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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#51 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 16 2013, 12:23PM
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oilabroad wrote:

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

accidently hit a trash instead of a prop. sorry

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#52 Hayek
December 16 2013, 12:42PM
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Sorry, found an updated entry by Mirtle at the start of this season: http://mirtle.blogspot.ca/2013/10/2013-14-nhl-teams-by-height-weight-and.html

Results are similar. With teams mentioned Boston(17th), Chicago(16th), Edmonton(15th), LA(1st), SJ(8th).

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#53 freelancer
December 16 2013, 01:00PM
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Dog Train wrote:

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.

I will give MacT at least a years reprieve considering what he walked into. First off he had to clear out as many Tambo blunders as possible. He acquired some good pieces in Perron, Gordon, Ference though a bit on the high side. He know he actively pursued some bigger names in Schneider and Clarkson (whether or not they would have been good acquisitions is up for debate). Brought in a backup and then traded when it was obvious that was a poor decision.

This deadline and summer will be the true test. Rebuild 2.0 has begun and MacT has been trying to bring in the right pieces. I hope to see him add some of your aforementioned pieces in the near future.

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#54 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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#55 TigerUnderGlass
December 16 2013, 02:02PM
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Smokey wrote:

I think that some of the mentioned players are so good offensively that it makes up for the liabilities. Guys like Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, Nail Yakupov don`t score enough to make up for their poor defensive play. Sam Gagner in particular should concentrate on the backend a bit more.

Malkin, Datsyk, Zetterberg are TO specialists. But the often get the puck back and they score more then they give up.

It's true. When I think of Malkin I always think "great defense".

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#56 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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#57 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 16 2013, 12:25PM
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Jason are you suggesting MacT was hired without having a plan mind?

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#58 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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#59 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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#60 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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#61 freelancer
December 16 2013, 04:13PM
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Spoils wrote:

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.

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.

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#62 Smokey
December 16 2013, 05:14PM
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Jason wrote:

Eberle for Couturier. I make that trade.

The same Sean Couturier that's on pace for 13 goals and 40 points.

Straight across its not even.

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#63 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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#64 Dean
December 16 2013, 09:34PM
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Oilers have the worst D in the NHL and MacT tells us Klefbom is almost ready at the beginning of the season.

All of Oiler management are jokes.

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#65 a lg dubl dubl
December 16 2013, 09:37PM
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I go hard after Subban, if Montreal feels they cant afford his 7 mil contract. He just reminds me of Pronger just not as tall.

1st pick, Shultz jr, and prospect for Subban

Eberle or Yak and a prospect for Kane(or somebody like him)

The Oilers have roughly 35mil going into next season, time to spend MacT.

I thought Gagner had a NMC after this season. does that kick in July 1 or at the beginning of next season? Anyone?

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#66 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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#67 Rheal1
December 17 2013, 07:01AM
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mayorblaine wrote:

to those who reference the point differential between Couturier and Eberle as a reason for not making that trade, that mentality is part of the problem.

more points does not equate to being better. every team has different requirements and needs. the oilers have point producers we need the other.

i'd take Couturier for Eberle without question and i'd also bet we'd be a better team for it.

I doubt very much that making trades will solve the team's problems. Take the Oilers roster right now and morph it with Detroit's coaching staff and management. Or Anaheim's. Even Toronto's. Then you would see that the Oilers would be higher in the standings. With the same players. Just diffetent coaching staff and Mgnt...'nuf said. Boy can some Oilers fans read way, way too much into the "problem".

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#68 The Beaker
December 17 2013, 07:03AM
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Rheal1 wrote:

Well in that case, please do enlighten us on what exactly are THE problem(s), sir. Since everything has been attempted; as we can witness the lunacy of trading first picks for first picks, etc as seen on this blog AND considering that we are with coach #5 since year 8 of the rebuild, please go on and do tell us all in your infinite wisdom: WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

ugh. I wasnt going to comment today but here goes.

Gregor literally just wrote an entire article on what the problem is. The problem is a team that doesnt have the right players.

What Fresh Mess meant was that the assistant coaches may be A problem but the best bloody assistant coaches in the league cant turn this team around to make this roster elite. If you believe they could then you need to stop sniffing things under your kitchen sink.

I dont agree with Fresh Mess often really but too many people are thinking with their hearts instead of their heads when it comes to this team.

Just like firing Kevin Lowe might feel good, and he may deserve it but it wont do a thing to change this team in the next few years.

*or at least thats what i think Fresh Mess meant to say. Sorry if i just put words in your mouth.

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#69 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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#70 freelancer
December 16 2013, 11:50AM
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Impressive interview as always Gregor. Identity is always one of those interesting things in which there isn't one that is "the best," but without one it is easy to see the poor results.

Would be interested in your opinion on realistically what kind of identity you think the Oilers could form.

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#71 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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#72 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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#73 Eddie Shore
December 16 2013, 12:23PM
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freelancer wrote:

Agree and disagree. I think they're known as a team that wants to generate offense with speed. However like you said, in the Westeren Conference teams know how to counter that and close the ice around us. I would like to add a subtext to your identity, "to be a puck possesion team that outworks the opposition for the puck." At the beginning of the year, Eakins talked about this and how we would be a team that would fight every shift for the puck. That's a great philosphy right there for a team built like ours. Sadly we don't have a roster capable of doing that. I would say Perron is one of the only players with that description, maybe Hall and Arcobello in there as well. I would like to see us target guys who may only score 30ish points a season but have that grinding game.

As the roster stands now, they are not able to get the puck back after they lose it. That issue is magnified in the defensive zone. This team is too soft and does not play hard enough. Only way to change that, in my opinion, is to change the mix of the players.

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#74 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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#75 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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#76 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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#77 Smokey
December 16 2013, 01:35PM
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ubermiguel wrote:

I find teams take on the personality of their leaders. So the skilled but defensively responsible Red Wings, Penguins and Blackhawks take after Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Crosby and Toews.

Skilled, chippy, chirpy and aggravating sounds like the Sedins and Kesler to me

Big, tough, rugged and skilled is Chara.

Who is the Oilers' leader? Is Hall there yet? What kind of player is he? Skilled but reckless?

And if we aren't going to win puck battles due to size then we'd better learn to gain the zone with the puck and score on the rush. Work with the players you have, or get rid of the ones you can't work with.

I think that some of the mentioned players are so good offensively that it makes up for the liabilities. Guys like Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, Nail Yakupov don`t score enough to make up for their poor defensive play. Sam Gagner in particular should concentrate on the backend a bit more.

Malkin, Datsyk, Zetterberg are TO specialists. But the often get the puck back and they score more then they give up.

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#78 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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#79 Ducey
December 16 2013, 02:13PM
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TonyT wrote:

Are you suggesting the Oilers are big enough?

I am suggesting that size is not the simple answer to what the problem is.

The get bigger, more "character", more truculant crowd sees these as the simple answer. As with most things, there is some complexity involved.

If the Oilers added Chris Letang, Zach Parise and Erik Karlsson to the lineup they would get smaller and less gritty but would be a pretty good team. Agree?

The Bruins have an elite defender who eats massive minutes against other teams best players in the most important situations. In fact, their group in their Cup year wasn't that big either. They had guys like Seguin, Krejci, Marchand, Savard, Kelly, Campbell all play prominant roles. Their defence had Ference and Seidenberg who are hardly killers.

The Oilers need to add some more size and grit to be an elite team, but size isn't keeping them from being a playoff team. Its inexperience, no defensive conscience and a lack of goaltending.

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#80 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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#81 Mo Playoffs Mo Problems
December 16 2013, 03:43PM
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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.

Why would Philly do this?

Coburn has a modified NTC so he may not even want to come to Edmonton and with that deal Philly would be taking on about $5 million in salary.

They'd be swapping about $5.5 million per year with Coburn and Couturier for about $9.5 million per year for Hemsky and Gags. Sure, a lottery pick (and maybe 1st overall) is a nice sweetener, but for a team that's up against the cap, I don't see how it makes sense unless Edmonton retained significant amounts of Gagner and/or Hemsky's salaries.

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#82 Slats
December 16 2013, 04:47PM
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Ducey wrote:

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.

and a top Vezina goalie candidate - Tada!!! You are in the Top 6 Teams in your conference.

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#83 Smokey
December 16 2013, 04:48PM
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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.

WTF...really

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#84 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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#85 Smokey
December 16 2013, 05:19PM
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michael wrote:

The ISS ranking came out today and Sam Rheinhart is listed number 1. He 6 feet and 185 lbs. Too small? How about Ekblad? 6'3.

If the Oilers finish in the 29/30 position and they somehow win the lottery and pick first what in your mind is the right move to make.

1. Make the pick 2.Trade the pick for a proven player 3.Trade the pick and a combination of players for the big fish.

I for one would not trade the pick.

We won`t get number one unless we channel the spirit of Tambellini`s necktie...

I want Eckblad, but Reinhardt would be sweet.

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#86 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
December 16 2013, 05:34PM
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Breaking bad for Ekblad...

Kinda wish they held off for another year so we could bomb 'er for Connor.

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#87 Walter Sobchak
December 16 2013, 09:35PM
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I can't see the Oilers getting rid of any of the kids, as a GM of a franchise that has the worst 5x5 team offence is paramount, getting rid of offence for defence is just re-arranging the deck chairs.

I honestly cannot see the Oilers selling low on any of the kids. Looking around the league I can't see too many #1 defensemen that would be on the block ether.

It all leads me to believe the reason the Oilers have done only minor mid season dumps and deals is the obvious.

They may deal the 1st overall, but got a gut feeling the Oilers are going Whale hunting this year!

I honestly think the Oilers are going to be ultra aggressive during the opening hours of UFA season. If they don't get a # 1 goalie, a top pairing defensemen and tough hard skill players then you will see the Oilers start trading some of the kids.

Even after they secure some of these UFA's I would still wager some kids being shipped out.

Odds on favourite would be Gagner & Yakupov.

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#88 Jerry
December 16 2013, 09:40PM
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Your not getting young #1 pairing D man. Not even for Taylor Hall. People are crazy.

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#89 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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#90 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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#91 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 16 2013, 10:40PM
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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.

Keep believing the Oilers can win with this management group. It hasn't happened and it won't happen.

Good point gregor just replace your last 2 sentences with my first 2.

EDIT Actually don't replace them just add mine

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#92 Webposter
December 16 2013, 11:07PM
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Philosophies are nice, but in the end, the Oilers need to improve their scouting, especially with later draft rounds or undrafted players.

Even if the players aren't pieces that fit into your philosophy, they can become valuable trade assets for players that are.

Players drafted in the first round aren't free - they cost the pick which is itself quite valuable. RNH is an asset today, but the 2011 #1 draft pick was a valuable asset then.

Using the Canucks as an example - Ryan Stanton, Chris Tanev, and Eddie Lack are all vital parts of this year's team - 2 young, reliable D-men and a good backup goaltender. Those are things that the Oilers hurt for - arguably Edmonton needs those players more than another high draft pick.

It's fine to talk about the qualities that the GM is looking for, but it's really about finding and developing good hockey players.

Speaking of development, is it a good idea for so many of these young players to skip the AHL and go straight from playing in the OHL or WHL to being crushed by the likes of the Kings or Sharks?

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#93 Joel
December 16 2013, 11:54PM
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@Jordan Nugent-Hallkins

Realistically, Hall plus the expected lottery pick from this upcoming draft could get any Dman not already locked into a longterm NTC deal. (i.e. No Chara or Suter, but basically anyone else including Weber)

IMHO, from an outside perspective (Canucks fan), that trade *could* realistically happen in real life, not just on message boards... but only if there is a housecleaning in upper management as well.

Otherwise I can't see them essentially admitting that they screwed up the rebuild so bad that the need to trade the face of the franchise and start over.

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#94 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 17 2013, 02:14AM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

This idea got 8 trashes and no props......which is interesting because it shows just how much Oilers fans are prospect junkies like Lowetide is. We put more value in "potential" than we do in a young Norris Trophy winner.

This is very telling. I doubt that Montreal makes that deal today. It might come down to what spot/ number the pick is and who's available with that pick.

Could be they dont like Subban perhaps due to his questionable locker room presence.

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#95 Oiler Al
December 17 2013, 06:18AM
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If trades and UFA's were that easy to fetch, they would have been done last summer. The problem is decent and youngish players don't want to come to a loosing team, especially one that has been a cellar dweller for longer than one can recall.

The other point that the Fab Five have not made a big dent in the turn around of this franchise.. not yet anyway, at this rate maybe never.

Also, with Lowe at the helm, I would guess he has turned off a lot of agents and other GM's with his dumb demands.

One thing you can take to the bank though is if you come.. you will be handsomely overpaid.

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#96 mayorblaine
December 17 2013, 06:52AM
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to those who reference the point differential between Couturier and Eberle as a reason for not making that trade, that mentality is part of the problem.

more points does not equate to being better. every team has different requirements and needs. the oilers have point producers we need the other.

i'd take Couturier for Eberle without question and i'd also bet we'd be a better team for it.

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#97 Rheal1
December 17 2013, 07:28AM
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I give up. Oilers fans deserve the team they have. Enjoy your top 5 picks next June and next. And next after that.

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#98 mayorblaine
December 16 2013, 11:59AM
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characters are different than character. too much of the former and far too little of the latter.

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#99 Racki
December 16 2013, 12:01PM
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Dave, in the case of the Thrash Erskine, in particular, they were a habitual failure because they never had the monetary support.. So it's a bad comparison. Re: the Islanders.. Well bad GMing there, although you could argue that's the problem here. They also didn't have much in the way of a payroll for years too. I don't think the Oilers are akin to Pittsburgh or the Hawks, but I think that is mostly because of wrong decisions with complementary players and loading up on too many similar skill guys

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#100 freelancer
December 16 2013, 12:06PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

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.

Agree and disagree. I think they're known as a team that wants to generate offense with speed. However like you said, in the Westeren Conference teams know how to counter that and close the ice around us. I would like to add a subtext to your identity, "to be a puck possesion team that outworks the opposition for the puck." At the beginning of the year, Eakins talked about this and how we would be a team that would fight every shift for the puck. That's a great philosphy right there for a team built like ours. Sadly we don't have a roster capable of doing that. I would say Perron is one of the only players with that description, maybe Hall and Arcobello in there as well. I would like to see us target guys who may only score 30ish points a season but have that grinding game.

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