When Edmonton?

Okay, Connor McDavid, the alleged next link on Canada’s Golden Hockey Chain that stretches back to the days of Maurice Richard was injured for much of the season. He showed his promise by getting more than a point per game. That is the only positive.

But come on. Another Edmonton year. Another last place finish. Another chance at the number one pick. But what good are they if you still finish last all the time? Next year Edmonton gets a new arena. It would have been better if the team had got a new look. Even with the part season of Connor McDavid there has been no improvement. The once feared Edmonton team that all others hated to play has been the laughingstock of the NHL for several years now and there is no end in sight.

Change coaches, change general managers, change arenas and Edmonton still finishes last. This was the year that Canada could not get a single NHL franchise into the playoffs. Edmonton should have been a contender… not this year but long ago. Usually things go in cycles; start, climb, peak, decline, rebuild. But when you stay at the bottom for as long as Edmonton has (and certain other teams have in the NHL and also in the NFL, MLB, and the NBA) and you do not improve there is something seriously wrong with the very soul of the franchise.

Look at the names: Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov, all top picks and Hall (the best of the bunch, 17 points better than the next in the group, Eberle) is currently a prominent 23rd in the NHL scoring race. All this group was supposed to be in the top ten by now. Still worse, everyone in this list has a negative plus-minus statistic. Hey guys, remember, even your predecessors, Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, and Mark Messier could play defensively when they were required to. If they can get off their backsides and take the trouble to play it, so can you. Or if you cannot, it is time to be shipped out. McDavid, the new kid on the block is at least a clean 0. The rest of you have been around for a while. What are your excuses?

Either this group is incapable of learning to play defense or whoever is coaching and training this team is doing a poor job. But Edmonton has changed coaches and even the general manager more than once. The change-coach act is wearing thin. It is the players who are not responding to whoever coaches them. Or there is a bad source somewhere in the organization that is spiritually poisoning this team and stops them from giving out a top performance game in and game out.

Just as alarming is the health of McDavid, the proposed successor to Sidney Crosby. He was seriously injured early in the season and missed a significant number of games. He was also seriously injured last year during his last year of junior hockey. Is he Mr. Brittle? Is he going to be the limited superstar like Bobby Orr? If that is the case then Edmonton cannot rely on him and if the one player they are counting on to turn this franchise finally around is going to miss large chunks of the season each year, Edmonton might remain at the bottom of the heap for many more years to come. This was supposed to be the year when Edmonton would finally show the promise predicted for it and contend. Instead it will be another top pick… again. When Edmonton when?

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