HITCHCOCK: "WE'LL GET PAAJARVI TO PLAY THROUGH PEOPLE"

Jason Gregor
July 29 2013 11:55AM

Ken Hitchcock has been a head coach in the NHL for 15 seasons, and he's earned a reputation of being a very demanding coach. Last year, Hitchcock told me he's changed his coaching style a bit. He isn't as demanding on non-game days as he was when he coached the Stars and Flyers, but on game days players still need to play the way he wants or they likely won't play.

Hitchcock gave me some insight into David Perron, and he also shed some light on how he plans to alter Magnus Paajarvi's game.

Perron is, and will be, a better offensive player than Paajarvi, but what was it that Hitchcock and the Blues saw in Paajarvi that they liked?

I asked Hitchcock where Paajarvi would fit amongst the Blues' forwards.  

We saw the chemistry he had with [Patrik] Berglund in the World Championships because I coached in those Championships. So we see him and Berglund as a pair and then whether we use [Vladimir] Tarasenko or [T.J.] Oshie, we’ll see. We feel he’s a third line player, a real defined third line player that is going to be able to kill off penalties and we’re banking on the chemistry that he and Bergman had in the World Championships continue. They’re good friends, they get along well together and we see that as a real positive for us. We don’t see him as a top-six for us right now, we see him as this defined third line guys that’s going to fit in well. 

One of the things that the trade does is that it really does open up ice time for [Jaden] Schwartz and Tarasenko. Both of these guys played great last year, we need to create space and time for them.

We know that David is a good player; Perron is going to be a really good player for Edmonton. He’s more than a scorer too, he’s a really competitive guy, and we used him a lot to kill penalties. He can play in every situation and we know he’s going to be a really good player.

But with Magnus we feel that we got some definition on that third line which we didn’t have before and we think that he’s going to add a lot to our group. He’ll probably get 10 to 20 goals and as I said he and Bergie are going to be able to play against top players. 

After watching Paajarvi for the past few seasons I felt he would be a solid third line player, rather than a top-six forward, so it makes sense listening to Hitchcock's evaluation of him. It is interesting to note that he plans on using him against top players, although playing with Berglund will help. Paajarvi has world class speed, and the Blues desperately needed more speed in their lineup.  

The one criticism of Paajarvi has been his unwillingness to use his size to his advantage. He is still a young player, so he has time to work on that, and when Brownlee asked Hitchcock about Paajarvi's style of play, the Blues' coach very quickly outlined how he plans to enhance Paajarvi's game. 

I know what you’re saying Robin and the question is are we going to get him to play through people, and the answer is yes. We’re going to get him to play through people. I know what you’re saying; there is a difference between playing to people and playing through people. In St. Louis we had the same challenge with three or four other forwards; Jayden Schwartz was the same was, he used to just play to people. T.J. Oshie was the same way, we were able to make those guys and get them to adjust, Valdimir Sobotka, the same thing, we were able to show them the difference, explain to them how to do it and then put mechanisms in place and sometimes the bear in the woods had to come out. But we got ‘er done and they learned how to do it properly and we feel very confident that Magnus will be able to do that for us in very short order.

Hitchcock has a plan for Paajarvi, and he isn't afraid to be hard on young players to get their attention. He won't shy away from bringing out his "bear in the woods" persona to get their attention.

Listening to Hitchcock talk about getting players to play through people and to people was awesome. I've said for years the Oilers have been too soft. Sadly, many felt that comment means they have to fight more, and that isn't the case at all.

I love a good tilt now and again, but they Oilers don't need a heavyweight, they need to be more competitive and play harder. Hitch's definition of playing through people rather than to them makes perfect sense, and I'll be curious to see if Dallas Eakins tries to employ a similar mindset in Edmonton.

Jonathan Toews is a great example of a skilled player who plays through people, not just to them. How often in the past five years have you seen the Oilers coast towards the opposition. They haven't been dogged on the forecheck, and they don't create enough turnovers.

It is clear Hitchcock is going to challenge Paajarvi to alter his game and play through people. I hope Eakins does the same with the Oilers.

THE TRADE...

When Craig MacTavish acquired Perron I thought it was a great trade for the Oilers, mainly because they got the better player. Some wondered why the Blues would part with a skilled, young player. Hitchcock explained why Perron was available. 

I think that everybody knows it was obvious. We all know the financial situation in order to fit everybody under the cap and being in the position of having to sign Stewart, Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo we knew we were going to be in a squeeze. We’re going to be a cap team, like a lot of team, but we needed to make sure that we had everything in order. 

The biggest thing for me with David is that when he puts the work in ahead of the skill, he’s an impact player. He’s a defined top six guy, he’s going to have a huge impact on the game, but he’s no different than anyone else. The Oilers have had guys to learn that over time.

When you put the skill in over the work, you know what happens, you end up maybe scoring goals, but you end up a minus player. David really improved last year in putting the work in ahead of the skill, and if he does that I think that everybody in Edmonton will be thrilled by him. But he’s like a lot of other young guys, it’s hard to do that every night. Sometimes he fell off a little bit and he’s having to learn that. He’d be the first guy to tell you that he’s starting to recognize when he does and doesn’t do it. If he can reach that stage where he does it every night, he’s going to be a hard guy to play against. 

Again Hitchcock nailed it. You have to put the hard work ahead of the skill. Every hockey fan can see the Oilers have loads of skill in Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, Sam Gagner, Justin Schultz and Perron. However, if the Oilers are going to succeed this season, Eakins needs to improve the overall effort of the team.

I've debated for years that the Oilers don't work hard enough on a nightly basis to win in the NHL. last year they showed they were good enough to compete, however, they didn't learn how to find that competitive level every night. It is the main reason why they could win 6-2 one night and then get dominated in the next few games.

The good teams not only have elite level skill, they have incredibly high work ethic. Having experience is a major plus as well, because some nights when they feel sluggish they can rely on experience and smarts to make the right plays.

I don't want the Oilers to play the same style as the Blues, and frankly I don't think they could, but it would be great to adopt or employ the two traits that Hitchcock outlined; play through people and put work ahead of skill consistently.

I'm not suggesting the Oilers abandon their skill, far from it, but you can't win in the NHL on skill alone. The Oilers aren't the only team with elite skill.

Do the Oilers have more proven skill in their top six than the Ducks, Kings, Canucks or Sharks? I didn't think so.

If Eakins can convince the Oilers to increase their competitive drive on a nightly basis, then they will be competitive. If not, they are destined to extend their playoff drought to eight seasons.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 Clyde Frog
July 29 2013, 03:17PM
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J wrote:

YAK.. Robbed of Calder?

Do you want add Dubby robbed of Vezina, Kreuger robbed of Jack Adams, RNH robbed of Selke and Justin Schultz robbed of Norris?

I understand this is an Oilers fan site, but you're taking being a homer to the next level.

Yeah, Yak didn't lead rookies in goals and tied for the lead in points.

Who ever thought to put him in the same conversation for the Calder is silly.

Just like RNH putting up 52 points in 62 games should never have been considered as he was greatly outperformed by Landeskog's 52 points in 82 games.

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#2 OilClog
July 29 2013, 12:19PM
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"Do the Oilers have more proven skill in their top six than the Ducks, Kings, Canucks or Sharks? I didn't think so."

Ducks.. Getzlaf, Perry.. Then a giant drop down, Selanne is Selanne but he's also what 74 now?

Canucks.. Sedin Twins, Kesler, Burrows.. Then?

Sharks.. Couture, Thorton, Marleau.. Then what..Burns? Torres? Kennedy?

Kings.. Kopitar, Brown, Richards, Carter, Willams..

Oilers.. Hall, Ebs, Nuge, Yak, Gags, Perron, Hemsky..

If we're talking just about the top 6 forwards.. I'm going to go out on a limb here and declare as long as we're talking about the Top 6, Edmonton is now in the Elite class, no way in denying that.

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#3 Mantastic
July 29 2013, 12:34PM
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i'd take our top 6 over the canucks easily. hall, eberle, rnh, yak, gagner and perron over sedin, sedin, kesler, burrows, booth and kassian?

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#4 Clyde Frog
July 29 2013, 12:44PM
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If Hitch molds Paarjvi into a power 3rd line winger who pots 10-20 goals and provide top 6 minutes; good on him.

It doesn't mean that is what the Oilers would have done with him, or what he would have achieved here.

I am happy about the trade as we traded a whole lot of hopes and dreams for proven scoring at the NHL level.

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#5 Pajamah
July 29 2013, 04:42PM
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@JasonGregor

How exactly are the Oilers top 6 "unproven"

"Proof" to me would be evidence of the point you are trying to make. Both Hall and Eberle have finished top 15 in the NHL in scoring, in the last 2 seasons. RNH should have won the Calder, and Yakupov was in the conversation. You dont get Calder nominations if you're a nobody, and you're not producing. Perron and Gagner are easily steady, if not high scoring 2nd line players.

Inexperienced? sure. Unproven? I don't think that word means what you think it means.

"well, they haven't won!" So Raymond Bourque before his trade to Colorado was "unproven", Dave Andreychuk, Rod Brind'Amour. Winning is a byproduct of a good team, not being a "proven" player. Is Bouwmeester proven?

"they haven't put up points like the other guys". If I score 8 goals a game, in 3 straight games, and you get 6, in a 30 game season, guess what? I am a better skilled hockey player, period. Full stop.

LA has one guy (Kopitar) higher than .65 PPG career in their top 6, Van 2 (Sedins'), SJ has 2 (Marleau, Thornton), Anaheim has 3 (Getzlaf, Perry, Selanne)

Oilers have Hall 0.84, Eberle, 0.8, RNH, 0.75, and Yakupov at the cut off 0.65.

Assuming correctly, that the first 2-3 seasons on the average NHL career are not as high scoring as seasons 5-8, the Oilers top 6 is already better than their competition, and as you mentioned, still on their way up. SJ,Vancouver,Anaheim are either cresting, or already starting to decline.

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#6 GVBlackhawk
July 29 2013, 05:27PM
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J wrote:

My point is that saying Yak was ROBBED of the Calder is very narrow sighted and a complete homer statement. He wasn’t even a finalist and was not the best all-around rookie in the NHL.

Hall was robbed of the 2nd Team All-Star team LW spot. I’m fine with the opinion of RNH being robbed, but Yak was definitely not robbed of the Calder.

The guy who won the Calder was -15. Yakupov was -4. Even though I dislike the stat, there is no way you can argue that Huberdeau was better all around than Yakupov.

And Yakupov did win the rookie scoring race, which is most often the benchmark used for picking the Calder winner.

Not like it really matters -- Yakupov is by far the best player of all the Calder nominees and he's an Oiler.

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#7 Oilers?
July 29 2013, 01:23PM
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OilClog wrote:

Edmonton's lowest drafted top 6 forward was Ebs at 21?

Even if we just go on draft pedigree alone

Hall, Yak, Nuge #1 Gags 6? Hemsky 13? Perron 15? Ebs 21?

This is the top 6 forwards cluster that is the envy of the league, the rest of the roster may be a crap shoot, but that top 6 is an absolute nightmare for any opposition. This isn't 3 years ago anymore, this group can't be denied, sorry to go off but to say our top 6 isn't in the same class as the rest of our division as it stands, is false beyond false.

Not to nitpick but Eberle was taken at 22 overall and Perron was 26 overall. Get your facts straight. You're "False beyond false" with this post good sir.

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#9 OilClog
July 29 2013, 02:21PM
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Oilers? wrote:

Not to nitpick but Eberle was taken at 22 overall and Perron was 26 overall. Get your facts straight. You're "False beyond false" with this post good sir.

Sorry I was off on Eberle by 1 spot, my bad.

Perron by a dozen.. So Perron is the latest selection at 26.. when we should of picked him at 15.. my bad.

Still, Gregor is wrong on every level of this. There is nothing proven in the top 6 of any team in our division that is comparable to what the Oilers have assembled.

Hall - Allstar Yak - lead team in goals NUGE - undeniable Ebs - how much more can he prove at this point? Perron - Proven. Hemsky - Proven. Gags - Proven.

What am I missing? this is a topic about the proven performances of our divisions top 6. Our top 6 is proven!

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#10 Matt Henderson
July 29 2013, 03:23PM
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I believe Hitch is more capable of getting Paajarvi to play phyisically than Krueger or Renney. Not sure why, a gut feeling I guess. The other two strike me as Xs and Os but Hitch has a bit of a fire to him. That might not mean a thing, but its the impression I got.

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#11 GVBlackhawk
July 29 2013, 05:30PM
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DSF wrote:

This is from some guy who knows how "bettors" will vote with hearts.

It's about making money, not about who will actually win.

If that was the case, the Maple Leafs would have the best odds to win.

Vegas odds makers are actually very accurate in determining favorites.

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#12 T__Bone88
July 29 2013, 11:48AM
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I wish Paajarvi could of worked out here in Edm as a 2nd/3rd line LW but I won't complain about bringing in Perron. I absolutely agree that there needs to be more complete from this team to be successful. Looking at how the Oilers can possibly make the playoffs is through the cross-over unless Anaheim or Vancouver regresses which I don't see happening.

I keep picturing Hitchcock to be posing with 80's Hulk Hogan in that photo.

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#13 LinkfromHyrule
July 29 2013, 11:53AM
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lol bear in the woods, that's funny.

Hitchcock strikes me as a guy with an amazing understanding of the game. If anyone can coach paajarvi into a better player, it's him. I just don't think Oilers management/coaching was capable of bringing him to that next level.

I hope Eakins has a similar philosophy to Hitchcock, it would do WONDERS for this team. Competing on a nightly basis almost seems like a foreign concept.

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#14 2004Z06
July 29 2013, 12:29PM
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@OilClog

The comment was referring to "proven skill".

The Oilers skilled players have proven nothing as of yet. Make the playoffs, win a few games and then maybe they can be called proven.

Now if the comment was potential skill, well thats a different discussion entirely.

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#15 Quicksilver ballet
July 29 2013, 12:49PM
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Raising the effort level could be a tougher chore than first thought for MacTavish/Eakins. After 3 yrs of throwing their sticks out there everynight, and losing being their best option, these kids know where that acceptable level of commitment rests at in this market.

Eakins might be biting off more than he can chew in his rookie coaching year. Hopefully Perron,Gordon and Ference can bring some of that Hitch/Tippet type work ethic with them. Work ethic should be rewarded when it comes to whose wearing a letter on their jersey this season.

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#16 Ducey
July 29 2013, 01:19PM
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Do the Oilers have more proven skill in their top six than the Ducks, Kings, Canucks or Sharks? I didn't think so.

Vancouver?? You have to be kidding me. They have the twins, a broken down Kesler, and then Burrows, Higgins and Hansen. Not even close JG.

SanJose has Wingels, Burns (a guy just converted from D), an aging Marleau, and Raffi "headshot" Torres as their top wingers. I'll take the Oiler's wingers.

ANA has Penner, Cogliano, and Palmeiri in their top 6.

I think you vastly underestimate the strength of the Oilers top 6. Its the 3rd line and defense that has been the problem.

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#17 Oilcruzer
July 29 2013, 02:16PM
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I hate trolls but this is too important.

As reported by Tim Wharnsby Bodog's official worldwide betting line for odds to win the next Cup.

Canucks. 16:1 Oil 20:1

This isn't some guy betting with his heart.

Oil are favored over Caps, Flyers, and every other Canadian team.

Resume regular programming. I hate trolls so yes, I liked MPS but change was needed.

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#18 OilClog
July 29 2013, 02:17PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

@Ducey.

You two seemed to have missed the word Proven.

Oilers skill hasn't proven much, that is a fact. You can be in love with their potential, that is fair, because they project to become stars.

But Kings, Sharks and Canucks top guys have won many games, put up big points, and they have solid two-way games.

You can look at best-case scenario regarding the Oiler kids, and they look to be very good in the future, but they have yet to do it consistently as a group.

Hence, unproven.

Incorrect..

San Jose.. Proven? proven at what early eliminations? Thorton and Marleau are pass their exp dates, Couture is really their only bright spot.

Vancouver.. Do we really need to discuss their proven history?

Anahiem.. Last year was a blip, they were nowhere near as good as their record suggested, goes hand in hand with their early exit.

LA.. they're proven. I'll give that, but I'd still take our top 6 any day of the week.

Taylor Hall.. NHL 2nd team all star! RNH.. Robbed of a calder! YAK.. Robbed of a calder! Ebs.. Breaking 70pts a couple seasons ago wasn't proven? Perron.. Proven. Hemsky.. Proven.

What are you trying to suggest to us the readers.. I understand our team has sucked horribly for the last decade, but to suggest our top 6 isn't in the same class as our opposition is ridiculous. They're proven!

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#19 J
July 29 2013, 02:48PM
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@OilClog

YAK.. Robbed of Calder?

Do you want add Dubby robbed of Vezina, Kreuger robbed of Jack Adams, RNH robbed of Selke and Justin Schultz robbed of Norris?

I understand this is an Oilers fan site, but you're taking being a homer to the next level.

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#20 Cowbell_Feva
July 29 2013, 02:49PM
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Proven? They have proven they might show up every few games, but they have not proven anything serious until they take this team to the playoffs-for starters. Flip passes and through-the-legs circus stuff is good for the back rink, but in the Show these kids haven't out-proven the likes of Getzlaf,Perry,Sedins,Kesler,Kopitar,Richards,Carter....they still have zero playoff experience.

Potential is a different story, but this is part of the problem with the jaded view of a lot us Oiler fans.....we have been in the basement for YEARS....playoff-less for 7....to compare Stanley Cup champions to Spring golfers is ridiculous. Gregor is 100% correct here.

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#21 sizzler
July 29 2013, 03:01PM
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Just what you would expect from a high level coach.

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#22 J
July 29 2013, 04:04PM
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Clyde Frog wrote:

Yeah, Yak didn't lead rookies in goals and tied for the lead in points.

Who ever thought to put him in the same conversation for the Calder is silly.

Just like RNH putting up 52 points in 62 games should never have been considered as he was greatly outperformed by Landeskog's 52 points in 82 games.

My point is that saying Yak was ROBBED of the Calder is very narrow sighted and a complete homer statement. He wasn’t even a finalist and was not the best all-around rookie in the NHL.

Hall was robbed of the 2nd Team All-Star team LW spot. I’m fine with the opinion of RNH being robbed, but Yak was definitely not robbed of the Calder.

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#23 J
July 29 2013, 04:07PM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

Who, Tyler? Wait, what?

A betting line is a relative sampling as to how the sports populace perceive teams. More than that?

Odd how the sporting community sees Vancouver that low or Edmonton that high? I wouldn't put Oil before Caps or ROC, would you?

There is no explanation.

There is an explanation, sports books don’t just make up numbers and betting odds based on team perception.

They understand the market for each team and the tendencies of their fan base to bet on their team. Edmonton and Nashville might have the same chances of winning the cup (Just and example, don’t start ranting about how much better the Oilers top 6 are), but sports books know there is much more interest in the Edmonton market and therefore will give Edmonton worse payout odds (20-1 vs. 30-1) to protect themselves because they may have 50% more people bet on Edmonton than Nashville.

The other factor that separates Edmonton from other hockey crazy markets is the disposable income and wealth in Edmonton compared to many other markets. It’s no coincidence there are so many 6/49 and Lotto Max winners from in and around Edmonton. We love to gamble and have the money to do it. Sports books and Odds makers know it.

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#24 Klima's Mullet
July 29 2013, 04:07PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

I believe Hitch is more capable of getting Paajarvi to play phyisically than Krueger or Renney. Not sure why, a gut feeling I guess. The other two strike me as Xs and Os but Hitch has a bit of a fire to him. That might not mean a thing, but its the impression I got.

I agree with you. And other factors like team leaders and team atmosphere will play a role. Being a year older won't hurt either.

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#25 rickithebear
July 29 2013, 04:18PM
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Yes jason; you would take 12 stortini's over 12 perron's You would have all the hard work you want LOL!

Gregor? basing a team result to rate a player over another. Nice!

It is a shame Ray Bourque could not be a quality player until his last year in the league. Bahahahahaha!

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#26 DSF
July 29 2013, 06:02PM
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GVBlackhawk wrote:

If that was the case, the Maple Leafs would have the best odds to win.

Vegas odds makers are actually very accurate in determining favorites.

You're assuming Leafs fans would be willing to plunk down their dollars that the Leafs would win the cup.

They're not that delusional.

Vegas odds makers set the line to make themselves the most money....they don't care who wins and likely know f all about hockey.

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#29 Citizen David
July 29 2013, 06:36PM
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Pajaarvi is a 3rd liner on a Stanley Cup contender? DSF must be losing his mind.

Hall Nuge and Ebs already can play with the big boys and generate more offence than they give up. The second line hasn't yet. But don't be surprised if this is the year.

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#30 nuge2nail
July 29 2013, 07:49PM
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Oiler Domination To Follow

Imagine the players we could acquire if we decided to trade:

Hall, Eberle, Hopkins, Yakupov, Perron and Gagner...

That's how we know our top six is unbelievable, the value of these players are ridiculous... We have 6 solid assets in our top six, while most teams only have 2-3...

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#31 J
July 29 2013, 08:02PM
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madjam wrote:

We are just another drop in the bucket when it comes to gambling . Has little to do with the odds when it comes to our home team . Lotto 649 and Lotto max almost always goes to Ontario and Quebec , B.Columbia and only occasionally here in Alberta . Don't believe me check it out for yourself for umpteen years . We spend /capita much more than we proportionately receive . We gamble but very few high rollers and conglomerates compared to other major cities . You make bold statements that bear little fruit in actuality . Where did you learn these myths ?

Sorry madjam, I didn't know I needed to cite references on the comments page. But if you insist; here we go...

According to a 2011 Stats Canada report Albertans spent an average of $785/year on gambling. madjam, do you know where that ranks Albertans on money spent towards gambling? Number 1!

Our friends to the east, Saskatchewan were #2 at $735 per capita each year (there are a few Oilers fans there).

Any guesses on how much the average person from BC, Ontario or Quebec spent on gambling?

BC - $450/year Ontario - $490/year Quebec - $375/year

But you’re probably right, people that set lines would’t care about the fact that Oilers fans spend almost twice on much on gambling in any given year than fans of most other Canadian teams.

madjam, If you decide to call me out on you might want to make sure your facts are accurate.

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#32 J
July 29 2013, 10:04PM
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madjam wrote:

You neglected to take into account each provinces population , changing those dollars actually spent by each province dramatically .

I don't dispute that madjam. The point I'm making, and you decided to argue against is, betting odds are impacted by a teams fan base and their capacity and willingness to bet for their team. It's much more than as you put it, "a drop in the bucket".

The Oilers have a large & loyal fan base with strong disposable income. It effects the line and makes it a poor bet for the value. Bodog has the Oilers with 9th best odds of winning the cup, I would strongly argue against them being the 9th best team in the league.

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#33 Pouzar99
July 29 2013, 10:55PM
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Yes, DSF, the oddsmakers massage the odds to make the most money, but they cannot do that effectively unless they know a great deal about who is likely to win, can they? Otherwise the smart betters would place a lot of money on the good teams they underrate and the oddsmakers would lose money, which they very rarely do. Instead they make their money by offering slightly shorter than fair odds on the teams with the most passionate fans because they know these people tend to bet on their own team even when the odds are poor, and do the same with the popular favourites because as any gambler knows people over-bet on favourites. The oddsmakers' living depends on their knowing an F of a lot about the sports they offer odds on. It is you who knows F all about the oddsmakers.

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#34 Crispy
July 30 2013, 12:15AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

If you want to debate have accurate stats. Jeff Carter averages more than .65 PPG, but don't let the facts get in a way of a rant. I didn't bother looking up more players, but Carter was the first one I checked.

Jim Carey won a Calder, not lose it, did it guarantee his success?

The Oilers top six was all here last year, what did it get them? 24th. I guess that means they are great.

Until they learn to play in every zone, they aren't as proven as the Kings, Canucks and Ducks best players.

The Sharks and Canucks are aging, I never said they weren't, but the Oilers aren't as proven as them. If they learn to play in every zone they should be very good, but they haven't thus far.

Love the Oilers all you want, but all they have proven is they have elite skill some nights, but haven't been able to do is consistently as a group.

You can't blame the 24th place finish on the top 6 forwards. Don't you think it might have a bit more to do with our awful defence last year, or having 3-4 line players who were "at best a non-factor"? (Quoting Mac T)

I think your definition of proven skill is a bit ambiguous. I think we have one of the most skilled top 6 in the league right now, not just potentially skilled.

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#35 Harry
July 30 2013, 04:36PM
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Ducey wrote:

Do the Oilers have more proven skill in their top six than the Ducks, Kings, Canucks or Sharks? I didn't think so.

Vancouver?? You have to be kidding me. They have the twins, a broken down Kesler, and then Burrows, Higgins and Hansen. Not even close JG.

SanJose has Wingels, Burns (a guy just converted from D), an aging Marleau, and Raffi "headshot" Torres as their top wingers. I'll take the Oiler's wingers.

ANA has Penner, Cogliano, and Palmeiri in their top 6.

I think you vastly underestimate the strength of the Oilers top 6. Its the 3rd line and defense that has been the problem.

You are 100% correct. Gregor. Did you honestly believe that as you were typing it? I hope you dont get paid for writing these articles.

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#36 Rocket
July 29 2013, 11:41AM
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I'm kinda torn on Paajarvi. I like the tools he has & I've always wanted him to do well. But now that he's on The Blues I'll be cheering against him. Also I just want The Oilers to win a trade for once.

If Paajarvi turns into that physical winger with speed & skill we all hoped for, I will be supremely pissed at Oilers management for seemingly mishandling him. It's not all on the coaches & management of course but I just don't want Paajarvi to turn into an Oiler-killer.

BTW, sweet pic of Hitch.

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#37 OilClog
July 29 2013, 12:24PM
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Edmonton's lowest drafted top 6 forward was Ebs at 21?

Even if we just go on draft pedigree alone

Hall, Yak, Nuge #1 Gags 6? Hemsky 13? Perron 15? Ebs 21?

This is the top 6 forwards cluster that is the envy of the league, the rest of the roster may be a crap shoot, but that top 6 is an absolute nightmare for any opposition. This isn't 3 years ago anymore, this group can't be denied, sorry to go off but to say our top 6 isn't in the same class as the rest of our division as it stands, is false beyond false.

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#38 Rama Lama
July 29 2013, 12:29PM
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Interesting to hear Hitchcock talk about skill being behind hard work in terms of importance.

What is real special is when you have skilled players playing hard like Hall, RNH, Datysuk........these guys give their teams a chance to win each and every night.

Magnus also worked hard, but was afraid of hitting and playing physical in general. Players like this continously tease you .........it's good we weeded him out now.

If Dallas Ekins can set the agenda of "hard work = ice time"......and do this consistently we should have a good season.

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#39 Oiler Al
July 29 2013, 12:57PM
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Eakin preaches and teaches tough hard on the puck hockey,relentless skating.. and Oh ya you better be in shape. Boys eat your wheaties.

He had a bunch of rag tags in the Marlies and made them better players... even a guy like Gardnair, had to hang his ego and press clippings at the door. At the end, he was a much better player.

I think of the top six, Hall, Yak, Gagner and maybe even RNh will adopt his style. Perron as well. Guys like Eberle, Justin Schultz and Hemsky not so much.

Other than Canucks, this is a tough division to play in.....time to get down and gritty, in your face hockey.

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#40 Rocket
July 29 2013, 12:58PM
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@Clyde Frog

"It doesn't mean that is what the Oilers would have done with him"

No but it is what they should have done with him. From my outsider perspective it looks like Paajarvi & coaching are both to blame.

I agree that The Oilers got a proven scorer that can contribute in Perron. Hopefully his Hitchcock trained compete level rubs off on teammates.

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#41 Ducey
July 29 2013, 01:02PM
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His focus on "hard work" will get Hitchcock fired in two or three years.

He has a history of turning teams around by tightening their defenses, but then losing the players as they get increasingly fed up with playing in straightjackets.

7 years in Dallas - fired

4 years in Philly - fired

4 years in Columbus - fired

Great coach but he has about 2 years to get STL to the Cup.

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#42 Clyde Frog
July 29 2013, 01:43PM
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Rocket wrote:

"It doesn't mean that is what the Oilers would have done with him"

No but it is what they should have done with him. From my outsider perspective it looks like Paajarvi & coaching are both to blame.

I agree that The Oilers got a proven scorer that can contribute in Perron. Hopefully his Hitchcock trained compete level rubs off on teammates.

I don't disagree with you at all in terms of that is what the culture should be.

One can only hope our 6th culture reboot in as many years finds the strength to succeed where the other 5 failed miserably.

I often wonder at how we as fans ignore the front/back office staff that make up an organization and how they play into the overall organizational culture.

You look at some franchises who no matter what they look like in the off-season, manage to act like a proven winner each and every season. Compared to others that no matter how much talent they bring on, it just never seems to be able to click.

Yes, the players and the coaches have a role to play; but the support staff on the team are also part of the stories and rituals that form the Oilers culture as well.

I digress, but I wonder if sometimes changing the organizations underbelly could be as effective as providing roughly the same group of players a new coach every 1.3 years.

For an example look what happened with the Toronto Blue Jays, who purchased the good half of a MLB team, added it to their other good half and ended up worse than last year.

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#43 Butters
July 29 2013, 01:53PM
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The Oilers' skilled players haven't had enough time to prove their skills. 2 rookies, and a sophmore made up their elite forwards. The greybeards of the group aren't even in their mid 20s yet.

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#44 Vaclav
July 29 2013, 02:02PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

@Ducey.

You two seemed to have missed the word Proven.

Oilers skill hasn't proven much, that is a fact. You can be in love with their potential, that is fair, because they project to become stars.

But Kings, Sharks and Canucks top guys have won many games, put up big points, and they have solid two-way games.

You can look at best-case scenario regarding the Oiler kids, and they look to be very good in the future, but they have yet to do it consistently as a group.

Hence, unproven.

Jason,

I assume you're not referring to the Sedins as having "solid two-way games". With 63-80% offensive zone starts under Vigneault I'm not sure these two even know what their own end of the rink looks like. And they certainly never got a sniff of the PK in Vancouver.

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#45 Lochenzo
July 29 2013, 02:12PM
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Regarding the importance of work ethic, I've never heard the phrase coined better. I'll have to remember that one.

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#46 Czar
July 29 2013, 02:17PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

@Ducey.

You two seemed to have missed the word Proven.

Oilers skill hasn't proven much, that is a fact. You can be in love with their potential, that is fair, because they project to become stars.

But Kings, Sharks and Canucks top guys have won many games, put up big points, and they have solid two-way games.

You can look at best-case scenario regarding the Oiler kids, and they look to be very good in the future, but they have yet to do it consistently as a group.

Hence, unproven.

Sedins have proven regular season success means nothing in the playoffs. Yes they've been to the playoffs but all they've proven is that they don't have the balls to win in the playoffs.

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#47 OilClog
July 29 2013, 02:30PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

@Ducey.

You two seemed to have missed the word Proven.

Oilers skill hasn't proven much, that is a fact. You can be in love with their potential, that is fair, because they project to become stars.

But Kings, Sharks and Canucks top guys have won many games, put up big points, and they have solid two-way games.

You can look at best-case scenario regarding the Oiler kids, and they look to be very good in the future, but they have yet to do it consistently as a group.

Hence, unproven.

Reading this just bugs me so much.

Hall - Allstar.. That is recent proof. Ebs - 76pts last full season - proven Nuge - Playing with one arm was still holding his own. Let alone everything else.. Proven Yak - lead team in goals, going to be on Russia's olymipic team. Proven he's arrived. Perron - Proven everywhere Gags - Proven last season for sure. Hemsky - Do we really need to go into depth about his proof

The Oilers have been terrible, but we've had many bright spots, to say our top 6 isn't proven, is ridiculous in my opinion. It's Edmonton's most proven area!

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#48 Ducey
July 29 2013, 02:35PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

@Ducey.

You two seemed to have missed the word Proven.

Oilers skill hasn't proven much, that is a fact. You can be in love with their potential, that is fair, because they project to become stars.

But Kings, Sharks and Canucks top guys have won many games, put up big points, and they have solid two-way games.

You can look at best-case scenario regarding the Oiler kids, and they look to be very good in the future, but they have yet to do it consistently as a group.

Hence, unproven.

If your point was that some of the Oilers players have to "prove" themselves as NHL players, I'd have to agree. But so what? Hardly earth shattering insight there.

The issue is not who is "proven", the issue is who will be better in the next few years.

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#49 DSF
July 29 2013, 02:49PM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

I hate trolls but this is too important.

As reported by Tim Wharnsby Bodog's official worldwide betting line for odds to win the next Cup.

Canucks. 16:1 Oil 20:1

This isn't some guy betting with his heart.

Oil are favored over Caps, Flyers, and every other Canadian team.

Resume regular programming. I hate trolls so yes, I liked MPS but change was needed.

This is from some guy who knows how "bettors" will vote with hearts.

It's about making money, not about who will actually win.

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#50 Oilcruzer
July 29 2013, 03:07PM
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DSF wrote:

This is from some guy who knows how "bettors" will vote with hearts.

It's about making money, not about who will actually win.

Who, Tyler? Wait, what?

A betting line is a relative sampling as to how the sports populace perceive teams. More than that?

Odd how the sporting community sees Vancouver that low or Edmonton that high? I wouldn't put Oil before Caps or ROC, would you?

There is no explanation.

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