YAKUPOV: LAST IN, FIRST OUT?

Robin Brownlee
November 11 2013 07:41PM

Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish said just last week he isn’t trying to trade Nail Yakupov, but agent Igor Larionov has tongues wagging across the NHL today, saying his client is open to a trade. Anywhere is fine.

Two Tweets from the Twitter account of ESPN Magazine senior hockey writer Craig Custance are again fuelling speculation that the struggling Yakupov could be on the move out Edmonton just 65 games into his NHL career with the Oilers, who picked him first overall in 2012. Just after 6 p.m. Edmonton time, the following:

A couple of hours prior to that, just before 5 p.m., Custance posted:

So, according to Custance, a seasoned scribe not prone to passing along baseless hearsay or making things up, and in direct quotes, Yakupov is open to and OK with being traded by the Oilers and Larionov plans to swing into town for a sit-down with MacTavish and maybe coach Dallas Eakins to discuss how his client is being used. That about cover it?

Is that trouble with a capital T or entitlement with a capital E?

EARLY SPLIT OR HISSY FIT?

It's completely understandable why Yakupov wouldn't be anything close to happy right now. Aside from the Oilers being off to a horrid 4-13-2 start, Yakupov has struggled mightily through the first 17 games of his sophomore season.

After finishing his rookie season like a house on fire with five goals in his last two games and totals of 17-14-31 in 48 games, Yakupov has scored just 2-2-4 in 17 games this season. He's been a healthy scratch. He's been moved up and down the line-up by Eakins. He's got every reason to be frustrated.

Is that all this is? I'm not sure. Players struggling during a difficult stretch or through a frustrating set of circumstances – diminished ice time, offensive droughts -- will often vent to their agents. Sometimes, it's a one-off. Then, the puck goes in the net, as it did in Chicago Sunday. Ice time increases. The team starts to win again. Cooler heads prevail. It's not often the crux of those conversations is passed on to media types.

Now, this from Larionov about Yakupov, the third and last of three first overall picks over the past four seasons after Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Wasn't it, like, just six or eight weeks ago that Oiler fans and some media types were thinking out loud about how Yakupov's next contract might stack up to those inked by Hall, RNH and Jordan Eberle?

This, just after MacTavish went out of his way to stifle speculation the Oilers were shopping the talented 20-year-old Russian winger: "When we drafted Nail it was because we believed he’d be a dynamic, electric, exciting player and that hasn’t changed. We were not expecting him to become all that in the first 70 games of his career," he said.

"We very much believe Nail will evolve to become that dynamic, electric player — become one of the most entertaining guys in the game. I told that to Igor. And I told that to Yak. Development is very rarely a straight line. It has ups and downs."

SO, WHAT NEXT?

So, what to make of this? Whatever conclusion you draw, it's difficult for me to believe Larionov didn't know exactly what he was saying. I'm guessing he said it with the blessing of his client. Leverage? Sending a message? Or is something already broken that can't be fixed? I don't know.

While "open to a trade" doesn’t necessarily equate to "I want to be traded," it's just a degree or two short. Demanding a trade now, given how poorly he's played, would be the epitome of entitlement -- blaming everybody else but himself for the situation Yakupov finds himself in.

Whatever the case, and despite what MacTavish said last week, I'm guessing what Larionov said today will get MacT's cell phone ringing just as surely as it has people talking already. Stay tuned.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show 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.
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#251 camdog
November 12 2013, 08:12AM
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@michael

Don't know if Yak should be the one traded, that said a skilled guy needs to go:

In regards to your list

Tyler Myers is in the same spot Luke Schenn was when the Leafs traded him to Toronto and signed him to too much money, not worth the risk, you don't trade a number 1 pick for picks unless you have given up on them.

Drouin another small skilled forward, Yakopov is 2-3 years from being any good, just like Drouin, looks like a lateral move.

St.Louis doesn't want Yakopov and are not trading any of their d - man for him, they already have Tarasenko and are in win now mode, Yakopov wouldn't even make their team this season, he would be riding the pine. Hitchcook has no patience for these type of distractions.

The Rangers are in win now mode, Sather is getting ready to retire, he's not going to give up roster players for potential, not now, might have 5 years back. Might take a poke at a Hemsky, but only for prospects and dead weight off of his roster.

The Flyers anythings possible

Isles are still hurting from Yashin still paying him off,those players would be awesome to see in the Oilers depth chart, may be a possibility/

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#252 HardBoiledOil
November 12 2013, 08:55AM
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Norm wrote:

Could MacT's 'bold' move be to hand 'He of the 6 rings' his resignation. Is itt just me or is the entire Oiler organization on fire?

the entire organization should be! we should be at least a bit further ahead than 4-13-2 since the rebuild REALLY started in 2010.

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#253 HardBoiledOil
November 12 2013, 09:23AM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

That's funny stuff.

Make a three-team trade and see if we can get the Musil kid as well.

Also Harold Snepsts.

you mean Oiler prospect David Musil? OK, let's make a deal!! ;-D

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#254 Benhur
November 12 2013, 09:51AM
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Even though your article is pretty level headed...it's pretty disgusting that some reporters use common sense statements and twist them into all kinds of conjecture and inuendo! I guess you all need some print to survive. As Dallas and MacT said they don't expect his developement to rocket...he's got to learn how to play a NHL caliber game. They have stated "no trade"...why don't they write about that instead of the sensationalist drivel!

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#255 pkam
November 12 2013, 09:58AM
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sizzay wrote:

Do those other teams have players we want?

What is the chance that we are so bad but we have players other teams want, yet other teams doing better than us don't have players that we want?

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#256 HardBoiledOil
November 12 2013, 10:48AM
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sizzay wrote:

Not exactly. If we get players that aren't as flashy that fill a need to add a different dynamic to the team, I think we improve.

For instance:

Is Jordan Eberle better than Wayne Simmonds? Most would say yes, he's more skilled. Do we need someone like Wayne Simmonds more than Eberle? I would say yes because he can hit, win board battles, score, and fight.

Now I'm not saying trade Eberle straight across for Simmonds, but holding out for Simmonds, Couturier, 1st round pick, and Coburn isn't in the cards (exaggeration I know).

it would be fun though to be able to pry those players from Philly....exactly who we need on this team....Simmonds, Coburn, Couturier and the Flys 1st rounder! however the fun stops when Eberle, Klefbom, Gagner perhaps? and our 1st rounder goes the other way.

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#257 Towersofdub
November 12 2013, 11:26AM
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@ Oil Can - why do you think Brent Sutter is the solution to this teams problem? How did his last NHL job go?

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#258 Andy7190
November 12 2013, 12:42PM
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@Walter Sobchak

The Flames looked lost their first 18 months under B. Sutter. They didn't play the system and sort of sputtered along partly due to age, and partly due to the fact the team wasn't right for Sutter's style. By the time they started playing his system, any kind of window in the Iginla/Kiprusoff era had slammed shut.

I don't know if Brent Sutter could help the Oilers in their current configuration, but he probably wouldn't hurt. Remember, Brent and Darryl coach different systems. LA is still playing the same way Calgary, and San Jose did under Darryl, where as Brent is more of an East Coast trap/defense coach. Seems to me Iginla never bought in.

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#259 smiliegirl15
November 12 2013, 03:41PM
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If Yak wants more ice time, then play like you deserve it! There have been too many times we've seen him give up. He is the LAST person who should be giving up the puck.

Robin - hope all of your family is safe and sound in the Phillipines.

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#260 Taylor Gang
November 11 2013, 08:07PM
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GTL wrote:

Here we go .... Another oileresk salary dump, with little return... ~face palm~

Thank god it's not true. Right? 0_0

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#261 Gaz
November 11 2013, 08:43PM
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DSF wrote:

The Alpha Dog is feeling threatened.

This won't end well.

What exactly are you implying here?

Lowe is A.D?

Hall is A.D? (based on your later post)

Please expand on your comment.

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#262 fig pucker
November 11 2013, 10:19PM
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lenny wrote:

Well you forgot Grebeshkov and Bryzgalov. I bet you have nothing bad to say about them do you?

grebs, i'm not happy with (his play), belov as a whole has been a very pleasant surprise, brysgalov we'll see how he plays. i have no problem with russian players (skill wise), i have a problem when a high draft pick is used on one that decides he wants a trade or to go to the khl leaving the team that drafted him in the hurt locker, because they get little or nothing in return for their draft pick. that's my problem.

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#263 lenny
November 11 2013, 10:43PM
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fig pucker wrote:

grebs, i'm not happy with (his play), belov as a whole has been a very pleasant surprise, brysgalov we'll see how he plays. i have no problem with russian players (skill wise), i have a problem when a high draft pick is used on one that decides he wants a trade or to go to the khl leaving the team that drafted him in the hurt locker, because they get little or nothing in return for their draft pick. that's my problem.

I don't think this is your only problem! Belov was a pleasant surprise ah? You expected something bad did you, after all he is pure russian.

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#264 kale
November 11 2013, 11:32PM
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dougtheslug wrote:

Ok, guys, here's the only scenario that makes sense to me......

Somehow, Darry Katz has got himself mixed up with the Russian mafia. They forced him to install Eakins(one of their operatives) as coach. As part of a match fixing scheme, they are forcing Eakins to make his inane line combinations, and knowing how explosive Yak is, are having Eakins break his spirit, all the while making millions betting against the Oilers.

Having Sam Gagner take the crucial draw in the d-zone in the last minute against Chicago was the final tipoff that blew the cover off this thing - no one who knows anything about hockey would be that stupid.....obviously Eakins is not a real coach....

I put it all together watching the Bourne Supremacy last night - has anyone noticed that Jason Bourne has more than passing resemblance with Taylor Hall? Coincidence? I think not.

That is funny because last night I was watching Moneyball and thinking hmm, maybe the Oilers are Moneyball 2, a new system coupled with a losing streak when the team wont buy in to a total buy in to 20 consecutive victories.. I quickly dismissed the thought though.

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#265 Rheal1
November 12 2013, 04:35AM
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I would also add to my last that I would package Yakupov, Gagner or another kid, a bunch of draft picks for 2014 & 2015 for what we need: a big, mean stay at home Dman, a big power forward and an enforcer. The Dman can be on the second pairing, the enforcer to play against opposition top lines as part of an Oiler 4th trio and the big power forward to play with a kid line.

The kids need stability, confidence and mentoring. Too late to change coaches at this point.... We are truly f@cked.

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#266 BleedingOil
November 12 2013, 05:51AM
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Trade his a**. Worst +/- on the team and the 2nd worst s% among Oiler FWD. Half of his points come with a man advantage. He doesnt hit and cant make a pass. GET OUT OF THE YEG YAK! I just wanna see a good return, because he will be an OVI/Stamkos power in a few years.

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#267 Oiler Al
November 12 2013, 08:54AM
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Taylor Gang wrote:

Sure, trade a very young player for an even younger player.

Next

Oilers need help on D and besides age has nothing to do with it,,, its how mature one is.

The end result is if you want quality you have to give up quality...Eberle and Hall are that.AT the same time you would be forced to change the mix up front.. too many of the same players , playing soft hockey..

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#268 sizzay
November 12 2013, 09:33AM
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HardBoiledOil wrote:

but you suggest we always have to overpay to get better, and i say good on the Oilers for not doing it for every trade or teams will never ask for a fair deal, always an over payment. sometimes you have to stand your ground or you will never have any assets or picks left, then what? i was listening to TSN 1260 toady and one of the radio guys was making an off comment about how Anaheim apparently wanted Klefbom for goalie Viktor Fasth but the Oil said no and good on them! i hear you though, we could use a Jordan Staal type for sure at center and say bye bye to Gagner. do i have an answer? not really, you keep searching i guess for a good, FAIR deal that doesn't involve Klefbom or Nurse.

I agree on some of your points, for sure. However, the weak spot we are in, the desperation other teams smell means we will have to overpay to improve. It's not what I want, but it's the reality of the situation.

Of course you don't overpay for the sake of overpaying. I also would not have traded Klefbom for Fasth, hell no. However, if Klefbom was required in a package deal to get a Dman like McDonagh or a centre like Staal, then yes I part with him.

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#269 HardBoiledOil
November 12 2013, 09:45AM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

Damn.

Seriously? We have HIM too?

I wonder if the Oilers 'scouts' have a travel budget?

lol, well they didn't have to go too far to scout this guy....Vancouver! they drafted him #31 in the 2011 draft, then he got traded to the Oil Kings. guess the scouts could only charge for gas mileage to scout this guy here? :-D

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#270 pkam
November 12 2013, 09:47AM
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sizzay wrote:

I agree on some of your points, for sure. However, the weak spot we are in, the desperation other teams smell means we will have to overpay to improve. It's not what I want, but it's the reality of the situation.

Of course you don't overpay for the sake of overpaying. I also would not have traded Klefbom for Fasth, hell no. However, if Klefbom was required in a package deal to get a Dman like McDonagh or a centre like Staal, then yes I part with him.

Are you telling me that there is not one team other than the Oilers that have weak spot? Why didn't we make them overpay?

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#271 rob
November 12 2013, 09:55AM
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yaks plus a 2nd round for Coutourier!

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#272 HardBoiledOil
November 12 2013, 09:59AM
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rob wrote:

yaks plus a 2nd round for Coutourier!

sorry, too much. Couturier only has 3 measly assists this year and no goals in 16 games. even Yak is out producing him at the moment, but you want to throw in a 2nd from our end too?

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#273 chris
November 12 2013, 10:11AM
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If nails's agents comes crying about ice time, kick his ass to the curb, nail has had lots of opportunity to succeed, send him to the farm to learn the game, let him earn his ice time.

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#274 Towersofdub
November 12 2013, 11:24AM
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@ pkam Maybe you missed the part where i said "I'm being sarcastic here". I'm really just having a laugh at the people who say our 1st overall pics are busts, and we should trade them for god knows what, somehow thinking a bust of a first rounder will get them Shea Weber in return. For the record, i think Hall & RNH are legitimate top line NHL players. Yakupov probably won't ever be the kind of player who can go up against the other teams top line regularly and not be a minus player. His best work will be done feasting on the oppositions weaker lines. Personally, i wouldn't trade any of them. I would trade gagner, but i know he has no value on the trade market these days. All I'm saying is people can't complain about how useless edmonton's players are, then expect to get the solution to all the oilers problems in a trade. I was also trying to say, if people think this organization is so bad at drafting players (based on their ascertation that our current crop of 1st overalls are busts) why would they expect anything different in next years draft, and how would trading the useless sam gagner & what would likely be a bust of a draft pick ever be considered overpayment for a proven useful nhl level player? That's all...either the oilers have good players, and have drafted well, and one of those players can be traded for something of need, or they dont have good players, haven't drafted well, and can't trade their way out of irrelevence and mediocrity.

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#275 Andy7190
November 12 2013, 12:35PM
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@HardBoiledOil

True, there either has to be room for Nail in the top six or he has to flat out earn the top six. But I can't see either his development or his trade value going well in the bottom six. So, play him in the top six, and coach him up. Coaching him down certainly isn't working.

The long and short of it is that Nail Yakupov is not a back checker. He is almost pure scorer. Obviously a different skill set than Monahan, but still.

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#276 Spydyr
November 12 2013, 04:43AM
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If I was MacT I would be calling every team with a top pairing defencman under 25.If that does not work a top 2C under 25.At least fix a hole here.

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#277 HardBoiledOil
November 12 2013, 09:22AM
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sizzay wrote:

How do we improve then? We keep drafting high and keep throwing rookies in. It's not always the answer. I'm not saying trade teh 1st for a 35 year old. Gagner and the 1st could get you a Jordan Staal type player. A 6'3 220 2 way centre is what we need. We will not improve until we get someone that can cover our wingers defensive deficiencies rather than expose it.

Yakupov will never be a defensive first guy, that's not why we drafted him. It just goes back to the Oilers having a terrible... TERRIBLE mix of players.

but you suggest we always have to overpay to get better, and i say good on the Oilers for not doing it for every trade or teams will never ask for a fair deal, always an over payment. sometimes you have to stand your ground or you will never have any assets or picks left, then what? i was listening to TSN 1260 toady and one of the radio guys was making an off comment about how Anaheim apparently wanted Klefbom for goalie Viktor Fasth but the Oil said no and good on them! i hear you though, we could use a Jordan Staal type for sure at center and say bye bye to Gagner. do i have an answer? not really, you keep searching i guess for a good, FAIR deal that doesn't involve Klefbom or Nurse.

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#278 sizzay
November 12 2013, 09:51AM
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pkam wrote:

Are you telling me that there is not one team other than the Oilers that have weak spot? Why didn't we make them overpay?

Do those other teams have players we want?

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#279 HardBoiledOil
November 12 2013, 09:54AM
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sizzay wrote:

I agree on some of your points, for sure. However, the weak spot we are in, the desperation other teams smell means we will have to overpay to improve. It's not what I want, but it's the reality of the situation.

Of course you don't overpay for the sake of overpaying. I also would not have traded Klefbom for Fasth, hell no. However, if Klefbom was required in a package deal to get a Dman like McDonagh or a centre like Staal, then yes I part with him.

well, let's put it this way....if the Oilers make some kind of comeback this season, and i think inevitably they will, and they want to trade, say their 1st rounder and a roster player to try to upgrade somewhere, the they should do it, but only if the pick isn't in the top 5 or 6....i really don't like kissing those high picks away no matter how bad this team is because you never know when you might get the next Duncan Keith or Taylor Hall.

would i like to see the Oilers trade Klefbom for McDonagh? perhaps as long as McDonagh can commit to staying here and not demand a trade in a year and i imagine these two would be part of a larger deal between the Rangers and Oil....other players/prospects and picks likely? same with a big center like Sean Couturier in Philly. Klef as part of a multi player/prospect/picks deal with the Flyers? perhaps as long as the d-man we want...Brayden Coburn...doesn't want out of here at the end of the season.

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#280 pkam
November 12 2013, 09:56AM
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sizzay wrote:

Than you are blinded between reality and being a typical Oiler fan that overrates his/her players.

Does it matter if I overrate our players or not?

If our players aren't good enough, how can losing trades make us any better? Wouldn't it make us even worse?

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#281 chris
November 12 2013, 10:18AM
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@sizzay

you don't trade a first overall pick

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#282 Walter Sobchak
November 12 2013, 12:59PM
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Andy7190 wrote:

The Flames looked lost their first 18 months under B. Sutter. They didn't play the system and sort of sputtered along partly due to age, and partly due to the fact the team wasn't right for Sutter's style. By the time they started playing his system, any kind of window in the Iginla/Kiprusoff era had slammed shut.

I don't know if Brent Sutter could help the Oilers in their current configuration, but he probably wouldn't hurt. Remember, Brent and Darryl coach different systems. LA is still playing the same way Calgary, and San Jose did under Darryl, where as Brent is more of an East Coast trap/defense coach. Seems to me Iginla never bought in.

Iginla score 32 & 43 goals under Sutter 86 points and 67 points respectively, I also believe Kipper enjoyed very good years as well.

Sutter didn't have the roster due to management of the cap & player asset management, if you recall two games Sutter had to use 17 players.

Its all speculation but I'm convinced you go with experience as a head coach.

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#283 Andy7190
November 12 2013, 01:08PM
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Oil Can wrote:

Brent Sutter certainly was not the reason why Calgary was not doing so well. Calgary was holding off on a rebuild that was long over due, and everyone except their ownership knew it. So he was stuck with older complacent players, but he had them just outside of the playoffs anyways. The GM and ownership have to be willing to supply the coach with the right players, in order for the coach and team to be successful. Calgary has done worst since Brent Sutter has been gone. Brent Sutter comes with a wealth of coaching experience from coaching in the NHL, WHL, World Juniors and the World championships. Also remember that his brother had never won a cup as a coach or GM also, but the LA Kings are sure looking good since he took over that team.

Calgary has done worse since Sutter has been gone, but not from an effort or style standpoint.

Since Sutter has been turfed, the Flames traded Iginla, Bouwmeester & Tanguay, lost Kiprusoff to retirement and gone all in on a youth movement. Currently playing without Stempniak, Glencross, Stajan and one other vet whose name escapes me (edit: Giordano, no small absence) .

From a work ethic and all-in mentality, I don't think there is any doubt Bob Hartley is the right coach at the right time for that club.

As for Darryl, he coached an entirely different style than Brent, which is partly why they had a pretty poisonous relationship at the end of Darryl's Flames tenure.

As for Brent Sutter, had the Flames lost Kiprusoff 3 years earlier, they'd have had results like the Oilers are having right now. He single handedly kept them in the hunt, and covered a whole lot of deficiencies. If the Oilers had a goalie like that now, they'd probably have at least 5 or six more wins. #34 made Brent Sutter look a whole lot better than he was.

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#284 Oil Can
November 12 2013, 01:27PM
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@Andy7190

I am not sure if you agree or disagree with me. As you point out the Flames have gotten rid of some players who were not giving 100 percent anymore. And now have a much harder working team, and with that, they are all of four points ahead of the Oilers. I am not saying that Bob Hartley is a bad coach and he would probably be better than the coach that we have. But Hartley has an NHL job and Brent Sutter has a very good coaching pedigree and is not in the NHL. Remember Ken Hitchcock had few rough coaching jobs between Dallas and St. Louis, but he has his team doing pretty well now. And St. Louis did not look so good before Hitch took over.

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#285 BobbyCanuck
November 14 2013, 02:55PM
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@_I_Got_Nothing

YOu know, that is simply backwards Oiler Fanboy logic. Try this

Eberle and Gagner have been around long enough to realize the importance of back checking, and the requirement to play the 200ft game. I think both of them have 6 yr @$6M no trade no movement contracts, wanna fix the Oilers and send a clear message to the team? Put both of them on waivers, and when you see that not one team wants them..well there is your wake up call to the rest of the team

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#286 rob
November 12 2013, 09:42AM
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the only oilers that are safe are Hall,Perron,Gordon,Petry and Rnh(and nurse).They need to right the ship so ebs,yak,jschultz,ganger,hemsky and our first round pick in a few trades to fix this team!the sooner the better,lets salvage what we can this season so next is much better!

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#287 rob
November 12 2013, 10:22AM
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@chris

tell that to Quebec/colorado

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#288 pkam
November 12 2013, 11:48AM
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@Towersofdub

Sorry I miss your "I'm being sarcastic here".

Can't agree with you more.

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#289 Oil Can
November 12 2013, 12:57PM
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@Towersofdub

Brent Sutter certainly was not the reason why Calgary was not doing so well. Calgary was holding off on a rebuild that was long over due, and everyone except their ownership knew it. So he was stuck with older complacent players, but he had them just outside of the playoffs anyways. The GM and ownership have to be willing to supply the coach with the right players, in order for the coach and team to be successful. Calgary has done worst since Brent Sutter has been gone. Brent Sutter comes with a wealth of coaching experience from coaching in the NHL, WHL, World Juniors and the World championships. Also remember that his brother had never won a cup as a coach or GM also, but the LA Kings are sure looking good since he took over that team.

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#290 Walter Sobchak
November 12 2013, 01:02PM
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pkam wrote:

I just google NHL playoff 2008 and 2009. Devils lost to Rangers 4-1 in 1st round in 2008. And they lost to Caroline 4-3 in 1st round in 2009. He has not won 1 NHL playoff series yet.

Will we do better or worse with him as HC? You can speculate all you want but the fact is nobody really knows.

True, however Sutter actually won his division, he won 45 games one year and 51 the next with a group of cast offs, it's actually pretty impressive considering the Oilers will be lucky to get 55 points this year....

I'm going out on a limb and saying the Oilers would do much, much better then they are now with Sutter.

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#291 Andy7190
November 12 2013, 01:40PM
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Oil Can wrote:

I am not sure if you agree or disagree with me. As you point out the Flames have gotten rid of some players who were not giving 100 percent anymore. And now have a much harder working team, and with that, they are all of four points ahead of the Oilers. I am not saying that Bob Hartley is a bad coach and he would probably be better than the coach that we have. But Hartley has an NHL job and Brent Sutter has a very good coaching pedigree and is not in the NHL. Remember Ken Hitchcock had few rough coaching jobs between Dallas and St. Louis, but he has his team doing pretty well now. And St. Louis did not look so good before Hitch took over.

I just think the jury is still out on Brent Sutter as a success in the NHL. Bob Hartley is a proven success, though not with the Flames so far, except to say his team has bought in.

No, my point is Brent is more suited to the Junior game, like Dale Hunter. You can't coach pro players the same way you coach kids. Eakins might be in the same type of boat. NHL is different than AHL.

Your point is fair, but I watched a lot of Flames games in the Brent Sutter era, and I still think Keenan would have had that team in the playoffs at least once more. Darryl was to blame also as he spent too heavilly on defence at the time (Regher, Phaneuf, Bouwmeester) and never did find a centre for Iginla. The irony of course is he gets traded and the Flames draft a centre...

I suspect if the Oilers start getting average to good, and sometimes great NHL goaltending instead of the ECHL product they've been getting, we will better understand their true level of strengths and coaching. But right now, that team is playing as if the roof is going to cave in at any moment.

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