The Perfect Storm

Jason Strudwick
January 20 2014 10:54AM

I love George Clooney. Call it a man crush! The guy has got style. He is the only person I know that can make a tuxedo look casual at the same time as formal. He has got it going on. How about his hair! Wow. Sick loaf. That salt and pepper look seems to really work it way into the ladies hearts. Probably doesn't hurt that he has a great place to take them to his house in Lake Como, Italy.

I admire his acting ability. He makes it look so easy. In my opinion one of his best is The Perfect Storm. This about a boat of fisherman who get caught in one of the worst storms of the century and how they try to overcome. Multiple storms converge on their location creating a super storm.

In many ways this Oilers season has been a similar story line. Multiple issues all seemingly unrelated that intertwine to bring Oilers fan pain.

Storm #1--- Youth and inexperience throughout most of the heavy minute eaters.

This group which includes Hall, Nuge, Yak, Eberle, Petry and J. Schultz. They are near the top for ice time each night. Although Yakupov is not at the top for ice time, he is near the top for creating goals against by his mistakes.

Playing against the oppositions top lines most nights has put a spotlight on how much this group of players need to learn. They are starting to understand how to play away from the puck. Unfortunately the only way to learn is through experience.

Storm #2---Unstable goaltending.

The Oilers overall team defence is not good. This puts a lot of pressure on the goaltending to make big saves on grade A chances. The two goalies who started the season here are now gone as a result of that. Bryzgalov and Scrivens are now the two under the gun.

All four goaltenders, this season, are not starting goaltenders. The have been in the past and could be in the future. This Oilers team needs a legit starting goalie. Not someone past their prime or a goalie trying to find out if they can play sixty consistent games a season. They need a solid starter. That goalie is not in the organization today.

Storm #3---Inexperienced coach

For many people Dallas Eakins was the best of the up and coming young coaches outside the NHL. He had success in the AHL and some coaching experience in the NHL as an assistant.

Looking from the outside I believe Eakins thought this team was a lot closer to being competitive than it actually was. There has not been a part of the Oilers game or a player that has been consistent all year. He must feel like he has been running from place to place putting out fires.

The goaltending, specialty teams, forecheck and all four lines have at different points this season been way out of sync. So not only has he had to deal with every aspect of the team but also learn how to coach against the top coaches in the world.

Just like players learning to compete against top players, Eakins has been dealing with in game adjustments and curveballs from coaches with over one thousand games coached in the NHL. He learning curve has been a steep one this year.

Storm #4---Inexperienced GM

MacT took over as GM with very little experience in the position. I like him as a person and as I coach I really liked playing for him. Being a GM is whole different game.

He is well spoken and fired up the Oilers fans with his promises of making change and a "Bold Move". Great to say but as I believe he has found out very hard to deliver.

He has made trades but I don't think any of them so far will be talked about years from now. He is learning the NHL GM job on the fly and maybe he has been dealing with curveballs from other super experienced guys around the league.

This is a lot of inexperience for a team to overcome. There are teams that deal with some of these "storms" but very few that have all four combine in the same season. It has put a lot of strain on the team. Strain they have not been able to handle this year.

Next year Eakins and MacT with both have a year under their belts. The skaters will also have another year of learning. The issue for me is goaltending. This team needs a goalie, a legit number one goalie. Not a goalie of the future or of the past, a "now" goalie.

A legit starter knows he is a starter. He doesn't doubt himself after a rough night. He doesn't get to high after an incredible game. He knows how to come back and be solid after a great or terrible night.

The Oilers need stability between the pipes. This goalie will let the odd goal in and at times will look weak unless the team in front of him improves their defensive play. But he will know how to handle both of these situations because he has been through them before. He isn't going through it for the first time.

There is a scene in The Perfect Storm where the clouds thin out and the darkness lightens to the point where the sun shines down on the Clooney's boat. For a second you pray that it is over and that everything will be ok. Just as quickly as the sun comes out it is gone again and the storm swallows up the boat.

We haven't seen to many rays of sunshine this season. I hope when we do it doesn't mean the end is near.

In Your Head

I watched the Flames/Canucks game Saturday night. It was an entertaining game. Five fights to start the game was something to see.

I don't mind it at all. The Flames wanted to set the tone in the Canucks building. Torts decided to send out his line to counter at the aggressiveness. The fights followed and eight players tossed. No big deal. No one was hurt. Move on and play the game.

I know that Hartley did it to rattle Torts. He got more than he could have hoped for as a response for Torts. Torts went nuts. After the first period he walked down to the Flames room and tried to get to Hartley.

This was a big mistake by Torts. Big mistake. He was completely out of control. As a coach you set the tone for your team. Your team follows you. Hartley was right inside Torts head and he made it look so easy by ignoring him!

Hartley was coaching in Hersey when I was in the minors. He was always chirping other teams’ players saying he was going to send different players after us to beat us up. I would just laugh and say send them out. I can't wait. He was trying to get in our heads. My teammates and I were around twenty one at the time, we could handle it but an experienced NHL coach couldn't.

There is no excuse for Torts going to the Flames room. He now has an in person hearing for his actions Saturday. I would give him ten games, at least. He needs to be put in his place.

I wonder if long term this hurts the Canucks and Torts. I think it does.

5cf6b487166aced0cd781e41bfef915e
Jason hosts the Jason Strudwick show from 9pm to 12am, weeknights on the team 1260. He is an instructor at Mount Carmel Hockey Academy and loves working with the kids. Having played over 650 games in the NHL, Jason has some great stories and unique takes on life in the NHL. He loves Slurpees and Blizzards. Dislikes baggy clothes and close talkers.
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#1 Vaclav
January 20 2014, 11:55AM
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Hey Struds,

Back in the mid to late 90's when the Oilers would regularly squeak into the playoffs they were always regarded as one of the best close knit teams. Players loved playing for the organization but more importantly for their fellow teammates. If someone went after Weight or one of the other star players you knew they would have to answer to one of the other Oilers (or the whole line for that matter).

First game this season Jacob Trouba, playing his first NHL game, tries to take Taylor Hall's head off with a nasty hit. Not one of Hall's teammates went after Trouba and they have continued to be everyone's punching bag.

What's happened to the Oilers in this regard? Is there a rift amongst the players in the dressing room? Are they so deflated from years of losing that they're only playing for themselves or their next contract?

Of all the things that have been difficult to watch as an Oilers' fan this season, their lack of support for one another is perhaps the hardest. It truly shows they are not playing as a team.

I'd love to hear your take on this.

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#2 -30-
January 20 2014, 11:26AM
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Now I recognize Tortorella. He's the guy that cut me off, gave me the finger and then tailgated me all the way home.

Nutcase. AND bad example for his team.

-30-

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#3 pkam
January 20 2014, 11:19AM
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Wigswag wrote:

To me it looked like Calgary instigated right off the draw (which he didn't even attempt to win) and Hartley should be held accountable for his teams actions as well. (They had to get direction from someone)

Hartley just took a chapter from Torts book.

Torts set the precedence when he did the same against the Devils in March 2013.

Did Torts get anything for that incidence? If not why should Hartley be held accountable for giving Torts a taste of his own medicine?

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#4 K_Mart
January 20 2014, 12:41PM
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Storm #1 is the biggest problem no doubt.

Our youth is so obvious it is painful. They don't play hockey the right way.

They aren't physical, they don't do a good job away from the puck, they make it so easy for the opposition to make plays and score, and this is all due to inexperience. The sad thing, is that they don't seem much better now then they were a few years ago.

Yak is worse, Nuge is slightly better, Hall's about the same, but the possession numbers somehow say he's worse, Ebs is the same....

They STILL ignore the fact that the game is a contact sport and that preventing goals is equally important as scoring them.

We are one of the worst possession teams in the league, yet we aren't even close to the top in hits... what does that say? We are getting out hit even when we don't have the puck.

You'd think that Hall,Nuge,Ebs,Perron,Yak,Jultz, and Hemsky would be able to produce enough offense to offset their defensive deficiencies but that simply is not the case.

I can accept the losing, but in the past (1995-99), opposing teams knew that they were in for some serious pain when they came in to our building. They might leave the coliseum with a win, but they left with some bruises as well. Edmontonians are an easy bunch to please, and an easy bunch to piss off. If the oilers want the sixth man back on their side, they need to acknowledge that hockey is a contact sport. I guarantee you the crowd will turn in favor of this team, despite the losing, if the kids lead the way and start following through on their hits.

I'm sick of all the flybys by the kids. You might not be able to outplay the opposition, but at least match their intensity and physical play. I don't care if we aren't 'built' to play a physical game, it's a contact sport. If we aren't built to play a physical game, then we aren't built to play hockey.

NO MORE FLYBYS

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#5 Nimrod
January 20 2014, 04:34PM
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None of these are storms. They are the consequences of decisions made by the organization.

You build a team with poor goaltenders and you get poor goaltending.

You build a team with one top four defender and you get poor defense.

You build a team with one-dimensional young forwards and you get bad performance out of them.

You hang on to front office staff that's failed for over a dozen years and you get a front office that isn't working.

There seems to be (judging by Katz letter today) a feeling that the organization probably is just a bit unlucky. Because the realization that everyone involved may not be good at what they are doing is too terrifying to think of.

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#6 Oliveoiler
January 20 2014, 11:05AM
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The goalie is the LAST line of defense - not the ONLY line of defense. We definitely need skill, size and smarts on D (x3) and a bit more size at C. Oops, here I go again, trying the be an armchair coach/GM. Sorry

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#7 smiliegirl15
January 20 2014, 11:13AM
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Wasn't Lowe one for talking about making a big splash when he was GM? Maybe that's where MacT gets his "bold moves" ideas from. Word to the wise MacT, don't do what Lowe did - look where it's gotten us! I know he's your buddy and all, but learn from his mistakes; don't imitate him!

Eakins' mistake was not bringing in his own guys as assistants and keeping this loser group we currently have. How do they still have jobs is what I'd like to know, especially after their bosses have been fired time and again.

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#8 Zed
January 20 2014, 11:47AM
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I could be wrong because it's been a while since I saw the movie so please correct me if I'm wrong.

Didn't the boat sink in the end?

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#9 dougtheslug
January 20 2014, 01:08PM
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Don't buy your analogy at all, Jason. Storms are acts of God, the Oilers predicament is totally self inflicted.

They didn't need to hire a rookie GM - with due diligence and responsibility to the team and their fans, rather than to the BOTB, they could have taken the time to search the hockey world for the best GM available. They didn't .

The GM could have left a coach in place that had the team competitive and in the playoff hunt until April of 2013. Or if he wanted a different coach, with due diligence and responsibility to the team and their fans, rather than to his own ego, he could have searched the hockey world for an experienced coach to take over . He didn't.

The Goaltender problem has been present for years. Nothing competent was done to correct it. The organization decided to replace due diligence with crossed fingers and wishful thinking that Dubnyk would magically transform into an NHL starter. He didn't.

The fans have been posting for years that the Oiler roster mix was wrong. It needed experience to guide the youth. The opportunities have been there the correct the balance. It never has been

This isn't a "Perfect Storm". It has been been a perfect example of incompetence, which starts at the top.

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#10 Wigswag
January 20 2014, 11:08AM
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To me it looked like Calgary instigated right off the draw (which he didn't even attempt to win) and Hartley should be held accountable for his teams actions as well. (They had to get direction from someone)

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#11 Fartly
January 20 2014, 12:06PM
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Wigswag wrote:

To me it looked like Calgary instigated right off the draw (which he didn't even attempt to win) and Hartley should be held accountable for his teams actions as well. (They had to get direction from someone)

Hartley was hiding like the TRUE COWARD he is! This is coming from a Flames fan!

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#12 Horcsky
January 20 2014, 05:27PM
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What really grinds my gears is that 'storms' 1, 3, and 4 were self-inflicted and totally preventable.

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#13 loweblows
January 20 2014, 12:28PM
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Zed wrote:

I could be wrong because it's been a while since I saw the movie so please correct me if I'm wrong.

Didn't the boat sink in the end?

They are doing a remake starring KLowe as the captain. Crewmen will be played by Buchberger, Eakins, Smith and Bill Murray. Its going to be called "The Perfect Groundhog Storm".

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#14 DAVE
January 20 2014, 12:04PM
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Struds, Could it be that Eakins was too busy run, swimming, and cycling this last summer? I question if he spent enough time preparing as a "Pro" Coach in the off season.

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#15 A-Mc
January 20 2014, 11:22AM
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hahaha good times. Good. Times.

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#16 Wigswag
January 20 2014, 11:54AM
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@The_Tik

The main difference is the boat loses radio contact 4 minutes in (the rest is speculation). We get to watch the actual disaster over and over.

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#17 Cynic
January 20 2014, 04:53PM
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I'm sure the free arena will fix everything.

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#18 Rama Lama
January 20 2014, 05:04PM
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The only actor better than George Clooney is Dallas Eakins! He managed to convince MacT that he was a real coach. In stead we saw a coach that needed 30 games to find out who plays which position!

He is apparently still learning, who does what, but he knows how to Chop Water and Carry Wood!

A perfect storm is a bunch of unexpected events happening at once. I for one know that there were many fans, pundits, and experts that called this re-build incomplete at the start of the season. I for one trusted what MacT was layinh down at the start of the season.

You can fool me once, but not twice!

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#19 Cynic
January 20 2014, 11:37AM
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So hysterical yapping is bad. But instigating actual violence is cool. You must be part of Teh Code that I keep hearing about. No wonder pro hockey has the same amount of credibility as WWE.

Also, the Oilers aren't George Clooney. They're Markie Mark. A phenom decades ago. Now exceedingly mediocre yet somehow still highly regarded by fans regardless of output.

Otherwise, great article.

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#20 GriffCity
January 20 2014, 12:05PM
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Anyone else notice how small Torts is? Just this little angry Italian bag of hot air. Id probably still take him any day over Eakins though. Eakins could show some more fire and passion, might bring it out of some of his players.

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#21 @Oilanderp
January 20 2014, 12:29PM
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I completely disagree about our primary need being a goalie, Struds. A 4x8 sheet of plywood wouldn't be able to play good enough goalie for this team: they'd have to replace it every period to fix the holes from all the shots.

I'd rather try to make a sub-par goalie look good by playing sound defense than make a sub-par team look good by our goalie standing on his head every night.

We need committed 2-way players both on the front and back end. Until our inexperienced bunch realizes this, buys in and plays this way, I am afraid the good ship Oilers will continue to be lost at sea.

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#22 K_Mart
January 20 2014, 12:43PM
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These are the issues in order of importance in my opinion:

Problem #1 : Youth and inexperience Problem #2 : Defensive Core Problem #3 : Goaltending

Top minute eaters are kids... kids that don't play the right way.

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#23 Release the Hounds
January 20 2014, 09:15PM
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BabyNuge's_Baby wrote:

Exactly! They play scared, like if they throw a hit they are going to get hurt or have to fight. Its embarrassing. You don't have to be 6'3" to bodycheck, Markabello is tiny yet he still throws checks every game. This group of talented princesses need to step it up.

I agree with everything you both state. Habs are a smaller team than the Oilers but are in 10th overall right now. Why? Other than better goaltending, they PLAY BIG! They finish their checks, they play the body instead of making a weak attempt at poking the puck off the oppositions stick. They are not afraid to make a hit to get the puck back. They hustle to loose pucks. They play as though the puck is theirs to have. Size may matter to some degree but if you come to play and play BIG, you will have much better success than the prima donna Oilers as the Canadiens are proving.

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#24 Wigswag
January 20 2014, 11:09AM
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and good article, wish it wasn't true.

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#25 Tuningout
January 20 2014, 11:13AM
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Good read Struds. Only thing I'd like to mention is MacT is making trades we will be talking about for years to come, because of the past and future "NHL player for magic beans or oil kings" trade. Lots of things to talk about while we wait and wait and read Lowetide about their progress.

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#26 Grzegorz Brzeczyszczykiewicz
January 20 2014, 11:28AM
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Which goalie would you go after and when? Now or in the off season? Also, whom would you be willing to part ways with in order to get the No.1? If we get a goalie via trade how are we going to land a top D-man? Do the Oilers have enough goods to acquire both through trades? IMO, we can probably get one or the other, but not both. But what do I know.

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#27 The_Tik
January 20 2014, 11:45AM
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"In my opinion one of his best is The Perfect Storm. This about a boat of fisherman who get caught in one of the worst storms of the century and how they try to overcome. Multiple storms converge on their location creating a super storm.

In many ways this Oilers season has been a similar story line. Multiple issues all seemingly unrelated that intertwine to bring Oilers fan pain."

Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't the entire crew die in that movie and in real life?

Hopefully, the storyline isn't that similar to the Oilers season.

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#28 wintoon
January 20 2014, 12:40PM
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Almost every body is familiar with a modern phenomena called road rage. Torts has just given rise to a new term - RINK RAGE. He is now the official poster boy. He was totally out of control and should be suspended for the good of the game.

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#29 BabyNuge's_Baby
January 20 2014, 05:14PM
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K_Mart wrote:

Storm #1 is the biggest problem no doubt.

Our youth is so obvious it is painful. They don't play hockey the right way.

They aren't physical, they don't do a good job away from the puck, they make it so easy for the opposition to make plays and score, and this is all due to inexperience. The sad thing, is that they don't seem much better now then they were a few years ago.

Yak is worse, Nuge is slightly better, Hall's about the same, but the possession numbers somehow say he's worse, Ebs is the same....

They STILL ignore the fact that the game is a contact sport and that preventing goals is equally important as scoring them.

We are one of the worst possession teams in the league, yet we aren't even close to the top in hits... what does that say? We are getting out hit even when we don't have the puck.

You'd think that Hall,Nuge,Ebs,Perron,Yak,Jultz, and Hemsky would be able to produce enough offense to offset their defensive deficiencies but that simply is not the case.

I can accept the losing, but in the past (1995-99), opposing teams knew that they were in for some serious pain when they came in to our building. They might leave the coliseum with a win, but they left with some bruises as well. Edmontonians are an easy bunch to please, and an easy bunch to piss off. If the oilers want the sixth man back on their side, they need to acknowledge that hockey is a contact sport. I guarantee you the crowd will turn in favor of this team, despite the losing, if the kids lead the way and start following through on their hits.

I'm sick of all the flybys by the kids. You might not be able to outplay the opposition, but at least match their intensity and physical play. I don't care if we aren't 'built' to play a physical game, it's a contact sport. If we aren't built to play a physical game, then we aren't built to play hockey.

NO MORE FLYBYS

Exactly! They play scared, like if they throw a hit they are going to get hurt or have to fight. Its embarrassing. You don't have to be 6'3" to bodycheck, Markabello is tiny yet he still throws checks every game. This group of talented princesses need to step it up.

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#30 S cottV
January 20 2014, 12:00PM
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JS - you probably should have kept going up the line to include Kevin Lowe.

Honestly - the perfect storm was predictable or at least something to be avoided out of a high level gut feel for what works and what doesn't. Guy's like Lowe get paid the big bucks for "getting it right" even if sometimes you get a little bit lucky.

Lowe could have interceded to keep the boat from being exposed to so many variables, over the past several years.

If it were a situation where the lead guy goes down with the boat, I doubt KLowe would have allowed this to occur, because these variables are just too risky on top of each other.

No - he believes himself to be too insulated and if the boat goes down, no big problem - others will go down with it and he will get together with Katz to rebuild a new one.

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#31 Vaclav
January 20 2014, 01:52PM
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JJ wrote:

Trouba went after Hall because that Czech b@stard Smid boarded Scheifele into the boards very brutally. I think everyone understood that.

So what you`re saying is that because Smid (a Czech bastard by your account) leveled Scheifele with a hit from behind earlier in the game that the Oilers shouldn`t have come to Hall`s defence after Trouba attempted to end his season?

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#32 @Oilanderp
January 20 2014, 04:40PM
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It sounds like barring any offer that they can't refuse, they are for the most part going to wait for the young d-men.

To really get what they need they'd have to overpay and that might jeopardize the ultimate goal of being a perenial contender.

It sucks, but they might be right.

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#33 RJ
January 20 2014, 10:57AM
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Hey Struds, Jed says hi

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#34 Will
January 20 2014, 11:40AM
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Good read.

I like your insight on the Torts situation as it seems to be the most clear cut, non bs opinion about the whole thing.

It is also interesting to hear this perfect storm analogy for the first time this year.

As everyone has been trying to pin point the problems of the Oilers, it hurts to hear that it might not be one isolated area, but in fact many areas throughout the team that are all compounding each other.

I noticed you did not mention the defence as one of the storms, or a particular area of it. I'm not sure if this should be included or not, but it seems more like the lack of two way play from the forwards are hurting the defence.

Anyway, should be interesting to see how the GM tries to get the team out of the storm.

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#35 Walter Sobchak
January 20 2014, 12:33PM
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Jason:

Based on what we have seen this year out of Eakins this season and the way the players are playing the games (body language, effort, competitive ) do you even bring him back, or even the rest of the coaching staff?

If Eakins does come back what's his game total before the Oilers realize they might have made a mistake here? 20?

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#36 VK63
January 20 2014, 01:12PM
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You are complicating things struddy.

The Dj sux.

Everything else just follows along.

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#37 K_Mart
January 20 2014, 01:38PM
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oilerjed wrote:

Have you had a chance to read the letter from Daryl Katz on oilers.com. Was hoping for something substantive, turns out Lowes not going to Go.

Not happy about Katz defending Mr. Six Rings, knows something about winning, and divides fans into two tiers Lowe.

But I am happy about his statement regarding staying the course.

It's an ugly thought. But STAYING THE COURSE is the sad reality that we have to face. As tempting as it is to deal off one of ebs,yak,hall,nuge,jultz, or this year's 1st pick... unless the deal is something we can't turn down, we need to stay the course.

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#38 Spydyr
January 20 2014, 01:23PM
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Goaltending needs an upgrade, but IMO the biggest thing needed is a true number one stud defencman.

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#39 nunyour
January 20 2014, 01:37PM
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Klowe,Mact,Smith,and Bucky were all pretty good, tough, defensive players,none were overly talented.Why are the oilers so soft and clueless defensively?

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#40 vetinari
January 20 2014, 02:24PM
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@Struds--

Damn good article and analysis... wanna manage a nameless NHL team?

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#41 TeddyTurnbuckle
January 20 2014, 02:46PM
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I can't believe the amount of people who carry on about the assistant coaches being the problem with the team. Buckburger and Smith are not the problem! The young top six ( lack of top end centermen), defense and goaltending are the problem.

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#42 Do bolo
January 20 2014, 08:29PM
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What a terrible article. Torts showed how much he cared for his team and was pissed that he had to send his players into that situation. Maybe if Eakins showed he had the backs of the players, and nit just run them down in the media, maybe the players would play for him. For being a guy who played in the nhl, your sort of clueless on how leadership works.

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#43 TeddyTurnbuckle
January 20 2014, 01:10PM
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I can't believe the amount of people who carry on about the assistant coaches being the problem with the team. Bunchburger and Smith are not the problem! The young top six ( lack of top end centermen), defense and goaltending are the problem.

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#44 Oiler Al
January 20 2014, 02:00PM
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Com'on Jason, the No.1 storm on this team is the defensive squad!. You numbered all the areas except the defense.

You might not recognize the problem being a defense man yourself. There were problems back when you were patroling the blue line for the Oilers and they have gotten worse.. Dont be such a homer and call like it is.

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#45 Tikkanese
January 20 2014, 12:39PM
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Off topic but I wonder what the Oilers do with Ryan Smyth. He should retire as an Oiler but on the other hand, I'd love to see him win a Cup. I don't count or like those "signed a 1 day contract" and retires.

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#46 Zamboni Driver
January 20 2014, 01:22PM
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We need to bring back Jarret Stoll.

I don't care about hockey, just because the man is a LEGEND.

Google who his LATEST squeeze is (this is AFTER Rachel Hunter).

Wow.

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#47 S cottV
January 20 2014, 01:27PM
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I agree - this was avoidable and the buck needs to stop at the top.

Nothing to do with particularly getting a pound of flesh for what has happened, but - just within the honor in things, K Lowe needs to accept responsibility and step down.

Replace him after an exhaustive all inclusive search for the best possible candidate.

Let the new guy do his due dilegence and make changes that don't fit the new vision.

My guess - lots would change.

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#48 Funky Chicken Shizzle For U
January 20 2014, 01:46PM
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In the final analysis what really needs to happen (...adieu Six Rings) to get this boat headed in the right direction is not going to occur (BFF) anytime soon. Barring other NHL teams replacing their front office staff with Maggie the Monkey offspring and/or losing 3/4 of their rosters to the KHL the Oiler organization will continue to deliver the same pathetic results.

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#49 loweblows
January 20 2014, 03:23PM
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nunyour wrote:

Klowe,Mact,Smith,and Bucky were all pretty good, tough, defensive players,none were overly talented.Why are the oilers so soft and clueless defensively?

Because they don't have black beards. There are no black beards on the top 2 lines. The best players on the bottom half are greybeards.

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#50 Serious Gord
January 20 2014, 04:06PM
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Jason: clooney is bald as a coot.

Hair plugs...

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