The Oilers were horrible in 09-10, equally wretched in 10-11, and are solidly poised for a 2n overall pick. Here's some quotes from their players:
@NHL_Oilers: "We should all be a little embarrassed. We can't just finish out the season and not play hard. We want to carry something over." - Whitney
@NHL_Oilers: "We have guys who care and want to be better, individually and as a team. We'll have a better effort tomorrow against Columbus." - Horcoff
@NHL_Oilers: "Frustration is going to happen when you're a 29th place team and don't feel like you should be. But we have to stick together." - Horcoff
@NHL_Oilers: "Everyone in this room knows we have to be better. This isn't the way we wanted to start off this homestand." - Taylor Hall
...sure sounds like they're thrown in the towel... Checked out mentally..
Tanking is losing on purpose, generally to nab a better draft pick. I'm not saying players don't check out mentally - it's hard to get geared up mentally for game 82 when both teams are out of the playoffs - but players definitely don't lose on purpose. That's just insanity. They have NOTHING to gain by throwing the game, and plenty to earn with a strong performance.
You have perfected the art of injury. Having been plagued throughout the year until late January, you have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
But, now that some of your best players are back, you're on a hot streak and "earned" the first pick in the draft.
Congratulations on Nail, you've earned it in a way that is completely counterintuitive and without reason.
Sloan Sports Analytics Conference
What team has ever been mathematically eliminated by January?
I would love to debate with you how logical it is that Edmonton continues to get rewarded with a shot at the best prospects despite being extremely unsuccessful the past few seasons. No one is suggesting that the players are trying to lose.....if there is an incentive for management to have their team lose then clearly that avenue has to be at least examined.
If for nothing else, this would at least add excitement to the end of the regular season for fans and teams with little else to care about.