October 24 2013 07:09AM
The new weekly installment of Q & A is here. Come check it out.
As many players, especially defensemen, take a long time to develop, couldn't one expect the same from coaches & management? - Brett in São Paulo, Brazil
I don’t think it’s ever a good thing to have turnover like the Oilers have had with their coaching staff during the past 5 years. Too many voices for players is not a great thing.
It’s created some bad habits and headaches for the new coaching staff no question. After years of player type coaches, I think the time for a stricter coach is now. This team needs a consistent voice and message going forward.
I think it’s fair to say it can take time for a coach to get his players to play the way he wants because sometimes it does. Most fans are tired of waiting and rightfully so, but anyone losing patience with Eakins 10 games in is crazy. Old habits and an old identity can be hard to break. At some point the answer is not a new coach every year. Any changes in the future I have to expect will be players leaving and not another coaching change.
Eakins has the tough task of getting these players to be safer with the puck, limit turnovers, be relentless on the puck and win more puck battles. If they want to win, those have to be staples in their game. There hasn't been enough of that for several years.
For me, the team’s early struggle is more about the makeup of the team and mix of player styles than getting to know a new coach. The Oilers have too many of the same player and management has their work cut out for them.
Sadly for Oilers fans it will likely take Mac T some time to change things. He has some valuable pieces to play with but he can’t just overreact and make dumb moves. When the right move is available, I assume things will get done. I don’t envy his position.
What defensive system works best? Is Eakins swarm effective if all players buy in?- @mikebayrak
That most common or “standard” D zone coverage is where one defenseman pursues the puck carrier into the corner, usually the centerman or first forward back is asked to support his defenseman and play off the other team’s second player entering the puck battle. The center makes sure he always tries to be positioned on the safe side of the pile, between the puck, opposing player and the net. The other defenseman covers net front and wingers are responsible for their point.
Dating back to Junior in 1998-1999 this is the only defensive system I’ve ever played.
The swarm is a system built on timing and trust within your D zone. I’ve seen this approach more on penalty kills when a puck is up for grabs.
It’s similar to the first system, except another winger or defenseman is expected to join the pile and cause an outnumbered situation in the corner. This is all good if you get the puck and can be big trouble if a defensive team hesitates or isn’t on the same page.
At times, I see guys that are a little unsure about when to go because it is tough to just give up your point or net front position. It’s not something commonly taught. For this system to not bite you there has to be a ton of communication and a complete understanding of what the trigger is for everyone to “swarm”.
I can see why this could be very difficult to play against but I suppose the easy answer to this question is the “standard” D zone system that the majority of teams use is likely the best. I’m not sure that’s the correct answer but if most coaches use it, then I have to think it probably is.
The swarm is not all that different from your “standard” D zone; it’s just more aggressive. If Eakins eventually decided to go back to the basics, it wouldn’t be that hard to do, so it’s worth a shot if the swarm has worked for him in the past.
I'm not sold on it based on the execution so far, but that could change.
Years ago, a player only had to ignore the local newspaper and the fans on the street. Now you have to try and tune out 24 hour sports networks, twitter feeds, blogs and everything in between.
My question is how aware is the average player of what these sources are saying about them (and the team) and what effect it has on them?
It is a media crazed world these days with all those outlets you mentioned. The mental strength of a player in today’s game is tested more than ever before.
In US markets I found it fairly easy to see only what I wanted to see. Every morning in the dressing room, highlights were always on a TV somewhere but you didn’t have to watch it. A media packet was available with every newspaper article published around the league that day. If you wanted to read it you could.
Having never played for a Canadian team, I can only assume it is much more difficult to escape it all. When you walk into a dressing room in the USA there are a handful of media members. In Canada there are 30 people in the room or more. You are not hiding from that costly mistake the previous night or a two game slump. When you are interviewed, it's only common nature to want to see what’s being said about you. In Canada that may be a couple times a week.
Many players are on Twitter or Facebook and are fully aware of the criticism and even stupidity that comes with being accessible. Others around the league choose not to partake because often times it leads to negativity and it’s just not worth it.
The reason you have likely heard guys say they don’t read or watch anything about themselves is because negative stuff can have a big impact on a player. Losing confidence or self-doubt are not things a player wants to creep into his game. Players are usually their harshest critic but hearing it elsewhere or being piled on stings even more.
The best players struggle at times but also have this unflappable self-confidence and belief in their game even at the worst of times. That’s usually why they are the best players. Many guys don’t have that ability.
I still don’t think many players in any market are seeking out radio shows or blogs and newspapers but even the strongest ones that can fight the urge to not follow any media whatsoever can feel pressure just from questions being asked by the media.
It’s great to watch or read things when times are good and awful when times are bad. The best solution is to try to stay away from it all but that’s easier said than done these days.
KEEP IT COMIN’
Thanks for the great questions. There were several I didn’t get to but I will do my best to answer them in the future. Send any hockey related questions my way via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @briansutherby.