With the Edmonton Oilers all but eliminated from the postseason, it's time to start looking to next year. Priority number one: rebuild the stars.
On Sunday, the Oilers announced that surgery was likely in the offing for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. His season appears to be over.
It's a torn labrum for the Nuge, according to Rob Tychkowski -- the same injury for which Taylor Hall underwent surgery at the end of last season. The expected recovery time hasn't changed. RNH is looking at six months on the shelf.
You've got to feel for the Oilers, who have a history of losing their best players to shoulder problems. Along with Hall, Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff have had to go in for labrum repairs. For all the blame that's been place on management over the past few years -- much of it deservedly, no doubt -- one wonders if the Oilers might be better if the air in Edmonton didn't erode shoulders.
(There are no shoulders on the roads there, even. Veer outside the lines and it's just a sheer cliff. Driving in Edmonton is terrifying.)
Amazingly, just like Hall's surgery last season, RNH is taking care of something that's been bothering him since junior. The Nuge's labrum has been an issue since his second season in Red Deer, which just baffles me. Why are they only fixing it now?
Nugent-Hopkins said the labrum is an issue that stems from his second season with the Red Deer Rebels.
He did not use it as an excuse for the drop in his production this season. Nugent-Hopkins leaves the lineup with four goals and 20 assists through 40 games. In his rookie campaign, he finished with 52 points in 62 games.
“Most of the time, I felt it, it was sudden movements and jerks. I didn’t feel it too much during the season,” he said.
“It’s something that doesn’t fix itself. It has to be taken care off. It’s something that’s been nagging at me for a couple of years.”
I don't even know what to say to that. If this injury is that old, why didn't the Oilers didn't insist on this surgery last offseason, especially with the lockout dragging into January? Sure, Nugent-Hopkins says it wasn't the reason for his drop in production, but it's clearly been an issue. If it goes that far back, why not fix it then?
I understand that the Oilers were trying to make the playoffs -- not to mention make good on the promise Adrian Dater saw in them -- but this is crazy.
This is the second year in a row I've asked this about an Oiler. When Hall's surgery was announced, he explained that he'd been battling through the shoulder problems for an entire presidential term:
"Four years now … I injured it in junior and it's been wearing away ... I've been playing with a pretty bad shoulder for most of this year and I'm excited to see what I can do after it's fixed ...
How the Oilers can let their franchise player play on a shoulder that was "wearing away", then fail to learn their lesson and do the exact same thing the following year with their other franchise player is beyond me.
I'd say this is enough to call for a management change, but, well, that already happened, so I don't even know what this calls for anymore. A facepalm at the very least.