The Edmonton hockey fanbase is such a fascinating one. Since integrating myself into the Edmonton market via Social media 3 or 4 years ago it continuously ceases to amaze me how much of a divide there is between such a passionate group. For a franchise that is desperate for a return to the glory days it’s incredible how some fans still refuse to accept anything but perfection and in fact are working on their own analytical equations and calculations to achieve just that. Meanwhile, others are so desperate for a return to glory that they will almost blindly buy into whatever their team is selling just to keep that false sense of hope going. Then both groups will constantly point the finger at each other in a constant battle of who is the better fan. LOL. It’s a highly engaged, passionate and polarizing hockey market that I absolutely love interacting with. There are so many extreme people on both sides of the aisle it makes for some highly entertaining conversations and talking points. In the end, it’s just a game and just a team but don’t tell that to the diehards or you can expect a tongue lashing.
If you were to break down the Edmonton Oiler fanbase you could easily break it down into two clearly polar opposite groups. I consider myself somewhere in the middle but certainly gravitate towards the glass half full crowd without question. There is a strong, pro-analytic contingent in Edmonton that almost completely operates within the first group. The majority of bloggers in and around Edmonton lean heavily that way as well. Then there is the old-fashioned, old school, traditionalist faction of hockey fans who hate to be told that they are dumb since they don’t use spreadsheets in their evaluations and prefer to trust what they see with their own two eyes. They almost completely encompass the second group. Everyone else is somewhere else in between. So who exactly are these two groups and what common traits or philosophies do they share? Take a look:
Group 1 – Chia Haters
- Like to play Armchair GM. Expert on all transactions & players despite limited to no viewings of anyone outside of Edmonton
- Their hindsight is 20/20
- It’s their fiduciary responsibility to meet every single move with trepidation and skepticism
- Fully aware of the NHL trade market & great at assessing the true value of their own assets.
- Also excel at roster construction and cap management
- “Don’t tell me how to fan”
- Guaranteed to still be bitter about Taylor Hall
- Anything they can not visualize or track ie. Leadership, chemistry, confidence, locker room distractions, off-ice issues do not exist & should not factor into decisions.
- Don’t like to drink Kool-Aid
- Put a greater emphasis on anything to do with Offence in NHL but diminish the value of Defence in NHL.
- “Push the River” has tremendous value and ”Plug the River” is meaningless unless it’s a tampon.
- The Stanley Cup ring on the GM’s finger had nothing to do with him
- “Bleeding talent”
- Trade away everyone GM signed, keep everyone before him
- Every ex-Oiler should have never left.
- Self-proclaimed “Critical thinkers” who fail to factor in the positive affect of a transaction in their objective analysis.
- Chia supporters should be viewed as sheep or “Chia Pets” to help discourage their ongoing support and positivity.
Group 2 – Chia Supporters
- Typically leave the GM’ing to the paid professionals. Prefer to stay in their lane and not pretend they could do job better
- Always look at the positive side of each transaction. Best case scenario type.
- Can never have enough Kool-aid
- Often will antagonize Chia haters to the point they make themselves look ridiculous at times
- Can be easily fooled at times
- Analytics are pointless and are ruining the game
- Dislike Trolls
- Cautiously optimistic about “the plan”
- Heart, leadership, grit are all valuable intangibles
- “Lucic will bounce back”
- Taylor who?
- See more value in Defensive players like Adam Larsson and Kris Russell
- GM not part of the OBC
- “Why are you always so negative?”
- Quick to point to Chiarelli’s draft record in Edmonton and last year in Boston
- “Shut up about Taylor Hall already”
So which group is better? Honestly it makes no difference. Both are byproducts of each other anyways. Constant positivity despite negative results creates negative groups and constant negativity despite positive signs creates more positive groups. There is no doubt that the first Group is still upset about one of their favourite players Taylor Hall being traded despite it being almost 2 years ago. They will never let it go and will never be satisfied until the man responsible for such transaction loses his job plain and simple. Oilers win a Cup? Pfft, could’ve won 3 with Hall. It is why they are never quick to give the GM any credit for anything it would contrast with their ultimate objective – for him to pay for what he’s done. Sound petty?
The second group is like a hopeless romantic. They will almost blindly support their team no matter what and always hold out hope even if it is just a glimmer that things will get better (Sound familiar Leafs fans?). They choose to see the glass half full but can become passive aggressive when confronted with a lot of negativity. If they’re proven wrong about a player, quite often they will double down or continue to “love” that player despite their shortcomings. They believe Uncle Chia will take them to the promise land eventually and let them go on all the rides when they do. Supporting your team any other way than that makes you a bad fan.
So while both groups are polar opposites, they do share one thing in common in that they want the Oilers to win more than anything. How we get to that point is the hard part.
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