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The Culture of Losing

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Old
04-11-2013, 03:57 PM
  #1
Kinibo
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The Culture of Losing

As we watch another Oilers season wind down, our playoff hopes continuing their slow but inexorable annual swirl around the bathtub drain, I pause to wonder what the future holds in store for our beloved Blue & Orange. It seems to be an annual rite of passage for Oiler fans. Like federal investigators sifting through the wreckage of a downed airliner, we examine the debris of a lost season looking for clues as to what went wrong. The problem for us, of course, is that it seems to be the same plane every year, and it seems to crash every time out.

We like to use the word “rebuild” a lot around here, and when we do we refer to it as something that began as recently as 2010. That’s defensible, since it aligns with when the team officially bottomed out (for the first time) and with the acquisition of Taylor Hall as the spoils of our 30th place finish. I would argue, however, that the rebuild truly began with the mass exodus of the ’06 squad out of the City of Champions. When key components like Mike Peca, Jaroslav Spacek and Sergei Samsonov, not to mention Chris Pronger himself, decide to leave a team that came within one period of hoisting the Stanley Cup, it’s probably fair to say your team has some retooling to do. And so that puts up squarely in Year 7 of the rebuild, if we accept the premise.

To be fair, there have been some positive signs this season. The kids seem to be well along the way to forming a strong nucleus. The defensive corps has had more ups this year than in the past. The special teams are strong, and our new number one goaltender has performed well enough to suggest the future may be bright between the pipes. Even the head coach, though seemingly in over his head during his rookie campaign, has shown signs of being the type of guy who will learn on the fly. Perhaps he’ll get better at managing the NHL game, although the jury is still definitely out at this point.

But despite these positives, Oiler fans have a right to be seriously concerned. Concerned because years 4, 5 and 6, of the rebuild have shown very little improvement, despite the fact we have acquired some of the best young talent in the world. Concerned because we are seven years without a playoff berth in a league where more than half the teams qualify for the postseason. Concerned because we seem to be locked into a level of futility that remains constant season after season after season. It seems not to matter who’s on the ice, who’s behind the bench, who’s in the dressing room, or who owns the team. The results never seem to change. Indeed, over the past 20 years our regular season record stands at 619-687-222, or 78 games under .500. That’s a .405 winning record. The occasional playoff appearance (albeit usually as the 8th seed by the skin of our teeth), and a Cinderella cup run that some would call more luck than destiny, only partially obscure the fact that for two decades running the Oilers have been a bad team.

We point to the causes as we understand them: lack of size in the lineup, poor trades and player drafting, ineffective coaching, incompetent management. But really, although these are all valid deficiencies, they are really just symptoms. The real problem can be summed up by something called the Culture of Losing. And it may handcuff us for years to come.

Losing tends to feed on itself, especially in hockey. The mental aspect of this game, the team dynamic, the reliance on six individuals as a moving unit to feed off of and complement each other at any given time, requires a mindset in order to breed success. When teams win often enough, for long enough, losing becomes unexpected. When they lose often enough, for long enough, it becomes familiar. And human nature always regresses to the familiar.

My view? Losing has become familiar to the Oilers, and it manifests itself in all the little telltale ways. Postgame interviews where players, and sometimes even coaches, will say they’re pleased with what they saw on the ice, with the “progress” being made even though they lost the game, point to a culture of losing. Extended stretches during games where the team looks confused or disinterested, like in the Anaheim game where they were outshot 25-9 though 1-1/2 periods, point to a culture of losing. Extended periods of failure following brief moments of success point to a culture of losing, as does a fan base imploring you to tank the last games of the season so you can acquire that coveted #1 draft pick. The list goes on. This is not to say the guys don’t want to win and that they’re not trying, because they do and they are. They just don’t know how. It just isn’t in the DNA of the organization, as of today.

These things can last decades, as fans of the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs will tell you. Because even as you purge the components that seem to contribute to failure, the replacement parts can only inherit the culture into which they’re injected. And that’s where I worry for the bright young stars on this team. How long can these kids suffer losing before they begin to accept it? Before it becomes familiar?

Assembling a successful sports franchise is not easy. Every part of the organization has to be strong and in place in order for success to be achieved. Of course, a healthy dose of luck never hurts either. But don’t expect to trade for success if the coaching is weak. Don’t expect to replace the coach and start winning if the management team is ineffective. And don’t expect management to function optimally without strong ownership.

Where the weak links reside on this team will continue to be debated, but two things are certain; you don’t fix a poisoned well no matter how many buckets of fresh water you pour into it, and the Oilers will not find success without finding a way to shed their culture of losing.


Last edited by Kinibo: 04-11-2013 at 04:25 PM.
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04-11-2013, 04:00 PM
  #2
Trafalgar Law
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Not going to lie, Ales Hemsky is almost certainly part of the problem. The guy puts less effort into practice than anyone else. He can still occasionally have a big game but sulks whenever things don't go his way. He also plays lazy every second game, and I'm starting to notice this rub off on guys like Eberle.

Hemsky, Smyth, Potter, Belanger, and Whitney need to be gone ASAP.

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04-11-2013, 04:07 PM
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i'm torn on hemsky, and not because he was ever my favorite player or anything, but because even though his effort can be pretty poor, he is still at least our 7th best forward, and we lack good players.


so if you can find me at least 3 better player to add to the roster, sure lets move him, but that doesn't seem likely, and i dont want to see more of smyth/brown/petrell/jones or similar FA acquisitions.

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04-11-2013, 04:16 PM
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I've never seen any evidence that any such thing as a losing culture exists.

Bad management? Yes.
Bad coaching? Sure.
Bad players? You bet.

But while it seems to make sense that there is such a mysterious thing as a losing culture, I don't think it's a real thing. There might be a player or two, but that's not a team culture, that's just being lazy.

There is one constant with this sad sack of a team - management. There is no way they should keep their jobs.

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04-11-2013, 04:19 PM
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Great first post. Many solid points. The only one I don't agree with is that this equates to year 7 of the rebuild.

I think it was after the Heatley Debacle that the team decided that they couldn't rebuild with free agency and patchwork.

That was summer of 2009, putting us approximately year 4 of rebuild.

If we aren't contending in the spring of 2015, I say fire everyone.

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04-11-2013, 04:28 PM
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This team loses because the idiots upstairs don't know how to build a balanced hockey team. Bad culture or not, we are simply not good enough yet. This roster has more holes to fill than a thai hooker.

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04-11-2013, 04:31 PM
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Last summer I suggested we get Michel Therrien as Coach.

The man who turned the culture around in Pittsburgh.

He has now turned the culture around in Montreal.

:/

I bet a coach like him could do the same here.

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04-11-2013, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magnoctophas View Post
Not going to lie, Ales Hemsky is almost certainly part of the problem. The guy puts less effort into practice than anyone else. He can still occasionally have a big game but sulks whenever things don't go his way. He also plays lazy every second game, and I'm starting to notice this rub off on guys like Eberle.

Hemsky, Smyth, Potter, Belanger, and Whitney need to be gone ASAP.
Still, as usual totally and utterly mind boggling that all those vets get mentioned and Horcoff does not. He's the captain, he has been the flag bearer of the years of losing on this team. His skills are easily replaced and his salary can be put to use far better and yet, no mention, free pass. Mind boggling. Add Horcoff to your list and I'm all for it and if it is a jolt to the team, the fans and everyone that he is punted, it's the type of jolt that is needed.

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04-11-2013, 04:44 PM
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You mention and then quickly dismiss the facts of this rebuild.

Our rebuild through the draft truely did not start untill 2010.

The main reason we finished last, last, and second last has to do with not being able to sign players and an insane (franchise record breaking) run of injuries.

You can blame Oilers management for the lack of signings, and/or the dirty freezing rough city of edmonton itself.

All things considered I am mostly satisfied with how the Oilers played this season.

I do think we need to get rid of:

Whitney
Hemsky
Horcoff
Belanger
Eager
Smyth

All of these guys have at far too many points this year been terrible or lackluster and in general are not producing what they should be for thier experience and pay grade.

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04-11-2013, 04:47 PM
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Trafalgar Law
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Originally Posted by Beerfish View Post
Still, as usual totally and utterly mind boggling that all those vets get mentioned and Horcoff does not. He's the captain, he has been the flag bearer of the years of losing on this team. His skills are easily replaced and his salary can be put to use far better and yet, no mention, free pass. Mind boggling. Add Horcoff to your list and I'm all for it and if it is a jolt to the team, the fans and everyone that he is punted, it's the type of jolt that is needed.
Horcoff is bloody terrible I agree. The only problem is that his millstone contract makes it very difficult to get anybody to take him. We only get two compliance buyouts and the one this year must be used on Smyth, who honestly will not retire when he still has over two million dollars to collect.

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04-11-2013, 04:53 PM
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I suppose that this falls under the category of "Culture of Losing." I was just doing some cleaning around the house and I had Prime Time Sports on in the background with McCown the Clown, Stephen Brunt and Doug MacLean and it was a full on Crowing Fest about the success of the Maple Leafs opposed to the Edmonton Oilers. McCown (who is a fool) went so far as to say that the young players on the Oilers aren't playing like stars. I guess that he hasn't looked at the NHL scoring leaders at all this year. 41 points for Taylor Hall - 11th in the league - 1 more point than their beloved Nazem Kadri.

I guess when your team continues to struggle individuals won't get the credit that they deserve. McCown and MacLean are goofs so I wasn't surprised by their comments but I was really disappointed in Stephen Brunt for not speaking up about about Hall's performance. He just sat there and nodded his head. MacLean also added "They need veteran help and badly but it's going to be tough," he shifted back to Toronto (for some inexplicable reason) "With all due respect to the people and city of Edmonton where would you rather play? Edmonton or Toronto?"

Big, FAT heads out east right now. I really hope that the Leafs get ousted in embarrassing fashion in the first round.

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04-11-2013, 05:12 PM
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bleed_oil
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Originally Posted by Moonlapse Vertigo View Post
I suppose that this falls under the category of "Culture of Losing." I was just doing some cleaning around the house and I had Prime Time Sports on in the background with McCown the Clown, Stephen Brunt and Doug MacLean and it was a full on Crowing Fest about the success of the Maple Leafs opposed to the Edmonton Oilers. McCown (who is a fool) went so far as to say that the young players on the Oilers aren't playing like stars. I guess that he hasn't looked at the NHL scoring leaders at all this year. 41 points for Taylor Hall - 11th in the league - 1 more point than their beloved Nazem Kadri.

I guess when your team continues to struggle individuals won't get the credit that they deserve. McCown and MacLean are goofs so I wasn't surprised by their comments but I was really disappointed in Stephen Brunt for not speaking up about about Hall's performance. He just sat there and nodded his head. MacLean also added "They need veteran help and badly but it's going to be tough," he shifted back to Toronto (for some inexplicable reason) "With all due respect to the people and city of Edmonton where would you rather play? Edmonton or Toronto?"

Big, FAT heads out east right now. I really hope that the Leafs get ousted in embarrassing fashion in the first round.
Actually dont think he is entirely incorrect with that.
Outside of Hall can you really defend the play of Eberle or Nug this year? What about PRV? Sure we all love talking about his progress, but the guys PPG is 0.31 this year. Schultz has been absolutely abysmal on D.
So really I could say I've been pleased with Hall (who couldn't be) and Yak, perhaps even Schultz. But the rest of them have most certainly under achieved.

As for there comments about free agents and Edmonton\Toronto. Thats a total falsehood. What free agents have signed in Toronto? No one I can think of in a very long time. Its not an organization with any history of recent success and the market is a nightmare for attention and pressure.

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04-11-2013, 05:17 PM
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Actually dont think he is entirely incorrect with that.
Outside of Hall can you really defend the play of Eberle or Nug this year? What about PRV? Sure we all love talking about his progress, but the guys PPG is 0.31 this year. Schultz has been absolutely abysmal on D.
So really I could say I've been pleased with Hall (who couldn't be) and Yak, perhaps even Schultz. But the rest of them have most certainly under achieved.

As for there comments about free agents and Edmonton\Toronto. Thats a total falsehood. What free agents have signed in Toronto? No one I can think of in a very long time. Its not an organization with any history of recent success and the market is a nightmare for attention and pressure.
I definitely agree about RNH and Eberle (that was lost in my rant) but I seriously doubt that McCown has even watched a game. If he had then he would know how Hall has played... even when the team is down 3-1, 4-0... whatever. Hall always brings it. McCown insinuated that all of the Oilers' young players have bombed. For all of the silly things that MacLean said he was bang on about the veterans. The Oilers aren't going to the next level without some quality veterans in their late 20's, early 30's. All of our veterans are flaky (Hemsky) injured (Whitney) or on their last legs (Smyth).

And you're obviously bang on about Toronto. Players don't voluntarily sign there. They couldn't even bring in significant free agents during Sundin's heyday when the team got good.

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04-11-2013, 05:58 PM
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1. Our vets need to gtfo so we can sign useful players
2. Management needs to gtfo
3. People need to stop going to games until management is gone

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04-11-2013, 06:03 PM
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molsonmuscle360
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Originally Posted by pSlayer View Post
1. Our vets need to gtfo so we can sign useful players
2. Management needs to gtfo
3. People need to stop going to games until management is gone
Yeah, those people that waited for years to get their season tickets should give them up. So that in a couple of years when the young players actually start going into their primes they will have to wait another 5 or 6 years to get season tickets again.

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04-11-2013, 06:22 PM
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Ottawa, Montreal and Columbus are on the phone for the OIlers

"Hello Oilers? What is this rebuild thing you are talking about? HAHAHAHAHAHA. You idiots HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. 5 year plan HAHAHAHA "
click.

Oiler fans are used to being irrelevant though. Since weight was traded in 2001 thats what we have been.

Eventually you have to understand this is a business run by losers who have a long history of being aweful at their jobs.
And yes this team is a joke. Its a walking universal punchline.
And you wear their colors out of some strange sense of loyalty and attachment like a bad marriage.

Not here to troll or to pick fights.
Im here to say that we, all Oiler fans, have to step back and see that the fans have been abused and taken advantage of. The symbol of the oilers has been used to violate all of you. You trusted and devoted yourself in this symbol but its not the same. This isnt a low budget team working their butts off every night like it did in Weights days. This isnt a hockey club. THis is a poster, this is a catchy advertisement to sell Billions in real-estate in an arena district for a man who will never lose a dime or pay rent.

You got taken to the cleaners. You might get scraps... I dont think a cup will come to edmonton in the next 20 years. highly unlikely. We all got conned. Katz is a serpent, rubbing his greedy hands together snickering and laughing... all the way to his favorite suite at GM place to watch his favorite team.


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04-11-2013, 06:34 PM
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oilinblood
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Originally Posted by pSlayer View Post
1. Our vets need to gtfo so we can sign useful players
2. Management needs to gtfo
3. People need to stop going to games until management is gone
none of those things will happen.

especially number 3. winter here lasts 9 months. and its a crap town. there is really nothing else to do.
buy a home in phoenix and leave before oil falls. when oil falls this place is a ghost town. more specifically when OUR oil falls... the "dirty" oil.

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04-11-2013, 06:40 PM
  #18
Booya42
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Hey you post like some other guy that spoke a lot about the new hockey system...heard of him?

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04-11-2013, 06:50 PM
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bleed_oil
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Originally Posted by Moonlapse Vertigo View Post
I definitely agree about RNH and Eberle (that was lost in my rant) but I seriously doubt that McCown has even watched a game. If he had then he would know how Hall has played... even when the team is down 3-1, 4-0... whatever. Hall always brings it. McCown insinuated that all of the Oilers' young players have bombed. For all of the silly things that MacLean said he was bang on about the veterans. The Oilers aren't going to the next level without some quality veterans in their late 20's, early 30's. All of our veterans are flaky (Hemsky) injured (Whitney) or on their last legs (Smyth).

And you're obviously bang on about Toronto. Players don't voluntarily sign there. They couldn't even bring in significant free agents during Sundin's heyday when the team got good.
Hall and Yak look like all world class players, Nuge we'll see. I am still unsure if he is a 1st or 2nd line center. Eberle also seems to be in a grey zone in terms of future potential.
As for Toronto, to be honest I am intrigued. Its a huge market with a massive hockey following waiting for a chance at the playoffs. A Montreal - Toronto playoff series could be one hell of a spectacle.

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