Edmonton Oilers PTSD

The Edmonton Oilers are the worst NHL team of the twenty-first century.

And no, this isn't hyperbole, or a trick. If you take every hockey game played in the 21st century and look at the teams point totals, the Oilers sit uncomfortably at the bottom. I started, as every Seinfeld viewer knows, on January 1st 2001 and continued up until today (er...yesterday). And the sad reality I found was the Edmonton Oilers with 1194 points in 1379 games, and their 0.865 PPG at the very bottom of the league. Second place is Arizona followed by Columbus(!?), Florida, and Buffalo.

All of the numbers in this post are based with the NHL results as of Thursday morning (2019-02-07).

Edmonton Oilers have the worst  record in the NHL during the 21st century

Team total points total games points per game
ANA 1491 1378 1.082002903
BOS 1488 1381 1.077480087
BUF 1279 1380 0.926811594
CAR 1289 1381 0.933381608
CBJ 1254 1376 0.911337209
CGY 1378 1381 0.997827661
CHI 1401 1380 1.015217391
COL 1328 1379 0.963016679
DAL 1450 1380 1.050724638
DET 1534 1375 1.115636364
EDM 1194 1379 0.865844815
FLA 1260 1380 0.913043478
LAK 1348 1381 0.976104272
MIN 1408 1382 1.018813314
MTL 1407 1379 1.020304569
NJD 1419 1381 1.027516293
NSH 1471 1383 1.06362979
NYI 1290 1379 0.935460479
NYR 1421 1375 1.033454545
OTT 1406 1382 1.017366136
PHI 1419 1382 1.026772793
PHX 1224 1387 0.882480173
PIT 1458 1381 1.055756698
SJS 1545 1383 1.117136659
STL 1418 1381 1.02679218
TBL 1422 1381 1.029688631
TOR 1332 1378 0.966618287
VAN 1435 1380 1.039855072
VEG 173 137 1.262773723
WPG 1322 1382 0.95658466
WSH 1468 1382 1.062228654

Last night the Oilers defeated the Minnesota Wild 4-1. This is change of pace: Edmonton is 3-6-2 in their last ten games and coming off three humiliating losses in a row: a Saturday afternoon game against Philadelphia where they coughed up a lead to lose in overtime followed by a Sunday afternoon game against Montreal in the Bell Centre where they coughed up a lead to lose in overtime. Next game the disaster on 104th Avenue on Tuesday where the Oilers didn't even get a loser point in overtime because they coughed up a lead to be humiliated 6-2 by Chicago in the infamous return of the "jersey toss".

I almost didn't watch last night's game, by the way. Literally yesterday morning when I got the alert reminder on my phone that the team played that night, I felt ill. My stomach ached, my temples throbbed, and I experienced anxiety and despair. This is a new phenomenon I describe as Oilers PTSD. I'm not alone in this, and technically this experience isn't new. Years ago in the regular season games prior to the 2006 playoff run when the team was fighting for that 8th playoff spot [doesn't that seem quaint now? -ed] I was talking with a coworker about how my mood really depended on the result of the previous night's game. A girl I know who moved to Edmonton from Toronto around 2008 was mentioning a couple years back how the city's mood really varies based on how the Oilers did the night before: she noticed in business meetings downtown that when the team lost the night before she wasn't going to get a good reception to anything other than the best news on the planet. I was talking with a guy who lived in Montreal for two years and he said both cities are roughly the same on this, but he also admitted Edmonton probably "wins" in that race as well.

But remember..the team has been an embarrassment for most of this entire century. We have the best player in the league and in three seasons we have nothing to show for it. We had an atrocious General Manger who everybody saw was a bad idea from the moment he was brought on board, who inexplicably was signing bad deals minutes before he was let go. Oilers games with a couple small exceptions have been disasters ever since 9/11. And like a soldier sent to kill the adherents of a child raping Satanic prophet over in Afghanistan, Oilers fans are also suffering post-traumatic stress which morphs into pre-traumatic stress every time we get that TSN.ca notification that an Oilers game is on the horizon.

Don't believe me? Check the WebMD symptoms for PTSD and let me know how many of them apply to you or the Oilers fan in your life:
Whether you're thinking about it or not, memories of the traumatic event can come back to bother you. You may experience them in your sleep as nightmares or during the day as flashbacks. That means you relive the event as if it's happening for the first time.

Both can cause you to feel anxious, afraid, guilty, or suspicious. These emotions may play out physically in the form of chills, shaking, headaches, heart palpitations, and panic attacks.
How many times in the day or two after a bad Oilers loss have you suddenly thought about it? How many times have you had headaches when you watch us be humiliated again and remember that Lucic is taking up a whopping 7% of the Oilers cap hit while only having 14 points on the season? Panic attacks when you realize that McDavid can see the writing on the wall and Manning in the locker room and likely demand a trade sometime before Jason Kenney runs for reelection? Don't feel alone. We've all been there.

You don't want to think about it. You don't want to talk about it. You steer clear of everyone and everything that reminds you of the event, including places and activities.
This is the section that sort of spoils my thesis. Ironically, as Martok was talking about this morning when I bounced the idea of this post against him mentioned, we remain fans. We watch fewer games when experiencing Oilers PTSD (I didn't watch the Chicago game on Tuesday, for example), we aren't steering clear of people and things that remind us of the event. Indeed, we keep attending the event, at least by watching it on TV.

Doctors call these “arousal symptoms.” They can make your emotions more intense or make you react differently than you normally would. For example, if you're a careful driver, you might start driving too fast or be super-aggressive on the road. Irrational, angry outbursts are very common.

Many find it hard to focus. Feelings of danger and being under attack can ruin concentration and keep you from finishing tasks you do every day. This can also lead to trouble sleeping, whether you're having nightmares or not.
I haven't had "arousal symptoms" since the Oilers moved to Rogers Place and that brunette in the tight shirt stopped skating around during TV time outs clearing off the ice, har har. I kid of course: Oilers fans often have their concentration interfered with during the emotionally stunned period during a bad losing streak. As the Toronto girl in business meeting story above illustrated, Edmontonians felt under attack and having trouble concentrating on the day after a single Oilers loss. What about during losing streaks? What about exercises in total futility at putting a competitive NHL team out on the ice when you have the greatest player in maybe two generations on a line with Ty Rattie?

PTSD doesn't always come with clues like nightmares and flashbacks. Sometimes it seems like a mood change unrelated to the traumatic event.

You'll know it by its negativity. You may feel hopeless, numb, or bad about yourself or others. Thoughts of suicide can come and go. Deep feelings of guilt and shame are common, as well.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. That feeling of hopelessness (no matter who is the owner, GM, coach, star forward the result is always the same), feeling bad about yourself for being an Oilers fan, the numbness when every loss just stops explicitly bothering you and turns into a overarching paste of sadness. Deep feelings of shame? Absolutely. Guilt when you realize your viewing eyeballs have rewarded the folks who keep making this happen? Absolutely. Suicide? Okay, that's maybe a bridge too far. Still, the feelings of shame. You don't want to be seen in Calgary with an Oilers hat anymore. You have nothing to hold over them.

Activities you normally enjoy may not interest you anymore. Your motivation to maintain relationships with close friends and family could be low.
Activities you enjoy...like watching the Oilers play...no longer interest you. Your motivation to maintain relationships with close friends (hey want to go to The Pint and watch the Oilers game?) is lower than ever.

Those are the signs. You probably have Oilers PTSD. In fact, if you don't you should get your head examined. You're no longer human. Or you're no longer an Oilers fan. I suppose in that case your head is working just fine.