Archive for January, 2013


A Reason to Be Excited

A Reason to Be Excited

As an Oilers fan, by now you must know that cheering for this team requires you to ride through some bumps and this includes a lot of highs and lows. This is sometimes pure agony and sometimes pure ecstasy.

The last decade has seen a lot of this.

From the Cup finals to years of finishing just outside of playoff contention… then finishing dead last or next to dead last for a few years in a row…

What does this year hold in store?

The Oilers have traditionally been quick starters. Last year they were near the top of the division and league for a while before injuries struck.

Injuries can still happen even with a shortened season and the established quick pace.

But it’s hard not to believe – like Yakupov does – that there’s finally a reason to be excited.

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horcoff

With the Oilers’ announcement that the new assistant captains were Eberle, Hall and Schultz, there effectively was a “changing of the guard” happening.

For many years the Oilers have looked to Smyth, Horcoff and Hemsky to do the heavy lifting on this team. Smyth has gone and returned. Horcoff and Hemsky have been serving this team as veterans since the summer of 2006. Hemsky and Horcoff have both seen their fair share of injuries and together with Smyth they probably aren’t the same players they used to be. But nonetheless, they have been the “go to guys” on this team for many years.

But not for much longer.

Since the 2006-07 season the Oilers have been in transition to a younger, faster team. With this rebuilding phase comes its own aches and pains and besides the high draft picks that come with the process there is also a drawn-out growth process where team has to learn how to play team defense and learn how to win again.

It is because of that I don’t see this as a slight on Hemsky, Smyth or Whitney.

These wily veterans may have given up their letters, and – eventually – so will Horcoff and his “C.”

But that’s not today or any time this season.

Rather, it is a call to duty and a challenger presented to the next wave of Oilers. These are the guys who have been the wonder kids for a few years now and Ralph Krueger is saying to them, it’s time to stop talking about the potential of the future, but rather, time to start seeing some results. Schultz is a sign that the team will value a return to team defense. Hall and Eberle represent the two biggest contracts on this team starting next year and with the letter comes the responsibility of being the impact players on the team.

It’s not too soon to do this, as some might think.

It’s about time, I would say.

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P.S. It was hilarious to read some of the criticisms and comments of hockey fans from outside of Edmonton. Apparently some people didn’t realize the assistant captain’s “A” had gone to Nick Schultz and not Justin Schultz.

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