The Coach

Jonathan Willis
November 14 2013 09:32AM

On virtually any other NHL team, Dallas Eakins would be out of a job right now. A 4-14-2 start is a fireable offence for most NHL teams, but here Eakins has a protective barrier formed by the ghosts of Criag MacTavish and Pat Quinn and Tom Renney and Ralph Krueger.

The Path Forward

It isn’t too early to think about firing the coach. It’s just too early to actually fire the coach. Edmonton has fired coaches so many times without results (on that note, wouldn’t it be nice to go back two years and let Tom Renney keep coaching the team?) and it’s time to go a different route.

This is one of the things Craig MacTavish is here for. In previous years, Steve Tambellini proved remarkably unwilling to address simple team needs (such as fourth line centre). MacTavish is already one up on Tambellini because he’s been willing to try plugging in minor leaguers (recall Mark Arcobello rotting on the farm while Chris VandeVelde and Ryan Smyth failed as fourth line centres) but that’s not enough.

It’s trade time. And not a ‘move Ladislav Smid for futures’ trade. A trade that actually brings in NHL talent. Maybe it’s a defenceman who can play in the top-three. Maybe it’s a big forward who can play in the top-six. Maybe it’s a good third-line wing so that Boyd Gordon doesn’t have to drag around Jesse Joensuu and Ryan Jones. I don’t know what’s out there, or how much what’s out there costs to acquire; I do know that this team isn’t getting the job done and Dallas Eakins seems like he’s out of answers.

Normally, when the coach is out of answers the coach pays the price. In this case, so many other coaches have been out of answers that it’s time to try giving the man behind the bench some different pieces.

Lousy NHL Debuts

Some very good coaches have had some very bad starts to their careers, generally because opportunity arises with bad (or expansion) teams. Here’s a brief list of some very good coaches who started out on the wrong foot:

  • Scotty Bowman: 4-13-2 with St. Louis
  • Dick Irvin: 2-6-4 with Chicago
  • Ron Wilson: 4-13-2 with Anaheim
  • Lindy Ruff: 5-10-4 with Buffalo
  • Ken Hitchcock: 10-18-8 with Dallas

Naturally, I’m not saying ‘oh man, Dallas Eakins is Scotty Bowman!’ That would be crazy. What I am saying is that it’s possible that the Oilers will end up benefiting from their (essentially) forced patience with Eakins. Of course, it’s just as possible that 20 games from now nothing has changed and Eakins is out the door, but it’s at least plausible that the coach can right the ship.

So, About That Trade…

It has to be coming, and it has to be meaningful.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
Avatar
#1 Pharmboy
November 14 2013, 09:36AM
Trash it!
41
trashes
Cheers
18
cheers

Agreed, patience is important here, it is interesting to note that during preseason when our lineup was about equal in terms of quality with the opposition, the team had a decent record, so maybe it isn't all the new systems and motivational tactics. Big trade required. Additionally, I love Ryan Smyth but it is time, it's getting sadder to watch each game, a horrible ending to an otherwise admirable career.

Avatar
#2 Last one out, turn off the lights.
November 14 2013, 09:36AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
37
cheers

Well. If this keeps up, the team will be playing in front of your said "ghosts".

Avatar
#3 Ben37
November 14 2013, 09:39AM
Trash it!
17
trashes
Cheers
29
cheers

Maybe it's time to stick to one coach for a little while. It's similar to Alex Smith with the 49'ers who had 6 offensive coordinators in his first 7 years. He spent more time learning the new guys name than he did the playbook.

This is what is happening to Hall, Eberle and the group that is considered the core. Every year they have a new coach and new system to learn and they never actually get to fully learn and play in a system before another one is brought it.

Perhaps it is time to have some management stability.

Avatar
#4 camdog
November 14 2013, 09:40AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
37
cheers
Pharmboy wrote:

Agreed, patience is important here, it is interesting to note that during preseason when our lineup was about equal in terms of quality with the opposition, the team had a decent record, so maybe it isn't all the new systems and motivational tactics. Big trade required. Additionally, I love Ryan Smyth but it is time, it's getting sadder to watch each game, a horrible ending to an otherwise admirable career.

You do realize that in the preseason all of the teams we faced started their AHL rosters?

Avatar
#5 The Towel Boy
November 14 2013, 09:41AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
95
cheers

I kinda secretly hope this losing streak goes just a few more games so that we get to see some big fireworks.

FIRINGS! TRADES! Whatever...just give me something to be excited about.

Avatar
#6 Rick
November 14 2013, 09:43AM
Trash it!
7
trashes
Cheers
75
cheers

The Common denominator throughout the head coach carousel Is Steve Smith and Bucky. At what point do you hold these two responsible for some of these problems.These kids are NOT receiving good mentoring from these two coaches.

Avatar
#7 HOFFFF
November 14 2013, 09:43AM
Trash it!
6
trashes
Cheers
41
cheers
Pharmboy wrote:

Agreed, patience is important here, it is interesting to note that during preseason when our lineup was about equal in terms of quality with the opposition, the team had a decent record, so maybe it isn't all the new systems and motivational tactics. Big trade required. Additionally, I love Ryan Smyth but it is time, it's getting sadder to watch each game, a horrible ending to an otherwise admirable career.

"Patience is important here...." Are you serious?

Avatar
#8 Mac962
November 14 2013, 09:44AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
50
cheers

JW - Perhaps Eakins is given a longer rope, but how long do we wait until something is done with Bucky and Smith ? I mean come on, they were not Eakins first choice, he was saddled with them. IMO - If he accepts it or not, Todd Nelson deserves a promotion and perhaps could ride shot gun with Eakins as well. Nelson also works with the young guns and knows them pretty well from the OKC stint. That all aside, yes it is time to part with one of our darlings, too much of the same. Its time.

Avatar
#9 godot10
November 14 2013, 09:44AM
Trash it!
7
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers

Eakins's Corsi and Fenwick closed ticked below Krueger's last night, even with a mostly eastly conference schedule.

Against five common opponents (out of six), Eakins Corsi close is 30-something-percent.

By looking at shot metrics, Corsi or Fenwick, and not goal differential, or won-loss record, one eliminates a lot of the effects of randomness, i.e. save percentage, shooting percentage.

30-something percent against common Western Conference opponents and Detroit...that is abysmal coaching.

Avatar
#10 DSF
November 14 2013, 09:45AM
Trash it!
11
trashes
Cheers
40
cheers

Jon, I'm not so sure the Oilers will do much of anything.

The more I think about the Smid trade, the more convinced I become that it was merely a move to pare $3.5M from the payroll...dollars that go right to the bottom line.

If so, I would imagine that was a Katz mandated move once he saw that there was zero chance of getting any playoff revenue.

If there are any further moves made, I would expect they will be in the same vein...likely moving Hemsky and Nick Schultz (if they can be moved) for prospects or picks.

Avatar
#11 outdoorzguy
November 14 2013, 09:45AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
172
cheers

Oct 7, 2017 Edmonton

After construction delays and political wrangling, Edmonton’s new arena, The Rexall Repository was officially opened a year behind schedule by Katz Group Executive Vice President of Operations and former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel. Mandel dropped the puck as the Oiler opened up another NHL season by the dropping the ceremonial puck at the start of the game with the visiting Los Angeles Kings. Despite another sell out crowd, the 410th in a row, the Oilers dropped a 4-2 decision to the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings who had played the night before in Vancouver. Former Oiler Nail Yakupov, who led the league in scoring last year, picked up right where he left off last year, scoring two goals and setting up a third. The home town Oilers’ goals were scored by David McConnor and local product Tyler Benson. Goalie Laurent Brossoit made 48 saves on the night for the Oilers. After the game, head coach Shawn Horcoff was joined by his assistant coaches Kelly Buchburger and Steve Smith to give their assessment of the game. Horcoff stated that despite having so many young players in the lineup and first overall draft picks, he “felt there was a good blend of old and new”, and it would take a bit more time for this group to “gel together”. Later, Oiler General Manager Bob Stauffer joined his coaching staff and was asked about the team’s rebuilding under his leadership. He commented that he was “only starting the second year of his vision for the team and it may take four or five more years to get things where he would like them to be”. Stauffer also says “despite the best efforts of previous GM’s, it would not be a continuation of the previous rebuilds which occurred over the last nine years”, but a new, focussed vision. He encouraged fans to continue to support the team by filling the new arena and looking to the future with anticipation as the team still was looking for a puck moving defenceman and top three center. Despite the opening night hoopla, team owner Daryl Katz was not in the building and was not available for comment as has been the case since 2008.

Avatar
#12 Mac962
November 14 2013, 09:45AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
9
cheers
Rick wrote:

The Common denominator throughout the head coach carousel Is Steve Smith and Bucky. At what point do you hold these two responsible for some of these problems.These kids are NOT receiving good mentoring from these two coaches.

You read my mind Bro- see below. they are dead weight.

Avatar
#14 Rick
November 14 2013, 09:47AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
27
cheers
Mac962 wrote:

JW - Perhaps Eakins is given a longer rope, but how long do we wait until something is done with Bucky and Smith ? I mean come on, they were not Eakins first choice, he was saddled with them. IMO - If he accepts it or not, Todd Nelson deserves a promotion and perhaps could ride shot gun with Eakins as well. Nelson also works with the young guns and knows them pretty well from the OKC stint. That all aside, yes it is time to part with one of our darlings, too much of the same. Its time.

I agree Smith and Bucky out and Nelson In .That would be a great place to start.

Avatar
#15 DSF
November 14 2013, 09:49AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
29
cheers
godot10 wrote:

Eakins's Corsi and Fenwick closed ticked below Krueger's last night, even with a mostly eastly conference schedule.

Against five common opponents (out of six), Eakins Corsi close is 30-something-percent.

By looking at shot metrics, Corsi or Fenwick, and not goal differential, or won-loss record, one eliminates a lot of the effects of randomness, i.e. save percentage, shooting percentage.

30-something percent against common Western Conference opponents and Detroit...that is abysmal coaching.

Next up, the San Jose Sharks, one of the elite possession teams in the league.

Oh, the humanity!

Avatar
#17 DoubleJ
November 14 2013, 09:51AM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
26
cheers

How about getting rid of Smith and Bucky. That would show some signs of accountability.

Avatar
#18 Muller
November 14 2013, 09:51AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
17
cheers

Something has to change....

Avatar
#19 DoubleJ
November 14 2013, 09:51AM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
16
cheers

How about getting rid of Smith and Bucky. That would show some signs of accountability.

Avatar
#20 madjam
November 14 2013, 09:52AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
9
cheers

With a rather pathetic defence (underspending) and goalies that have to many off nights , along with a diminutive forward group that lacks physicality , one can hardly lay fault with the coach to much degree . MacT. , like Tams , needs to give the coach more viable NHL talents to work with -not more low grade ones or AHL fillins . Our team is a reflection of what MacT. has not done to change our fortunes . I suppose Lowe is responsible as any for that as well .

Avatar
#21 Sutter
November 14 2013, 09:52AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
18
cheers

Just wondering ... if they would go so far as to fire the coach, would any one WANT to coach this team? A few years ago, at the start of this "rebuild" seemingly everyone wanted the Oiler coach gig. I am not so sure that it is still the dream job.

Avatar
#22 Spydyr
November 14 2013, 09:52AM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Cheers
19
cheers
Rick wrote:

I agree Smith and Bucky out and Nelson In .That would be a great place to start.

You know where a great place to start would be? At the top fire Lowe and let his replacement pick his guys. Hopefully he is smart enough not to hire all rookies and his buddies.

How can it get any worse?

Avatar
#23 Muller
November 14 2013, 09:54AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
11
cheers

Something has to change....

Avatar
#24 Zamboni Driver
November 14 2013, 09:57AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
26
cheers

@outdoorzguy

**Slow Clap**

Avatar
#25 Zamboni Driver
November 14 2013, 09:58AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

Also...please tell me "Fenwick" is not really a thing??

Avatar
#26 vetinari
November 14 2013, 09:59AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
20
cheers

It seems that if it wasn't for us burning through as many coaches as what we did the last few years, Eakins would have been fired by now.

If there was a coach that we should have been more patient with, it likely was Renney because he came with actual NHL experience.

The alternative would have been to at least give Krueger a full training camp and this season (because the team did move up the standings and show improvement under him) with Eakins as his associate coach.

MacT made this move to "take the team to the next level" and to bring the team under a coach with a philosophy closer to his own. MacT has to own this decision and if I was him, if the team doesn't play close to .500 hockey between now and new year's with the addition of Bryzgalov, mercifully let Eakins go and step behind the bench for the balance of the season.

How can you say that anyone is learning in this environment? In fact, morale has never been lower, and the only option to trading 23 players is to fire the coaches, and while you are at it, include the assistants and the president of hockey operations.

Avatar
#27 D-Unit
November 14 2013, 10:00AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

@Sutter

I agree. Only going to have Rookie NHL coaches trying to get a shot in the big to coach this "team". Maybe a coach who has been out of the league for a while would. Sign a 3 year deal, coach part of one and collect cheques for the rest of the contact. The Oilers are definitely not a stepping stone to a full-time NHL head coaching job at this point.

Avatar
#28 Archaeologuy
November 14 2013, 10:02AM
Trash it!
8
trashes
Cheers
38
cheers

Too many coaches have been turfed. Even if Eakins does a few things that I disagree with, he isn't the problem. In fact, changing coaches every year likely IS one of the major problems. So if I'm the Oilers then I'm sticking with Eakins.

What I WOULD do is fire Bucky and Smith then give Eakins Carte Blanche to hire the staff he needs to be successful. These ex Oilers have survived a couple coaching changes. It's ridiculous.

Avatar
#29 Walter Sobchak
November 14 2013, 10:05AM
Trash it!
10
trashes
Cheers
18
cheers

JW all those coaches were already successful at some point in there careers before they had bad starts. Eakins has no sample size.

I don't care how many coaches have been through here!!

Eakins cannot be allowed to continue this gong show!!

Two 5-3 and he never put Yakupov on one! The guy is holding a grudge, how do you not put the purest shooter on a 5-3??

It cost the Oilers the game!!!

He hasn’t done very much right since he got the job.

Allowing this to continue is going to cost MacTavish and Lowe their jobs, in the interest of self-preservation I would fire Eakins after the San Jose game in which the Oilers get throttled 6-1, if MacTavish has any kind of foresight

Avatar
#30 sizzay
November 14 2013, 10:05AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
8
cheers

There will be no major moves for a defenseman because the plan all along was to wait for Klefbom and Nurse. Add Ekblad (possibly) to that list now.

I hope we stand a chance at getting Kulemin or Steve Ott in the offseason, but I won't hold my breath.

Avatar
#31 Lochenzo
November 14 2013, 10:07AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
8
cheers

One coaching move I am curious about is why we haven't seen Hall, RNH and Eberle together more frequently and for an extended period of time. Putting that line together has pulled this team out of the fire in the past. This should be an especially obvious move given the number of goose eggs this team has laid over the past few weeks.

Avatar
#32 pkam
November 14 2013, 10:09AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
6
cheers

@Rick

I don't think Todd Nelson will be interested to be an NHL assistant coach. He had been a NHL assistant coach with the Trashers. I believe he'll rather be an AHL head coach and waiting for that NHL head coach job.

Avatar
#33 Ultimate Warrior
November 14 2013, 10:09AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
17
cheers

Assistant GM from Pittsburgh is available for hire. I would love to see Jason Botterill in Edmonton, since he understands what a winning team looks like.

Oh wait, doesn't meet criteria 1: Being an Old Oiler

Avatar
#34 Rod from Viking
November 14 2013, 10:10AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

@vetinari

Renny also showed some emotion on the bench.

Avatar
#35 Lochenzo
November 14 2013, 10:11AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers
sizzay wrote:

There will be no major moves for a defenseman because the plan all along was to wait for Klefbom and Nurse. Add Ekblad (possibly) to that list now.

I hope we stand a chance at getting Kulemin or Steve Ott in the offseason, but I won't hold my breath.

Sadly, that's the only thing that brings me some satisfaction at this point. Dreaming of a future Oiler blueline of J Schultz, Klefbom, Nurse...and Ekblad.

Avatar
#36 Mac962
November 14 2013, 10:11AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
24
cheers

I just have to say - i never ever ever expected to be sitting here on November 14th - talking like this. Unreal - i love my Oilers like most of us but am truly ticked right off and feel violated almost. WTF have you done to our team ? 4-14 ?? Really ? come on man ! 4-14. This is not an expansion team, this is a now storied franchise that is being ruined. And they sit back like scared little puppies afraid to do anything, Fire Buck and Smith - they are easily replaceable - start the shake up now. 4-14 - Who woulda thought. I am sure Hall and Nuge and a few others are being just torn apart inside. Like us.

Hockey gods - we are sorry for dominating the 80's , dont hold it against us any longer, we are sorry for beating everyone like rented mules for years, the torture of payback you have placed upon us has been painful, we are sorry. Stop the torture. Take Kevin Lowe - Take Bucky - Take Smith- help MACT make a trade. I give up, no more pain.

Avatar
#37 Lowe Expectations
November 14 2013, 10:13AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
12
cheers

Mark Twain "It isn't the size of a dog in a fight, but the size of the fight in the dog". The Oilers are nothing but lap poodles who have either size or fight. I really feel sorry for the people who pay hard earned money to actually go to watch this. They don't score, they don't hit & heaven forbid they don't fight. It's like that guy in the office that charms the receptionist, has lots to say at the water cooler, smiles a lot but at the end of the day has actually accomplished nothing.

Avatar
#38 Walter Sobchak
November 14 2013, 10:14AM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
8
cheers
Archaeologuy wrote:

Too many coaches have been turfed. Even if Eakins does a few things that I disagree with, he isn't the problem. In fact, changing coaches every year likely IS one of the major problems. So if I'm the Oilers then I'm sticking with Eakins.

What I WOULD do is fire Bucky and Smith then give Eakins Carte Blanche to hire the staff he needs to be successful. These ex Oilers have survived a couple coaching changes. It's ridiculous.

You honestly believe Eakins has full authority in decision making?

Then explain why players such as Gagner - Schultz - Hall - Eberle - have not sat one minute, even benched a period?

Ether Eakins is talking out his ass about accountability or he was told to keep playing certain players.

Not to mention his systems have failed both offensively and defensively, poor player decisions, poor PK, poor PP, poor goalie decisions, he was actually bullied into letting his backup goalie return to the net.

His shot differential is league worse, his goal for and goals against are the worst. THIS IS the worst Oiler team ever!!!! That says a lot when Pat Flippen Quinn is a better coach!!!!!

What actually qualifies this guy as a good coach? What qualifies him as a coach that should stay? Has he earned the right to stay!

MacTavish made a poor decision, it’s that easy, that simple.

It is the coach, keeping him in doesn’t make the team better!!

Avatar
#39 jt in Oilertown
November 14 2013, 10:15AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
20
cheers

@outdoorzguy

Post of the year, with one small edit. The new arena will be called Rexall Suppository (considering what will come out of it).

Avatar
#40 pkam
November 14 2013, 10:16AM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers
Ultimate Warrior wrote:

Assistant GM from Pittsburgh is available for hire. I would love to see Jason Botterill in Edmonton, since he understands what a winning team looks like.

Oh wait, doesn't meet criteria 1: Being an Old Oiler

Dallas Eakins is an Old Oiler?

Avatar
#41 DSF
November 14 2013, 10:17AM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
14
cheers
Lochenzo wrote:

Sadly, that's the only thing that brings me some satisfaction at this point. Dreaming of a future Oiler blueline of J Schultz, Klefbom, Nurse...and Ekblad.

Have you seen J. Schultz play defense?

Avatar
#42 Bryzarro World
November 14 2013, 10:22AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
11
cheers

Is it too late to let Katz move the team still? We'd have a good team in here and the best part, NO KLOWE!!

Avatar
#43 **
November 14 2013, 10:22AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

I wonder what's the line in the sand, if there is any at all, for MCtavish to conclude he made a mistake and it is time to fire the coach.

Avatar
#44 Rama Lama
November 14 2013, 10:26AM
Trash it!
7
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

It looks like Mac T threw the baby out with the bath water.........I'm certain it was not premeditated. He should have kept Krueger and brought in others to mark the x and o's.

It's not that Dallas Eakins does not have any potential.........just like bringing in young hockey players and teaching them the professional game so too should have Eakins........maybe an assistant coach to start off with?

We were all led to believe that he had multiple systems and it now appears he has NO systems.......or at least no NHL systems. HIs Ego, has prevented him from admitting he does not know what to do next.

Here is an idea Dallas, how about run-and-gun hockey. If we have all this offence, why try and teach them defence so we can win games 1 to 0 or 2 to 1? Since no players including the veterans can understand your systems, why not try something bold?

Bring on Brent Sutter as the coach and hire Wayne Gretzky as an advisor for offence.

Avatar
#45 outdoorzguy
November 14 2013, 10:28AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers
Muller wrote:

Something has to change....

"Bold Moves" or "Consequences"??

Avatar
#46 Mike Krushelnyski
November 14 2013, 10:30AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers
Muller wrote:

Something has to change....

Except it won't be what needs to change. The management is the biggest problem and the only facet of the club that is untouchable. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.

Avatar
#47 birdieman
November 14 2013, 10:31AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

Fire the Coach really how can any one make decisions with Lowe & mCtavish looking over his shoulder. I believe Tom Renny was not a yes man and had to go I along with many others feel it is time to let go of the 80's with X oiler players and start fresh they (Lowe) has added Messier to the fold as an advisor. Tom renny was very well liked by fans and players. This has gone on for to many years.

Frustrated

Avatar
#48 Lawndemon
November 14 2013, 10:32AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

@DSF

No. No I have not...

... and I have (sadly) watched every game this year.

Avatar
#49 Mike Krushelnyski
November 14 2013, 10:32AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
Last one out, turn off the lights. wrote:

Well. If this keeps up, the team will be playing in front of your said "ghosts".

I think available evidence points to the contrary. I would say it would take 5 more years of this horrendous suckage before you see attendance drop off, but factor in excitement over the new arena and it changes to 10.

Avatar
#50 -30-
November 14 2013, 10:32AM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

I don't see any bold moves until the trade deadline.

Our assests (players) are at an all time low. Why lose value on trades this early in the season when tradeable assets like Eberle will be worth substantially more to a team looking for his skills to make a playoff push?

The makeup of the team will change. It's been stated over and over again here that the top lines are too much of the same thing.

Eberle is gone before the season's end.

-30-

Comments are closed for this article.