If you’ve been watching hockey the last few seasons, you know that the Edmonton Oilers have been an awful hockey club. Since losing the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Oilers have failed to reach the playoffs. They’ve even won the draft lottery a few times and have been able to load up on young talent such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall. Even with the ability to draft young talent, the Oilers still haven’t been able to put together a respectable team. During this past offseason, they have hired a new coach in Dallas Eakins and brought in Craig MacTavish to be the new general manager.
Despite the changes, the Oilers are still the same old club.
After 38 games played this season, Edmonton has amassed a 11-24-3 record (25 points), which is good for 29th in the entire league. The only team sparing the Oil from the embarrassment of being the worst team in the NHL are the Buffalo Sabres. After a 6-0 shellacking at home by the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night, the patience of the fan base finally reached the breaking point. A long-time Oilers fan took off his jersey and threw it on the ice, voicing his disgust over the way his team has been playing over the last few years.
During a press conference on Monday, Oilers coach Dallas Eakins voiced his displeasure over the actions the fan took.
I understand the booing, it comes when you’re not playing well and not producing the results. Obviously there’s been some losing going on for quite some time in the past. I firmly respect that. But in regards to the guy or girl throwing a sweater on the ice, that’s about as bad as it gets for me. I have great sympathy, I understand, I respect our fans, but that’s a bunch of bull crap to me. Whoever threw that jersey on the ice, they’re out. They’ve given up. They’re a quitter. We don’t want that here.
This was absolutely the wrong way to go about this. It was good that Eakins can understand where the fan is coming from and that this franchise has been horrible the last few seasons. You cannot hold that against Eakins. This is his first year here and shouldn’t be held responsible for what previous coaches and general managers have done.
Having said that, he hasn’t done anything to make this team better. They are still in the basement of the league. The Oilers are 21st in the league this year in goals for and dead last in goals against. In their last six games, they have only scored six goals and have been shut out three times. Not surprisingly, they haven’t registered a point in the standings during that stretch.
To lash out against a fan is petty. They are entitled to react and do whatever it is they want, just as long as it’s not racist, sexist, etc. If they want to throw jerseys on the ice and walk into Rexall Place with paper bags over their face, they have every right to. If you want that sort of thing to stop, then win. It’s very simple. Give the fans and the community something to be proud of. During the rough patch you should do everything you can to ensure the fans are in your corner. This was not the way to do that.
If Coach Eakins wants to start earning the respect of the fans, then he should stand in front of a scrum and apologize for his words. It'll get him a lot further with the fans if he did so.