It’s not the coach, our defense, offense, youthfulness nor the fact that we don’t have a A-lister goalie. It’s not because it is a “building” year, or because we don’t check enough, lack locker room leadership, or [insert any theory here].
Every year for the past 6 years we hear all of these excuses as reasons for our team’s lackluster performance.
The Oilers themselves know they suck. They have fired coaches and GMs, traded, benched and publicly berated players. Yet nothing changes. We continue to lose. We continue to live in the league’s basement.
Why? What’s the real reason the Oilers suck year after year after year?
It’s the organization’s culture.
I know concepts like workplace culture are rarely discussed over Rexall beers. But hear me out.
The culture of a company or workplace is a bit airy fairy to most, but simplified it is how a business looks, how employees (players) perform and the attitudes employees bring to work each day (game). It’s about the goals the organization (team) sets for itself and how employees and management go about achieving them. Culture can be most easily described as “the way things get done around here”.
Let’s be honest. The Oilers haven’t been getting much done for quite some time.
When you have a strong workplace culture, employees are engaged and the company performs well. When you have a bad workplace culture, employees don’t give it their all and company goals become more difficult to achieve.
The interesting thing about culture is that it is set at the top. The business owner, CEO and senior management set the pace for creating, defining and refining a company’s culture.
Back to the Oilers. The only thing that hasn’t changed in the last 6 years are the people at the top. Now it’s been made crystal clear to us that Kevin Lowe knows a lot about winning hockey games, and Patrick Laforge seems to know how get the organization’s bottom-line to win and score arenas in exchange for the change in his owner’s pocket. But what do Lowe, Laforge and their senior team know about building a winning culture? About creating an environment where every employee, every player, wants to give their all every day, every game?
Think about it. We’ve all had those jobs.
You know the ones. Where you don’t like your boss. Where you have respect for the senior management team only when they are in the same room as you. Where employee morale is rock bottom. Where you don’t think twice about calling in sick or spending extra time chatting around the water cooler. Where you consciously or subconsciously give as little as possible to the mighty machine. These are the jobs where you say, “I do it for the pay cheque” and you mail it in most days.
Faithful Oiler fans, our team is mailing it in most games.
So until self-awareness or the axe strikes those at the top, or until the seas part and the sky falls, I don’t think we can expect much. Crazier things have happened though. Our city gave a billionaire owner a publicly funded arena after all.
The next time you watch a game and the Oilers aren’t doing as well as you feel they should, think back to those jobs where you mailed it in. In that moment, the one thing you can feel good about is that this might be the one and only time you can actually relate to life as an Edmonton Oiler.