SUN Hockey Pool

Enough grovelling already

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

They're laughing at us.

Or, worse, feeling sorry for us.

In newspaper columns, on radio shows, on fan sites, in bars and around water coolers, Edmonton and the Oilers are becoming a punchline.

Rightly or wrongly, and compelling arguments can be made for both positions, the awkward, one-sided courtship with Dany Heatley has them looking like a desperate franchise reduced to begging players to come here.

This from a recent New York Post article that also ran on the FOX Sports website: "The team and the city look more than desperate. They are beginning to appear pathetic. The Oilers are better than this, and so is the city of Edmonton."

There is more where that came from amid a growing public perception that the Oilers are in full grovel, pleading with a pouty prima donna who wouldn't play for them if they were the last team on earth, which, given Heatley's options right now, they pretty much are.

This from a recent Detroit News story that got picked up by the Associated Press: "The Oilers always have been a professional, classy outfit that has won Stanley Cups and remained competitive under trying economic circumstances. This is beneath them. They shouldn't bow to a petulant star. Move on, already."

Oilers director of communications Allan Watt is well aware of the spin being put on Edmonton's situation and says it's unfortunate for everyone.

"It's a shame that it got taken the way it was," he said, defending the recruitment video they sent to Heatley's agent last week. "This was no different than the stuff we sent out to a number of agents after the lockout. I think it's unfair to say that we're desperate on any front or begging on any front. This is communication. I think it's what you should do, you should put your organization and your city in the best light you can."

But that's not exactly happening right now, is it? Despite the Oilers' best intentions, we are a long, dark way from Edmonton's best light.

In a lot of ways, GM Steve Tambellini is the author of his own bad press. His cone of silence is doing more harm than good, leading to the kind of negative analysis we're seeing in major hockey markets like Detroit and New York.

The Heatley saga began on June 29, included two days of "deadlines" and a night flight to Kelowna, but Tambellini didn't surface until July 3, four days later, and even then wouldn't say anything. In the 28 days since, he still hasn't updated the fans or explained why he's allowed this to drag on as long as it has.

If it really was a month-long case of "Please, Dany" vs. "No, Steve," then every bit of criticism, and then some, is warranted. But it's ridiculous to think the organization has sunk that low. Clearly, Tambellini heard something that leads him to believe there's still a chance, like Heatley saying he's OK with Edmonton, but won't go anywhere till Ottawa brings him menu with more than one item on it.

Would he have told San Jose or New York the same thing? Doubtful. And that's the hint some people think Tambellini should take. If after 30 days and zero options Heatley still can't bring himself to say yes, he's obviously not that keen on Edmonton.

By allowing him to let Edmonton twist in the wind for a month, while he waits for something better, the Oilers really do look like they're bowing to a petulant star.

They need to say or do something to mend their tattered image, and a growing number of Edmontonians hope it's this: 'We are a five-time Stanley Cup champion rich in history and tradition in a city where hockey is king. We don't beg for anyone and we're nobody's last resort. You've had enough time -- either agree to the deal in one hour or it's off the table for good.'


Videos

Photos