A summer of miscalculation; a winter of failure

Jonathan Willis
March 09 2013 11:56AM

The Edmonton Oilers 2013 season did not fall apart during a nine-game road trip. The nine-game road trip was simply the point in the season when a summer of inept management finally caught up to the team.

Forwards

Some of the pain here was an unavoidable part of rebuilding through the draft. Decisions to employ Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as the team’s top-line forward (an often overlooked weakness entering the season) and to try Nail Yakupov as the second line’s left wing were understandable, perhaps even unavoidable. Nugent-Hopkins’ inexperience means that he would be better suited to a lesser role on a contending team, but he is the best option at the Oilers’ disposal for a top-line job. Yakupov’s left-handed shot, a desire to get him on to a skill line, and the team’s weakness at left wing after Taylor Hall also made a cameo in that position an understandable gamble (particularly given Yakupov’s success in the role in Russia). It is a gamble that has not worked out so far, as the positional change may well have increased the difficulty of Yakupov’s transition to NHL play.

Other errors were unforced. The decisions to re-sign Lennart Petrell and Darcy Hordichuk added a pair of 5-on-5 liabilities to a bottom-six group that didn’t need more players incapable of moving the puck in the right direction. The decision not to bring in a second-line left wing to add a capable veteran and force a guy like Ryan Smyth, Magnus Paajarvi or Teemu Hartikainen into a third line role opposite Yakupov on the other wing was another error.

While the root of these problems goes back to the summer, it seems likely the Oilers aren’t even aware of some of them. The decision to spend a fourth-round pick on Mike Brown – fine in his role, but terrible at adding 5-on-5 offence (the Oilers biggest weakness) when plausible options like Simon Gagne (dealt to Philadelphia for a fourth-round pick) or Dustin Penner (in the doghouse and rumoured to be cheap) was understandable but wrong-headed. Brown scores high in areas where Penner has been long-criticized, but in just 15 games in a bad season Penner is within a point of matching Brown’s career-best offensive production. Intangibles do matter – but tangibles matter too, and the fact is that the Oilers went shopping for a fourth-line guy who could punch people even as their team struggled to generate any kind of offence. That is not a criticism of Brown, who I actually like; it is a criticism of a management team that was picking out drapes while the house burned down.

Defence

Justin Schultz personifies both the best and worst of the Oilers’ blue line. On the positive side, he’s a sublimely skilled offensive defenceman, a great fit for the team long-term and was a massive windfall for the Oilers when he chose Edmonton in the summer. On the negative side, the fact that Justin Schultz, rookie pro, is the Oilers’ number one defenceman says everything about the state of the blue line.

It was obvious in the summer that the only prudent course of action was to add another defender – and despite the fact that the best options were signed early, players like Michal Rozsival stayed unsigned until September while Chris Campoli eventually had to relocate to Europe. Ideally, the Oilers would have competed for one of the better options out there; instead they failed even to make a basic insurance signing.

They’re paying for it now. Ryan Whitney’s unsurprising struggles, the inability of Justin Schultz and veteran second-pairing guy Nick Schultz to handle the opposition’s best, along with the ups and downs of a still-young Petry/Smid tandem have been the deserved result of an unwillingness to address a problem visible in the summer months.

Elsewhere

The Oilers made it clear as early as April that they were comfortable with a Devan Dubnyk/Nikolai Khabibulin duo, despite the fact that buying out Khabibulin and bringing in a reliable backup was a viable option. Dubnyk – despite some rough individual outings – has performed well, but Khabibulin unsurprisingly has spent most of the season on injured reserve, which in turn has forced Ralph Krueger to lean heavily on Dubnyk, who has started six games in nine days. The Oilers are already within a point of last place, and are one Dubnyk injury away from being comically overmatched by the NHL as a whole.

The jury is still out on Ralph Krueger, the fourth coach of Steve Tambellini’s run as general manager. I like some of the things he’s done, but at times he’s seemed overmatched and despite his eloquence and the clear loyalty of his players his reluctance to play a line-matching game may be costing the Oilers. Jon Cooper, meanwhile, continues to run the most successful team in the AHL.

The reader may notice an abundance of links in the piece above; the reason for that is to establish that this isn’t simply looking in hindsight and spotting things that seem obvious now. Many of the mistakes made by the Oilers management group are mistakes that should have been evident long before now, mistakes that could have been avoided with a little foresight and a little action back in June, July and August. The Oilers management group deserves a team with the record this one has.

They also deserve to pay the price of failure, a price they haven’t hesitated to visit upon players, coaches, and lower levels of management within the organization: dismissal.

Update: To be clear, not all of the Oilers' problems were forseeable. For example, the run of injuries at centre, and the shooting percentage struggles of the top line have hurt the team badly, and neither was a predictable problem. With teams as close as they are, my personal belief is that it takes some things going wrong to end up at the bottom of the pile, and that's happened in Edmonton. But those unforseen problems would have had less impact if visible problems had been addressed earlier. JW.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

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Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#51 Rod from Viking
March 09 2013, 01:26PM
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David wrote:

Brian Burke would make a good GM, but he does not sound like a yes man so this is a non starter if Lowe is around.

He has a good grasp on how to build a team , look at the USA olympic team very competitive and pushed Canada to the brink in the gold medal game.

A trip out to the barn would fix who would answer to who.

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#52 Spydyr
March 09 2013, 01:26PM
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Shaun Doe wrote:

I can't believe how many people are willing to get rid of Eberle already. They kid led the team in scoring two year in a row and despite a down year has played very hard on the puck in past seasons. I wouldn't be suprised to see an injury hindering his game this season. I think I'd rather trade an unknown in Yakupov before I went the trade route with Eberle. Just my two bit though.

I for one am not "Willing" to get "rid" of Eberle.

What they have now is not working(obviously). You have to give up a player to get a player.He is my choice from the fab five.Most say Yak.Not me.I see him winning the Rocket Richard trophy one day.

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#53 Fent
March 09 2013, 01:31PM
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The way the game is played these days, your going to have many players going down to serious injuries.

Unless the game changes thinking of untouchables or draft picks is a dream.

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#54 Reagan
March 09 2013, 01:37PM
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A big package needs to be created to bring some real NHL talent in. It may not hurt so much to trade one of the big for hopefuls for a chance to build success.

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#55 DSF
March 09 2013, 01:43PM
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In other news...the sad sack CLB Blue jackets lead the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 late in the second period.

In about an hour, the Oilers will be 15th in the W.C.

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#56 DSF
March 09 2013, 01:44PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

A trip out to the barn would fix who would answer to who.

Remember when Burke said Lowe would run the Oilers into the ground?

He was right.

I'm sure Burke would only take the reins if Lowe was fired, as he should be.

This is his mess to wear.

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#57 Oiler Al
March 09 2013, 01:47PM
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WOW!... THANK YOU JOHNATAN.. Great write up and perspective on the situation, and more so having the fortitude to make the call, unlike many scribes ,honestly, no tire blowing here.

I would not touch 4,14,93,64, or 19, at this point. Certainly not before we see the "draft day positioning". These guys are all young and skilled and need development.. throwing these kids into the fire without vet support is just dumb.Veteran leadership is non existent on this team.. Sorry Smyth and Horcoff are not the answer, neither is Hemsky and Whittney.

Unless there are changes in the ivory tower, not much will happen. I really believe that Lowe has his hands in the pie more than you would want, and Katz is not far off the scene.. !

Yes Tambelini and even Krueger should go, but you have start higher, as these two guys are the front men for the real honcho.

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#58 Oilcruzer
March 09 2013, 01:48PM
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Reagan wrote:

A big package needs to be created to bring some real NHL talent in. It may not hurt so much to trade one of the big for hopefuls for a chance to build success.

"bring some real NHL talent in"

WTH?

This team is stacked with talent that needs a little seasoning and line support/tinkering.

A bad couple games is not a bad team.

Wasn't it just a month ago that Toronto was the 43 year joke? Did they get a new team in 4 weeks?

The bad is never as bad as it seems... but it could get "badder" by making dumb moves.

Trading the farm is just.... wow.

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#59 Gret99zky
March 09 2013, 01:48PM
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When Taylor Hall asks for a trade out of this gong show, I won't blame him one bit.

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#60 DoubleA34
March 09 2013, 01:50PM
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It would be sweet if at the next home game the fans greeted those bums with a "Fire Lowe" chant at the opening puck drop

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#61 Butters
March 09 2013, 01:52PM
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Here are some problems as I see it. The Oilers have too many young kids thrust into roles that they are not ready for. Their veteran players are just not good enough anymore or are injured so there is little choice.

I would bet dollars to donuts Eberle has a hand injury and Nuge's shoulder is acting up.

The defense is also not good enough. Junior Schultz is too inexperienced to lead the d corps.

Other teams trap the @#%& out of the Oilers so they can't use their speed.

Talk of trading any of the best 5 is ridiculous. The only redudancy the Oilers have is at RW. I love, but would trade Hemsky before Yak or Ebs.

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#62 DSF
March 09 2013, 01:54PM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

"bring some real NHL talent in"

WTH?

This team is stacked with talent that needs a little seasoning and line support/tinkering.

A bad couple games is not a bad team.

Wasn't it just a month ago that Toronto was the 43 year joke? Did they get a new team in 4 weeks?

The bad is never as bad as it seems... but it could get "badder" by making dumb moves.

Trading the farm is just.... wow.

The team is getting worse....not better.

Toronto has been improving steadily.

As you may recall, you made a bet with me that the Oilers goal differential this season would be much better than last season's -27.

Pro-rated over 82 games, the Oiler's goal differential this season is on pace for -58.

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#63 Butters
March 09 2013, 01:57PM
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Also, a lot of the good clubs seem to find some gems after the 1st round of the draft. I haven't seen much of that here lately. I thought Omark might have been one, oops.

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#64 Wäx Män Riley
March 09 2013, 02:01PM
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DevoKnows wrote:

"Id add Eberle and RNH to that list."

Be careful, this team needs to get stronger and grittier in the top lines. RNH clearly shows he's very weak and doesn't like the rough going

I don't know about that. Check out the one good thing that happened last nigh:

RNH's hit on Shea Weber . Click the button on the right under hits. You will see Hopkins on Weber.

Gives me a bit of hope anyway.

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#65 Oilfred
March 09 2013, 02:08PM
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a lg dubl dubl wrote:

Id add Eberle and RNH to that list.

Id also be willing to trade Yakupov and this years 1st for Perry.

Wow that's crazy!

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#66 Oilfred
March 09 2013, 02:16PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

RE: Untouchables

It's important not to do much to the young core right now, I think - except in moves that bring in equally young players at a position of need (for example, Colorado dealt a 23-year old Owen Nolan to S.J. for a 23-year old Sandis Ozolinsh before they won their first Cup).

If the team starts moving the Yakupovs, Eberles, RNH's, etc. for veterans they're going to turn into the Islanders - a team that dealt guys like Luongo, Chara, Bertuzzi, Jokinen, Brewer, McCabe and others the instant they started struggling.

This all day long.

The key is not to overreact. Zona had an acticle at the begining of the season about how much luck would play in this season.

We are not a contending team, but the hardest part are almost all here, we need to be patient. the Going for it now is folly.

Having said that unless there was a secret plan to suck our way to another top pick in a great draft year . . . wait with all this evidense is there anyway that could not have been the plan?

Lowe is an evil genious. This team will not be a contender until the new building is up.

Sad but true.

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#67 John Chambers
March 09 2013, 02:19PM
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DSF wrote:

Remember when Burke said Lowe would run the Oilers into the ground?

He was right.

I'm sure Burke would only take the reins if Lowe was fired, as he should be.

This is his mess to wear.

I think it was 'run the team into the toilet' to be precise.

Thing is - the Oilers have lots of good pieces. The raw materials are almost all there. Problem is theres nobody competent to assemble it all together.

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#68 Oilfred
March 09 2013, 02:22PM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

"bring some real NHL talent in"

WTH?

This team is stacked with talent that needs a little seasoning and line support/tinkering.

A bad couple games is not a bad team.

Wasn't it just a month ago that Toronto was the 43 year joke? Did they get a new team in 4 weeks?

The bad is never as bad as it seems... but it could get "badder" by making dumb moves.

Trading the farm is just.... wow.

Badly needed voice of reason!

Thank you sir.

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#69 DSF
March 09 2013, 02:24PM
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John Chambers wrote:

I think it was 'run the team into the toilet' to be precise.

Thing is - the Oilers have lots of good pieces. The raw materials are almost all there. Problem is theres nobody competent to assemble it all together.

And that's exactly what Burke is best at.

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#70 Gerard
March 09 2013, 02:24PM
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At least last year they tried. And we're actually exciting to watch. Now it's bore you to indifference last place hockey. Good job Lowe and tambi guess they really like jones or mackinnon.

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#71 Gerald R. Ford
March 09 2013, 02:27PM
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Burke.

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#72 John Chambers
March 09 2013, 02:28PM
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@Saytalk

I dunno, I think Quebec would take a mulligan on that Sundin for Wendel Clark trade. Still turned out pretty good for them tho.

That's the problem - it will take some time to realize these players' potential and the fans have already been waiting.

Ebs is a magnificent player and you'd hate to give away a guy who could score 250 goals as an Oiler - but his contract more than anything might limit our flexibility.

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#73 John Chambers
March 09 2013, 02:34PM
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@DSF

What's amazing is that KLowe had a pretty good record as GM up until 5 years ago, or about the time of the Souray contract. He made good deals on both Pronger trades, brought in vets for the Cup run, believed in the value of experienced goaltending .... But suffered from Prendergast's terrible drafting.

That's what makes this all so puzzling - we had a champagne team on a beer budget and now that the marquee talent has arrived there's no more accountability. It's bizarre.

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#74 Gret99zky
March 09 2013, 02:37PM
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Funny thing is...

The Oilers will draft in the top 3 and pick a smallish forward and then ask him to play out of his natural position.

We already see Yak on LW instead of his natural RW and there's talk of moving Hall to C even though he is a natural and dominant winger.

Draft McKinnon and ask him to play D.

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#75 Reagan
March 09 2013, 02:39PM
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Oilcruzer you clearly need to remove your Kool-aid cooler glasses off. To expect this team to make any progress in the near future, it requires to move prospects to get NHL talent to play here. Are you so blind to realize it will take another two to three seasons before this team becomes competitive. It was a clear indication from the Detroit game that our so called vetrans had given up hope. Could Belanger and Smyth skate any quicker to get off the ice. It sucks buy one of the door may have to be moved. Hence the Oilers draft choices never did address their needs in the first place. Did they get bigger? No. Did they get a big talented center? No. It makes me want to pull my hair out. They opted for the small crafty wingers. I love Taylor hall to pieces but the odd crash and old charging hall would be nice once in a while, instead of these ridiculous cute plays. Once again looking out of the playoffs.

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#76 Reagan
March 09 2013, 02:40PM
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Yakupov playing out of position and buried on the third line also drive me nuts!

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#77 DSF
March 09 2013, 02:46PM
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John Chambers wrote:

What's amazing is that KLowe had a pretty good record as GM up until 5 years ago, or about the time of the Souray contract. He made good deals on both Pronger trades, brought in vets for the Cup run, believed in the value of experienced goaltending .... But suffered from Prendergast's terrible drafting.

That's what makes this all so puzzling - we had a champagne team on a beer budget and now that the marquee talent has arrived there's no more accountability. It's bizarre.

Really, it's been about 7 years.

The wheels started to fall of when he re-signed Pisani, Moreau etc, to vastly inflated contracts and then just kept doing more of the same with Horcoff and Khabibulin.

Signing Hemsky, Hall and Eberle to inflated deals before necessary indicates he's learned nothing from his earlier mistakes.

There isn't another organization in hockey that would allow that kind of track record to go unpunished.

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#78 Dmac
March 09 2013, 02:56PM
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This team simply put is lacking leadership and acountability! From Players, Coaches and Managment. This team needs personel in all areas that simply don't tolerate loosing. The product on the ice shows this weakness. Please tell me who on this team will hold their team mates acountable .

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#79 106 and 106
March 09 2013, 03:06PM
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Nice piece JW,

There was another article saying that Katz' will have to make the ultimate decision, and that no change in management would come (at least) until after the draft...

I know that the management does care, and are being irresponsible ("assessing") with looking at needs, but at what stage (if any), does Katz' have to make a decision to let the VP of Hockey Operations cease to exist as a title and find a General Manager who will.... generally manage?

I mean, there's no pressure on him as a businessman, right? He is still turning a buck right now, but a culture of losing is eventually going to turn the milk sour, and all the momentum from Schultz' signing here, new arena, etc. will mean nothing again.

We'll just be another cold, dark, pressure-packed hockey city.

Thanks!

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#80 FastOil
March 09 2013, 03:12PM
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"takes some things going wrong to end up at the bottom of the pile, and that's happened in Edmonton."

I agree somewhat, but I think you're letting them off too easily.

One season of misfortune is one thing, but if you've had 6, decision making is at the root of the problem.

Relying on chronically injured, aging players to fill key roles, over working young players who then have injury problems, good teams don't do these things. This last issue comes from the first and thinking unskilled hockey players contribute anything to a team's success.

Howson comes up now, and it would be a devastating mistake to bring him back. He bungled colossally in CBJ. Went for coke machines, let a shooting centre play with a shooting winger so they both underachieved, and managed people poorly.

Holding on to Nash until he spoke out meant he kept him to get what he wanted back, and ended up getting less in the end. That is having no feel for a situation and losing out because of it. It may also show weak negotiating skills.

A better GM would have dealt him for less than he wanted but got more than Howson did because he could read the tea leaves, or was at least looking in the cup in the first place. Perhaps the owners were interfering, again a good manager would successfully explain the situation as it was changing. I'd bet money Howson could have traded Nash for Hemsky and Edmonton's first and probably more, kept Carter and had a good first line when Hemsky was playing.

On the bright side the fixes for the Oilers aren't tricky, except maybe the first pairing D.

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#81 jooks
March 09 2013, 03:14PM
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@JW

Hmmm...I'd argue that the lack of depth at centre WAS a foreseeable problem. Belanger was barely treading water as 4C last year while Lander fell off a cliff in his NHL stint. His time in the AHL since has been passable but not particularly encouraging that he'd be a good 4th line centre this year. So since he's the first call-up option I'd say mgmt's refusal to add a better option was definitely a lack of foresight.

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#82 Butters
March 09 2013, 03:16PM
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It's official, Oilers are last in the WC. Do we pick Jones/MacKinnon/Drouin/Barkov or other?

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#83 David S
March 09 2013, 03:17PM
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[Sorry in advance guys but I'm gonna piss a few people off with this one.]

Who in their right mind would have expected our "top line" to have a shooting percentage anywhere near sustainably decent when the entire trio is younger than alot of guys on the Oil Kings? They're one dimensional, therefore easy to strategize against and not nearly mature enough to handle the constant pounding that line is subjected to nightly going up against opposing top lines. As it stands right now they're getting the crap kicked out of them and as a result both Hall and Nuge may now be playing injured.

This whole narrative of "Management is incompetent! - FIRE THEM ALL!" sounds pretty good and is alot of fun (I tweeted the exact thing last night). It's also a handy tool that allows bloggers and keyboard GM's to pat themselves on the back having somehow mystically gleaned team weaknesses last summer that guys who actually get paid to do so "apparently" missed.

Right.

Our company works with the same firm the Oilers use - Darkhorse at the U of A. They (the Oilers) are heavy into analytics. I don't work with the Darkhorse team directly, but their forward looking situation projection and analysis is uncannily accurate. You think you're good at parsing stats? These guys are freaking Jedi masters by comparison.

It's more than a little likely management knew full well this team wasn't going anywhere all along. In fact, I'd bet some serious cash they counted on it. Think about it. Part-timers and blog heroes can figure out there's massive holes in the lineup and guys who've been intimately involved in the sport for decades can't? You really believe that? C'mon. One key piece goes down, the whole team goes to sh!t and not a thing is done to rectify the situation? *SHOCKER*

Look, I don't know the real plan any more than any of you guys. But my guess is when Horcoff went down the team was presented with a golden opportunity to go for another high pick, which will be used in combination with existing high-value assets (i.e. Gagner, Hemsky) to fill in the missing pieces. On top of which we have scads of cap room. Chances are the current bottom six, half our D and at least one goalie will not be here next year.

The Oilers will be damn busy the next six months. Book it. With respect to Tambellini, he's a patsy and would have been fired by now if he wasn't doing EXACTLY what Lowe and Katz wanted. To that end my money is on MacT taking over the GM reigns in the very near future.

You know who I feel really bad for? The players. Check out the latest post-game interviews on the team site. That's the first time I've seen Ladi Smid with not a whiff of positivity. He looks absolutely defeated. I don't want to think everybody else feels like. They're in the midst of a full-on tank job. They know it and there's jack they can do about it.

Wonder why the team looks completely unmotivated alot of the time? They're being asked to play far above their abilities and get the living hell kicked out of them doing so. That is simply not a sustainable state of mind for any athlete.

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#84 RexLibris
March 09 2013, 03:18PM
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Terrific article, Jonathan. Sobering, somewhat upsetting over the likelihood of repeating these mistakes this summer, but all the same, a very good piece.

As upset as I am about management right now, it isn't limited to Lowe and Tamebellini. Morey Gare and the professional scouting staff and Rick Olcyk as head "capologist" are also drawing my ire.

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#85 Pharmboy
March 09 2013, 03:22PM
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Klefbom? Any hope he can be Pronger-like in his first year in the NHL coming off injury? Didn't think so, this really isn't looking good.

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#86 Oilfred
March 09 2013, 03:31PM
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David S wrote:

[Sorry in advance guys but I'm gonna piss a few people off with this one.]

Who in their right mind would have expected our "top line" to have a shooting percentage anywhere near sustainably decent when the entire trio is younger than alot of guys on the Oil Kings? They're one dimensional, therefore easy to strategize against and not nearly mature enough to handle the constant pounding that line is subjected to nightly going up against opposing top lines. As it stands right now they're getting the crap kicked out of them and as a result both Hall and Nuge may now be playing injured.

This whole narrative of "Management is incompetent! - FIRE THEM ALL!" sounds pretty good and is alot of fun (I tweeted the exact thing last night). It's also a handy tool that allows bloggers and keyboard GM's to pat themselves on the back having somehow mystically gleaned team weaknesses last summer that guys who actually get paid to do so "apparently" missed.

Right.

Our company works with the same firm the Oilers use - Darkhorse at the U of A. They (the Oilers) are heavy into analytics. I don't work with the Darkhorse team directly, but their forward looking situation projection and analysis is uncannily accurate. You think you're good at parsing stats? These guys are freaking Jedi masters by comparison.

It's more than a little likely management knew full well this team wasn't going anywhere all along. In fact, I'd bet some serious cash they counted on it. Think about it. Part-timers and blog heroes can figure out there's massive holes in the lineup and guys who've been intimately involved in the sport for decades can't? You really believe that? C'mon. One key piece goes down, the whole team goes to sh!t and not a thing is done to rectify the situation? *SHOCKER*

Look, I don't know the real plan any more than any of you guys. But my guess is when Horcoff went down the team was presented with a golden opportunity to go for another high pick, which will be used in combination with existing high-value assets (i.e. Gagner, Hemsky) to fill in the missing pieces. On top of which we have scads of cap room. Chances are the current bottom six, half our D and at least one goalie will not be here next year.

The Oilers will be damn busy the next six months. Book it. With respect to Tambellini, he's a patsy and would have been fired by now if he wasn't doing EXACTLY what Lowe and Katz wanted. To that end my money is on MacT taking over the GM reigns in the very near future.

You know who I feel really bad for? The players. Check out the latest post-game interviews on the team site. That's the first time I've seen Ladi Smid with not a whiff of positivity. He looks absolutely defeated. I don't want to think everybody else feels like. They're in the midst of a full-on tank job. They know it and there's jack they can do about it.

Wonder why the team looks completely unmotivated alot of the time? They're being asked to play far above their abilities and get the living hell kicked out of them doing so. That is simply not a sustainable state of mind for any athlete.

This

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#87 steve
March 09 2013, 03:37PM
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Krueger coaches to defend not to play offense as he did while he was the Swiss head coach. Get off this bull crap about the offense will come, this guys is sinking the offensive players. How does Eberle/Hall/Schultz all have well over a PPG average in the AHL and come to Edmonton and suddenly lose the offense???? Krueger goes, and so does the guy who hired 4 coaches in his tenure. Otherwise if they dont clean up management, this team is doomed and I will not be watching this junk.

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#88 David S
March 09 2013, 03:43PM
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steve wrote:

Krueger coaches to defend not to play offense as he did while he was the Swiss head coach. Get off this bull crap about the offense will come, this guys is sinking the offensive players. How does Eberle/Hall/Schultz all have well over a PPG average in the AHL and come to Edmonton and suddenly lose the offense???? Krueger goes, and so does the guy who hired 4 coaches in his tenure. Otherwise if they dont clean up management, this team is doomed and I will not be watching this junk.

Uhhh...because the AHL is a league far below the NHL, despite the propaganda and rhetoric to the contrary. Hall, Ebs and Nuuuge must have felt like Globetrotters down there. They weren't getting hammered every shift, every night. Must have been like a paid holiday for them.

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#89 FastOil
March 09 2013, 03:46PM
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"Our company works with the same firm the Oilers use - Darkhorse at the U of A. They (the Oilers) are heavy into analytics. I don't work with the Darkhorse team directly, but their forward looking situation projection and analysis is uncannily accurate. You think you're good at parsing stats? These guys are freaking Jedi masters by comparison."

There are I am sure multi thousands of statisticians in NA. Why does so much go wrong, especially in business?

How much does dark horse know about hockey? What are they being asked to analyze by the team.

I can buy they are tanking on purpose, but that is far from having a master plan or being able to execute it. There is enough evidence to say that they believe things that aren't true, like a "shutdown defenseman" is more necessary than a full game D - Gilbert for Schultz. That deal hurt the team, a lot, and has nothing to do with tanking, or with Justin Schultz arriving. It was just stupid, a bad trade.

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#90 David S
March 09 2013, 03:54PM
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FastOil wrote:

"Our company works with the same firm the Oilers use - Darkhorse at the U of A. They (the Oilers) are heavy into analytics. I don't work with the Darkhorse team directly, but their forward looking situation projection and analysis is uncannily accurate. You think you're good at parsing stats? These guys are freaking Jedi masters by comparison."

There are I am sure multi thousands of statisticians in NA. Why does so much go wrong, especially in business?

How much does dark horse know about hockey? What are they being asked to analyze by the team.

I can buy they are tanking on purpose, but that is far from having a master plan or being able to execute it. There is enough evidence to say that they believe things that aren't true, like a "shutdown defenseman" is more necessary than a full game D - Gilbert for Schultz. That deal hurt the team, a lot, and has nothing to do with tanking, or with Justin Schultz arriving. It was just stupid, a bad trade.

The Gilbert trade might not have been by design.

Just sayin'.

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#93 David S
March 09 2013, 04:15PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

It's a nice theory, David. It would have more weight if the "guys who've been intimately involved in the sport for decades" hadn't already run the team into the ground.

Either the decisions makers are incredibly bright and they've been playing possum since 2006, or they're exactly what they look like: incompetent, even if they have hired smart people.

And as fun as it is to joke about part-timers and blog heroes, the part-timers and blog heroes were smart enough to know the Khabibulin deal was an albatross before it happened. Now, sure, maybe Steve Tambellini (or Kevin Lowe, if we're going to fully indulge in your conspiracy theory - funny how Lowe keeps hiring coaches Tambellini is intimately familiar with, but that's another story) brought in Pat Quinn/Nikolai Khabibulin specifically to tank the team, or maybe they really are just bad at their jobs.

The popular theory at the time was that Khabibulin was the sweetener for the Heatley deal. I think the mistake they made was in thinking he'd be a good acquisition even if the trade didn't work out.

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#94 TonyT
March 09 2013, 04:17PM
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@David S

Agree 100% I think management threw us a curve ball when they traded for Fistric to start the season, we (the fans, maybe even the players) took it as a sign that they were trying to fill holes and improve the club, then 3 centers go down and *crickets*, we should have knew then and there what the plan for the season was.

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#95 David S
March 09 2013, 04:20PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Honest question, David: how much AHL hockey did you watch during the lockout?

Because you may recall Antoine Roussel going knee-on-knee with Jordan Eberle, or any of dozens of other incidents. The kids took hits. That's what happens in high level hockey, which the AHL is normally, and especially so during the lockout.

I don't doubt they took their hits, but I DID watch as many AHL games as I could handle (with pixel-vision and all). Eberle, Hall and Nuge did pretty much whatever they wanted more often than not.

True the AHL had alot of NHL'ers during the lockout and isn't a bad league by any stretch of the imagination. But the gap between leagues certainly has to account for the redeployed Oilers kicking the crap outta the scoring standings. It also has to account for the fact that we haven't had alot of Barons-grown players making the leap to the main team and holding onto a spot. VDV is a great example.

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#96 moe
March 09 2013, 04:23PM
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If they don't fire someone when they get home from this road trip i quit!!! I will burn this jersey and with that lloydminster didn't bail edmonton out when they were gonna move this team back in the sky reach days!!!!!

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#97 Wäx Män Riley
March 09 2013, 04:24PM
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DSF wrote:

Really, it's been about 7 years.

The wheels started to fall of when he re-signed Pisani, Moreau etc, to vastly inflated contracts and then just kept doing more of the same with Horcoff and Khabibulin.

Signing Hemsky, Hall and Eberle to inflated deals before necessary indicates he's learned nothing from his earlier mistakes.

There isn't another organization in hockey that would allow that kind of track record to go unpunished.

Ummm the Islanders

Crap. The Oilers are no better than the Islanders, and I don't see it getting better with Tambo there.

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#99 David S
March 09 2013, 04:25PM
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FastOil wrote:

"Our company works with the same firm the Oilers use - Darkhorse at the U of A. They (the Oilers) are heavy into analytics. I don't work with the Darkhorse team directly, but their forward looking situation projection and analysis is uncannily accurate. You think you're good at parsing stats? These guys are freaking Jedi masters by comparison."

There are I am sure multi thousands of statisticians in NA. Why does so much go wrong, especially in business?

How much does dark horse know about hockey? What are they being asked to analyze by the team.

I can buy they are tanking on purpose, but that is far from having a master plan or being able to execute it. There is enough evidence to say that they believe things that aren't true, like a "shutdown defenseman" is more necessary than a full game D - Gilbert for Schultz. That deal hurt the team, a lot, and has nothing to do with tanking, or with Justin Schultz arriving. It was just stupid, a bad trade.

Things go wrong because alot of times because senior execs are afraid to act on what the data tells them, or act on it in a timely fashion. Business today works on a timeline far faster than alot of businesses can keep up with. Lack of agility is the prime business Achilles heel these days.

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