Sequelling success

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

For every Godfather II, a sequel that's every bit as good, or even better, than the original, there is a Caddyshack II or a Slapshot II - sorry follow ups that make you want to cringe.

After an inaugural season that exceeded the expectations of most, Edmonton Oil Kings general manager Bob Green is determined to make Season II a worthy successor.

"We want to be better," said Green, whose club posted 22 wins in its first season and was well in the hunt for a playoff spot till injuries slowed them down after Christmas.

"We have more expectations this year after a decent year last year. We want to contend for the playoffs right through the year and we think that's realistic.

"Camp has gone well. The kids we expected would be good have been good.

"We haven't been disappointed, really, with anyone. And our younger players have really stepped up and played well, showed that they can play at this level.

"Hopefully we can stay healthy. We got a little bit banged up on the back end last year."

While the franchise is still in its infancy, Green wants to do away with the notion that it needs to be babied.

"We never used (being an expansion team) as an excuse last year and we certainly won't be using it this year," he said, adding a club will never become a winner unless it starts thinking like one from the very start.

"That's the kind of environment we need to bring our young players into.

"Hopefully that's going to bring us success in the short term and in the long term, as well."

Relative success, like 22 wins in an inaugural season, is one thing, but the kind of success Green and the Oil Kings have their sights set on this winter will be hard to come by.

Year two will represent a number of significant challenges they didn't have to deal with before.

They're no longer a fresh and exciting novelty under no external pressure to win.

"There's just expectations now, we want to make the playoffs," said head coach Steve Pleau.

"We're a team that laid a good foundation last year but now we want to take that next step and we're excited about it.

"It's a challenge is what it is. That's why you play. I don't want to be in the same spot next year, I want to be in the playoffs come the end of March."

One of the challenges is cutting back to three 20-year-olds after being allowed five in the first season, but Green says it's no big deal.

"We played four 20-year-olds for most of last season, we didn't really get to the five," said Green.

"We wanted to go with the younger guys so I don't think it'll be much of a problem. We'll be OK with three (forwards Brenden Dowd and Jeff Lee and defenceman Brandon Lockerby)

"We're really happy with the three that we've got.

"They all bring something different and they all bring hard work and energy, things that are really important. They're good leaders.

"We had to make a tough decision there but we're happy with what we have."

They also have one thing they didn't have last year. Experience.

"The biggest thing is routine, knowing everybody," said Green.

"We have a good feel for the coaching staff and they have a good feel for us. It's a good group to work with."


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