CRAIG MACTAVISH: YOU WANT BOLD?

Robin Brownlee
May 23 2013 09:34PM

I don't think it’s going to take Craig MacTavish long to make some of the bold moves he talked about when he was unveiled as the new GM of the Edmonton Oilers, and I still believe one of those moves could come behind the bench.

My suggestion on May 12 that MacTavish might, or at least should, consider moving head coach Ralph Krueger back into an associate coaching role if he wants to take a run at one of the available or soon-to-be available coaches out there – Lindy Ruff, Dave Tippett and, now, Alain Vigneault – to improve the Oilers, drew a mixed response.

Dismissed by some when I wrote the piece, discussion and speculation arounf town about the possibility – and that's all it is because I've made it clear nobody within the organization has given me the drop that such a plan is in the works – has picked up steadily since then.

Jason Gregor and discussed it last week and again this week on his show. I've heard the idea debated on TEAM 1260's morning show and on the Jason Strudwick Show. TSN's Ryan Rishaug has touched on it more than once on all three shows. Rishaug believes, as I do, that MacTavish has to at put in a call if he thinks he can land one of the coaching UFAs.

Rishaug, for the record, thinks Tippett would be the best fit here, even with Vigneault now available. I like Tippett, who I focused on in the original piece, but I consider Vigneault neck and neck with him. Both would be an upgrade.

Why wouldn't, and why shouldn’t, MacTavish consider moving Krueger aside or out -- if he feels the same way? Bold, no?

MORE THAN COACHING

After a carousel of coaches, including MacTavish, Pat Quinn, Tom Renney and Krueger during these seven years out of the playoffs, I get it why fans roll their eyes at the thought of another coaching change. "They've changed the coaches, Brownlee. Change the damn players."

I get that sentiment and I agree with it completely. Gregor and I, as well as others, have talked about this at length. You can't just keep replacing the men behind the bench because Scotty Bowman couldn’t coach this group, as it stands now in terms of personnel, into the playoffs. That's a fact.

MacTavish would be foolish – he's not -- to think he can bring in a new coach, snap his fingers and get a markedly better result than what we've already seen without changing the roster considerably. He has to (and I believe he will, beyond farting around with fourth-line forwards and third-pairing D-men).

That said, needed upgrades in player personnel and the fact that it's been a turnstile behind the bench in recent seasons, shouldn't prevent MacTavish from pursuing Tippett or Vigneault IF he sees one of them as a key component moving forward. If that's the first move available to him and it makes sense, then pull the trigger. Make the move. Be bold.

I'd like to think MacTavish, as the new GM, has been given the green light to make changes as he sees fit, regardless of what moves were made before he agreed to take the job. I can't imagine MacT took the position with conditions attached – you’re the boss, MacT, but you can't hire a new coach and you can't trade Ales Hemsky and you can't . . .

Would moving Krueger aside or out for Tippett or Vigneault or pick-a-name turn this team around without addressing the holes on the roster? Absolutely not. Should MacTavish approach one of them if he believes this organization will be better for it? Absolutely. It's as simple as that.

STREAKCRED

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Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 NK
May 23 2013, 09:39PM
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The fact that MacTavish had a working relationship with AV might play into it.

I for one would think hiring Alain V as head coach would be a bold move yet the right move. It would show that MacT is moving his feet not his mouth.

I hear Krueger is a good communicator but this is a result based business. Just win.

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#2 Sidd
May 23 2013, 09:43PM
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People just hate the Canucks they hate more than they can see talent . AV is and will be a great coach wherever he goes.

Believe it or not Vancouver is a well run organization.

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#3 Jeffff
May 23 2013, 09:47PM
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Every GM in the NHL would like their team to get better. Obviously Edmonton has done a poor job since the 2004 lockout. They have the worst record in the NHL. Kevin ( 6 cups) Lowe can go on and on about knowing about winning but the facts speak loud in this world.

Something needs to change or it will be more of the same.

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#4 Racki
May 23 2013, 09:51PM
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I do think no coach could make this current team a winner, but with the candidates out there, moving Krueger aside to assistant (should new coach want that) for a more technical coach would be a good idea. There is still much to be done with the team and I always liked Krueger, but I think it would be a wise choice. I would hope that Krueger would stay on as assistant though cause I think he's a smart guy and very well liked with the players. Definitely would be a very good assistant coach (again) .

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#5 Oilertown
May 23 2013, 09:51PM
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Sidd wrote:

People just hate the Canucks they hate more than they can see talent . AV is and will be a great coach wherever he goes.

Believe it or not Vancouver is a well run organization.

Yeah sure they are just look at the moves they made in the last 3 years ahum.

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#6 Devolution
May 23 2013, 09:51PM
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Sidd wrote:

People just hate the Canucks they hate more than they can see talent . AV is and will be a great coach wherever he goes.

Believe it or not Vancouver is a well run organization.

I actually like the Canuck's team. It's the fans that I have a problem with.

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#7 Sidd
May 23 2013, 09:55PM
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@Devolution

Can't argue with that, I can't stand the fans. I do like a couple of the players.

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#8 Trufflepig
May 23 2013, 09:55PM
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I like the idea of Tippet because of his track record.

However isn't 48 games in 96 days a very short time period for a first time NHL coach to be judged on?

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#9 Sidd
May 23 2013, 09:56PM
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Oilertown wrote:

Yeah sure they are just look at the moves they made in the last 3 years ahum.

What would you say about a team the has the worst record in the NHL since the 2004 lockout?

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#10 T__Bone88
May 23 2013, 10:04PM
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Based upon the conference call MacT had this evening it sounded like Krueger will remain as head coach. I understand that there will be better coaches available such as Ruff, AV and Tippett but if you keep changing coaches on a young impressionable team it can backfire for development. Everytime a new coach is brought in the players will have to learn a new system and sometimes that can take awhile as it was shown this past season. I say let Krueger remain as coach and make necessary changes to the roster to improve the team. If Krueger can not win with an improved roster then you can possibly replace him.

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#11 djc
May 23 2013, 10:05PM
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Jeffff wrote:

Every GM in the NHL would like their team to get better. Obviously Edmonton has done a poor job since the 2004 lockout. They have the worst record in the NHL. Kevin ( 6 cups) Lowe can go on and on about knowing about winning but the facts speak loud in this world.

Something needs to change or it will be more of the same.

Speaking of change, maybe you could stop posting the same comment after pretty much every article. We get it - the Oilers have the worst record since 2004 and you are still mad that Lowe said he won 6 Cups. Good for you though for not mentioning MacT's MBA this time. That seems to be a real sore spot for you.

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#12 Jeffff
May 23 2013, 10:10PM
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djc wrote:

Speaking of change, maybe you could stop posting the same comment after pretty much every article. We get it - the Oilers have the worst record since 2004 and you are still mad that Lowe said he won 6 Cups. Good for you though for not mentioning MacT's MBA this time. That seems to be a real sore spot for you.

I'm surprised not all GM have MBA's clearly that is the secret to winning the cup.

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#13 NSF
May 23 2013, 10:30PM
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Thats hockey Gillis should have been fired.

Lowe should have been fired.

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#14 DSF
May 23 2013, 10:40PM
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Jeffff wrote:

I'm surprised not all GM have MBA's clearly that is the secret to winning the cup.

Many of the successful GM's have law degrees and experience as player agents.

MBA's...not so much.

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#15 DSF
May 23 2013, 10:41PM
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In other news...I'd wager AV ends up in Dallas and Vancouver hires Tippet.

Win-win-win

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#16 DonDon
May 23 2013, 10:47PM
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Can this organization stick with Krueger as head coach, who was a rookie NHL head coach last season and apparently a nice guy, when there are experienced coaches with winning records available? And available assistant coaches with winning records. If the posters owned the Oilers, would they not attempt to improve all aspects of a long-time losing franchise? I would like to think so.

This is all about winning and winning has been the exception for this perennial losing hockey club. Besides, the fans and sponsors are paying top dollars for a less than acceptable entertainment experience, they deserve better Mr. Katz.

As MacTavish promised, don't measure his performance by words but by accomplishments. Bold change, he stated, was essential. After missing the SC playoffs for seven consequtive seasons and ending 30th, 30th, 29th and 24th the past four seasons one would think bold moves would be essential, not fine tuning. I don't think there is any question among the posters as to the weaknesses of the present roster (centre, defence, toughness, grit, etc.). Obviously, there are disagreements on the abilities of Gagner, Hemsky, Horcott and Smyth, but it is up to MacTavish to sort this out. Sorry to say as an Oilers fan, if he is not bold enough, the franchise will continue to be a loser.

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#17 madjam
May 23 2013, 10:50PM
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Where is Habshied coaching ?

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#18 wiseguy
May 23 2013, 10:56PM
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The problem with this organization would be repeated if a new coach was hired and Krueger moved to associate coach. An established successful coach will never agree to a job where his assistants are dictated to him. Vancouver fires the head coach and his assistants, thereby letting a new coach build a support team of guys who know and can teach his system. We fire a guy and hire a new one, with the caveat that he has to retain Bucky (and Smith). This is a big deterrent to good coaches and also severely limits the success of the new coach as he has to teach not only the players, but also the assistant coaches. Imagine being a department head for Social Studies in high school where you have to teach the students the curriculum but all your teachers are math teachers. I'm thinking your students' performance will be poor.

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#19 clyde
May 23 2013, 11:00PM
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I agree with what you say about a coaching change. I have heard that none other than Lowe himself would like to coach.

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#20 Biowolf
May 23 2013, 11:00PM
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I rather watch the Oilers lose than see them win Tippett style. Same goes for Mr V BORING

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#21 madjam
May 23 2013, 11:01PM
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MacT. should be a good judge of coaches being one himself for quite a while . I trust begrudgingly that he is making the right decision in regards to coaching . I doubt any of the other coaches mentioned would/could have fared any better than Ralph with the lineup he had .

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#22 WhattaMike
May 23 2013, 11:05PM
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Hey RB, I like the idea of sweeping changes but you said yourself....that even Scotty Bowman wouldn'thave got this year's team into the playoffs asstredly....maybe would have got a few more points in the standings tho.

Krueger worked with what he had this year and he learned at the same time.....in only 48 games as head coach.

What about Bucky or Steve Smith? Maybe they did not perform as good enough coaches themselves?

I say change/upgrade this Team, now and significantly first, and see what Krueger doies then.

However, that being said, bringing in another top end coach such as Dave Tippet, as associate coach, will have strong advantages.

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#23 madjam
May 23 2013, 11:08PM
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What MacT. knows , probably ranks much higher than what most think they know ?

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#24 Woogie63
May 23 2013, 11:09PM
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I think the coach significantly UNDER PERFORMED last year,

Team missed the play-offs

Eberle, RNH, Shultz Jr., Shultz Sr., Petry, Whitney, And Smid appeared to have been less effective,

Difficultly finding a role for Hemsky, Hartikanen, Jones, MPS (maybe)

Gave up on 2 of the 3 hard to play agaist players - Eager, Hordichuk

Good work with - Hall, Yakupov, Dubynk

In 2013/14 it is going to be basically the same team...can a new coach get more out of this line-up? Randy Carlyle did...

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#25 wiseguy
May 23 2013, 11:14PM
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Speaking of Lowe, I'm a little confused about whether I should be happy or terrified that Patrick Roy is with the Avalanche. He only has 4 rings compared to our esteemed leader's 6. However, Roy is in the HOF. Is that worth more than 2 rings or less? If its less then I'm relieved. If its more, then it means Roy knows more than a little bit about winning. According to Lowe, I should be concerned. We'll never be able to beat the Avs again!

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#26 Crackenbury
May 23 2013, 11:26PM
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I don't understand the persistent questioning by the media in this town about looking for a new coach. It seems to me someone is trying to create a story where one doesn't exist.

Coaches and players get paid big money to do their jobs. I guess they need to in order for them to subject themselves and their families to endless public speculation and baseless rumours thrown around by the media just to see what sticks.

You don't know yet what you have in Krueger. Everything I've seen and heard about the man suggests he may be something special. Give him some players and lets see what happens. Good coaches are available every single offseason.

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#27 Jimmer
May 23 2013, 11:27PM
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Why would any of them come here knowing our track record with coaches in the last 5 years?

Coaches want to play for GMs and Presidents that "have their backs" not ones that are ready to plunge a steak knife "in their backs."

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#28 Klima's Mullet
May 23 2013, 11:30PM
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Biowolf wrote:

I rather watch the Oilers lose than see them win Tippett style. Same goes for Mr V BORING

For sure Tippett would put the shackles on the track meet...hiring him would be awful for what is becoming a fun team to watch

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#29 Shaun Doe
May 23 2013, 11:33PM
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Problem with AV as a coach is that he has very little patience for young players and often chooses to play "his" guys rather than those brought in by the GM. Kassian has had a hell of a time breaking the roster as he gets sent down or benched every time he makes a mistake. The same can be said for players like Schroeder, Hodgson and Grabner. Ballard is one of those players that was brought in by Gillis and placed in the press box by AV. I don't have the Hockey pedigree that he has but I do question his roster decisions. I also don't think the guy is capable of changing his game plan quick enough to adapt to other teams which completely cripples his team come play-offs.

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#30 Klima's Mullet
May 23 2013, 11:51PM
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Crackenbury wrote:

I don't understand the persistent questioning by the media in this town about looking for a new coach. It seems to me someone is trying to create a story where one doesn't exist.

Coaches and players get paid big money to do their jobs. I guess they need to in order for them to subject themselves and their families to endless public speculation and baseless rumours thrown around by the media just to see what sticks.

You don't know yet what you have in Krueger. Everything I've seen and heard about the man suggests he may be something special. Give him some players and lets see what happens. Good coaches are available every single offseason.

Far too much logic in your comments.

Soccer analogy: in the 26 seasons Man U had Sir Alex Ferguson as their manager their arch-rivals, Manchester City had 20 different managers. Man U won 13 titles in this time period and City won 1. Interestingly, Man U were a mess when Ferguson took over and it took him 5 years to win his first league title. Countless fans wanted him sacked in the 5 year period prior to that first title, but the board of directors was patient with the manager and liked the structure and process in his approach. He then went on to win 13 titles in 21 years.

Stability in leadership works. Krueger is an organized professional who values structure. He will get the results the fans want in time with some tinkering of the personnel from Mac T.

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#31 magisterrex
May 23 2013, 11:58PM
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Absolutely NO chance that MacT makes this "bold move". An ex-coach who got the short end of the stick from a GM is going to do the same thing to another coach now that he is GM?

Robin, no matter how many times to beat the drum, MacT is not going to start up the dance.

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#32 Quicksilver ballet
May 24 2013, 12:07AM
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Maybe the reason the Oilers go through so many coaches, is because they really don't get to select their own assistants. Have to wonder if Krueger even agrees with the philosophies of Buchberger and Smith, whom were part of the last regime that was fired(Renney).

If you want to set up a coach to fail, continue to select his assistants for him. I hope Tippett comes in here with his own assistants, and does things his way. Push every player in that dressing room, out of their comfort zone.

Firing the entire coaching staff, and then letting Tippett bring in his own guys, would definitely be considered a bold move. This should work out a lot better than firing all the training staff, like Steve and his band of infinite wisdoms did a few of yrs ago.

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#33 Taylor Gang
May 24 2013, 12:08AM
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I don't see MacT bringing in a new head coach, but maybe a new associate coach.

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#34 Quicksilver ballet
May 24 2013, 12:24AM
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@Klima's Mullet

What a load of rubbish. Didn't Sir Alex Ferguson do his own recruiting/signing of his ball players? He, more than anybody knew the exact type of player(s) he wanted, and it was up to him to get what he wanted. There was no breakdown in communication, like with the Oilers, there's two/three/ten people involved. I'm sure this is why the Oilers kept *ucking things up. Tambellini would bring in Eager, Hordichuk, MacIntyre types that the coach would have absolutely no use for. They get 5 mins a night if they were fortunate. Big difference when you have two very different personalities trying to row in the same direction. Doesn't happen in todays game as often as it should.

If at first you don't succeed, just keep bringing more people in, so you can evenly distribute the blame. We're so sick of having a lame GM who only brings in 5-10 minute a night guys. How about some difference makers Craig, a couple 20 minute a night guys to push out the deadwood that's still here.

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#35 Rocket
May 24 2013, 12:46AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

What a load of rubbish. Didn't Sir Alex Ferguson do his own recruiting/signing of his ball players? He, more than anybody knew the exact type of player(s) he wanted, and it was up to him to get what he wanted. There was no breakdown in communication, like with the Oilers, there's two/three/ten people involved. I'm sure this is why the Oilers kept *ucking things up. Tambellini would bring in Eager, Hordichuk, MacIntyre types that the coach would have absolutely no use for. They get 5 mins a night if they were fortunate. Big difference when you have two very different personalities trying to row in the same direction. Doesn't happen in todays game as often as it should.

If at first you don't succeed, just keep bringing more people in, so you can evenly distribute the blame. We're so sick of having a lame GM who only brings in 5-10 minute a night guys. How about some difference makers Craig, a couple 20 minute a night guys to push out the deadwood that's still here.

Man U is like The Red Wings mixed with The Yankees. Awesome player development mixed with huge money in a non cap league.

They get & develop players to be winners and then sign big time players to big money contracts.

Sir Alex will definitely go down as one of the greats but even I can be GM if you give me the money to sign Rinaldo, Van Percie, etc.

I hope MacT & co. make smart moves this off season but I'm not going to complain yet before he has made any moves.

Let MacT work & then let the second guessing begin!

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#36 Quicksilver ballet
May 24 2013, 12:54AM
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@Rocket

True, we can only hope so.

This, so called work thing you mentioned for MacT. His efforts, will they be 70/30 Lowe and Mact combined effort, or do you feel MacTavish is going to be a self made man when doing his job? My feeling is it still going to be a 70/30 mostly Lowe steering this ship.

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#37 Rocket
May 24 2013, 12:58AM
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@Quicksilver ballet

Yeah you're probably right. Still, I have a blind faith (certainly not based on evidence) that Lowe can still spot OK players. Hey at this point the team can only get better right? I mean, they can barely get worse.

Maybe MacT & Lowe can find the magic again.

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#38 Klima's Mullet
May 24 2013, 12:59AM
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@Quicksilver ballet

If you think NHL coaches have no input on player recruiting, you are naive and uninformed. For example, Krueger was given much of the credit for recruiting Justin Shultz by the player. Mark Streit, who is on the wish list of many teams as a veteran puck mover/leader, may have more than a passing interest in collaborating with Krueger who he is familiar with from Swiss Hockey.

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#39 Norm
May 24 2013, 01:03AM
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I have heard several commentators (players and high foreheads) on the hockey shows talk about the Oiler's lack of structure. The jist of the discussion was that the inmates are running the asylum here. The Oilers are a gong show both on 'D' and 'O'.That is a function of the coaching staff...period.

The Oil failed to improve when Krueger was an associate for two years. He wasn't even the Oil's first choice as I recall.

A proven NHL coach could organize even this group of players to play more responsibly, just not enough to make any real noise without roster improvements.

There is no room for sentimentality here. Get a head coach with an NHL coaches resume and let's move forward.

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#40 Rocket
May 24 2013, 01:04AM
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@Klima's Mullet

I've got nothing against Streit but he would be a small temporary piece of the puzzle that helps the process along. Sort of like Sutton; a good-in-the-room veteran that can guide the kids on the bench.

Passing on Streit wouldn't be the worst either.

Maybe Krueger can get the whole Swiss national team together in Edmonton. At least they show they can compete!

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#41 Reg Dunlop
May 24 2013, 01:05AM
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Klima's Mullet wrote:

For sure Tippett would put the shackles on the track meet...hiring him would be awful for what is becoming a fun team to watch

Excuse me? 'Becoming a fun team to watch'? Put down the crack pipe man because you have clearly forgotten recent history, such as games 37 to 46 when the oil dropped from playoff contention with some of the worst efforts in franchise history( like the loss to the Calgary AHLers). If it's possible, get a real coach in here and lose Deepak Chopra. It is time to start winning and any suggestion that the decerning oil fan will only support a team that wins 'pretty' is asinine. Obla dee obla da life goes on. Bring on Tippett just like we should have brought in Hitchcock.

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#42 Klima's Mullet
May 24 2013, 01:17AM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

Excuse me? 'Becoming a fun team to watch'? Put down the crack pipe man because you have clearly forgotten recent history, such as games 37 to 46 when the oil dropped from playoff contention with some of the worst efforts in franchise history( like the loss to the Calgary AHLers). If it's possible, get a real coach in here and lose Deepak Chopra. It is time to start winning and any suggestion that the decerning oil fan will only support a team that wins 'pretty' is asinine. Obla dee obla da life goes on. Bring on Tippett just like we should have brought in Hitchcock.

You'll note that I used the term "is becoming" as in developing. They are not the finished product. It is undeniable that the Oilers possess an impressive stable of young, skilled, and electrifying players that are a lot of fun to watch. Ever watched Phoenix? Tippett and Hitchcock are skilled coaches, however they are likely most effective at playing a system where defense is the priority.

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#43 Rocket
May 24 2013, 01:23AM
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@Klima's Mullet

Yes for them defence is a priority. So is an aggressive forcheck & Physicality along the boards. None of which The Oilers have.

That's why MacT needs to find more effective role players. The coach may or may not be the problem. We'll see next season.

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#44 Klima's Mullet
May 24 2013, 01:26AM
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Rocket wrote:

Yes for them defence is a priority. So is an aggressive forcheck & Physicality along the boards. None of which The Oilers have.

That's why MacT needs to find more effective role players. The coach may or may not be the problem. We'll see next season.

I totally agree. I would rather emulate Pitt, Chi, Det, and Bos rather than Phx, Minn, or StL.

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#45 Rocket
May 24 2013, 01:31AM
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Klima's Mullet wrote:

I totally agree. I would rather emulate Pitt, Chi, Det, and Bos rather than Phx, Minn, or StL.

Me too although in Hitchcock's defence, he inherited the team that was there & used them to the best of their abilities. Good offence is fun to watch. Not sure it wins in the playoffs although Detroit keeps winning & STL just lost so really what do I know.

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#46 dsr
May 24 2013, 01:31AM
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Come on! Give Ralph a full year with this team and see what he can do. and please keep ruff away from this team!

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#47 Rocket
May 24 2013, 01:36AM
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dsr wrote:

Come on! Give Ralph a full year with this team and see what he can do. and please keep ruff away from this team!

Agreed. What did he say about Taylor Hall? Something about not really knowing his skill because he played in the western conference. Yeah Lindy, Why do research when you can just rely on Giroux & Stamkos to put up points. Pass.

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#48 Devolution
May 24 2013, 05:57AM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

Excuse me? 'Becoming a fun team to watch'? Put down the crack pipe man because you have clearly forgotten recent history, such as games 37 to 46 when the oil dropped from playoff contention with some of the worst efforts in franchise history( like the loss to the Calgary AHLers). If it's possible, get a real coach in here and lose Deepak Chopra. It is time to start winning and any suggestion that the decerning oil fan will only support a team that wins 'pretty' is asinine. Obla dee obla da life goes on. Bring on Tippett just like we should have brought in Hitchcock.

Not sure I agree, but bringing Deepak Chopra into the conversation made me laugh!

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#49 Gaz
May 24 2013, 06:48AM
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@DSF

And some of them have no formal education. I wouldn't get too wrapped up in it.

Your implication is, as always, trite.

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#50 madjam
May 24 2013, 06:57AM
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Krueger the right coach at this time ! Look - our youngsters have still not developed fully and still have deficiencies in their game . When they develop more results will follow irregardless of system used. Example -the Oiler dynasty never took off till youngsters devolped a more complete game . We are in that transition phase now . More coaches and more systems would just make things worse at this time . Kreuger is a motivator , patient , and players coach , and good one for developmental stage we are in . The other coaches are more for already preset contender clubs -not developing ones .

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