Gut-check time for you...

Jason Gregor
January 19 2010 09:11AM

I think it's fair to say that the last 16 games have really tested the loyalty of many Oiler fans. One win in 16 games will do that to you; so don’t fret — you aren’t alone.

The final 26 games of 2007 were tough when the Oilers went 4-19-3, and they won their last game of the year to finish 25th and draft Sam Gagner 6th overall. In those 26 games, the Oilers were shut out seven times, scored one goal nine times and were outscored 85-37  the Oilers did win two shootouts so you could give them 39 (but it was only 37 goals in regulation).

Fast forward to now and I wonder if you feel the same way? That team was decimated by injuries and had Sebastien Bisaillon and Bryan Young playing defence for goodness sakes. Joffrey Lupul finished at -29, Shawn Horcoff and Matt Greene were -22 and Petr Sykora was -20.

Ryan Smyth led the team with 53 points despite only playing in 53 games before being traded. It was a dreadful final 43 days of the season, but here we are on Jan 19th, the drought is already 35 days old and looking like it will extend another 86 days until the season ends on April 11th.

Many of you said you could handle a season or two of re-building if it meant getting a franchise player or two. Do you still feel that way? This is a test of your endurance, mettle, loyalty and passion for your mighty Copper and Blue.

You thought 40 days and 40 nights was tough, hell you're five days away from kicking Josh Harnett’s ass and could destroy that by reaching 119 days by season’s end.

The fact is, Oiler fans, for most of you these next 86 days will be the toughest test of your fanhood. Even if you were around during the 92/93 season — the lowest point total in Oiler history — you can’t compare because the three previous years you saw your team win the Cup in 1990, and lose the conference championship in 1991 and 1992.

The 1995/96 season is the closest comparison to the despair you are witnessing right now. Back then it was also the fourth straight season of missing the playoffs. However the previous three years saw you draft Jason Arnott 7th overall in 1993, Jason Bonsignore 4th and Ryan Smyth 6th in 1994, Steve Kelly 7th in 1995 and you were once again in the hunt for a top-five pick, which turned out to be Boyd Devereaux, 6th overall in 1996.

At this point in 1996 you still didn’t know for sure that Kelly and Bonsignore would be busts, and Doug Weight was on his way to 100 points, Zdeno "No chin" Ciger and Arnott were on pace for 30 goals... Arnott got hurt, missed 18 games and finished with 28 goals while "No chin" potted 31. Even that season wasn’t this much of a test.

We are in hell right now

I wonder if Quinn will make a speech similar to this to get the boys through the rest of the season. While the rest of this movie was unrealistic, Al Pacino’s speech was spine-tingling.

You guys are the players. You won’t make it through the next 86 days alone. You’ll need Nation readers to get you thought it. You’ll need the humour, the stupidity, the asinine trade requests, the reasonable replies and the level-headed responses.

You’ll need to know that there are many feeling the same pain while watching your team get pummeled again. Now is not the time to be a quitter or a bandwagon jumper. Hell, now is the time to be more vocal than ever. It would be easy to slip into the shadows of real life, start helping around the house or spending more quality time with the missus, or taking that cooking class you always wanted to or reading a self-help book. But what good will that do you? Nothing I tell you, NOTHING.

Because the minute June 1st rolls around you will be playing catch-up, trying to immerse yourself in the knowledge about the upcoming draft on June 25th. Oh sure, you’ll go to a house party and proclaim you watched the horror of the final 86 days, but you’ll do it with a guilty conscience because deep down you’ll know you couldn’t stomach the horror of those days. You didn’t dig deep down and play through the pain, like you expect the Oilers to do themselves.

If you walk away now you’ll be giving up on the one thing that brings you true joy, but also a pain that only compares to when your first girlfriend dumped you for the guy with a cooler hockey jacket. (Don’t pretend it didn’t hurt because we’ve all been there... in grade seven or eight, or last year for my buddy, but we’ve all been there).

Giving up now and turning off the TV, or not listening to sports shows or not reading the Nation would be easy, but like in life, doing the easy thing is sometimes the wrong thing. It will be hard to drag yourself to the game, or watch it at home without channel surfing, and you might cut down your visits to this lovely site that Wanye built from two batteries, some hair from his ex, and a mixture of a 1993 BL and a half a glass of White Zinfindel.

But why?

Because the team sucks?

Because you know that JDD and DD are overwhelmed at this point and will give up a questionable goal or two?

Because the veterans have decided that taking penalties is the only way they’ll get on the score sheet?

Because Pat Quinn’s pressers aren’t as emotionally charged as they were two months ago?

Because the PPVs are more painful than the games?

Because you truly don’t know who will be better in the long run for this team: Patrick O’Sullivan, Robert Nilsson or Andrew Cogliano?

Those are just excuses; they aren’t real reasons to abandon your love of hockey.

While you ponder what to do instead of watching the Oilers remember that you wouldn’t be the fan you are today without those inconsistent, infuriating bastards...

And things could always be worse. Watch one of the most inspirational sports-related speeches of all time right here:

"If you laugh, you think and you cry that is a full day, that is a heck of a day," Jimmy Valvano.

Keep your dream alive that the Oilers will one day return as a powerhouse in the NHL and that they will do so in your lifetime.

That sums up exactly what it is like to be an Oiler fan right now, I’d bet. You laugh when your buddy tells you they will win. You think hard about which players Steve Tambellini should keep for next season, and then you cry when you watch another trouncing like last night in Colorado.

But wow what an emotional day you will have by maintaining your loyalty to the Nation, the Oilers and hockey talk in general.

And the silver lining is that while the Oilers lost last night, the Leafs, Blue Jackets and Flames all lost. The Oilers have a six point bulge on the Leafs for 29th, and a ten point lead on the Blue Jackets, while the Flames got crushed 9-1 in San Jose and are two points from being out of the playoffs.

And don’t fret if you thought about packing in the season, there are lots of people who have much more stupid ideas than that every day. Check it out and feel good about your decision to get back in the shallow end of the pool with the rest of the true fans.

You’ll feel better about it on June 25th... Unless of course the Oilers go on a winning streak and finish out of the top three.

Ddf3e2ba09069c465299f3c416e43eae
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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#251 Matt Henderson
January 19 2010, 03:28PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

I'm really shocked a guy that claims to be so highly educated is having so much trouble with this.

You are the one that cant make a valid point here, not me.

Take a logic class or something, because your points are not connected at all.

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#252 Just Some Idiot
January 19 2010, 03:33PM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

What is it with your blinding love for Mac T? He's gone. Get over it. He may not have been the entire problem but he obviously wasn't the solution.

P.S. You aren't always right.

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#253 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 19 2010, 03:34PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

You are the one that cant make a valid point here, not me.

Take a logic class or something, because your points are not connected at all.

Funny, I've taken 5.

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#254 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 19 2010, 03:35PM
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Just Some Idiot wrote:

What is it with your blinding love for Mac T? He's gone. Get over it. He may not have been the entire problem but he obviously wasn't the solution.

P.S. You aren't always right.

No love at all, just want to see someone that was on a 12 month smear campaign man up to admit he was wrong.

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#255 Jodes
January 19 2010, 03:39PM
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Is anyone else afraid that the Oilers are going to snag Minnesota's "cast offs" to try and stop the DFF?

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#256 Crash
January 19 2010, 03:40PM
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Chris. wrote:

@Crash.

BTW: I don't know where you got it that I said Eberle will score thirty, or needs to score thirty or anything to do with that... I expect nothing from Eberle next year. Hyping prospects is the job of the Oiler spin masters.

Instead, I will monitor Eberle's progress with much interest; hoping for the best; because I want to see him do well. What I won't do; is start penciling him into the starting lineup for next season before we've even hit the trade deadline this season.

It will take some careful moves by management to pull this roster out of the sewer... simply handing the reigns over to some teenagers is a bit of a cop-out. Anyone can prematurely cash in on the future of the franchise to fill out their roster... it sure beats... you know... working...

LOL, no, I just meant the only place I've read about Eberle scoring 30 next year is in your posts when you are inferring that others are expecting it. As I said in an earlier post in response to Ogden Jr. I also don't have expectations for Eberle or any of the prospects for that matter.

I'm just encouraged by what I've seen so far and also am hoping for the best. So there's something we agree on. Another thing we agree on is I am not penciling Eberle into the Oil lineup either but I'm also not penciling him into Springfield either...I'd like to see where he's at during training camp and then if he has a good camp give him at least the 10 games before sending him down.

I also acknowledge that a lot of things have to happen with this roster. I hope the roster stuff starts happening soon.

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#257 Poo Czar
January 19 2010, 03:41PM
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Hey everyone, remember that Leaky Goat picture??? Huh? HUH?!?

Oh Leaky Goat, how I miss you and the fun, innocent times you represented...

*resigned shrug*

EVERYONE IS STUPID AND WRONG!!!!

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#258 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 19 2010, 03:41PM
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@Costanza

This is the key, although the guys we should be targeting should be around 700k-2mil. Maybe a little more if somehow a Volchenkov hits the market.

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#259 Matt Henderson
January 19 2010, 03:42PM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

And yet you still managed to think that changing one's mind about issue "A" results in being incapable of assessing problems with issue "B".

I wager you didnt fare too well in those logic classes.

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#260 Just Some Idiot
January 19 2010, 03:43PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

No love at all, just want to see someone that was on a 12 month smear campaign man up to admit he was wrong.

Because Mac never made mistakes last year? As far as I can remember, ALOT of people questioned ALOT of the moves he made last season. I wouldn't really call that a "smear campaign"..

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#261 Gunner
January 19 2010, 03:45PM
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GO OILERSSSSS!!!

Boy oh boy is it ever negative around here.

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#262 Gunner
January 19 2010, 03:46PM
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@Just Some Idiot

...you're an idiot.

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#263 Matt Henderson
January 19 2010, 03:49PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

No love at all, just want to see someone that was on a 12 month smear campaign man up to admit he was wrong.

I already noted quite a while ago that I lightened my stance on the guy.

He is still a poor coach with a record that suggests he was not particularly capable. My "smear" campaign consisted of me calling out the mistakes he was making. Mistakes that eventually led to his firing. I was not wrong. He was not very good and after several years of proving that he could not adapt he was let go.

Prove to me he was a good coach and I will gladly "man up", but since it is impossible to prove that MacT was a good coach then I will likely NEVER have to "man up" to me consistently pointing out all of the mistakes that a head coach constantly made.

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#264 Bob Cobb
January 19 2010, 03:54PM
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Jodes wrote:

Is anyone else afraid that the Oilers are going to snag Minnesota's "cast offs" to try and stop the DFF?

I would hope not, I mean management has already indicated they weren't going to bring in another starting goaltender and I would assume if they really wanted to stop the DFF then that would be the first thing they would do.

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#265 Chris.
January 19 2010, 03:55PM
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*Group Hug*

C'mon everybody... It's tough enough being an Oiler fan these days without bickering with each other.

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#266 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 19 2010, 03:57PM
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Chris. wrote:

*Group Hug*

C'mon everybody... It's tough enough being an Oiler fan these days without bickering with each other.

How is it any different then any other year, if anything it's easier knowing that we have a shot at a superstat. I really have no problem being an Oiler fan. I do however have a feeling who the bandwagon jumpers are at my local pub now.

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#267 Crash
January 19 2010, 03:58PM
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Chris. wrote:

*Group Hug*

C'mon everybody... It's tough enough being an Oiler fan these days without bickering with each other.

Agreed, instead we should be trashing Phaneuf, Regehr and that sorry ass team south of here

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#268 OilFan
January 19 2010, 03:59PM
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Mac T vs Quinn. Anyone care. Quinn has made the finals once, Mac T once. At least Mac T has won the cup.

Quinn has done nothing to show me he is any better the Mac T.

He tryed a puck posession game and failed, tryed the dump and chase and failed. The same thing Mac T did.

Same results. NOTHING FIGHTING OVER.

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#269 steve
January 19 2010, 04:02PM
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Chris. wrote:

*Group Hug*

C'mon everybody... It's tough enough being an Oiler fan these days without bickering with each other.

Here, Here!!! One of the best entries today!

(some people here just seem to want to bicker to prove their always right, and dance around words to do so! IMO)

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#270 Chris.
January 19 2010, 04:05PM
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Jodes wrote:

Is anyone else afraid that the Oilers are going to snag Minnesota's "cast offs" to try and stop the DFF?

Nothing will stop the DFF now...

Bringing in another goalie would be an important symbol to the guys in that room (other than DD and JFJ of course) but wouldn't stop the death spiral.

Obviously, the key for management now is to get as much return as possible for the guys who aren't in the plans moving forward... I just wish I truly believed that: a) There is a plan. b) The plan makes sense. c) Tambellini can actually execute the plan....Fact is, I don't trust the current Oiler Braintrust to accurately evaluate individual talent, manage the cap, properly develop the youth, or even understand the needs of the current roster. This has been an epic fail. Heads need to roll.

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#271 Matt Henderson
January 19 2010, 04:07PM
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Chris. wrote:

Nothing will stop the DFF now...

Bringing in another goalie would be an important symbol to the guys in that room (other than DD and JFJ of course) but wouldn't stop the death spiral.

Obviously, the key for management now is to get as much return as possible for the guys who aren't in the plans moving forward... I just wish I truly believed that: a) There is a plan. b) The plan makes sense. c) Tambellini can actually execute the plan....Fact is, I don't trust the current Oiler Braintrust to accurately evaluate individual talent, manage the cap, properly develop the youth, or even understand the needs of the current roster. This has been an epic fail. Heads need to roll.

It's nice to actually agree with someone today.

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#272 Bucknuck
January 19 2010, 04:11PM
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Gunner wrote:

GO OILERSSSSS!!!

Boy oh boy is it ever negative around here.

~no it's not... and if you disagree with me you're an idiot!~ Actually I agree with you.

I am almost afraid to weigh in the MacT debate for fear of getting rotten fruit tossed my way... but everyone hates a coward, so here goes.

A team does not go to the Stanley Cup Final if they don't have good coaching and management. The Oilers made it to the Stanley Cup final.

Having said that, I also have gone on the record saying that it was time for MacTavish to go. Last year he wasn't behaving professionally and had been doing a number of boneheaded things and couldn't get the powerplay or the Penalty kill to work. One could say he lost the room.

This year, seeing pat Quinn struggle in the same way, except without a number of key players, reminds us that the problem wasn't just coaching. It is leadership and roster balance.

If quinn had succeeded it would have proven that a coaching change was all that was needed. Since it didn't we can conclude that it is the roster as well.

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#273 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
January 19 2010, 04:13PM
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Chris. wrote:

*Group Hug*

C'mon everybody... It's tough enough being an Oiler fan these days without bickering with each other.

f*** that, the bickering is all we have left

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#274 Chris.
January 19 2010, 04:17PM
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When you sign a player you look at his track record. When you hire a coach... same thing. Let's look at the track record of the current Oiler management structure...

Hmmmm.

I'm not sure this is the group that I want managing the rebuild of my favorite team.

I hope Katz feels the same way.

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#275 jeanshorts
January 19 2010, 04:17PM
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As whiney as everyone is around here today, still not as whiney as a Burrows.

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#276 Lofty
January 19 2010, 04:19PM
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cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

f*** that, the bickering is all we have left

Couldnt agree with you more.

People assume you are a bandwagon’er if you are upset with the current state of affairs, I posture that if you are not upset with the current state of affairs you are already off the wagon.

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#277 Steve
January 19 2010, 04:19PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

As whiney as everyone is around here today, still not as whiney as a Burrows.

BWhahahahahahahaha you just made my afternoon, thanks!!

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#278 Cory Dakin
January 19 2010, 04:22PM
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I bleed copper and blue. I also cry copper and blue. It's quite the sight. As a loving parent says to their child.. I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed. That's WAY worse.

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#279 Jasmine
January 19 2010, 04:24PM
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HottScarrison wrote:

Would anyone be surprised to see our glorious mgt trade our 1st rounder to Atl for a chance to sign Kovi. I can see them tryin that and watchin Kovi leave at years end with Tambo cryin in the corner. I hope they don't but it wouldn't surprise me at all with these numbnuts in charge.

I'm getting sick of reading this garbage. The Oilers have only once in their 30+ seasons in the NHL traded their first rounder. I'm also getting fed up of Lowe being blamed for Tambi's mistakes.

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#280 Jonathan Willis
January 19 2010, 04:25PM
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RE: Craig MacTavish.

As far as I'm concerned, he's been exhonerated. He's made mistakes (too much latitude for Moreau, not enough for Penner being the primary ones) but every coach does.

Just for comparisons sake, the 2008-09 MacT Oilers and the 2009-10 Quinn/Pre-Hemsky Injury Oilers projected over 82GP:

2008-09: 38-35-9, 85 Points

2009-10: 33-39-10, 76 Points

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#281 Jonathan Willis
January 19 2010, 04:26PM
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@ Jasmine:

That's an interesting take, actually. If we assume that Tambellini actually took over on his hiring date, than his record as a GM is actually a fair bit worse than Lowe's.

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#282 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 19 2010, 04:27PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

And yet you still managed to think that changing one's mind about issue "A" results in being incapable of assessing problems with issue "B".

I wager you didnt fare too well in those logic classes.

"And yet you still managed to think that changing one's mind about issue "A" results in being incapable of assessing problems with issue "B"."

Put it another way: You pound the table that stock ABC is going to double in share price. Stock ABC then loses 50%.

Any future reccomendations from you are going to be looked at more critically.

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#283 Lofty
January 19 2010, 04:28PM
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Amen @JW

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#284 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 19 2010, 04:28PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

I already noted quite a while ago that I lightened my stance on the guy.

He is still a poor coach with a record that suggests he was not particularly capable. My "smear" campaign consisted of me calling out the mistakes he was making. Mistakes that eventually led to his firing. I was not wrong. He was not very good and after several years of proving that he could not adapt he was let go.

Prove to me he was a good coach and I will gladly "man up", but since it is impossible to prove that MacT was a good coach then I will likely NEVER have to "man up" to me consistently pointing out all of the mistakes that a head coach constantly made.

You will be proven wrong soon enough. I'm sure it wont be long before MacT gets another gig.

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#285 Cory Dakin
January 19 2010, 04:29PM
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Do we judge Tambellini at years end or do we allow him a free pass because of the "mess" he was left with? I think you have no choice but to make a judgement. There were goalies available who are younger than Khabibulin and less injury prone. And there were also players still available during the Heatley debacle that were ignored because they were to focused on going after the superstar. And lets face it, even if Heatley came to the oilers and scored 50 goals we'd be sitting in 10th at the end of the year as opposed to 15th.

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#286 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
January 19 2010, 04:34PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

"And yet you still managed to think that changing one's mind about issue "A" results in being incapable of assessing problems with issue "B"."

Put it another way: You pound the table that stock ABC is going to double in share price. Stock ABC then loses 50%.

Any future reccomendations from you are going to be looked at more critically.

~sweet lord man, i think the dead horse is beat.~

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#287 Matt Henderson
January 19 2010, 04:40PM
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@Jonathan Willis

To me, "exhonerated" suggests that he didnt deserve to be fired. I still believe that his mistakes with his teams were more than enough over the last several years of his tenure to earn his status resident analyst on TSN.

I think Bucknuck was spot on when he said "This year, seeing pat Quinn struggle in the same way, except without a number of key players, reminds us that the problem wasn't just coaching. It is leadership and roster balance.

If quinn had succeeded it would have proven that a coaching change was all that was needed. Since it didn't we can conclude that it is the roster as well."

The roster had more to do with the failures than many people thought, but we cant project backwards and exhonerate MacT's failures as a coach with his teams just because other people are struggling with other teams. All it really shows is that both are/were unable to get the job done with the tools provided. That's it.

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#288 oileral
January 19 2010, 04:43PM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

let's face it, the players can make or break ANY coach (give or take a Scotty Bowman). one year MacT is one win away from the cup, the next year Pronger leaves, then Smitty, then Stoll, Greene, Torres.....some heart and soul guys who, lets face it, were never replaced, on MacT's watch, or Quinn's.

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#289 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 19 2010, 04:45PM
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cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

~sweet lord man, i think the dead horse is beat.~

:)

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#290 Matt Henderson
January 19 2010, 04:46PM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

Except I said that MacT should be fired "Stock A will drop", and then MacT was fired so Stock A dropped.

By your logic you should ALWAYS listen to me.

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#291 Jonathan Willis
January 19 2010, 04:46PM
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@ Archaeology:

Except that for the two runs we're talking about, the Quinn-coached team was inferior (by a fair bit) to the MacTavish-coached team.

And we know Quinn has an unimpeachable reputation.

I see any argument that MacTavish deserved to be fired based on results as an argument that Quinn needs to be fired as well. As for an argument based on process, a) I'd argue you don't have the necessary information to make it and b) How then are the results explained.

Because we aren't looking at equal struggles. Even prior to the Hemsky injury, Quinn was struggling more.

Still, I recognize that after eight years people have strong feelings, so I doubt I'll be able to convince you. I only submit this as my opinion, based on the evidence I've seen.

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#292 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 19 2010, 04:49PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Archaeology:

Except that for the two runs we're talking about, the Quinn-coached team was inferior (by a fair bit) to the MacTavish-coached team.

And we know Quinn has an unimpeachable reputation.

I see any argument that MacTavish deserved to be fired based on results as an argument that Quinn needs to be fired as well. As for an argument based on process, a) I'd argue you don't have the necessary information to make it and b) How then are the results explained.

Because we aren't looking at equal struggles. Even prior to the Hemsky injury, Quinn was struggling more.

Still, I recognize that after eight years people have strong feelings, so I doubt I'll be able to convince you. I only submit this as my opinion, based on the evidence I've seen.

This is exactly the message I have been trying to get accross.

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#293 Matt Henderson
January 19 2010, 04:57PM
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@Jonathan Willis

You are right, you probably wont be able to convince me, but I am listening to your argument.

My issue is in comparing the struggles of two different Oiler teams and concluding that MacT should be exhonerated from his 2008-2009 debacle based on the performance of a different 2009-2010 team.

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#295 Jonathan Willis
January 19 2010, 05:04PM
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@Matt Henderson

Fair enough. Our disagreement than is over the comparability of the two teams, and I'm not sure that's a bridgeable gap.

But hey, we don't have to agree on everything ;)

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#297 Racki
January 19 2010, 05:18PM
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I wonder how the PPVs are doing these days...

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#298 Chris.
January 19 2010, 05:20PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

You are right, you probably wont be able to convince me, but I am listening to your argument.

My issue is in comparing the struggles of two different Oiler teams and concluding that MacT should be exhonerated from his 2008-2009 debacle based on the performance of a different 2009-2010 team.

I'm not sure the two teams are all that different. *winks and then backs carefully out of the room*

One thing I am sure of: Oiler fans everywhere will watch with interest if/when MacT takes on another Head Coaching position.

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#299 Matt Henderson
January 19 2010, 05:26PM
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@Chris.

Must...not...react...

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#300 Jonathan Willis
January 19 2010, 05:28PM
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@ Jason Gregor:

Because the record including Hemsky and no Khabibulin is better than the record with both Khabibulin and Hemsky.

It's the most favourable possible comparison.

(Edit To Add): And if you want to look at the flubug timeline you start cutting into the 6-2-1 start, which is the best part of the first 20-25 games; this is as good as it gets for Quinn.

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