I absolutely love hockey, I always have. I have been following the NHL for as long as I can remember, and as an Oiler fan, I am completely fed up with losing, and disgusted in the losing culture that surrounds that team, and some of the fan base. But, in all my time being an Oiler fan, and going through these miserable last few years. I don’t recall them really ever blatantly throwing the season to get their first overall pick. They just were… bad. Or, maybe it’s cause at the end of the line, there wasn’t a Crosby, a Toews, an Ovechkin or a Malkin; a generational player, or maybe it was because there was no worry about the Oilers as a business. Fans were going to keep coming no matter what. Not so much in Glendale, or Buffalo. Or, maybe they see that McDavid seems to be averaging five points a night in the OHL lately, or a Eichel who is far the best player in a league composed of men. Whatever the motive, the reward; the possibilities of landing either of these two young men is far outlands finishing the season with a little pride. So, starting goalies, out the door you go, you’re holding us in it too much. Top defenseman, centerman, go, go go!!! We can’t have you. So, the rest of the season lands on the shoulders of young kids who aren’t anywhere near ready, or older guys who probably are falling off the give a shit meter. So, these teams, and the NHL promote losing, help facilitate a losing culture, and then on the notice of 2015 training camp, players are expected to return hungry, motivated, disciplined and doing all they can to promote a culture of success, and winning. After the ownership basically just robbed them of any opportunity to do that just six months ago.
The NHL needs to change this. I can’t imagine it does any good for the players that are left on these teams that are picked over more than a hallmark after valentines. Especially the young guys that are on these teams, their limited NHL experience is that of a losing one, and where losing is totally fine, and completely acceptable., and just ask Sam Gagner… all of those sudden you’re half a decade into your career, and all you know how to do is lose and eventually you’re going to just become okay with that. Take a look at the successful teams in the NHL, they all have young players on the rosters that they’ve drafted, wherever, developed and have since insulated around great players. Detroit, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Rangers… You go through the standings of the league, and you can name two young impactful players on that team, but then you can find two older, more experienced impactful players that are insulating those guys. Probably almost every team except the Oilers, even the Coyotes and Sabres up until the last 12 weeks. Till they traded all of the decent, older players they could, and now the team is expected to fail miserably, all on the shoulders of these young players. Great way to develop your future. How about the older guys that have worked their bags off, dream of one day winning a Stanley cup and now they find themselves on a team that’s been set up to fail, and that will be a defining success. After seeing the Coyotes trade away most of their valuable roster assets, and the Sabres doing the same, hell the sabres traded both their starting goalies cause they were keeping them in games! Now, it will be a race to see who can free-fall further, and the media loves it. It’s become a competition, one where the lamest efforts will be rewarded. It’s sickening, and it’s unfortunate that this is the case. I can’t imagine this is a productive environment for the players on these rosters, or the people paying to be fans of these teams, or the kids in the area that are growing up watching, idolizing these teams. Intentionally failing does not get rewarded in any world outside of the NHL, at least that I know of anyways. But, these kids are being taught that maybe it’s ok. And losing is OK, but doing so intentionally is not OK. Players make the NHL because they worked harder than every one of their peers. Now, they’re being handcuffed by their bosses and isolated in an environment with virtually no chance of success. I truly believe there has to be a better way around this. I agree that the lowliest team should be in the running for the top draft picks at the conclusion of the season, but there has to be a better way to reward a team with McEichel then the team that tanked faster, and harder. I can’t in any way relate to Connor, or Jack… but if I were them, I don’t know that I would have any interested in going to play for Buffalo and, or Phoenix after this. The 20 guys on their roster were just handcuffed, and lost 17 of 20 games so they could get you. Awkward? Probably. Not to mention the losing culture you’re throwing these kids into.
So, with all of that, here is my proposal to get around this free for all.
28th Edmonton Oilers
29th Arizona Coyotes
30th Buffalo Sabres
- These three teams will enter a mini series that will take place following the conclusion of the NHL season.
- The highest seeded team will host the series.
- Each team will play each other once, both being H and A away once.
- The highest seeded team based on record, then head to head result, plus/minus will then be rewarded the #1 overall puck
- The second seeded team will then be rewarded the #2 overall pick
- The third seeded team will the be rewarded the #3 overall pick
- The rest of the teams outside of these three, will then resume with the regular NHL draft lottery, with the top available draft pick being #4 overall.
Day 1 – Edmonton (4) Vs Buffalo (3)
Day 2 – Arizona (1) @ Buffalo (3)
Day 3 – Edmonton (2) @ Arizona (0)
So, with this… The Edmonton Oilers are winners of the McEichel Cup, and will be rewarded the #1 overall pick. The Buffalo Sabres finish second, as the defeat the Coyotes so they receive the #2 overall pick, and the Coyotes will pick #3 overall. Carolina Hurricanes will lead the lottery percentages for 4th overall.
So with this… I wonder if the Coyotes are so quick to trade up some of their star players, or if the Sabres are so quick to put their starting goalies on the first plane out of town. If these two teams were so motivated to move these assets, then I bet it yields them a much higher return than a goalie that just has a pulse, or a few late round picks. Instead of these teams doing all that they can to subtly lose, and see that culture take over. They motivated to win. All of the guys probably want McDavid in their room next year, but probably not at the expense of their own season. So, let’s have a tournament, where the winners get McDavid and Eichel. Not the biggest losers. Someone has to finish 28th, 29th and 30th in the league. But, it shouldn’t be a formula 1 race to get there. It causes too much damage along the way. Aside from changing the notion of lose for big reward to win for reward, what’s wrong with a little added revenue from ticket sales, TV contracts, etc. You can’t tell me the media wouldn’t eat this up! Are you kidding… McEichel cup right before the playoffs, what a great way to kick off the post season, and you know what… adds a little consolation to the Shane Doans of the world after the miserable season he just stuck through. Sure, he might not be around to play much with McDavid, but you can say he had a big part in Connor being there, and that would be a good thing. Three days is all we need. Give everyone the Sunday off after the season ends, allows for travel for these three teams, and then on the Monday, McEichel Cup starts. It’s done Wednesday, playoffs fire up Thursday. As a fan, I would love to have this take up some of that filler time leading up to playoffs, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t it be exciting watching this. It would be the most meaningful hockey the Oilers have played in half a decade, and the most the Coyotes and Sabres have played in some time. I’m sure initially there would be some pushback from teams, that they’ve played 82 games, guys are hurt, etc, etc… Well, That’s great. This is part of your losing culture. They are 16 other teams that prepared to play another 28 games with whomever is healthy enough to tie their skates, all to accomplish a childhood dread. You can play two more games.
Right away, we’ve eliminated the losing cultures, the tanking, and the circus that has followed. Games are still fun for the guys on these teams, the end of the season is fun, there is something to look forward to at the end of the year. Not just wishing for that last regular season game to come quicker. Something to play for, I bet Brian Gionta and Shane Doan wouldn’t mind this. Alternatively, I bet the Sabres probably don’t have as many off-ice issues with guys. Maybe Zadorov shows up on time cause there is still some meaning left in the season. Still some winning and competing to be done.
I almost puked when I read a quote from Don Maloney last week that justified his team’s horrible season, and their transactions. “Least there is a big reward for us at the end of the year” It shouldn’t just be there. In life, you don’t make it anywhere if you aren’t willing to work hard. You don’t make it by throwing in the towel. The NHL and the draft should be no different.