WHY YOU SHOULD NO LONGER PICK ON THE EDMONTON OILERS | Oilersnetwork.com - Edmonton Oilers News and Rumours


Like the unsuspecting quiet, somewhat nerdy kid in the school yard, who, by the way, also happens to be a third-degree black belt, the Edmonton Oilers are no longer a team you pick a fight with. You're either bound to look like a schmuck who was ill-prepared for the task at hand, or you'll walk away with a few bruises to show for your trouble.

The Oilers aren't perfect. In fact, they may still not yet be a playoff team. But, no longer can you come into Edmonton and take a night off. In much the same way the nerdy kid surprises everyone and teaches the big bad bully a lesson, Chiarelli has decided, if you're going to come into Rogers Place, the Oilers new house of hockey; you might be surprised by how you'll be greeted.

As an opponent, you are either going to get schooled by skill in the form of Connor McDavid, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl or to a lesser extent Milan Lucic and Nail Yakupov; or you're going to get your ass handed to you by Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Matt Hendricks, Darnell Nurse or Mark Fraser. You might even get a little cheap-shot from a guy like Benoit Pouliot for good measure.

I say, it's about damn time.

I'm well aware that the Oilers may lose some hockey games. I'm not for a minute suggesting this team all of a sudden starts to win 45-50 games and easily makes the post-season. In fact, there are a lot of fans right now calling for Chiarelli's head after trading away Taylor Hall, which is a move that could come back to bite the Oilers and one I argued the other day shows Chiarelli is choosing better balance over pure talent. But, Chiarelli's vision for this team is a far different one than former management. No one can deny that.

The way this version of the Oilers is being built, no longer should opposing teams visit with a sense of ease. Done are the days of free passes. Done are the days of an automatic two points. Hopefully done are the days of teams playing their backups goalies and putting in anything less than their best efforts. If you're going to beat the Oilers, you're going to have to earn it. The Oilers are being built to stand toe-to-toe with any team, skilled or gritty. They'll lose along the way, but this change is a welcome change and one I believes leads to more wins and an improved sense of team culture.

For too long this Oilers team was built entirely on skill along side an attempt at a run-and-gun offense. The Hemsky, Gagner, Nilsson, and Cogliano era to the first round draft pick years of Eberle, Hall, Nuge and Yak are long gone. With McDavid and other clearly gifted and highly drafted talents, the Oilers still possess team skill, but also became a team not afraid to try and win in other ways. One would need to look no further than the recent Taylor Hall to find evidence this team is taking a different direction.

Those previous days were supposed to be defined by team toughness, but more often than not, included little to no push-back from the Oilers. Sure, every once and while Edmonton could beat you 7-1 or 8-3, but far more often were the losses and the allowances for comebacks from teams who could simply turn up the dial and the Oilers had no response. There was no willingness by Edmonton to play a little rough, nor get those skilled hands dirty.

In those days, the Oilers were supposed to be able to beat you with their powerplay. Take a penalty on the Oilers and they'll make you pay on the scoreboard. The only problem was, the Oilers were actually not very good at scoring, consistently being one of the lowest-scoring offensive teams in the NHL. Only during a small window, when Ralph Kreuger was coaching, did the Oilers have anything resembling an effective powerplay.

The idea of beating you on the scoreboard only works if you can actually score when given the opportunity. Chiarelli wants a team that if they can't score based on skill, could score in the dirty areas and if they can't do that, will simply attempt to beat you into submission.

It's a new look Oilers. It's a look I kind of like. But, I mean, who really cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until the next time I feel like spilling my guts.

Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.

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  1. I love that Edmonton now has someone willing to protect McDavid and someone who will be on the ice with him most shifts. Unlike a 4th line dedicated fighter who doesn't have an opportunity to defend the superstar, Lucic is on the ice at the same time which equals fewer liberties.