I just had the scary thought that today's Edmonton Eskimos look too much like last year's Edmonton Oilers.
In the early stages of what became a full-stage collapse, the Oilers couldn't start the game with any intensity, couldn't protect their goaltender, couldn't convert their few scoring chances, couldn't stay healthy and couldn't convince a large number of fans that the men in charge --Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish and Kevin Prendergast, to name a few --had any idea of what they were doing.
Against the Argos yesterday, the picture was eerily similar.
The Eskimos got off to a dismal start. Then things got worse.
They allowed their quarterback to take a terrific pounding, missed some clear chances to put points on the board, had several players go down after heavy collisions.
As a result, head football boss Danny Maciocia and chief scout Paul Jones are sure to continue taking heat. Front-office boss Rick LeLacheur will not be immune, either.
To me, the comparison must go at least one step further.
The Oilers' key decision-makers, notably president Patrick Laforge and some committed partners in the investors' group, showed enough patience to let Lowe function as a general manager should.
If early-season results are a fair indication, the cautious outlook was the right one.
I think those who hold the future of the Eskimos in their hands should be equally wise.
At this moment, the Eskimos do not match the best in the CFL -- the B.C. Lions, for example -- in several key spots.
Bobby Ackles, who runs the Lions, was a top-notcher with the Dallas Cowboys. Wally Buono has no peer as a coach and teacher and organizer of football players. Dave Ritchie, his top assistant, has had Grey Cup success as a head coach.
By comparison, Maciocia, Jones, Lelacheur and offensive co-ordinator Jacques Chapdelaine -- already designated as head-coach-in-waiting --lack experience.
This might be the right time for Maciocia to kick himself upstairs and concentrate along with Jones in the vital area of scouting and development. It's clear that personnel changes need to be made.
Many callers to open-mouth radio shows think the best solution is to throw everyone out and start over.
Lowe's a winner
A couple of quick notes about Kevin Lowe.
- I met a 19-year-old kid on his first day as an Edmonton Oiler and he volunteered to do anything he could to help in the community. Lowe has lived up to the promise.
- A few years ago, while speaking to a group in Sherwood Park, Lowe deviated from his planned remarks to pay tribute to Billy Warwick and his contributions to hockey at all levels. Lowe's remarks were much appreciated by a man whose efforts were often overlooked.
- Last season, when things were most grim, Lowe refused to blame coaches or anyone else. Instead, he vowed to work even harder and longer to get things back on track.
This old guy is overjoyed that Lowe will stay with the Oilers, and in Edmonton, for a long, long time.