One of the things that I find vaguely irritating about writing about the Oilers is the manner in which the fans dream up excuses for the mistakes of management. One prominent fan, for a time, would make excuses for the crappy return that Kevin Lowe got for Chris Pronger by theorizing that, when Pronger made his mid-season trade demand, Lowe gave Pronger a promise to deal him at the end of season if he’d be a good soldier until then. There was no evidence of this but it allowed him to excuse Lowe. There’s a commenter at this site and Lowetide’s who is tying himself into knots trying to dream up excuses for the Oilers’ policy that Souray won’t be placed on re-entry waivers until someone calls and promises to take him. No evidence, but it excuses Tambellini.
One of the other excuses for the lousy return for Chris Pronger has always been some variant of “Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry weren’t available.” Local media guys who claim not to nod in agreement and believe everything they’re told say it. It’s always seemed insane to me; Pronger was the best defenceman in the world, signed for four more years at a good price. One elite prospect is not too much to ask in those circumstances.
Now, Brian Burke’s in the midst of justifying his own questionable trade but this quote made my eyes bulge out of my head:
The first demand that Edmonton made was ‘Lupul has to be in the deal,’ ” Burke said. “I had a choice [between Lupul and Pronger] … so we made the decision to get rid of him. I tried to get him back when he was still in Philly. I believe in this player; I believe in this person.
I’d believe an explicit denial of this from Kevin Lowe before I’d believe Brian Burke swearing it’s true. Whatever Lowe’s failures might be, he’s a terrible liar and usually just ducks questions that would require an uncomfortably honest answer or locks himself into a fortress of solitude so as to let his rage at the performances of Comrie and Salo recede before talking to the media. I’ve never heard Lowe talk about it though.
Considering the extent to which this trade represented the wrong path taken, and the disastrous results that flowed from it, it would be interesting to hear Lowe’s side of things.