Updated: Tuned out and Souray's business

Robin Brownlee
April 14 2009 07:30PM

Moreau in the penalty box

Fans who've insisted for years Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish had lost the dressing room weren't wrong, they were just more premature with their guesswork than a pimply-faced freshman with a hot date at the junior prom.

With MacTavish having one foot out the door and GM Steve Tambellini expected to face the media as early as Wednesday, what I was told by somebody I trust, in concert with on-the-record comments by players at Rexall Place Monday, has me convinced the lost-the-room argument holds water.

While MacTavish got most of the ink by voicing frustration with the make-up of the team, the willingness of his players to consistently compete and the inability of the coaching staff to fashion a game plan to suit a roster that's in transition, the telling stuff came from captain Ethan Moreau.

Moreau, long a MacTavish favourite and one of his staunchest backers, didn't exactly stand by his man when discussing his MacTavish's comments in pre-season that the Oilers would contend for a Northwest Division title.

Under the bus went MacT.

What was said

"Hopefully, we learned a bit of a lesson," Moreau said, answering a question by Dan Tencer from 630 CHED. "I think you just come to training camp and, if you have confidence, you have quiet confidence.

"You talk about your goals amongst your group. I don't think you need to predict you're going to win the Stanley Cup or win your division. You just go about your business. I don't think you need to have those expectations. Those are good conversations to have within your team."

Of course, Moreau talked about there being plenty of blame to go around and characterized the season as "a failure right from the top to the bottom," but that's captain-speak.

When I pressed Steve Staios, asking if he wanted MacTavish back, he said all the right things. Still, as somebody who has known Staios since before he arrived in Edmonton, I didn't find him convincing in the least.

"Yes, I would," Staios said. "I think we can have success with him. We've done it in the past. I don't think that a change, just one change, like that is the answer.

"I think that, overall as a group, I think everybody has to look at themselves and, you know, ask themselves if they gave everything they had and were committed. If you have that, you have a better chance of winning and making the playoffs."

What wasn’t said

I found it telling Sheldon Souray, the most-quoted Oiler player during the regular season, opted not to make himself available for interviews Monday. With MacTavish clearly under siege since the team was eliminated from post-season contention, I would have thought he'd be front and centre to defend his coach, watch his back, tell us everything was rosy.

Then again, maybe Souray didn't want to lie -- that would fit with what I was told earlier in the day, when it was suggested MacTavish didn't have many allies in the dressing room and that he'd lost the support of the leadership core. That would be Moreau, Staios, Souray and Shawn Horcoff, who were solidly in MacTavish's corner -- largely because they'd been given the run of the room -- when the season began.

Add that to the obvious bad feelings between MacTavish and frequent doghouse resident Dustin Penner, not to mention MacT's obvious frustration with Robert Nilsson, and nobody, as MacTavish put it, was skipping out of Rexall Place yesterday. And nobody, at least players I talked to, sounded overly distraught at the thought of MacTavish resigning.

Time’s up

So, unless Tambellini is willing to turn the roster upside down, he has little choice but to accept MacTavish's resignation, then sell us tomorrow or the next day on the new direction the team will be embarking on.

That's not to say Tambellini shouldn't be making significant players moves this summer to improve the team and find the right mix, because it's obvious to anybody with a functioning brain stem he should, but the motivation for doing so shouldn't be placating MacTavish. That won't happen here.

And it shouldn't.

Pronger reprise?

Perhaps one of the reasons Souray didn't make himself available to reporters Monday is he didn't want to address speculation that he's asked Tambellini for a trade.

Rumours Souray has asked to be dealt began several weeks ago and they've persisted since. To this point, neither Souray or anybody in the Oilers front office has gone on the record to put the talk to rest. Until that happens, and there's a flat-out denial from one of the parties, this has legs.

Stay tuned.

-- 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.
Avatar
#1 Wanye Gretz
April 14 2009, 12:18PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

First!

Squee

Avatar
#2 Ogden Brother
April 14 2009, 12:28PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Thought the same thing when I heard Moreau's interview... and he's got a great point, unrealistice expectations were a big part of the problem this year (and for the most part is what got the fan base's panties in a knot)

Avatar
#3 Mother Pucker Hockey
April 14 2009, 12:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Third! WTF is this a race?

Avatar
#4 West Coast Oil, $Version=1
April 14 2009, 12:34PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I also caught those comments by Moreau and had the same thoughts that they were directed directly at MacT. Would the fans and players feel not as let down if those expectations were not expressed? Possibly and that is scary because that could have opened us to another year of MacT

Avatar
#5 glenn
April 14 2009, 12:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Why is everybody waiting for MakT to resign? Why dont they FIRE him?

Avatar
#6 Colin
April 14 2009, 12:39PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

And so is MacT damned by faint praise indeed.

I've suspected for awhile of course, but this more or less confirms everyone's suspicions.

Thanks for the article RB.

Avatar
#7 baggedmilk
April 14 2009, 12:40PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Great piece, Brownlee. When you've lost the room, the players don't want to compete for you. Makes sense to me.

Avatar
#8 glenn
April 14 2009, 12:42PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I will ask again, why is everybody waiting for MakT to resign? Why dont they FIRE him?

Avatar
#9 Jonathan Willis
April 14 2009, 12:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Thanks for the article, Robin.

Avatar
#10 West Coast Oil, $Version=1
April 14 2009, 12:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@glen Im not a MacT fan by any means but I agree he should be given the opportunity to resign rather than be fired. Say what you will about him but he has given his all to the Oilers for a lot of years and at this stage needs the dignity to leave on his terms (as long as he leaves)

Avatar
#11 Wil
April 14 2009, 12:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Robin, other than false preseason expectations, any other reasons why the vets are upset with MacT? It seems as you said that they had the run of the room. MacT came down on slackers. Is it a systems thing? Not being able to get the kids to perform as expected?

Avatar
#12 Rick
April 14 2009, 12:47PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

MacT's comments about challenging for the division are getting alot of play, what I have yet to hear about is where MacT also said that he felt like he had to temper the optimism as well.

The players need to sack up and pick a position. Are they a confident, optimistic bunch that MacT described as needing to be reigned in or are they weak in the knees and afraid to set the bar high for fear of failure?

I don't actually understand what difference it makes if the expectations are made public or not. If a team is truly committed to such a goal the greatest pressure should come from within the room anyways, not from the public.

It sounds more like the players are upset because they have been embarassed due to the shortcomings of their own performances.

Avatar
#13 Ogden Brother
April 14 2009, 12:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Robin, what's your feelings on Souray (other then what was mentioned). I caller called into 1260 after the last game and asked about him wanting out... the host (can't remember who) said he hadn't heard anything concrete, but wouldn't be suprised if it happend.

Do you get the feeling Souray is unhappy here, and if so is it coaching (ie resolved with a change) or is it the team in general?

Avatar
#14 Ogden Brother
April 14 2009, 12:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Ogden Brother wrote:

Robin, what’s your feelings on Souray (other then what was mentioned). I caller called into 1260 after the last game and asked about him wanting out… the host (can’t remember who) said he hadn’t heard anything concrete, but wouldn’t be suprised if it happend. Do you get the feeling Souray is unhappy here, and if so is it coaching (ie resolved with a change) or is it the team in general?

*A caller*

Edit featuer please!

Avatar
#15 Ducey
April 14 2009, 12:50PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Hmmm...

Moreau saying they learned not to predict a title, Staios saying he would like MacT back and Souray not wanting to speak to the media, means he lost the room?

I think it is likely he lost the room, but none of the evidence you cited adds up to more than the shakiest argument in support of it.

Avatar
#16 Ogden Brother
April 14 2009, 12:50PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Rick wrote:

MacT’s comments about challenging for the division are getting alot of play, what I have yet to hear about is where MacT also said that he felt like he had to temper the optimism as well. The players need to sack up and pick a position. Are they a confident, optimistic bunch that MacT described as needing to be reigned in or are they weak in the knees and afraid to set the bar high for fear of failure? I don’t actually understand what difference it makes if the expectations are made public or not. If a team is truly committed to such a goal the greatest pressure should come from within the room anyways, not from the public. It sounds more like the players are upset because they have been embarassed due to the shortcomings of their own performances.

Good points.

Though the hightend expectations do lead to the silent building and public unrest....which I'm sure the team mngt/ownership is well aware of.

Avatar
#17 shakey
April 14 2009, 12:55PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

glenn wrote:

I will ask again, why is everybody waiting for MakT to resign? Why dont they FIRE him?

MacT's contract with the Oilers is up. There is no use in firing someone today when he doesn't actually work for you anymore. In theory, he can get a new job tomorrow with another team. As far as I know, his contract ends when the teams season ends. Do you want him fired now just to prove a point?

Avatar
#18 Thunder
April 14 2009, 12:55PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ glenn: If they fire him, they have to pay out the rest of his contract, if he resigns, we owe him nothing. Consider us lucky he is giving us that option.

Avatar
#19 Rick
April 14 2009, 12:56PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Ogden Brother: That's a chicken or the egg argument, I don't think there was a fan that went to games and didn't want to cheer.

They were just never given much to cheer about.

Even with lower expectations I don't think most of those performances were worth the entertainment dollars spent.

Avatar
#20 ShmegaBoy
April 14 2009, 12:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I to picked up on Moreau’s comments about the ‘we will compete for the NW’ but at the same time….it is why Moreau has to go as well. What the hell is wrong with saying that? Moreau doesn’t like playing in a city that is a bit more harsh when we have a level of expectation. IF HE FELT THAT STRONGLY ABOUT IT THEN, HE SHOULD HAVE SAID SO THEN, a comment like “ We have a good team, but I wouldn’t go so far as placing a finish or standing on it. We have a lot of people that still need to establish themselves etc….” But he did not. What he did not like is his team's inability to play to it's potential. It was like someone saying “ I told you so”, when they never did. It is BS. it is chicken shit. One of the #1 Rules of making goals is to TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT. That way you are more accountable. The leadership group in that dressing room has to go as much as MacT.

Avatar
#21 Rick
April 14 2009, 12:58PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

shakey wrote:

MacT’s contract with the Oilers is up. There is no use in firing someone today when he doesn’t actually work for you anymore. In theory, he can get a new job tomorrow with another team. As far as I know, his contract ends when the teams season ends. Do you want him fired now just to prove a point?

MacT has one year left on his contract.

Avatar
#22 Wanye Gretz
April 14 2009, 12:58PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Souray asked for a trade???

Oh for heavens sakes.

*doesn't know what to believe in*

Avatar
#23 SquidRx
April 14 2009, 12:59PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Ducey wrote:

I think it is likely he lost the room, but none of the evidence you cited adds up to more than the shakiest argument in support of it.

So, what are your arguments to support your assertion that he lost the room?

Avatar
#24 shakey
April 14 2009, 12:59PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Rick: I thought he signed a 3 year deal after the cup run which was 3 years ago.

Avatar
#25 The Towel Boy
April 14 2009, 01:01PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Oh my. This is getting good.

Avatar
#26 oilersseasonticketholdersince99
April 14 2009, 01:02PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Robin I dont know if you remember but I suggested that maybe Mac T had lost the room back in late November early December,at that time you had said that was not what was coming from the dressing room and that he had support in the room,when do you think the players started to tune out Mac T? Was it in the last month,When he continully picked on Penner and Neilson, The lack of success on the power play and penaltiy kill or was it a case where some of the leaders in the room have had enough of listening to Mac T? Maybe he did not listen to them in making changes on the ice in regards to the pp and pk?I am sure it will eventually come out,If Mac t stays with the team in another capacity I just hope he does not let what happened in the room this year influence his decisions in his new job.I hope that the organization does like you said and gets rid of Prendergast and re vamps our scouting system their are alot of holes in this organization that need to be filled and if they could convince a guy like Rich Winter to come on board it would help our team in getting players to come here and also with his connections I am sure we could get some players in later rounds at the draft that would turn out,It will be interesting as to what moves are ahead of us this offseason hopefully whatever moves we make now will turn out next year, time will only tell.

Avatar
#27 The Towel Boy
April 14 2009, 01:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Wanye Gretz wrote:

Souray asked for a trade??? Oh for heavens sakes. *doesn’t know what to believe in*

I read on the interweb chat pages that Souray wasn't gel'n with MacT and that uncomfortable situation caused him to miss being near his daughter. Cuz if the hockey's good, the home life sorts itself out. When the hockey's bad...well...people ask for trades I guess.

Avatar
#28 I'm a Scientist!
April 14 2009, 01:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Wanye Gretz wrote:

Souray asked for a trade???

*readies his razor to shave off his sexy man beard if the trade happens*

Avatar
#29 RossCreek
April 14 2009, 01:06PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

shakey wrote:

@ Rick: I thought he signed a 3 year deal after the cup run which was 3 years ago.

It was a 4 year deal.

Avatar
#30 RossCreek
April 14 2009, 01:10PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Nice work Robin ;-)

*asking for forgiveness*

Avatar
#31 Wanye Gretz
April 14 2009, 01:15PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ The Towel Boy:

I think this franchise is about ready for a new Coach and for the new GM to step forward.

HOLY CRAP

Avatar
#32 Jamie
April 14 2009, 01:16PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I don't understand why MacT would lose the support of the vets either, considering he rarely holds them accountable in public. Behind the scenes action? They actually care that he's calling out the kids? I don't know what to believe anymore!

Avatar
#33 Quinn
April 14 2009, 01:16PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ oilersseasonticketholdersince99:

Dude, that was a long way to go with no punctuation.

Avatar
#34 DK0
April 14 2009, 01:19PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Jamie: I bet he told the vets to rip on him to win back the kids.

Because he's the hero Edmonton deserves, but not the one it needs right now...and so we'll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he's not a hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector...a dark knight

Avatar
#35 Rick
April 14 2009, 01:25PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Robin;

You have an insight on the dynamics of the team.

When the GM sits down with the players for their exit interviews, is it strictly a discussion about that specific players situation or does he solicite opinions from the so called leaders on what they feel about the other guys in the room?

Avatar
#36 glenn
April 14 2009, 01:29PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

shakey, if at work you did not do what you were hired to do for 3 years you get FIRED. What do you need to do in the Oilers organisation to get fired. The owner would not fire K. Lowe for architecting the team that can't make play-offs for 3 years, K. Lowe would not fire MacT to cover his back end, for not coaching his creation well so they don't make play-offs for 3 years. They sign contracts with players for $4, 5 ,6 millionns and thay can't make play-offs and nobody gets fired. They draft people that can't play. This town is going to wait for Cup another 20 years and will not get it if things would not change now.

Avatar
#37 Clarkenstein
April 14 2009, 01:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I would suggest that there is negotiation going on for MacT to resign. Tambellini has likely offered him a portion of his contract for next year and give him the opportunity to resign. MacT is probably saying I will resign but I want ALL of the money for next year or else I will just wait until u fire me. This happens all the time. And the negotiations go on...

Avatar
#38 Deans
April 14 2009, 01:34PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

great photo

Avatar
#39 Rob
April 14 2009, 01:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Maybe Mact is waiting to be fired and Tambo is waiting for his resignation. Why quit and get nothing when you can get fired and still get payed?? I honestly don't know why anyone thinks he will just quit. He loves the team, loves coaching, loves the oilers and loves edmonton. How does it work out in Mact's favor if he quits??

Avatar
#40 DK0
April 14 2009, 01:37PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Rob: He gets to stop aging at ten times the speed of a normal person due to frustration.

Avatar
#41 glenn
April 14 2009, 01:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

DKO, he gets PAID at the rate 10 times higher then a normal person.

Avatar
#42 442Junkie
April 14 2009, 01:52PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Wanye Gretz wrote:

Souray asked for a trade??? Oh for heavens sakes. *doesn’t know what to believe in*

I am of the opinion that the Oilers should do whatever it takes to keep Souray in the fold. But, if he did ask for a trade than is he really better than Pronger?

Avatar
#43 Gerryd
April 14 2009, 01:52PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Ok so if MacT goes do you think there is any life to be seen in Penner? or is that a dead horse?

Avatar
#44 442Junkie
April 14 2009, 01:54PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Dammit! There I go using "than" when I should have used "then". Who made grammar so hard?

Avatar
#45 The Towel Boy
April 14 2009, 02:01PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Hopefully if we do trade Souray we get a raft of prospects, draft picks and Joffery Lupul....stop me if you heard this before...

Avatar
#46 DK0
April 14 2009, 02:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

DK0 wrote:

I bet MacT told the vets to rip on him to win back the kids. Because he’s the hero Edmonton deserves, but not the one it needs right now…and so we’ll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he’s not a hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector…a dark knight

MacT IS BATMAN!!

*crickets*

I've severely misjudged my audience....

so... how about that weather? *crickets*

Avatar
#47 Archaeologuy
April 14 2009, 02:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Hopefully a busy offseason and a new coach will quell the mutiny in the hearts of the Oiler's best players. The last thing the Oilers need is to become the new Florida Panthers, where hockey players lose their will to skate.

Avatar
#48 Rick
April 14 2009, 02:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Aside from the obvious emotional kick in the junk that comes with yet another player wanting out, is it really such a bad thing if Souray asked to be moved?

The Oilers have too much money tied up on the blueline as it is, asking to be traded pretty much frees him up to get traded anywhere, his value is probably at it's highest right now and his age doesn't really fit with the new emerging core.

Avatar
#49 Harlie
April 14 2009, 02:13PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Souray to L.A for Dustin Brown. Book it!

(just throwin shyt in the wind on this one. Not a real rumor or anything)

Avatar
#50 Phil
April 14 2009, 02:13PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

The # 44 should be permanently bannished from Oilers history.

No goaltender, forward or defenseman should ever be allowed to wear it.

If this is Prongergate all over again, it was be such a devastating hit I don't know if the organization would be able to recover.

I know that now the season is done, everyone - and I mean everyone - is stressing each other not to overreact, to not blow things out of proportion... that things are not so far gone, everythings not lost etc. etc.

But the way things are looking, it all seems so bush league. Not only do they have a problematic dressing room, they're also dealing with an identity crisis, coaching crisis, management crisis, players wanting out... on top of the fact our fair city is probably the least favoured city to play in/for.

Comments are closed for this article.