GDB 22.0: LINE JUGGLING

Jason Gregor
March 05 2013 01:23PM

After 21 games with an offence that scores less than a married guy after coming home late from an all-nighter, Ralph Krueger elected to switch up his line combinations. And he was smart enough to do it against the team the Oilers dominate like no other western division foe, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Oilers have won 28 of 45 games played vS. the Blue Jackets, a solid 62.2 winning percentage. Jordan Eberle, Ales Hemsky, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Magnus Paajarvi and Ryan Smyth all average at least a point-per-game vS. the Blue Jackets, so juggling the lines should be easier to sort out against the Jackets than the Red Wings in two nights.

LINE UP

Hall/Nugent-Hopkins/Hemsky
Paajarvi/Gagner/Eberle
Jones/Belanger/Yakupov
Eager/Smyth/Brown

Nugent-Hopkins is very good defensively and Hall and Hemsky are the hardest wingers to defend, so that line should see, and be able to handle, the tougher minutes.

The 91-89-14 trio looked decent v. Minnesota, and if Paajarvi can stay as involved in the game as he was in Minnesota they should create some chances.

Jones/Belanger/Smyth had some very good shifts against the Wild where they created turnovers and hemmed the Wild in for a good 30-40 seconds. Yakupov could add the potential for outside shots, but he won't be as good as Smyth at cycling the puck. I'll be curious to see how this trio plays. If Horcoff was healthy this line would be much better.

Moving Smyth to centre isn't ideal, but considering Vande Velde adds little, I'd go with Smyth's experience even if he is out of position. If this line cycles like you'd expect them to, and can wear down the defenders on most shifts Krueger will be happy.

Smid-Petry
N.Schultz-J.Schultz
Peckham-Whitney

It seems like Whitney is starting to play the way Krueger and Steve Smith want him to. He jumped up into the rush much more in St.Louis and Minnesota, and by being more aggressive, and moving his feet when he had the puck, he wasn't caught standing still as often. He needs to play like he has the last two games to stay in the lineup.

Dubnyk

Dubnyk stole a game the last time the Oilers were in Columbus. The Jackets outshot them 40-14, so you'd expect a better effort tonight from the skaters in front of Dubnyk.

QUICK HITS

  • This is one of the greatest videos I've seen in a long time. Kudos to You Tube poster/artist "M A K A V E L I" for this hilarious compilation. He made this after Bruins head coach Claude Julien had the audacity to complain whine about the Montreal Canadiens and their embellishment. 

  • I know Oiler fans are talented so we might have to have a You Tube contest later this year.
     
  • After listening to Steve Tambellini yesterday I think it is fair to conclude that when the Oilers get healthy he'll have to make a minor trade or two to get guys back on the roster. Vande Velde will go down when Horcoff returns in a few weeks, and Hartikainen likely goes to minors when he comes of IR, but when they activate Mark Fistric from the IR he'll have to try and move someone rather than just lose them on waivers.
     
  • Right now the 8th place team is on pace for 54 points. If we conclude that 54 points is the cut off for the post-season, the Oilers need 34 points in their final 27 games. Meaning they need to go 16-9-2, 15-8-4 or 14-7-6 to make it. I think 8 OT/SO losses in 27 games is a stretch so I won't go lower than 14 wins. A loss tonight v. the lowly Blue Jackets makes the final 26 games even harder. 

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers find a way to win and the 4/93/83 trio combine for six points in a 4-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Mike Brown fights Jared Boll. Fans who like scraps will love it, while the number crunchers will suggest Brown is an awful NHL player and that his intensity isn't necessary and that punching people doesn't help you win.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: While Ales Hemsky is serving a rare coincidental roughing penalty, Krueger gives Brown a shift with Hall and Nugent-Hopkins. Nugent- Hopkins finds himself all alone in the slot and releases a quick snapshot. The shot was going high and wide, not surprise since his aim seems a bit off this year, but it hits Brown in the moustache and deflects into the net. Brown's moustache is so thick it protects him from a cut. Within minutes @MBstache will be created on twitter and it will have 10,000 followers by the end of the game.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

Ddf3e2ba09069c465299f3c416e43eae
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 mouthbreather
March 05 2013, 10:17PM
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here's what bugs me....we totally suck, the management sucks but the fans will line up from Rexall all the way to southgate with fists full of dollars, game in and game out. As long as the Oilers sell out every night NOTHING will change!!!! Don't you people get it!!!! F___K!!!! Stop going and then we'll see some changes.

Good Bye I'm going to puke.

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#102 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
March 05 2013, 10:17PM
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DrunkGuyTy wrote:

Missed the game. Sounds like a good thing.

youtube.com/watch?v=Inj2Ch-oIX8

this is literally a play by play breakdown.

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#103 Devolution
March 05 2013, 10:18PM
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I keep seeing folks saying that they are disappointed with the way the Oilers played against the worst team in the league. I think it is time to face facts, we are the worst team in the league.

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#104 Quicksilver ballet
March 05 2013, 10:18PM
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Oh well. We need to lose the next two games and then be the first team to knock off the Blackhawks in regulation on Sunday. One win in the next four games is what this team needs. Come home from this roadtrip in deadlast with only 22 games to go.

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#105 GVBlackhawk
March 05 2013, 10:22PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Oh well. We need to lose the next two games and then be the first team to knock off the Blackhawks in regulation on Sunday. One win in the next four games is what this team needs. Come home from this roadtrip in deadlast with only 22 games to go.

Do you think Seth will like it in Edmonton? The city I mean, not the perpetual losing.

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#106 GVBlackhawk
March 05 2013, 10:28PM
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mo wrote:

Fire Ralph he is the worst coach ever. He is probably saying ......Character loss there guys . He's a piece of sh!t.

I thought MacT was the worst coach ever.

And Pat Quinn.

And Tom Renney.

Now Ralph Krueger after two dozen games.

Riiiiight.

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#107 GVBlackhawk
March 05 2013, 10:31PM
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WOW wrote:

This is painful to watch. Are we really this bad? Columbus is dominating us.

The Oilers are just one more gritty 4th liner and one more gritty 7th defenseman away from the playoffs.

Give yourself a pat on the back Tambi!

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#108 GVBlackhawk
March 05 2013, 10:38PM
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Chuckpuck5000 wrote:

UGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH once again we lose. to the worst team in the league. Just still being patient i guess. still here...... just waiting around.

The Oilers lost to themselves?

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#109 Quicksilver ballet
March 05 2013, 10:42PM
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GVBlackhawk wrote:

Do you think Seth will like it in Edmonton? The city I mean, not the perpetual losing.

Appears to be a big city kid from what i can see, his whole family being Yank and all.... Could see him telling Edmonton NOT to draft him. He's American through and through, hope i'm wrong and he's not another Lindros.

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#110 Taylor Gang
March 05 2013, 10:56PM
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ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM! What is firing the coach going to do? What are we on like our fourth coach under Tambonehead? Meanwhile we stockpile ROOKIES year after year. What's that going to do? The moment I realized our only offseason moves were for 2 raw kids I knew we were doomed for another top 5 draft pick. Other than the gifts of sucking every year our team is virtually IDENTICAL to the team that spawned this demoralizing rebuild in the first place. If every team was a bowl, we'd be a colinder with the amount of holes we have. For the love of God, DO SOMETHING! You probably don't realize it management, but as fans you EMBARASS us with our optimism only for it to be destroyed halfway through the season. It's not asking a lot for a team to at least try to win. It amazes me to imagine what Tambellini is possibly thinking right now... Most likely because he isn't. Jeeeez

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#111 Al
March 05 2013, 11:17PM
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WOW...!!!

Im ready to accept it. The oilers are even worse than the last three years... this is pathetic.

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#112 yawto
March 05 2013, 11:38PM
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Where is the team that outshot the Stars and Avalanche by a ridiculous margin. #confused

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#113 Slats
March 05 2013, 11:39PM
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I am always amazed at after watching the Oilers play and then watching the highlights on TSN or SN of the other 30 teams at just how simple their game plan is and how bad ours is!

For example Habs/Islanders - PP highlight pick anyone the Habs run this to perfection.

One forward in front of net who attempts to block the vision of goalie, two forwards in shooting position at top of circle (facing each other - left handed shot on right side and vice versa) two dmen overload the side where puck is. Move puck quickly from player to player thus fatiquing opponent. Subban/Dman walks in takes low hard slap shot and a rebound ensues (CAUTION - rebounds never happen without the forward motion of a stick on a puck), forwards crash net from both positions(CAUTION CAUTION - this is considered a "hockey play" and requires effort), fire low shot into empty net. Score. Draw another penalty. Repeat.

Coaching staff tip - please see any successful PP highlight from now going back to days of the Vancouver Canadians for some video.

For the love of God please make this stop . . . .

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#114 Serious Gord
March 05 2013, 11:53PM
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It is entirely possible that by the end of the brier the oil will be rattling around the bottom of the west with Columbus.

Even competing for a playoff spot will be for all practical purposes impossible.

And the atlas that is the collective oil fanbase will shrug off the burden that is the pathetic organization known as the Edmonton oilers.

Apathy - a very bitter apathy - will be epidemic among the ranks. This time the wait will not be for the next draft pick but a different godot - wholesale, root and branch change in the management of the team.

If the likes of Lowe and tambellini aren't nervous about appearing in public at the next home game they should be. Chants of "fire Lowe!!" And "fire Tambo" should reign down with rivet rattling force...

Ron Wilson never coached another game when that happened in TO. Apparently leafs board members were visibly shaken by the fierceness of the chants.

It is the fans only proactive option.

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#115 Peanut Sauce
March 05 2013, 11:53PM
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I can't handle watching oiler games anymore... I don't think I saw one oiler win a battle in the corners let alone anywhere on the ice today. Getting outplayed by cbj is just hilarious in all the wrong ways

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#116 Woogie63
March 05 2013, 11:57PM
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Wow lots of problems

Why would this team keep playing all those old vets. This year is another play-off miss... Take minutes away from 94, 20, 6, 35 and, 10 and give minutes to 91, 56, 57, 19, 2 and 40.

Does anyone thing we have anything we can use for trades for Good PROS?

Pro scouts have a spotty record....

We traded Gilbert for Shultz??? Tough to get a slow, soft dman for puck moving dman.

Sutton, Belanger, Eager, Hortichuk and Smith....hmmmm

The improvement has to come largely from the current roster.

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#117 Bonvie
March 06 2013, 02:45AM
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Can I be the first one to suggest that we need to hold someone accountable here. The coaches and GM's have already had their chance to do it and we are very close to slipping back down to being dead last again this season for basically the fourth year in a row.

To me this game with Columbus and the quality of the opponent and the effort the Oilers made with almost no injuries is inexcusable. Last year our team went down hill fast after a good start and key injuries could be blamed. This year our biggest loss was a third line center, I mean really if you can't replace one injury without tanking a season something is horribly wrong.

I see a good coach in the minors having success with his ECHL call ups after losing most of his key players from last seasons good run. I myself have always liked K.Lowe as a coach and he brought some key guys in Pronger Spacek and Peca for a good run in 2006. He may have made some mistakes but overall some good moves. If he does not do some firing then he should probably go down with the ship.

Tambelina has done nothing but win the lottery! That is the only area where he has enjoyed success. Souray looks good in Anaheim doesn't he? I am sure glad they got that cancer out of Edmonton so they could show the young kids a winning attitude and the winning culture has really paid off.

Krueger struck me as boring and uninspiring and I was sorely disappointed when this defensive coach of team Switzerland is named as the head coach over a passionate type coach like Nelson. However with all the good stuff said by the players I thought I should be patient and see how the season goes. The verdict is almost out we have not improved this year, and if you take injuries from last year into account I feel we may have taken a step back as we now have the 5x5 offense equivalent to a pop-gun, and we have had no key injuries as opposed to last year. More important we are losing a lot of games where it is just lack of effort. Me like most Oiler fans were able to lose during the bad times when the teams were young and played their heart out. I especially think of the days with young Maltby, Marchant, Arnott, Grier, Thornton, Pearson, McAmmond and Weight. Lost a lot of tough games but were entertained and glad we watched the games because they played ther best.

I liked George Burnett but he was fired after only a part season by the Oilers I think Krueger more than any other coach in Oiler's history is deserving a fate such as Burnett, to be fired after only a partial season, we are losing games and it has nothing to do with talent levels, but everything to do with strategies, motivation, and compete. These are the intangibles that a coach can work with. There is more than enough talent in that lineup to win games, but you need players to get to the dirt areas and go to the net. I watch the highlights and see all of the goals being scored with screens or rebounds and with players driving the net. How does Toronto score like 6 goals, because they play with a little bit of heart and passion, not because of their skill level.

Krueger may be the nicest coach these players ever had, but he should be fired before their next game and the guy who hired him and did not address any of the teams weaknesses in the past hmmm pretty much they have been the same for 4 years. We cleaned house with the players with O Sullivan, Polutuny, Moreau, Cogliano etc back then because they lacked heart and grit and here we are with the same type of team 4 painful years later. Yeah Tambelini should definitely go with the coach he hired.

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#118 Walter Sobchak
March 06 2013, 02:46AM
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4 on 3 and no Yakupov? Instead run out Hemsky who won't shoot it if it meant his first born...Crazy.

Barkov is looking pretty good, earlier this year I said the Oiler will be pick in the 6 to 9 range.

I honestly think the Oilers are a lock for a lotto pick again

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#119 Newj
March 06 2013, 06:13AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Appears to be a big city kid from what i can see, his whole family being Yank and all.... Could see him telling Edmonton NOT to draft him. He's American through and through, hope i'm wrong and he's not another Lindros.

Being American has nothing to do with it...he could be like Lindros and not want to be drafted by a sorry ass organization...having a chance to win within his career as a NHL hockey player...wonder what J Schultz is thinking these days?

Looking at our organization right now..would you blame him?

Agreeing with you but the reference to being American.... WTF does that have to do with anything?

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#120 DrunkGuyTy
March 06 2013, 06:17AM
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@cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

Hmmm. I see. So more of the same.

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#121 HOFFFF
March 06 2013, 07:07AM
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Newj wrote:

Being American has nothing to do with it...he could be like Lindros and not want to be drafted by a sorry ass organization...having a chance to win within his career as a NHL hockey player...wonder what J Schultz is thinking these days?

Looking at our organization right now..would you blame him?

Agreeing with you but the reference to being American.... WTF does that have to do with anything?

Lindros is Canadian.....

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#122 vetinari
March 06 2013, 07:18AM
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All of our recent coaches share one thing in common: an incompetent management team that fails to provide them with appropriate players st key positions. Send Tambi home to "think about what his plan is" for two weeks, and then mercifully fire him.

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#123 michael
March 06 2013, 08:17AM
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Woogie63 wrote:

Wow lots of problems

Why would this team keep playing all those old vets. This year is another play-off miss... Take minutes away from 94, 20, 6, 35 and, 10 and give minutes to 91, 56, 57, 19, 2 and 40.

Does anyone thing we have anything we can use for trades for Good PROS?

Pro scouts have a spotty record....

We traded Gilbert for Shultz??? Tough to get a slow, soft dman for puck moving dman.

Sutton, Belanger, Eager, Hortichuk and Smith....hmmmm

The improvement has to come largely from the current roster.

The roster won't even be close to what it is this season going into training camp next year.Some of the dumbass Tamo signing will come off the books by attrition,buyout or trade. You mentioned several.Sutton will be off the books.Eager,Hordichuck,Belanger,Bulin. Potter.Whitney. Hemsky if we continue at this pace. His value is climbing as more bodies continue to fall.For example,Stephen Weiss(FLA). The Oiler's would be imo doing the right thing if they trade Smyth to a playoff team at the deadline like the NYR. Horcoff will not be bought out. It won't happen.He is too valuable in the role of third line centerman. The real big question will be whether or not the Oilers move Sam Gagne at the deadline or at the draft. The only way I see sam staying in Oilers blue is if he makes the move to wing or the Oilers move him to 3rd line center and push Horcoff down. The Oilers will probably finish 25-27th. They will either get a shot at Drouin,Barkov or MacKinnon.

Patience.The BIG 3 continue to learn.Stauffer hit the nail on the head on yesterdays show.The OIL KINGs have 10 players on their roster older than RNH and Yakupov. Lets all be patient and not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Breath.Its a short season.Changes will come later than sooner.I am not a big fam of Tambo's communication style but I admit his patience equals mine when it comes to seeing the long term development of this organization. Don't say you all have to like it.Or accept it. But I have seen this before and it takes patience and a lot of learning to get to that next level.

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#124 pelhem grenville
March 06 2013, 08:31AM
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...that's a great night out Harlie!!!

...twig and all

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#125 j
March 06 2013, 08:59AM
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michael wrote:

The roster won't even be close to what it is this season going into training camp next year.Some of the dumbass Tamo signing will come off the books by attrition,buyout or trade. You mentioned several.Sutton will be off the books.Eager,Hordichuck,Belanger,Bulin. Potter.Whitney. Hemsky if we continue at this pace. His value is climbing as more bodies continue to fall.For example,Stephen Weiss(FLA). The Oiler's would be imo doing the right thing if they trade Smyth to a playoff team at the deadline like the NYR. Horcoff will not be bought out. It won't happen.He is too valuable in the role of third line centerman. The real big question will be whether or not the Oilers move Sam Gagne at the deadline or at the draft. The only way I see sam staying in Oilers blue is if he makes the move to wing or the Oilers move him to 3rd line center and push Horcoff down. The Oilers will probably finish 25-27th. They will either get a shot at Drouin,Barkov or MacKinnon.

Patience.The BIG 3 continue to learn.Stauffer hit the nail on the head on yesterdays show.The OIL KINGs have 10 players on their roster older than RNH and Yakupov. Lets all be patient and not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Breath.Its a short season.Changes will come later than sooner.I am not a big fam of Tambo's communication style but I admit his patience equals mine when it comes to seeing the long term development of this organization. Don't say you all have to like it.Or accept it. But I have seen this before and it takes patience and a lot of learning to get to that next level.

As with anything, people can be very patient and accepting when the end goal is clear. The problem with the Oilers is the end goal remains as murky as ever. The team lacks identity which was highlighted by Gregor's interview with Tambo. When asked, Tambo didn't have a 'cocktail party' response ready regarding the type of team he was building. I think they learn this in 'GM 101' - have a vision and be able to express that vision in 50 words or less. There are many examples of teams stocked with talent that floated out to sea. It takes leadership, visionaries, and the fortitude to stick with a well developed plan to succeed. The Oilers don't seem to have these elements.

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#126 Quicksilver ballet
March 06 2013, 09:08AM
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.......wandering in the desert.

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#127 Yep
March 06 2013, 09:15AM
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http://37signals.com/svn/posts/3461-b-environment-merits-b-effort

Sound familiar? A team without good management has no motivation to play well. The management team of the oilers is not creating an environment that promotes the players to put in a good effort every night, period. Katz should know this...

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#128 vetinari
March 06 2013, 09:35AM
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Yep wrote:

http://37signals.com/svn/posts/3461-b-environment-merits-b-effort

Sound familiar? A team without good management has no motivation to play well. The management team of the oilers is not creating an environment that promotes the players to put in a good effort every night, period. Katz should know this...

Katz likely does but there is really no downside to this arrangement for him. He's a businessman and money talks. And for the last few years, the Oilers, a subpar product in comparison to its competitors (based on points and standings position over the last few years), sells out every night. They make Katz money.

What incentive is there to change the product when it delivers a fantastic rate of return to Katz? If you could produce a Nissan and sell it at the same price as a Rolls Royce, would you change your business model?

The only time Katz showed a rats arse about what fans thought was when he and Lowe bone-headedly gambled that going to Seattle would galvanize fans behind giving him a new arena when it in fact did the opposite. And eventually he did some damage control and got his arena deal anyways. And without having to actually hold the management team accountable or delivering a competitive on-ice product. Pretty slick, eh?

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#129 Shane
March 06 2013, 09:52AM
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Hey look at that we're only 3 points out of the playoffs!

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#130 Shane
March 06 2013, 09:52AM
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Hey look at that we're only 3 points out of the playoffs!

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#131 tileguy
March 06 2013, 09:59AM
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by golly Shane you are right, and only 5 points out of 5th and 6 points out of 3rd. Anything can happen yet, I'm gonna stock up the fridge with beers(xtra strength beers though) and stay tuned.

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#132 Hayek
March 06 2013, 12:15PM
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GVBlackhawk wrote:

The Oilers are just one more gritty 4th liner and one more gritty 7th defenseman away from the playoffs.

Give yourself a pat on the back Tambi!

Finally, someone here who gets it. That is, if I am detecting sarcasm here.......I really hope I am.

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#133 Ducey
March 06 2013, 12:24PM
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Shane wrote:

Hey look at that we're only 3 points out of the playoffs!

Hey look at that, we're only 3 points out of 30th place!

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#134 Walter Sobchak
March 06 2013, 03:02PM
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vetinari wrote:

Katz likely does but there is really no downside to this arrangement for him. He's a businessman and money talks. And for the last few years, the Oilers, a subpar product in comparison to its competitors (based on points and standings position over the last few years), sells out every night. They make Katz money.

What incentive is there to change the product when it delivers a fantastic rate of return to Katz? If you could produce a Nissan and sell it at the same price as a Rolls Royce, would you change your business model?

The only time Katz showed a rats arse about what fans thought was when he and Lowe bone-headedly gambled that going to Seattle would galvanize fans behind giving him a new arena when it in fact did the opposite. And eventually he did some damage control and got his arena deal anyways. And without having to actually hold the management team accountable or delivering a competitive on-ice product. Pretty slick, eh?

This is only half the story, yes, Katz make money during the season.

However, it is more beneficial to him if the Oilers make the playoffs, as playoff revenue generates even more income.

This is one of the reasons Calgary refuses to rebuild, they want the first round, this is why when the Oilers when owned by the EIG they HAD to make the playoffs.

I think Katz tells Lowe at the end of the season someone has to go.

My guess is Katz fires Laforge and replaces him with Lowe, in turn Lowe promotes Tambellini and Mac-T steps up into the GM roll.

Around the merry-go-round.

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