December 15, 2010

Oilers Debut NHL's First Canadian Jeerleading Team as Leafs Make Hall Eat His Words

"Hold on, girls. This could get ugly."
In theory, the Edmonton Oilers picked the perfect night to debut their new Octane cheerleading squad, that is if they had been listening to anything star-in-the-making Taylor Hall was saying in the media in the lead-up to their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

"Hopefully we can compete a lot harder [than on Sunday], because [Toronto] is a team that, if we do, it's there for the taking," Hall said on Monday, one day prior to the Oilers' 4-1 loss to the Leafs. Put simply, he should have known better.

Now, I think most sane hockey fans will be able to agree that the P.K. Subban and Linus Omark situations of the recent past were much ado about nothing in terms of having to do with the lack of respect going around in the NHL among the game's younger players, especially in a day and age where another player seems to be taken off the ice on a stretcher every week thanks to a hit from behind. From that perspective, talk of a 360-degree spin in a shootout and some extra mouthing-off on the ice seems somewhat irrelevant. However, look no further than Hall's comments for a true example of a hockey faux pas. You don't give the opposing team any reason to get up for a game against you. It's just plain stupid, and, yes, disrespectful.

Forget what Hall meant to say, because one has to believe he's not that stupid to openly and blatantly call out a struggling team. The fact is he made it so the usually laclustre Leafs were given added motivation on Tuesday to play better than their usual waiting-for-springtime-to-bloom-again selves.

As such, the Oilers' new cheerleading team, the first employed by a Canadian team, was forced to make its first appearance under relatively harsh circumstances, with the opposition having good reason not to be distracted by anything other than the task at hand yesterday night. Perhaps no one was more focused than Phil Kessel, but that doesn't necessarily have much at all to do with his current scoring slump (read into that however way you like).

Kessel actually had two points on the night, including a goal, as the Leafs proved that either they're much better than the team that lost 5-0 to the Oilers a few weeks ago, or the Oilers aren't as good as their hot streak of 5-1-1 heading into last night would indicate. Considering they are the Leafs after all, it's likely option "B".

Enter Oilers Octane, who will surely give that extra boost to the line-up and the crowd alike needed to get this team into the playoffs. I mean, just looking at their pictures, it's clear that they're beasts on the ice, tough as nails, who clearly know how to take a bodycheck or two... wait, what's that? You mean the cheerleaders won't actually directly contribute to the games' outcomes? They won't be playing and replacing the likes of Andrew Cogliano and Jason Strudwick? Bollocks. Then what's the point of hiring a bunch of average-looking women (with admittedly great bodies) just to get the crowd going? Good question.

All due respect to the cheerleaders, who aren't really all that bad-looking (I was just making a point that the only help the Oilers need is with the actual playing of hockey), all their addition does is pave the way for other Canadian teams to buy into the gimmick that has already befallen 23 American teams. As mentioned in the previous post detailing the initial announcement (link here), the Oilers don't need sex to sell tickets. They do alright on their own, and with the team bound to improve drastically in the years to come with all the young talent being infused into the line-up, it makes little sense for Edmonton to be the first Canadian team to take the ill-advised leap. Now, Toronto, that makes more sense.

Perhaps the clearly overly hormonal Hall, who may still be going through the stages of puberty judging by the babyface look of his, learnt his latest life lesson as a result of maybe trying too hard to impress the team's new "players". Whatever the case, he likely did learn it, which is good news for the Oilers' future. The cheerleaders? Just one more sign hockey in Canada as a whole is going to hell in a handbasket, punctuated by Matthew Hulsizer being one step closer to keeping the Coyotes in Phoenix well into the foreseeable future, with the city of Glendale approving a lease for the team on Wednesday.

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