Fire MacT? No chance

Robin Brownlee
February 02 2009 10:10PM

mactdeathwatch

While there's plenty of sentiment out there, some of it well-founded, that Craig MacTavish should be fired forthwith by the Edmonton Oilers, it isn't going to happen. At least not right now.

Aside from having the Oilers in a tenuous playoff position at 25-21-3 and owner Darryl Katz and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe firmly in his corner, MacTavish got what was essentially a vote of confidence from GM Steve Tambellini today.

While votes of confidence often come just before the GM walks into his coach's office with a blindfold and a cigarette, I'd be willing to wager that's not the case when it comes to the embattled MacT.

That's not to say a case can't be made for a pink slip, because it can, but the reality of the situation, given the personalities and alliances involved, is that MacTavish isn't going anywhere, yet.

The boss says

Tambellini talked to assembled media at Millennium Place today, taking a variety of questions. Dave Mitchell of CTV cut to the chase when he asked Tambellini if a coaching change might "get this team going."

"We're right in the middle of a playoff hunt here," said Tambellini, eyeballing his bald inquisitor. "We're in fifth place a couple of days ago.

"This coaching staff is working hard. Craig is one of the top coaches in this business and we're right there. So, you're asking me a question when we're fighting for a playoff spot right now, like many teams.

"Our job is to get better from within first, not to look on the outside. If that happens, like I said, we look daily. If we can upgrade our hockey club, we will. If we can upgrade on the last day possible of the trade deadline, we will.

"The most important thing here is to maximize what we have here, be a good team every night. This coaching staff is doing a good job."

Moves pending?

Tambellini was also queried about the possibility of making a deal to bolster the team, maybe shake things up, before the trade deadline.

"To look on the outside, to say there's always something greener on the other side to get better, that's an easy way," Tambellini said. "Every team is saying that.

"You have to get better from the inside. We have to get better as a group (and) individually. That's the only way you'll be able to sustain something... it's difficult. Teams are looking for energy players. Teams are looking for defencemen. They're looking for top-six forwards.

"It's difficult to move players. It's not the only way you get better. We have to look not only on the outside, we have to look from the inside out sometimes. How do we get better as a group?"

The bottom line

So, like it or not, that's Tambellini's take, as of today. In the end, while some Oilers fans might see things differently, the reality is Tambellini, along with Lowe and Katz, have the only votes that really matter. And those votes won't be cast until this season is done and the Oilers miss the playoffs, if they're cast at all.

MacT isn't going anywhere, yet.

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

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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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#101 Deep Oil
February 03 2009, 04:42PM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

@ Deep Oil: Wow, that site is fantastic, thanks for pointing that out. Now I can watch midweek soccer games at work!

And everyone thinks I out to lunch.

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#102 Tyler
February 03 2009, 05:45PM
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The way some people talk, you’d think players spend a lot of time reading fan sites and losing sleep over what people say about them.

Some people? Like who, Allan Watt?

Didn't Stauffer (I'm paraphrasing but I'm pretty sure I have the gist of it) always used to go about how what he and other reporters had to say was more valid because he had to back it up by facing the guy at practice the next day? Do players only lose sleep about what's written or said about them in the real media?

Just curious about how it works, that's all. You can usually tell the real loons online or the people who don't know how to spell or write coherent English but it seems to me that Stauffer's whole point was predicated on players a) reading the stuff that's written about them and b) caring about it.

I can’t imagine wading into the morass if I were a player - too many people way out to lunch, and too many people who passionately support their guy over me.

I don't know how many of these guys are tech savvy, although I'd assume that a lot of the younger ones are, and maybe it's different for guys at the NHL level, but a lot of the guys I know who played college would read discussion forums and such. People are, by and large, like Ed Koch - they're interested in their reviews.

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#103 shea
February 03 2009, 05:45PM
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There are so many great options for a new coaching staff on the open market right now, it's a shame that most of them will be scooped up before we get rid of this "no better than .500 staff of old buddies" we have right now.

I am curious as to what on god's earth Mac T, Huddy, or Bucky could ever teach a guy like Ales Hemsky? Could you imagine that conversation? Bucky telling Hemmer to block all incomming shots with his face. Know wonder 3rd and 4th line plug bangers make it on this team. Thats all the coaching staff know's.

I'm throwing this out there, but how about bringing back a great winner and non ex oiler Rob Daum as an assistant. Dennis Savard, another winner and offensive teacher as the other assistant. At head coach i'm thinking maybe a guy like Marc Crawford. He's at the very least a change. A new vision,voice and system.

I think it's pretty clear we will never be better than .500 with the plug's behind our bench now. I also think it would be great to not have to always push for that 8th playoff spot, rather dare I say contend for the division.

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#104 Jonathan Willis
February 03 2009, 06:08PM
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shea wrote:

At head coach i’m thinking maybe a guy like Marc Crawford. He’s at the very least a change. A new vision,voice and system.

Have you heard Crawford do colour commentary?

If not, do you recall what happened to the last team he was in charge of?

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#105 Travis Dakin
February 03 2009, 06:22PM
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@ Tyler:

I totally agree dude. Anybody that thinks that these guys don't follow whats written on the net about them is pretty naive.

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#106 Travis Dakin
February 03 2009, 06:26PM
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shea wrote:

At head coach i’m thinking maybe a guy like Marc Crawford. He’s at the very least a change. A new vision,voice and system.

Anybody that would send out Ray Bourque in a shootout over the most prolific goal scorer in NHL history in St. Wayne Gretzky should never even be allowed inside an NHL arena ever again. Not even to watch. Nothing he can say or do will ever fix that mistake.

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#107 mwhite.dking@nd.sympatico.ca
February 03 2009, 06:56PM
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Ty: I really wouldn't worry too much about what Stauffer thinks. There seems to be an old guard sentiment by the Edm media - and in other cities as well - that fans are know-nothings and that you only get real insight by asking, "talk about that shift in the second period."

The new truth is that the truth is out there given you can buy these things called satellite dishes that allow you to watch every game and also this series of tubes called the internet where you can check stats and compare them against players on other teams.

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#108 RobinB
February 03 2009, 07:05PM
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@ Travis Dakin: Are you calling me naive? Many of the players, the vast majority, do read the daily papers, be it the hard copy or the internet version of what's written.

Yes, players generally do care what an identifiable mainstream writer, particularly the beat guys and columnists, say about them. You see copies of the newspaper passed around on the team flight and bus all the time.

Players don't, however, spend time surfing from fansite to fansite and blog to blog to see what fans are on about. And they're not the least bit concerned whether "PuckBunny 89" or "Gretzky Rules" thinks they suck or belong in the hall of fame.

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#109 Rice
February 04 2009, 09:28AM
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To Shakey and RobinB I'm not saying that we shouldn't pressure these players who are being paid millions to play hockey for our entertainment. What I am saying is that we should focus on developing talent from within the organization. Players that are succeeding here are ones that have come through the system or have come here in a trade before our standards for them have been set.

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#110 MCG
February 05 2009, 08:34AM
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I've heard or read several people say now is not the time to get rid of MacT. I disagree. It's been the same thing year after year. Correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't the Oilers made the playoffs only three times in 8 years of MacT coaching. And those three times they made the playoffs, they barely squeezed in. Oilers need a change. Letting him go now would really shake this team up, and that is what needs to happen. I don't belive that MacT has lost the room, but there is something to be said about the players not responding to their coach. I understand if the Oilers miss the playoffs this year then MacT has to go. But, what if they make the playoffs this year? Then does MacT keep his job, and the Oilers repeat this cyle of underachieving for another decade? Now is the time to let him go.

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