BUILDING A WINNER

Jason Gregor
December 16 2013 11:36AM

The Oilers, and specifically GM Craig MacTavish, must devise a plan on how to build a winner. It is clear the Oilers aren't any closer to winning now than they were last year or the year before. The coaching carousel has led to instability and new systems which hasn't helped, but the current roster is not built to win. I'm curious to know how MacTavish plans to build this team, so that eventually they become competitive sometime this decade.

There is no guaranteed path to success, but every successful franchise maintains some core values and a solid foundation.
Do the Oilers know what their foundation is?
Do they have core values?

MacTavish has only been in charge for eight months, so it is too early to say if his plan is working, but he has shown a willingness to share parts of his plan with his fan base. He wanted to make bold moves this past summer, and while some of his moves were solid, none of them registered very high on the "Bold" scale.

I believe the biggest challenge for MacTavish is to create an identity for the Oilers. They don't have one, and they haven't had one for years.

Teams like Red Wings, Penguins, Blackhawks and Sharks are skilled and responsible defensively.

The Kings and Ducks are built on size.
The Canucks have skill, but they are chippy, chirpy and aggravating.
The Bruins are big, tough, rugged and skilled.

The great teams all possess different qualities of course, but most of them have one obvious trait.

Right now the Oilers identity seems to be based on youth, and that is not a recipe for success.

CHIARELLI....

I had the chance to speak with Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli when the Bruins were in town last week, and we started off asking him about his philosophy on how to build a winning team? (my thoughts will be in italics)

Chiarelli: For me it’s about finding character guys and sometimes you have to sacrifice in other areas, other playing attributes, even skill. You can’t ignore skill; it’s a very important component of building a hockey team. I like to say to our scouts, ‘find character in skilled guys, they express their character in other ways, not traditionally, like a huge puck battle or a huge hit or those kinds of traditional ways you’re used to seeing.  

That’s really the common denominator. A sometimes guys that don’t buy in, you have to move guys like that and sometimes you have to sacrifice some skill for character. So that’s kind of what we try to do. Sometimes as a result of that we lose a little bit of speed and I always seem to be trying to find more speed, either in how we play or in personnel. So, we don’t have a magic formula, we just get good guys that want to play and compete hard, and have a good goalie. [Laughs]  

***He mentioned sometimes you have to sacrifice skill for character. You wonder if he was referring to Tyler Seguin, however, that philosophy is exactly what MacTavish will need to emulate in the not to distant future. It is evident that having a lot of offensive skill is great, but if you don't have a good blueline or complementary players surrounding your skill, it is extremely difficult to win.***

Gregor: When you came over from Ottawa and took over, you signed free agent Zdeno Chara. You guys didn’t have instant success right away, but was your plan to build around him?  

Chiarelli: I wanted a defensive pillar more or less. A dominant defensive player and then we were fortunate in Boston, and that certainly was no plan of mine, was that when [Tim] Thomas started hitting his peak later in his career. That gave us two significant defensive players, but following the first year I had to fire Dave Lewis, a very good defensive coach.

I was fortunate that Tim was hitting his peak, that Claude (Julien) was available and that we had one of the best defensive players in the league in Chara. So you have a large part of your team and concept already in place. Those were kind of our stepping stones. [Patrice] Bergeron was already there, a terrific two way player and so the two-way component, the character component was largely in place, or at least the majority of it was in place in the beginning years.

***Chiarelli is being very humble. Bringing in Chara solidified the foundation for this team. Without him, I doubt the Bruins become the dominant team we see today.***  

Gregor: The Bruins have drafted many of your core guys in Bergeron, [Milan] Lucic, [Brad] Marchand and [David] Krejci,  but interestingly enough on your back end, aside from Dougie Hamilton, you built through trades and free agency. Was that by design, or is that just how it worked out. How come you seem to build your team forwards within the draft, but build your blueline through trades and free agency?  

Chiarelli: You have to draft well and use those pieces as either pieces in your team or pieces to acquire other pieces. I think when they dissect our team; you see a lot of the trades that we’ve made. A lot of the trades that we’ve made, we’ve either used draft picks or drafted players. We’ve had to draft well so that those players have some value.  

On the defensive side, I’m just going back over my head acquisitions after… [Dennis] Seidenberg is a player that we really tracked and wanted because of his hardness. And [Adam] McQuaid was an earlier trade, but you can say that we drafted him because he was still in junior when we got him.  

I don’t know if it was planned out, but maybe we didn’t have those defensive players and out of necessity we had to look harder to find those types of players. You make due with what you have, you work hard and where you think you can find those players. Traditionally drafting and keeping those players is the ideal way, and every GM wants to do that, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.

***Chiarelli has moved Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin out of Boston. Those are two very skilled players, but the Bruins are still one of the best teams in the league. He isn't afraid to make tough decisions.***  

Brownlee: I’m wondering in the case of Chara was there some cross over between your time in Ottawa and Boston where you knew something specific about him, and were you feeling pretty good that he would become the dominant force he is?  

Chiarelli: I always go by the rule that, maybe I don’t always apply it, but I try to, that if you are going to sign guys to long terms and big amounts of money you want to know him. I worked in Ottawa and I was a part of the group that acquired Chara in a trade, so I know him very, very well, so certainly I felt comfortable recommending that we sign him. It turned out to be the right move.

***He had the luxury of knowing Chara personally before signing him, and I think it is fair to say that Steve Tambellini's free agent track record was awful. MacTavish's has been better, Ference and Gordon, but not perfect, and I think the Oilers need to do a better job when it comes to acquiring NHL veterans. 

Do the Oilers have an organizational philosophy? Do they know what type of players and people they want to bring in? Prior to MacTavish's hiring it looked like they didn't. I'm curious to see if MacTavish and Eakins will move out some players this season/summer who don't fit with their plans. They will need to make some tough decisions, and start building a foundation, because right now there doesn't seem to be one in place.***
 

Gregor: Jay Feaster being fired in Calgary might impact Boston because a lot of people are speculating about one of your right hand men, Jim Benning, Give us some insight on him. I know that you wouldn’t want to lose him, but most great organizations usually lose guys in those positions to other organizations. What’s his best asset in a management role? What has he done to help you guys out the most in Boston?  

Chiarlelli: I’ll address is the first part of your question, and I think that’s a very accurate statement. It’s a compliment to us that they are calling on these guys and we have another one in Don Sweeney who is entirely capable of being a manager in this league. It attracts better younger people to our group. Specifically on Jim, it’s been a lot about gaining experience. He’s obviously an Edmonton boy and I went to school with his brother Mark, I know the Bennings very well.

He has an uncanny book of players. He sees players in a very good way for team building. He understands character, he understands projections, he’s spent a lot of time amateur scouting, he played a significant role in helping us to build our team, he understands how players fit, he understands that you’re not always going to get a perfect player.

That’s the most important thing that most managers know is that you are not ever going to get a perfect player. So you have to see where those assets are going to fit into your group. He is a very trusted component of our management group; I have a lot of respect for Jim. He’d be a good addition anywhere.

***Winning teams usually provide good people for other franchises. Many people believe Benning is ready to be a GM, and I won't be surprised if he is a finalist for the next few jobs that become available.***  

Brownlee: Peter, curious about what you would consider the kind of resume that makes for a successful GM. We have former players that go on and become GM. Some are successful, some are not. You have a law background, and with Ottawa you were an assistant GM for two years and spent five years as part of the front office. What part of your background do you feel has served you the best during your tenure as General Manager?  

Chiarelli: I think just the ability to have experience in all facets of the game. Obviously I have a certain skill set that not every GM does, but I know a lot of GMs that can do what I do just as well by the legal side of it, meaning the problem solving we can see and all of that stuff.

My experience has just been contracts, arbitration, scouting and free agent signing and all of those things have given me the ability to have gain experience. I think that is very important. There is not one specific model that’s good. I know a lot of GMs that never had the education that I had, that are smarter than me. These guys have experience and they just have street smarts. I think you need to recognize your weakness, recognize your strength and work hard. For me the experience I’ve learned breaths patience, because you see things in history repeat themselves. 

WRAP UP...

It is obvious that Chiarelli likes big, heavy, skilled players, but he also wants guys who are strong two-way players. He admitted he'd like to inject some more speed into his lineup so expect him to do that before the trade deadline. As he said there is no perfect formula, but Chiarelli has built his team around Chara, and he brings in players who fit their style.

MacTavish won't be able to build the Oilers to mirror the Bruins size and truculence, but he needs to have a vision and plan for the future and stick with it.

The Oilers need some stability within their organization. They need to find an identity, and they need to find players that fit what they want for the future. They can't continue to build their team solely around small, skilled forwards. You obviously need skill within your lineup, but the Oilers need to recognize that no team wins with just skill, and the harsh reality is that the Oilers skilled players aren't significantly better than the skilled players on the elite teams.

The Oilers need more than just skill to win; they need to create an identity.

DAY 12...MONTH OF GIVING...

Big thanks to Larry for bidding and to the Eskimos for supplying Friday's VIP package.

Today we have three packages up for grabs.

Package #1:

  • An XBox One...Courtesy of Etelligent Solutions.
    It comes with: Console, Kinect sensor, wireless controller, one chat headset and wireless networking capability.

Package #2:

  • A $500 prepaid American Express gift card
  • A pair of Club seats (section 134, row 13) to the Oiler/Flames game on March 2nd.
  • Courtesy of the good people at Etelligent Solutions.

 PACKAGE #3

  • Four tickets in the Crystal Glass suite (main concourse) on January 21st.
  • Includes two parking passes and complimentary food and beverages.

You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or 1.800.243.1945 between 2-6 p.m. today.

Thanks in advance. All proceeds go to Santas Anonymous.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 DaveChamp
December 16 2013, 11:38AM
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I'm quite sad to admit that I have a real fear that the Oilers are on the path of the Islanders or Thrashers and not the Penguins or Blackhawks. There is so much work to be done on this roster and so many gaping holes. That said, if Nurse and Klefbom develop to their potential, that could be a great first pairing and would solve the biggest problem on the team. Even still, it will take them a few years in the NHL to become great, and that really sucks.

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#2 Rick Stroppel
December 16 2013, 09:45PM
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REALITY CHECK

The NHL record for missing the playoffs is ten years in a row. Happened in Florida, a city with zero hockey history and absolutely minimal fan support. Missing the playoffs this year makes eight years for Edmonton. We are currently 28 out of 30 teams with very little possibility of improving significantly, let alone making the playoffs.

This past summer some reporters had the temerity to ask Kevin Lowe a couple of hard questions. He responded with a hissy fit. One of the many dumb things he said was "half of the teams in the NHL would trade their roster for ours". If that is true, why are we third last?

I consider myself a loyal fan, but this whole situation is getting out of hand. McTavish is facing a terrible dilemma. If he makes the miracle trade for a proven #1 goalie or "stud" defenceman, he has to give up significant current (and possibly future) assets. Given the state of this team, probably all that does for this year is elevate us into the "twilight zone" ie no playoffs and no lottery pick either. On the other hand, I am sensing profound frustration from fans, and also from some of the more important players on this team. If this goes on much longer, Taylor Hall is going to ask for a trade faster than you can say "Rick Nash". Yakupov has the obvious option of the KHL. Free agents will avoid the "Islanders of the west" like the plague.

IMHO, for the sake of the fans, and for the long-term health of the franchise, McTavish has to start making the "bold moves" he so brashly promised not so long ago.

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#3 rindog
December 16 2013, 12:41PM
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@Jason Gregor

What a diffeent vibe from this interview to that of Kevin Lowe last year.

Chiarelli comes across as humble and genuine. Not once did I get a sence of arrogance or cockiness from the interview.

Such a stark contrast to the "there is only one other guy in the NHL today..." and "I think I know a thing or two about winning"

Sad, but this organization is not at a level where it needs to be...

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#4 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 16 2013, 12:20PM
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DaveChamp wrote:

I'm quite sad to admit that I have a real fear that the Oilers are on the path of the Islanders or Thrashers and not the Penguins or Blackhawks. There is so much work to be done on this roster and so many gaping holes. That said, if Nurse and Klefbom develop to their potential, that could be a great first pairing and would solve the biggest problem on the team. Even still, it will take them a few years in the NHL to become great, and that really sucks.

You dont have to Fear it happening my friend. We are the Islanders and Thrashers. A team with no success over an extremely long perios of time amd clueless management inept GM and a lost in the woods coach. Overrated talent poor development.

6 years under Katz has to this point been an unmitigated disaster. The Oilers are now the laughing stock of the NHL. this isn't just my opinion either just look at the lack of repect from opposition

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#5 Ducey
December 16 2013, 12:53PM
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The Bruins can have all the character, size and truculance they want, but if they don't have Chara playing 30 minutes a night, they wouldn't be nearly as successful.

If fact, you plunk Chara on the Oilers, and they are a playoff team.

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#6 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 16 2013, 01:13PM
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Sean17 wrote:

I love watching him, but Eberle is the one that has to go. He will net the biggest return. Also, he has never been a "winner" like Hall. Those Regina teams he was on were awful but, had some talent that should have overcome the shortcomings. But instead Eberle and Weal enjoyed great personal success but no team success. It'll be the same as trading Kessel or Seguin. Not great on paper but, better on ice.

What about his clutch scoring in the world jr.s? not saying he shouldnt be traded but saying eberle cant win isnt quite accurate

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#8 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 16 2013, 01:10PM
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This team will never have consistent success under these circumstances.

Lowe has no clue. he thinks bluster and bullying is how one manages. look at his reaction to getting money from comrie, hios reation on the radio to Al strachan's pronger story

Mact talk out of both sides of his mouth but does it in a way that the media loves. Same as when he coached. MacT is knows that bulls&^t baffles brains. If one wants stability at a position then why did he fire Krueger and not hire him help? Sadly that is all he knows and when you take the entirity of his post playing days this guy has done nothing that resembles long term success.

Howson brought back in after being completely unremarkable in Columbus.

bucky and Smith....jeez what can be said that hasn't already

Frederic Chabot. Which Oiler goalie has he made better?

Islan..err um Oiler mangement has been lost in the desert for so long all they see are mirages

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#9 dougtheslug
December 16 2013, 11:34PM
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On November 3, 2013, as we turned our clocks back from daylight savings time, @Fake Oilers GM tweeted:

"Attention fans: don't forget to turn your Edmonton Oilers rebuild clocks back 4 years."

I thought it was hilarious, but I wasn't taking it seriously at the time. I was still hopelessly deluded. I have now lost all hope, and now I realize that the above tweet is about right.

The Tambo years, aided and abetted of course by KLowe, are now being revealed as utterly disastrous. The Oilers braintrust clearly were operating under the assumption that because Pittsburgh and Chicago sucked for a few years, drafted elite players as a result, and then won Stanley cups, that all that was necessary was to tank, draft first overall, and voila, plan the parade. I'm convinced that is as far as they were looking. They forgot that Chicago was drafting and developing elite dmen, and Pittsburgh had a generational talent that wasn't going to be coming around every draft. And it takes more to build a winner than skilled forwards.

So here we are. Back to the beginning. Maybe an NHL dman in Nurse. But is he Duncan Keith? Brent Seabrook? We all know how unpredictable defensemen develop. Look at out great Swedish hope, Oscar Klefbom. 23 games in the AHL, 3 assists, -11. Not exactly looking like Kris Letang. Or even Marc Giordano.

I guess I should have known the Oilers brass had no plan, when I remember Tambo's spit-eating grin when the Oilers won the lottery 2 years ago. Brian Burke looked angry he was even there, like he was vowing he would never occupy that chair again. Tambo looked as happy as a pig in slop, like it had taken some kind of skill on his part.

Maybe MacT can do something over the next 5 years. Maybe not. But the rebuild didn't start 4 years ago or 6 or 2. It starts now.

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#10 Eddie Shore
December 16 2013, 11:59AM
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Jason, I think the Oilers do have an identity but need it needs to change. Along with the makeup of the team. I think they're know around the league as a team that generates offense with their speed and off the rush. They cannot handle a game where they have to grind out offense and sustain pressure with zone-time and using the cycle. You hear it all the time, "we don't want to get into a track meet with these guys". Unfortunately, this "track-meet" style does not translate into wins in the Western Conference.

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#11 Ed in PV
December 16 2013, 06:09PM
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Gregor

I would love to see a similar article with MAcT as the interview-ee. It's interesting and disturbing that you can get an in depth interview with the Boston GM, but we never get anything of substance from the Oil brass.

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#12 Spoils
December 16 2013, 03:19PM
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we live in a bubble. We got first round picks, but we didn't get a Sydney Crosby or a Wayne Gretzky.

The guys are good and are going to be great, but we have SOOOOO much work to do.

Can't stop thinking about what a Pronger was able to deliver for us.

Which #1D can we pluck from a team that needs scoring. We need someone who is 23-25, young but a true #1.

Not really sure who I wouldn't trade for that.

Nurse and Klefbom are 2-4yrs away from dominating, if they make it. That is A LOT of losing.

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#13 Ducey
December 16 2013, 03:48PM
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Jason wrote:

Eberle for Couturier. I make that trade.

One guy has 16 pts (he is on pace for 39 over 82 games). The other has 29 (he is on pace for 68).

One guy has a had a career high of 27 pts one season. The other's highest point total in a season was 76.

I sure hope your real name isn't MacTavish.

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#14 Mo Playoffs Mo Problems
December 16 2013, 04:08PM
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Ducey wrote:

One guy has 16 pts (he is on pace for 39 over 82 games). The other has 29 (he is on pace for 68).

One guy has a had a career high of 27 pts one season. The other's highest point total in a season was 76.

I sure hope your real name isn't MacTavish.

I hate to speak out of turn, but if I could hazard a guess:

One guy is a solid, defensively responsible, big, strong, affordable center. The Oilers desperately need depth at center and need bigger/defensively competent players.

The other guy is a $6 million/year, undersized winger with sick hands but no grit or defensive awareness to his game. The Oilers already have too many of this type of player.

That being said, and even if Eberle is a better player than Couturier, I honestly doubt that Philly would make this deal as they'd need help to get under the cap with Eberle's $6 million salary.

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#15 CMG30
December 16 2013, 09:57PM
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I have no issues with the Oilers drafting small skilled forwards if they are the best available at the time because they should have the best chance of delivering value in the future.

Having said that, I fully expect that you will move some or all of those guys for the players you really need.

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#16 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
December 16 2013, 10:35PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Savard never played in their Cup run, Seguin dressed for 13 of 25 games.

Please show me one player on the Oilers who plays hard like Marchand? He doesn't play small.

Seidenberg is extremely hard to play against. Stop focusing on height and weight. It is comical that you think the Bruins weren't a big team. No one said the Oilers need every player to be big, but then NEED SOME..IT is a fact. It is obvious when they play. If you don't see this, then I truly question what games you have been watching and how you assess a team.

Campbell plays aggressive. That is playing big. IT ISN'T JUST ABOUT SIZE.

And you forgot to mention that the Bruins had: Chara, Boychuk, McQuaid, Lucic, Horton, Bergeron, Thornton, Ryder...Big, heavy players. Some who played physical, and others who lean on you.

Please tell me how the Oilers could add those three players (Parise, Karlsson, Letang) and still maintain their core group? It wouldn't happen, so it isn't a realistic argument.

Your insistence to believe that the Oilers only need more skill to win is incorrect. All their players are the same, they don't need more of the same.

The teams that win have skill, but they have size and toughness. The Oilers have none of the latter, and their skill is not as good as the elite teams. The Oilers have no dominant two-way forwards in their top six. Cup winning teams do.

Keep believing the Oilers can win with just skill. It hasn't happened and it won't happen.

One Oilers player who plays hard like Marchand is David Perron.

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#17 Sean17
December 16 2013, 01:11PM
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And for everyone that craps on Gagner, let's remember he is one of the few guys who does give a damn IMO. Remember when he dropped the gloves with Beauchemin?! He will actually stand up for guys even though he knew he was gonna get a beat down. Once the jaw is 100% next year, you will see...

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#18 Neal
December 16 2013, 01:31PM
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One thing which has always baffled me is the difference between Lowe the player and Lowe the manager. The same guy that gutted it out with broken ribs in the playoffs built a team with little heart, no work ethic, and soft, small players. Like, he knew what it took to win a playoff series, then as a manager built a team pretty much the opposite. Go figure...

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#19 He Who Knows
December 16 2013, 03:35PM
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Hall is not a leader type, nor the franchise player. He is best suited as the compliment. Eberle should be traded because his value is high and the guy is a more individual player than a team player. Nuge is a franchise player, he needs more time. Yak needs time. Schultz junior has no balls. He also pretends to be a d-man. Definitely use him as trade bait. The Oil should flip next years pick and get a no. 1 d-man or a big 2nd line center who is a 2 way player with a mean streak. Also see how Bryz plays overall and go from there. Then again Kevin Lowe still has a job with this team so I just wasted a few minutes of my life. BTW great article Gregor.

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#20 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
December 16 2013, 10:33PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Savard never played in their Cup run, Seguin dressed for 13 of 25 games.

Please show me one player on the Oilers who plays hard like Marchand? He doesn't play small.

Seidenberg is extremely hard to play against. Stop focusing on height and weight. It is comical that you think the Bruins weren't a big team. No one said the Oilers need every player to be big, but then NEED SOME..IT is a fact. It is obvious when they play. If you don't see this, then I truly question what games you have been watching and how you assess a team.

Campbell plays aggressive. That is playing big. IT ISN'T JUST ABOUT SIZE.

And you forgot to mention that the Bruins had: Chara, Boychuk, McQuaid, Lucic, Horton, Bergeron, Thornton, Ryder...Big, heavy players. Some who played physical, and others who lean on you.

Please tell me how the Oilers could add those three players (Parise, Karlsson, Letang) and still maintain their core group? It wouldn't happen, so it isn't a realistic argument.

Your insistence to believe that the Oilers only need more skill to win is incorrect. All their players are the same, they don't need more of the same.

The teams that win have skill, but they have size and toughness. The Oilers have none of the latter, and their skill is not as good as the elite teams. The Oilers have no dominant two-way forwards in their top six. Cup winning teams do.

Keep believing the Oilers can win with just skill. It hasn't happened and it won't happen.

Jason....some fans will never be convinced that playing big matters.....they honestly believe that Sam Gagner plays big for his size. They don't get the difference between the physicality of Sam Gagner vs a Peter Foresberg. Samwise is 5'11" tall and 202 lbs.....Forsberg was 6' tall and 205 lbs......Forsberg was one of the hardest guys in the NHL to separate from the puck....Samwise rarely wins a puck battle and spends an inordinate amount of time on his knees or butt.

Forsberg played big.

There's the old saying in NHL circles....big and skilled beats small and skilled.

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#21 oilabroad
December 16 2013, 12:06PM
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Based on what he says above, it actually makes me like the signings this summer a little bit more. I think both Ference and Gordon are character guys and I wish we had 10 more like them... unfortunately by the time we accumulate a few more, those 2 will likely be gone

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#22 Gret99zky
December 16 2013, 10:37PM
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All this talk about winning the lottery?

Even the last place team only has a 1 in 4 chance of picking first overall.

I doubt very much the Oilers will be in a position to get the pick they want once this abortion of a season finally ends.

MacT is not going to be able to draft his way out of this mess.

The high end UFA's are not coming to join this **** show.

Trading for a more balanced roster is the only way.

Without a bonafide #1 dman this team is doomed for all eternity.

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#23 Rheal1
December 17 2013, 04:45AM
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I have one question: WTF are everyone here chasing their collective oilers fan tail WHEN the problem lays right in front of them: KEITH ACTON, KELLY BUCHBERGER, STEVE SMITH & FREDERIC CHABOT. They are THE problem. Promote Todd Nelson and let Eakins hire his OWN guys. Also, PURGE upper management now: RICK CARRIERE Sr. Director of Player Development - a clear FAIL! SCOTT HOWSON Sr. Vice President, Hockey Operations, AND... KEVIN LOWE President, Hockey Operations.

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#24 Sean17
December 16 2013, 01:07PM
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I love watching him, but Eberle is the one that has to go. He will net the biggest return. Also, he has never been a "winner" like Hall. Those Regina teams he was on were awful but, had some talent that should have overcome the shortcomings. But instead Eberle and Weal enjoyed great personal success but no team success. It'll be the same as trading Kessel or Seguin. Not great on paper but, better on ice.

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#25 They're $hittie
December 16 2013, 02:08PM
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Guys go on your copy of nhl 13, trade hemsky, gagner , eberle, omark, potter.

See what you can get for them. Make the team better. Now take away about 25% of the value you got in return. This is what MacT is dealing with.

Eberle is the only one that people are asking for that they know we might consider giving up. (please drop the WJC stuff thats in the past).

Nobody wants our crap, Omark, Hemsky, Potter, Jones, Dubnyk, N Shcultz,

Gagner may get you something but you are trading low. No one is going to give you a bigger second line center with better defence and put up 50 points a year for Gagner.

So many dumb rade proposals being posted.

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#26 LOIL99
December 16 2013, 04:45PM
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freelancer wrote:

Shattenkirk is a player I would be very interested in targeting, or even better Pietrangelo. Eberle is a solid two way player and under the Blues system could probably excel as a responsible two way player. A package cetnered around Eberle for Pietrangelo. I do it in a heartbeat.

"Eberle is a solid two way player..."

Did I just read that right? WOW. Turn on the TV and watch a few games. He is the laziest guy on the ice most night when it comes to back-checking. Its usually either him or Yak.

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#27 6 ring circus
December 17 2013, 01:31AM
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I just hope Santa delivers all Oilers fans the one gift they all have been wishing for.

For Katz to fire Kevin Lowe!!!!

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#28 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 16 2013, 12:55PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

No, not at all.

His first few moves suggest to me he realizes he needs to add more competitive players. It won't be easy, but they also need to ensure some of the young kids develop into more competitive players every shift. That is where consistency from coaching comes in.

I think MacT gave Eakins a 4-year deal, because he understands the need for consistency from a coaching staff...

So he fired Krueger (A coach that he had said was not the problem) in an attempt to provide consistency in the coaching position....

fired a coach who, without a training camp, had the team playing slightly better so he could bring stability to the coaching position...

cant wrap my head around that logic

let alone giving a completely unproven coach a 4yr deal.

Well at least the winning this year is proving mact right

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#29 Zarny
December 16 2013, 03:21PM
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Good article. The problem with the Oilers rebuild is they are stuck on square 1 - draft skilled players.

Regarding team identity it's a bit of chicken and egg thing. You can have a vision in mind but I think Chiarelli nailed it...you have to work with what you have and what's available.

Bos are big, tough and skilled partly because Chara happened to be available that year. If Chara wasn't available Bos might have a much different identity.

Likewise, Anh and LA are built on size because that is what their core players like Getzlaf, Perry, Brown, Kopitar, etc are suited for. You can't really build a team based on size with a core of Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Crosby, Malkin, Toews and Kane.

I think the key is that all contenders have the right mix of players. What your core group lacks you go out and get.

I think MacT's path forward is two-fold:

1) Bold moves - the Oilers lack a couple of big pieces: a top pairing D or two, a 50-60 pt power F and an elite G.

That's literally 3-4 players and won't be easy. The Oilers overall identity depends on who is available.

2) Depth moves - In parallel to the bold moves, MacT needs to go out get what the Oilers lack: size, strength, experience and two-way playing ability. Basic NHL depth at all positions.

The kids are young so get some NHL vets with solid 2-way games for the 3-4th line. Get a blueline that isn't less experienced than the #1 draft picks.

Gordon and Ference were good additions. Go get 8 more like them.

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#30 Rheal1
December 16 2013, 03:45PM
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Rubbish. Look no further than to fire the two assclown assistant coaches. Then you'll see a world of positives. The solution is sometimes so simple. Can't do much about Lowe. I guess he won't go...

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#32 Zamboni Driver
December 16 2013, 12:03PM
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Great interview (heard it live) Chiarelli is one of the best in the biznezz, I think.

As to the Oilers identity, I agree that one needs to be developed. I also think it's a travesty that they haven't figured that out STILL.

Sure, MacTavish is in the GM chair, now, but his bosses and his owner have been there for many years (many many many many many many (that's six, right?) for at least one them). The fact that they don't even have an IDEA as to what to do, a philosophy - or if they do, they're only figuring it out now is completely astounding.

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#34 Ducey
December 16 2013, 12:58PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

The problem with that it takes the average of the team, and it might even include the goalies.

Look at the players who play the most in Edmonton, compared to LA, ST.L, SJ and Ana.

The Oilers top line is small compared to all of those teams key star forwards.

Look at the current Oilers blueline. Potter is the biggest, and he plays the smallest.

Watch the Oilers in both ends. Watch how easily they get knocked off the puck in O zone, and how rarely they do that to opposing forwards in the D zone.

I never said Chicago was big, I said they were skilled.

Boston is bigger than the Oilers, and even their shorter players, Marchand, play big and hard.

If you actually believe that size chart, then you should be even more annoyed at how soft the Oilers play, but to me that is a very misleading chart.

None of the Oilers main minute eaters are big, except Petry, and he doesn't play overly physical.

You need to dive deeper into that and it is clear to see the Oilers don't come close to matching up with SJ, LA, ST.L, Ana etc..

Gregor,

Not trying to be argumentative, but did the Oiler's lose last night because of a lack of size? The Ducks got three goals, all off bad reads defensively by the Oilers. Its not like some giant just plowed through the Oilers.

I expect that any of those goals could have been prevented by more experience and better defensive play.

Its the same story most games.

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#35 Jason
December 16 2013, 03:20PM
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DollyParton wrote:

Gagner, Hemsky, and our First Overall for Coburn and Couturier...Crazy? Possibly. Over Priced? Definitely. Necessary? Yes...anything. Please.

Eberle for Couturier. I make that trade.

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#36 Jason
December 16 2013, 03:26PM
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Oilers first rd pick 2014 for Adam Larsson

Eberle for Sean Couturier

That makes Oilers a better team.

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#37 Spydyr
December 16 2013, 06:24PM
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Consultant wrote:

Step away from the ledge folks. We need three things: a number 1 d-man, some top 6 grit and better goaltending.

So trade the top 10 pick we have this year for the best availble d-man, get the top 6 vet grit via best available UFA.

Bottom 6 grit can be signed or traded for fairly easily, don't trade a potenital 40 goal scorer for a guy cause he's tall.

Resign Bryz, or look for other best available UFA. Scout Europe like mad for some 1b goalies.

If all else fails trade Yakupov next fall for a #1 dman or a goalie package.

Our first line is 5-8 years away from their prime, so either be patient or go crazy...

"Our first line is 5-8 years away from their prime, so either be patient or go crazy..."

Teows won his first cup at 22 Crosby was younger.Your argument for waiting eight more years is asinine.

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#38 RexHolez
December 16 2013, 07:56PM
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What worries me the most is MacT's comment about J Schultz being as good as anyone on this team!! I already watched Marc-Andre Bergeron play, and i wasnt impressed

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#39 spot
December 16 2013, 12:03PM
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With the salary cap going up yearly no one from anaheim, Chicago, penguins will be leaving, every team has money to spend and can lock up their players. Looks like oilers will have to win with what they have, help isn't coming.

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#40 Dog Train
December 16 2013, 12:49PM
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The lack of progress is incredibly troubling. I feel like Mactavish made some nice moves like acquiring Perron and Gordon (he's made some mistakes too but every GM does, not just rookie GMs). Yet we've had other players either stagnate or regress (Gagner, Yakupov) and the results aren't there. Looking at this team, I see needs in goal, on D, at centre and the bottom six wingers. Lots of holes to fill. In order to acquire value, we will need to ship out value and thus create more holes.

We will need to acquire players through trades and free agency no doubt but to me this is where years of lacklustre drafting catch up to you. Like Chiarelli said, you need depth and value in draft picks to be able to make these trades. Our 2nd and 3rd rounders need to start being hits rather than misses.

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#41 freelancer
December 16 2013, 01:33PM
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@Hayek

I think people are missing the point here when size comes up. I don't want to put words in his mouth but I think Gregor's point is look at our team as a whole. Yes, average size wise we're probably in the middle of the league. But who on our team plays with any physicality? Usually players with size = more physical play but we also know there are plenty of exceptions (Penner and Paajarvi anyone). Then you look at a guy like Perron, who is not a big guy by any definition yet he has the ability to get under the skin of other teams. That should be the point here. We don't need coke machines to hit everything that moves, but we need more players who will push back, aren't afraid of going into the boards or pushing an opposing player into them. We don't need more weight, we need guys who use whatever size they have to push back.

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#42 VK63
December 16 2013, 01:55PM
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Kind of ironic that Gags, Cogs and Bobby were soft smurfs that the Oilers were building around.

5 years ago.

When the d sucked and the goaltending was brutal…. ahem.

There is definitely a culture in the Oilers organization.

"A team so broken it shall be part of how (not) to be a GM discussions for years" or something like that. Wanye.. said so. and I laughed.. because.. he is/was right. Again!!

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#43 Jason
December 16 2013, 04:21PM
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Fans overestimate the value of their players.

Eberle for Sean C is a realistic trade for players , money and cap another issue

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#44 Rama Lama
December 16 2013, 05:01PM
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Gregor those are excellent questions, I would love to hear Mac T's responses??

I will say that the vision articulated by Klowe are well documented and he stated some years ago, that the new rules of the NHL ( interference, clutching, grabbing) were going to usher in smaller, faster, players. He has mentioned that large hockey players will no longer command the attention at draft time.

Fast forward to today, and it seems that skill/speed is something that we still follow, whereas Stanely Cup contending teams have gone after skill/size. There are very few hockey players that have all three skill/speed/size.

In my mind we are still fixated on smaller faster players and until this focus changes.........no amount of core values/vision will change things.

These clowns will never admit to a vision, because they have none! In spite of the fact most people like Mac T, ( myself included) he is still learning on the job.

Talk about vision ( and not afraid to state it clearly) ask Brian Burke, like him or not that man has a vision!!

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#45 Kevin
December 16 2013, 06:13PM
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@michael

Can you believe we are even talking 1st pick over all-AGAIN. This organization has got to rank as worst in history of NHL. This for sure has to be a barometer of Management. Really, until it changes from the top we will continue to be toilet bowl dwellers. Quite honestly I'm getting sick and tired of talking about this knowing nothing will change. Klowe will change coaches and managers but in fact he is the real cancer. He and current management can not asses and show any knowledge of assembling the right pieces for a winning team. Instead they throw huge dallars at players and then make them untradeable. Management has made such a mess of assembling the right mix and to compound the problem they over valuate and over pay their players. They really need to stop the insanity !

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#48 Spydyr
December 16 2013, 01:20PM
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"It is obvious that Chiarelli likes big, heavy, skilled players, but he also wants guys who are strong two-way players"

Amen.....I have been preaching this for years and years.

The Stats guys don't agree.

Wonder who is right?

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#49 isense7en
December 16 2013, 02:17PM
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@Hayek

Yes, but that doesnt change the fact that the oil are soft as butter out there. Finish a(@*#&@ check, clear out the front of the net,drive to the net instead of t-dragging or forcing a pass to the middle, and start standing up for your teammates.

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#50 Brian
December 16 2013, 09:06PM
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Rheal1 wrote:

Rubbish. Look no further than to fire the two assclown assistant coaches. Then you'll see a world of positives. The solution is sometimes so simple. Can't do much about Lowe. I guess he won't go...

Bang on . Funny how Tambi was allowed to fire the training staff but Eakins can't pick is own assistants because they are 6 Rings and MacT 's boys. Maybe I'm wrong but isn't it the role of assistants to help implement systems , to teach and develop . Dumb and Dumber must be so good at their jobs they outlast numerous head coaches . And it's always their names front and Center when other teams need a head coach .

Pair of charity cases. Give Eakins the tools to succeed not a pair of Tools. And get some NHL players in here.

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