Two days after closing out the season with a loss in Anaheim, the Oilers returned to Rexall Place to clean out their lockers and conduct their exit interviews Tuesday morning.
There was little to smile about for many players as the disappointing season and fourth consecutive early summer becomes a reality.
"It's a tough spot for any of us to be in right now," Fernando Pisani said. "Nobody wanted to be in this situation, packing up our gear and being done this early. It's no fun at all."
As painful as the season was, Patrick O'Sullivan thinks of it as a learning opportunity, especially for the team's many call-ups.
"Anytime you have to deal with that much adversity, you almost have to learn from it, and I believe we did," he said. "I think a lot of guys that hadn't had a lot of experience in this league definitely got that and got it in tough ways, with playing a lot of minutes and going through some tough times this year, as tough as I've seen in my career."
With a high NHL Entry Draft pick in the near future, there is a silver lining to the dark 2009-10 cloud, but captain Ethan Moreau called for patience as well as optimism.
"Historically, if you look at organizations that have gone through a rebuilding process, as we like to call it, it takes some time and it takes some patience," he explained. "But there's also examples where teams have turned it around and been a playoff team.
"There's some pretty good examples of that, but everything has to fall into place: you have to be healthy, you have to get solid goaltending and good special teams if you want to get yourself back into a playoff position.
"If I'm the captain of this team next year, I'll do everything in my power to lead and do what I've done my whole career -- be a good teammate and be a good leader. So we'll see what happens." Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com