Brave New World

I'm finding that it has become gauche to discuss the current Edmonton Oilers team in polite company. I was at the game last Friday against Dallas, and after the Stars scored the game-winner with 20 seconds left, the reaction in the building wasn't one of anger, or even frustration. It was more like a collective "Hmm, I guess that's how they're going to screw this one up." Very matter-of-fact. A few minutes later, a chant of "Tay-lor-Hall. Tay-lor-Hall" could be heard drifting up from the LRT station.

This town has pretty much lost interest in the present, and is already looking towards the future. And, just like the rest of Oil country, I find myself looking forward to the summer. But I'm not even talking about this summer. Truth is, I'm already expecting next season to be a wash, as the Oilers start their rebuild. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure next year will be a lot more fun for the fans, as we watch Eberle and Hall. I'm pretty sure it will be more fun for Sam Gagner too, as he quietly snickers to himself every time he passes one of the rookies getting yelled at in Pat Quinn's office for their inevitable mistakes. But on-ice success? It seems unlikely to me.

So what then will the summer of 2011 hold for the Oilers? Let me take an early crack at guessing. After a record fifth playoff miss, blamed largely on injuries to Khabiboulin and Jagr, the Oilers will kick off the summer on draft day by (shockingly!) keeping it in the family by drafting David Musil in the top 10. Pierre McGuire will not be impressed. July 1st, while droves of teens greedily clutch their well-worn iPads and stand in line for opening day of Transformers 3, the Oilers management team will look to their old friend free agency to fill out the roster. Unfortunately, after Joe Thorton re-upped with the Sharks, the pickings will be a bit slim. The Oilers will pitch Simon Gagne hard, but end up missing out. Instead, they will sign Michael Ryder to a reasonable contract, and spend a bit too much money/term on an injury-prone Tim Connolly. Tyler Dellow will not be impressed.

Georges Laraques, after having retired as a UFA partway through the previous season, is announced as the Oilers new strength and conditioning coach, finally severing all ties between the Oilers and the Moreau family. As training camp rolls around, the media will be openly questioning what will happen to Pat Quinn if the Oilers don't get off to a good start. The Edmonton Sun will run an article, opposite a Terry Jones hit piece on Rexal-brand shaving gel, asking whether a Renney-coached team would mean an end to Horcoff's captaincy, and whether Jordan Eberle is ready to take on that role. Team Blue will win the Joey Moss.

Around the Oilogosphere, Pat McLean will very publicly break things off with Zoe Saldana and triumphantly return to blogging, Lowetide will finally be revealed as actually being a hockey-blogging computer built at MIT in the 70s, and Jason Gregor will draw the ire of just about everyone whith his article that seems to confuse OilersNation.com with an actual nation (based on conversations he's had with player agents and Stu MacGregor). SlowFreshOil will finally be sued by the band of the same name, but the suit will quickly be dropped after it is revealed that the authors have no money and in fact haven't updated the site in over 8 months.

So there you go. I figure that after all that craziness, and patience from the fans, the Oilers will start the 2011-2012 season as a hands-down consensus pick for 6th - 10th in the West. I can't wait.

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