No instant solutions to Oilers woes

JOHN SHORT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:04 AM ET

Every night, after yet another Edmonton Oilers loss, you can hear misguided fans screaming as they leave Rexall Place.

Some are merely frustrated and have good reason to be.

Others shout their belief that salvation is at hand: "Another day closer to Taylor Hall!"

Or, perhaps, to Tyler Seguin.

The Tyler-Taylor game is sadly and seriously misguided.

Anyone living with the delusion that a first-overall draft choice leaves Edmonton only one season short of Stanley Cup nirvana -- or a mere three seasons short of it -- has time to swallow a dose of reality.

Start with the simple truth that hockey experts do not class Seguin (he turns 18 today) and Hall as "franchise" players in mold of Sid Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

The young OHL players are one-two in league scoring but it's more reasonable to rank them at the level of Steve Stamkos, an excellent first-rounder who may -- MAY! --one day become a franchise player.

Also in the dream-state planning of many Oilers supporters is Jordan Eberle, the on-ice leader of an under-achieving Western Hockey League team engaged in a serious struggle to make the playoffs.

Eberle is small, quick but not fast, intelligent and intensely competitive -- so impressive, in fact, that he reminds me of a young Mike Comrie, whose point totals during the half-season he spent with the Kootenay Ice before joining the Oilers in 2001 were vastly superior.

These days, close to 30 years old, he's still small, still quick but not fast, still intelligent, still intensely competitive.

Injuries and other factors limited Comrie's production but to expect more from Eberle, now or in the future, is a reach.

Hold on to your wallet

Always, I hope that discussions of public projects such as Olympics or World Student Games or new downtown arenas could avoid becoming political. Once again, my hope goes unfulfilled.

I believe Daryl Katz, one day, will wind up with his downtown business area anchored by a state-of-the-art hockey building.

No matter what financial gobbledygook is spread around to tell us otherwise, taxpayers will fund a huge part of it.

We'll be convinced, eventually, that the new structure and our tax increase are necessary for the common good although large numbers of our population will not be able to afford admission to Oilers games or many of the other events that go on there.

I have no doubt that Northlands should be involved.

The organization was stuck up against a wall by Mayor Jan Reimer and her council during Peter Pocklington's wildest times.

The Oilers owner got his hands on an unfair share of revenue after insisting for the umpteenth time that he would eventually move the franchise.

Northlands remained almost defenceless as Cal Nichols and his group of franchise-savers rode to the rescue. How could they survive on less than Pocklington got?

Now, Katz's spokesmen are saying he will need all the revenue from the new building -- hockey and lacrosse and entertainment and conventions, whatever.

There is a sad consistency in all of this.

JCSHORT@SHAW.CA


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