management that actually get things moving in the right direction, rather than reward those that are completely disastrous. The future stars of the NHL would end up on teams that were already moving in the right direction, rather than pissing away part of their careers as the property of management that had demonstrated no discernible ability to run a hockey team. There’s an argument, I think, from a league perspective, that this is a good thing. There’s a pretty lengthy list of stars drafted in the top three in the last decade who wasted a lot of time on teams going nowhere – the NHL should want its brightest prospects to go to teams where they have a shot at some quick prominence in the playoffs, rather than disappearing from the public eye for a few years while somebody tries to get some terrible team in order.

    There are other benefits as well. The problem of asking fans to fund five years while your team plans to suck would be avoided, as that would no longer be a viable strategy for long term success. Instead, every team would have an incentive to be as good as it could possibly make itself. If you took over a team that had finished 30th, you would know that future prosperity, in the form of an elite prospect, depended on your finding a way to get that team an additional 20 points in the standings and a star player in the draft. Bad managers couldn’t hide behind the “We’re running a five year plan here” to excuse terrible seasons – they could reasonably be expected to always be working to make their teams better.

    The short term incentives would therefore be more perfectly aligned with the long term goals: winning makes you better, whether through playoff money or a better draft pick. While I imagine that this idea seems somewhat insane, I’d argue that professional sports leagues have long demonstrated some willingness to make changes as they’ve realized how incentives affect behaviour, even if they’ve been slow to realize it. The idea that the worst team should be rewarded with a high draft pick has already been watered down in the NHL and the NBA after it became clear that teams would tank in order to get those picks. The NHL has altered its tiebreakers this year to reward teams that win in regulation, after realizing that many teams were playing for a three point in the game.

    A further change in the system, to ensure that it is always in a team’s best interests to win, shouldn’t be beyond the pale. While it’s arguable that a draft that rewarded the most incompetent team made sense at a time when teams owned a player’s rights for life and there was no way for a team to improve other than through shrewd trading, in leagues with liberalized free agency, building a team through the draft and free agency, that can put up 85-90 points shouldn’t be impossible. Once you’ve proven you can do that, then you should be rewarded.

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    31 Responses to Malaise

    1. Oiler_Mag
      December 19, 2010 at

      “Now, this isn’t to say that English soccer doesn’t have its own problems – the Premier League has only ever been won by four teams”
      The EPL yearns for a salary cap, to even the field a little. Otherwise, it’s the big 3 every year. Trust me, it gets dull. 50 thousand turn out at St James’ Park out of some ritual de lo habitual – with no expectation of winning the league. I know, I did it for years. And the day Man City ‘buy’ the title will be a sad, sad day.
      I like your draft ideas, although I prefer the one where all the teams have a shot at the first overal, but it’s weighted towards the bottom teams. Eg, the order is drawn from a pot of say 30 Edmonton balls but only 1 Chicargo ball. So the Oilers only had a 30/465 chance of the first overal for finishing last. While Toronto/Boston had a 29/465 chance etc…
      Statistically, the worse teams still get better but tanking isn’t the quick fix it is now.

    2. Vic Ferrari
      December 19, 2010 at

      Terrific post, Tyler, and malaise is the perfect word. I feel exactly the same, though I would not have been able to articulate it as well.

      “I came to the Oilers relatively late in life (1996-97) and was treated to season after season of absolutely critical games down the stretch for the first decade of my fandom. February, March and April meant scoreboard watching when the Oilers weren’t playing, desperately hoping for a positive result when they did and figuring out where they stood at the end of every night.”

      Yeah, in a way it was very cool to be an Oilers fan. Every game just mattered so much. And they were an easy team to cheer for, a lot of likeable players. They played good hockey too. I remember checking DET and COL fan messageboards in February one year. The fans were in full on ‘wake me up when the playoffs start’ mode. I thought they were really missing out.

      The Oilers messageboards, on the other hand, they would be on fire. Inevitably the Oil would go on a three game skid, provoking a younger and more impetuous Lain Babcock to throw his hands in the air and declare the playoffs an impossibility. That’s when you knew the Oilers preplayoff season had started. It was time to print off the schedule and stick it on the fridge, this to make sure you kept all game nights clear.

      Not to get too romantic about it. The powerplay suckage drove a lot of us to the point of rage at times. And when Detroit built a third line by buying Hull and Whitney to play alongside Datsyuk (when was that, ’02?) the whole thing did seem a bit unfair and hopeless.

      Still, beat the hell out of malaise.

      The Oilers never seem to lack off ice drama, and watching Lowe’s self destruction has had entertainment value at times, small compensation I know … Just imagine if he’d been successful with Vanek and Nylander. And if he hadn’t been narrowly outbid by Sutter for Olli Jokinen’s services. Theoretically you can’t finish worse than 30th in a 30 team league. THEORETICALLY. That’s what the philosophers and mathematicians tell us. But with the run that Lowe was on … that fucker just might have taken us through the looking glass.

    3. December 19, 2010 at

      Theoretically you can’t finish worse than 30th in a 30 team league. THEORETICALLY. That’s what the philosophers and mathematicians tell us.

      I love you, Vic.

      Great post, Tyler. I don’t think I’ve really cared since they traded Smyth. Sure, spurts of occasional hope and interest here and there, but throw in a bad team with a bad organization trying to squeeze the city for a sweetheart arena deal, and I’ve come to just see them as another business. And a bad one at that. I’m here now, I guess, but barely. It’s more about reading my friends’ writing and making jokes at this point.

    4. December 19, 2010 at

      “tanking isn’t the quick fix it is now”

      Teams like the Black Hawks, the current darling of sportswriters for all the storylines of “look how you can build a team through the draft!” would be surprised to find out it’s a quick fix.

      Between 2000-2001 they finished with an average of 82 points, out of the playoffs six times of nine seasons, and the other three years were last year (won), year before (3rd), and 01-02 (first round). If that’s quick, I’d hate to see slow.

      Before that, it was the Penguins as the darlings. They sucked from 01-02 until 05-06, but they sucked mightily, never finishing with more than 69 and twice finishing with fewer than 60. In 06-07 they had 105 points, their highest total in the span, but were eliminated in the first round.

      There were lots of other terrible teams in the last decade who have yet to turn things around, or at least to be as good as the Penguins have been. (From the looks of this year, the Hawks are unlikely to be a threat again any time soon.) The Islanders have had 12 1st-rounders since 2000. Columbus has had 11, only one outside the top 10 and four in the top 5. The Blues haven’t been as consistently bad, but they’ve still had a couple top-5 picks and a whole pile of top-20s – 6 more of those, and 13 first-rounders altogether. Of course, none fo those teams have done anything at all in the playoffs.

      So what’s more likely when you tank – Pittsburgh and Chicago, or Columbus and New York? You can argue Chicago’s cheapness and utter insanity in CBS/NY as mitigating factors, so we can go digging for more teams if you like, but I’d say myth – busted so far.

      Bad teams stay bad, or they progress all the way up to mediocre and maybe competent for a while, but there’s a lot more middlin’ teams like Atlanta or even San Jose than there are consistently good ones.

      I’d say all tanking gets you is a decade of crap followed by 3-4 years of good, to be followed up again with crap. Great way to ensure turnover in the ranks of the coaching staff and general managers in the NHL, but little else.

    5. Coach PB
      December 19, 2010 at

      I think the owner’s attempt at avoiding tank jobs was the attendance minimum qualifications for revenue sharing.

    6. bill needle
      December 19, 2010 at

      I heartily agree with this article, but if your rules were in place a decade ago, the Oilers would be the hockey equivalent of Southampton, which used to be one of the hearts of the Premier League. They built a new stadium to replace their old one, went into massive debt and have fallen to English football’s equivalent of the ECHL. Anyone any good they develop is snapped up for quick cash by the upper divisions, consigning the team’s fans to nostalgically look back upon the past.
      As much as I hardly sweat it out for the Oilers now, I can’t imagine caring an iota if they were battling the Florida Everblades or the Orlando Solar Bears.
      At best, the Oilers of the last decade would be one of soccer’s yo-yo teams, like Birmingham or Wolves or Zaragoza or FC Bochum, the ones that bounce back and forth from top division to second division and so on.
      Compared to what the Oilers have now, that might be an improvement, from a fan’s perspective.

    7. Vic Ferrari
      December 19, 2010 at

      Bill

      Southampton had good management and good fortune for a long while. And the Dell was a great place to watch a game, fantastic fan experience. The thing that killed them was the all-seater stadium rule. The Dell could hold maybe 20,000. And that was packed in on the terraces behind the goals, which is of course the best place from which to watch a soccer game.

      The all-seat rule, a reaction to Hillsboro to some extent, and a misguided effort to thwart hooliganism … that killed The Dell. A shame, because though it wasn’t ready for retirement by European standards (I’d say it was about one hundred years old, going by the groovy ironwork above the side stands) it still had a lot of years in it. But with terraces turned to seats, it wasn’t going to work. Just not enough capacity.

      Southampton FC tried to bully Southampton Council into subsidizing them, I think they had all but turned earth in Eastleigh at one point. But we’re talking ten million pounds or so, and it still didn’t fly, it’s not the the mad stuff that teams on this continent demand from government.

      Bill, I think you’ll find, generally speaking, that the more a society is concerned with it’s homeless and it’s working poor … the fewer shits they give about subsidizing a local sports team. That hurt Southampton FC.

    8. choppystride
      December 19, 2010 at

      If fans’ “malaise” is the thing to minimize and the excuse of the “5 Year Rebuild” is to be denied to management, perhaps one should do exactly the opposite as you suggested. That is, I would argue for policies be put in place to accelerate the rebuilding process for the bottom feeders. For instance, have the non-playoff teams go 3 rounds in the entry draft before letting the playoff teams have their dips. Moreover, perhaps give them an one day head start in signing the summer free agents.

      I’m not sure if the differences in the quality of management is really all that great. And much of the recruitment process is based on relationships anyway and that’s probably not gonna change much any time soon. So perhaps the best way to help the fans is to idiot-proof the team building process as much as possible.

    9. mclea
      December 19, 2010 at

      I definitely stole this idea from somebody, but who wouldn’t watch a tournament played at mid-season for the 1st round pick? Every team not in the playoffs is entered, and teams that just missed the playoffs get the higher seeds.

      It’s the best idea in sports that has never been implemented.

      And soccer is a terrible model. I think it’s depressing that people who follow the EPL have convinced themselves that finishing mid-table means something. That’s why 95% of people who follow the EPL in North America follow one of the big four (that, and champions league games). You’ll tire of following a team that has no chance of going anywhere, trust me. Everyone does.

    10. December 19, 2010 at

      I don’t agree with the proposed draft changes (my comments here: http://www.hockeyzen.com/2010/12/reversing-draft-lottery.html), but on the topic of malaise, well I think the games this year have been plenty exciting and we are within the realm of a longshot vegas bet to make the playoffs. I’ve certainly made longer odds before. So if the ultimate prize is the only thing that will soothe, most fans would have a lot of angst to deal with every year.

    11. December 19, 2010 at

      I really like this idea and suggested my own version of it a couple years back (weighted lottery with all teams out of the playoffs, favouring the teams who came closest). It really does make the fan experience better to consistently cheer for winning. The Oilers were pretty terrible in 2007-08, but it sure was fun to cheer like crazy when they went on that late-season luck-driven tear. If the same thing happens this year, it will almost be hard to get excited because it only hurts the future Oilers, which is the team that might actually win something.

    12. Saj
      December 20, 2010 at

      I like the idea! Good alignment of short-term and long-term incentives, and it’s also good not to reward incompetence.

    13. dawgbone
      December 20, 2010 at

      I kind of like the idea of the 17th OV team getting the #1 pick.

      At the very least you’d see a lot more turnover in NHL management, perhaps a few guys whose qualifications extended beyond being former NHL players.

    14. BRIdub
      December 20, 2010 at

      In general I like the idea, the deliberate tank job is ridiculous and bad for the league but I do have one reservation. Perrennial bottom feeders such as NYI, us and other black holes would have a hard time turning it around, even with competent management. It would be difficult to entice free agents so they would basically have to hope for a late 1st or 2nd round pick to become an impact player in order to get close to the playoffs. I don’t have a solution to this but just wanted to point out this one drawback as I see it.

      One other thing that may occur in a system as you describe is that I think we would see way more offer sheets. If I was the Islanders GM and knew my last place team was going to pick 15th overall I would be offer sheeting somebody for sure. That would add a little excitement, and might do something to replace the fun that trade speculation used to be.

    15. Tach
      December 20, 2010 at

      Interesting proposal on the draft. A few thoughts:

      -This could only be possible in a salary cap league. That should prevent the bottom feeders from getting shut out of the free agent market, allowing them to potentially get better through free agency in the off season

      -Holy trade deadline day. If we think the permutations and combinations for deadline deals is complicated now…imagine if you are in 28th, and looking to add a piece to get a better draft position.

      -What about if this applied only to the first round, and then the subsequent rounds reverted to 30th on down to decide the order. I think that would be a good middle ground.

      -If we think the standings are close now, with teams like Edmonton and NYI almost admittedly throwing in the towel on day one, how freaking close are the races going to get with everyone going for broke from day one?

    16. dawgbone
      December 20, 2010 at

      Tach, I think the trade deadline would be a lot quieter.

      Part of the reason it’s so busy is the 28th place team is trading something useful to the 10th place team for nothing that will help them out this year.

      The 28th place team has little interest in getting worse, so that might not happen.

    17. roddie
      December 20, 2010 at

      So this leads to a question (in my mind at least):

      If you’re playing in a game that would decide between an 8th place playoff finish or 17th in the league; what do you do?

      I don’t know that I have an answer for it, but I haven’t given it much thought.

    18. Ravnos
      December 20, 2010 at

      The EPL yearns for a salary cap, to even the field a little.

      On that note, how would a salary cap in the EPL work out for the league if the other big European leagues don’t follow suit? I know La Liga or the Bundesliga aren’t the money machines that the EPL is, but they do fairly well. If the EPL implemented a salary cap, how likely would it be that the top players would go play elsewhere instead? The three of the “big four” North American sports leagues with one get away with it because there aren’t many other options for star players, there is no other high level, big money league for a big name NFL quarterback to go to, the KHL isn’t nearly as flush with cash as the NHL, etc. I’d imagine the EPL’s salary cap would have to be fairly high to keep the nearby leagues from poaching stars, and if that’s the case, I’m not sure that would help the bubble teams all that much anyway. Just a thought.

    19. beingbobbyorr
      December 20, 2010 at

      choppystride says:
      . . . I would argue for policies be put in place to accelerate the rebuilding process for the bottom feeders

      I think there’s a lot to be said for teams being built over some time, and their (core) players having to struggle to learn to win together.

      I fear that teams that are assembled with “accelerated rebuilding processes” are not going to last long, nor — if they do win — will they be remembered with any particular fondness. And, as a result, the Stanley Cup loses more of its’ luster.

      A champion that is barely more than the sum of their parts? Hello, 2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes.

    20. December 20, 2010 at

      In the post-salary cap world and teams being on a virtually even playing field, I think an approach along the lines of what you propose makes sense, Tyler.

      Thanks for the insight as always.

    21. Julian
      December 21, 2010 at

      Sounds like a good idea to me. Yes the Oilers wouldn’t have Hall, but they would have OV. It’s a deal!

      I suppose you’d have to make sure the 17th place team didn’t also make the playoffs, as has probably happened multiple times and will again this year, with the 8th place EC team being more like 17th or 18th overall in the league.

    22. speeds
      December 21, 2010 at

      Out of curiousity, what does everyone think the fallout would be from simply scrapping the draft, and having all entering players UFA’s?

    23. dawgbone
      December 21, 2010 at

      Depends on how many 18 year olds you want playing in the NHL speeds.

      Personally, the fewer the better, but that’s just me.

      I think the fallout would be that teams overpay these young players and force them into the NHL at the expense of better players, essentially watering down the league.

      If you had to bid on these guys, you are basically increasing the number of ones that start in the NHL at 18 from an average of about 5 to probably 15 every year.

    24. December 21, 2010 at

      Great post. This is what we’ve done in my keeper league hockey pool. The higher you finish in the standings, the better your 1st round pick the next season. Keeps everyone interested as the season moves along, and the contenders separate themselves from the pretenders. Unfortunately, it makes far too much sense for the NHL to ever consider.

    25. PaperDesigner
      December 21, 2010 at

      I think it’s an interesting idea, but it’s not terribly economically feasible.

      This year’s Oilers team is certainly better than last year’s. They’re on pace for a 76 point season. Even if you factor in the tougher schedule, this team does seem to be improving, so a 70+ point season is certainly not out of the question, which is a massive step from where they were last year. And it is not over; the great thing about sports is that sometimes, unlikely things happen. That run at the end of 2008 was certainly unlikely, and especially in retrospect. If players like Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson can lead an offensive charge for a playoff spot, then as a fan, it’s still a possibility that higher quality players like Hall, Paajarvi and Eberle can do the same.

      Personally, though, I’m still hoping for a bottom three finish. Having two players in two draft years that are the consensus elite would be fantastic. But I really hope they get Larsson; I think a solution at center can emerge from within, either by the development of Gagner or moving one of their wingers to center (Eberle, perhaps?), but unless Marincin is the next Duncan Keith pick, I fail to see the piece they assemble a a championship calibre defense around.

    26. till_horcoff_is_coach
      December 21, 2010 at

      While intriguing, I think this system would favor the TO and NYR of the league. Overspend on FA’s and then either squeak into the playoffs or get a better draft from it.

      Despite the new-found wealth, it wasn’t long ago when the Oil was a have-not team. It was really disheartening to cheer for a team bound to lose its best players just as they reached prime. I agree the current system is broken. But I think this proposal would see wealthy teams more successful by merit of money instead of management.

      Mclea’s talk for a tournament seems like a great idea. Incentive to win for a better seed and some excitement that could start in say the third round and consist of several shortened series (leave luck in there for the bottom teams to still get something for a few bounces).

    27. Darren
      December 21, 2010 at

      “The EPL yearns for a salary cap, to even the field a little.”

      I would argue there is only a small % of people looking for the salary cap. I certianly do not want to see one.

    28. December 21, 2010 at

      While intriguing, I think this system would favor the TO and NYR of the league. Overspend on FA’s and then either squeak into the playoffs or get a better draft from it.

      I disagree – we’re still under a cap system, and that significantly mitigates their ability to outspend that way. Remember, their free agent signings have largely been built off of offering stupid contracts (from a team perspective) – if they’re throwing out big money contracts to free agents, just to end up with the #1 overall pick, how are they going to sign that #1 pick a couple years later? Poor management will still end up costing them in the end. In the meantime, at least they’re putting out a somewhat more interesting product while spending to the cap, unlike several of the current NHL bottom feeders. Being in a salary capped league, I think this is pretty much a non-issue, because most of the teams that don’t spend anywhere near to the cap have auxiliary reasons for such (we’re tanking this year, why spend money? we’re waiting for new ownership, why spend money? etc.) that don’t necessarily work when progress is rewarded.

    29. December 21, 2010 at

      By the way – the Oilers have played 19 of their 31 games against teams that aren’t currently in a playoff spot. 33 of their remaining 51 games are against teams that are currently on the right side of the cutline. The astute observer will note that that means they’ve played more than 50% of their games against the bad teams so far.

      But…but…but… the Oilers are into their easy part of the season, according to the Edmonton SUN. Look at all those home games (against top teams)!

    30. December 26, 2010 at

      Last season the malaise hit much harder for me. Each win was a loss and the games were terrible. This year, some teams out east are so bad I don’t automatically expect a top 5 pick, so it makes it a lot easier to be happy with a win – I root for it and it feels good again.

      Regarding the change in seeding, Tavares probably sold a lot of seats that should have remained vacant. I used to be a proponent of systems that evened out the advantages and “grew the game”. But now I wonder aloud now whether it would be better to mercy kill the crappily managed teams. Your proposed draft ordering would probably do a good job of exactly that.

      Toronto might never make the playoffs again!

    31. NewAlgier
      December 29, 2010 at

      The malaise started and ended with the horrid treatment of Ryan Smyth. What was it, $50k to close the gap? Shitty. And what tough minutes guy have the Oilers had since?

      Anyway, I like getting rid of the draft: in the cap era, it has no meaning. The disadvantage is that eliminating the draft would favor the stronger teams (Crosby would have signed with Detroit for the league minimum in a two year contract, if his agent had half a brain).

      The cap does two wonderful things: (1) increases the volatility of standings results, since the gap between the strong and super-strong is less, and (2) gives terrible managements no place to hide. Unfortunately, we’re seeing only the second half.

      Frankly, the astoundingly poor performance of the Oilers, year after year, seems to indicate that Katz got to where he did by good luck, and not by good business acumen. When I become a billionaire (sarcasm tag, okay?) I’m going to avoid buying sports teams and just roll in my Bugatti Veyron.

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