October 01 2009 01:52PM
There have been many occasions during the preseason where we have watched our beloved Oilers play some less than inspired hockey. Remembering the absolute collapse down the stretch last year, we have this sickly feeling from time to time deep down in the pit of our stomach. No, it isn’t the morning Colt 45-old pizza combination wreaking havoc on our nervous system. It’s these ding dang Oilers and their lack of identity or fire. But unlike last season there is one thing that gives us hope early on in the season: the new coaching staff led by Pat Quinn.
The offseason addition of co-coaches Tom Renney and Pat Quinn came as a surprise to everyone in the OilersNation, except Robin Brownlee who famously predicted waaaay back in May that exactly this would happen:
I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see Tambellini hire a head coach and an associate coach in tandem, then fill out the bench roster by adding an assistant or two. Why not Pat Quinn as head coach and Tom Renney as his associate?
Pat Quinn = Good Coach
It’s no secret that Pat Quinn has a sterling record coaching to say the least. Quinn is the winningest active coach in the NHL, and 5th all time with 657 wins. Even more tantalizing for Oilers fans Quinn's record includes 11 first round playoff wins in 16 seasons. He has a .569 career winning percentage, despite the unenviable task of coaching the Leafs and the Canucks. He is also believed to be the inventor of the horseshoe drill, cherry flavored Gatorade and coined the term "making the cut" back in 1874.
When Quinn took the helm of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1998-99 season he took the team from a 30-43-9 record to a 45-30-7 record the very next season, where they ultimately lost in the Conference Finals to the Sabres. Goals for jumped by 38% that year and all those people in suits in Toronto were able to look down their noses at each other during three long playoff series.
We can hear people already "but WAAAAAANYE, how can you compare the 2009-10 Oilers to the 1998-99 Maple Leafs? It's like comparing apples to hornets! They had CuJo and Mats Sundin! We have JDD and JFJ! To say nothing of the many contributions Lonny Bohonos made that season with his three goals in seven games! Quinn can't be expected to craft gold out of mud can he?"
We think that a proven winner can step in and make an impact on this underachieving Oilers squad and that all of the pundits that have weighed on so far on the Oilers chances this season are selling the new regime short. Both TSN and THN project the Oilers at a heart pounding 11th place at season's end. Predictions mean about as much as an honorary degree in Chemistry bestowed upon Lindsay Lohan, but we will get to that when our own predictions come out later in the week. We think the Oil are being sold short.
Back to right now
It's clear that Quinn & Co have been less than impressed with some of our beloved Oilers. We recently read this beauty Quinn quote on TSN with his take on some of the Oilers veteran players thus far:
"We have some guys that aren't leaders that are veterans. They've hung around because they know how to play, but we need our veterans to care more about the other people around them," he said. "Some guys don't have time for that. They're busy with themselves."
You have to hand it to Quinn for making statements that are this bold early on in the season. Remember just a few short years back when the veteran Oilers were readily blocking shots with their grills? Remember how they were richly rewarded with legacy contracts and we could all sleep tightly knowing that there was a specific brand of Oilers hockey and that our long term veterans would guard it carefully before it could be handed over to the crop of young hotshots lighting the world on fire?
What happened to those good ol' days? How have things fallen to the point where the incoming Coaching staff assess the scenarios and come up with the conclusion above? Who are these veterans Quinn is lambasting?
In our humble opinion you can't win games on Coaching alone. The fact Barry Melrose wasn’t able to immediately right the Good Ship Lightning speaks to that point very well. But on a team searching for an identity, with veterans "busy with themselves" and the youth searching to find their places in the world, it is clear that there is a sincere desire on the part of the Team to bring a new message into RX1 and rebuild anew. And the guy leading the charge has more NHL wins under his belt than Paris Hilton has had bed partners.
And that right there is the only thing that gives us hope.
Somewhere this guy is breathing a sigh of relief that this season isn't about to go down on his watch.