EVERY CHANGE MATTERS...

Jason Gregor
December 30 2013 01:55PM

The past eight Oilers seasons have been painful for everyone involved. The players are sick of losing, management and the five head coaches are tired of it, the fans have to give each other a pep talk before every game just to keep watching and even the media is tired of covering the constant losing.

There are some things none of the aforementioned groups can change instantly, like suddenly making the Oilers contenders, however, there are some small things that can and must be changed to make the process more bearable.

We can all agree what needs to change in the near future for the Oilers to become competitive. They need a better blueline, they need more size and experience up front, the players who return next seasons need to be more consistent and competitive on every shift, and the Oilers must add more experience within their assistant coaches.

Ultimately, those moves or decisions will be made by Craig MacTavish and Dallas Eakins. We will debate, analyze and scrutinize their decisions. That is our job, and it's what fans love to do and that is what makes sports great.

Every fan and media person will have differing opinions on players and how organizations build their teams. That will never change; however, there are some decisions within a pro team that fans can impact. One of them is the music played at their home facility.

The Edmonton Oilers owe it to their loyal fans to make the in-game experience as enjoyable as possible. The product on the ice hasn't been doing it, but the fans can demand and should be treated to a better in-house atmosphere.

The music during Saturday's OT loss to Philadelphia was atrocious.

I watched the game from the stands, and I asked the fans around their thoughts on the horrendous playlist? These fans ranged in age from 20 to 60, yet unanimously they agreed the music is awful. This is not a new problem, but the Oilers either don't feel the fans deserve a better experience or they haven't searched hard enough to find a better DJ.

Late in the third period and leading into OT the DJ played Give Me Some Loving, a Beatles song and Wooly Bully. The Beatles are one of the greatest bands ever, but their beats aren't energizing. I could not believe how bad the song selection was late in a tie hockey game. None of those songs got the building rocking. Seriously, it shouldn't be that hard to find more appropriate songs during key times in the game.

The fans deserve better, and so do the players. I spoke to three different players off the record and when I asked them about the music they said the following:

"It is embarrassing," said the first one.

"Most rinks play heavy, deep, quick paced music, but we rarely do," said the second.

"My friends come to games here and they all mention the music, and not because it is good," said the third.

If the Oilers don't want to listen to the fans, they shouldn't they at least listen to their players?

I know the music isn't the reason the Oilers are losing, and none of the players suggested that, but the Oilers need to look at improving every aspect of their team and in-game experience. Emotion plays a huge factor in hockey, and a better playlist could get the fans more into the game, thus improving the atmosphere and that could ignite the Oilers at certain times in the game.

Regardless of whether it helps the Oilers or not, the fans deserve better. I am a season ticket holder, so I'm not writing this from a media person's perspective. I've been to many other rinks around the NHL and the music and in-game experience is better in those rinks. The music selection in Edmonton if brutal.

I don't expect the management or scouts to listen attentively to media or fan's opinions on players, although getting as much info as possible is never a bad thing, however I do expect the organization to listen to fans when it comes to non-hockey matters.

It is time the Oilers improve the in-game ambiance. It is the least they can do for their loyal fans, and considering the players admit the music is terrible, an improved musical selection might even help the product on the ice.

QUICK HITS...2ND HALF

  •  The Oilers were 4-15-2 in the first quarter of the season and 9-9-2 in the 2nd quarter. They aren't as bad as they were in the first quarter, but they need to at least maintain a 20 points in 20-game stretch pace the rest of the season. If they pick up 43-46 points in the second half that would be a major improvement, and they need to come close to that to realize the effort and execution necessary to be in the playoff hunt next season.
     
  • Nail Yakupov won't play tomorrow in Phoenix. Yak looked frustrated on Saturday night, and I'm all for sending players a message by putting them in the pressbox, but is Yakupov receiving the message and is it the right one? If they want him to regain his confidence would they be better off sending him to OKC than sitting him in the pressbox?

    I understand that all players mature differently, but playing him six to eight minutes a night or sitting him in the pressbox might not be the best way to develop him. Make a tough decision and send him to OKC for a few weeks. In my opinion he needs to play 15-20 minutes a night and regain his confidence.

    I know many fans are going to scream they are ruining Yakupov, but the harsh reality is he will need to play himself out of it. Missing a game or two won't hamper his long term development, but they need to find some common ground. If they want him to be better away from the puck, then let him learn to do that in the AHL where it will be easier to learn. That isn't quitting on the player or punishing him, it is about trying to help him become a better player.
     
  • "It was a good conversation... We have a definite plan moving forward," Eakins said this morning about a 45-minute chat he had with Yakupov. He didn't outline what the plan was, but I'm curious to see what it will be. The Oilers don't need to just give Yakupov icetime, but they have to ensure they nurture his development and not ruin his confidence. It is a fine balance, but it is one they have to master. He isn't the first #1 overall pick to be benched or play on the 4th line. Steven Stamkos and Joe Thornton did and both became great players, however, they were 18 and didn't have the option of being sent to the AHL. 

    Will the plan see Yakupov playing on the 4th line at ES and then getting PP time? That would allow him to see easier competition at ES, but also allow him to maintain some offensive confidence. I doubt he sits out more than one or two games, and when he returns I'll be intrigued to see what "plan" Eakins has come up with for Yakupov.
     
  • I know it is only a few games, but Justin Schultz has been better the past three games. He is making better decisions with the puck, and more importantly he is making better defensive decisions. His positioning has been better and I haven't seen him getting beat one-on-one. It is a small sample size, but he needs to continue his improvement during the 2nd half of the season. He's only played 81 NHL games, so people need to recognize that it takes time for young, offensive D-men to get comfortable in the NHL, however, the Oilers desperately need Schultz to develop into a solid top-three D-man if they want to become a playoff contender in the near future.
     
  • Roman Horak will make his Oiler debut tomorrow night on a line with Gagner and Eberle. Todd Nelson told me he thinks Horak has potential to be a solid 3rd line centre, and potentially a 2nd line forward if he learns to use his speed regularly.
     
  • I would like to extend a huge THANK YOU to all the sponsors who donated packages during Month of Giving, and to all those who bid on packages. This year we raised an amazing $77,150 for the Christmas Bureau, Santas Anonymous, Operation Friendship Senior Society and MS Society during the Month of Giving on my radio show and promoting the packages on the Nation. That is awesome. Thanks again.
     

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 Danger Pay
December 31 2013, 04:17AM
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Thank you Gregor. Finally someone Addressed the terrible DJ/Fan Experience. My friends and i noticed this years ago. Some games they play the same music at the same parts of the game. Embarrassing indeed! I can't remember all the songs they keep playing over and over, but I do recall they play Kickstart my heart either to start the 3rd or sometime during the 3rd.

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#102 Spydyr
December 31 2013, 05:46AM
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HOFFFF wrote:

My OILERS neon light quit working. :(

Kinda like the Oilers on many nights but don't talk about that. Talk about something much more important. Like the music at the games.

Look squirrel.

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#103 Spurzey
December 31 2013, 05:59AM
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While their at it, get a new announcer too. That yelling and fake emotion goes back a long way and is very old.

I was disappointed Eakins didn't send Yak to OKC.

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#104 Spydyr
December 31 2013, 06:05AM
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Changing the music at the Oilers game is akin to changing the name of Hobbema to Maskwacis not much of what really matters changes.

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#105 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
December 31 2013, 07:58AM
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Can we all just agree that they need to play I'll Make a Man Out of You from the Mulan soundtrack?

Thank you.

Now we can move on.

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#106 camdog
December 31 2013, 08:26AM
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Spydyr wrote:

Changing the music at the Oilers game is akin to changing the name of Hobbema to Maskwacis not much of what really matters changes.

I disagree, part of going to Rexal is the ambiance, right now that building has none. People spend good money to be entertained and on many nights the entire organization does absolutely nothing to try and entertain. I have also found that Eskimo games also have boring predictable half time shows. The entertainment value of the 2-major sporting teams is as bad as it ever has been.

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#107 Constance
December 31 2013, 08:28AM
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Hey Gregor. Awesome job! You really set Patrick laforge straight. Sure the teams going to hell, 14 games under 500 or whatever, they're healthy scratching yak while gagner and co ramp up huge minutes. Sure "winner" Kevin Lowe continues to make big bucks as president of hockey operations, Bucky and Steve smith continue to suck it up as assistant coaches, the power play is worse than it is under the coach they fired after 40 games... But you got that music fixed!! Awesome! Sarcasm over... Can we get a guy on the radio in Edmonton who will talk actual issues. No one at ched will do it, and even the non rights holder is all unicorns and love in's. It's actually quite annoying. In our 8th year of losing, any other town and the media would be running management out of town and questioning coaching decisions. Here they're talking about changing music selections and getting excited about nurse and klefbom. All this after your article last week about staying patient and the Oilers following the path of the penguins and hawks lol. so yak gets benched after playing like 5 minutes, 3 games in a row and that makes sense to you? Why am I not suprised. how did they evaluate him in those five minutes of playing time? eakins could wear a thong on the bench and Gregor would say, awesome idea!! The fans may not like that thong, but it makes sense to me. Anyhow, I'll slow this rant down to say the Edmonton sports media is communist era eastern Europe.

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#108 sizedoesmatter
December 31 2013, 08:44AM
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Was at Recall Saturday after a few minutes he played "make some noise" and I heard a sort of cheer. In the third period during a powerplay the fans started on there own the "let's go Oilers " chant. Which was louder than I heard in quite a while. Whoever is in charge is not in tune with the fans(.)

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#109 Dallylamma
December 31 2013, 09:04AM
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While we're changing the in game experience how about some better food at Rexall? We all gladly down $9 heroin beers but the other staples like cheeseburgers and fries are f'n weak. How about a little more value for money Northlands?

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#110 Tikkanese
December 31 2013, 09:17AM
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Hey at least they stopped playing Cotton Eye Joe a few years ago.

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#111 Tikkanese
December 31 2013, 09:18AM
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The worst thing they do is play other teams' songs. Like the Hawks goal song. Ridiculous!

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#112 S cottV
December 31 2013, 09:27AM
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spliff wrote:

Last year with Krueger was the first year in a long time that progress was made. PP and PK were much better, and the team's position in the standings improved. I'm not sure what reasoning MacT has used to replace Krueger, and in hindsight, it might have been the most stupid move MacT has made as GM. I don't think Eakins is a bad coach, but perhaps this team would have been better served with the stability of another year of Ralph. Its another example of this management group "thinking outside the box" when what they should be doing is keeping it simple.

Completely agree that at most bring Eakins in as an Associate Coach under Krueger and evaluate him up close, as an eventual Head Coach.

The whole thing was knee jerked, with MacT turning an Associate Coach interview into a Head Coach selection and firing Krueger via Skype.

The team needed to pick up where it left off and move forward - which would have been best served by leaving Krueger in place. The Coach change bumped things backwards, which is somewhat normal in the short term. However - Eakins trial and learning curve, confused the player group and worse - cast a player group shadow over his credibility as an NHL Coach. The program never recovered from the bump backwards - floundering in 29th place.

The next 16 games will be very interesting. Most are against teams that are at the top end of the standings and the remainder against teams directly in the playoff hunt. "If" the Eakins learning curve is narrowing, and "if" the player group perception of him as a legit NHL Coach is improving - the Oilers should win some of these games and look like an outfit coming together.

Eakins must surely be concerned about how the team meets this challenge. The move with Yak is probably designed to stamp some additional 2 way thought process into his head, before running the gauntlet with him, these next 16 games. While not the only one with defensive lapses, Yak is minus 25 and while I am no big Eakins supporter, it's easy to see why he is reluctant to play this guy, without another attitude adjustment.

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#113 Big Al
December 31 2013, 09:38AM
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I am a season ticket holder. I care about the on ice product, not the music. Perhaps Gregor should become the Oiler's DJ and his on air replacement should be someone who will talk about sports instead of ambiance!

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#114 Spydyr
December 31 2013, 09:45AM
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camdog wrote:

I disagree, part of going to Rexal is the ambiance, right now that building has none. People spend good money to be entertained and on many nights the entire organization does absolutely nothing to try and entertain. I have also found that Eskimo games also have boring predictable half time shows. The entertainment value of the 2-major sporting teams is as bad as it ever has been.

Want improve the ambiance, win. Then make the playoffs I guarantee the place will be rockin' not matter what the music.

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#115 J-Bird
December 31 2013, 09:59AM
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Laughable as the music is, I don't tune into a SPORTSTALK RADIO for music advise. ..

Gregor loves to argue, whether he's on par or not. Yesterday's hypocrisy begins with telling Oiler fans that Krueger having a better power play and better PK is not a valid point at all. In the next breath blabs like a Willis or any other stats meathead about how the shot differential is improved and that's all that matters now. How about the Wins Gregor? Krueger had more, with a worse team and no training camp. Eakins is in over his head, very obvious.

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#116 Rod from Viking
December 31 2013, 10:58AM
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@Jason Gregor I finally got a chance to listen to your discussion with Pat Laforge last night, he sure was defensive and condescending,it sure seems to be a job requirement of the Oilers. I also am a season ticket holder and the music and the "ambiance" does suck and to say the music seems better in Chicago because the team is better is just a dumb comment.The music selection in Edmonton is brutal and I know my daughter or even my mother could do a better job. Who owns Aquila Productions anyway, another one of the buddies from the 80's?

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#117 camdog
December 31 2013, 02:33PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Want improve the ambiance, win. Then make the playoffs I guarantee the place will be rockin' not matter what the music.

I was at the Grey Cup game in Toronto when the Argos were in it 2 seasons ago. Playing Justin Bieber at the half time killed the energy in the old Skydome. The building was packed, the home team was winning, but the energy was gone. I guess you have to experience this for yourself too understand the effect it really does have on the atmosphere at an event.

Simply put music can be used as a tool to pump up the fan base or it can mellow out a fan base. At Rexal it mellows you out. The team can still lose and the building can be rocking, but not with the tunes they play at Rexal.

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#119 oilerman53
December 31 2013, 10:52PM
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Hobbema to Maskwacis? Who cares? People still know you have a good chance of getting sh...... anyways! Yak was having a Stamkosian turn around in the final month of the season. You have at least seven of the same type of smallish skilled forwards who have a tough time maintaining posession downlow. Its like having a big box of brand new nike shoes and finding out all of them are right feet.

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#120 oilerman53
December 31 2013, 10:54PM
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Tikkanese wrote:

Hey at least they stopped playing Cotton Eye Joe a few years ago.

You leave Cotton Eyed Joe outta this! Lol

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#121 Rdubb
January 01 2014, 08:05AM
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Gregor, you mention changing some things in the Oilers, and I have a few suggestions you may or may not agree with: a) That stupid saying "chop wood carry water", what an awful saying, find one that has more meaning & is easier to understand without having some try to explain it, like " play defense, fight every shift" or "play for the guy sitting beside you", darn near anything would be better b) Put some of the pictures from the glory days back up around the room and players area, not a bunch, but put up some pictures that show what hard work and winning can do, like pictures of the guys celebrating with the cup, the fans reaction of playoff success. Don't forget the 90 team didn't have Gretzky or any real super offensive players on it, they were a hard working club. Even the 06 team...let these players look @ & see what it takes to win every day c) just because Eakins is a health nutt, he SHOULDN'T FORCE his beliefs on the media, sure, put some veggies out, but also have donuts and muffins and whatever else big guys like Terry Jones enjoys munching on...it's ok to do it to the players, but not the media d) bring in some sort of "exorcist" or "cleansing" person and cleanse the room with the players in it, hell, it couldn't hurt, could it? e) start making EVERYONE accountable!!! Maybe Eakins has behind closed doors or infront of media, but fans see players like Hall, Eberle, Hemsky & Gagner forever turning over the puck @ the blue line by "doopsy doodling" or "drop passes" and the other teams go down and score. NOT COOL. Bench these guys. sit them out for a game. Than theres Schultz who is up skating as a forward almost every shift instead of playing defense, that MUST STOP!!! f) MOVE Gagner TO THE WING, HE ISN'T AN NHL CENTRE MAN. NEVER HAS BEEN, NEVER WILL BE. POOR IN THE DOT, POOR DEFENSIVE ZONE COVERAGE, TOO MUCH RESPONSIBILTY... g) Bring Arch up to 2nd line C & play him with Eberle and a good ALL AROUND LW'inger h) Send Yak to OKC for the Olympic break and have Rocky INSTILL d-zone coverage...

Just some thoughts from an avid Oiler fan who is mentally tired from watching this team for the past 10yrs & always having his season beginning hopes dashed by game 15 or 20... Peck

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#122 nick
January 02 2014, 01:02PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

If you are going to make a post at least be truthful about it.

The caller said the best way to tell if a coach is good is by looking at the success of the special teams.

That is completely incorrect.

Special teams is on average about 12 minutes of a game.

The Oilers PP was 20.1% last year and this year it is at 17.9%. That is a whopping 3 goals difference from last year to this year. Do you think those three goals make Krueger a much better coach.

Do you think Krueger's coaching had anything to do with Dubnyk's .920 Sv%. Did Krueger believe that getting outshot by 6 goals a game would be better for his goalies SV%.

You think Eakins is the reason Dubnyk's SV% is 0.896? Seriously do you.

Show me the stats that suggest Krueger was a better coach? Or did he just get better goaltending than Eakins did in the first month of the season?

Feel free to debate all you like, but make sure your facts are accurate.

Don't post complete lies to make your point, it doesn't help the conversation.

Geez, you ought to know better than to be critical of Gregor's new BFF.

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#123 Poloismz
January 10 2014, 10:19AM
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@Rdubb

"Don't forget the 90 team didn't have Gretzky or any real super offensive players on it, they were a hard working club" Messier - 129pts, Kurri - 93pts yeah what a couple of bums on that team. the only reason they won a cup was because you must have been watching.

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