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What you need to know about COVID-19: September 25, 2020
There was no “garbage bag day.”
The Edmonton Oilers left the bubble faster than Connor McDavid can skate. Most of the them departed Hub City without having to make the walk of shame through the interview room the next day.
That’s the thing about this 24-team behind-closed door tournament. It’s the full meal deal Stanley Cup playoffs if you’re going good. It’s the COVID Cup when you lose, more a sort of a summer tournament for big kids without mini-stick games in the hallways of the hotel. For the losers it almost seems like because there were no fans there so it didn’t really happen.
The players all leave and it’s the fans who are left punched in the gut, bent over and wanting to heave.
If the Edmonton fans had been able to bring their legendary passionate playoff atmosphere that’s is such a contrast to the more studious gatherings of the regular season and the players all had to face them even by zoom via the media ir representatives from the media, would there have been some heat and meat delivered prior to their departures?
There were no fans in the building and no closure for the fans who are the most important part of the world of pro sport as everybody is about to find out when ‘Return To Play’ gets back to being ‘Return To Pay.’
Hope is the No. 1 thing to sell in sports. And where will this leave Edmonton?
When you have the top two producing talents in the league in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, a consistent and a popular supporting star in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the good times should be rolling.
The “McDavid Stanley Cup Window” should be way open now and yet it just got slammed on the fans faces again and this time Edmonton is left with an entire once-in-a-lifetime Stanley Cup hockey tournament going on behind closed doors in town and the players don’t even subject themselves to a good self-administered public grilling, even by zoom, about their failure to find what it takes to knock off a 23rd-ranked team.
There are a lot of players who came up short here.
To this point they’ve been allowed by their own management to escape even playing the garbage bag day take-your-share-of-the-blame game?
“No garbage bag day this season given the circumstances,” responded Oilers’ media relations director Andre Brin to my inquiry Saturday.
“Players started leaving last (Friday) night. Off-season is underway. Probably (G.M. Ken) Holland on Tuesday after the draft lottery.”
The fan was left sitting at home Sunday with a Dallas-St. Louis seeding game to watch from Rogers Place. If the Oilers had defeated the Winnipeg Jets in the final regular season game before the 142-day coronavirus pause, that would have been Edmonton playing in that game with the winner playing the Calgary Flames.
Remember the one exhibition game coming out of training camp? The Oilers were worthy and would have been a force to contend with in the first Battle of Alberta playoff series?
What happened to that team? Where did it go? Why did it disappear?
How does Zack Kassian explain his empty effort?
There’s a long list of Oilers who were missing in action in their four-and-out now-you-see-them-now-you-don’t, no-guts-no-glory failure to pay the price to continue to play.
Why should COVID-19 work like the witness protection program for these guys? Nowhere does it say names should not be named and they all should simply become as invisible as they were in action.
It’s like the Oilers organization wanted them to exit stage left as fast as possible so they would be around to display their local laundry and soil the scene of the rave review production that continues on without them.
Oilers fans don’t even know why Adam Larsson was “unfit to play” in Games 3 & 4. Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, Matt Benning and Kris Russell are four defencemen who should be having a tough time looking in a mirror after the mistakes they made in that series. Ethan Bear was a wonderful story all year and looks like he’s going to be a special player going forward. But he got an education.
Kailer Yamamoto was great from Dec. 31 to March 12 but he was overwhelmed in the playoffs.
Kassian was 0-0-0 and minus-4.
Other “zeros” were Riley Sheahan, Jujhar Kaihra, Andreas Athanasiou, Yamamoto, Kris Russell, Bear and Larsson as well as Caleb Jones in their two games each.
All year coach Dave Tippett talked about having two goalies. Neither Mikko Koskinen nor Mike Smith was good enough. The Oilers can’t bring them both back.
James Neal doesn’t make much sense either.
Edmonton has left their fans on the outside looking in on a team that didn’t come together to deliver an effort worthy of continuing on in the great television show from Rogers Place. If there was ever a time for a face-the-music garbage bag day this was it.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020