Play it again, Sam

Robin Brownlee
November 27 2008 07:04PM

Dancers dance, singers sing and fiddlers fiddle, unless they're dancing, singing and fiddling with the Edmonton Oilers, who seem to be morphing into a homogenized pile of mis-cast goo before our eyes.

At least that's the way I see it, and how it seems coach Craig MacTavish wants it, after listening to him talk today about what it might take to solve the Oilers’ offensive woes as they stagger into the Show Me State to face the St Louis Blues with a 9-10-2 record.

Unless I need an ear trumpet:

"Let's try a simpler approach," MacTavish said of trying to jump-start an attack that was feeble in a 2–1 loss to Los Angeles Wednesday and has produced just 54 goals in 21 games.

"As long as I've been in the game, that's how you prime the well offensively. You get in there and get your hands dirty. You go to the areas where you can get a break offensively."

All the same?

Now, I assumed MacTavish was talking in a rule-of-thumb way about a short-term fix at Millennium Place—drive the net, blah, blah, blah and get your nose dirty, blah, blah, blah—but the more I thought about it, the more I wondered.

In a season in which MacTavish has stubbornly favoured forcing square pegs into round holes—playing Erik Cole on left wing, Fernando Pisani at centre, Dustin Penner on the right side and Laddy Smid at forward, for crying out loud —rather than exploit the strengths of individual players, this talk about a "simpler approach" got me thinking.

Is a physical, crash-the-net-ask-questions-later style going to play to the strengths of Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson, now that the Kid Line is reunited? Is that what MacTavish wants and what he thinks will most benefit this quick, skilled and under-sized trio?

"We're trying to preach a power-game to Cogs and Bobby Nilsson," MacTavish said. "It's not necessarily their game, but that's where you find your game."

Pardon?

Call me crazy, but wouldn't it make more sense to turn Gagner, Cogliano and Nilsson loose and have them make use of their quickness, puck-handling skills and ability to create offence off the rush?

I get it that everybody has to work within the framework of systems play for breakouts and forechecking etc, but is there wiggle room to freelance a bit based on the relative strengths of each forward line?

"We're really in a stage now where we're trying to explore those six-foot saucer passes across the crease for empty-netters and it's not effective," MacTavish said.

"Nobody can convince me it's an effective way to create offence when you're in the stage we’re in right now. It's a tough journey and a tough sell for the coach to try and get offensive players to play a more simplistic game, but that's what we need."

How many puck battles are Gagner, Cogliano and Nilsson going to win by throwing it at the net and getting after it? That'll work fine for the line of Ethan Moreau, Kyle Brodziak and Cole, but the Kid Line? And what about Penner, Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky? It seems to me they should have their own approach. No?

Why not?

If I'm the coach, I'm telling Gagner, Cogliano and Nilsson: "Fly, boys. Burn them with speed. Make them chase. Play catch-me-if-you-can. Let's see how (insert-name-of-lumbering-defenceman-here) likes playing tag."

I'm telling Penner, Horcoff and Hemsky: "Dustin, get your big backside in front of the net and let Hemsky and Horcoff do the rest. Give the stopper a healthy Ryan-Smyth-style whiff of that big butt. Ales, while you're circling, keep an eye on Penner. Shoot it when you can."

I'm telling Moreau, Brodziak and Cole: "Cycle, baby. Get the rubber down low and lean on them. Toss everything at the net and get after it like the other guys owe you money. Erik, let it hum if you've got a shot."

I'm telling Reddox, Pouliot and Stortini: "Give me 40 seconds of mayhem. Knock somebody on their ass once a shift. Play every puck in the crease through to the whistle. Raise hell."

And, going into St Louis and Dallas, I'd try something completely different and leave these forward lines together longer than two periods. I'd keep repeating what I expected from each threesome. And it wouldn't be the same thing for Sam as for Zack, for Ethan as for Ales.

Then again, I'd have never thought to use Laddy on left wing, so what the heck do I know?

—Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on Team 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 B-rad
November 27 2008, 07:14PM
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I really agree with you that style of play,per line, is the best way to go about simplifying the game MacT wants them to play. Another thing would be maybe to sit gagner out a game or two like he did last year, MacT said, it's good to see the game from up the press box, maybe it would help...

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#2 Drago
November 27 2008, 07:18PM
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Excellent insight as always

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#3 Yo' Mama!
November 27 2008, 07:25PM
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Brownlee for Coach!!! or Prime Minister.

I totaly agree with everything you say.

Who says??? Yo' Mama!

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#4 T
November 27 2008, 07:37PM
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some one call JOHN TORTERELA PLEASE!!!!!!!

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#5 baggedmilk
November 27 2008, 07:42PM
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Robin:

You've got to be kidding me? Firstly, you're bang on with your assessment and I agree with the entire article. (I must be drunk, I've applauded two of your articles in a row) Are you honestly telling us at the Nation that Craig MacTavish wants the kid line to crash and bang? Were they trying this at practice? Souray could sneeze and knock all three of them down. As long as this "system play" and "coaching" regime reign in Oil Country, we're in for a long season.

What was the consensus among the media about this after the scrum? I'm curious what your peers think about this as well.

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#6 oilerseasonticketholdersince99
November 27 2008, 07:52PM
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What the puck? Is going on here in Edmonton,we sit and wait for a coaching change,a trade would be great!!!We hope that pouliot gets run over by a bus so that the toby peterson,reasnor,rem murray experiance can be over, but us oiler fans are not smart enough,we dont understand the game and we beleive the oilers propoganda machine.The bald guy (Pat LaForge) is the greatest salesman in the world,he praises us oiler fans feeds us a bunch of BS and we sit there with our mouths open noding and taking it all in.I thought the big drug king (Mr Katz) would have stepped up by now and forced management to do something but that is to much to ask,and last but not least our first pick ever, our great GM (Mr Lowe)who played on those great oiler dynastys, sits there and does mistake, after mistake,lets look at the last few years shall we. Pronger trade,not signing Ryan Smyth,the Joffrey lupal trade,the penner signing,the penner signing,Did I mention the penner signing? the horcoff contract and on and on it goes.In the next few days we will see what this once great organization is made of, hopefully we can start with a major shake up, a trade would be a great start,Mac t can call a press conference and tell us that he has a frozen head from playing all those years without a helmut and has to step down,The good old boys club will give him a great job president to the executive president to the president would be a great title for him.we can go out and hire a new coach Ted Nolan not buckey or huddy please not bucky or huddy please not bucky or huddy.But guess what if we get rid of Mac T who do you think they will give the coaching job to? Who do you really think we can get here in oil town?what changes would you like to see?

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#7 docweb
November 27 2008, 07:56PM
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Robin, I agree and disagree. Definitely your overall approach to the lines is dead on. But...the Oil can't seem to get anything going offensively so as in other aspects of life when things aren't going well...KISS principle. It has the advantage of 1) less turnovers/GA 2)getting players skating with a mission 3)a good probability of a "garbage" goal to up the confidence level 4) changing the look of the attack so that when you go back to "speed kills" it works that much better. McT is not the first or last coach to fall back to this when things are going badly. It must work...or maybe it's just the "last words" before the axe.

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#8 Chris
November 27 2008, 07:57PM
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How about this. First four games aside the Oil have collected 12 points in 17 starts or 0.706 points per game. At this rate the Oilers will amass a mere 34 points at the half and be dead last in the NHL. We don't have another twenty games to tinker with this roster. MacT has nothing left up his sleeve... Tambo needs to step in now with a coaching change, or roster move, or both. How can it make things worse?

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#9 Fisher
November 27 2008, 08:20PM
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Honest I like it. What's easier to play against than a team that roles lines that all play like strategic carbon copies trying desperately to simplify their game to point they don't fuck up tightening their skates. I say at this point they all know the game. They know the dangerous plays, they know the safe plays. Despite what they've looked like this season they are all intelligent hockey players who love the game; or they wouldn't be there. The "professional" part of hockey is what's messing them up. Just play hockey. Play hockey like you can; no matter who you are or what your skill set.

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#10 Owen
November 27 2008, 08:20PM
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Seems like you're trying to win fans with this article.

How long did Cole play on the left wing? 6 games? What explains his play since then? You're right though, I don't think MacTavish has tried telling that line to cycle.

I think it was really obvious that the Oilers have been passing way too much. I think there's a reason you get the same rhetoric EVERY time from coaches and players going through scoring troubles, and it doesn't go along the lines of 4 different game plans for each line.

It's so easy to say what you would do as a coach. MacTavish has played with some good players, played under some good coaches, and has a lot more coaching experience than anyone here. I don't think the problem lies with his methodology.

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#11 T
November 27 2008, 08:25PM
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UH did someone say hire Ted Nolan??? thats the kraziest idea i ever hear but really why dont the oilers hire John Torterala???

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#12 1STroundoverall
November 27 2008, 08:33PM
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maybe dead last is what this team needs. A high round draftpick couldn't hurt as long as its used properly.

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#13 jdrevenge
November 27 2008, 08:37PM
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RB I totally agree. Seems to me Mac was a lot more successful coaching grinders and not the skill guys. Similar to the problem Wilson had in SJ minus the ego. Hes the kind of guy that can turn shit into gold. Not gold into diamond.

Question is, are there any elite level coaches out there can get an o game going like Boudreau in WSH?

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#14 jdrevenge
November 27 2008, 08:44PM
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... And when a player states off the record... that "maybe a change would be good" what does that say for the coach?

This is not good. I'm getting kinda sad inside thinking that he'll be gone. Been a good run. Lets hope it turns around.

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#15 Chris
November 27 2008, 08:46PM
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Mark Spector wrote today that a vetran Oiler who requested anonymity said,"Maybe a trade, then the coach. After this long a change might be good." On the 19th Dustin Penner said (of the dressing room support he recieved during his benching) "They're in my corner, it's nice to have the support of my teammates."

Five days of meetings. Five days of hard practices. Five days for the coaching staff to assemble a game plan. Same shitty result. The team actually looks like it's getting worse.

I honestly believe that coaches are fired too often and after too short a period of time in many instances. Not this time. Tambo needs to shake things up before the next home stand. Today. If a trade isn't there yet; make the other move. Give this team a chance to turn things around before it's too late.

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#16 RobinB
November 27 2008, 08:52PM
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Owen: Trying to "win fans with this article?" Let's see, if you sit around with your thumb up your backside as somebody who has covered hockey for as long as I have and say nothing, you're a yes-man for the team.

If you suggest that maybe allowing some room for variety within the structure of the overall team system play, you're "trying to win fans."

As an aside, if you'd been paying attention over the past, oh, year, you'd know I don't give a bowel movement about trying to "win fans." I write what I write because it's what I think.

And it's "so easy to say what you would do as a coach . . . " Better to say nothing at all, then?

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#17 The Towel Boy
November 27 2008, 08:54PM
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Where's a good 15 game winning streak when you need one eh?

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#18 Zamboni Driver
November 27 2008, 09:00PM
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I'm actually quite pleased to see the media openly question MacTavish (outside of Pravda, of course...I miss the real Stauffer).

My rants aside, I have no idea if he's a good coach - what I do THINK is that MacTavish really does think he's smarter than everyone...and wants to go out of his way to prove it.

To wit... rolling Smid out again at forward, which in and of itself is baffling, but displays to the players that the Emperor has no clothes when a D-man gets hurt and it doesn't occur to the coach to actually take advantage of dumbass luck by having another D-man to fill in.

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#19 jeanshorts
November 27 2008, 09:00PM
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It's not February yet.

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#20 jdrevenge
November 27 2008, 09:01PM
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Just listened to Moreaus post game...

Mac was preaching hitting and Moreaus saying that they're not and overly physical team and thats not going to change....

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#21 Yo' Mama!
November 27 2008, 09:01PM
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oooooooo.... Tavares. Maybe that's the plan.

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#22 Gord
November 27 2008, 09:06PM
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Ah crap - Brownlee and I completely agree. That only means one thing. No, the world isn't going to implode, it means it's the RIGHT ANSWER. MacT has tried everything except the obvious. What is his next trick? Move Vish to forward, Horcoff to defense and bench Souray and Hemsky? MacT has explored every rational idea he has to attempt to get things going and almost every irrational idea now as well. With the desperate attempts he has come up with, how can anyone think that MacT deserves more time? That is unless you MacT lovers out there like seeing the Oilers run like a team that should be playing against the Globetrotters every night. Maybe his last desperate attempt will be to insert himself into the line up as player/coach under the name Reggie Dunlop and get the Oilers to play old time hockey. What? That's worse than playing Smid at forward??

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#23 Zamboni Driver
November 27 2008, 09:08PM
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...and really...Lowe is next on the hit list (same reason - I'm smarter than everyone...see: Dopita, Oates, Ninimaakiiaiaiiaiiaii, the dead russian guy, not Parise, etc.)

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#24 Newsman
November 27 2008, 09:45PM
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Robin, the reason that your common sense solution will never work is because the Oilers have tuned MacTavish out.

Are these guys really as bad as their record suggests? The difference between winning and losing is a fine line most nights.

Can anyone explain how in the last few minutes of last nights game LA was boxed into their own end for a few minutes unable to get out? The Oil are capable of playing this way but for some reason, choose not to.

Common sense doesn't work with this coach/team combination and that is why I think we are seeing these desperation moves.

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#25 Bob
November 27 2008, 09:52PM
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I am a long time MacT supporter who can no longer support the guy. RB is right with everything said....let the guys play some hockey and just watch what happens. That is what they did last year.

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#26 MrMackey
November 27 2008, 11:38PM
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Thank you Robin Brownlee for this article!

What Mactavish stated so plainly today and the way you have presented it is exactly what I've felt about MacT and why he's the wrong coach for this team for a long time.

Don't get me wrong - from what I've seen he's a tremendous tactician, a great communicator, a nice guy and an incredible hockey mind. He was a great playoff coach, and out-coached some greats.

But he's never seen the game the way a Hemsky, Nilsson, Gagner, Penner, Cole, Lupul, Hecht, Sykora, Comrie, Weight, Guerin, etc. sees the game. I'm not saying he's on all of those players' bad sides or anything close to that... however he was never a playmaker, skilled player or a one-shot scorer. Yet those are always prototypes that MacT says he's lacking and when he gets them he doesn't know what to do with them.

He can relate to the Horcoffs and Smyths of the world, which is fine. But the team isn't made up purely of Horcoffs and Smyths anymore.

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#27 Jonathan Willis
November 28 2008, 06:45AM
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MrMackey:

Do you think it matters that a player was a skill guy or not as an NHL'er when it comes to coaching?

The reason I ask is that we look to Minnesota, where Jacques Lemaire has been grinding away creativity and producing mindlessly efficient robots for some time now and think "wow, that guy was a 97-point scorer".

Or we look back at the league's greatest run-and-gun team ever, and say "wow, Glen Sather loves his offense, but he averaged 24 points a season as a player".

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#28 Mike Modano's Dog
November 28 2008, 07:35AM
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Bang on, Robin!

These kind of articles is exactly what this town needs to hear right now. Our faith in our team is going down the crappier right now and what we need is to hear the truth - not some recycled "rah rah" for whatever the coach says.

MacT has proved for years that he does not, will not, and cannot coach offensively. Not only is it killing the team on the ice; it's not very much fun to watch, either...and last I checked sports are supposed to be entertaining and fun to watch/play!! MacT has taken that out of the game if you ask me.

So, lets fix this problem.

Let's not blow up this team for the hope of fixing it in the short-term...no giving up draft picks. We need the high picks to address the problems for our team.

We need to move on with the coaching regime. MacT has tried and failed. Nice guy, but it's time to move on. Same with the goalie coach catastrophe! How has the last 7 years been for our goalies here, Oiler fans?? 7 years with Pete Peeters and his legacy is NOT allowing Garon to practice with the guy he works best with. He then recommends not playing our best goalie to our coaches, again and again because of his 'practices' with him?!!! Since when did this become the end all and be all of knowing how a goalie will play in a game when it really matters?

We then need to fix our goaltending for the long-term. Start playing Garon, if that means allowing him to get back practicing with the guy he likes, and having to move our goalie coach so be it. Roli is not the long term answer, and Garon is the only guy in the system who has proven he can start and be very successful. If we don't start playing him and give him a chance to get his game back there is no way he will sign with us again next year. He will be a UFA and there is no chance he would sign back with us if we wouldn't give him the chance to play, and especially do something cheap like tell him who he can't learn from! (He was pretty frickin' good last year working with the OTHER guy) It also wouldn't hurt to see what JDD's got, for the future... not just the same guy that ISN'T good enough anymore; that much we know.

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#29 Greg MC
November 28 2008, 07:57AM
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Sometimes in a relationship there is a point when there is too much negative history to overcome, so the relationship ends. Clearly MacT is in desperation mode, the divorce is near.

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#30 pdan
November 28 2008, 08:18AM
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Actually Robin I totally agree with you on all those counts. Nice post.

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#31 Ender the Dragon
November 28 2008, 09:07AM
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Zamboni Driver Says: . . . rolling Smid out again at forward. . . displays to the players that the Emperor has no clothes when a D-man gets hurt and it doesn’t occur to the coach to actually take advantage of dumbass luck by having another D-man to fill in.

I admit i was surprised by this too. When Grebs went down, it seemed logical to me that Smid would take over on defence and we would shorten the bench at forward a little. Kind of lucky to have the extra defenceman along, I thought. But when the move never came, I started to wonder what I was missing . . .

Mike Modano's Dog Says: Start playing Garon; if that means allowing him to get back practicing with the guy he likes, and having to move our goalie coach so be it.

Sorry, but I disagree with this philosophy. I think the team allowing players to decide which coaches they will listen to and which ones they won't is the first step to anarchy. Players need to learn that the team comes first and your own wants and desires are secondary. Maybe Pete Peters' time has come and gone; I don't pretend to know enough about the man's coaching style to make that judgement. But if a switch is in order, it's up to K-Lowe and Tambo to decide who the best person is to fill that role, not the players, or the next thing you know, forwards will be telling the head coach that they only want to do stickhandling drills with their old AHL coach so-and-so. Chaos.

Gord Says: MacT has explored every rational idea he has to attempt to get things going and almost every irrational idea now as well. Greg MC Says: Clearly MacT is in desperation mode. . .

I'll go on record as saying I think MacT is a very good coach. I honestly think he's doing everything he knows how to get this team fired-up and playing well. He's had sucess in the past and I think he'll have sucess in the future.

[sigh]

I didn't think I'd ever be the one saying this, but maybe it's just not going to work out for him here this year. For whatever reasons, his own fault or not, his message isn't getting through; he isn't getting the results he needs. However sad it may be to lose a great guy, I'm starting to come around to the idea that in order to win games this year, you're either going to need to change the leadership OR a significant portion of the locker room. And we aren't going to trade 10 guys so MacT can keep his job; that would be a PR nightmare. Sorry, Mac; I'm not convinced that this is your fault, but I think your time grows short in Edmonton. All the best to you with your new team . . . unless it's Calgary.

HUGE CAUTION: While I admit that a new coach may be in order, I DO NOT advocate change for the sake of change. Whoever steps in had better be a well-thought-out and logical choice. He had better be a better-quality coach that MacT (and no stupid remarks here, please; give the man some respect.). I implore management to be patient and find the right guy. The candidates that are available immediately are quite possibly available because they suck. Mr. Right is not necessarily Mr. Right Now. I would rather lose the next 20 games straight under MacT but end up with a great new coach for the next 5 seasons than pull the trigger prematurely and end up with a coach who is going to have us stumbling along at .500 or less over the same span. If you're going to do it, do it right.

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#32 MrMackey
November 28 2008, 09:12AM
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JW: That's a great point, and I agree.

I'm not necessarily saying that he doesn't understand what makes the offensive guys tick because he wasn't. A lot of coaches out there that have more of an offensive flair were nothing special as players.

IMO, players seem to do better offensively when MacT gives those players the benefit of the doubt and lets them go a bit, either acquired through trust (Horcoff, Hemsky); because they're a respected veteran (Pronger, Nedved in his first tour); or because they've been able to produce something in a short time frame (kid line).

However when things go on the decline, he always seems to preach the same things and I don't know if I've ever seen evidence that making these players play a "power game" is really the thing that gets them out of their funk. These type of players (like goaltenders) are so dependant on confidence, from what I've seen, this approach just seems to take players further out of their element and complicate things more then needed.

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#33 Chris
November 28 2008, 09:13AM
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Since the lockout (I give MacT a free pass on the-pre lockout years) One unfortunate characteristic of a MacT team is the long losing streaks. Through the first 21 games this year we have already had a four gamer. Last year through 21 we had had both a four game and a five game losing streak. In 06/07 we also had a four game losing streak through the first 21 games. Now, just for fun let's take a look at Canuck losing streaks over the same time frame...After all we have had similar success the last three years and are in the same division. Guess how many four or five game losing streaks the Canucks have had during the exact same time period... NONE. Devising a game plan that actually works for a slumping team is key to avoid extended losing streaks. Also to state the obvious: avoiding extended losing streaks is key to making the playoffs. Is it so wrong to expect to make the playoffs? C'mon all you apologists; Answer me that. Half the teams do it! Many teams are making it with smaller payrolls.

P.S. Don't tell me MacT can only work with the players he's given because he is heavily involved in player procurement.

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#34 shakey
November 28 2008, 09:17AM
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Owen, you tell me that you're happy with the 'success' that we've had with Mac T over the last 7-1/2 years? You think there is nothing wrong with his methodology? He said that Cogliano and Nilsson don't play a power game but that's what he's been preaching. That's the kids fault he wants them to play 6'4" 225 lbs style of hockey? You could fill a section at Rexall with the players he's had over the last 8 years. You're right...all of them are the problem, couldn't be the coach and his methodology. Enjoy your Kool-aid.

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#35 Chris
November 28 2008, 09:19AM
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Oh and another thing. The year we had Pronger(05/06) our start through the first 21: W W W L L L L L L L W W W W W L L W L W W

Who is tired of the MacT ROiler Coaster Ride?

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#36 Ender the Dragon
November 28 2008, 09:24AM
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Chris,

Going 11 and 10 in your first 21 is not probably something you'd need to scrapbook, but it's nothing to be ashamed of, either. Aside from more W's, what configuration of wins and losses would have been more pleasing to you?

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#37 Cam
November 28 2008, 09:33AM
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Greg MC, I hate to say it but... there is no divorce coming. the only way MacT gets turfed is if the Oilers are in last at the half. Tambellini is still making excuses for him.

Robin, Excellent insight into what has gone wrong here. I agree with you completely.

Owen, As one who has read Robin's posts for a long time, I can honestly say he really does not give a rat's ass what we think of him. He just tells us what he thinks. Once in a while what he writes even makes sense...

Kevin Lowe, I bet if you picked up the phone and offered Pouliot, Stortini and Brodziak for Glencross that they would laugh in your ear.

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#38 milli
November 28 2008, 09:38AM
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MacT is clearly desperate for something that'll work. Who isn't? I'm tired of watching a team that just dosn't compete. Is that MacT fault? Ya, he's the coach, his job to make sure that we are getting the most out of players. I don't give Klo a pass either, 3 gaolie distraction, not re signing GlennX (see him last night). But changes need to be made, and made quickly. ALL I WANT FOR XMAS IS A REAL COACH, A COACH WHO HAS ACTUALLY COACHED, NOT BUCKY, NOT SIMMER, NOT MESSIER.

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#39 Chris
November 28 2008, 10:25AM
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Ender The Dragon, All I'm saying is that MacT teams win and lose in bunches. I call it the ROiler Coaster. Many other teams hovering around .500 seem to have the ability to pull out of skids before they grow to 4, 5 or even 7 games and elite teams always do. Last game vs LA was a perfect chance to end a poor streak. Despite every sheduling advantage this team sank deeper. Does mixing and remixing the linup help pull us out of slumps or prolong them? Winning streaks are great...but elite teams consistantly find a way to win after sufferring a couple of losses.

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#40 MisterB
November 28 2008, 01:32PM
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The sky is falling. The Sky is falling.

Listen, I am as much a diehard as any Oiler fan and have often gone to bed pi$$ed off and with a slow burn. But most here need to relax a bit and let things work themselves out over the first HALF of the season, not 20 games in.

First off, expectations were way to high in Edmonchuck, based on a bad season, but a great end.

Second, we all had to beware of the sophmore jinx. We just didn't expect it to hit 5 sophmores.

Third, there is enough expertise, talent etc on this team (coaches included) to right the ship.

No one knows more than the players themselves and the turnaround must come from them. If things aren't improving by mid-season, then perhaps it is time to contemplate Brownlee being a coach and a superstar, but 20 games in, c'mon people. Relax.

B

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#41 RobinB
November 28 2008, 02:07PM
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MisterB: No, it will never be time to contemplate Brownlee as a coach because I'm not that smart, and I've already been a superstar, so I'm out.

What it will be time to do after 40 games is see if this roster is playing anywhere near its capability.

You sound a touch naive with your "Sky is falling" comments. That suggests panic for no reason, and that's not the case here.

There is cause for real concern because this group of players is performaning way, way under the level they expected of themselves and, so far, they haven't done a damn thing about it.

If that doesn't change markedly, the personnel -- starting with players and then moving to coaches -- will have to change. That's a fact. So, relax? No, that's fiddling while Rome is burning.

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#42 Zamboni Driver
November 28 2008, 02:13PM
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No disrespect MisterB, but really, I think the 'sky is falling' mentality right now is that this crap is happening AGAIN.

Every year MacT has been in charge, they get to February and go, "Geez, you know if it had occurred to us that a win is ALSO 2 points in October too!" (I'm exaggerating, but you know what I mean....)

I think people really are tired of waiting and waiting and waiting...patience has worn thin, and for some (me too), worn out.

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#43 Zamboni Driver
November 28 2008, 02:22PM
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Hey Robin,

What is your take on Lowe...So we've got Tambellini, who I like as a hockey guy - a non-old-boys guy especially - is Tambo going to be actually calling any shots, or did he get the inflated title because he had to be 'promoted' to come here?

My patience with Lowe's personnel decisions has run as thin as it has with the coaching.

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#44 Ender the Dragon
November 28 2008, 02:48PM
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MisterB Says: . . . most here need to relax a bit and let things work themselves out over the first HALF of the season, not 20 games in . . . there is enough expertise, talent etc on this team (coaches included) to right the ship.

MisterB, before Wednesday's game, I was with you. I think, though, that we might be the ones who had our head in the sand. Clearly there's a problem; MacT is trying some fairly radical stuff in order to find some way (ANY way) to get things moving in the right direction. I applaud his efforts, but the haven't produced.

If there wasn't a visible problem with this team and MacT said in words and actions 'I'm not worried; it's coming around', then I'd relax. But he's telegraphing big-time here that all is not well in Oilerland.

Have you ever been at work and suddenly watched something incredibly huge or valuable start to fall over or face immenent disaster? You know, where time just starts to slow down and you only have time to say to youself 'Oh, CRAP . . . ' before it's the end of the world as you know it?

MacT has that expression on his face these days; he's scrambling, looking like that guy that's wondering if maybe he still has time to throw himself in front of the falling object or whether it's already far too late.

Wednesday indicates that the object's momentum is pretty significant. If it were in MacT's power to fix things, he'd have done it during the 5-day layoff. Sadly, too many things just still looked far from comfortable.

No, MisterB, I don't think it's too early to determine that all is not going to be well. Not without a significant force moving in another direction. Now we just have to wait and see what it is.

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#45 Fiveandagames jerk alter ego who couldn't resist
November 28 2008, 02:50PM
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This article is an indication of bizarre this season has been.

I agree with everything you've said Mr. Brownlee. I don't want to grade blogs on whether I agree with them or not. But this is a goody. Great insight. We can only hope that the frustrated talents of our forwards will blossom and this will turn itself around and MacT can go back to worrying about defense.

Either that or MacT will be let go.

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#46 Mike Modano's Dog
November 28 2008, 05:22PM
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to Ender the Dragon: I enjoy reading your stuff...and that was a good point about the goalie coach, too. I don't know the inner workings of that coaching relationship at all either, but do notice that something is off there.

When our #1 last year who was terrific isn't even getting a chance to play this year it is bizarre. I don't know who is to blame for it, but SOMEBODY is making these decisions and that person SHOULD be put to task for it. I really don't know if that falls on the head coach, the goalie coach, assistants, GM, etc... but SOMEBODY has to take responsibility for our goaltending problems and fix this situation. One way or another Garon has to be given a chance - otherwise what will we have going forward in net besides praying the new, unproven guys are ready!

Love this website, guys! Keep it up!!

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#47 misterB
November 30 2008, 10:31AM
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ZD, RB, ETD,

Touche to your points - the team isn't responding to MacT the way they should, and are not playing anything like they could or should. I fully concede that fact, but I wouldn't view my opinion as "naive". I see how MacT is worn and we're all sick of this slow start happening again (if you could have heard me in the 1st period of the St. Louis game), with the increase in talent we have this year. We're on the same page with that.

However, my thoughts are this - and the reason for my "sky is falling" comment - because it takes "time" to make a unit cohesive:

-Many, if not all, of the sophomore Oiler players were (and played) overconfident during training camp and for the first 20. -Two new Dmen in Vis and Strud learning a new system. -One impact player who has never been traded before, learning a new system, etc. -Two players, I thought, would ease their way into the season after shoulder surgery. One has, one has been a dream player.

These players make up half the team.

Then, there was the sched of the first 20 - road games up the wazoo, high-caliber teams played, back to backs, etc. indicate (to me) that 20 games into the season is not enough TIME to give the team/coaching staff a fair shake

In my view, and the point of my initial post, is to look at the team at the halfway point of the season - look to see if the team is becoming more cohesive, growing, going to war for each other, paying the price. If the trajectory is not positive over the first 40 games, at that point, the there is more substantial reason for discussions of new coaches, trades, etc., but proper analysis of this is done over a longer period of time, in my view.

The talent IS there and I believe MacT IS the right guy. The Oil will be ok.. if, after 40-50 games, there is little to no progress, I'll join your sentiment. I simply believe it is too early in the process to open the floodgates on this topic.

B

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