April 11, 2012
Oilers kids impatient for turnaround
By Robert Tychkowski, QMI Agency
Even the lottery kids are tired of having to watch draft lotteries.
Taylor Hall has only been subjected to the embarrassment of seeing his team represented at the table of shame on bingo night in New York for two years in a row, and it's too years too many as far as he's concerned.
The losing has to stop.
"It's unacceptable," said Hall, after the Oilers packed their bags and headed into another off-season of disappointment. "I know it's a good story to write, how we're young and exciting, but I'm sure you guys are getting tired of writing it. Eventually we have to make something of it.
"It's one thing to have a lot of hope and a lot of promise, but we have to make the playoffs next year, we have to be a team that comes through because I was sitting here last year saying these exact same things. It's getting a little bit old.
"Next year has to be a contending year, we have to make that next step as a team, as an organization, to kind of put teams on edge. Show that not only do we have promise, but we're a really good team. And we're going to be very scary for years to come."
Jordan Eberle wasn't a lottery pick Ñ although he would be if they held the 2008 draft over again - but 57 wins in 164 games is wearing on him, too.
"Next year is definitely going to be the turning point for us," said Eberle, who went 22nd overall in 2008. "You can't have that losing attitude, that losing mentality, that losing is OK, because it's not. You don't want that in your lockerroom, and I don't think we have it."
But you can't have three or four or five losing seasons in a row without running the risk of learning how to become losers.
"There is a winning and a losing culture out there," said Hall, who doesn't think the Oilers are firmly set in either category. "I think we have a great room. We all like each other in the dressing room. But eventually it has to go from being a good team in the dressing room, having a lot of potential, to being a really good team on the ice."
That's not going to happen until this franchise learns how to win again. Right now they're struggling with that chapter of the rebuilding lesson plan. If there's one aspect of the team where Ryan Nugent-Hopkins wants to see improvement, that's it.
"If we develop a winning attitude, I think that's so important for us," he said. "If we come to the rink every day and we know we can win, that's going to be very important for us.
"If you lose, you kind of get that mentality that you think you're going to lose, and you start to just fall into a trap of always feeling that way, and we can't have that happen."
The difference between winners and losers, once the skill is in place, is knowing how hard you have to work to be the best. A lot of players and teams think they're doing enough, that they're close, when they really aren't.
"One of the biggest problems we had this year was closing out games in the third period, whether we had a lead or were tied," said Eberle. "I don't know what our record was, but I don't think it was good (4-13-4 when tied after 40). You need to push that little extra. That's where it comes into us being a more veteran team and learning how to win."
In the meantime É another draft lottery.
"Obviously there's a positive to doing bad, as weird as that sounds," said Eberle. "Whoever we get is going to make our team better and that's where we want to head."
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