THEIR TIME, THEIR PLACE

Robin Brownlee
September 15 2013 10:14PM

It’s not like Dallas Eakins took a jackhammer to the Wayne Gretzky statue or scaled the rafters in Rexall Place to yank down the sacred linen lifted by the Edmonton Oilers. He’s simply decided to rid his team’s dressing room of some clutter from glory days long past. It’s about time.

While there’s likely an Oiler fan or two who’ll take the renovations that are underway in the dressing room as disrespecting or minimalizing past glories and the players who made them possible on a team that’s won five Stanley Cups, that strikes me as a bit of a reach.

Removing some old photos, plaques and various dusty odds and ends from the dressing room isn’t about turning a cold shoulder to an era when Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Glen Sather and the rest of the Boys On The Bus made the Oilers the toast of the NHL. It's Eakins way, he explains, of shifting the focus to the players here now. Of looking ahead instead of constantly back.

Even as a sportswriter old enough to have witnessed the tail-end of the days of parades on Jasper Avenue, and being of an age to put considerable value in the trappings of tradition younger folks might not, count me as on board with the renovations Eakins is undertaking.

LOOKING AHEAD

It hasn’t taken Eakins, hired this off-season, long at all to put his stamp on this team. Some might say he’s packing a lot of brass to ask that the old plaques and photos be gathered up and moved elsewhere inside Rexall Place so fans can enjoy them. Out with the old, save those five replica Stanley Cups and some odds and ends, in with the new.

"Listen, when we walk in that door, there’s five Stanley Cups standing there," Eakins told reporters Sunday. "That’s a great piece of history. That’s the only thing that counts.

"I thought it was really important that our team be featured in that room. I’m going to do my best to make sure that there is a picture of every guy on our roster in that room somewhere. That is their dressing room. It is not Mark Messier’s dressing room, and this is no disrespect. We will definitely try and emulate the play of those teams and the success they had. I just want these guys to be comfortable with their room."

So, while photos of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner and Nail Yakupov might not yet have the same cachet as much of the old stuff that's come off the walls – really, will anybody miss the teams of the mid-1990s? – it's not like Eakins is tossing out tradition like garage sail fodder.

HERE AND NOW

I see no issue of disrespecting tradition -- one could make the case that the years since the last Cup in 1990, including seven straight seasons out of the playoffs, is a far greater affront to TBOTB. You think Eakins didn’t run all this past GM Craig MacTavish and Kevin Lowe?

Some new paint and new carpet doesn't diminish what the remarkable teams of the 1980s accomplished. The engraver's work is done. The HHOF is filled with photographs and records and tokens marking the wonderful careers of Gretzky, Messier, Grant Fuhr, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Glenn Anderson and Sather. The dressing room need not be.

Modest as it might be here and now in 2013, it's home to a completely new generation of Oiler players. This is their place.

BELOV IN TOWN?

While there's no official confirmation from the Oilers, a tip of the cap might be in order to reader TonyT., who said in the comments section of my previous item that he saw Russian Anton Belov at the airport this evening. I'm led to believe that is, indeed, the case. We'll find out Monday morning at Rexall Place.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

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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#51 tileguy
September 16 2013, 09:56AM
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MessyEH! wrote:

"Old six rings" Lowe had the memorabilia brought to his office. Last reports have him stripped down, swimming in them.( Homage to Scrooge MacDuck.)

Lol, nothing like starting the week with a chuckle. Great move cleaning out the past and getting ready for the future. Now why didn't Kruger, Renny, Quinn think of that?

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#52 mike
September 16 2013, 10:07AM
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LinkfromHyrule wrote:

sounds like somebody has a case of the mondays! Now all we need is quicksilver ballet in here to complete this little tea party.....

This really isn't as big of a deal as people are making it out to be. The locker room isn't about being a museum or shrine to the glory days. It's about the players who play there now. Build a museum if you're that stuck in the past.

The mighty Tools and Donekys assemble!

I think thats how you get them to come to your tea party.

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#53 Hammers
September 16 2013, 10:13AM
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tileguy wrote:

Lol, nothing like starting the week with a chuckle. Great move cleaning out the past and getting ready for the future. Now why didn't Kruger, Renny, Quinn think of that?

Because they live in the past and not just with Hockey .

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#54 LoweBlow
September 16 2013, 10:38AM
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@John Chambers

And never stop rocking it out at the Palomino. Hottest babes in town, right?

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#55 book¡e
September 16 2013, 10:40AM
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I seem to remember every coach since MacT doing the "We are looking forward and while we respect the past traditions of this organization...blah blah blah"

Everyone of them has sought to do some similar kind of reset.

These are all psychological games to try and get the best out of the players.

Anyone else remember the removal of the ping pong table (we are not playing around any more - we are getting serious), followed by the re-installation of the ping pong table (the guys need to be having fun - it can't be serious all of the time), followed by the removal of the ping pong table (we need to get serious!!!), and so on.

I think having more actual NHL calibre players on the team will probably have a bigger difference than the ping pong table and/or the pictures on the wall.

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#56 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
September 16 2013, 11:54AM
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Numenius wrote:

You missed it. There is an empty space just for that reason.

Well that's it then!!!... That's been the problem all along..........GET RID OF THAT SPACE!...........TOO MUCH PRESSURE,!!!........on the young uns.......

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#57 book¡e
September 16 2013, 12:13PM
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Let's face it, if the room under Renny and Krueger had pictures from today's Oilers, then the new coach would be installing pictures from the dynasty years to remind the players "how great it is to win" and "what is possible here" and so on.

This is part of the coach establishing a narrative of change because the past few years sucked. I look forward to the installation of the negative ion machine, a new team song in the dressing room, new towel colours, a new position of player personal trainer support therapy analyst, and some new quote on the wall (like from Ghandi or something).

I don't have any problem with any of it. It's what is done. I just think its funny that anyone cares and/or thinks it will have any impact one way or another.

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#58 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
September 16 2013, 12:19PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

Clearly there are at least 2 generations of fan represented here at ON. By way of comparison, I fall into the old grumudgeony "everything was better in the past" crowd.....I just can't stop myself from saying, "if your team is so psychologically fragile, that it can't even compete with the ghosts of the past, then you're in a world of hurt"

But maybe it's like Spyder says, this new generation is the generation where EVERYONE gets a ribbon for trying....cause we wouldn't want to hurt anyone feelings or scare them for life........or teach them what it means to compete!

I have next-to-no respect for people with this attitude. I've had to deal with people like you in the workplace for the past 10 years and it gets old fast.

Your sentiment could just as easily be turned on its head by suggesting that your generation is so psychologically fragile that it can't cope with the fact that there are different and valid ways to do things than what you've been used to for the past 35 years.

Get over yourself.

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#59 hatrock
September 16 2013, 12:29PM
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The players drive on WAYNE GRETZKY DRIVE everyday!

And if they're in St. Albert, they're on MARK MESSIER TRAIL.

Totally agree with Eakins approach on this. He continues to impress me with every statement he makes.

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#60 pkam
September 16 2013, 12:30PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

I'm from a generation that looks back on their history with pride and uses that pride as fuel to build a better future......when the day comes that your embarrassed or intimidated by your past, you need to ask yourself WHY....and see what you can do to change that.

By the way....a dressing room remodelling is of no consequence to me....but they better honour our glorious hockey past in the public spaces of the new arena!

You probably didn't watch the press conference. Those pictures and cups will be moved to the public area instead of staying inside the locker room, which in Eakins opinion, belongs to the current players. It has nothing to do with winning or losing, it is all about the feeling of ownership and belonging.

How do you feel when you walk into your bedroom and there is picture of somebody else, like your wife's friends, instead of you? Or trophies and awards of your brothers?

Do you put trophies and awards of one kid in the room of the other kids to motivate them?

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#61 David S
September 16 2013, 12:31PM
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It's getting spicy in here. I LIKE THIS SHIP!

http://onceuponageek.com/images/star_trek_12.jpg

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#62 lostdog82
September 16 2013, 12:58PM
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Old pictures and replica cups are for fans. Half of the oilers were in diapers when we won the last cup. Acknowledge the history and move on. Think hall cares about being compared to messier ? Hall probably never saw messier play a game. Oilers dressing room should be a mancave too the men that spend time in there not a shrine to those that have left. Move on edmonton its time.

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#63 vetinari
September 16 2013, 01:12PM
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Turning back to hockey and the original article...

I'm all for turning the dressing room over to the current Oilers and making them feel that this is their home... one year, the CFL's Riders had a map up on the wall with every player's jersey number on a pin located at their hometown and they could quickly see who was from where... they also had a "family wall" where players put pictures of themselves up with their families because that was who they ultimately played for and did not want to disappoint. Anything that makes these players feel invested in the team and the city can only be a good thing for the long term...

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#64 datFOZ
September 17 2013, 01:51AM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

I could make a funny about the "negative rubs".....but I'll take the high road here and just repeat that, I have no issue with the dressing room remodel, I just take exception to those who think that our Oilers stars are that psychologically fragile....I just don't buy it.

But hey, that's what this site is for....so that people with differing opinions ....like you and I ....can express ourselves and maybe even challenge each other.......I know that I've had some of my opinions change based on some of the insightful stuff that gets posted here .....and by some of the arguments too!

The team doesn't have to be psychologically fragile for this to be a positive move, or a necessary one, from a coaching perspective.

This is Eakins' show now, and he's doing what he feels will help move the team forward. If moving the relics of the past out and into the concourses accomplishes this, he's going to do it.

I don't think it speaks to the players' psychological state whatsoever.

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#65 Devolution
September 17 2013, 04:22AM
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Spydyr wrote:

Maybe they can hold hands and sing Kumbaya too.

I would rather they start winning and put up a few pictures of this team holding big silver trophies.

Lighten up, Francis

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#66 Devolution
September 17 2013, 04:24AM
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Devolution wrote:

Lighten up, Francis

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OnpkDWbeJs

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#67 TigerUnderGlass
September 17 2013, 07:39PM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

Old Retired Guy made a sweeping generalization about an entire generation of people, and I took issue with it.

Spydyr suggests that my protest is an endorsement of the current state of the team, which it was not.

A little reading comprehension goes a long way sometimes.

Ha Ha. Good one. I see what you did there. Reading comprehension.... hee heee. You got me.

Be sure you got the point before making "reading comprehension" jokes in the future. That was both ridiculous and unnecessary.

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