More patience?

I appreciated Dallas Eakins’ honesty when discussing his time with the Oilers. “We probably got ahead of ourselves systems wise. We should have focused on the fundamentals more,” Eakins said.

He also stated that he should have been more patient. “The thing you forget, and I was guilty of it too, is that you forget the players are 19, or 21 or 23. They are pulling on the jersey and going on the ice and you expect them to play like they are 28 or 29 years old. It just isn’t there yet.”

I agreed with those comments, however, I couldn’t get behind his statement to the fans. “My message to the people here and to the fans is, I can speak freely now, and like it or not you need to be patient.”

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I do agree that it takes time to build a winning team. Chicago, for example, made the playoffs once in ten years before they became a serious contender, but they showed PROGRESS during those non-playoff years. They went from 59 points to 65 to 71 and then to 88 point in 2008 and missing the playoffs by three points.

In 2009, they racked up 104 points and won a few rounds in the playoffs.

What progress have the Oilers made?

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From 2007 to 2009 they had 71, 88 and 85 points. They weren’t in a rebuild. They tried to re-tool and were at least competitive in 2008 and 2009 missing the playoffs by three and six points. In the summer of 2009 they signed Nikolai Khabibulin to a large contract in the hopes of making the playoffs.

They fell into a rebuild due to numerous injuries to their better players. In January of 2010, they decided to rebuild.

Since then, the organization has had two general managers, three head coaches, one interim head coach, a transition coach and 83 players, 47 of which are no longer in the NHL.

In 2010, they finished 30th with 62 points.

In 2011, they were 30th with 62 points.

In 2012, they finished 29th with 74 points.

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In 2013, they finished 24th with 45 points. (shortened season)

In 2014, they finished 28th with 67 points.

In 2015, they are currently 29th with 20 points in 32 games, on pace for 51 points.

Where is the progress? If there was progress I can guarantee you the fans would be ecstatic. They have been remarkably patient. The building was sold out every night, up until this year. The TV numbers were consistently strong.

The issue isn’t about the fan’s patience. The issue is that they don’t have faith in the people running the team, and why should they?

Since Craig MacTavish took over the team has actually gotten worse, points-wise. I know the analytics have improved slightly, but the team is not any closer to winning.

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MacTavish actually weakened the centre position. He traded Shawn Horcoff away as a favour to him. This team could desperately use Horcoff right now — a veteran centre who could play top-nine minutes and play a solid two-way game.

I realize people hated his contract, but MacTavish traded him and his $5.5 million cap hit, and this year he replaced that cap space with Nikita Nikitin’s $4.5 million contract. The team isn’t any better.

Craig MacTavish inherited a bad team — there is no debating that — but since he took over we haven’t seen any progress, in fact we’ve seen many of the same mistakes from the previous seven seasons.

The Oilers are rushing another young centre into the NHL. MacTavish felt it was better off to start the season with rookie Leon Draisaitl and undersized Marc Arcobello and his 42 games of NHL experience as two of the team’s four centres.

Why would you enter a season with so little depth or experience at centre? Why did the Oilers feel it was necessary to rush Draisaitl? He hasn’t scored a goal in 15 games. The games get harder as the season goes along, not easier.

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Eakins said, “Craig MacTavish took over this job 18-20 months ago. I understand being
out of the playoffs for a long time, but the situation is the situation.
It’s kind of like losing all your money. You don’t get all your money
back the next day, you have to get working again and working at it.  You need
to be patient and if anybody is going to find the solution, it’s going
to be Craig MacTavish.

“If a new GM came in here today, you know what he’d say to you? Five
years, five years is what they all say, that’s what I’m
going to need. Craig has been here for 20 months. Everybody breathe, let
him go about his business, show some patience and let him get this
sorted out and let Nelly get it sorted out,” Eakins continued.

Based on the standings he is probably correct that it might take another five years for this team to be a Cup contender, but I’m not sure there is proof yet that MacTavish is the guy to turn the team around. Yes, he has only been on the job for 20 months, but the team has not improved.

They are still too light up front. They are still small down the middle. They are lacking aggression on the backend and consistency in goal. They don’t score enough. They don’t defend well enough.

Asking fans for patience makes sense if they have witnessed some progress, but when you see the same mistakes being repeated it is hard to have faith that the Oilers will improve.

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I’d say it is time the organization rewards the fans’ loyalty and patience by improving the on-ice product.

Until the Oilers start climbing up the standings and winning hockey games, it is simply unrealistic to ask the fans for more time.

The only constant throughout this eight and half years of losing has been their patience.


Thank you to G and H Heating for their generous donation and to Bernie for his awesome bid of $5,800 yesterday. That was awesome.


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Recently by Jason Gregor:     

  • Do we know what he meant by 5 years? Is that 5 years until we’d be out of drafting top 5 every year or is it 5 years until we are in a playoff spot?

    Going on what’s happened so far I’m willing to bet MacT doesnt have this team in a playoff spot 5 years from now, heck I’d probably bet they’ll still have a shot at finishing at the bottom most season.

  • Deported to Ottawa

    Patience, no, it should be patients because we’re sick and tired of the same old song and dance.

    There isn’t a shred of evidence to indicate the current management and scouting department have the ability to build a winning program.

    Years of high draft picks and the team is performing worse than when the rebuild began. At what point does Katz say, “enough,” and bring in hockey people with a proven track record in the NHL?

    How many coaches and how many players have to be churned through Edmonton before the light goes on and Katz cleans house.

    Until young draftee’s are allowed to finish their junior careers and develop in the AHL more youngsters will fail to reach their potential. With the exception of Hall (he’s debatable) none of the high picks have reached their potential with this organization. The organization lacks leadership and a core of players to teach youngsters what it takes to win.

    It amazes me how a proud franchise with a rich tradition can simply be destroyed and the owner simply doesn’t seem to be paying attention.

  • Gilmore Tuttle

    The only analytic that counts is points in the standings. No use being the tallest midget or 10th in the league in face off wins in the neutral zone after being waved out.

    The long con was always to have Buchberger to head coach the Oilers. These past few “red shirted” Star Trek extras have been place holders and traction under the bus to give the old boys a few years “experience” and a feable excuse to bring him in.

    Never ending patience is for losers, so the locals get what they deserve at this point. How they can take a spoonfull of “first year of the rebuild” from the teams shills and complicit sports hacks is beyond me. I guess that is why they are called fanatics.

  • 83 players, 47 of which are no longer in the NHL

    Wow. Just wow. Of all the craptacular Oilers stats, this one is pretty telling. Certainly some guys to the AHL and some just gone, but this seems like a terrible ratio for such a short time period.

  • Bleak Winter

    Oilers entire organization isn’t competent, there’s no point in continuing to hope they eventually will be. Some people just aren’t cut out for certain jobs.

    You can also be patient with an infinite amount of monkeys, at an infinite amount of keyboards, and wait for that masterwork to materialize. Or you can fire the damn monkeys and hire someone more appropriate. Katz prefers to add more monkeys, that’s all there is to it.

    That being said, my patience is better than ever because for at least two or three years now it has been fueled by intense apathy.

  • Funny blog. Why not look at some of the moves the “fans” and media demanded while being so patient? There was almost a lynch mob on Horcoff, and the fans were mad at Lowe for signing him and keeping him around as long as they did (though it was Horcoff’s price to not take less than the Sedins), and now you want him back. It was the fan’s/media that couldn’t understand why the Oiers kept Gagner around, and now they want him back. It was the fans and media that wanted MacT gone – to the point where he finally quit – only to find out that maybe he was a better coach than the “fans” thought. The list goes on and on – Stoll was written off by the fans, Green was too slow…
    Funny that Gregor compares this rebuild with cities like Chicago …really? Here’s a tip, Edmonton isn’t Chicago.
    There were not any centres available to Edmonton for the right money and term or else there would have been a different 2nd one centre here. The guys that were available would have caused a potential log jam at centre. The calibre of centres available to Edmonton may not have done much better that Leon – and you can bet the fan base would have have been screaming by now for Leon.

    If there is a reasonable comparison, the mess in Edmonton is very comparable to Toronto’s history – glory days followed by years and years of futility. Fans blaming it on the management, a carousel of GM/s, owners, coaches, and payers. Stanley Cup winners, the best of the best in management… none of those changes has brought a cup back to the Big Smoke.

    Edmonton refers to a group of wide eyed youngsters that are still paying their dues as “the core”. This “core” has a lot of growing to do and they will be a great “core” someday if they are allowed to get there, just as Stoll, Horcoff, Green, Gagner, Cogliano, would have been a better veteran “core” today.


      The “core”, Hall, RNH, Eberle, have been playing in the NHL for 4-5 years and they are paid $6 million a year to do so. THEY ARE AS GOOD AS THEY ARE GOING TO GET. And they are not that good (with the possible exception of Hall), and that is one of the many reasons that the team is in second last place this morning.

      I didn’t tell Lowe and MacTavish who to sign and who to trade. I didn’t tell Lowe and MacTavish that Horcoff was better than the Sedin brothers, and therefore deserved to be paid more than them.

      In a weird way, fans like YOU are part of the problem. You demand nothing, therefore you get nothing.

      I wish Mr. Gregor could go back and identify all the people who said “In MacTavish we trust”, 18 months ago, 12 months ago, 6 months ago, on this site.

      • Gilmore Tuttle

        I know a number of Tier 3 Pee Wee players that have better offensive and defensive game sense than some of these 1st round draft choices. The rare gem is a kid with both the physical skills and the brains.

      • Zarny

        The peak age for offensive production in the NHL is 25; followed by 24, 26, 27, 28 and 29.

        So no, at 20-22 y/o the Oilers’ “core” is not as good as they are going to get.

        To suggest so is beyond stupid.

        • camdog

          Eberle is turning 25 this season. It’s not unreasonable to believe that his offensive production has in fact peaked.

          Those averages are for players that play on other hockey teams. In Edmonton under Lowe’s watch many forwards regress as they age. I doubt you’ll find many players that have come into the Oilers organisation under Lowe’s watch and followed the normal patterns.

          Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano both had their most productive seasons in their rookie years. The Oilers inability to develop players is symbolic of a dysfunctional organisation that throws it’s youth out to play against men and get the shiit kicked out of them.

        • pkam


          I referred to Eberle, Hall and RNH. They are 24, 23 and 21 respectively. Not “20-22”.

          So which one of us is “beyond stupid”?

          • Zarny

            Good grief, are you ever obtuse.

            As camdog pointed out, Eberle is hitting that peak age. His numbers will fluctuate like any other star player and likely hasn’t hit his career year but you probably won’t see a lot of improvement.

            Hall, Nuge, Yakupov…not even in the same universe as “as good as they are going to get” yet.

            Get a grip.

    • Jason Gregor

      This isn’t Chicago? The Hawks didn’t win because of massive free agent signings. They drafted well.

      Keith in 2002.
      Seabrook, Crawford, Byfuglien in 2003.
      Bolland, Bickell, Brouwer in 2004.
      Hjalmarsson in 2005.
      Toews in 2006.
      Kane in 2007.
      Kruger in 2009.
      Shaw and Saad in 2011.

      Those guys helped win Cups in 2010 or in 2013.

      They made astute trades like getting Sharp out of Philly for nothing in 2006.

      They dealt Tuomo Ruutu, their 1st round pick, 9th overall in 2001 for Andrew Ladd.

      They built team mainly via draft and trade. Hossa and Campbell were big UFA signings.

      Is Edm really close to building a foundation through the draft today after five years? I’d say they are at least another two away from seeing Klefbom, Nurse ready to be impact players along with other picks.

      PS. You can read my stuff on Horcoff. I was never one who wanted him out of town. Said he was more valuable than people wanted. Most were blinded by his contract, and didn’t see his contribution on the ice.

      • Gordie Wayne

        I always say Edmonton did their rebuild backwards in that they did not have the team drafted before they got into their high end talent. Instead they are just now trying to find the rest of the team through the draft.

        But, because they are one of the worst teams for development (see rushing in kids), they are not doing themselves any favours.

        As for Horcoff, I do think Gordon is an upgrade and costs less money. So why cry over spilled milk?

        True, the Nikitin contract basically is like another Horcoff contract, but it’s at a different area of need.

        Centres were available, both in the summer and on the waiver a week ago.

        • camdog

          Gordon and Horcoff both make 3 million this season. Oilers front loaded the Horcoff contract.

          Suffice to say I can’t believe there are Oiler fans that believe this team has enough NHL calibre centers, sort of shocked, this team could use both Gordon and Horcoff.

          • pkam

            Nobody cares about the Salary except Katz. All we fans care is the cap hit which is 5.5M for Horcoff.

            So what was weaker at the end of last season, defense, goaltending or centre? After signing Scrivens and acquiring Fasth, and before trading Gagner, I believe it was our defense.

            If we keep Horcoff, after signing Nikitin, we have no more cap to sign Fayne.

            How much do you think is the average salary for a 3rd line centre? My guess is about 3M. How much is the average for a 2nd pair defense? My guess is about 4M. If I am correct, how can Nikitin (supposed to be a 1st/2nd pair defense) at 4.5M contract worse than Horcoff (a 3rd centre) at 5.5M?

            The Oilers definitely could use both Gordon and Horcoff, but 8.5M for this duo? And I wonder how much better we will be with Horcoff over Drisaitle. We may get a couple more goals and perhaps 1 or 2 more wins, and 28th instead of 29th. Is that good enough for the fans?

          • pkam

            So Drisatle in the Oilers this year would not be as good for next years Oilers?

            In other words, you believe Drisaitle has more to learn from the juniors than in NHL?

            Most argue that he need to be better in his skating, so do you think his skating will improve more playing in the juniors or in the NHL?

          • pkam

            I am not sure if playing 25 minutes with CHL players is really better than playing 10 minutes with NHL players. Is quantity really better than quality?

            He also practices with NHL players and learn from NHL coaches. And he won’t pick up as much bad juniors habits like Hall and Eberle did, which takes time to undo.

      • Yea Horcoff could really help this team……..this notion is laughable at best.

        I only remember that whenever he had the puck on his stick, he would either bobble it, fiddle with it, and or lose it but rarely did he make a play with it.

        That’s why he is playing fourth line minutes in Dallas………fans wanting more of his magic are suckers for punishment. This guy was a good soldier but lacked any measure of talent.

        We can do better.

  • Spydyr

    Management issues blah blah blah. The players ultimately are the main pieces! they are all men and have played in this league and other leagues. They all have it in themselves to step it up. Yeah its a hard friggen league to play in but every one of the players has the ability to take that extra little stride or dig a little deeper in the corner.

    Just don’t understand, maybe wrong mix of players but they alone have the power to turn this s%$t boat around. Walk the talk!!

  • Spydyr

    Anyone who thinks a Hall for Weber trade is a good thing,is drinking managements Kool-aid.Hall just turned 23 and Weber is almost 30.will Weber still be a top 3 D in the league when RNH hits his prime years of 25-30?same goes with trading our first round pick for Weber,completely crazy,but sounds like something they’d do.and Bob Stauffer saying Lowe has no input on accuisitions is retarded.Oilchange had shown us his dirty hands are in every aspect of the team.Kevin loved a young defensman named Braydon Coburn,and tried to trade up at the draft to get him.Kevin did not succeed in getting him,and he was drafted by the Thrashers forward to the 14 draft,and who did they try and get?an aging Braydon Coburn,who isn’t what he used to be,and has been trending downward for the past couple years at save your BS Bob,nobody believes you anyway.

    Katz is not going to fire his pals,they will finish last,pay Gary to win the closed door lottery,and Mac T will roll out McDavid next year,with his proud stunned look,and act like he did something to make the team better.

    I get it Daryl Katz,you want so badly to win with your friends,who wouldn’t?i mean,if the Oilers win another Cup,I’ll sure as he’ll be celebrating with my friends too.but your friends are not capable of doing the required job,and you should get some new ones perhaps,that are capable of meeting your are a great person Daryl,and I’d even say one of the best to come out of Edmonton.but your friends have changed your image from Bruce Wayne,to that of a guy holding onto the edge of a toilet,while everything below you spirals down the many jokes do you and your friends have to be the punch line of,before you get the message?you are an intelligent and quick individual,so maybe it’s time to show your characteristics that have made you a success,and not the ones you’re using to guide your beloved Oilers.

    Everyone in the league hates Mac T and Lowe,and don’t want to deal with it coincidence that the only jobs Craig could find when he left,were at TSN and in the AHL?we do need a culture change,and it starts with the two idiots chasing their tales in the press box,and telling everyone how many rings they have.

    • Jason Gregor

      Well written and I agree with you points accept one: Darryl Katz is not the super intelligent business man he so easily gets credited for. Please remember that he inherited his business from his father, who undoubtedly had to do some very hard business work, but now Mr. Katz reaps the rewards of a business set up for him…Oh and that business just happens to be selling drugs..The kind of drugs that are always needed and required so don’t be duped into thinking he is an incredibly smart business man. He is however a very rich, very influential individual who does have the power to make changes if he wanted to. Do not however give him credit as a genius or incredible business man.

  • Newj

    I really don’t think the Oilers will have any problems finding an “upper-end” coach, seeing as how they pay out 2 years for every 1 year coached… #Bargain

  • Ima Sikentard

    For some interesting insight into the Oilers work ethic and into what current players think of the Oilers, check out Primetime Sports with Bob Mcowen. The Monday December 15 podcast 5 o’clock hour interview with Kelly Hrudey. A bit of an eye opener.

    • Serious Gord

      Heard it agreed with him except at he end he says he doesn’t want MacT and Lowe gone because he is such good friends with them.

      There is a reason why hrudey comments on the nhl rather than works in it.

    • 5 Cups

      Wow, really interesting comments especially from people who are playing the game. Clearly there is little respect for the core group here when considering their work ethic.

  • 5 Cups

    I have been patiently waiting for Lowe to be removed from the equation for over 5 years. Even though we keep hearing that he is removed from the situation and this is MacTs (or previously Tambos)team now. I guarnatee they talk and shoot ideas back and forth. The president needs to know whats going on and, I would assume just like every other buisines, has the final call on most decisions that are made.

    I truely belive that change will not come until there is change at the very top. So, I will patiently await that change.

  • Craig1981

    I said it before and I’ll say it again – their plan has been McDavid all along. There is no way this organization is operating this badly by accident.

    Horcoff: Liked him. He too was played out of position. Should have been a 3/2 center.
    Lowe signed him to that ridiculous contract. Over thinking the change in rules to eliminate hooking and holding. This probably had a lot to do with the team getting smaller as well.

    Then MacT throwing Dubnyk under the bus before the season and signing Gagner to that contract. Promising bold moves.

    There are many more examples, but the gist is that these are rookie mistakes.

    Why are these guys getting on the job training running a multi-million dollar busines??

    • Serious Gord

      Dissembling with stats…

      After 32 games draisaitl has 7 points
      After 79 games stamkos had 46 points

      Unless you are claiming that draisaitl will get 39 points in the next 47 games, draisaitl is having a far worse first season than stamkos had.

  • One pet peeve is when people don’t talk about the 2007-2010period ad though that wasn’t a form of rebuild. Just because they didn’t burn it to the ground and start from scratch doesn’t mean it wasn’t a rebuild. Maybe an argument over semantics, but Lowe even used the word rebuild back in 07 ish to describe the state of the Oilers. And it was right. The 2010 version is just a different crack at a rebuild based on the 2007-2010 attempt leaving this team in complete ruins.

    Anyways, every time I hear someone say the rebuild started in 2010 or something to that effect it irks me. Don’t give these guys a pass for 2007-2010. They screwed that rebuild up too and now we let them try it a different way and they’re taking the scenic route to getting this team to be a winner. For fans to be patient in all this we need progress and as noted in the article, there is no progress, at least in the standings. Hand the keys over, Kevin and Craig.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Every time they pull out/dust off and use this excuse again, it lets everyone off the hook for the rest of the season. Players and management both included.

    Please don’t judge us now. Ba patient and give us another 5 yrs.

    Patience has become another word for, we don’t have a clue what we’re doing in Edmonton. Enough of this patience BS.

    • camdog

      If I am a player on this organization and management says patience is needed, I’m thinking that the organisation is intentionally tanking. It’s hard to give an honest effort when you know management is already eyeing up next years first overall.