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 Bleak Winter
November 15 2013, 12:26PM
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reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan) wrote:

So he wants to show he needs conistency at the head coach position yet he fired Krueger after 1 season... C'MON people. His contradictions in what he says to what he does shows that he is a horrible manager.

What a complete joke. Dumbest organization in professional sport?? If not we gotta be in the running

The scary part of that is by extrapolation, it sets up Bucky or Smith as the replacement head coach if Eakins needs to go. That's the only "continuity" left available to MacT. Those boys are entrenched though so if it happens, its for the next three to five years. The writing is on the wall.

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#102 Smokey
November 15 2013, 12:52PM
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I'm torn on firing Eakins because I can credence in the argument for continuity, however is this a continuance of mediocrity, bad systems play, non-existent accountability. My argument against this is its as low as she's going to go. The bottom has dropped out. There will be an improvement this season and maybe next regardless, because there has to be. Its not going to make a difference for this year if you change the management, coaches or culture. It is important for next year.

Katz needs to say to his fan base your valued. That goes for even us second tier guys like me who watch 1 game a year and buy Oilers goodies. Katz also needs to say to other players and other organizations we are no longer a Mickey Mouse organization.

New culture and direction will help remove the foul stench of Kevin Lowe, and MacT's arrogance and incompetence. Managers with track record and coaches with a proven approach are needed to attract and retain talent. Building through the draft is going to take more time when you can't augment your line-up with veterans who contribute and lead.

Lastly, as a fan I will support the Oiler's, because I lived through the Pocklington Houston threats and dwindling crowds. But this type of loyalty has created entitlement, and a carte blanche with these guys. Maybe its because these guys have never been regular Joes and can't live without their big SUV's and paychecks

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#103 OilCanFan
November 15 2013, 12:56PM
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Spydyr wrote:

I agree Arcobello should be playing ahead of Gagner.

Arcobello has been the most pleasant surprise this year.He does play with heart .That being said he is just too small.Moving forward where would you play him.If you have Nuge as your first line center I would like some size with the second line center.Arcobello is not a third of fourth line center.He just does not fit IMHO moving forward.

What they really need is the elusive 3-1 trade with for once in decades the best player coming here.

I don't mind him on the second line or third line depending on what you have. I'd prefer 3 lines of offense maybe with Gordon on the 4th. If we could replace Arcobello with the same thing but bigger, sure; size, heart, and skill should always trump just heart and skill. The issue I see is who will take all the little guys and trade us a bigger Arcobello type?

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#104 Zarny
November 15 2013, 01:28PM
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2004Z06 wrote:

First of all remove Gordon from your list. He has done everything asked of him.

If you still think Gagner is a legit top 2 centerman then I am afraid it may be you that is delusional.

Arcobello is eating Gagner's lunch in every aspect of the game right now for 1/5th the salary.

Yes, Gordon has done everything asked of him. I really like Gordon. He's a great 3rd line C but he's not a 1-2 C in the NHL which is what he had to play until Nuge & Gagner came back.

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

And when Gagner's 100% healthy he's much better than Arcobello who will never be a top 2 C in the NHL.

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#105 Geoff
November 15 2013, 01:34PM
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So Jonathan if Eakins isn't a fit anymore who would be? I can't imagine the bench being coached by MacT himself or Lowe. Would the Oilers consider re hiring Tom Renney?

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#106 Chongler
November 15 2013, 02:09PM
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As fans, we need to rally behind this team. This is our team and like it or not, we are a part of it. It sucks watching them lose, and it really sucks watching them take 1 step forward and 3 steps back, but we, as fans NEED to get behind them. It's obvious we care, otherwise we wouldn't be reading blogs, tweeting and just so damn frustrated and pissed off about the whole situation. The Coach needs time, the management isn't going anywhere and can obviously identify the need for certain player types. As fans, we DO deserve a winning team, we've stuck it out this long and the road ahead seems worse than its ever been, but we have to keep telling ourselves that it will only get better-it HAS to get better... Don't go out and pay money to boo the team, step up and cheer for them, they aren't going to hear the cheers and think "Hey these fans are okay with us losing, so its no big deal, right?" They are going to hear the cheers and realize WHAT and WHO it is that they are playing for, they will find that extra bit inside each and every one of them that will turn this slump around, and when the losing stops, the party can FINALLY begin.

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#107 Wonger
November 15 2013, 02:21PM
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Chongler wrote:

As fans, we need to rally behind this team. This is our team and like it or not, we are a part of it. It sucks watching them lose, and it really sucks watching them take 1 step forward and 3 steps back, but we, as fans NEED to get behind them. It's obvious we care, otherwise we wouldn't be reading blogs, tweeting and just so damn frustrated and pissed off about the whole situation. The Coach needs time, the management isn't going anywhere and can obviously identify the need for certain player types. As fans, we DO deserve a winning team, we've stuck it out this long and the road ahead seems worse than its ever been, but we have to keep telling ourselves that it will only get better-it HAS to get better... Don't go out and pay money to boo the team, step up and cheer for them, they aren't going to hear the cheers and think "Hey these fans are okay with us losing, so its no big deal, right?" They are going to hear the cheers and realize WHAT and WHO it is that they are playing for, they will find that extra bit inside each and every one of them that will turn this slump around, and when the losing stops, the party can FINALLY begin.

I'm in! I LOVE THE OILERS - how could a true, blue fan cheer for anyone else! I've been going to games since 1978!!! - GO OILERS!!!! GO MAC T!!!! GO EAKINS!!!! NOW LET's GET SOME SIZE, GRIT and a big SCOOP OF NASTINESS to complement this SMALL, SKILLED , a little SOFT lineup!

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#108 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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#109 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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#110 pkam
November 15 2013, 10:54AM
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James wrote:

Again. MacT can't complain about the coaching carousel then fire a coach who had 48 games with the club. If he wanted to fire him then fine, so be it. But don't complain about the number of coaches when you're part of that problem.

And if his master plan is that "hopefully things will settle down", we're all in for a tough go.

The hiring of Eakins started like this. Kureger told MacT that he needed an associate coach. But instead of him searching for the associate coach himself, he left this to MacT. This is where Kureger shot himself in the foot.

In the process of searching for the associate coach, MacT interviewed Eakins and felt he was a better candidate than Kureger. So what should MacT do? Keep Kureger for another year or 2 then fire him and switch to Eakins? If he likes Eakins more, shouldn't he make the change then instead of waiting for the change to happen a year or a few month later?

When I said things settle down, I means his plan. If items on his plan hasn't been accomplished, then we should finish them ASAP. And hopefully it works and we won't need big changes, like management, coaches and core players.

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#111 James
November 15 2013, 11:12AM
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pkam wrote:

The hiring of Eakins started like this. Kureger told MacT that he needed an associate coach. But instead of him searching for the associate coach himself, he left this to MacT. This is where Kureger shot himself in the foot.

In the process of searching for the associate coach, MacT interviewed Eakins and felt he was a better candidate than Kureger. So what should MacT do? Keep Kureger for another year or 2 then fire him and switch to Eakins? If he likes Eakins more, shouldn't he make the change then instead of waiting for the change to happen a year or a few month later?

When I said things settle down, I means his plan. If items on his plan hasn't been accomplished, then we should finish them ASAP. And hopefully it works and we won't need big changes, like management, coaches and core players.

Why shouldn't he make the change? Because he says he wants stability. What if he talks to someone else and likes him a little more than Eakins? Do we just keep doing this forever?

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#112 pkam
November 15 2013, 11:33AM
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James wrote:

Why shouldn't he make the change? Because he says he wants stability. What if he talks to someone else and likes him a little more than Eakins? Do we just keep doing this forever?

I want to response to your earlier comment. MacT never complain about Kureger. In the press conference, he said he found a better candidate for the head coach.

I have pointed out that MacT started a new chapter when he became the GM. New GM, new VP of hockey operation, and expecting a new associate coach and lots of new players. It he found a coach in his opinion better than the current one he had, wouldn't it be the perfect time to make the change instead of later?

You make changes when you believe the change will benefit the team. If MacT finds someone else he thinks will benefit the team, do you think he should make the change?

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#113 Newj
November 15 2013, 12:30PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Exactly, along with Hemsky, Jones,Smyth,Arcobello,Larsen,N.Schultz and Potter.

Yak, Hall, Ebs and the Nuge should be the only small skilled guys in the forward group.

Find some players with heart, grit a will to win and for the once in a generation some mean.

This team has been soft for far to long.Time to bring in some players that are no fun to pay against.Some nasty.

and Perron? where's his future in your assessment? Some will say St Louis was dumping salary, my take is that may have been partially true but the Blues are built around size.Perron didnt match up in that category.

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#114 Johe
November 15 2013, 12:34PM
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Drake wrote:

Mact T called out Eakins by saying Oilers have made Junior hockey mistakes. Safe for now but short leash

He said they started the year making junior mistakes but there has been progress, thanks mostly to the coaching. So no, I don't think there is a short leash. I bet money Eakins is here all year. Whether that is right or wrong is up for debate.

However, if winning doesn't happen very soon, MacTavish must do SOMETHING. He said he's impatient. He also said on the latest Oil Change episode that talk is cheap. So I say- enough talk. If you really want to turn this around, take action. Trade Yakupov. Trade Hemsky. Trade J Schultz. Trade the first pick. If wins don't start coming immediately(I still hold out a sliver of hope), this team needs to be renovated significantly. Change the dynamic. Change the makeup. Sooner rather than later. Oil fans honestly deserve so much better.

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#115 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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#116 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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#117 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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