Waiting for sunrise

And so the process continues.

It was to be expected; Hemsky and Penner were good considerations for teams willing to trade a bunch of futures for one good present.

And it was good for us; futures are important, we are told, so much so that the party – as they sit in a cozy basement suite working on the blueprints for 2015 – calls them planks.

But the trade raises two questions: Is that all it was, mortgaging the present for the future, and What will life be like without Dustin Penner?

With respect to the former, there is a subset of questions within: Did he want to play here, and what was money’s role?

When the off-season began, Tambo went Rambo; few survived. And it worked; the culture seemed to change. This finish – hopefully last again – looks the same but feels different. More positive, as if an elixir of hope has imbued itself into the beer around here.

According to the aforementioned blueprint, if somebody doesn’t want to be here, they shouldn’t. In short order, they weren’t. And now Penner isn’t.

Posit: If all Edmontonians making four million/year were offered a choice between earning it here or earning it in LA, what result would the poll return? More specifically, if the question was posed to Penner – as he works his way to work in -30oC, through the blowing snow, around the stalls and traffic accidents – what would his answer be?

They call it rebuilding

It was expected because we are a team of the future, not the present. And if two of the three prospects we received in return (one corporeal, Colten Teubert, and two draft picks) is on the team in three years, then we did the right thing; the benefits for the future out weight a loss in the present. Add a vacuum in the line-up that is sure to suck up another test subject, and you have the makings of a long-term, winning strategy. A vindication of the blueprint.

Such is the party line.

But then there is the money. Oilers owner, Darly Katz, has stated that he is subsidizing the team, to the tune of millions per year. Did Dustin’s desire to have orange trees in his backyard rather than winter tires in his garage co-join with Darly’s desire to redirect Penner’s paycheck back into his pocket?

If so, then perhaps the noble goal of shaping a future winner was not the motivator. Perhaps it was something a little more crass: personal quality of life and a better bottom line.

And if that is the case, does it speak of the base desires of the parties involved, or does it speak of the futility of being a fan? Does it not illustrate that our needs, wants and desires are but secondary considerations?


Every year, melodically, methodically, we would place our projections on Dustin’s back.

With the consistency of a metronome, each season began with the belief that Dustin would develop into team lead, use his imposing size to project a protective presence on the ice, lead the team in goals, hits and interviews.

That he would define the team’s character.

At the end of every season we would either ready our excuses or sharpen the knives, depending upon which riverbank we were camped.

But those days ended yesterday, leaving a void. Who now will we claim is underachieving?

A problem with potential

Penner is a big boy and there was always the expectation that he would explore using it as a weapon; that he would develop into a “tough” forward who plays with “physicality”.

The concept never caught on with him.

It never will.

Yet, after all the hopes and dreams, accusations and admonishments are stripped away, he remains the last thirty-goal scorer since Ryan Smith, 06/07.

He will be missed.

Godspeed, Dustin Penner. May your shots have eyes, your hits be clean, your seasons be injury free and, one day, may the hockey gods grace your finger with a ring.

As for us, we are still here – amongst the cold, the snow, the tow trucks – waiting for the dawn that is said to bring a contender.

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