Nilsson making bad choices?

Jason Gregor
December 29 2008 10:20PM

In your last 22 games you’ve scored a measly two goals and four assists, your head coach benched you, publicly chastised your play and then sent you to the press box and you respond by skipping an optional practice. Not a good move, Robert Nilsson.

Only two games removed from the press box, Nilsson made a stupid decision and didn’t take part in practice this morning. Technically he didn’t have too skate, but an optional practice is optional for guys like Hemsky, Souray, Roloson, not for an underachieving 23-year-old.

That’s like when your girlfriend tells you it’s your choice if you want to come to her parents’ house for dinner or stay home and watch the game. Sure it’s technically your option, but you know that going to the ‘rents is your only real option if you hope to have any sort of scoring for the next few weeks. Sometimes you choose the game, but you do so knowing the consequences are chores, groveling and a few quality nights with the palm sisters.

You could chalk it up to a rookie mistake, but Nilsson isn’t a rookie, and he knows better. To me this is a clear case of Nilsson trying to show the coach he isn’t happy. He isn’t injured or nursing a nagging ailment, he simply didn’t put on the blades. The problem for Nilsson is he hasn’t been showing up on game nights often enough to be a no-show for an optional skate.

What makes this stranger is that Nilsson is always one of the last guys off the ice after practice. He -- along with Smid, Brodziak, Gagner, Cogliano, Pouliot and Gilbert -- normally play games after practice that sometimes last 30 minutes. This is completely out of character for Nilsson, so it makes you wonder if he was trying to send a message to his coach.

It’s hard to defend Nilsson in this situation. He gets benched for a game but comes back and gets to play with Gagner and Cole on the supposed second line. Is he that fed up with his coach? Does he want out of Edmonton? Is he happy with his game? It can’t be the latter, so I’m guessing it’s one of the former.

We will have to wait until tomorrow to find out the answers, since Nilsson wasn’t available, but the only way Nilsson doesn’t find himself back in MacTavish’s doghouse is he starts scoring, and scoring fast. You wonder if this is the beginning of the end for Nilsson, or just another bump in the long road to becoming a professional?

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 Jayamania
December 30 2008, 12:59PM
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It's a good thing we have a skilled forward like Reddox to replace a top 6 forward in case of an injury.

Can someone explain to me why we are only carrying 21 players? Good call Mac T.

Gregor, I heard you mention on your show that Potulny should be getting the call shortly. Any updates.

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#52 Dennis
December 30 2008, 01:06PM
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Gregor: You and I don't agree on most things but I appreciate your insider info.

On 12: if I'm making that kind of scratch, I've got no less than three alarms set so that I never miss a practice. Years ago when I was in my early 20's, I got to work an hour late because there was a power outage in my area and it shagged my alarm clock. So when I get there the guy who worked the shift before me is still there covering and he's pi$$ed and the boss is waiting for me and she takes me into her office.

I tell her what happened and she calls NL Power to see if my story checked out - it did - and she told me she could empathize but she also told me it was my responsibility to also set a battery operated clock so that I had a back-up. The point is that I was 21 and I messed up that one time but I never messed up again. 12's also still a bit of a kid but he's also a guy that's taken a few blackmarks because he's a bit of a lazy-a$$ who also looks to carry a sense of entitlement.

Given what he was carrying around Before he slept in, he doesn't get a free pass from me Because he slept you.

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#53 Dennis
December 30 2008, 01:07PM
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BTW, big ups for that pic of Nilsson to go along with the picture. He looks like he came off a month-long bender and now he's at a support group wearing a hoodie, but if he took it off you know his right arm's showing a half-completed Japanese sleeve:D

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#54 Jordan
December 30 2008, 01:18PM
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Jason: What are the lines for tonight with hemsky out of the lineup?

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#55 Gord
December 30 2008, 01:28PM
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Deep Oil wrote:

@Gord:...I just don’t understand how LOWE could of signed this kid for three years when MACT states that he has had a bad work ethic from NYI - doesn’t LOWE consult with MACT when signing a player just for input ????? This really shows that MACT is hired help and LOWE is in the ivory tower.

You will get no disagrement from me on this one.

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#56 David S
December 30 2008, 01:29PM
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"Here is what happened. Nilsson slept in. Now we don’t know if he slept in accidently, or slept in planning on not going to practice. He then got a wake up call and showed up at the rink late. There was a brief meeting and he was sent home."

Thanks for the clarification Jason. However this reads a bit differently to me than...

"To me this is a clear case of Nilsson trying to show the coach he isn’t happy."

(The Journal had some additional comments today as well.)

An application of Ocham's Razor would probably fill in the blanks here, but obviously its not the position of this site or yourself to do so.

Suffice it to say that I enjoy your insights and got a bit confused when you started to lean over to the side of speculation. Nilsson said he made a mistake. He talked to MacT about it and things are cool. Done.

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#57 Jason Gregor
December 30 2008, 01:34PM
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Jayamania wrote:

It’s a good thing we have a skilled forward like Reddox to replace a top 6 forward in case of an injury. Can someone explain to me why we are only carrying 21 players? Good call Mac T. Gregor, I heard you mention on your show that Potulny should be getting the call shortly. Any updates.

Good question. I should clarify that Deslauriers's conditioning stint doesn't open up a spot so they techincally have 22 right now. They do have one open spot and the reason they haven't recalled anyone so far, is that it wouldn't do Schremp, Brule or Potulny any good to sit in the press box and wait for an injury.

Of course Reddox isn't a good trade off for Hemsky, but he is only in due to injury.

They really want to try and get Nilsson going so I could see him getting extra PP time with Hemsky out for a few games.

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#58 Gord
December 30 2008, 01:36PM
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@ David S: It's only that simple if Nilsson comes out and plays a solid 60 minutes. If he is floating around making lazy plays you can bet things won't be cool and the situation is far from done.

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#59 Jason Gregor
December 30 2008, 01:37PM
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Jordan wrote:

Jason: What are the lines for tonight with hemsky out of the lineup?

MacTavish wasn't tipping his hat...but I suspect it to be

12 89 26 18 13 78 27 10 85 43 51 46

Reddox with Horcoff would mean they are going to see a lot of Heatley and Spezza. Of course Reddox won't be on the PP in place of Hemsky. And expect Cole to get a few extra shifts playing with Horcoff as well. They didn't skate in lines at the morning session so it was impossible to get a true read on it.

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#60 Gord
December 30 2008, 01:43PM
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@ Jason Gregor: WOuld it be reasonable to expect that the Oilers will basically run 3 lines tonight resembling something more like this: 12 89 26 18 51 78 27 10 13

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#61 Jason Gregor
December 30 2008, 02:04PM
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Gord wrote:

@ Jason Gregor: WOuld it be reasonable to expect that the Oilers will basically run 3 lines tonight resembling something more like this: 12 89 26 18 51 78 27 10 13

No chance on the third line you put up. Cogliano can't play the wing. He gets lost on the wing. I don't know if the MacBlender will be in that high speed, but I do expect to see a different rotation. The 4th line will play together and the rest will be a mix and match, but based on what he said I would expect him to at least try to keep some semblance of the 2nd and 3rd lines.

A lot will depend on how many penalties there are. If there is lots of special team play it will be even harder to get a set rotation going. I suspect Cole will be playing 20 minutes tonight for sure.

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#62 Jay
December 30 2008, 02:10PM
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This is one of those things. Can you call it an optional practise if it's not optional? Can you rip him for not going, sure why not, eveyone is looking for someone to rip on these days. Not knowing the full official policy on optional practise for the Oilers organization I can only guess, but sometimes you just need to decompress and get away from things. Sounds like a perfect day to do it is the optional practise. Being as it is optional, maybe in name only? Are we having this same converstion if Ethan Moreau does it with all his stupid, ill-timed, undisciplined penalties and the general lack of leadership that is being shown? Probably not. I mean where was Ethan to take him under his wing on this one? OR Staios? OR Horcoff?

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#63 BUCK75
December 30 2008, 03:07PM
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@ Jason Gregor:

Thanks man - I don't usually put alot of stock into what the anonymous hockey blogger says, once again he appears to be talking out of his ass.

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#64 Clarkenstein
December 30 2008, 03:33PM
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Adam Dyck wrote:

@ Clarkenstein: It was GRegor that said he was closer to the team, not Zig. for the record.

Thanks for the heads up Adam and to Zig my sincere apologies. Got me all fired up but I forgot to remove my head from ass before I spoke. Will have to get Mama to spank my pee pee tonight!!

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#65 Jason Gregor
December 30 2008, 03:39PM
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Jay wrote:

This is one of those things. Can you call it an optional practise if it’s not optional? Can you rip him for not going, sure why not, eveyone is looking for someone to rip on these days. Not knowing the full official policy on optional practise for the Oilers organization I can only guess, but sometimes you just need to decompress and get away from things. Sounds like a perfect day to do it is the optional practise. Being as it is optional, maybe in name only? Are we having this same converstion if Ethan Moreau does it with all his stupid, ill-timed, undisciplined penalties and the general lack of leadership that is being shown? Probably not. I mean where was Ethan to take him under his wing on this one? OR Staios? OR Horcoff?

Why do the leaders have to remind guys to come to practice? They are grown men and a leader shouldn't have to call guys to make sure they will practice. Optional is not optional for young players. They all know it. They don't need to be reminded every day. Blaming other players for Nilsson sleeping in is weak. He has to look in the mirror and be better. Nothing more.

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#66 Ender the Dragon
December 30 2008, 04:37PM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

I’m not saying this whole thing isn’t exactly what Gregor sees, but I think we should hear Nilsson out before assuming the worst.

Jason Gregor wrote:

Here is what happened. Nilsson slept in. Now we don’t know if he slept in accidently, or slept in planning on not going to practice. He then got a wake up call and showed up at the rink late. There was a brief meeting and he was sent home. Today Nilsson said so. “I made a mistake. I spoke to my Dad, and coach MacTavish and this was a mistake on my part. I want to be here, I like the guys in the room, and it won’t happen again.”

Jason, I don't know if I owe you an apology or not; I don't always believe everything I read and I try to listen to both sides (and if possible, a third unbiased opinion) of every situation before making up my mind.

I will say this. You were on the money in this case, and those who read and believed you right away knew the truth before I did. As such, I may believe you a little quicker next time. Still, I'm glad you provided the quotes from Nilsson. Getting the story straight from the horse's mouth always sits better with me than getting the truth second-hand. Thanks for taking the time and having the means to follow-up so well.

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#67 Jason Gregor
December 31 2008, 11:01AM
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Ender,

I would hope you don't believe everything you read...lol. No need for an apology, if a guy is continually correct or very close to his facts then people will take it as fact. That is what I strive for.

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#68 Heavy G
December 31 2008, 07:51PM
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JG, I read your blog and I must say that it would be hard to disagree with what you wrote. One would have to be simpleminded or naive to think otherwise. Sure all of us slept in at one point or another; however, did we do it when we had something to prove or something to loose? Probably not.

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