Edmonton

'It's far past embarrassment': Oiler fans tuning out as losses mount

Some Edmonton Oilers fans have had enough with the team's play. If you can believe it, the Oilers hit a new low Tuesday in a loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to Chicago saw at least 2 jerseys thrown onto ice

The Edmonton Oilers practise Wednesday at the Downtown Community Arena before heading to St. Paul, Minn., to face the Wild on Thursday. (John Shypitka/CBC)

Some Edmonton Oilers fans have had enough with the team's play.  If you can believe it, the Oilers hit a new low Tuesday in a loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

It was how the team lost that sent many fans running to the exits. It was the third straight third period meltdown, but this one was especially painful.

Chicago scored four goals in less than three minutes to put the Oilers on ice.

Starting goalie Cam Talbot, who for the most part stood on his head during the first two periods, was hung out to dry and given the hook, but replacement Mikko Koskinen didn't fare much better.  

It was too much to take for a pair of fans who threw Oilers jerseys onto the ice.

'It was so brutal'

"It's starting to get embarrassing. Well, not starting to, it's far past embarrassment," said long-time season-ticket holder and lifelong fan ​Nitin Bhatia. "It's now at the stage where we can't be proud of what's going on."

Bhatia has owned or shared season tickets since 2001.

He and several friends are so diehard they flew to Atlanta during the team's 2006 Stanley Cup run, and then drove nine hours to watch the Oilers lose to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.

Nitin Bhatia and son Jaivan take in an Edmonton Oilers game earlier this year. (Nitin Bhatia/supplied)

Bhatia is the first to admit that he's stopped going to games this year and regularly gives his tickets to friends who are interested only when a popular team comes to town.

But last night, a client invited him to watch the game from a luxury box. He says the mood during the third period turned from jovial to apologetic.

"It was so brutal," he said. "You think to yourself they just dumped $10,000 into that one night, and they're apologizing to the people they spent that money on.  

"That feeling of embarrassment is what's going on now. Even sitting there watching the game myself, as usual it became comedic."

'I actually got up and left'

Longtime Oilers fan Lak Padem was at the game with his brother. He's been to half-a-dozen games so far this year.

He said the mood was great while the Oilers were winning, but as soon as the wheels came off in the third, it was a mad dash for the exits.  

"It was the first game I actually got up and left," said Padem, who was at the game thanks to a season ticket holder friend who couldn't make the game.

"People were just starting to boo. People just started losing interest in it. I saw people getting up and leaving. When you have people just getting up and leaving because of frustration, that's not a good thing."

It's a feeling not lost on the players.

The game against the Blackhawks was announced as a sellout, but there were plenty of no-shows in the stands. 

Oilers fan Lak Padem's view from last night's game between the Oilers and the Chicago Blackhawks. (Lak Padem/supplied )

And as the boos and jerseys hit the ice, the players' body language reflected the mood in the building.

"It's tough. Obviously it's our fans and you feel shitty about yourself when they're reacting the way they do," said Oscar Klefbom, who returned to the lineup to play 20:56 after missing 21 games with a broken finger.

"I understand them. We haven't played good enough and I think the whole city of Edmonton wants a playoff team and so do we in the locker room, but we're not going to get there if we play like the way we do right now."

The Oilers get another chance to get it right, this time on the road, Thursday against the Minnesota Wild.