THE BEATINGS WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES

Lowetide
November 11 2013 09:41AM

The Edmonton Oilers are in a bad spot now, and with a 4-13-2 record to start the season you would be reading some 'fire the coach' articles by now if this were any other franchise. The thing is, they've done that already, seemingly every summer since 2009. I guess they could fire a coach in-season, but I don't think that is going to happen. The alternative? A wild and crazy ride.

Do you remember the famous line uttered by every GM who ever fired a coach? It goes "well, you can't fire all 23 players" and is followed by knowing nods from all gathered for the media conference. I think we're about the see the reverse, kind of a "well, you can't fire 23 coaches" plan.

It started with Ladislav Smid. Dallas Eakins didn't give him a lot of time on the Smid-Petry tandem and honestly Smid's skill set doesn't really fit the Eakins template (get puck, move puck, rinse, repeat) for puck handling. The Oilers sent away Smid partly for cap savings into the next seasons, and that may be the case with more players as the MacT-Eakins tandem makes more final decisions on who can and cannot handle the Eakins way.

Sam Gagner may be in some peril as a center in this system. It's early, and he's coming back from injury, but he's been exposed on this road trip by eye and by math--he's not in good positions, doesn't win enough battles and when he's not helping offensively 89 doesn't do enough without the puck to warrant top line minutes.

Dallas Eakins is the first coach in forever Edmonton has employed to deliver results without worrying too much about talent development. Eakins has to nurse Yakupov a little, but other than that it's a results oriented business and those who can't or won't will be shot out of a cannon to their new home.

Bottom line: Dallas Eakins has a right to ask each player on the ice to be defensively responsible. We've been talking about systems but these aren't new ideas brought from Mars, these are defensive tactics that require a player to adjust to the situation and mark his man. The results so far show some players have been able to adjust and flourish despite some stumbles, and others appear lost. Gagner has played far fewer games than the others, so there may be a sense that he can recover over time--however, at some point he's going to pay for indifference or inability with lost playing time, a change in position, or a ticket out of town.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

It began with Belov replacing Smid on the top 4, and resulted in Smid being sent away. Next step: Mark Arcobello at center, Gagner to the wing. The Edmonton Oilers have lost the season already and that is a horrible reality. The next logical step is to refine the roster to better reflect Dallas Eakins, culling those who don't fit and adding those who are a better match.

Stay close to your internet, this is going to get choppy.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#151 camdog
November 11 2013, 07:00PM
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@Mike the Coal Miner

Gags has never enagaged in the defensive zone, didn't last year and hasn't improved significanlty from his rookie season in my opinion. Although the injury is a real reason for his even poorer play, even when healthy he tends to float around in the d-zone. When Mact promised him the no trade clause I shuddered at the thought.

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#152 rickthebear
November 11 2013, 07:15PM
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Play Smarter!

Eakin's, " we need to apply 2 man pressure on the guy with the puck. overload one portion of the zone." Oiler player, " Coach? Shouldn't we cover the guy in front of the net." Eakin, "you do not understand the system." Smid, "I understand it Sucks!"

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#153 Bloodsweatandoil
November 11 2013, 07:20PM
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Just reading on ESPN, Yakupov's agent is meeting with Edmonton brass tomorrow. He is unhappy on how he is being used, Yakupov is willing for a trade. Larinov says EDM unhappy with him said Yak open to trade: "We're willing to make a move. Any team. That happens and that's part of life."

Not cool...what a primadonna!!!!

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#154 Shifty203
November 11 2013, 07:35PM
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Bloodsweatandoil wrote:

Just reading on ESPN, Yakupov's agent is meeting with Edmonton brass tomorrow. He is unhappy on how he is being used, Yakupov is willing for a trade. Larinov says EDM unhappy with him said Yak open to trade: "We're willing to make a move. Any team. That happens and that's part of life."

Not cool...what a primadonna!!!!

Could be being a princess, or, it could be indicative of problems with coaching/management, who's incompetence should come at no surprise.

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#155 Eddie Shore
November 11 2013, 07:39PM
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@Shifty203

Based on the way he's played thus far, I doubt it's the latter.

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#156 dangilitis
November 11 2013, 08:28PM
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DSF wrote:

I followed the Vancouver coaching situation very closely and Gillis did NOT offer Eakins a job

He was interviewed the day after the Eakins interview and said he still had a few candidates to look at.

Seems like the Luongo/Schneider fiasco turned out just fine too.

Schneider - .915

Luongo - .911

Dubnyk - .876.

Oops.

Schneider also has cobbled together 5 points in 8 starts, akin to Dubnyk's 7 points in 12 starts.

Why am I bringing this up? To point out that last year when Dubnyk's SPG was in the top tier, especially for goalies facing the most shots in the NHL, you continually critiqued him saying that the SPG didn't matter, and that he couldn't win the important games.

Do I think Dubnyk needs someone defending him right now? No, certainly not. But I will point out how you are now using save percentage over 8 game stretch from Schneider with a 12 game stretch from Dubnyk to make broad sweeping statements, while completely ignoring your former argument, which is that neither goalie is getting it done. 41 year old Brodeur has helped NJD to twice as many points in one more start than Schneider, with a .908 SPG. Why have you now decided to neglect goaltender performance in terms of wins and losses in your argument? Because it no longer suits you, of course.

But if you are going to use SPG in your argument, then you should admit that "the Luongo/Schneider fiasco" ultimately led to Vancouver trading the better goalie with a better contract for a prospect.

Again, your head must be spinning with all of the stats that you use to simultaneously credit one of your arguments while discrediting another...

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#157 nick
November 11 2013, 09:55PM
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The morale is bad because Eakins is a horrendous coach. Can't bring your AHL mentality to the NHL and be so arrogant doing it. He has won nothing and it is being proven his systems don't work, Suck it up MacT and say I made a huge mistake and get rid of this useless coach. He has most of the guys so scared to do anything they are playing horrendous. He clearly has his favorites that he plays regardless of mistakes they make. Ference has been god awful all season and he is still playing high minutes. If you think Smid couldn't move the puck watch this guy try and move it. Undersized and over hyped. The ship is sinking faster than the Titanic, get off now oiler fans get off now

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#158 Lawndemon
November 11 2013, 11:11PM
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Gaz wrote:

Oh please. I'm not sold on Eakins but lets not get too carried away here.

A lot of things are plausible. You know what else is? That Vancouver interviewed him and tried to hire him, but he chose Edmonton because they did a better sell job (and anyone who handles the Luongo/Schneider fiasco as poorly as Gillis did isn't much more credible than the current Oilers braintrust).

Who is the former NHL player?

Clearly you are unfamiliar with the concept of "off the record." All I can say is that the player was a former Oiler from the 80s.

I have the opportunity to interact with various players and NHL execs from time to time as part of my job. However, I generally don't share items that I am told as a matter of professionalism. I chose to share these snippets anonymously but if you choose to believe I am making it up then that's your choice.

Take it or leave it.

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#159 superhall
November 11 2013, 11:33PM
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Gagner needs to go, I would have traded him the second after his first game this year when he watched that guy tap the puck in on a 2on 1when Sam could've easily stopped it....I think we've all been letting samwise get away with his lack of defensive effort for way to long

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#160 Joilers8
November 12 2013, 09:43AM
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Perhaps at the GM meetings they should discuss this......

..... I think a team should only have so many first overall top picks in a specific time frame. Why do teams get rewarded for continually being bad?

....yes I am an Oiler fan.

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