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Principe's Blog: Tough it Out

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
Players wouldn't say it out loud and when I write that I mean players of opposing teams who faced the Edmonton Oilers. They wouldn't say that the Oilers were easy to play against, that there wasn't that looking over your shoulder kind of fear that makes you think twice when it comes to doing something that maybe you shouldn't be doing. Whether it's true or not almost doesn't matter because sometimes perception is reality.

Steve MacIntyre's knockout blow to Calgary's Raitis Ivanans brought upon an interesting debate regarding team tougness.
On opening night Calgary's Raitas Ivanans was going after some of the Oilers younger players. Edmonton's Steve MacIntyre didn't like all and he ended up delivering one partial and then one finishing blow to score a knockout. It's a fight that will have league wide reverberations. When other teams, other tough guys see it they may think twice about going after anyone in an Oiler uniform.

While the MacIntyre fight will certainly be the one best remembered from opening night it wasn't the only one. Theo Peckham fought Tim Jackman, Ryan Jones scrapped Stefan Meyer and Colin Fraser duked it out with Brett Sutter. None of them were hi-lite reel scraps but they all proved a point. To quote the 80's song by Tom Petty "I won't back down" will be a theme for Edmonton.

Will they win every fight? No. Do they have to win every fight? No. Do they need to show up for fights? Yes and they have. As proven by the Florida contest Sunday night not every game will have a feature bout, along with undercard scraps. Steve MacIntyre didn't even play but they filled his spot with another willing combatant in Zack Stortini. Against the Panthers gloves didn't need to be dropped for another victory.

Now I want to make it clear it's not all about pounding someone into the ice. It doesn't hurt to have that ability but it's about not being fun to play against. Edmonton is gritty, abrasive and playing with an edge which is something there wasn't enough of last year. They've added Jim Vandermeer while Theo Peckham starts the season in Edmonton for a first time. Colin Fraser and Ryan Jones up front bring with them a pain in the butt to play against element and of course there's Big Mac part two with the return of MacIntyre.

With all the young talent Edmonton has and will have for years to come now is the time to set the stage for these kids to know someone has their backs. This isn't something that can wait a month or two or a year or two. I'm not suggesting that the Oilers will reclaim glory only because of their talented youth but they won't do it without them being allowed to be themselves on the ice.

Edmonton doesn't need to be the Broad Street Bullies or the Big Bad Bruins yet characteristics from those Cup winning teams would be nice to have. The Oilers want to beat them on the scoreboard and when needed in the alley or on the ice. Rough and tough to go with skill to thrill would make for a hard to defeat combination.
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