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Perhaps, though, the Oilers aren’t dead and, as Mark Twain quipped long ago, reports of it are exaggerated. After all, the Oilers were Canada’s best chance to win the 2020 Stanley Cup based on regular-season stats. And the core is back next year.
Moving forward, the Oilers need to build on team strengths, like special teams. And they must prioritize defence and be resolute in keeping pucks out of their net. Regarding the draft and future trades, they don’t need scoring wingers (aka “main effects”). They need Selke-type players and tenacious two-way wingers, centres, and defensemen.
Speaking of, the Oilers should play young guns Evan Bouchard and Philip Broberg. Other than tradition and hockey lore, there’s no empirically based reason for “developing” them in other leagues — not when they’re top-15 first-round draft picks.
Alas, its easy to rationalize and intellectualize this year’s Oilers fate, but right now it just hurts — especially for players. I’ve rarely seen more dejected athletes than at last week’s post-game interview. So much was at stake for Oilers players, who were not only playing for fans, the host city, and each other, but also their beloved late teammate Colby Cave. I can hardly imagine their pain and disappointment.
It’s massive to say the least.
William Hanson, PhD, RPsych, is professor and director of training, clinical psychology, at Concordia University of Edmonton. He competed in three NCAA golf championships and has, since the mid-80s, obsessed about sports analytics. Follow him @HockeyProf2020 or email [email protected]