No season of discontent

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:07 AM ET

Heaven knows there are enough legitimate problems on the Edmonton Oilers without having to make up new ones.

Inventing issues on a team with so many issues is like drawing a moustache on a picture of Mickey Rourke.

Like planting a stink bomb on a skunk.

What's the point?

So the Oilers were in full bristle yesterday over reports of a rift in their dressing room.

"We've been through a lot this year and we've stuck together through everything," said defenceman Sheldon Souray, who called reporters over yesterday to address the rumours of a generational split on the team. "The Oilers have a history of having a great group of guys, a lot of character guys, so when that gets called into question the hairs on your back stand up a little bit."

LIFE OF ITS OWN

A theory that grew legs this year is that the Oilers have divided into two sides - veterans and kids - and the resulting chasm has made for a dysfunctional room. It picked up a little more steam this week when a national television analyst brought up to so-called split.

"Some of the other things you let slide because there's a sliver of truth to them ... and then there's things that just aren't true," said Souray. "It's easy for people on the outside looking in to grasp at straws, but at the end of the day the last thing people should try to attack is our dressing room and how close we are.

"If there's one thing we have it's a united dressing room, a great dressing room."

Captain Ethan Moreau wonders why they're having to defend themselves over something that isn't happening, to people who've never been in the room.

"It's just disappointing," he said. "There's enough things to write about and report that are negative with our team, you can't just make up things, it's totally false.

"Talk to anybody in the room, older guys, younger guys, guys on other teams... there's enough stories out there, you can't just make up a rift in the room. It's just not very responsible to report on that if it's not true.

"If you want to say our special teams are bad, yeah, they are. Or if we haven't had good starts ... I'm not going to get mad at that because it's all founded. You do your research, you come to a conclusion and you ask a question. But you can't just make up a story, that there's a rift in the room, it's not responsible.

ALL GOOD

"It's always been a positive environment, young guys are accepted right away, we all hang out together, there's no cliques," said Moreau.

In a way, they're not surprised that it's come to this. They watch a team melt down the stretch and figure it has to be something.

"People are going to find reasons to talk and make excuses for why we're not performing on the ice," said Souray.

"But there's really no excuse other than we haven't played up to our capabilities."

When you're losing, the shots come from all angles.

"When you're in the state that we're in right now, you don't know where it's coming from, but it's coming," said head coach Craig MacTavish.

"That much you know. What's the root of it? What's the source of it? You wear yourself out thinking about it.

"To me the room is as good as it can be in a situation like this. You want a little bit of accountability in there and I think we've got a good balance."

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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