March 10 2014 05:40PM
Everybody has an opinion about why the Edmonton Oilers have struggled mightily to show significant signs of progress four years into their rebuild, and former Oiler Ales Hemsky added to that lengthy list today. Let's see if we've about got it covered . . .
The Oilers stink because:
- A. They have too many small forwards who are too much alike.
- B. Dallas Eakins is a lousy coach (and should be fired).
- C. They don't have a legitimate first pairing on defense and don't have nearly enough proven NHL defensemen.
- D. They don't have enough grit and size throughout the roster.
- E. Steve Smith and Kelly Buchberger remain employed as assistant coaches.
- F. Eakins is in over his head and needs another associate coach, preferably with experience as an NHL head coach, to bolster his staff.
- G. GM Craig MacTavish, like predecessor Steve Tambellini, has the wrong mix of players.
- H. MacTavish and Tambellini have tinkered too much with the bottom six forwards and third-pairing defensemen without making enough changes with players who get the most ice time.
- I. Owner Daryl Katz refuses to fire friend Kevin Lowe, who still has a significant say in player personnel decisions.
- J. The team's pro scouting staff couldn’t find a clue with a map and a flashlight.
- K. Eakins has butchered a power play that looked to be on its way under Ralph Krueger and has spent far too much time re-inventing the hockey wheel for a rookie NHL head coach.
- L. Young core players like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle haven't yet stepped up and shown the leadership needed to guide the team back to contention.
The latest tidbit is courtesy of Hemsky, who added another item to the pile in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen today. So, does the Dirty Dozen above about cover it or have I missed a reason or two?
THAT WAS EASY
Thumb through the archives of sites like Oilersnation and you'll find volumes of loser's lament, venom, fear and loathing and reasons why the Oilers are about to miss the playoffs, by a lot, for an eighth straight season.
Everybody, the writers who contribute here, people who stop by to have their say and fans in general have pointed a finger in the blame game, and with the amount of ineptitude we've seen, there's plenty to go around.
While I lean most heavily on items A, C, D, E, F, G and H – I must admit the Hemsky comments today do cause one to take pause – it's safe to say there's a multitude of issues facing this edition of the Oilers. Pointing at just one or two areas isn't going to solve much.
We're seeing that already with changes made in goal. Ben Scrivens has been superb since arriving, but better goaltending by itself – it couldn't have been worse than what Devan Dubnyk and Jason LaBarbera provided – isn’t going to lift this team back into contention.
We're all guilty, to some degree, of over-simplifying the work that remains. "Get bigger and tougher. It'll be fine." "Trade for a legit No. 1 defenseman (and a playing partner) and we'll be on the way." "Fire Eakins . . ."
A LITTLE OF THIS, A LITTLE OF THAT
What's starting to sink in is the flaws in the roster and the organization as they are structured now are many and multi-layered. The Oilers aren't just one or two or three players away from contention. They aren't (another) new head coach away from turning the corner. The Oilers aren't a Shea Weber short of being a powerhouse.
The Oilers aren't just a busy of summer of work by MacTavish away from getting this sorted out. When it's been this bad this long, everything from the top down has to be looked at. That will take time. I'm not offering up that observation as a free pass for MacTavish. I'm just coming to grips with how broken this organization is. The closer I look, the more profound it seems.
Now, after much fiddling with the fringes of the roster over recent seasons by Tambellini and MacTavish, comes Hemsky on the kids, the core. They are the one component so many fans out there have considered the one sure thing that so much of the hope being sold is hung on.
Add that to the list.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.