BACK AT IT: TRULY FEEBLE

Robin Brownlee
February 28 2014 12:07AM

Team-5

As much of a dumpster fire as this season has been for the Edmonton Oilers, there was at least a hint of anticipation as fans dutifully filed into Rexall Place to begin the stretch drive against the Minnesota Wild after three weeks off for the Olympic break. Should have known better.

Rather than come back with some gusto and jump in a stretch that will see the Oilers play 15 of their final 22 games at home, they served up another feeble and indifferent display for the hometown faithful, collectively shrugging their shoulders in a half-hearted, half-assed 3-0 loss to the Wild.

Fans who arrived with at least a hint of hope the Oilers might finish off this mess of 2013-14 with enthusiasm and maybe a win here or there after a tidy roll before the break, were booing by the final buzzer at the Oilers were shut out for the fifth time at home this season, dropping to 10-15-2 at the Rex.

The power play has fallen and it can't get up. There was next-to-no flow on the attack. Ben Scrivens didn’t look particularly sharp. Worst of all, the give-a-damn meter appeared to be as low as it's been all season, save for some nastiness from Matt Hendricks and Luke Gazdic.

Played like their heads and hearts were still on the beach somewhere warm, did the Oilers. The only grit was the sand in their shorts.

NOT CLOSE TO GOOD ENOUGH

When a team has been as bad as long as the Oilers have, virtually every angle involving personnel, team chemistry, coaching and the X's and O's has been exhausted. The power play, at least this 1-3-1 version of it, is brutal. There are holes throughout the lineup front and back. The defense isn’t good enough. All this we know. More fodder for these last days before the trade deadline.

One ongoing glaring deficiency – far from the only one -- that stood out for me in this game was the lack of push-back from the Oilers, the unwillingness to back each other up. The all-for-one, one-for-all mentality most successful teams show consistently. Big problem.

That was illustrated best as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall were getting knocked around near the Minnesota goal by Keith Ballard and Matt Cooke. Out near the blue line stood Jeff Petry and Anton Belov, two of the biggest players on the ice. And that's where they stayed as Ballard cuffed RNH and Hall had a brief altercation with Cooke. They watched.

I'm not foolish enough to think having Petry and Belov wade in and kick some backside, or at least show up, in that circumstance comes anywhere near close to addressing the many needs of this team, but showing opponents they don’t get a free pass in that situation would solve one of them – the lack of will to play and stand up for each other.

I'm not suggesting GM Craig MacTavish go on a thug hunt at the deadline or over the summer, but while he's looking for another defenseman or two and some size that can play in the top-six up front, find a player or two who isn’t so ready to turn the other cheek -- as too many players on this roster now are.

Culture change? Let's start with MacTavish getting some players who are as sick of losing as the fans who filed in to watch yet another no-show by a team that keeps talking the talk but refuses to walk the walk.

Enough already.

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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#1 BoyToy
February 28 2014, 09:02AM
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Eberle, Nurse and Yakupov for Eller, Subban and Gallagher

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#2 john
February 28 2014, 12:19AM
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Please FIRE EAKINS, this clown can't coach NHL teams. I can't stand to see his face any more, can't stand Patrick Roy and Brian Burke faces too. Lost at home 3-0, that's 5 shut out games lost at home, where people paid to see it? That's unacceptable, bring signs and chant 'Fire Eakins' at all home games. Don't throw jerseys onto the ice, it's not the team, it's the coach that cannot get this team to win.

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#3 nuge2nail
February 28 2014, 12:20AM
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Oiler Domination To Follow

We need a #2C

We need a #1D, #2D, #3D

We need a #1G

The lottery pick will fill one of the above. Nurse fills another.

Hopefully MacT uses the 40+ mil in cap space this off season to fill the rest...

DREAM WORLD:

Callahan

Girardi, Markhov, Ekblad, Nurse

Halak

OILER WORLD:

Bolland

Diaz, Hainsey, Ekblad, Nurse

Reimer

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#4 HOFFFF
February 28 2014, 02:23AM
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Isn't it an automatic penalty if the D come in during a scrum? Belov is willing partner with anyone. Sometimes it's worth a misconduct.

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#5 toprightcorner
February 28 2014, 10:48AM
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john wrote:

Are you freaking serious man? Same players from last year and new coach but statistically this team is worst in PP, PK, goals against dead last and 2nd worst in NHL in points. Oilers got shut out 8 games this year, 5 lost at home by shut out. Who's to blame but the coach? People paid to see this crap? Lose games but at least score some goals so people can cheer to something.

So the wors goals against is Eakins fault? He doesn't stop the puck. Every time the Oilers get shut out is Eakins fault? He doesn't score the goals.

PP, yeah its 3.5% lower than last year but the Oilers have taken the second most penalties while on the PP whcih kills your actual PP opportunities. Eakins doesn't take penalties.

Does the coach tell the players to make drop passes at the blue line or make high risk passes and lose posession?

PK, less than 2% lower than last year, think goaltending may have had something to do with that? How about losing your top PK guy in Horcoff? Last year 1 defenceman was not an NHL veteran, this year Belov, Marincin, Larsen, Fedun and Hunt.

You say "score some goals so people can cheer to something" does the coach score the goals?

You say 2nd worst in points this year.....compared to worst, worst, 2nd worst and 6th worst the last 4 years? I guess coach changes each year really helped that!!

Scotty Bowman would not make this team a playoff contender. A coach is only as good as its players.

Look at Dan Bylsma, PIT coach. Everyone says he is a great coach, but he has an awesome team. Babcock schooled him as a coach in the Olymics. The team has more to do with the success of a coach than the abilities of the coach.

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#7 toprightcorner
February 28 2014, 09:36AM
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4 different coaches with the same type of team with the same holes equals zero success. Why does everyone think the 5th coach is the answer?

Fix the team, fill the holes and give a coach, any coach a fighting chance to succeed.

Firing the coach for not winning with this team is like firing a Formula 1 driver for not winning while driving a Pinto.

Definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

Oilers definition of insanity: firing coach after coach with the same team makeup and expecting different results.

Fix the team, worry about the coach later.

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#8 Muji
February 28 2014, 12:29AM
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They're so f*cked. They need a new coach. But they can't afford to have another new coach. I'm a MacT supporter, but the coaching was a HUGE mistake this season.

Eakins seemed great on paper, but has been a huge letdown. Or maybe it's the assistant coaches? Or maybe both? Doesn't really matter. It's bad.

Should've kept Krueger. Not because he was better than Eakins. But for the same reason that they'll keep Eakins this summer: because this young group cannot afford to have a revolving door of coaches!

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#9 john
February 28 2014, 12:49AM
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PRIDE - results from self-directed satisfaction with meeting the personal or team goals. PRIDE - a group of lions. This Oilers team has no PRIDE or scare any other teams like a group of lions scaring other living things. It start from the coach, he is responsible for his team play, this team is not winning. This team has been shut out 8 games this year, 5 at home, that's unacceptable. If Ukraine can over throw a president then Edmonton fans can over throw a bad coach. 'FIRE EAKINS' chant it at the games and bring signs too. It's TIME FOR CHANGE FOR the BETTER people!

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#10 SSB1963
February 28 2014, 11:59AM
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I believe a big part of the failure in recent years has been the constant coaching turnover. Having to learn a new system every year or two does not breed continuity.

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#11 stll hoping
February 28 2014, 01:05AM
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How about starting boycotting the games. March 1 leg the flames fans fill the building. Heard from a buddy that works for hockey Canada. Krueger played a more important role than did Lowe during Olympics. Lowe and Mac T need to go.

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#12 oilabroad
February 28 2014, 05:43AM
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all I keep hearing is why we have to keep Eakins for the sake of continuity (even though he is clearly not the answer)... what say you Robin, are you on this bandwagon as well??

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#13 john
February 28 2014, 09:45AM
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toprightcorner wrote:

4 different coaches with the same type of team with the same holes equals zero success. Why does everyone think the 5th coach is the answer?

Fix the team, fill the holes and give a coach, any coach a fighting chance to succeed.

Firing the coach for not winning with this team is like firing a Formula 1 driver for not winning while driving a Pinto.

Definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

Oilers definition of insanity: firing coach after coach with the same team makeup and expecting different results.

Fix the team, worry about the coach later.

Are you freaking serious man? Same players from last year and new coach but statistically this team is worst in PP, PK, goals against dead last and 2nd worst in NHL in points. Oilers got shut out 8 games this year, 5 lost at home by shut out. Who's to blame but the coach? People paid to see this crap? Lose games but at least score some goals so people can cheer to something.

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#14 Soccer Steve
February 28 2014, 12:50AM
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Just... What if?... How about... Maybe... But... Try this...

Nope.

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#15 Big Cap
February 28 2014, 02:11AM
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There are MANY MANY things that bug me about Eakins. He's not only been a massive bust, but has sent the team and confidence of the young guys back years.

My BIGGEST question about his coaching methods is: Why do other coaches constantly communicate with their players, leaning over their shoulders, giving instructions and confidence, while our coach leans against the glass with his hands behind his back?? I believe he truly thinks he's the smartest man in the rink and that his game plan is flawless.

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#16 BoyToy
February 28 2014, 09:02AM
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#17 beloch
February 28 2014, 12:20AM
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Burke: Hey, want Smid back yet? He's trrrrrruculent!

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#18 Quicksilver ballet
February 28 2014, 07:20PM
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Think of the positives. One of these lotto picks will land us sunny side and headed in the right direction soon.

Ekblad could be the guy.

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#19 I AM KEVIN L.
February 28 2014, 04:26AM
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Back to reality, hey? Same old Oilers last night....

can't wait to read more dumb ass articles about stupid "what ifs" on here. Weber trade wet dreams and other nonsense that only Edmonton fans can spew. ------------------------ Seriously: PK Subban trade for Perron & our 1st pick. Seriously. Would you do it?

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#20 Derian Hatcher
February 28 2014, 07:20AM
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Eakins reminds me of Mike Kelly who used to coach the Blue Bombers. Put a microphone in front of his face and he'd gladly go on and on about how much he knew, what his players had to do, what they were not doing, what needs to be done, all with the smug arrogance of someone who thought they were the smartest coach in the land. All the while his team is a complete yard sale from top to bottom - no heart, no compete, no accountability, no structure, no grit. HOW THE HECK CAN EAKINS STAND THERE AND BLAB ON ABOUT WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE WHEN HIS PLAYERS CANNOT PROVIDE CONSISTENT D-ZONE COVERAGE 60 GAMES INTO THE SEASON? UNBELIEVABLE! Someone get Eakins a mirror - it may have to be extra large so his ego-inflated head can fit. Wow.

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#21 Hockey problems in a drinking town
February 28 2014, 09:35AM
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Can someone please tell me why the HELL Eberle is getting $6,000,000. a year to play like his mom won't let him get his pretty little skirt dirty ?!?

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#22 toprightcorner
February 28 2014, 11:03AM
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john wrote:

Are you serious man? Have you ever run a company or anything before? The coach teach the team, the assistants follow up with the system and the drills. Those assistants has been around since 2006 sup run, so it's not the problems. Those assistants know how the Power Play and Penalty Kill run with previous coach but they can't run those drills if Eakins want to play it his way. So they had to practice PP and PK with Eakins system (4 forwards and 1 Dman, the result is 10 short handed goals against). Oilers got shut out 8 games, 5 at home, would you pay to see that? Lose but at least score some goals so fans has something to cheer for. PP, PK and goals against are among the worst in NHL. What more proof do you need?

I actually own a business and have 15 years managing expirience. Any owner or manager will tell you that the manager is only as good as the people under him. Great sales manager and terrible sales team equals poor results. A new Sales Manager and same terrible sales team still equals poor results

Smith and Bucky are part of the problem, they have not proven they bring anything to the team. A rookie coach with poor assistants is a recipie for a disaster. An associate coach with NHL coaching expirience would be very beneficial.

You seem like the type of guy who blames the tool instead of the operator.

I get it, your a disgruntled fan and deservedly so but the people who score the goals and stop the pucks need to be held accountable and not just blame the coach.

If your kid whines to get what he wants and you always give it to him he will always whine, he doesn't know any better and doesn't learn to change.

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#23 The Swarm
February 28 2014, 12:05PM
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toprightcorner wrote:

4 different coaches with the same type of team with the same holes equals zero success. Why does everyone think the 5th coach is the answer?

Fix the team, fill the holes and give a coach, any coach a fighting chance to succeed.

Firing the coach for not winning with this team is like firing a Formula 1 driver for not winning while driving a Pinto.

Definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

Oilers definition of insanity: firing coach after coach with the same team makeup and expecting different results.

Fix the team, worry about the coach later.

Why does everyone think the 5th coach is the answer?

That's easy - because they were making progress under Kueger, the kids are 1-year older, then they improved their roster, and now the team is worse than it was under Quinn.

The guy clearly can't coach.

What was suppose to happen is what Maurice is doing in Winnipeg, who incidentally didn't have the benefit of a training camp.

Any questions?

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#24 Loweblows
February 28 2014, 04:50AM
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Any intelligent hockey observer would conclude that Eakins is not an NHL coach. What has he done to the power play? The joke continues.

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#25 Spydyr
February 28 2014, 08:01AM
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Didn't the smartest coach to ever grace the NHL with his presence just state last week that the Oilers powerplay would be impossible to defend?

What an arrogant asshat.

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#26 Hall for President
February 28 2014, 08:42AM
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I miss Theo Peckham.

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#27 Zamboni Driver
February 28 2014, 09:06AM
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Went to the game last night (thankfully someone else paid for the duckets) - it was even more horrible than you saw if you watched on tv.

The ONLY thing to cheer for all night were Wickenheiser and Szabados - great reaction from them.

Worst player on the ice, and it wasn't close, was Belov - completely useless, clueless, fell down about 5 times, whiffed on a shot and a pass at least.

But Belov sucks, so who cares?

Second worst, especially with respect to give a damn....Eberle. Horrid. No effort, no heart (and probably another major organ as well) - just horrific to watch a supposed 'star' completely go through the motions.

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#28 Al Low
February 28 2014, 09:19AM
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It's great to know that people are Dallas Eakins for who he is. He's a lousy coach who's not right for this group. Bold Moves was itching so badly to do something that he made his worst move to start his tenure by firing Krueger. They will have to fire Eakins at some point. This team will not win with him.

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#29 Spydyr
February 28 2014, 10:15AM
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Anyone who thinks Eakins is an NHL head coach please explain this too me.

Ryan Smyth, Led the team in powerplay time with 4:55.

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#30 Harry
February 28 2014, 10:31AM
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Culture change? Im all for it. How about we start by not publicly stating "our season is over we're out of the playoffs" in early January.

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#31 Spydyr
February 28 2014, 11:06AM
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Bushed wrote:

I'm not defending Eakins as an NHL coach, but here's my best guess at an explanation.

Ryan Smyth has been a good soldier this year, contributing what he can in the twilight of his career. He needs two powerplay goals to pass Glen Anderson's all-time mark as an Oiler.

The PP time is a reward for Smytty, and if he passes Anderson, it's at least something for a few fans to celebrate?

The season's been a complete disaster, and I'm not optimistic about the team's future, but even the cynic in me would like to see Smyth get the two more goals.

Why try to win games?Let's chase records.Smyth has 4 powerplay goals in 51 games.

On second thought why not at this point of the season might as well get the best draft position possible.

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#32 hallsyoilerforever5
February 28 2014, 12:26AM
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Can we go back to the olympics please? Where we were able to watch what a real team looks like, especially on defence? -cries-

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#33 season not played
February 28 2014, 07:49AM
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Listening to Eakins talk about how good the team looked during practice and Bold Moves tell us what a wise move it was to hire Eakins has helped me reach two conclusions.

1) These two clowns truly believe Oiler fans are complete idiots.

2) MacT has a massive ego that is far more important to him than admitting he made a mistake firing Krueger and hiring Eakins. The only question now is how long he lets a fellow ego maniac ruin their "prized" young players.

This team may one day be a powerhouse capable of winning multiple cups, but it will be a very long time from now with completely different management and a whole new set of first overalls.

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#34 Toro
February 28 2014, 09:24AM
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We gotta get rid of Horcoff I'm telling you... What ? We already did... K get rid of Dubnyk that guys a siv... Oh right... Well idn then

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#35 Dave
February 28 2014, 10:23AM
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Al Low wrote:

It's great to know that people are Dallas Eakins for who he is. He's a lousy coach who's not right for this group. Bold Moves was itching so badly to do something that he made his worst move to start his tenure by firing Krueger. They will have to fire Eakins at some point. This team will not win with him.

Mr. Gregor does not think that Eakins is the problem. He says that Dallas just needs to hire an experienced NHL coach as his assistant. Get with the program!

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#36 john
February 28 2014, 10:51AM
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Dave wrote:

Mr. Gregor does not think that Eakins is the problem. He says that Dallas just needs to hire an experienced NHL coach as his assistant. Get with the program!

Are you serious man? Have you ever run a company or anything before? The coach teach the team, the assistants follow up with the system and the drills. Those assistants has been around since 2006 sup run, so it's not the problems. Those assistants know how the Power Play and Penalty Kill run with previous coach but they can't run those drills if Eakins want to play it his way. So they had to practice PP and PK with Eakins system (4 forwards and 1 Dman, the result is 10 short handed goals against). Oilers got shut out 8 games, 5 at home, would you pay to see that? Lose but at least score some goals so fans has something to cheer for. PP, PK and goals against are among the worst in NHL. What more proof do you need?

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#37 Bushed
February 28 2014, 10:55AM
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Spydyr wrote:

Anyone who thinks Eakins is an NHL head coach please explain this too me.

Ryan Smyth, Led the team in powerplay time with 4:55.

I'm not defending Eakins as an NHL coach, but here's my best guess at an explanation.

Ryan Smyth has been a good soldier this year, contributing what he can in the twilight of his career. He needs two powerplay goals to pass Glen Anderson's all-time mark as an Oiler.

The PP time is a reward for Smytty, and if he passes Anderson, it's at least something for a few fans to celebrate?

The season's been a complete disaster, and I'm not optimistic about the team's future, but even the cynic in me would like to see Smyth get the two more goals.

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#38 john
February 28 2014, 10:57AM
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You can put any NHL team in Edmonton and play under Eakins, you still have a losing team. So trade away all those 1st picks, for finish last 3-4 years, is just rubbing salt on open wounds. All these writers in Oilersnation know that. Someone has the guts to say Eakins has got to go. Look at Latvia, with Canadian team $150 millions of salary barely beat them 2-1 in Olympics. Proof is that a good coach can teach the team stay competitive and with Oilers talent young group, they should win games.

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#39 mlcselli
February 28 2014, 03:03AM
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All the GD hype and hope the coach and some players sold us about their practices, working on special teams over the Olympic break. Unfortunately, they won't be in the playoffs, but they will be playing spoilers for other teams

MacT tells us he is happy with the consistency of the coaching staff, and the hard work paying off. He is happy that he is seeing huge improvements in the last few months from the players.

Really???? As far as I'm concerned, everybody in this organization is full of shat. Where in the hell did we see any evidence of what they're saying? Just a note to the Organization---the fans aren't idiots and don't like being lied to.

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#40 Rob...
February 28 2014, 08:06AM
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season not played wrote:

Listening to Eakins talk about how good the team looked during practice and Bold Moves tell us what a wise move it was to hire Eakins has helped me reach two conclusions.

1) These two clowns truly believe Oiler fans are complete idiots.

2) MacT has a massive ego that is far more important to him than admitting he made a mistake firing Krueger and hiring Eakins. The only question now is how long he lets a fellow ego maniac ruin their "prized" young players.

This team may one day be a powerhouse capable of winning multiple cups, but it will be a very long time from now with completely different management and a whole new set of first overalls.

For your bullet #2, what good does it do to publicly admit that firing Krueger and hiring Eakins was a mistake unless you've got a vastly superior replacement lined up to take his place? The Oilers can't afford to go out and hire a mediocre coach that was let go by another team. Nor can they afford to take a chance on another assistant coach or minor league coach that 'is read for the big boy chair'.

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#41 KSC10032
February 28 2014, 08:07AM
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john wrote:

Please FIRE EAKINS, this clown can't coach NHL teams. I can't stand to see his face any more, can't stand Patrick Roy and Brian Burke faces too. Lost at home 3-0, that's 5 shut out games lost at home, where people paid to see it? That's unacceptable, bring signs and chant 'Fire Eakins' at all home games. Don't throw jerseys onto the ice, it's not the team, it's the coach that cannot get this team to win.

While I'm not in love with Eakins either, its vital to always remember that a call to fire the coach is only half of the equation.

I would ask all who want the coach to be canned to also suggest a realistic replacement alternative. Personally, I wanted Kevin Dineen three coaches ago. Now that was before his stint in FLA, so I may have to re-think this. But my point remains -- if not Eakins WHO?

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#42 Anonymous from Calagary
February 28 2014, 08:30AM
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beloch wrote:

Burke: Hey, want Smid back yet? He's trrrrrruculent!

So is McGarattan, Westgarth, Breen, Bouma, Glenncross, Trevor Gillies, etc. Watch what happens when somebody fu(kz around with our skill players they way Ballard and Cooke did with RNH and Hallsie last night!!! WATCH and LEARN wise guy!!!

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#43 Jeffff
February 28 2014, 09:15AM
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I don't get it. What do Oiler fans expect ? Oilers have been the worst team in the NHL for the last 8 years. Why should any fan expect better results. This is who they are and have been for a long time. A good game is a aberration for the Oilers.

I guess Oiler fans must believe the talking heads.

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#44 Rama Lama
February 28 2014, 09:26AM
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I'm just so happy right now I could sing a sad song and still be happy!

In about 20 games Mac T will finally figure out that the real problem starts with the uber intelligent coach as well as the silly assistants that Lowe and Mac T forced on him.

You want culture change, it starts at the top. An organization does not change it's culture by changing a few front line staff.........business 101 .

Until the Oilers make Lowe a head scout in Bulgaria, nothing will change.

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#45 Al Low
February 28 2014, 12:27PM
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Dave wrote:

Mr. Gregor does not think that Eakins is the problem. He says that Dallas just needs to hire an experienced NHL coach as his assistant. Get with the program!

The experienced assistant is not going to save this train wreck that 6Rings and Katz have created. A rookie GM and a rookie head coach couldn't have come at a worse time, in the same year at that. When you have your team regressing, you have to look at the coach. The players don't appear to believe in Eakins and that's important to note. In any organization, if there's no faith in the leadership group, it's not gonna work. If Edmonton ever makes it out of the woods, Eakins will not be the guy leading them there. At this point, I'd actually rather have MacT take the coaching reigns, as well. He was a decent coach and really this is his mess to clean up due to his hastiness.

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#46 God
March 01 2014, 07:01AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Think of the positives. One of these lotto picks will land us sunny side and headed in the right direction soon.

Ekblad could be the guy.

I see you're still drinking the Kool-Aid. Enjoy, I rather go to the movies and actually smile. I'll return when Ekbald makes the team in 3 years. Until then, pass.

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#47 Walter Sobchak
February 28 2014, 03:23AM
Trash it!
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I said this earlier, went to the game and the thing that stood out the most was how much the Oilers were dumping the puck in, I honestly never seen anything like it before.

What bothered me was every line did it, and more often then not they just gave the possession away.

How the hell does a team this skilled & small play a dump and chase game.

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#48 Air on Egg blood
February 28 2014, 07:13AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Eakins stays, at least to start next season. He'll get help from an experienced addition to the coaching staff.

Here's hoping that you are right. But if the past is any indication of what will happen in the future, they will keep their buddies Smith and Buck. I would love if they could land Guy Boucher as an associate coach. Power play is his specialty.

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#49 Nomad787
February 28 2014, 07:28AM
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I knew the game was lost from puck drop. Why do you start the third line in your home barn after a long enough absense that people wre actually excited to watch the Oilers play? Thats a good message to send to everyone.

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#50 Max
February 28 2014, 08:24AM
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Well, back to the usual, shut out in front of the home crowd, and Hall doing his usual "hey guys, here I come blasting around the boards, no worries, I wont dump the puck, just hang on, wait for me, you can take it away from me when I get there" act again (constantly.)

He has to be the most selfish puck hog on the team - doesn't he LISTEN OR LEARN??

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