The trouble with being on the bottom of the barrel, lowest of the low, worst of the worst team that does nothing but lose like the Edmonton Oilers these last three years is that you learn how to be losers.
Edmonton and several precincts around the National Hockey League are expecting the Oilers to suddenly, like an ugly caterpillar turning into a beautiful butterfly, be transformed from serial losers into overnight winners this season.
There's all that developing young talent, yadda, yadda, yadda, etc., etc., etc..
But, just a minute, time out, hold the phone.
It takes winners to win hockey games.
Throughout the miniature training camp of this lockout-shortened season, with so many pieces and parts of the team under the magnifying glass, there hasn't been much discussion or debate about maybe the most important part of the whole package — learning how to win.
"Actually, internally, it was something addressed right off the bat as a team," said captain-in-waiting Jordan Eberle who, in crucial moments of two World Juniors proved himself as a winner-in-waiting heading into his pro career.
"This organization has a legacy of winning which got drowned out in the past few seasons. Obviously the big thing we want to get back is that winning attitude that was here in the '80s.
"I think it starts with a real intense desire not to lose two in a row. A real focus on that. Good teams seldom lose two in a row," said the first-year full-time associate captain.
"We're going to be focused a lot on developing the attitude of becoming winners," said Taylor Hall, who came off back-to-back Memorial Cup champion seasons to be drafted by a 30th place team which proceeded to finish 30th and 29th in his first two seasons.
"There's a lot of optimism that everybody feels but there's also a sense of urgency to get good, and there's no better place to do that than in a shortened season. We have to learn how to win and learn how to win pretty soon. We have to be a quick study.
"A big part of this year is learning what it takes. But I think we believe we have the chemistry here. It wasn't like this dressing room wasn't a fun place to come these past two years. I think once we start to prove that we are winners in here, there's a pretty good feeling for each other in this group to really grow it."
The key, said Ryan Smyth, who along with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky made it to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, is "overcoming adversity and doing it together."
After three basement-dwelling seasons, Edmonton Oilers have to reverse the trend
Edmonton Sun | Jan 18