(This post is part of a fundraiser for 826 Boston, a non-profit tutoring and writing center. For $50, readers can get me to write anything about hockey they want, so donate today to make me say stuff by clicking here. I probably don’t believe the nonsense below, which was requested by Brian.)
The balance of power in the hockey world is shifting and will soon rest in Northern Alberta, because the two greatest players in the world will not be that way forever.
Oh yeah, sure, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are good now. Of course they are. No one would argue otherwise. (Actually, that’s almost certainly not true.) But anyway they’re really great. But the slow lap of time on their skills will eventually lead to erosion, and someone else will take over from them.
Those someones: Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. Obviously.
Lots of work has been done to reconstruct the rough season Hall is having under new coach Dallas Eakins, but if we’re sitting here grumbling about the “meh” performance of a 22-year-old kid who only has 56 points in 53 games, and his running buddy who has 45 in 59 — albeit on a dumpster fire of a team that almost couldn’t be worse if it tried — then I think overall we’re doing okay. If there’s something seriously wrong with Hall’s performance this year and he’s still tied with Martin St. Louis and Joe freaking Thornton in points, then those are troubles you take every day of the week, full stop.
People seem to forget that Crosby and Malkin used to be on a team coached by an idiot (now taking up residence in Montreal) and with little to no help around them, particularly on their blue line. I’m trying to think: Does that remind you of anyone? Anyone at all? Where in the National Hockey League could we find two extremely talented young forwards who are on a team that has gone through a million coaching changes, picked a number of high-quality players over the last several years, and has no defense or goaltending to speak of?
Eakins is by all accounts a good coach who values the right things in this sport, like yelling at Mark Spector, and who will eventually turn the Oilers around once the team stops thinking that having top-pairing defenseman on the roster is an optional thing that not all teams should go for. You’d have to look extremely hard to find an allegedly NHL-level D corps worse than the Oilers’ has been the last few years, and you might want to start in the KHL.
Once Hall and Eberle have to stop worrying about the likelihood that Anton Belov is going to start re-tying his skates in the middle of a shift, they will be able to score at will. At that point, the sky will be the limit on the number of points they pile up. First stop is 100. Then once November rolls around, they’ll move right on to Gretzky’s scoring record. For a career.
Now all Craig MacTavish needs to do is find two, maybe three defensemen who are in the mid-20s and can skate backwards. This is no small task, though. Far more easily said than done. You can tell because the Oilers haven’t been able to accomplish it in like half a decade.
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