Oilers don't want three-peat

Oilers forward Taylor Hall answers questions from the media during at Rexall Place in Edmonton on...

Oilers forward Taylor Hall answers questions from the media during at Rexall Place in Edmonton on April 11, 2011. (PERRY MAH/QMI Agency)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:31 PM ET

For the second year in a row the Edmonton Oilers were so deep in the standings they had to look up to see those stranded Chilean miners.

They promise it won’t happen again.

It can’t happen again. They wouldn’t be able to take it, and neither would Edmonton.

“We all worked so hard, it really, really sucks to lose, It sucks to lose this many games,” said rookie winger Magnus Paajarvi, echoing the sentiments of so many fans. “I don’t think anybody here wants to do that again.

“I think we’re going to have a better team next year for sure, no matter what. We have guys who’ll have one more year in the NHL, that’s going to help a lot. We’re going to come back knowing what it takes.”

If the rookies are this fed up with losing, imagine how the veterans feel. This is Year 5 out of the playoffs for a team that’s been rebuilding since about 1991.

“We don’t want to promise something we’re not going to do, but it’s time we start winning,” said Taylor Hall, adding everyone with a stake in this organization needs to step it up.

“Losing can’t be acceptable next year, we all know that. Two years finishing last … it’s time to move on and compete. I think we have the pieces to the puzzle to put a good season together next year.”

This year’s dressing room cleanout day did have a vastly different feel from last year, when the players left the arena knowing that GM Steve Tambellini had one eye on the draft and the other on the dynamite plunger.

“Last year there was a lot of uncertainty, where do we go from here,” said Shawn Horcoff. “There were a lot of questions. It’s a totally different feeling this year, we understand the direction we’re going, we have a really good base.

“I think our young players showed everybody in Edmonton that they’re able to play, and play at a high level. It’s not the season we wanted, but we’re going to get a good pick out of it and we’ll move forward.”

If they do get better, Horcoff says it won’t be because of a magic bullet or another 18-year-old saviour.

“First and foremost it has to come from the players who are here currently,” said Horcoff. “We can’t count on free agency or trades, we can’t count on the players who are drafted to come in right away and make a difference.

“The emphasis has to be on us, the guys in the lockerroom.”

The players packed their stuff and left the rink dreaming of a brighter tomorrow, and will spend all summer trying to make sure it happens.

“When you have that excitement building up over the summer you can use it to motivate yourself,” said Jordan Eberle.

“We’re all excited to put in that effort. I think you can tell just by how excited we are. It’s not ‘We’re glad the season is over with,’ it’s more, ‘We can’t wait for next season to start.”’

Jason Strudwick has been around long enough to know what a team is heading in the right direction. He sees it in this group.

“Unfortunately it didn’t show up in the points total, but I was in the room the last three years and this group this year really impressed me, there’s a lot of positive people in that room,” he said. “There’s a lot of energy and an immense amount of talent. Looking ahead I see a lot of good things for this team.

“I’m sure that every guy who didn’t make the playoffs will say that this year about their team. I’ve said it before, too, and I didn’t always mean it. But this time I actually do.”

robert.tychkowski@Sunmedia.ca

TWITTER.com/TYCHKOWSKI


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