How Best Buy, JCP Are Like the Edmonton Oilers

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- You don't have to be a hockey fan to see the similarities between Best Buy ( BBY), J.C. Penney ( JCP) and the NHL's Edmonton Oilers.

The Oilers blew out their general manager Monday, replacing him with a member of the team's old guard -- Craig MacTavish. There's no need to get into specifics. Over at Yahoo! Sports Nicholas Cotsonika relays details and captures sentiment quite nicely in Same old Oilers: Edmonton hands GM job to Craig MacTavish. Maybe they'll bring Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky in as senior advisors. That will complete what might end up being one of the least imaginative moves in a franchise with unlimited potential.

In announcing the move, Kevin Lowe (yet another great from the Oilers' heyday), said the franchise can no longer be afraid to take risks. Sounds great. Now let's see some action. There's no reason why Edmonton cannot contend right away. The stable of young talent that team has rivals the speed and skill of the 1980s Stanley Cup teams.

Of course, the obvious similarity between BBY, JCP and the Oilers -- all three have gone with names from the past to chart a future that will look (or at least should look) decidedly different from what preceded it. Differences exist -- the Oilers have the equivalent of fresh and innovative tech executives in place (Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, etc.) while, relatively speaking, BBY and JCP do not -- but, for the sake of this discussion, we only need to focus on the broad thesis.

A considerable number of Oilers' fans have been hard on their team, both for not making the playoffs this season and populating so much of the front office with ex-Oiler players. They're hard on their team because they love them, want a return to the glory days and, even more so, because they see so much potential they fear will waste away without a fresh approach.

I take a similar perspective with respect to Best Buy and J.C. Penney. There's nothing I love more than a turnaround. Than a wholesale transformation. Than innovation. Why do you think I drool over what Howard Schultz has done at Starbucks ( SBUX) and Patrick Doyle at Domino's ( DPZ)? I also root for the Edmonton Oilers. There's nothing better than tabula rasa in sports or business.

It's difficult to avoid anger when you sense a lack of proper risk taking and killer instinct at a Best Buy or JC Penney. I'm not talking the type of anger you seethe with as you attempt to make sense of the senseless acts that went down in Boston Monday afternoon. I'm talking sports fan, stock market, tech geek-related anger. The type of stuff that, in the grand scheme of things, doesn't matter much.

But, in our world of diversions from cold, hard reality, it does matter. It matters quite a bit.

I would love nothing more than to lead the cheers for Best Buy and J.C. Penney. However they run in one wide-ranging space -- retail -- and two respective sub-sectors -- consumer electronics and the department store -- that do not appear to have even taken the preliminary steps for success the Edmonton Oilers franchise has taken.

At least Edmonton has put an encouraging core in place -- a solid group of 18, 19, 20, 21, 22-year old future superstars, all-stars and MVPs -- that spells right track. These boys play with fire and intensity. Now Oiler fans just have to hope the old management guard can either get the job done or bring in additional bodies who can.

It appears, at least to me, that Best Buy and JCP have not even come this far. What makes it all the more concerning is that neither company truly acknowledges what it's up against. The need to not only tear it all apart and put it back together again, but to do so in a wholly radical way that sets the course for the type of game changes we have seen Apple ( AAPL) and Amazon.com ( AMZN) implement over the years -- not carbon copies but similar. Those same game-changers pushed companies like BBY and JCP to their present, relative irrelevance.

If Best Buy and JCP show this type of life, I'll be the first to not only board, but take tickets on the bandwagon. It won't even bother me if they fail and fail miserably. That would be a heck of a lot better than the equivalent of not evening making a truly aggressive go of it at all.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.
Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.