Talking Oil With The Copper & Blue's Derek Zona

Chris Pronger used to Oil. Now he Flies. Or something. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

As anyone who reads the Fly Bys on a regular basis knows, we here at Broad Street Hockey are big fans of The Copper & Blue, SB Nation's Edmonton Oilers colossus.  The fearless leader at C&B is none other than Derek Zona, who has proven that even if you build it in Edmonton, they will come. Derek agreed to chat briefly about the Oilers.

Ben: OK, let's jump right into your Oilers. Why are they bad? Or, put another way, why aren't they good?

Derek: They were built to lose. Last year they were a cap team and finished last and nothing was added to the team except rookies. Even though the Oilers are second-to-last in total points since the lockout and dead last since 06-07, it wasn't until the day after the 09-10 season ended that management decided/realized this team was in the middle of a rebuild.

Ben: Are things looking better now than they were a while ago? Taylor Hall got hurt, obviously, but he had been absolutely exploding, and selling out the building in the process. Can you see light from where you are in the tunnel?

Derek: The building is going to sell out regardless, at least for the near future. Hall has been as expected, Eberle has been very good as well. Linus Omark's possession metrics are really fun to see. The defense is still a mess and depth remains an issue. The Penner trade was a gut punch though. It was trading tangible assets for draft picks and prospects that might be and that's a silly risk. Kevin Lowe was on CBC for Hockey Day In Canada and said the team will compete for the playoffs in 3 years and contend fo a cup in 6 years. At the time we thought he was lowering expectations. The Penner trade shows that there is no plan to win for the next 2 years. That's tough to take

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Who knows. The same people who didn't realize they were in a four year rebuild are in charge of rebuilding. It's doesn't make me warm and fuzzy.

Ben: There is little about Edmonton that would ever make me warm and fuzzy, but that's just me. What are your hopes for the rest of the season? Want a nice run to build momentum? Or better lottery odds?    

Derek: That's a really good question, actually. So many fans are happy to get the 1st pick again and that's almost repulsive to me. I'm with Mitch at Matchsticks & Gasoline when it comes to tanking.. Besides, I don't know if the Oilers can overcome the freefall of Brian Elliott and Peter Budaj.

Ben: It's indeed amazing how teams keep raising the suck bar.

Derek: Craig Anderson is keeping Ottawa in it and Florida's roster is ridiculous.

Ben: Obviously, the biggest thing the recent Flyers and Oilers have in common is Chris Pronger. The two teams have each made the Stanley Cup finals once in the past decade, each during Pronger's first season. Looking back, how much of that run do you attribute to Pronger, and as an outsider do you see him having as profound an effect on the Flyers?

Derek: Pronger is an amazing player. He's hated in Edmonton now, but the Oilers don't get anywhere near the playoffs, let alone the finals without Pronger. Same with the Flyers, actually. He just eats up minutes - the toughs and second toughs. He's not the physical beast he was as a younger player, but he's still there - always there, always on the ice when it matters. He's a great player - one of the best defenseman since the original six era.

Ben: Expectations for tonight's game? The Oilers haven't played in Philadelphia since before Obama got elected. The Flyers have been awful lately, just two days off of a 7-0 drubbing at MSG. Think your Oilers have a win in 'em tonight?

Derek: If Dubnyk is in goal, they have a chance. If it's Khabibulin, the Flyers will roll.

Our thanks to Derek for participating. Here's hoping his team loses spectacularly tonight.

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