GDB 19: A ship on fire

Wanye
November 18 2008 08:17AM

While most of his teammates failed to break a sweat, Saint Fernando di Pisani found a way to break his ankle against Detroit last night en route to a 4–0 loss.

This injury may be replicated in the other bones of other Oilers by a hilariously irate Coach MacTavish—who is throwing out sound bites though his very career depends on it.

My, these are heady times to be a fan of the Mighty Oil, aren't they? The much-heralded New Era has gotten off to a bit of a rocky start wouldn't you say?

Nothing that a match against the Squadron from Columbus can't fix, is it? For you see the... Uh...

Crap.

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#1 pdan
November 18 2008, 08:28AM
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What I hate is all these ex oilers who play like men possessed when they get a chance to flip the proverbial bird to their old team.

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#2 Travis Dakin
November 18 2008, 08:31AM
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It was mentioned yesterday but this team is a disaster from top to bottom. Yeah they have a few wins but have tehy eer looked dominating at any point this season? Watching them get thouroughly schooled in every aspect of the game of hockey by an infinitely better squadron in Detroit really hurt my eyes and put a lot of things in perspective. Really, something has to change now. I mean right now. I think it will be a relief for Fernando to get to sit out for a month or so. It probably hurts more having to play on this team righ now. Dammit.

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#3 george
November 18 2008, 08:37AM
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Mactavish is a good coach, great person. In seven years with the oil , he's made the playoffs a few times. Had one deep run. Never finished with more than 41 wins. The team has arguably more talent now than ever during his tenure, yet they're still headed for the same round about 40 win season........is it time we find someone else to lead these boys?

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#4 pdan
November 18 2008, 08:37AM
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The nepotism in Edm sucks. But, Katz is a shrewd businessman who wants to succeed and WILL make changes if they are needed (which most of us agree they are).

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#5 Travis Dakin
November 18 2008, 08:44AM
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I would hate to see MacT getting fired. I really think he is a good coach but again, watching Detroit systematically pick the Oilers apart last night really showed me that this team needs a different direction. MacTavish's methods just don't seem to be working for this crew.

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#6 Gord
November 18 2008, 08:51AM
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It's the coaches job to prepare the players for each game. I have yet to see the Oilers dominate a game, let alone play a whole 60 minutes. The players are obviously either a) not being motivated or b) not listening to the coach.

Situation a) get rid of the coach

Situation b) get rid of all the players or get rid of the coach.

Sure MacT did some good things here, had a few good sound bites, but his time has come and gone.

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#7 Rick
November 18 2008, 09:23AM
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So if we were to assume he was to get fired, who do you replace him with?

Do you go with some retread sitting on the scrap heap or do you bring in a brand new guy with no experience?

Either way I am not sure I see the immediate forward progress.

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#8 I Am The Law
November 18 2008, 09:35AM
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I know Marc Crawford is not a popular choice, but he does have a good record in Colorado and Vancouver with similar types of teams. I would say that you can't count L.A. against him too much since the team was mismanaged by the GM and was barely at the cap floor. It still needs to be taken into account, but I think less so than some would say.

Or, is there a promising coach in the CHL that would be worthwhile to bring up? Or do we not want to put a rookie coach in a tough spot?

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#9 J&J
November 18 2008, 09:46AM
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Boy am i glad i didnt sign that deal with the Oilers!!!

Signed: Hossa sitting in the Detroit locker room after the game last night.

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#10 Rick
November 18 2008, 09:52AM
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God I hate Crawford, he is a classless ass.

That said, he is probably the only guy out there on the scrap heap that kind of fits the current need of this team.

He is a master at pushing buttons and he does have a decent track record in the standings.

Add in a connection with Tambellini and who knows...

I would love to see the Oilers go after a real up and comer from the AHL ranks but that doesn't really fit in the department of getting immediate results. That kind of hiring is more suited for the off season.

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#11 OilersNinja
November 18 2008, 09:54AM
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What about the fonz(John Torteralla)? he has won a cup recently, he knows how to deal with skilled guys. Maybe he is one hard smack against the jukebox away from being able to have the team playing the ecclectic sounds of buddy holly or the big bopper once again. Just a thought?

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#12 b-rad
November 18 2008, 09:56AM
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Well, I like MacT, but if a change is needed, maybe a figure such as Teddy Nolan or Tortarella can make them sweat, and make Penner less chubby!

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#13 Travis Dakin
November 18 2008, 09:59AM
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Somebody mentioned Pat Burns. I don't know... Somebody that won't be afraid to kick some ass.

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#14 baggedmilk
November 18 2008, 10:40AM
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I like the idea of Torts coming into to put the fear of God into this team. That being said he was run out of town by the players in Tampa going up to management.

Marc Crawford may be a good choice as well. I'm really not sure, what I am sure of is that there needs to be a different direction in Oil Country.

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#15 Bruthah
November 18 2008, 10:41AM
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I'm glad somebody else mentioned Ted Nolan. Just have a good feeling there.

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#16 Rick
November 18 2008, 10:58AM
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The problem with Torterella is that his record isn't really that good. Not better than MacT's anyways.

If MacT isn't going to get credit for his one playoff run then I don't think Torterella deserves to either.

In the end it was a difference of one win and that is despite the two teams being very uncomparable in terms of the talent each guy had to work with.

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#17 Fiveandagame
November 18 2008, 11:12AM
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McCormick on Sportsnet makes a good point today, saying that before the hammer would come down on MacT the Oilers will exhaust a few other options first.

He specifically points out that the OIlers will try a trade first to shake up the team, before letting their coach of 7 1/2 years go.

I would like that approach. YOu bring in a big gun who's new and eager to prove himself on a new team, that challenges the top six guys for ice time, brings creativity and some spark. That could be what we need to turn this around. Easier said then done, but with MacT's history here in EDM he's going to get the benefit of the doubt, far longer than your typical NHL head coach.

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#18 Fiveandagame
November 18 2008, 11:14AM
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Here is the link to the McCormick blog on sportsnet

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/blogs/2008/11/18/mccormick_firing_mact/

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#19 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 11:21AM
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Thanks for the link, Fiveandagame. McCormick has the most rational take I've seen in the last little while.

If MacTavish is fired this season, I'd hope for a guy like Ted Nolan or Pat Burns.

Mike Sullivan (70-56-15 NHL record) is another guy who deserves a second chance somewhere; it isn't his fault that Joe Thornton got traded.

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#20 Travis Dakin
November 18 2008, 11:33AM
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There is a reason why Nolan was run out of town on both teams he coached. I don't know what it was but I'm pretty sue i wouldn't want it to happen here.

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#21 mjsh
November 18 2008, 11:42AM
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I would vote for Pat Burns if he is healthy. I too have been defending Mac T. but now I really am starting to wonder. Is there something seriously wrong in the room? We all seem to think this team has more talent than it shows. When the Oilers had too many marginal players, it was easy to excuse the coach. Now it would appear that the Oilers have some depth but there truly is something missing. I would call it heart or pride.

Then again, I just checked the standing, the Oil have the seventh best road record in the conference which still puts them in the playoffs once they get a string of home games. So is the problem the team or is it our expectations?

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#22 jeanshorts
November 18 2008, 11:45AM
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I love that no matter what The Big Dude writes about, no one ever agrees with him in the comments and they just crap all over him. Mind you most of the time it's all Canuck and Leaf fans, but still.

Decent read. I agree with a few of his points, but I still think that getting rid of MacT is our most viable option. About the trade thing; picking up Cole, Vishnovski, Souray, those weren't big enough trades/signings? I know they aren't Marian Hossa or Sundin or someone but I'd think that they are big enough impact players, especially all three put together, to spark the team in a way that people are talking about.

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#23 jeanshorts
November 18 2008, 11:52AM
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The terrible thing is, is that the record is not indicative to how the Oilers have been playing. Realistically we should probably be 5-10-2 or something around there. There just happened to be a few nights where the ice seemed to be tilted our way and all the bounces found their way into the net, or into our goalie. And I know it's hard to play this many games on the road in a row, but even the few games we have played at home we've looked bad. Boston, Toronto, Colorado, those are all games that should have been won, but once again there was no jump, or urgency, or anything. Came out flying in the first period and then just coasted around the rink for the other two. I'm all for the Oilers trying to sort a few things out before giving MacT the axe, but something needs to happen fast, otherwise this season might be too far gone.

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#24 Fiveandagame
November 18 2008, 11:53AM
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"About the trade thing; picking up Cole, Vishnovski, Souray, those weren’t big enough trades/signings?"

JS- I think those were big, great signings on behalf of the Oilers, but all of them happened in the off season. A trade now would be to shake up the room in the middle of the season.

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#25 Gord
November 18 2008, 11:53AM
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I like Nolan as an option, but I think an even better option is Kevin Constantine. I think he is ready to get back behind the bench at the NHL level and he has plenty of experience with young players. How about Dale Hunter? He has done an excellent job with the Knights and he coached a few kids in our system.

Torterella had more skill in Tampa than the current Oiler roster has now and he consistantly struggled to get them to perform other than 1 cup run.

Is Burns ready to step back behind the bench (can his health withstand the stress)? If he is healthy enough, be careful what you wish for asking for him - he is a defense first coach and watching the Oilers play the trap could be painful.

Crawford has left a bad taste in my mouth, although I agree he would know how to handle this group of misfits.

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#26 Fiveandagame
November 18 2008, 11:55AM
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Pat Burns could use another shot at the NHL. The only reason he left the game was because he got sick. He's healthy now, he should have a team to coach, unless the cancer took the fight out of him.

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#27 Deep Oil
November 18 2008, 12:13PM
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Katz a shrewd businessman ????

If it wasn't for his father Barry and loans from Pharmaceutical companies McKesson - he would still be a lawyer asking for help to merge to corporations (really) - apparently he was giving too much money away to the U of A and had to borrow $100 million from CIT group - where did the other $100MM come from ??? - Rexall Corp - shareholders loan???? Listen PDAN - the oilers are at the cap - and not one player fears MACT and LOWE is getting soft pandering to Batman - too many 3,4 million dollar players - Cole, Penner, Horcoff, Pisani(shelf), players are passngers with no production and management has married itself to bad signings, limited roster spots (3 goalies), and boys on the bus management - looks like a new building is starting to crumble with the economy and tight credit - Batman does not have the cake - only cash flow from the McKesson Group - in the end how much is this former lawyer really worth and what does he owe to who ?????

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#28 baggedmilk
November 18 2008, 12:17PM
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Jeanshorts and I were just talking and he brought up a good point. Everyone is saying be patient with MacT, be patient. Have all these people just jumped on the Oilers bangwagon as of the cup run or do they not know that he's been the coach for a long time?

It's like I'm taking crazy pills when people still give him the benefit of the doubt because they have the home town blinders on. Yes he was an Oiler. Yes he was the last player without a helmet, but enough is enough.

I'm tired of having a good team on paper and making a push for the 8th playoff spot. Any other team in the league would have made a change.

I challenge anyone out there to prove me wrong. There's 2 coaches that have been with their team longer that MacT and you won't find the answer there.

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#29 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 12:31PM
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Any other team in the league would have made a change.

Well, if we're going on a league-wide basis, would you agree that Dallas, Philadelphia, and Ottawa have more reasons to fire their coach than Edmonton?

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#30 jeanshorts
November 18 2008, 12:37PM
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Ottawa- definitely not. They have been through like 60 coaches in the last 3 season, and Bryan Murray always seems to find a way to put himself behind the bench half way through the season. They haven't really given anyone a fair chance. MacT on the other hand is on his 8th chance.

And I think Dallas and Philly are in the same boat as we are. Lots of talent and potential, but for whatever reason just cannot seem to get it together. I can't really comment on anything more than that because I don't follow those teams very closely.

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#31 Chris.
November 18 2008, 12:45PM
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Penner is fat. Penner is lazy. Penner is also a huge man with awesome hands. Penner is also smart. You really cannot give 100 percent every game. That is stupid sports talk. It's a long season and if you want players to remain healthy and have the ability to ramp it up in the playoffs there has to be built in room to coast a bit. A team is supposed to be manufactured in such a way that it can win games even with a few passengers. It's called depth. The Oiler management claims we have depth but we don't. Not really. Maybe we should run players like Penner, Cole, And Nillson out of Town to make room for the Reasoner's of the world. Then we can pretend that the Oilers are still a small market underdog and our coach is getting the very best out of marginal players... Oh yeah... and everyone is giving 100 percent every night! Personally I'll take a healthy big body that can pot 20 goals while still in second gear as opposed to Liam Reddox. Note to MacT: Spend your time developing a more effective powerplay instead of ripping your players. Penner doesn't have Moreau's fire...get over it. Moreau doesn't have Penners hands...Why not rip him Too?

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#32 baggedmilk
November 18 2008, 12:54PM
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JW, the teams that you've picked to compare the Oilers to in this sense aren't even close. Let's look at the teams you've picked that should have more reason to fire the coach.

Ottawa - Fired their coach last year. Hartsburg is in his first year as the head coach of that team. Again not the 8th.

Phili - John Steven's is in his third year as the coach. They missed the playoffs in his first year but made it back in last year. This year they've stumbled and I imagine missing 2 of 3 will not stand well for Stevens.

Dallas - Dave Tippet is in his 6th season as the coach and the Stars have only missed the playoffs once.

All these coaches have had less time with their teams that MacT.

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#33 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 12:54PM
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MacT on the other hand is on his 8th chance.

I've been through this before, but looking at MacT's record, has he really been the problem, or has the problem been that his team stinks?

2007-08 - Did anyone really expect this group to be playoff worthy? 30 games of Jarret Stoll as a first-line centre? 8 rookies with 65 or more games? This team overachieved by a massive margin, and to dump on MacT because they weren't in the playoffs is asinine.

2006-07 - Defensemen who managed 50 games: Jason Smith, Steve Staios, M-A Bergeron, Matt Greene, Ladislav Smid. I see two second-pairing defenders and a bunch of guys who shouldn't be played higher than #6 on the depth chart. Throw in the Ryan Smyth trade and Joffrey Lupul being worthless, and this is a lottery team. But then, that's what happens when a franchise defenseman is traded for futures.

2005-06 - Stanley Cup Finals, despite relying on a trio of sieves for 80% of the season and a 36-year old backup the rest of the way.

2003-04 - The halcyon days when Tommy Salo was brutal, the team's first line centre was Ryan Smyth, and the defense was lead in scoring by Steve Staios.

2002-03 - First-line centre: Mike Comrie (-18 rating, incidentally). The defense was led by Janne Niinimaa's 28 points, and of the three leading scorers, one was injured, one was traded, and the other was Todd Marchant.

2001-02 - Rookie forward Mike Comrie debuts as the first line centre. The leading second-line scorer is Jochen Hecht (40 points).

2000-01 - Decent team with youth and no backup goaltender.

So, open question: was the problem here the GM or the coach? I'll give you a hint - I think it's the guy who has already been removed from his position.

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#34 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 12:56PM
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All these coaches have had less time with their teams that MacT.

All of those coaches have better rosters to work with, but somehow none are ahead of the Oilers in the standings.

Longevity isn't a negative, btw; rather the opposite.

Judging a coach without looking at the pieces he's been working with only gives half the story.

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#35 jeanshorts
November 18 2008, 12:58PM
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"Moreau doesn’t have Penners hands…Why not rip him Too?"

That was the one thing I found really funny. Sure Penner has been playing like ass, and it looks like this was MacT using his final straw or something to get him motivated. But there is a handful of other players who have been just as terrible as Penner, and those guys haven't even been sat yet.

Pouliot has been non existent since the first 4 or 5 games. Gagner has been floating around, giving away pucks, looking absolutely lackluster out there. And yeah I'll agree he's playing a better defensive game than last year, but he's not there to be a grinding third liner. He's there to make ridiculous passes and free up room for the other two guys on the ice with him. But so far, he's done absolutely none of that. Staios looked like a 55 year old beer leaguer out there until 4 or 5 games ago. Etc, etc.

Like I said, it was clearly a motivational technique to try and spark Penner, but by singling him out so harshly like that, to me, made MacT look like someone frusturated and desperate to take the heat off himself.

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#36 baggedmilk
November 18 2008, 01:01PM
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JW, but why was Lupul worthless here yet he scored in Anaheim, again last year in Phili with 20 in 56 games, and he already has 7 this year which would lead our team.

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#37 baggedmilk
November 18 2008, 01:06PM
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JW, so what is the excuse this year? The road games? The 3 goalies that never know when they're going to play? Or proven a proven point getter like Cole that for the first time in the past 4 years has not produced?

I don't understand the love for MacTavish over and over. This year with a better team than they've had in a long time, they can't score, they can't play 60 minutes, penalty kill sucks, powerplay sucks, "starting" goalie has no confidence and has not played in almost 2 weeks.

Last night they looked about as disinterested as I've ever seen the Oilers play.

Who's is supposed to handle those jobs?

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#38 Chris.
November 18 2008, 01:07PM
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I also believe continuity is important. When a team changes management or coaching like underwear there can be no progress in the organization. However, when there is little or no progress anyway, it is prudent to consider a change. After eight years there has been an abundance of continuity...but little progress.

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#39 Gord
November 18 2008, 01:12PM
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So if it's not the coach, why do skilled players come here and have horrible years? The player then gets traded and the player suddenly return to their true potential? The list of these guys is endless and it's not the GMs fault he couldn't build a system or motivate them to play with some emotion.

We aren't asking to fire MacT because of where the Oilers are in the standings. It has nothing to do with the teams record - it has to do with how the team is responding on the ice. If the players aren't willing to put out any effort, regardless of the consequence of sitting in the pressbox, something has to give. IF MacT is doing his job, everything he says and does is falling on deaf ears. Again, the options are trade 75% of the players or fire the coach. Trades are few and far between in the salary cap world, so the axe starts swinging at MacT.

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#40 Chris.
November 18 2008, 01:12PM
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Katz said, "Let's have some fun this year."

Is anyone here having fun yet?

(Flames fans need not reply)

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#41 jeanshorts
November 18 2008, 01:13PM
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I'll agree that the management, at times, has been marginal at best. And there is still holes that need to be filled. But when the system hasn't worked, season after season, with a revolving door of different players, when does the accountability fall on the coach? How many more players do we need to shuttle in and out before MacT can find a group that can be successful for at least 2 seasons under him? How many times can do we have to finish between 11th and 8th place with a new look team every year?

I think myself, and most of the others that want to see a change are just jaded that year after year the team hasn't been bad enough to get a franchise draft pick, but haven't been good enough to consistently make the playoffs, let alone finish better than 8th.

It's time to try something new. What's the worst that can happen? We don't make the playoffs? We have a losing record? It's not like we haven't ever had to deal with that before.

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#42 BUCK75
November 18 2008, 01:15PM
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Wow - quite the rant Deep Oil...who cares who DK owes money to. The guy is a billionaire if he doesn't want to tie up liquidity why shouldn't he borrow money from a lender to cover the 1/2 the price of buying the team?

I will agree with you that the team has been built around too many players that get paid the same amount of money & do the same thing. You look at last year when the Springfield Falcons were playing the last 20 games in Oiler silks, I think that is what the coach & us fans want out of this team. Hard work leads to opportunities.

The team will get blown up before MacT goes, as much as I think that it would be easier to get a new coach. Chances are better that MacT gets a promotion & the whole coaching staff takes another step up the corporate ladder.

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#43 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 01:27PM
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JW, but why was Lupul worthless here yet he scored in Anaheim, again last year in Phili with 20 in 56 games, and he already has 7 this year which would lead our team.

7 goals and 1 assist, so let's look at the whole story there. Was it the Edmonton hometown fish-bowl? Was it the new contract? I don't think much of Lupul anyway, but it could be a number of things.

JW, so what is the excuse this year? The road games?

Yes, at this point. If this record continues when the Oilers start playing more at home, some big changes will need to be made. Until that happens, it's too early.

So if it’s not the coach, why do skilled players come here and have horrible years?

Hit me with that list, because the only big name I see on it is Joffrey Lupul. Maybe that's my memory, but if it is, please fill me in.

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#44 Chris.
November 18 2008, 01:29PM
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Other than Garon, Cole , and maybe a few others...

The entire roster is under contract long term. The decisions have been made; the contracts signed. If MacT cannot win with this roster then it is time to bring in someone else. Does anyone really want Tambo to blow this team up?

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#45 Chris.
November 18 2008, 01:31PM
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Garon, Cole, etc as they relate to contracts, not performance.

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#46 Gord
November 18 2008, 01:44PM
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How about some of our own talent? Cleary and Chimera can be mentioned. What about Conklin? MacT did everything in his power to destroy his confidence. He then went on with Pittsburgh where he and Malkin single handedly save the Penguins season and now he is getting starts in Detroit and happened to get a shut out against us. Where is Schremp? MacT doesn't like him so he let's him fade away in the minors to prove a point?

JW - who is to blame for the players not being motivated and not wanting to play 60 minutes? The team has looked horrible (win or lose.) If not the coach then who??? The PP and PK sucks - who's fault is that? These are the coach's responsibilities and they are not being looked after. It's not 1 or 2 guys - it's the WHOLE TEAM. That screams that the players have tuned MacT out and have no respect for him.

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#47 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 02:00PM
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That's your list, Gord? Seriously? Cleary, Chimera, Conklin and Schremp?

Dan Cleary - Maybe Cleary's decade as an underachiever was the fault of Craig MacTavish. Of course, it could be whoever was coaching Belleville (after peaking in 95-96, Cleary declined the rest of the way as a junior). It could be the coaches in Portland and Chicago, who dealt with him first. It could also be the coaching staff in Phoenix. Or, it could be that Cleary had some personal issues that required age and maturity, and that being a supporting player on an incredibly talented Red Wings squad was an easy place to work his way back into the game. Either way, the two-time 40-point scorer isn't exactly a top talent.

Jason Chimera - A late round draft pick, Chimera overcame long odds to develop into a good NHL player. He had a bad season with the Oilers pre-lockout, and has since emerged as a good player in Columbus, where he's been coached by renowned motivational experts like Gerard Gallant and Doug MacLean. Still, he's now a renowned 3-time 30-point scorer.

Ty Conklin - Undrafted goaltender Ty Conklin emerged prelockout as a decent player under Craig MacTavish. After a lockout season where he played just 11 games, he was injured in TC and had a miserable year as part of a three-headed goalie tandem. Despite this, MacTavish used him as a backup in the Stanley Cup Finals, destroying his confidence for years. He had a bad year in Columbus and Buffalo (3.30 GAA, .878 SV%, and 3.43 GAA, .892 SV%, respectively) before emerging as a saviour for Pittsburgh, despite coach Therrien's open preference for Dany Sabourin out of training camp.

Rob Schremp - Has played three games for MacTavish. For the record, the GM decides who gets called up, not the coach.

Good grief - I could make a better list than that Gord. Try again.

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#48 Jonathan Willis
November 18 2008, 02:00PM
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The PP and PK sucks

The PP is average and the PK has never been this bad in 8 years under the same coach.

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#49 baggedmilk
November 18 2008, 02:10PM
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JW, you have your shields up here and I like it. Good debate going on.

I want to ask you why you think Erik Cole is on pace for his worst points total ever. Even lower than 2002 when he only played 53 games or even his rookie season.

Your play.

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#50 The Towel Boy
November 18 2008, 02:19PM
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...who knows...perhaps, 10 games from now the wheels of the Fire MacT Bandwagon (tm) will have fallen off, as the team is in the midst of seven game winning streak, vaulting them into 1st spot in the NW. At that point...all this won't seem like such a massively huge deal. Winning has a way of changing minds and silencing the critics.

I just think more time needs to be given to sort out some obvious issues the team is having. With so many new faces, changing rolls and softmores sorting out their games, it's not hard to imagine why the team is where they're at. I say, give them some more time to gel.

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