It has become patently obvious the Edmonton Oilers have gone into full “tank” mode in order to get another 1st overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft.
They are not icing the best lineup they can and GM Criag (it’s not my fault) MacTavish has passed on some waiver wire pickups and trades (see Jeremy Morin to Columbus for a spare D) that would have incrementally improved the team without giving up anything of value to do so.
I’m not going to re-tell the whole sorry tale of the bungled start to the season, nor what led the team to raise the white flag in November, but what we need to think about is the Edmonton Oiler’s responsibility to its customers and, even more importantly, to the league to ice a competitive team and to try to win every game.`
I see things posted on fan forums like “It’s Katz’s team and he doesn’t owe anybody anything”. Well that is just bullshit. Fans are customers and any business that deliberately refuses to ensure the product it’s selling is of the quality claimed at best deserves to lose its customers and at worst is coming very close to becoming criminal.
Blogging icon Tom Benjamin dropped by Lowetide this morning and framed the issue this way:
It isn’t just Oiler fans. You have to not care about the league, the fans of the league or the integrity of the game. There is an obligation to put on a show, to compete, to try. Call it the ethic of sport. Fans in other cities are happy to take the wins, but they are not happy paying to see the Washington Generals and they will be very unhappy to see the Oilers get yet another elite talent as a reward for deliberately punting away yet another season. It’s bullshit.
“Time to take a knee” says Pierre LeBrun. The Oilers should tank, should quit trying to win. It is sensible to do that to get another elite player. I’ve watched the Kevin Lowe clown show for long enough that I can believe it is mostly incompetence, but I don’t think that’s the general perception. The tank is on and everyone knows the tank is on. The Oilers are not trying to get better. They are trying to finish last.
What does that say about the Oilers? What does it say about the league?
It’s time to include all 30 teams in a true draft lottery one where everybody has exactly the same chance to draft the best players.
Not a word out of place there but it raises the question if the league will step in and do anything about it?
There is some precedent here.
Gary Bettman did make a move on teams that were violating the spirit of the collective bargaining agreement by signing players to back diving long term contracts although they were not specifically prohibited in the CBA and, in some cases, penalized teams retroactively for doing so.
To my eye, those contracts were far less a black stain on the league than any team that doesn’t do its best to compete every night and should warrant far more severe sanctions that were imposed at that time.
I’m not sure what the appetite is in the NHL head office to step in here or what remedies they might impose, but I’m sure the owners and General Managers of other teams can see what’s going on and I’d wager they’ll start making their displeasure known to Bettman.
This is no different in my opinion that players or teams deliberately losing to benefit bettors since the financial reward of selecting a generational talent like Connor McDavid would be massive in the years to come.
I believe it’s time for the NHL step in here and let the Oilers know, in no uncertain terms that they are NOT eligible to receive the #1 overall pick and instead will be picking 30th no matter how the rest of the season plays out.
The NHL did that before when they told the New Jersey Devils they were going to be penalized for the Ilya Kovalchuk contract (although it was amended when Kovalchuk returned to Russia) and I think it’s time to do it again.