Sooooo….How about those Oilers? Not something people say in a good way as of the last two years. Ok, 5 years. Ok, 10 years. But that was then. This is the Chiarelli era, and like Chubbs sings, “we’ve only just, begun”.

Instead of just down, this year has been a bit up and down, and depending on the week, I’m trying to decide which its been more of. One thing I’m most happy about, oddly enough, is sitting 14th-15th place.

I think the best thing that didn’t happen was finishing 9th-11th place. If that had happened, there probably would have been more forceful talk of “what if McDavid wasn’t injured for those months?” and “we’re getting so close, it’s finally coming together and we’re seeing results”. Finishing dead last or very close to it forces us to take those positives with a grain of salt.

Yes, the Oilers are different this year. There’s an energy that’s been absent for too long, and it’s enjoyable to watch them play again. There’s renewed hope for the future, and Chiarelli seems to actually have some sort of long term plan besides waiting until the young players magically develop by themselves.
He didn’t jump the gun at the trade deadline. He’s calculated and I trust him. He’ll add what he can when he’s ready.

What’s more important is an apparent increase in pride in those already there. Most of them no longer seem like a bunch of punks who are just happy to be in the NHL. They’ve come to realize the club doesn’t owe them anything. For the first time, some of them are actually considering they might have to fight for a job. It’s become pretty clear who the fighters are. To me, much like the Leafs, who we bring in at this point isn’t necessarily as important as who we kick out. Bringing new people into the same culture won’t change the disease. It’ll just change who’s infected.

But there is a culture change in the works, and I couldn’t be happier.

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