EDMONTON — We’ve waited for it to be real in Edmonton, for how long?
Since their first No. 1 overall pick, Taylor Hall, in 2010? Since they picked at No. 1 in ’11 and ’12?
Since Edmonton finally added an experienced general manager, hiring Peter Chiarelli in 2015?
Since McLellan? Since McDavid?
They took a nice run to Game 7 of Round 2 back in 2017, and we all thought, “OK. Finally. This will be a good team now, for a long time.”
Then they missed the playoffs two years in a row.
Failure has dogged this franchise through four No. 1 overall picks, through new GMs, new coaches, new game plans and road maps. Twelve of 13 playoffs missed prior to this season. Miss one more and it was history: In a 14-year window, the least successful franchise in the history of the National Hockey League.
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Today, with the Oilers fixing to open their Qualifying Round series on Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks, we return to that place we were three years ago. An Oilers team that seems impossibly promising, embarking on a playoff run that, surely this time around, will be the first of many.
“We’re all just hungry to get back and play [playoff hockey], the guys who went through that experience,” said defenceman Darnell Nurse, one of the young internal leaders around which this team is built. “Yeah, it was a great year, 2017. But the let-off came the following couple of years. We’re hungry to prove ourselves. That we’re capable of being in this position, and capable of playing at this level of hockey.”
So, what’s the difference now?
Why does the football stay …read more