Friday, June 8, 2018

Do players want out of Edmonton?

So while rummaging through Twitter yesterday, I saw a couple of tweets that caught my eyes. The first was a tweet from Bob Stauffer, who tweeted that while he doesn't think the Oilers would trade their 10th overall pick or chase after any significant UFA's, they would trade a player with term to get another player who provides a different skill-set. Immediately, Oil Country started the speculation wheel, with many coming to the conclusion that Oscar Klefbom was on his way out of town. Then I saw a few more tweets saying that the Oilers were adding Milan Lucic to a supposed deal to "sweeten the pot", as well as tweets saying that Lucic was open to a trade out of Edmonton. While I do agree that Lucic had a bad season last year, his career numbers, as well as how the overall 2017-2018 Oilers performed suggested to me that Lucic will rebound. However with everything that's happened, it does make me wonder. Do players want out of Edmonton? Well, here's my take.

Playing for a Canadian team in the NHL must be a pain in the butt. Along with higher tax rates in Canada, the media and fan attention the Canadian teams receive is through the roof, especially in markets where no other pro sports teams exist. Edmonton is no exception. Due to the lack of other pro-sports teams, coupled with the success of the organization in the 80's, the Oilers are the go-to team for most sports fans living in the city. As someone pointed out on Twitter, when the Oilers are succeeding, players and coaches feel like they're on top of the world. But when the team is failing (as it has done for so many years), the city feels small and depressing. Forget about Edmonton for a second, when Phil Kessel was traded to the Penguins, he commented how the media pressure in Pittsburgh was so much less than it was in Toronto. Even Taylor Hall has said he enjoyed the ability to walk around New Jersey without worrying about people recognizing him or bad-mouthing him.

One of the more shocking stories to come out of Edmonton last season was a report that a group of "Oilers fans" were bad-mouthing Connor McDavid and his family at a restaurant. Let me say that again. Some "fans" were bad-mouthing the captain of the team, and the guy who would go on to save the Oilers from all kinds of humility by finishing the season with 108 points. One of the problems I have with social media is that people image can get tarnished by incriminating photos and bad tweets (as Roseanne Barr found out). Social media also allows people to heavily criticize others, and sports athletes are no exception. Sure, when someone does a blunder in the sports world, it's funny to see how people react. But social media outlets, give people a chance to easily bad-mouth people, behind a key-board.

So do players want out of Edmonton? Yes. With the combination of fan outrage over what transpired this past season along with the past dozen years, topped with the media pressure of a Canadian team winning the Stanley Cup again, I'm not surprised at players requesting trades out of the city. And that's not including any potential locker room issues that might be present.

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