Saturday, October 06, 2007
I like Kevin Lowe. I liked him as a player. I give him credit for putting together a competitive team in the years before the lockout. I give him lots of credit for the run in 2005/2006.
Since June 19th of 2006 he has been on a monumental losing streak. And this morning it looks like he is going to get a contract extension.
Not sure how that works. The spin machine has been working overtime lately. The kids (and yes I agree they are lovely) are being called the Boys on the School Bus because, you know, its going to be the 80s all over again. Based on the preseason and one game. The return for Pronger now includes Cogliano, Gilbert, Hemsky, a sub 6 % unemployment rate, Jennifer Heil and the existence of bacon. Ryan Smyth, like all Oilers shipped out of town, was a heartless mercenary. And a lousy player. And so on.
So let's review the past eighteen months.
Lowe trades Pronger for Lupul, Smid and three picks. Lupul barely lasted a year. Smid is in the minors. Saying that Pitkanen was actually part of that trade now because Lupul was part of a trade for him is a mug's game. In any case you can go back for years and point to who was traded for who, like a type of family tree. Comrie begat Woyitka and Hamrlik begat Brewer and they begat Pronger and so on and so on until one can say that the original guy was a third round pick and a third round pick for so and so is a great deal, who wouldn't make that deal? The fact is that while we can all agree that Lowe may have asked for Bouwmeester and Horton, they likely weren't on the table. We don't know who was but when you are trading one of the best defenceman in the league then you had better make sure that the return is a sure thing. Having said that, the Pronger deal is a terrible trade.
The botched Smyth negotiation. If you want to see why Smyth was not considered an elite player by Lowe look at the scoring statistics for the playoffs in '06. Smyth was behind Pronger, Horcoff, Hemsky and Pisani, a couple of points up on Spacek and Samsonov. When they lost G7 the writing was on the wall for Smyth. Lowe played with enough guys who put up the big playoff numbers that I think he looked at Smyth and the results of that run and said "Not for me." Except that five months after moving Smyth (good return for twenty games of Smyth, btw) he was publically bemoaning his mistake in not signing him. Um, OK. Oops. Funny how all of those Lowe supporters and Smyth bashers can't put those two facts together. Smyth is a jerk and it was a good thing Lowe didn't give him that money but now Lowe says he should have given him the contract. Right. And how does Lowe come out of that statement looking good?
The reasons for not signing Smyth - not an elite player, older guy - were thrown out the window when Lowe threw all of that money at an over 30 player with a history of serious injuries and one career season, a season in which he also posted terrible defensive numbers while playing against second tier opposition.
Add to that last season's disaster when everyone knew from July on that this team needed at least one veteran Dman, maybe two, to be a playoff team. Instead the team was left to founder as Laddy Smid was sold as a top four Dman. An entire year was wasted.
I like Kevin Lowe. I think he has drafted well. Not great but pretty well. I think his track record before the recent fiascos is decent. I also believe that giving him a contract extension makes no sense. Riversq posted over at IOF the other day that the idea of waiting to see how this year plays out before deciding on Lowe drives him crazy. Apparently EIG decided not even to wait on that. Souray could go minus forty. Penner could score five goals. The kids who have everyone excited right now could all be buried in the minors by November. Doesn't matter. Based on '06, I guess, Lowe has gotten his reward.
Hey I'm a positive guy. I like the kids and I have high hopes for this year and the years to come. But I also want the Oilers to win. I wanted them to make the playoffs last year and their GM put them into a position to fail, not succeed. That does not cut it. I want them to win three years from now, five years from now, seven years from now. I want them to be the Detroit Red Wings. Trading one of the best players in the league for a poor return does not make that more likely. That is not good enough. I want them to use their resources wisely, signing guys like Stoll to longterm deals, rather then throwing tons of money at aging players. I was actually OK with the Smyth deal because that was what I thought it was about, using that money to sign guys like Stoll. I got suckered in. Turns out they used that money to sign a guy who is nowhere close to Smyth quality.
I would love for Kevin Lowe to succeed. I want him to succeed. After the Vanek deal thorn in the side commenter mclea stated that he was laughing because he wanted to see me, among others, eat my words about Lowe. I replied that nothing would make me happier then to do that because that would mean that the Oilers have succeeded.
Problem is that with him at the helm I think that their chances of doing just that are not that good. I hope I'm wrong. I want to be wrong because I am a fan of the club although in some minds criticizing any move the club makes means you are less of a fan. This whole idea of My Oilers, Right or Wrong, is just plain foolish and drives me crazy. Equating present management with the club is like equating the government with the countryand saying that because one is critical of the club's direction makes you less of a fan is as blind and stupid as saying that someone who criticizes George Bush and Dick Cheney is less of an American, to use an example from south of the border.
I want the Oilers to win a Stanley Cup. I could care less if the GM is Kevin Lowe, Glen Sather, Craig MacTavish, Andy Grabia or Natalie Portman. Just frigging win it. The last eighteen months make me think that Lowe is not the man for the job. I will gladly eat my words if I am wrong but I think don't think I am.
Posted by Black Dog at 6:28 AM