McDavid Years Are Not Imitating The Gretzky Years For The Edmonton Oilers

Danish hockey fans awaiting the World Championships in May, in Denmark are going to get an unexpected major, bonus, windfall for their tournament. They are going to get to see Canada’s best young player, Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, arguably one of the two best players in the world today, along with Sydney Crosby, captain the Canadian team. That ought to boost ticket sales. The World Championship tournament will be the only significant, pressure games that McDavid will play this year.

Unless a miracle of a long winning streak(s) occur, the 2017-18 season is over for the Edmonton Oilers. Currently they are behind the top eight teams in the NHL Western Conference by more than 10 points – and four other teams are poised to pull away to be just as far if not farther. It is probably too late for Edmonton to catch them. For the remainder of the year, the Oilers will occupy a space with the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks, who are supposed to be where they are, far away from the top twelve teams in the conference and comfortably above the horrible Arizona Coyotes. That was expected of Vancouver, not Edmonton. Their unexpected drop has been the reverse equivalent of the success of the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights. If one didn’t know any better, one would assume that the Knights were the established, rising power, while the Oilers were the new expansion team.

The fall of the Oilers is an unpredictable shock, and it has its Eastern Conference match in the Buffalo Sabres. Both teams were supposed to be building around two rising young stars, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel but instead of moving forward from the progress they have made, both teams have dramatically regressed and are now top contenders to land the supposed number one draft choice, Rasmus Dalhin of Sweden. But in McDavid’s case, he also carries two burdens; first being the projected successor to Sydney Crosby on Canada’s Golden Hockey Chain (the line of Canada’s top players, head and shoulders above everybody else, starting with Maurice Richard) which includes Wayne Gretzky; and second, being Gretzky’s heir in Edmonton. Gretzky himself is back with the Oilers and is acting as McDavid’s mentor.

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Much of the blame for the current unexpected result will fall on coach Todd McLellan who has an undistinguished record as a head coach at the NHL level. Unless that miraculous winning streak occurs, he is probably a goner at the end of this season. Dan Bylsma, ironically the fired coach of the Buffalo Sabres, whom impatient owner Terry Pegula abruptly dismissed, who once won the Stanley Cup with Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins, ought to be a leading candidate to replace him. But the real problem that General Manager Peter Chiarelli has to determine is if changing coaches is the only problem.

This situation is in direct contrast with the Gretzky years in Edmonton, which proceeded on schedule like an upward Bell Curve. Except for one hiccup, a shocking playoff loss to the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the 1982 playoffs (which included the legendary “Miracle on Manchester” game of Los Angeles Kings’ lore), it was onward and upward for Gretzky and the Oilers until he was shockingly traded in 1988. There were no regressions like McDavid is currently suffering.

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Gretzky had entered the NHL with the merger of the WHA league in 1980 and under the merger terms, the four new franchises, Edmonton, Quebec, Winnipeg, and Hartford were severely stripped of most of their players. The Oilers were allowed to retain Gretzky and because of him, they never missed the Stanley Cup playoffs. In the very early years, the Oilers status was that of a very bad playoff team that always lost in the first round, but during their third year, the Oilers, heavy underdogs, upended the declining Montreal Canadiens of the legendary Guy Lafleur in the first playoff round and then seldom looked back.

The fall of the current Oilers could only be temporary. If the coach is the problem, an established winning coach like Bylsma could right the ship within one season and have the Oilers back to where they were projected to be as the coming powerhouse of the NHL. Every member of Canada’s Golden Hockey Chain won at least one Stanley Cup and the current disappointing season won’t dim those expectations in Edmonton. The real dilemma is finding out if there is more to the problem than the coach and that again sharply contrasts with the Gretzky years.

Perhaps the main contrast with the current McDavid years and the Gretzky years is that everything the Oilers touched with Gretzky turned to gold. Jari Kurri, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey, both goaltenders, Andy Moog and Grant Fuhr are only the up-front players. There was also Kevin Lowe, Esa Tikkanen, Charlie Huddy… the list goes on and on.

In contrast, since the departure of Chris Pronger, the Oilers have a horrible record of developing players and nobody can say why. The latest problem child is Anton Slepyshev whom Chiarelli says is available for the right price. Four times, the Oilers had the overall number one pick in the NHL draft; McDavid, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov. Only Nugent-Hopkins and McDavid remain. Hall was the best of the bunch after McDavid, and is now recovering his status in New Jersey. Yakupov plays a minor role in Colorado and Nugent-Hopkins has never lived up to his status as the over-all number one pick.

Then it gets worse. The departed Ales Hemsky, San Gagner, and Jordan Eberle were the best of a bunch of forgettables. Also during this period, the Oilers have changed coaches, general managers, uniform colors, and even arenas. There is no magic like there was during the Gretzky years. And that is Chiarelli’s main problem. Is getting rid of McLellan enough? Or is there some kind of developmental or even spiritual problem, hard to identify, that has been poisoning the Oilers for over a decade? If the problem is more than the coach, it is going to be very difficult to identify it and root it out. The Oilers have been trying to find it without success for over a decade. Last year, it seemed they had finally got over the hump and were on their way, but this year…

There is a writer for this blog, Sam Happi that specializes in articles about draft picks and the development of young prospects. He has got some potential surreal articles coming up. Imagine, Danish fans getting to see one of Canada’s all time greatest players, Connor McDavid playing in their World Championship tournament in May. Imagine, Rasmus Dalhin, the projected number one pick in this year’s draft in Dallas lining up next year as McDavid’s teammate. None of this would have been predicted at the start of this season. It would have been treated like a joke or a prophet who had lost his marbles.

It’s no laughing matter for Edmonton fans. Is this just one bad year that can be blamed on a coach or is it the continuation of a nightmare that has been going on for over ten years, that nobody has ever found out why it keeps occurring?

 

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The NHL’s Disappointing Teams Thus Far In ThE 2017/18 Season

After a quarter of the 2017 NHL season completed this post we’ll cover the NHL’s disappointing teams thus far. Although records and standings do not show everything this article is based on teams that went out and overpaid for players and still teams are struggling.                                                                                                                                                           1  Edmonton Despite having one of the highest paid players in Connor Mc David and Leon Draisaitl the Oilers haven’t improved that much from last year. At Christmas time the Oilers find themselves at the bottom of the Pacific division with a record of 11-14. The Oilers do have two quality goalies in Laurent Brossoit and Cam Talbot. If the Oilers are to make any kind of have any hope at all rotating the goalies may not be a bad idea.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Ottawa. Even though it’s still early the Senators have to be one of the leagues biggest disappointments so far. The Senators find themselves in 7th place in the Atlantic  Division. Considering they have one of the games best defenseman it was Ottawa who eliminated the Bruins last year in round one of the playoffs.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Chicago; This is a team loaded with talent and find themselves in 6th place in the Western Division. They have one of the games most explosive players in  Johnathan Toews. The Hawks have been getting solid contributions from 5’7” Alex Debrincat. Debrincat is one of the teams fastest and slickest puck handlers. Overall the Hawks rank 10th in the league in goals scored,5th in the league in goals against and a dismal 29th ranking on the power play.  Considering they’re one of the leagues richest teams at 1.5 billion they should be playing better than 6th place.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4. New York Rangers, This argument can go either way. Currently, the Rangers are in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division. Also, the Rangers have one of the top three goalies in the game in Henrik Lundqvist. Not to mention overpaying for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk this past summer. But so far Shattenkirk has lived up to his billing scoring 5 goals and 15 assists in 27 games. Another problem the Rangers had has  Lundqvist started fourteen straight games before coming down with an illness. Backup Ondrej Pavelec had the biggest game of his career making 41 saves in a recent 4-3 win. Despite being 4 points out of first look for the Rangers to play more consistent as the season goes on.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Even though the season is still young anything can happen. The teams who can stay healthy and enough depth will be the ones who go deep in the playoffs.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Gretzky’s Records Can Be Broken

The most significant individual milestone of the past NHL season was set by the already legendary Jaromir Jagr when he passed Mark Messier for second place in the all-time scoring race. Jagr, 45, hopes to play at least five more years until he is 50. He is already boasting that he has passed Gordie Howe for most points scored by a player between 40 and 50 years of age.

Great as Jagr’s achievements are, he is still nearly a staggering 1000 points behind Gretzky’s all time mark. To emphasize how great Gretzky was, Jagr has played over 200 more games than Gretzky to reach his current total. He must know he won’t catch Gretzky – at least in this current phase of his career. But are Gretzky’s records unbreakable? My forecast is that all of his records are on the table and within reach.

Jagr is one of the first athletes that we will see more often in the future, a player who begins his career in his late teens or early twenties and then retires at 50, not 35. Tomorrow’s men and women will be able to do more than their counterparts of today. They will live longer, including staying at a higher health quality for a longer time. Perhaps the average life span will be 100 years, not 80; retirement age will be 80, not 65, and it will be normal to retire from professional sports between 50 and 65.

Last year I wrote two articles on this blog about the chelation remedy, an “alternative medicine” which I took when I was diagnosed with coronary heart disease, with a large amount of heart plaque in an unknown location somewhere near my heart, 9 years ago. It cured me of an official “incurable disease” without an operation and proved that the corrupt “health care” industry – with too many people making money from suffering and death – was using the clinical trial system to conceal legitimate cures from the public; the chelation remedy for sure and possibly many others.

I went on to explain in many articles how coronary heart disease played a significant role in determining who became the Stanley Cup Champion. The eventual champion Pittsburgh Penguins were forced to play without Pascal Dupuis who retired because of recurring blood clots. More significantly, the Tampa Bay Lightning, whom the Penguins barely beat in 7 tough games, were forced to play without their best player, Steve Stamkos until the very last game because of the same problems. And tragically, Gordie Howe, who had been suffering from a series of strokes in recent years died during last year’s playoffs. If the chelation remedy had been recognized by the FDA and Health Canada instead of the deliberate attempts to conceal and discredit it, and if the NHL had been using it, none of the above events would have occurred.

But there is another way of looking at what the chelation remedy does. Not only is it a cure for coronary heart disease, it restores the entire circulatory system, from head to toe, to a healthier state. By clearing the plaque from the entire body, the circulatory system is restored to a state that a person had when he/she was much younger. Up to now, attempts to become younger have been external procedures; hair dye, face lifts, breast implants, skin treatments, etc.

The chelation remedy could be said to be the first treatment that restores internal parts of the body to a younger state. You do not have to be officially sick with coronary heart disease to take it. In fact, by taking it occasionally, maybe once every few years, a person can keep heart plaque throughout the entire body to a minimum. No more worrying about eating foods with high cholesterol. You just take the chelation remedy periodically and then eat what you want.

Remedies like chelation will undoubtedly prolong the careers of professional athletes. As more discoveries are made in biochemistry at the cell level, it may be possible to keep muscles and other tissues in top shape for far longer than it is possible now. Careers like Jagr’s which are now an exception will become the rule.

So stretching our imaginations who can beat Wayne Gretzky’s records?

1. Jaromir Jagr

He’s got a head start on everybody else but given the way the health care industry is discrediting and blocking legitimate cures, it is unlikely that anything startling that will prolong and improve the quality of life will appear in the next five years. Right now the best way to get better new health options on the market and to discredit the bad old ones is to try to expose the health care industry for what it is doing. And the public can also take matters into its own hands by trying to ignore the scare tactics that “established medicine” uses to keep patients in line – “We’re not responsible for what happens” – is typical – and try new techniques and remedies like chelation that get banished into the “alternative medicine” category by the FDA and Health Canada. A few years ago, it was reported that 37% of Canadians were willing to try “alternative medicine” and the percentage is increasing. Clearly the public is not happy with the treatments it is getting from “established medicine” and wants something better.

2. Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, and Connor McDavid

Crosby is the direct descendant on Canada’s Golden Hockey Chain that goes back to Maurice Richard. This is the Canadian who is the best player of his generation – Canadian, American, European – far above everybody else. Ovechkin is billed as Crosby’s rival and McDavid is considered to be his successor. If their careers last long enough, perhaps new medical discoveries will keep them playing into their 50s.

3. Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Mario Lemieux

Who knows? If these three can stay alive for a long time, perhaps new biochemistry discoveries can restore other parts of the body besides the chelation remedy. If Gretzky can hang in there and he can be restored, he may feel that his successors like Crosby and Jagr are getting too close for comfort and he’ll want to resume his career. Can Messier and Lemieux be far behind? And while dwelling on these possibilities, how about bringing back Bobby Hull, Bobby Orr, and Guy Lafleur too?

4. Gordie Howe and Maurice Richard

So far only one person in recorded history has managed to defy death both for himself and others. But in theory, if total healing and restoring is taken to its logical conclusion, resurrection is not a far-fetched possibility in this age of new discoveries. Right now it seems a laughable, mad concept but so did air travel and a coronary heart disease cure back in 1800, both of which are now reality. In television shows like “Fabric Of The Cosmos”, futuristic ideas like time travel, the nature of space, multiple universes where clones living the exact same lives as they are on Earth exist, are explored. Nobody knows what dark energy and dark matter is. And how do you explain phenomena like Joan of Arc and Abraham Lincoln’s “dream” where he saw himself lying in state in the White House about 1½ months before it happened? There are a lot of secrets yet to be discovered. Howe himself wanted to take a professional hockey shift when he was over 70. Bring him back and he will be gung-ho to resume his career.

So Gretzky’s records are not unbreakable. Most people think of some new phenomenon yet to be born who will be better than Gretzky who will do the trick. But with new medical discoveries, people of the present and the past, including Gretzky himself still have a chance. Only the concealed secrets and human corruption stand in the way.

 

Young Stars Are In The Right Cities

The NHL’s four newest young stars who have entered the league during the last two years, Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews, and Patrik Laine have all landed in the right cities. They all managed to be drafted by teams in cities where hockey is loved and they will be the focus of attention. Last year Edmonton made McDavid the number one pick while Buffalo followed up with Eichel. This year, Toronto chose Matthews first and Winnipeg selected Laine. All teams are happy with the result.

Indeed in Buffalo and Winnipeg, where the Sabres have to compete with the mediocre Bills of the NFL and the Jets are sports rivals with the also-ran Blue Bombers of the CFL, it can be said that Eichel and Laine are their cities current best professional sports athletes. McDavid shares the Edmonton market with the Eskimos of the CFL who won the Grey Cup one year ago and were contenders again last year. Matthews is coming into an environment where the Maple Leafs share the market with the contending Blue Jays of MLB and the equally contending Raptors of the NBA.

For Eichel, who hails from Massachusetts, Laine from Finland, and McDavid from Richmond Hill, just north of Toronto, there is no adjustment in these hockey loving centers. But there must be some adjustment for Matthews who was born in California and lived most of his life in Arizona where hockey is an also-ran sport to come into Toronto where attention on the star players of the Maple Leafs is a constant factor. All four will be involved in their new communities during the off season, whether they like it or not.

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All four have different pressures on them. Eichel may well become the best Buffalo Sabre ever, challenging Gilbert Perreault. It is his job to lead the Sabres back to respectability to become a regular playoff team again.

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Ultimate victory has eluded Buffalo since 1965 when Jack Kemp led the Bills to the AFL Championship. There was no Super Bowl in those days. Since then Buffalo has endured two losses by the Sabres in the Stanley Cup Final and four consecutive frustrating defeats in the Super Bowl by the Bills. Whoever gives Buffalo a championship in the modern sports era will be head and shoulders above the rest.

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Laine is already being compared to Winnipeg Jet Finnish legend Temmu Selanne. In its two incarnations in NHL, the Winnipeg Jets have never even made the Western Conference Final.

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If Laine can take them even that far he will be acclaimed the greatest NHL Jet ever ahead of Selanne and Dale Hawerchuk. (I’m not counting the WHA days of Bobby Hull, Anders Hedberg, and Ulf Nilsson.)

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Matthews can be almost be said to be a Maple Leaf Messiah. The Maple Leafs have not had a player of his stature since Matts Sundin. He comes to a team that is currently tied with the St. Louis Blues for the longest streak without winning the Stanley Cup, 50 years. The team has not even been to the Stanley Cup Final during this period.

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The Leafs have had to endure two long periods of bad management and ownership under Harold Ballard and the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund. Their fans are famished with waiting to have a contending team again, let alone a championship. Matthews is being asked to do what the best four Maple Leafs during these famine years, Sundin, Doug Gilmour, Darryl Sittler, and Bjore Salming could not do, take the Leafs all the way to the Stanley Cup. There are a lot of ghosts hanging over him.

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For Connor McDavid, there is a different kind of pressure. He is supposed to be Sidney Crosby’s heir, the best player in Canada who is head and shoulders above everybody else, Canadian and foreign, during his peak playing days. This list of players is almost continuous back to the days of Maurice Richard and everyone who is on it (Richard, Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Bobby Orr, Guy Lafleur, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Crosby) has won at least one Stanley Cup. And there is the additional ghost of Gretzky being the best Oiler ever.

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If McDavid wanted a challenge, he probably got the ultimate one. Right now he has to be not only the best current Oiler, but better than Eichel, Matthews, and Laine, and everyone else in the league except Crosby. Good luck kid, you’re going to need it.

While it is great for these young stars to be in true hockey environments, it is probably not what the NHL wanted. They can always sell hockey tickets in Toronto, Buffalo, Winnipeg, and Edmonton. Secretly the NHL would probably be happier if these young stars turned around attendance in Carolina, Arizona, Columbus, and Florida.

But they are where they are and as noted above, they all have sufficient pressure on them without having to sell tickets and save the existence of franchises. Hopefully they will thrive in real hockey environments. And it will be fascinating to watch how this four-way rivalry plays out in the future.

Laine Wins First Battle Against One Of His Two Rivals

It looks like in the immediate future years, Canadian fans are going to be looking forward to seeing a Toronto-Winnipeg match. The CBC will insist it should be its feature match on Hockey Night In Canada on Saturday from now on.

This is because the two top draft picks of this year, Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the number one pick, and Patrik Laine, the number two pick of the Winnipeg Jets have made such an impact in their initial games. Matthews scored four goals in his very first game against the Ottawa Senators, a new NHL record, and now Laine has answered him with a hat trick in their first head to head meeting.

The irony is that they play for Canadian teams yet Matthews is from the United States and Laine is from Finland. Such a Finnish-American rivalry is unprecedented in NHL history. But both should love playing in fanatical hockey loving cities like Toronto and Winnipeg where they will be the toast of the town and their skills appreciated.

About the only precedent for a personal international rivalry has been the Sidney Crosby-Alexander Ovechkin story but that has been fizzling out after so much initial promise. Ovechkin has lots of individual honors but nothing to show team-wise either in the NHL or in international competition. In contrast, Crosby has two Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals, and now a World Cup championship in which he was named most valuable player.

So a Laine-Matthews game promises to be an exciting event in the immediate future. For Jets fans, watching Laine must take them back to the days of Teemu Selanne, their only other NHL superstar besides Dale Hawerchuk. There will be comparisons between the careers of Laine and Selanne from now on. And for Toronto fans, their recent best player was American Phil Kessel. So both Canadian cities are used to seeing Americans and Finns lead the way.

But as well as Matthews, Laine will now test himself head to head against his other main rival, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby’s heir apparent on Canada’s Golden Hockey chain, that list of Canadian hockey players who are better than any other current hockey players in the world in their generation. This chain stretches from the 1940s and includes Maurice Richard, Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Bobby Orr, Guy Lafleur, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and the current star, Sidney Crosby. There has never been a player from outside Canada to claim the title “best player in the world” except maybe the brief period when Lemieux temporarily retired and Jaromir Jagr was in his prime and Nicklas Lidstrom led the Detroit Redwing defense.

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And Laine’s first match against McDavid will come in the outdoor showpiece, this Sunday’s Heritage Classic in Winnipeg when double the normal number of fans will get to see him. Three outstanding young players from three different countries playing in three different Canadian cities, vying at the same time for the title “best hockey player in the world”. That too is unprecedented in the NHL.

For Matthews, the only problem is that he plays in the Eastern Conference so he will only be playing against Laine and McDavid twice a year. But he will get to play against Crosby, Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Steve Stamkos more often in compensation.

So Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton hockey fans are going to be entertained royally for quite a few years. Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa are going to be envious. And will any other new young stars join the triumvirate?