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Principe's Blog: To health & happiness

Gene Principe examines Oilers injury woes as the team embarks on 2011

Monday, 03.01.2011 / 7:00 PM / Blogs
By Gene Principe
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Principe\'s Blog: To health & happiness
Hopefully Jordan Eberle's recent ankle injury won't keep him out of the line-up for long. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
I'm not sure what your resolution was for 2011 or if you even had one, but if you are the Edmonton Oilers, I think the team resolution would be 'Good Health' after the team's run of injuries. It didn't seem that long ago that the 'Curse of the Oilers' past was exactly that -- in the past -- but now I'm not so sure that is the case ... not with the recent ankle issues of Ryan Whitney and Jordan Eberle. Even though Eberle's is more day-to-day or game-to-game, the seriousness of Whitney's woes makes me still believe someone is not watching out over the Oilers. 

Is there another team in the league that has lost its captain? Its best forward? Its best young forward (for argument's sake I'll say Eberle over Hall)? And its best goaltender? I don't think any other team has been hit this hard to its high-end talent. You wonder where this team would be if it, once again, wasn't so injury prone. I'm not saying they would be at the top of the Western Conference but I think it's pretty safe to say they wouldn't be at the bottom or at the bottom by so much.

This isn't anything new for Edmonton, coming off a year where they set a franchise record for man-games lost at 531. A total of 22 players were hurt or sick.The worst illness being Mike Comrie's mono which cost him 35 games. The worst injuries were Nikolai Khabibulin's back as he lost 60 games and Ales Hemsky's shoulder a close second as it cost him 57 games, and the worst pair of injuries was Sheldon Souray's head and hand that removed him from the lineup for a total of 45 games. There were also groin, hip, ankle, leg, knee, neck, and finger ailments. From the very first game to the final one, the Oilers always had someone hurt.

It's no coincidence what happened last year was a reason that there was a change at the top of the medical training staff for Edmonton. I'm never going to suggest it was Ken Lowe's fault -- I have enough trouble putting on a band-aid let alone diagnosing an injury or illness. However, as we all know, in life what isn't our fault doesn't necessarily mean that it isn't our problem. The new man in charge is TD Forss, but even if Ken Lowe was still the 'medicine man' he wouldn't have been at fault for Shawn Horcoff's knee injury (I think Corey Perry would take the blame for that) or for the ankle injuries to Whitney and Eberle.

What is important is to make sure one injury doesn't lead to another, or that the exact same thing that takes a player out of the lineup doesn't happen more than once or twice. I know many Oilers fans who would normally be heartbroken over all this aren't too worried because of how this will allow Edmonton a better shot at a lottery pick. At some point, this team will be a playoff club and the less time spent in the medical room and the more time spent in the dressing room and on the ice the better off they and their playoff hopes will be.

To Health and Happiness in 2011 or sometime soon for Edmonton.
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