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Principe's Blog: Growing Pains

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
The growing pains continued into Saturday night when the Sharks defeated the Oilers 6-1 at Rexall Place.

If you're old enough to remember and if not let me tell you about a 1980's show called 'Growing Pains'. It starred Canadian Alan Thicke and Kirk Cameron (brother of Candace Cameron the oldest girl on 'Full House' who ended up marrying Val Bure. I went a long way for a hockey connection on that.)

The show was about a family and the development of the kids into young, productive adults under the guiding hand of mom and dad.

It was a comedy and a pretty good one at that for the years that it ran. It now takes me to the 2010 verion of hockey's 'Growing Pains' that is going on with the Edmonton Oilers and this isn't funny. If you thought the Oilers' 4-2 pre-season and 2-0 start to the regular season were a sign of things to come you're right. It's just that they're not coming right now...not with having lost four in a row.

Edmonton is just finding their way and that will take time. Could you expect Taylor Hall to be the same Taylor Hall in Windsor? Not yet. Did you believe that Magnus Paajarvi would discover North America was an easier place to earn a living than Sweden? Maybe someday. Also was it realistic to believe that Jordan Eberle could score when he wanted and when Edmonton needed like he did in Canadian junior and World junior? Unrealisitic.

Each kid has shown flashes of what made them so highly touted but time and experience is what they need more than anything.

Also while I point out the kids first they aren't the only ones going through some 'Growing Pains'. The whole team is going through them and it should not come as a surprise to anyone. Gone are Ethan Moreau, Fernando Pisani, Mike Comrie, Ryan Potulny, Aaron Johnson, Marc Pouliot, Patrick O'Sullivan and Robert Nilsson. Okay, dead wood they may or may not be but that's a lot of change over the course of a few months.

Flashes of incredible talent continue to come, as Jordan Eberle showed on Saturday with a beautiful shorthanded goal.
You can't get rid of that many players and expect it be absolutely seamless. Throw in the fact that Edmonton has a newly promoted head coach in Tom Renney, a new assistant coach in Steve Smith and the changing continues.

It's so hard to predict results when you're not sure of what you have and what they can do.

If you need a template of teams coming off a few bad years there are a couple of prime Stanley Cup examples. The Penguins picked first overall in 2003 and got Marc Andre Fleury. A year later it was Evgeni Malkin with the second pick and back to first overall in 2005 with Sidney Crosby. A year after that and they picked Jordan Staal second. That tells me they were a bad team for at least four years if not longer. In 2009 they won the Cup.

Chicago put together a similar game plan. In 2006 they picked third overall and got Jonathan Toews. In 2007 they picked first overall after moving up from the fifth spot in the lottery to draft first and to get Patrick Kane. Three years later and they win the Stanley Cup.

There's a theme there. Now I'm not saying that three or four years from selecting Taylor Hall that the Oilers will win the Cup...

You don't build a good team overnight and if you want a great team it takes even longer and even more 'Growing Pains'.
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