The dreaded vote of confidence

Jonathan Willis
November 15 2013 09:42AM

Yesterday, Craig MacTavish spoke to the media about the Edmonton Oilers’ performance. Among other items, he made it clear that he still has confidence in head coach Dallas Eakins.

After uttering similar lines during his availability and stressing the need for stability behind the bench, MacTavish told Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now that he “really couldn’t be happier with the coaching.”

The Vote of Confidence

The interesting thing about the managerial vote of confidence is that it often seems to precede the firing of said coach in short order. There are, I think, a couple of reasons for that.

The biggest is that managers don’t have to give coaches with good records a vote of confidence. Reporters don’t generally ask whether guys like Jon Cooper or Joel Quenneville are going to get fired; it’s obvious that they’re safe. Columnists don’t speculate on the safety of Todd McLellan or Dan Bylsma, at least not when those teams are winning, because there’s no question that the results support their continued employment.

So by the time the manager is in a position to opine on his head coach, there’s something in the record that suggests said head coach should be fired. And as a general rule, the media will always be ready to fire the coach before management is, which means that even when the coach is going to be fired there’s often a period of time when the media thinks he could be and the manager wants to hang on a little longer to see if the coach can turn things around.

The other reason is a simple trick of memory: we tend to remember the contradicition of a general manager supporting his coach and then firing him a week or two later, while we don't necessarily remember the close call that turned out okay.

Eakins

The thing keeping Dallas Eakins safe right now isn’t necessarily Craig MacTavish’s public statement, and it certainly isn’t the record or the underlying performance of his team (both of which are awful at the moment). It’s history.

Too many coaches in Edmonton have fallen by the wayside. The traditional point of reference is Sam Gagner; he’s just started his seventh season with the Oilers and he’s on his fifth head coach. It's ridiculous. 

There has been too much turnover, and other things need to change before the coaching does.

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Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#101 75ers
November 15 2013, 03:32PM
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Look who's coaching these talented offensive kids. No wonder they don't have a chance. Goals build confidence, confidence builds desire, desire builds a team. With no goals we have no hope for this group.

1. Eakins - NHL Career grinder 2. MacT - NHL Career grinder / checker 3. Lowe - NHL Career Defensemen 4. Steve Smith - NHL Career Defensive Defensemen 5. Kelly Buchberger - NHL Career grinder 5. Keith Acton - Checking Faceoff Guy 6. Fred Chabot - Carrer AHL Goalie

Not one talented offensive minded guy in the bunch. Swarm, how stupid, sounds like something from JR High Girls Basketball (No offence intended) those girls play with more heart than this hockey team.

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#102 2004Z06
November 15 2013, 04:07PM
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@Zarny

God I hate that on pace crap! Until he does it for real, I don't want to hear it.

His production could have completely fallen off a cliff in the second half and likely would have based on his career numbers. One good 48 game stretch is not justification for your argument. Look at his career numbers as a whole.

Purely point totals are not an accurate depiction of a centermans legitimacy either.

Gagner is likely a decent point producing winger, but with the added defensive, puck possession and face off responsibilities of the position of centerman, he is awful.

I am not saying he isn't a decent player, but he is a horrible centerman. We won't even discuss his +/-, his lack of back checking ability or his size.

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#103 The Swarm
November 15 2013, 04:09PM
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I would be the first to admit this year, thus far, has been a diaster, but I keep hearing how the Oilers re-build has been 8-years. Where did this "8-year" thing originate from? The first obvious observation is that they were 1 game away from winning the cup in 2006, which is 7-years ago, so were they re-building as they went to the final too? It is safe to say 1-year after almost winning the cup, they were not re-building, which would have been the 2006/07 season.  The following two seasons they had winning records and still had the core from their 2005/06 roster (Hemsky, Horcoff, Pisani, Roloson, etc.., with the exception of Pronger and other spare parts).  I wouldn't constitute these years as re-building years either, as they were still chasing the latest free agents and were not focused on the draft at all (largely due to Lowe trying to repeat his success with acquiring Pronger, Roloson, Pecka, and Samsonov).

That brings us to the 2009/10 season, when clearly they began to stop chasing free agents (Vanek, Hossa, Nylander, Heatley) and build the team again through the draft.  That would be 4 years ago, so the 8-year re-build is "just a little bit outside".

The blue print for the shift in strategy was the Hawks, who last qualified for the playoffs in 2001/02 prior to their break out season in 2008/2009, which is 7-years.  It's interesting to note when the key pieces of their Stanley Cup team were drafted or signed:

2002 - Keith drafted  2003 - Seabrook/Byfuglien drafted 2006 - Toews drafted 2007  - Kane drafted 2008 - Campbell signed 2009 - Hawks have first winning record since 01/02 2010 - Hawks win the Cup

So you can see, it doesn't happen overnight.

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#104 2004Z06
November 15 2013, 04:10PM
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#Six Rings wrote:

"Gagner was on pace for 65 pts last year and finished 34th in scoring for F so yes he's a legit #2 C. "

A "legit" second line center should also have some semblance of defensive awareness and abilities to go along with offensive skills. Does watching the play while standing still make him a "legit" second line center?

Not only has Gagner never topped 50 points in the NHL, after seven seasons he still has the defensive acumen of a bantam player.

To suggest Sam Gagner is a "legit" second line center based on projected point totals for one shortened season while ignoring all of the glaring deficiencies in his defensive game that have been there since day one is nothing short of intentional ignorance.

Amen!

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#105 2004Z06
November 15 2013, 04:10PM
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Anyone know what Gagner is "on pace" for this year?.....Exactly!

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#106 match16
November 15 2013, 04:23PM
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Lowe Expectations wrote:

This team simply put has too many perimeter players. Not that players like this can't be valuable to a team, this one is overloaded with them. For me, other than Hall & RNH every other player on the current roster is available for trade. It's time to start the overhaul of this roster, as the way it's currently built will never be successful.

I don't know why the management of the Oilers would be so afraid of trading some assets. One of the reasons you draft the most talented player available rather than for positional need is that the more talent a player has the more value in return you'll receive.

This. That 5 on 3 vs Dallas was a perfect example. ALL 5 guys were on the perimiter... Even though Hall fed Perron with a nice pass in the slot, Lehtonen had clear vision and was able to easily snag the puck out of the air. Need some bodies in front...

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#107 birdieman
November 15 2013, 04:34PM
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@75ers

I think Tom Renny had these kids on the right track. Oh have you heard messier is back in the fold...go figure.

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#108 Geoff
November 15 2013, 04:58PM
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Why did renney get fired anyways?

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#109 Johnnydapunk
November 15 2013, 08:28PM
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They just mentioned that Bryzgalov has been shelled for 5 goals in 27 shots in his first AHL game, oh dear....

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#110 Pouzar99
November 15 2013, 08:30PM
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In MacT's own words - "If you have to ask the question, you know the answer."

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#111 Tayranchula
November 15 2013, 11:04PM
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Hey Willis,

Just wondering did you ever play hockey growing up and if did was it any competitive hockey?

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#112 Bryzarro World
November 16 2013, 05:21AM
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2004Z06 wrote:

Free tickets or not, I have not and will not go to a game. That is the main problem here. People bitching about change at the top yet still selling out the building.

And before the Tier one fans comment, no one is asking you to give up your season tix, just boycott a game or two.

The images on T.V. of a half empty building (normally standing room only) combined with the loss in parking/concession/merchandise revenue would send a very clear message to ownership.

Further to that a petition was put forward to have Lowe fired. Last count 58 signatures!!!

Have yet to hear the "fire Lowe" chants reverberating through my television speakers as well. Has anyone walked into the Oilers office demanding a refund?

Step up, or shut up!

Gave mine up 2 years ago. I've had them for 14 years and they were in the family since 1980. Had enough of this garbage. 10g plus a year for excuses is more than I can handle. I'll travel more instead of staring at a screen and wishing I played hockey.

More to life than watching a bunch of chickens running around without heads men...

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#113 Bryzarro World
November 16 2013, 05:48AM
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#Six Rings wrote:

"Gagner was on pace for 65 pts last year and finished 34th in scoring for F so yes he's a legit #2 C. "

A "legit" second line center should also have some semblance of defensive awareness and abilities to go along with offensive skills. Does watching the play while standing still make him a "legit" second line center?

Not only has Gagner never topped 50 points in the NHL, after seven seasons he still has the defensive acumen of a bantam player.

To suggest Sam Gagner is a "legit" second line center based on projected point totals for one shortened season while ignoring all of the glaring deficiencies in his defensive game that have been there since day one is nothing short of intentional ignorance.

Looks like Zarny just got fed its lunch... lmfao!!

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#114 Murray
November 16 2013, 05:51AM
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@75ers

OK the way I see it is the oilers have drafted very poorly, The picks they made suck, can not play together with no chemistry, and that is the coaches fault , thanks

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#115 Hammer
November 16 2013, 09:22AM
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Option# 1 Oilers trade Gagner, Hemsky, 1st round for Weber

Option#2 Oilers trade Gagner, Hemsky, Eberle for Weber

Lets wait and see!!!

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#116 Dockstaff
November 16 2013, 12:54PM
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75ers wrote:

Look who's coaching these talented offensive kids. No wonder they don't have a chance. Goals build confidence, confidence builds desire, desire builds a team. With no goals we have no hope for this group.

1. Eakins - NHL Career grinder 2. MacT - NHL Career grinder / checker 3. Lowe - NHL Career Defensemen 4. Steve Smith - NHL Career Defensive Defensemen 5. Kelly Buchberger - NHL Career grinder 5. Keith Acton - Checking Faceoff Guy 6. Fred Chabot - Carrer AHL Goalie

Not one talented offensive minded guy in the bunch. Swarm, how stupid, sounds like something from JR High Girls Basketball (No offence intended) those girls play with more heart than this hockey team.

This makes absolutely zero sense. Quenville - defensive defenseman, 190 career pts; rest of Blackhawk coaching staff were defense and grinders, Stan Bowman never played pro hockey; Bylsma - gridner/forward; Hitchcock - never played, most defensive minded coach in the league, all five Sutter brothers, the list goes on. In fact the high scoring players turn coaches/GMs normally do rather poorly.

Try again

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#117 Dockstaff
November 16 2013, 01:05PM
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@OilCanFan

Hall isn't a "small" guy. At 6'1, 190 he's the same size as about half the guys in the league and will get bigger as he matures.

Arcobello has earned his place. One of the few guys on that team that hasn't been given anything and had to fight for every minute he's played. Move him to 2nd line C, and Gagner to the wing!!

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