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Oilers decide now is the time to change approach

May 20, 2010, 3:00 PM EDT

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The Edmonton Oilers have realized that the days of overpaying for
free agents and essentially “buying” a successful hockey team are over.

Problem is, that realization has come about five years too late.

After this approach worked, sort of, in 2005 the Edmonton Oilers
decided to keep going down the same path. Yet as the rest of the NHL
adapted to post-lockout hockey, and how the most successful teams are
now being built through the draft and smart acquistions, the Oliers
struggled until finally hitting rock bottom this past season.

Now team president Kevin Lowe is admitting that their approach
perhaps wasn’t exactly the best one to take. From
David Staples of the Edmonton Journal:

“We’ve got to get back to what we did for a lot of
years,” Kevin Lowe, Oilers hockey boss, told reporters in Oklahoma City
on Wednesday . “We’ve got to get back to our basic principles of
drafting and development, get out of the free agent business.”

“It’s almost like something hit us in the side of the head and said,
‘OK, if you guys can’t figure this out yourself, then we’re going to do
it for you.”‘

Unfortunately, the Oilers are still stuck with the duo of Lowe and
Steve Tambellini running things, as it appears the team is just ecstatic
after “winning” the top pick in this year’s draft.

You have to wonder if these leopards can change their spots, after
years of banging their heads against the wall in futility. Sure, they’ll
get a great player this season that will placate the Oilers fanbase but
just how much patience will the team have with a couple of years of
actual, no-bull rebuilding? You know the itch will be there to go out and sign that big free agent
when things aren’t going well.

And if this new approach doesn’t work, they can always just fire the equipment managers again.

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