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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#101 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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#102 FastOil
December 16 2013, 01:09PM
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Very well done piece, good job getting candor.

I agree with you. I am not sure however if they are unclear, or more worrisome, like players for the wrong reasons.

I see journeyman players repeatedly getting picked up and doing really well on a new team. You can't win them all, but you can't lose them all either.

Whale hunting is not necessary all the time. They just need decent players with no glaring deficiencies that won't take crap to take some weight off.

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#103 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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#104 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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#105 Randy
December 16 2013, 02:27PM
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Making big trades in the NHL is hard to do. Would be nice if Edmonton could pick up a #1 D-man. But it just doesn't happen unless they are older and the team thinks they have very few years left. So what do you do? I think they take a shot at younger D that have not proven themselves as potential 1st unit Dmen. Example some like Adam Larsson . Maybe you trade for him, he would be expensive .

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#106 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 16 2013, 04:17PM
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S cottV wrote:

I really think the organization is haunted by it's success in the 80's, can't let it go and will never be able to replicate it.

Wayne - Mark and the "boys on the bus" were a special group of guys at a very different and long ago time.

This gets in the way of picking an identity, that may be very different from its past, in order to win consistently and to be a contender.

Need to clear out the glory days completely I think. A true new start. Other than Tambo all management of hockey has been directly tied to the 80's. And I never got the impression that Tambo was anything but a puppet for lowe to hide behind.

The glory days are completely irrelevant to this century and we need a whole new mindset at the top.

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#107 DAVE
December 16 2013, 05:29PM
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Does anybody remember how the attitude on the Avalanche changed when Wendel Clark was acquired?

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#108 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
December 16 2013, 06:16PM
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@Alsker

Well I expect (desperately hope?) MacT will make some moves in the off season to acquire some actual NHL players. Which would hopefully move them out of the bottom 3, which would eliminate any chance of winning the lottery, thereby eliminating them from the McDavid sweepstakes. I don't expect a massive leap forward, but just enough to screw themselves out of the wunderkid.

Kinda like what happened with Mackinnon.

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#109 I tried it at home
December 16 2013, 07:18PM
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Im sitting watching the Detroit Lions on MNF. It occured to me that I had been working with some Detroit travel cards when Matt Millen was announced as fired as their GM. I still remember how they acted like Santa hsd just dropped by. God knows its such a better team now.It would be ironic if anyone from Detroit was around if/when Ol' 6 rings get cut. Hey, how many rings did Millen have?

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#110 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
December 16 2013, 07:40PM
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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.

It's a mistake to speak in absolutes....."would not trade the pick".....

You wouldn't trade that pick for Sidney Crosby.....?

All Oilers players ARE up for trade.....if the price is right!

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#111 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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#114 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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#115 nick
December 16 2013, 09:32PM
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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...

People forget the main key in that UFA comment, the Oilers will get no quality UFA's to sign here. They will get the old fringe UFA's like Andrew Ference and that is all. The Oilers will be unable to improve their team via UFA so only way to do it is trade key pieces. Only two names that cannot be dealt are RNH and Taylor Hall, the rest are up for the right price. Oh ya that 34 year old fringe UFA Ference cant be moved either because some how he got a NTC

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#116 Dave
December 16 2013, 10:21PM
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nick wrote:

People forget the main key in that UFA comment, the Oilers will get no quality UFA's to sign here. They will get the old fringe UFA's like Andrew Ference and that is all. The Oilers will be unable to improve their team via UFA so only way to do it is trade key pieces. Only two names that cannot be dealt are RNH and Taylor Hall, the rest are up for the right price. Oh ya that 34 year old fringe UFA Ference cant be moved either because some how he got a NTC

If the price is right anyone can be traded. Even Gretzky got traded or sold if you prefer.

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#117 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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#118 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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#119 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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#120 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 17 2013, 02:17AM
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6 ring circus wrote:

I just hope Santa delivers all Oilers fans the one gift they all have been wishing for.

For Katz to fire Kevin Lowe!!!!

Double Christmas Props

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#121 Quicksilver ballet
December 17 2013, 07:37AM
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dougtheslug wrote:

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.

Why now. Where was all this wisdom 3 yrs ago? You use to berate guys like me, and now you're one of us.

This just in......get out of Nortel!

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#122 barry.moore23
December 17 2013, 08:09AM
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@Quicksilver ballet

QSB, Why, in the name of all that is holy, can i not stop caring ?? Is there something wrong with me ?? Can't wait to see my Oilers play in St. Louis early March. This time it will be different .......

Peace from Illinois.

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#123 Oil Can
December 17 2013, 08:40AM
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@Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

You take Nurse out and put in any other d-man or prospect and people would probably make that trade, but Nurse stays here.

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#124 hall the time
December 17 2013, 08:49AM
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The Oilers are playing against the whole league, teams players want to beat Edmonton because or our high draft picks.

There no better way to show your value then to beat players that were drafted way higher then you. Its not just a team thing, its a personal thing for these players.

Go ahead and thrash it, but its true in some respect.

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#125 Puck JammeR!
December 17 2013, 09:21AM
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hall the time wrote:

The Oilers are playing against the whole league, teams players want to beat Edmonton because or our high draft picks.

There no better way to show your value then to beat players that were drafted way higher then you. Its not just a team thing, its a personal thing for these players.

Go ahead and thrash it, but its true in some respect.

Teams want to beat the Oilers because it's worth 2 points and there's no excuse not to do it.

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#126 Oilfan
December 17 2013, 10:08AM
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Rheal1 wrote:

I give up. Oilers fans deserve the team they have. Enjoy your top 5 picks next June and next. And next after that.

Thats not true. Oilersfans all deserve a good team. Any other fanbase wouldve stopped caring years ago, its stunning its taken this long. Its a testament to Oilers fans that weve been able to cheer for such a putrid collection of losers that collect cheques for sucking. The fans could ice a better team than the oilers could.

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#127 camdog
December 17 2013, 10:13AM
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Puck JammeR! wrote:

Teams want to beat the Oilers because it's worth 2 points and there's no excuse not to do it.

There are a number of teams that believe what the Oilers did by intentionally tanking was wrong. It's hurt the team in respect to our ability to trade with some GM's, hence certain GM's ask for more from Edmonton in trade talks then they ask from other organisations. From proof of the anger over Edmonton's rebuild, just look to Calgary and Bruian Burke. Of course they are the extreme in respect to the hate for Edmonton, they are not alone in their disrespect of the organisation.

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#128 VK63
December 17 2013, 01:18PM
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@Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

The booing of Nurse is reportedly erroneous. So Staples was wrong.

I know.

~how shocking~

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#129 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
December 16 2013, 04:46PM
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Potter gets two games.

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#130 Alsker
December 16 2013, 05:48PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

Breaking bad for Ekblad...

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

What makes you think next year will be any different? MacT has stated the core group are not up for trade, Gags has his NMC, so what changes? Free agency will bring us midlevel over paid NHLers here for the coin only. "To infibuild and beyond"!!

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#131 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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#132 Mo Playoffs Mo Problems
December 16 2013, 06:39PM
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@Ducey

I think we're mostly on the same page. I agree that Hemsky's gone at the deadline and if Gag's play doesn't turn around, then he shouldn't be in the long term plans either. For the record, I do think that Couturier is more "elite player" then he is Boyd Gordon. I expect that as his career progresses, he'll show more of the talent that had many scouts ranking him 1st overall early in his draft year. It's still too soon to tell if his offensive game will round into form, but at some point the Oilers will have to trade elite skill for elite 2-way play to build a winner. In my opinion, acquiring size, functional toughness, and defensive ability exclusively via free-agency and the draft just isn't feasible.

Anyhow, as someone said above, I think a lot of Edmontonians overestimate their players. The point I was mainly trying to get at is that Eberle's trade value as a 1-2nd line dangling winger who makes $6 million/year without having much of a 2 way game may not get the return that a lot of fans want right now. In a couple years when the cap goes up, Ebs might look like a hell of a bargain compared to a guy like Phil Kessel though...

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#133 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 16 2013, 07:40PM
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I tried it at home wrote:

Im sitting watching the Detroit Lions on MNF. It occured to me that I had been working with some Detroit travel cards when Matt Millen was announced as fired as their GM. I still remember how they acted like Santa hsd just dropped by. God knows its such a better team now.It would be ironic if anyone from Detroit was around if/when Ol' 6 rings get cut. Hey, how many rings did Millen have?

he has 4. twice in oakland once in San Fran and he was on the redskins roster but was deactivated for the super bowl

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#134 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
December 16 2013, 07:47PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

Breaking bad for Ekblad...

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

We're still on pace to have a shot at both of them.

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#135 OilDieHard
December 16 2013, 08:46PM
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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? Blues already have JayBo and Pietrangelo. maybe they could use Eberle? they might be losing UFA Steen at the end of the season and would need to replace him.

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#136 madjam
December 16 2013, 09:28PM
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Is having a new GM and Coach just another excuse for our cellar dweller club ? Yes, I.m afraid it is . We have had enough results to recognize this is another futile attempt for our club to become competitive in the new NHL Specifically , all the top 4 draftees along with Schultz , Gagner , Smyth and Hemsky . I don't buy that we will get upper NHL level with the fab4-5 as they think they will . Results say/show they won't . Over pays on Gordon and Ference look to be premature at this time , and Ference will likely be done before we get competitive .

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#137 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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#138 Joel
December 16 2013, 11:48PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

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.

Funny fact from the 2011 finals (since we are talking about the Bruins)...

The Canucks were actually the bigger team. (I know its counterintuitive based on how we all remember that series, but go back and check the lineup sheets if you don't believe me)

Only by a couple of pounds and half an inch on average, but keep in mind that Chara was skewing the Bruins' average all by himself, lol

Like you said, its not just BEING big, its PLAYING big.

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#139 jay jay
December 17 2013, 01:44AM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

...in completely unrelated news, Nail Yakupov has a five stroke lead in the race for the green jacket.

So there's that.

This is funny!!! who is chasing or helping him? May be 18 ladies.....

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#140 Wintoon
December 17 2013, 06:19AM
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When you draft players you are drafting assets. Those assets can then be used by the team because they fill a glaring need on the roster or they can be used in a trade to acquire another type of asset(s) which the team needs. This is why teams try to draft the "best player available".

The Oilers have very limited draft success and yet they have made very few meaningful trades in the re-build era. I believe, as Gregor states that you need a masterplan for the type of team you are trying to create but - and this is a big but - the Oilers also seem to over value their players and prospects. Both the fan base and management fall in love with their prospects. Until this changes, the Oilers are destined to be a bottom dwelling team.

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#141 camdog
December 17 2013, 06:49AM
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Right now it is my belief that Oilers managment and some fans value elite offenisive talent higher than franchise type players. There is a difference, one helps your team win the other does not.

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#142 The Beaker
December 17 2013, 07:10AM
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@Rheal1

coaching staffs are great but they dont stop stupid giveaways at inopportune times. They dont increase our save percentage (btw if we has torontos goaltending we might be in a playoff spot... not their coaches)

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#143 The Beaker
December 17 2013, 07:10AM
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@Rheal1

double post

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#144 mayorblaine
December 17 2013, 07:21AM
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Rheal1 wrote:

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".

changing the coaching staff, why haven't they thought of that before?

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#145 camdog
December 17 2013, 07:27AM
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Team is short 3 top 4 dman, a number one centre (RNH should be a number 2 right now), a few forwards who play with compete in the top 9, a couple of 4 line forwards and potetenially 2 new goalies.

That's before we can consider ourselves a playoff team. Problem is we have so much need, that trading away what talented players we do have just adds to a hole somewhere else. The reality is this rebuild is still another 2-3 years away from being close to finished.

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#146 Crackenbury
December 17 2013, 08:07AM
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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.

I make that trade if I'm in position to make a push for the cup. No way I make it today with the Oilers near the bottom. Giving up way too much for a good, but not franchise player that won't change much in the short term. By the time the Oilers are contenders Nurse is potentially as good as Subban, not to mention still having a top 3 pick from this years draft and J Shultz.

I'd rather see some of the current top 6 move out. The current mix will never work together and the returns should be equivalent skill players, only with a different skill set.

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#147 mayorblaine
December 17 2013, 08:13AM
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Rheal1 wrote:

I give up. Oilers fans deserve the team they have. Enjoy your top 5 picks next June and next. And next after that.

without question Bucky and Smith need to go. if you think this is the sole reason for the Oiler woes and not at all the players, well i have some lovely swamp land to sell you.

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#148 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
December 17 2013, 08:16AM
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@Rheal1

Don't you put that evil on me, Ricky Bobby!

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#149 j
December 17 2013, 08:34AM
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I'd rather watch the 1996-97 Oilers grind out a passionate game than sit through some of the current displays of skilled shinny. There is no paint by numbers formula as all Stanley winners are different however high-end talent is only one ingredient for success. Every single team to hoist the Cup has found the right balance at the right time. The 2006 Oil are the perfect example of all the elements and reactants finally synthesizing. Do the 2013/14 Oilers have all the necessary substances? Doubtful - but some chemical reactions are just one element/electron/ reactant away from igniting. But which ones? Maybe we should fire Smith and Bucky and replace them with Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton?!

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#150 Zarny
December 17 2013, 10:12AM
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Hayek wrote:

Jason, I hate to keep contradicting you because I really enjoy you as a writer, and value many of your opinions. To say certain teams are bigger than others, is simply just wrong though. I can find an article from January of 2013 listing average team weight by James Mirtle. http://mirtle.blogspot.ca/2013/01/2013-nhl-teams-by-weight-height-and-age.html

Anaheim 203.3 Boston 200.0 (26th) Buffalo 203.1 Calgary 195.5 Carolina 200.5 Chicago 203.0 (20th) Colorado 205.9 Columbus 204.5 Dallas 197.2 Detroit 201.2 Edmonton 203.8 (16th) Florida 201.2 Los Angeles 209.7 (2nd) Minnesota 199.7 Montreal 197.3 Nashville 205.4 New Jersey 204.5 NY Islanders 200.3 NY Rangers 206.1 Ottawa 206.8 Philadelphia 202.7 Phoenix 204.2 Pittsburgh 203.3 San Jose 210.7 (1st) St. Louis 205.8 Tampa Bay 206.2 Toronto 204.8 Vancouver 204.0 Washington 208.0 Winnipeg 207.3

Average 203.5 Some of your examples are right, SJ and BOS were the 2 heaviest teams in the league last year, and were successful. Teams 3,4,and 5 were WAS, WIN, and OTT which were unsuccessful. But I'm not going to come here and argue whether size means success as that is not the point.

As of last year in this compilation, Oilers were 16th in the league in size. We were an average sized team in the league, of this, is pretty impressive since we are such a young team (in which young players take time to put on weight).

You mention Chicago and Boston being big teams, but according to this, they are both a lighter team than the Oilers. I just find it interesting if a team has a couple big impactful players, that this heavily sway opinions of the entire team being an above average sized team.

You can't be serious? Average team weights? Good grief, you completely miss the point.

The game isn't played by 12 players of average weight and height. When it comes down to it the game is nothing but a series of 1 on 1 match-ups.

It's not about weight. "Size" is a euphemism. It's about diversity. It's about the ability to be effective in different ways. It's about being able to score in different ways.

The Oilers don't play an average weight of 200 lbs in Bos. They play Milan Lucic. He's 6'4" 220 lbs and if he doesn't have a step on the D he can say ph*ck it, drop his shoulder and go nuclear through the crease.

Anh, LA, Chi and SJ...they have guys like Getzlaf, Perry, Carter, Bickell, Thornton. They are all 6'3" or 6'4" 230 lbs. They can play physical against D like Chara and Weber. They can drive the slot and score goals in ways and in areas that not a single top 6 F Oiler can.

Every single top 6 F Oiler is smaller than the average NHL forward. They are literally the same type of player; all between 5'11"-6'1" and none weigh more than 205 lbs.

Sure some skate a bit faster, shoot a bit harder or have a niftier toe drag...whatever. They all play the same way. They all score the same type of goals on the same type of chances. They all get shutdown by the exact same game plan.

That alone necessitates swapping out 1-2 players in the top 6 F. The Oilers will never, ever play for the Stanley Cup with the current top 6 F because they'd never win 4 playoff series with them.

Add to it the fact that the Oilers are not going to get a top pairing D or elite G for middle of the road prospects and 1st round draft picks. One of the kids will need to be included and that's fine. We have 4 of them.

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