Waiting for Gretzky: The President’s Confession

Previously posted on the now defunct The Hockey Chat blog, InGoal Magazine and Today’s Slapshot writer Paul Campbell returns with another guest post for One Puck Short:

Waiting for Gretzky: The President’s Confession

In response to Ron MacLean’s prediction of an Oilers’ Stanley Cup within 4 years, Kevin Lowe, Edmonton’s President of Hockey Operations, has released an open letter to desperate fans. We reprint that letter here in its entirety.

Dear Oil Country:

First, I’d like to thank you for remaining loyal to us through our highs and lows. This doesn’t include the jerks who started the jersey-throwing trend last year, though. You’re dead to us. Go cheer for Calgary for all we care. You deserve each other.

But everyone else, thank you. Since our majestic run to the Cup finals in 2006, it’s been tough to be associated with the Oilers in any way. Seriously, I can’t even go out in public anymore. We’ve failed to make the playoffs since that time, and remained at or near the bottom of the league despite drafting three first-overall picks. Craig MacTavish and I, we admit, may bear some of the responsibility for the current drought. We’ve both basically occupied every decision-making position during this stretch. We’ve made some questionable, indeed, some downright puzzling moves, and failed to do anything to improve the team recently. In short, we understand that you may believe we are incompetent. We accept this. In fact, we encourage it.

Edmonton, brace yourselves: we have created the illusion of incompetence for a reason. In actual fact, we have successfully carried out a diabolical scheme known only to six individuals. Now that we are near its end, your patience almost exhausted, we feel like it’s time to tell you the truth. We wanted to wait for the home opener, but Ron MacLean got a glass of wine or beer into him and forced our hand.

In the summer of 2006, the finals already a distant memory, Glen Sather phoned myself and Craig. This wasn’t unusual, but I could tell from his tone something wasn’t right. He asked us to meet him in the basement of the Baccarat Casino, immediately. It was just past midnight on a Tuesday, and it must have been early in July because the snow had not quite finished melting in the city. We got there at the same time – when Slats calls, you go. An armed attendant he brought with him from New York (he was working for the Rangers at this point) motioned us through a dismal doorway. Glen was sitting on the dirt floor, a Ouija board in front of him, the only light coming from a half-dozen candles flickering in the terrible draft. He looked insane as he stared into the darkness.

“Fellas,” he half-whispered in a frightening monotone, “you’re going to bring our dynasty back to Edmonton. It’s going to happen on this very ground. I’ve been trying to put together another champion team by collecting high-profile free agents and overpaying them. It doesn’t work. You have to do it through the draft.”

Glen told us he’d been compelled by a mysterious force to conduct a séance on the casino grounds. The spirit he channeled there spelled out a 13-year plan for the organization. It would mean being bad, despicably bad, for most of these years, but at the end, the second Oilers dynasty would be in place. You don’t argue with Slats. When he offered the ceremonial skate and told us to cut our fingers and swear in blood that we would obey the spirit, we did it. He then relayed all the ghost had told: “There is a boy now living in Newmarket who will save you. He is 9 years old, and his name is….”

One of my and Craig’s greatest strengths is that we know how to win. We did it like nobody’s business in the 80s. The problem is, all that winning we did was on a team with at least a half-dozen superstars, the best in the league at most positions. Kevin and I had no chance of success without that kind of lineup. So we’ve been following Glen’s plan to obtain it. We had Messier, Kurri, Anderson, and Tikkanen – we now have Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, and Yakupov. Paul Coffee is coming soon (trust us), and don’t worry about goaltending. Grant Fuhr was pretty good, but when you score 5 goals a night, even Ben Scrivens can get you the win. The reason we kept losing (and I admit, trying to lose) is because we were waiting on the most important piece. We couldn’t have had a dynasty without the Great One, and guys like that don’t come along every day. We missed the last one (thanks for all your help in the Crosby lottery, spirit), but we didn’t miss this one. Connor McGretzky, er, McDavid, is the final piece of the puzzle.

Trust us. As soon as we acquire the best player in a generation, you’ll see all our hard, dirty work pay off. We’ll all be sitting in the séance room of the new arena (Katz has been in on this too – why else would he have agreed to build the thing?) having a good laugh, shouting “I told you so, Edmonton!” over the loud speaker every time our dream team scores yet another amazing goal. And you’ll laugh, forgetting about the last decade like it was a bad dream.

Trust us.


Kevin Lowe

President of Hockey Operations,
Former General Manager,
Former Head Coach,
Former Dynasty Player,
Edmonton Oilers


Thanks to Paul. You can find his previous guest post, ‘A Modest Proposal to Increase NHL Scoring’, here and follow him on Twitter @77PGC



About Rob

Software engineer by day, Elite League Media man by night, Rob also blogs about cricket for One Stump Short, hockey for In Goal Magazine and video games for Outpost Delta as well as hosting the One Stump Short Podcast.

Posted on September 12, 2015, in Edmonton Oilers, Hockey, NHL, Paul Campbell and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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