There have been some red flags for Edmonton Oilers fans regarding the team’s motivation and deliverance in games. Nonetheless, the Oilers have been struggling the past few weeks with frustration battling not only on the ice, but also off.
What in the world happened?
Let’s take a step back. Early December of 2021 was when our beloved Oilers began falling from their triumph. A six-game losing streak started with an away game loss against the Seattle Kraken (4-3) on Dec. 18, 2021 and finally ended with a home game win against the Columbus Blue Jackets (5-2) on Jan. 18, 2022.
Unfortunately, their victory didn’t last long, and things fell even further. Another seven-game losing streak created a wave of frustration with the Oilers Hockey Club and Oilers fans everywhere.What seemed like a hopeful first half of the season dropped as the Oilers plummeted from seventh in the NHL to 19th.
Of course, we have to take into account the Omicron variant of COVID surging into the NHL community, and in turn, resulting in the postponement of multiple games; for the Oilers, this meant a lengthy nine-day-long break.
We all heard it, the interview that entertained the entire hockey community. Postmedia sports reporter Jim Matheson and Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl butted heads during a press conference ahead of the Oilers’ first game back against the Florida Panthers after their lengthy break.
For NHL players or any professional athlete, press conferences often include questions athletes aren’t overly keen on answering. This was precisely the case for Draisaitl. If you missed the interview, here’s a quick rundown.
Jim Matheson asked Draisaitl what the number one reason was for the losses the team has faced and his opinion on what the team could improve on. Draisaitl, who looked irritated with head shakes and smirks, essentially told Matheson that the team “(has) to get better at everything” and that Matheson “knows everything.” This led to the deliverance of the now very well-known question, “why are you so pissy?” The full interview can be found through a tweet from the sports talk show Tim and Friends.
After the interview, the question has to be asked: Is negativity from the media playing a role in players’ frustration on the ice?
This, I guess, can only really be answered by players themselves, but sports media is known for getting under the skin of professional athletes everywhere. Multiple athletes have declined or cancelled press conferences, dismissed press conferences halfway through, or refused to answer questions due to the negativity they often endure. As NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers puts it: “There’s a lot of bad media outlets out there.” Clearly, the frustration with the media is something professional athletes in a variety of different sports deal with, and Draisaitl is not the first to become irritated during an interview.
Decade of darkness
It hasn’t always been easy in Edmonton; any Oilers fan or player knows this. After a decade-long playoff drought — or as fans better recall it, the decade of darkness — following a Stanley Cup run in 2006 and finally ending in 2017, Oil country has been a tough place to play.
The goal year after year turned into clinching an early pick in the NHL draft with the hopes that the first-rounder could change things around for the Oilers, along with multiple coaching changes from Craig MacTavish, who was the last to bring the Oilers to the playoffs during this time, to Pat Quinn, Tom Renney, Ralph Kreuger, Dallas Eakins, Todd Nelson, and finally ending with Todd McLellan. So what can you expect from Oilers fans and media? That decade-long time will forever be imprinted in everyone’s mind, with everyone developing a sense of playoff FOMO. No one wants the Oilers to sink back into their old habits; it could also be a further developing reason for the media’s urge to ask the tough questions and get under the skin of Oilers players.
Of course, there’s plenty of frustration from everyone in Oil country, and the Oilers franchise, but this isn’t any reason to give up. At this point there are still 43 games left in the Oilers regular season play. The Oilers currently sit at sixth in the Pacific Division with 44 points and a record of 21-16-2. With a three-game winning streak in their back pockets the Oilers will face the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday in hopes to bring back some more life to the franchise, as well as give media and fans some ease. As Oilers forward Brandon Perlini states in a post practice interview, “At the end of the day it’s hockey, go out there play, play like you’re on the pond as a kid and enjoy it, have fun, be positive and good things will happen.”