MacT and the future of the Oilers

Jason Gregor
April 13 2009 03:57PM

backtothefuture

As the Oilers signed sticks, pictures, jerseys and said goodbye after another disappointing season, all of the buzz around the locker room was whether Craig MacTavish would resign or not.

I’ve said it all season that if they missed the playoffs he would step aside, and it seems that announcement will be made official later this week.

MacTavish opened his press conference saying he wouldn’t answer any question regarding his future. He will speak with Steve Tambellini tomorrow and Wednesday, but MacTavish did say that his future plans will be made public later this week.

The biggest statement, and the one that confirms he will step aside in my opinion, was when he stated, "The thing most disappointing for me was that our culture took a hit; in terms of our work ethic, our selflessness and the universal commitment that we had here for so many years. There were a lot of nights as a coach I had to ask for more and sometimes the tank was pretty empty. It was difficult year for sure."

That sounds like a coach who is wondering whether he can get the most out of his players. Whether you like or hate MacTavish, you can’t question his commitment to the team. When he leaves later this week, it will be because he feels that this group of players and him just don’t gel.

MacTavish has to shoulder some of the blame as well.

He didn’t throw any players under the bus. When asked about Penner, he said that he had already commented enough on Dustin this season and didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

Regarding Nilsson, he said he made strides at times, but once again fought inconsistency. Not really what I would call throwing players under the bus. I think a more direct message was when Penner, Nilsson and Brodziak were in the pressbox on Saturday. A final message or possible parting shot from the coach came in that move more than what he said today.

Tambellini’s in charge

While the optics make it fair to question how much control Steve Tambellini has, I was told today that he is the boss.

Does Tambellini ask Kevin Lowe for his opinion on certain matters? Yes. Does Lowe go to Tambellini with suggestions? No.

The plan, as I was told today, was to bring in Tambellini and let him assess the team for the year. It is clear now, that this team was not as good as the organization thought they were and now it is up to Tambellini to start the renovations.

Tambellini will put his fingerprints on this team ranging from the coaching, to veterans moving out and which youngsters will be coming in. It would be unrealistic to expect massive trades and a complete purging of the team, but don’t be surprised to see at least one, if not two, significant player moves over the summer.

Oilers at the worlds

The golf season will be delayed a few more weeks for certain members of the Oilers. Tom Gilbert and Patrick O’Sullivan will suit up for the USA at the worlds. Denis Grebeshkov will play for Russia, Ales Hemsky and Ales Kotalik will play for the Czech Republic and Dwayne Roloson has confirmed he will wear the maple leaf, with Shawn Horcoff committed to playing as well. Robert Nilsson hasn’t been asked yet and he hinted he has some injuries, so even if a call comes, which is doubtful, he won’t be playing for Sweden.

Stanley Cup and Regular Season tidbits

The Columbus Blue Jackets will finally play in a playoff game when they battle the Red Wings in round one. Will the Steve Mason v. Chris Osgood matchup allow the Jackets to pull off the major upset?

Only one team has ever won the Stanley Cup the first year they made the playoffs. The Leafs did it back in 1918. The Florida Panthers came close in 1996 when the lost in the Finals. The Habs (1918) the Bruins (1927) and the Blues (1968) are the other teams that lost the final the first year they made the playoffs.

Sixteen teams lost in the first round. Anaheim, San Jose (who beat Detroit in 1994), Washington, Phoenix, the Islanders, Pittsburgh and Dallas all won one round. The Wild won two rounds in 2003.

Don’t pick the Jackets to win the Cup, but 14 of the previous 29 teams have won at least one series during their first trip to the dance.

  • Claude Lemieux will try to become only the second player to win a Cup with four different teams. Jack Marshall is the other.
  • Olli Jokinen will play in his first playoff game after 799 regular season games.
  • The last time the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, they finished the season with 119 points. They had 116 this year, their highest total since 1972.
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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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#1 Rob
April 13 2009, 04:09PM
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I hope you are right about Mact. The interview today left me uncertain. Will management blame the players as always or will the coach have to take some blame as well this time???

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#2 RossCreek
April 13 2009, 04:15PM
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Off topic, but Gregor, you mentioned Lemaire to Montreal. I know things can change, but I've heard him in the past state that he had no interest in ever coaching in Montreal. Also, did he specifically say he was interested in coaching elsewhere, or that he was interested in another job in hockey. Could he be interested in a GM role for instance, perhaps in Colorado??

And speaking of GM's, Minnesaota should be looking for a new one. But I suspect he'll have another year with a new coach before he may feel the heat.

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#3 rindog
April 13 2009, 04:21PM
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Gregor - please don't take this as an " I told you so" or a "in your face" type of reply.

I simply have some questions???

What would you (or any any other media mogul) say to those people who have been saying that MacT is not the right man for this team (and hasn't been for some time)?Why is it okay to now say his time has come? What would have making the playoffs this year changed?

What also does it say about the management team - when average Joe Fan could see that there was a disconnect between the players and the coach all season?

There were many points in this season that a coaching change could have (and should have) been made - why wasn't it?

MacT mentions the selfishness of the players?? What about the selfishness/stubornness of the management to not make the change?

We essentially wasted a season (in which a post season birth was easily attainable) to see if a worn out coach could muster up one last kick at the cat?

Finally, for all of those people that feel sorry for MacT?? The fact that he would send that message to Penner, Nilsson and Brodziak at the end of the season is laughable (if not for the fact that is so, so sad).

What kind of coach uses his position to take pot shots at players? Maybe Tambellini should have benched MacT for the last couple of games - because MacT sure didn't get the message after a full season either??

Gregor we have had many discussions regarding the coach (which have taken away from some good debate regarding our players). I look forward to a new coaching staff so we can actually focus on the players and whether or not they have what it takes to be a playoff team.

In a year from now - I will have no problem admitting that we may not have the right players (if a new coach with a different philosophy comes in and bombs). Until that happens - I will finally be able to look at this team with optimism instead of the dark cloud of pessimism that MacT has forced me to endure.

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#4 Rice
April 13 2009, 04:23PM
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Habs 1918??...wasn't this their centennial year?

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#5 Rice
April 13 2009, 04:26PM
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rindog wrote:

I look forward to a new coaching staff so we can actually focus on the players and whether or not they have what it takes to be a playoff team.

two things...1 changing the coach isn't going to stop the fans from picking apart their style. 2 changing the coach wont be enough to take them to the post season.

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#6 jdrevenge
April 13 2009, 04:28PM
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@ RossCreek:

I'm in the MTL right now and the fans are losing their mind over this team. It appears that the Russian/Czech clique is running the team and doesnt want to listen to anybody. They have a tonne of guys hitting free agency this year so maybe Lemaire wouldnt want to start from scratch... He's getting pretty old and the well here in terms of prospects isnt overly deep.

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#7 RossCreek
April 13 2009, 04:30PM
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Here’s my list of potential head coaches for the Oil:

Scott Arniel Marc Habscheid Paul MacLean Kevin Dineen Marc Crawford Randy Cunneyworth Willie Desjardins Dale Hunter Perry Pearn Peter Laviolette Pat Quinn

Missing anyone with a legitimate shot??

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#8 topshelf
April 13 2009, 04:31PM
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Rice wrote:

1 changing the coach isn’t going to stop the fans from picking apart their style.

If it's successful I think it might.

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#9 rindog
April 13 2009, 04:32PM
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@ Rice:

changing the coach wont be enough to take them to the post season

How can you know that? Even with all of the turmoil of the season; we controlled our playoff destiny with less than 10 games left. If we would have went 6-4 down the stretch - we would have been in. Is 6-4 really that much to ask of a team? Especially considering that 3 of the losses were to team that were not playoffs teams...

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#10 Archaeologuy
April 13 2009, 04:33PM
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I like the Pic of Craig MacFly.

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#11 RossCreek
April 13 2009, 04:33PM
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jdrevenge wrote:

@ RossCreek: I’m in the MTL right now and the fans are losing their mind over this team. It appears that the Russian/Czech clique is running the team and doesnt want to listen to anybody. They have a tonne of guys hitting free agency this year so maybe Lemaire wouldnt want to start from scratch… He’s getting pretty old and the well here in terms of prospects isnt overly deep.

?? "...I’ve heard him in the past state that he had no interest in ever coaching in Montreal."

So are you stating basically the same as I did, Rwha?

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#12 rindog
April 13 2009, 04:34PM
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@ RossCreek:

I would like to see if Kirk Muller is available?

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#13 RossCreek
April 13 2009, 04:35PM
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rindog wrote:

@ RossCreek: I would like to see if Kirk Muller is available?

For the Oil? What makes you think he's more qualified than the names I mentioned? Just wondering (no disrespect).

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#14 rindog
April 13 2009, 04:39PM
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@ RossCreek:

I don't think he is more qualified

I just think he would be a good fit. He understands the offensive side of the game. He demands respect. He is ultra-competitive. He knows what it takes to win. And most importantly; I think he knows the simple team philosophy that in order for a team to be succesful-you have to let your best players - be your best players....

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#15 RossCreek
April 13 2009, 04:42PM
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@ rindog: Fair enough. I think he could use some more seasoning. He'll be a good head coach one day in my opinion. Just not sure that time is now.

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#16 oilersseasonticketholdersince99
April 13 2009, 04:42PM
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I said it back in November that Mac t had lost the room and was told that was not the case because none of the players had come out and said so.I think he did himself in by throwing two of his players (Penner and Neilson)under the bus,This was the begging of his undoing you cannot expect players on the team to support Mac T when their teammates are being blasted in the media,he then has a AHL player playing on his top line, what do you think the guys on the team where thinking about their coach when they saw that? How about Hemsky what do you think his take was on the situation having to play with Reddex when Mac T was benching Penner I think given the choice he would have prefered to play with Penner than Reddex.If Mac t is gone look at Pennner,Neilson and a few other guys on this team to have career years, Mac T found ways to have these guys lose interest and they where not going to play for him under any circumstance.

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#17 RossCreek
April 13 2009, 04:47PM
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@ Gregor Tom Gilbert, Kyle Brodziak & a 2nd round pick for Simon Gagne

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#18 EMAC
April 13 2009, 04:48PM
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@ oilersseasonticketholdersince99:

Agreed. Penner has to be due for some sort of offensive outbreak, and with a new coach and clean slate that should happen.

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#19 bingofuel
April 13 2009, 04:48PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

Awww, thanks. It's nice to receive props for hastily-strung-together two-minute photoshop jobs! <3

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#20 Reggie
April 13 2009, 04:49PM
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What about Boris Rybalka from the Camrose Kodiaks ? or is that too out in left field since he has no AHL or NHL experience.

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#21 RossCreek
April 13 2009, 04:49PM
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JDD & 3rd round pick for Josh Harding

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#22 RossCreek
April 13 2009, 04:53PM
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Reggie wrote:

What about Boris Rybalka from the Camrose Kodiaks ? or is that too out in left field since he has no AHL or NHL experience.

Too far out in left field. As an Assistant, perhaps. AHL seasoning would be more likely, although I think Boris has a pretty sweet gig in Camrose, and might be more interested in an Assistant job at the NHL level than an AHL gig. I could be wrong on that though.

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#23 Jacob
April 13 2009, 04:57PM
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"I think a more direct message was when Penner, Nilsson and Brodziak were in the pressbox on Saturday. A final message or possible parting shot from the coach came in that move more than what he said today."

Let me start out by saying that I'm not insinuating that these events are strongly correlated, however, it seems interesting to me that we won the game with Penner, Nilsson, and Brodziak, and lost the game with those three in the pressbox.

Nilsson wasn't outstanding against the Flames, but did manage to come away +1. No shots on goal, though, so I can kind of see that one.

Penner? Six shots in ten minutes of ice time, second only to O'Sullivan, who had 8 in almost 17 minutes. Penner was also plus one.

Brodziak had two assists.

So, as far as I'm concerned, in that regard, no real message was sent there. (Aside from despite how well you play, if the coach just flat out doesn't like you, you may end up sitting anyway.)

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#24 West Coast Oil
April 13 2009, 04:57PM
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Give me Scott Arniel as a new coach. The guy has been super succesful in Manitoba with a boatload of prospects who werent blue chippers and a journeyman AHL goaltender for most of his coaching career!

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#25 rindog
April 13 2009, 05:02PM
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@ Jacob:

And yet guys like Moreau and Staios were never benched once.

Aren't they our leaders that lead us to this season?

Did they do their jobs?

MacT = Consistently, inconsistent!!!!

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#26 RossCreek
April 13 2009, 05:04PM
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West Coast Oil wrote:

Give me Scott Arniel as a new coach. The guy has been super succesful in Manitoba with a boatload of prospects who werent blue chippers and a journeyman AHL goaltender for most of his coaching career!

I'm thinking along those lines as well. I've been throwing out Habschied's name for the last year or two for the Oil. I still think he'd be a good pick. I know he's a former Oiler, but I wouldn't consider him a member of the "old boys club". Maybe he'd be kind of a happy-medium for both sides of the ex-Oiler/anti-exOiler.

Scott Arniel may infact be the right man for the job.

(Did he run Buffalo's PP a few years back when it was clicking pretty good? Anyone?)

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#27 rindog
April 13 2009, 05:07PM
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@ RossCreek:

Habscheid would be great. I only wonder if he is "hard" enough??

Geoff Ward would be another consideration??

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#28 Mark
April 13 2009, 05:08PM
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@ Rob: come on people. stop looking at this team like an Oiler fan and give them an honest shake: - your top scorer finished #75 in goals and #46 in overall points (just north of some dude named James Neal). - your second highest scoring player was Souray (a defenceman) - your starting goaltender was dealt here after losing the starting job somewhere else - and not to mention has left his best days behind him. - you have a solid core team of very young players that need a lot of development (Gagne proved that this year)

In short, the Oilers don't have a playoff worthy team. I think Mac T did the best with what he was given. A bunch of overpaid, solid, but probably second line on any top 10 team players.

Get this simple fact into your heads: no one wants to play here. The Western conference sucks because you have to travel way more as a player, Edmonton weather sucks, and whether you want to admit it or not most guys making 7 mil a year would pick a lot of other places to call home.

If Edmonton really wants to put together another truly worthy cup contender (rather than a barely playoff worthy team that gets hot at the right time), we need to draft better players. I don't mean, hey this dude could be a solid 60 point scorer in 7 years, I mean names like Crosby, Teows, Kane, Malkin, Gaborik, etc etc. TOP players. ELITE players. The only way you do that is by sh**ing the bed for a few years. Instead of always trying to scrape by and make the playoffs by over paying and clinging to scraps the Oil need to REBUILD by tanking and getting better draft picks. Teams like Pittsburgh, Washington, Tampa have all done it. If we want this to be the city of champions again we're going to need to suck it up and check our pride for a few years.

Until then quit blaming a decent coach for doing his best with a mediocre team.

Lace 'em up - it's gut check time!

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#29 rindog
April 13 2009, 05:10PM
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Some food for thought????

Don't get me wrong - I will be ecstatic when MacT resigns!!!

But, does matter if he resigns or gets fired?

Is there a message (from management) to be sent (or not sent) either way??

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#30 EMAC
April 13 2009, 05:11PM
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Let's hire Pierre Macguire, didn't he win a ring with the Pens, lol.

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#31 Chris
April 13 2009, 05:13PM
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RossCreek wrote:

Here’s my list of potential head coaches for the Oil: Scott Arniel Marc Habscheid Paul MacLean Kevin Dineen Marc Crawford Randy Cunneyworth Willie Desjardins Dale Hunter Perry Pearn Peter Laviolette Pat Quinn Missing anyone with a legitimate shot??

Johnathan Willis did a nice article on this very topic on the 12th. Marc Crawford should not be considered...the man is an idiot. I like Don Lever. Many think he was the brains behind the resurgence of Montreal's special teams last season... Exactly what needs to happen in Edmonton if guys like Gagner are going to get playoff experience next season. As for becoming an elite organization: baby steps people, baby steps. (I know we are all sick of waiting but nothing is going to speed this up: Lowe tried to rebuild on the fly and that is ironically what probably set us back)

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#32 Sick of bitchy Oilers fans
April 13 2009, 05:15PM
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@ oilersseasonticketholdersince99:

I am an Oilers fan that lives in Calgary. I get sick and tired of people ripping the Oilers. Granted, it wasn't a good season and, in hind sight, some of the coaching decisions can be questioned. But people like oilersseanticetholdersince99 really get on my nerves. Lots of people react in an overly emotional fashion to events on the ice. I recognize sport is all about emotional investment but too many people seem to have taken leave of their senses and left all rational thought by the way side. It is human nature to look at events, AFTER THE FACT, and point fingers. But if you were MacT and the team was floundering, wouldn't you be trying different things to get them going? I am not an apologist for MacT. But he deserves much more regard than the visceral garbage that so many fans are throwing at him.

Jason: I have a question for you. Do you think that part of the reason that Edmonton has challenges attracting free agents has anything to do with the fact that fans get all over the players after one or two bad games? The list of players that the fans have run out of town is fairly lengthy.

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#33 RossCreek
April 13 2009, 05:16PM
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rindog wrote:

@ RossCreek: Habscheid would be great. I only wonder if he is “hard” enough?? Geoff Ward would be another consideration??

Ya, Ward would be another possibility I forgot.

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#34 Jacob
April 13 2009, 05:19PM
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"Until then quit blaming a decent coach for doing his best with a mediocre team."

Well, that's just it. I'm not entirely certain he did his best with the team. The Oilers were not a perfect squad, that's for certain, but when your top scoring left winger spends a good amount of time on the second and third lines while Liam Reddox is manning the top, there's an issue.

An odd game here and there, sure. Penner definitely needs to be better. But the fact remains that he was (and likely is) the best option we have there at this point. Like him or not, his 17-20-37 (+7) was 8th overall in points, fifth among forwards, and first among players listed as left wingers. A player with 5-7-12 (-6) in Liam Reddox is hardly a suitable substitute.

I don't have the exact numbers to support this, but there was an article about a month back about the first line's production with and without Penner. The short version is that they were better in the games in which he played on the first line. And it seems like it was shortly after Penner was removed from the first line again that Hemsky and Horcoff combined for three goals over thirteen games.

No, we didn't have a perfect team, but some of the coaching decisions were a bit baffling.

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#35 RossCreek
April 13 2009, 05:24PM
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@ Chris: Wasn't Don Lever in Hamilton until Carboneau's firing? Or was he with the Habs last season? And I have a feeling he may get the job in Montreal anyways.

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#36 Rice
April 13 2009, 05:30PM
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@ rindog: Fair point...my judgment is clouded because it was a crappy end to another mediocre season. I am definitely not a MacT supporter, but I am tired of people looking at this team with their heads up their asses. It wasn't just the coach that let the fans down. The players shouldn't have to be lead around by with by carrot in order for them to show up every night. Yes sometimes MacT did beat them with the carrot.. I'm just saying that everyone one had a finger in this smelly ass pie (of a season).

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#37 Reggie
April 13 2009, 05:31PM
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RossCreek wrote:

(Did he run Buffalo’s PP a few years back when it was clicking pretty good? Anyone?)

Yes, Arniel ran the PP for Buffalo. I remember hearing a quote from Ruff that said, the past 3 years we have been hovering around 22-26 and so we decided to bring Scott in to run the PP. The result as either #2 or #3 PP that year with virtually the same group of players.

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#38 rindog
April 13 2009, 05:34PM
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@ Rice: Rice wrote:

Fair point…my judgment is clouded because it was a crappy end to another mediocre season.

And the ONE common link to all of these crappy seasons is......

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#39 Jacob
April 13 2009, 05:36PM
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@ Rice: I think the problem is the other six years of smelly ass pie-seasons. And again, I'll not claim any of those teams were pefect, nor will a assert that many (or any, in some cases) could have done much better.

It just seems that with all the on-ice personnel changes over the last eight years, he seems to be the common denominator.

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#40 Archaeologuy
April 13 2009, 05:36PM
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Is the team bad? YES. Not good enough skill, not gritty enough role players.

Did the coach do the best with the players he was given? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Anyone who argues that is as disconnected from reality as the Oiler brass has been all season.

MacT has 301 wins over 8 seasons, for an average of 37.625 wins per season. This year the Oilers finished with 38 wins. Exactly where a MacT led team should expect to find itself. There is no reason to believe that different players would provide him the opportunity to win any more than he does on a regular basis. In 8 years the team has gone through continual and sometimes radical player changes. From the Doug Weights to the Todd Marchants to Dustin Penner to Chris Pronger, the one constant has been the coach's ability to get no more than 41 wins in a season. Not good enough.

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#41 Mark
April 13 2009, 05:39PM
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@ Jacob: point taken, maybe Mac T isn't the best coach for the spot, but my point was that at the end of the day a fundamental change in strategy is needed for the entire organization if you want to put a true championship contender on the ice.

I agree Penner is the top choice for the first line, but the point is that at 4.5 mil a year he's a lot of salary to under-perform. I mean go to nhl.com and actually compare where most of the oilers stack up (I agree points to always measure the player but they're a good starting point).

If you want a championship team and you're in a place like Edmonton you need top draft picks that will become the league's next superstars. I just hope that the organization doesn't think that a coaching change will make a fundamental difference to the performance of this hockey club other than putting them at the top end of the playoff race next year.

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#42 oilersseasonticketholdersince99
April 13 2009, 05:45PM
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Sick of bitchy Oilers fans wrote:

@ oilersseasonticketholdersince99: I am an Oilers fan that lives in Calgary. I get sick and tired of people ripping the Oilers. Granted, it wasn’t a good season and, in hind sight, some of the coaching decisions can be questioned. But people like oilersseanticetholdersince99 really get on my nerves. Lots of people react in an overly emotional fashion to events on the ice. I recognize sport is all about emotional investment but too many people seem to have taken leave of their senses and left all rational thought by the way side. It is human nature to look at events, AFTER THE FACT, and point fingers. But if you were MacT and the team was floundering, wouldn’t you be trying different things to get them going? I am not an apologist for MacT. But he deserves much more regard than the visceral garbage that so many fans are throwing at him. Jason: I have a question for you. Do you think that part of the reason that Edmonton has challenges attracting free agents has anything to do with the fact that fans get all over the players after one or two bad games? The list of players that the fans have run out of town is fairly lengthy.

What is your problem? I am just stating the obvious,Mac T basically came out and said it himself this morning that he could not get his players to play for him,I just repeated what I said back in November that the players stopped listening to him.The last time I checked this is a Oilers fans website where we can express our opinions if you dont like it then dont visit and read what we write,If it upsets you so much or is the real reason your upset is because you live in Calgary?

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#43 Jason Gregor
April 13 2009, 05:46PM
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rindog wrote:

How can you know that? Even with all of the turmoil of the season; we controlled our playoff destiny with less than 10 games left.

I think you just answered your question as to why MacTavish wasn't fired during the year. For one of the rare times under MacTavish they were in a position where they controlled their won destiny.

I think Tambellini wanted to see exactly what parts he had. My conversation today with an Oiler management personnel made it pretty clear to me that Tambellini had more power than we all thought.

And rindog wrote:

Why is it okay to now say his time has come? What would have making the playoffs this year changed?

I said at the start of the year that if they missed the playoffs it was a certainty that MacTavish would resign. And if they made the playoffs, but lost in five or even six games, it was an 80% chance that he would have left. So I'm not surprised at all that MacTavish will step aside later this week. (If he stays then the question of why will be the most debated topic in a long time.)

THe only way I saw MacT staying was having some playoff success.

Whether his firing would have made a difference during the year is a great debate, but with the new owner and Lowe's relationship with MacTavish it would never have happened.

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#44 RossCreek
April 13 2009, 05:48PM
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Reggie wrote:

RossCreek wrote: (Did he run Buffalo’s PP a few years back when it was clicking pretty good? Anyone?) Yes, Arniel ran the PP for Buffalo. I remember hearing a quote from Ruff that said, the past 3 years we have been hovering around 22-26 and so we decided to bring Scott in to run the PP. The result as either #2 or #3 PP that year with virtually the same group of players.

Well then that, along with his tenure in Manitoba (winning coach of the year honors), more than qualifies him for an NHL gig, be it here or somewhere else.

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#45 Jason Gregor
April 13 2009, 06:02PM
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RossCreek wrote:

@ Gregor Tom Gilbert, Kyle Brodziak & a 2nd round pick for Simon Gagne

Edmonton makes that deal in a heartbeat. The Flyers scoff and say try again.

YOu picked the right team though. The Flyers have six forwards making $4.2 million or more a year, and they need a puck moving D-man.

They need to shed salary and Gilbert and Brodziak combined won't save them much. I think the Flyers will try to move Briere to anyone that will take him.Sick of bitchy Oilers fans wrote:

Jason: I have a question for you. Do you think that part of the reason that Edmonton has challenges attracting free agents has anything to do with the fact that fans get all over the players after one or two bad games? The list of players that the fans have run out of town is fairly lengthy.

Not at all. I think the negative fans are the vocal minority. Games are sold out, merchandise at places like the Sports Closet sell quickly.

The reason that players haven't signed here lately is more about the lack of success than anything else. Sure travel is an annoyance, but Detroit travels just as much, if not more than the Oilers, yet players sign there.

Win and people might be enticed to come here. The Oilers did sign Souray. Some would argue they overpaid, but I don't think anyone thought he wasn't worth his contract this year.

A losing atmosphere is much more of a problem than negative fans. Win in this city and the players are considered Gods by most fans. They would love it.

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#46 jake
April 13 2009, 06:13PM
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Mark wrote:

@ Rob: come on people. stop looking at this team like an Oiler fan and give them an honest shake: - your top scorer finished #75 in goals and #46 in overall points (just north of some dude named James Neal). - your second highest scoring player was Souray (a defenceman) - your starting goaltender was dealt here after losing the starting job somewhere else - and not to mention has left his best days behind him. - you have a solid core team of very young players that need a lot of development (Gagne proved that this year) In short, the Oilers don’t have a playoff worthy team. I think Mac T did the best with what he was given. A bunch of overpaid, solid, but probably second line on any top 10 team players. Get this simple fact into your heads: no one wants to play here. The Western conference sucks because you have to travel way more as a player, Edmonton weather sucks, and whether you want to admit it or not most guys making 7 mil a year would pick a lot of other places to call home. If Edmonton really wants to put together another truly worthy cup contender (rather than a barely playoff worthy team that gets hot at the right time), we need to draft better players. I don’t mean, hey this dude could be a solid 60 point scorer in 7 years, I mean names like Crosby, Teows, Kane, Malkin, Gaborik, etc etc. TOP players. ELITE players. The only way you do that is by sh**ing the bed for a few years. Instead of always trying to scrape by and make the playoffs by over paying and clinging to scraps the Oil need to REBUILD by tanking and getting better draft picks. Teams like Pittsburgh, Washington, Tampa have all done it. If we want this to be the city of champions again we’re going to need to suck it up and check our pride for a few years. Until then quit blaming a decent coach for doing his best with a mediocre team. Lace ‘em up - it’s gut check time!

Very well thought out comments. I agree with the approach. I would add that the team publicly state this ("it's a rebuild folks, will be hard but hang with the team for a few seasons and we'll be back") so everyone is on the same page and players won't get "run out of town" by the fans. Let them grow as a team.

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#47 rindog
April 13 2009, 06:25PM
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@ Jason Gregor: Jason Gregor wrote:

For one of the rare times under MacTavish they were in a position where they controlled their won destiny.

And yet we finished with the 2nd least amount of points in MacT's tenure??

Why is management giving him the option of quitting?

I know it's semantics, but is there any value in management sending a message? It seemed okay for MacT to send messages??

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#48 Chris
April 13 2009, 06:51PM
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@ RossCreek: Ouch... My time-lines are off. Good thing I'm not on the hiring committee. I've liked Don since he was a player: He was a real character guy with offensive upside. I followed him casually through the sports pages into the AHL as a coach. He won coach of the year his first year in the AHL with the Rochester Americans. As a player Lever played on the powerplay and killed penalties (Rarer in the 70s-80s) As a coach, he breathed life into Rochester's special teams and coached a cinderella group to the finals. (Lindy Ruff was on that team and is very complimentry of Lever) I can't figure out why I was under the impression Lever was an assistant to Carbonneau last season... I remeber reading a large, sweeping article about Carbonneau: while still a player he assumed a high level of leadership behind the scenes in Dallas... often working as a go-between Hitchcock and the players. The article drew many parallels between Don Lever and Carbonneau both as players and later as coaches. I was left with the impression that they were working together at the time... and then I drew my own conclusions. My bad. I still like Lever though. After taking a closer look at his coaching career it seems likly he is ready for a shot at an NHL head coaching gig. I doubt the Canadiens will hire a head coach who doesn't speak french.

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#49 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
April 13 2009, 06:53PM
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@ rindog:

What does it matter man? Quit, fired, as long as hes done and gone who gives a crap how it happens.

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#50 David S
April 13 2009, 07:12PM
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rindog wrote:

Why is management giving him the option of quitting? I know it’s semantics, but is there any value in management sending a message? It seemed okay for MacT to send messages??

Because whether they'll openly admit it or not, management was a good part of the problem and everybody knows it. I don't think Katz would allow it either. Fact is, it's a redundant question because MacT will probably resign. So why nail him to the wall by firing him when in the team's eyes he doesn't deserve that kind of send off?

Let's get it clear. The fans don't run this team or have any say other than on fan fantasy boards. Darryl Katz however, does have the ultimate say. As much as a few of the vocal minority think otherwise, MacT will not be fired. He's a class guy that will do what he thinks is right for the team. Some of his comments regarding damage to the team's culture allude to exactly that.

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