BLAME GAME

Brian Sutherby
November 14 2013 05:27PM

With each passing day, frustrated fans continue to find new or old reasons as to why this team is where it is. Everyone is searching for answers, with many targeting the “old boys club” that has become the Edmonton Oilers. I don’t know if this is new but many want to focus on the assistant coaches today and blame them for this team’s demise.

I’m not going to sit here and defend the constant re hiring of former Oilers because if it works its great and if it doesn’t then it’s a failure and normally fixed. It’s tough to let go of good people and players that have been great to an organization.

I believe like many of you, more changes on ice and potentially off the ice are likely needed, but I do find it strange the focus is now being directed at assistant coaches Kelly Buchberger and Steve Smith.

HIS PICK

It’s easy to assume Eakins truly didn’t have a choice in picking his assistant coaches but maybe Eakins did decide he wanted to keep Buchberger and Smith? Maybe the players in the room were a vote of confidence for those two and Eakins understood that? That I cannot factually answer and everyone can form their own opinion.

He did however; bring over his buddy Keith Acton from Toronto, so he has someone he is familiar with on his staff. It’s very common for coaches to bring “their” guys to each new job but it is actually not uncommon for teams to retain an assistant coach when a head coach has been relieved of his duties.

HAPPENS ALL THE TIME

I’ve seen it on two of the three teams I played on in the NHL. When Glen Hanlon was fired in Washington and Bruce Boudreau was hired, Dean Evason (my favorite assistant coach of all time) was retained and Bruce kept him for his entire tenure in Washington. Dean had a great relationship with the guys and was very respected by everyone.

In Dallas Stu Barnes survived the Dave Tippett firing and worked under Mark Crawford for his 2 years in Dallas. Not to mention they were both former players for those respective organizations. It’s not just in Edmonton.

Regardless of all that, I think there is a bit of a misunderstanding of what exactly an assistant coach brings to the table. With all due respect to the great assistant coaches around the league, assistant coaches provide value but not near enough to blame them for day to day decisions.

COMMUNICATION

I was always very tight with my assistant coaches. I have played for some fantastic ones. This was because they were tremendous guys. When times are tough and you have a question about how to handle a certain situation, you could go to them. Assistant coaches could get a message to the coach or from a coach to you about what he is thinking or why certain decisions are being made.

The reason former players are often hired to be assistants is because they have played the game, they understand the ups and downs throughout the year and how players want to be treated. Great assistant coaches in my opinion provide a pipeline to the coach, and they provide tips and good stories or techniques of how they would handle certain situations. They watch game tape and do extra work with you on things that need it. Many head coaches don’t want to deal with the day to day of player mentalities or headaches; this is the greatest asset an assistant coach provides.

FINAL SAY

Assistants have certain assignments and often run the power play or penalty kill meetings but many are mistaken if the thought is assistant coaches are calling the final shots on the systems you see. Some assistants are more active than others and handle more of a load but at the end of it all the head coach is taking their advice and providing the players with his message. It’s him who will ultimately land on the sword if things fail.

Be mad all you want at Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini who re-built this team. Be mad at the fact the players themselves haven’t produced winning results since Gregor debated a comb over, but I don’t think for a second if they had two different assistant coaches this team would be dramatically better. I think we’re reaching now.

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A Moose Jaw Warriors alumnus and veteran of 460 NHL games with the Capitals, Ducks and Stars—Sutherby is here to regale us with tales of the WJHC, life as an NHL player and much more from a Pro’s perspective. Co-Host's the Jason Gregor show on TSN1260 on Tuesday's from 3-5 and Coaches at www.proconnectionhockey.com Twitter:@briansutherby
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#101 Wanye
November 15 2013, 12:21AM
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DSF wrote:

They already have that headache....and then some.

They just don't score as much.

LOL EASY THERE HOMIE WE HAVE A LOT MORE NETWORK TRAFFIC AND ITS SLOWIN THINGS DOWN. WE ARE WORKIN ON IT

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#102 Nimrod
November 15 2013, 01:08AM
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There is indeed nothing strange about assistant coaches surviving a head coach.

It is very strange when they survive the firing of four different head coaches like Buchberger has. Are they tenured? Smith is only on his third.

They are as untouchable as Lowe is. Oilers are stuck in mediocrity because it's not a team that believes in meritocracy.

Since Lowe took over as GM in 2000, they have made the playoffs three times out of twelve (6th, 8th and 8th in the West). The average finish over that period is 21st in the league. The stench of failure is all over these guys.

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#103 gcw_rocks
November 15 2013, 06:27AM
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Bucky and Smith have contributed to the worst record in hockey over the last seven years. In any other business if you were a manager in a group that performed that badly for that long you would get fired. Even if you aren't the problem, after that long it would also be clear you aren't the solution. They should have been fired long ago.

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#104 Woogie63
November 15 2013, 07:21AM
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Sort of interesting blog

I am still not sure what the role for each coach is.

We have four AC in the bench, what is the role of each coach? Do we have a coach in the pressbox communicating with the bench.

Is there a role of technology on this team. Could ipads be used during the game to show the players there last shift, the last forecheck the other team deployed ect?

It seems standing behind the player saying "ata boy,", "come on boys we have to be committed to defense" is kinda 1950' s.

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#105 Oiler Al
November 15 2013, 07:45AM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

There is no Gretzky, there is no Messier and there is no Coffee on this team....and there never will be. Those comparisons, and I have been guilty of making those comparisons myself, are false.

Time to not only get rid of their pictures in the room, but also the bull crap predictions that these kids will evolve into the aforementioned generational legends. Never gonna happen, acknowledge the fact and move on.

It's a new day, so to speak.

Good point AKA, tell that to King Six Rings.. he is the only guy riding the good old glory train from the 80's. Nothing wrong with recognizing the past, but man you cant keep trying to relive it,Move on! And oh, ya King.. move out..

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#106 Loweblows
November 15 2013, 07:46AM
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Dave wrote:

Will the Oilers win another game in 2013?

I think you meant will they score another goal didn't you?

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#107 Oiler Al
November 15 2013, 07:53AM
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DSF wrote:

Oh look kids....

Tyler Seguin with 4G 1A tonight.

On pace for 56 goals and 95 points.

I wonder if the Bruins (and Oilers) would like a mulligan.

Almost as good as Gagner's 8 point night.

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#108 120 stitches
November 15 2013, 08:15AM
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Part II-- the owner should get somebody in charge of this team who has earned the position of General Manager by apprenticing as an assistant GM for an extended time with a successful organization. There are several individuals that are available who have proven track records of participating in excellent drafting and making wise personnel decisions over many years. Although he no longer is available, Jim Nill is an example of the type of individual the Oilers should recruit to take charge not ex Oilers who have no track records. Some names come to mind - Paul Fenton, Lawrence Gilman, the assistant GM in Phoenix(cannot remember his name) and I will even give you one ex Oiler if you have to have that- Norm McIvor -- but he has a successful track record in a winning organization. If someone like this came in they could take a measured approach rather be under enormous pressure to make a mistake. Why doesn't Katz realize that he could come out of this as a winner by immediately dismissing the current management and replacing them with outsiders who have a successful and proven history of running NHL hockey teams?

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#109 loweblows
November 15 2013, 08:51AM
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gcw_rocks wrote:

Bucky and Smith have contributed to the worst record in hockey over the last seven years. In any other business if you were a manager in a group that performed that badly for that long you would get fired. Even if you aren't the problem, after that long it would also be clear you aren't the solution. They should have been fired long ago.

I think some writers become emotionally attached to people within the Oiler organizations and as a result they unwittingly?unwillingly? become apologists for management. I agree with his statement that assistant coaches are there for off ice issues but the fact is that the issues are on the ice! We, unknowing Tier 4 fans(live in Calgary) can consistently see two Oiler D men behind the net. Wouldn't that be the role of say Steve Smith to teach even the basic fundamentals that we learned in friggin pee wee!

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#110 china town man
November 15 2013, 09:18AM
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I Blame the oilers for ruining My morning!!! I wake up happy ready To start off my day, tune in to My radio station to have it all go To poops when they talk about The oilers. It is easy to just Turn off the radio !!! The problem is I bleed COOPER AND BLUE !!!

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#111 Six Rings
November 15 2013, 09:37AM
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DSF wrote:

Oh look kids....

Tyler Seguin with 4G 1A tonight.

On pace for 56 goals and 95 points.

I wonder if the Bruins (and Oilers) would like a mulligan.

I was reading the comments and thinking... "Wow, DSF will all these valid points."

Then I come across this...

Players have ups and downs all season. He gets 5 points against the Flames and you cherry pick stats.

'X' player has 15 points in their first 10 games and are on pace for 123 points in a season, doesn't mean they will...

Crosby: First 10: 18 points in 10 games. On pace for 147 points. Current: 24 points in 18 games. On pace for 109 Points.

One streak of 6 points in his last 8 games changes his 'on pace' statistic by almost 40 points.

Seguin: Today : 22 points in 19 GP. On pace for 95pts. Before Flames: 17 points in 18 GP. On pace for 77pts.

C'mon man.

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#112 camdog
November 15 2013, 09:49AM
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@Six Rings

If Jamie Benn stays healthy, there is a good chance that Seguin gets 80+ points this season with the possibility of an Olympic berth. As far as I am concerned Benn is going to be a superstar, Seguin right now has the abilities to be the "sidekicks" to one of the greatest one two punches in the league "this season". lol

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#113 Jay
November 15 2013, 09:51AM
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Six Rings wrote:

I was reading the comments and thinking... "Wow, DSF will all these valid points."

Then I come across this...

Players have ups and downs all season. He gets 5 points against the Flames and you cherry pick stats.

'X' player has 15 points in their first 10 games and are on pace for 123 points in a season, doesn't mean they will...

Crosby: First 10: 18 points in 10 games. On pace for 147 points. Current: 24 points in 18 games. On pace for 109 Points.

One streak of 6 points in his last 8 games changes his 'on pace' statistic by almost 40 points.

Seguin: Today : 22 points in 19 GP. On pace for 95pts. Before Flames: 17 points in 18 GP. On pace for 77pts.

C'mon man.

Nice picture on Oiler twitter site of Hall's birthday dinner? Looks like an Elementary kid's birthday dinner. What a cute collection of little people and softies (J. Schultz). McGrattan, Jackman, Breen (6'7" enforcer - Suds battled him last year in the AHL), and O'Brien must be laughing their heads off at the little sweeties coming into the Dome for the "battle" of Alberta tomorrow night! Nothing wrong with the core MacT???? Hockey is a man's game! GET SOME MEN ON THIS TEAM PLEASE!!! P.S. Why wasn't YAKUPOV invited to this birthday party?dinner???? Is he too TUFF for this group???? SIMMONDS, OTT, DUBINSKY, FOLIGNO, COBURN, etc. This is what you need MACT! NO more SMURFS!!!!

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#114 pkam
November 15 2013, 09:53AM
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Six Rings wrote:

I was reading the comments and thinking... "Wow, DSF will all these valid points."

Then I come across this...

Players have ups and downs all season. He gets 5 points against the Flames and you cherry pick stats.

'X' player has 15 points in their first 10 games and are on pace for 123 points in a season, doesn't mean they will...

Crosby: First 10: 18 points in 10 games. On pace for 147 points. Current: 24 points in 18 games. On pace for 109 Points.

One streak of 6 points in his last 8 games changes his 'on pace' statistic by almost 40 points.

Seguin: Today : 22 points in 19 GP. On pace for 95pts. Before Flames: 17 points in 18 GP. On pace for 77pts.

C'mon man.

When did DSF not cherry pick stats to irritate Oilers fans?

Let me use an example to show how meaningful his comment is. Fedun is 2 pts and +1 after 2 games, so he is on pace to 82 pts and +41 after 82 games as a rookie defenseman. And base on this, he is better than Bobby Orr.

That is why I have stop reading his comment anymore. It is a total waste of time.

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#115 LOIL99
November 15 2013, 10:22AM
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pkam wrote:

When did DSF not cherry pick stats to irritate Oilers fans?

Let me use an example to show how meaningful his comment is. Fedun is 2 pts and +1 after 2 games, so he is on pace to 82 pts and +41 after 82 games as a rookie defenseman. And base on this, he is better than Bobby Orr.

That is why I have stop reading his comment anymore. It is a total waste of time.

I have written a script that goes through and votes "trash" on all DSF posts before it hides them from my screen. Saves me a lot of time. Free to anyone interested!!

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#116 Blucifer Copperballs
November 15 2013, 10:28AM
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TKB2677 wrote:

Does anyone know when Sam Gagner is supposed to start playing?

I checked the stats and it says Gagner 7GP, 1pt, -10. So basically since he has come into the line up, he's been completely useless. It's baffling, almost incredible to me how a player going into his 7th NHL season can come in to a line up and be -10 in 7 games. I think you actually have to try pretty hard to be a -10 in 7 games.

I know he is coming off an injury and when it's a jaw you are probably going to feel every little bump so he's probably a little tentative. Plus missing time you are going to "game speed" but holy crap!! If Gagner is going to be that bad, maybe he needs to sit out a few more weeks until everything is 100% and he no longer has any concerns. He's literally doing NOTHING to help the team and one can argue, he's probably hurting the team with his play right now.

I honestly don't think a player can play any worse based on his stats.

Early on, it seemed like he was having trouble finding the puck with that chin gaurd on. It's got to be a distraction, and you would lose the puck in you peripherary really easy, even in the faceoff dot. I thought he would adapt quicker and chip in, but maybe he'll need to get that guard removed before he really starts getting back to playing the way he has before. Remember, he looked pretty strong pre-season before the injury.

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#117 Danger Pay
November 15 2013, 11:07AM
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You just gotta blame the thing up!

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#118 Bryzarro World
November 15 2013, 02:41PM
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Maybe maybe maybe... tired of it. Fact is that they were here for several coaching changes. NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. Fact is that the players play like pussies with NO heart so who really cares what they think? Listen to players that play like garbage and want to krep fluffers around them? Kick their asses out already. They have proven they can't do the job and can't gey the players to do their job so......

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