To try and add to this would be the definition of overwriting, overthinking, overdoing the story, but that’s what we do around here.
Ever since the rumors started over the weekend that the Oilers brass has backed up an armored truck or six to the door of Ken Holland, and then it came to fruition, I’ve hardly been able to contain my glee. The Oilers evolution has moved from simply trying to cash in on the names of the past from their own organization to cashing in on the names of the past from other organizations. Resumes don’t matter as much as name recognition, and as long as the accomplishments on said resumes are at least 10 years in the past. It’s just so perfect. “Well, we tried hiring our famous alumni, so let’s try hiring someone else’s! That’s the ticket”
To be fair to Ken Holland and what awaits him, there is just about nothing anyone could do here. They have something like $13M in cap space, and need like, six wingers and three d-men. And a goalie. And that number could go down if they re-sign Jesse Puljujarvi, which they kind of need to because they can get him cheap. But things may already be broken between him and the team.
So essentially what the Oilers need, or needed now, is a GM who can be creative and unearth some real gems for real cheap. See things that others wouldn’t. They need this to extricate themselves from the mess their last GM put them in. Which is exactly the kind of mess Ken Holland created in the place the Wings brought in Steve Yzerman to Jazzy Jeff him out of.
Contracts to Andrej Sekera and Milan Lucic don’t look all that different than the ones given to Trevor Daley or Frans Nielsen. Again, to be fair to Holland, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Anathasiou, and Filip Hronek were found with mid-first round or later-round picks, and that’s going to be vital for the Oilers. If he can do that again, maybe two years down the road things will start to be ok.
But you wouldn’t bet on that, because Holland didn’t pick enough of them (until maybe recently) to keep the Wings from being also-rans for the last five years. It’s just so Oilers. A team that thinks its name still carries the most weight in the league and anyone associated with it receives gloss from that simply by being around goes for the only name outside the organization they recognize. Holland was never able to produce another batch of players after his first one, which he may have just stumbled upon anyway. That’s a common affliction in hockey circles, of course. We’re seeing it here with the Hawks, whose current regime was handed the core that produced three Cups and has struggled to feed the the production line behind it. Same for the Kings. The Penguins had to find a new GM to create a second reign.
The Oilers await their first wave, though. What they needed was an outside-the-box thinker, not someone who says, “Thomas Vanek could help.” Someone who can find a way to get out from under a bad contract or two and fleece another GM for a piece or two. Find another Mathieu Perreault or Nino Neiderreiter, a player who is highly effective, not expensive, and probably not rated by their team. What was the last trade Holland won? What was the last signing that portended to any kind of vision?
But vision isn’t what the Oilers do. Seeking headlines is, as well as perhaps satiating their ravenous press corps. Holland is a name everyone knows, he won a Cup or two once upon a time, and that’s all the research the Oilers did. “This will buy us some time,” had to be the overriding thinking.
It’s hard to think of another player the level of Connor McDavid who’s going to see his career chucked down the incinerator by his organization’s incompetence. There was the first batch of LeBron’s, but he was wise enough to fuck off before his prime went away. Mike Trout comes to mind, as the Angels scramble for shore or dock dragging around Albert Pujols and previous mistakes. That’s probably as close as you get, and they’ve each only seen the playoffs once.
At least Trout has the Southern California sunshine to bask in, and the thought that his team is actually trying. How McJesus would love anything on par with Shohei Ohtani. McDavid just as early sunsets and a biting wind, the emptiness between the ears of his bosses.
It would be sad if it weren’t so funny.