Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall (Getty Images)
The Oilers fired their coach Monday and a report has them considering trading star winger Taylor Hall. That would be a colossal mistake, mainly because the Oilers management – Kevin Lowe in particular – should've been dismissed years ago.
Trade Hall? Is it April 1 already?
There should be no sacred cows with a team this incapable of competing, but the idea the franchise could retain the services of president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe and trade away its most talented player is galling and will rightfully raise ulcer rates across the city. There's nothing wrong with breaking up the core of talent the Oilers have assembled – in fact, that's exactly what should happen – but if Edmonton management is going to retain one or two of their current young talents to move forward with a new roster, it's probably a good idea if they held on to the best one they've got.
Now, you can argue Hall has the most value of anyone currently in an Edmonton jersey, and you'd be right. But if he's the most proven talent of all Oilers youngsters, why not deal Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and/or Jordan Eberle instead? Surely any competent GM could use any combination of those three players (or at least two of them in separate deals) to address the depth and talent issues the organization clearly faces, right? Even if they draft Connor McDavid this summer, they'll need to fix their defense and goaltending or it will all be for naught again. Surely MacTavish can acquire some blue-chip prospects and/or experienced defensemen able to contribute, right? Garth Snow did so in the form of Johnny Boychuk for a far cheaper return. It's just about doing it right, and that brings me to the most important point.
In the same report, TSN's Darren Dreger said Hall "at least from a culture standpoint – in the room, not on the ice – hasn’t been what they hoped he would be". The same was undoubtedly true for former Oilers coach Dallas Eakins, who was fired Monday morning after blowing away MacTavish two summers ago in a job interview. But after so many of these decisions have failed to work out, when does it become fair to point the finger of blame at management's concept of a winning culture and the people who are continuously choosing the wrong people for the jobs?
Lowe has been in the team's inner circle since 1999, and MacTavish is in his second stint with the franchise. Blaming their poor choices on the Oilers' goaltending coach, or head coach, or the team's best player makes you think one or all of those three men had a hand in choosing the team's direction. None did. The authors of the team's demise are the ones who've escaped with their paychecks intact, and if they're the ones choosing to move away a 23-year-old, two-time 27-goal-scorer because he hasn't been able to put this giant mess of a group on his back and perform miracles on a nightly basis, we need to order water-bombers on humanitarian missions flying over Edmonton spraying the citizenry with Pepto-Bismol.
When it comes to Lowe (and to a lesser degree, MacTavish), familiarity has bred contempt in the minds and hearts of Edmonton fans, and each subsequent failure the two men are part of represents another gas tanker driven directly into a chemical fire. It shouldn't take them dealing away the team's brightest young star for owner Daryl Katz to wake up and dismisses them, but that's increasingly looking like the case. What a sad time to be an Oilers fan.