THE OILERS STINK BECAUSE . . .

Robin Brownlee
March 10 2014 05:40PM

83-Hemsky-9

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

Dallas Eakins 16

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

Craig MacTavish2

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.

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 Red
March 10 2014, 08:16PM
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Hemsky 3 assists tonight and Oilers are paying half his salary. 3rd pick in 2014 and a 5th in 2014. Joke is on you Oilers.

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#2 nuge2nail
March 10 2014, 08:16PM
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Oiler Domination To Follow

Hemsky is having another great game for the sens. Another three assists tonight.

7 points in 3 games so far.

Good for him, wish him all the best.

You have to wonder why he played less than 15 minutes a game with the oilers.

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#3 Big Cap
March 10 2014, 06:48PM
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I 110% Blame Eakins!!!

Instead of coaching to our players strengths like the the PP, speed, and creativity. He insisted they play HIS style.

Because his years of NHL coaching experience proved that his new PP, defensive, and offensive systems where very effective. He insisted they follow his game plan.

He also chose a journeyman to be our captain, just because he's huge into fitness and thinks like he does.

He tore down our once proud tradition of past great players and photos in the dressing room. Imagine a first year rookie head coach doing that in MTL.

He chose our two knuckle head assistant coaches. What is Bucky gonna teach RNH about the PP or being a 1st line Centre. Same goes with Smith teaching Schultz and Petry.

Eakins can't even communicate with his players on the bench mid game. He's the only coach who stands there leaning against the glass with his hands behind his back.

Eakins is a joke. We're playing like an AHL team, because he is an AHL coach.

Cue the soon to be discussion with Hall to MacT that he's ready to move on!

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#4 dougtheslug
March 10 2014, 10:09PM
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I believe it was Albert Einstein who said "you can't fix problems with the same mindset that created them."

Watching Calgary come back and nearly tie the game tonight against LA (like they seem to do nearly every game) despite having a roster riddled with injuries and probably third best in the province ( Golden Bears, followed by Oil Kings, neck and neck with Oilers), makes me shake my head.

There is no way Oilers, even with all the holes in the roster, should be playing such aimless, dispirited hockey.

That has to fall on the management and coaching. Hemmer himself said it was nice to be playing for something. Eight years of crap and the same guys are still in charge? A losing culture is not going to be fixed by the same minds that created it.

And the change will never happen. We know that.

It's beyond frustrating.

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#5 Surly Duff
March 10 2014, 06:04PM
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M. All of the above.

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#6 Derian Hatcher
March 10 2014, 06:23PM
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Just a simple question if I may. Paul Maurice record is 11-5 (I stand to be corrected on this) since taking over the jets. by all accounts the team is playing better. It is safe to assume he has made adjustments in practice, games, preparation, culture etc. he has a ton of experience and it shows. Conversely, in my opinion Eakins' inexperience also shows on a regular basis. Nothing against the man, but he is learning on the job is he not? So my question...was he the right fit for what this team needs? Is he the right fit going forward?

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#8 Rick Stroppel
March 10 2014, 08:26PM
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SPEAKING OF HEMSKY

By now the Oilers will be settled into their hotel in Minneapolis. I hope Eakins and MacTavish are enjoying the Ottawa-Nashville game on TV. Ottawa was behind 3-0 going into the third period. They scored three goals to send it into overtime. Hemsky assisted on all three goals. Ottawa lost in OT, but thanks to Hemsky they get a point they desperately needed.

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#9 nuge2nail
March 10 2014, 07:59PM
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Oiler Domination To Follow

Since MacT took over 6 months ago he has improved the team.

Second line - Perron.

Third line - Hendricks and Gordon.

Goaltending - Scrivens.

Sadly its made no difference, shows how much work needs to be done still. I'm sure MacT is surprised by this and by how bad of a team he inherited.

Next on the list is the Center position, than Defense.

I would prefer the Oilers overpay for a center like Statsny and keep the pick.

Draft Bennett or Reinhert and we finally have some depth at center.

Hopkins - Statsny - Bennett - Gordan

Trade Gagner for a #3-#4 defenseman.

Spend the remaining 30+ million in cap space on Defense, preferably on 2-3 year deals

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#10 Pouzar99
March 10 2014, 09:10PM
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While 'all of the above' is clearly the best answer, and all these issues must addressed, I think the continued presence of Eakins is the single most important factor.

Under Renney and especially under Krueger the Oiler's young stars were developing well and the top line was more than holding their own against the best lines in the Western Conference. RK had the sense to keep those three kids together and they just got better and better. Under Eakins they have all regressed as individuals and as an entity, an alarming development that cannot be allowed to continue. For that reason alone he MUST be fired, as these players, and you can throw in Yak and Schultz, who are also going backwards, are the core of the team.

OF course there are other reasons, such as the swarm, the 1-3-1, the unending failed experiments, the complete inability to learn from what worked last year, the failure to adjust to changes made by opponents, the obssesive almost shift-by-shift line changes, or the fact that Eakins's supposed specialty is motivating players who look less motivated than at any time throughout the rebuild.

Yes, it is terrible to ask the players to accept yet another coaching change but if they can bring in an experienced, successful head coach the damage would be minor compared to the continuing damage done by Eakins, who is completely overwhelmed by the challenge of being a head coach at the NHL level and obviously lacks the technical capability to make positive strategic decisions. Really, what does the man do well at this level?

MacT must put his pride aside and do what is best for this team. Renney NEVER should have been fired and at the very least RK earned another season. Getting a real NHL head coach is only one item on a very long list, along with Lowe moving on, other changes behind the bench and in the pro scouting ranks, and of course the player personnel changes that are obvious to us all but very difficult to pull off, but firing Eakins is Number One.

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#11 kale
March 10 2014, 08:14PM
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Hemmer three more points so far tonight....he looks so motivated

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#12 YakZ
March 10 2014, 06:20PM
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Was there no opportunity to bring Eakins as an associate coach to Kreuger before we canned him after a shortened post lockout season?

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#13 Oiltown3000
March 10 2014, 07:17PM
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Cervantes wrote:

I think you copy a couple of points, and they can be reduced to a bit shorter and less terrifying of a list.

Coaching - Eakins tried to do too much. He's learned his lesson and has clearly reduced his reach as of late. Now the coaching staff needs to reflect the coach. He is a good general developer of players, but he is not a PP specialist (as shown by his team record here and with the Marlies), he is not particularly strong at developing defensemen, and he does not have NHL coaching experience to know the little tricks that help you win. The Oil need to add 2 assistant coaches that collectively cover these 3 failings, so Eakins can focus on his strengths. At least one of Bucky or Smith need to move on to make room, and we need to bring in an experienced NHL assistant coach, and the next coming of Charlie Huddy for D development.

Players - Barring an incredibly Bold (tm) move, our Top 6 is set. Hall/RNH/Ebs, Perron/Gags/Yak. Of those, Perron is the obvious agitator, but Yak and Hall both have shown they don't back down, and that'll get more noticeable as they add another year of muscle on. The obvious bait here is Gagner. Gordon looked really solid as a 2C when Gags was out, and Arco has better underlying numbers in his Top 6 time. Gagner for a larger, rougher 2/3C, even one who needs a year of development, is entirely plausible with the replacements we have already available in the system. However, bottom line, looking with envy at the Kings and Sharks will not help. They spent years slowly getting players who are 2" and 20lbs heavier than ours. We're not going to buy our way into suddenly having a large team. Play the hand you're dealt.

The bottom 6 - They're more important than we're giving them credit for, and weaker than we realize. Right now, Gordon is spending his whole game doing the heavy lifting for the top 6, while the 4th line is just spinning it's wheels. The actual, hockey purpose of a 3rd and 4th line is to be able to split ~20 minutes a night taking PK and DZ responsibilities and push the river the right way. Right now there's only 2 or 3 players who can do that. As a result, our top 6 play more minutes than is ideal. The role that Gordon/Hendricks/Jones have been doing is perfect, but we need a 4th line that is similar. As much as I like their moxie, none of Smith/Gazdic/Joennsu are getting it done, and it weakens the whole team as a result. Gordon is getting run off his feet, the top 6 are putting in more minutes than they should, and we're spending more D zone time as a result. As much as everyone dumps on "tinkering with the 4th line", it's incredibly important, and we've had too many swings and misses for what isn't an incredibly hard role to fill. I'm hoping that Henricks as 3LW is an attempt by the organization to appease him after we did an end-run around his rejection over the summer, and next season sees him as 4C, with a pair of wingers who can handle 10 minutes a night of hard minutes.

Defense - it's obvious, everyone would love a new top pairing, but that would cost more than we can muster. Much like bottom 6 / top 6, I think D choices trickle down. We don't need a pair of Shea Weber's, but another competent top 4 D to even out the minutes. Petry is underrated by the fan base, but he's a legit top 4, even if he is getting an inexplicable lack of PP minutes. Ferrence is a solid 3/4. If Schultz can progress a bit more he'd be a solid 3/4 as well, he's not quite there yet. Marincin is doing well in a small sample size, an ambitious observer would also pencil him in Top 4. The organization doesn't seem sold of Fedun, but the last few years would tell every observer he is a legit NHL defender, even at bottom 6.

Now, if we can slot in a top 4 defender, what happens to that list? Everyone gets pushed down a peg. Is it possible? Meszaros got picked up this trade deadline for cheap. McDonald as well. As nice as it would be, we don't need to spend on a defender who's good for 5+ years, just legit top 4 minutes for a year or two, so Nurse/Klefbom/Gernat/Musil can all mature and emerge. Yes, a top minutes defender would be lovely. But it's not likely to happen, unless we move a top 6.

Anyways, what does all this rambling mean? That there's work to do, but it's not the impossible mountain that everyone seems to think. We're not firing the coach again, we're not pulling off a blockbuster trade for Nash or Weber. Ekblad is not a rookie Top 2 NHL defenseman.

The realistic fine tuning on the rebuild is:

2 assistant coaches for PP, young D, NHL experience. A rebuilt bottom 6 to take more minutes on, push the river, and handle a bit of offense too. Of the existing, only Gordon, Hendricks, Gazdic (13th F I hope), and Jones would be acceptable. Adding experienced players who can move up, similar to Dustin Brown, would be ideal. A single top 4 defender who has 2 good years in him before he starts to decline. Either a 28-30 year old free agent who can play 20 minutes a night, or a younger guy who needs a change of scenery (Tyler Myers).

The resulting change of minutes distribution for all the lines would let everyone succeed, and would definitely push us in the right direction next season. I think everyone is getting carried away proclaiming all our weakness requires massive shifts. We look with envy at the Sharks and Kings? They spent a decade working hard to get forwards who are 2" and 20lbs heavier than ours. We're not going to emulate them with trades. Play the hand you've been dealt. We're not that bad off.

The only Bold(tm) move I can see coming would be Gags moving before his NTC kicks in. If that resulted in a bigger, rougher 2/3C, that'd be great. Gordon can handle 3/4C, and Arco and Lander can come in and actually play real minutes with real players.

Anyways, sorry for the wall of text. It's just getting a little stale seeing everyone Chicken Little over the Oil. We're not that far off, we just need better distribution of minutes, and players who can handle it.

Too long don't want to read that

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#15 Cold Hard Truth
March 10 2014, 06:46PM
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Often I take pity on the Edmonton Oilers and the fans, but then I read comments from blindfaithers like Zarny and my heart hardens and I realize that the Oilers are exactly where they should be.

All this losing didn't happen on accident. It isn't bad luck. The Oilers are not cursed.

It is the product of years of incompetent management, who've been consistently propped up by the owner (Napoleon), the blindfaithers, and the impotent media pundits who are afraid to write anything remotely critical of the managers.

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#16 VK63
March 10 2014, 06:38PM
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So i guess the Assistant captain letters these kids are wearing were a tad premature? ;)

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#17 ThatButthurtOilersFan
March 10 2014, 07:12PM
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New drinking game...

1. Get dry gin.

2. Have a shot whenever a former Oilers says something bad about A) the team or b) the management.

3. Throw up all over your couch, because you had too much gin.

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#18 S cottV
March 10 2014, 09:48PM
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Amazing what happens when you put a skilled veteran winger with a real veteran 1c and legit first pairing dmen.

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#19 Anton
March 10 2014, 07:03PM
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I think there's a misunderstanding, the team is supposed to be bad simply because this team is not ready. Fire Eakins is not because this team is bad, fire Eakins is because he causes more problems than solving it. The regress of team performance is a bigger issue than this team is just simply bad. Fire Eakins is not meant to fix the problem, fire Eakins is meant to stop the never ending downward spiral. Again, anyone with more realistic understanding of this team should know the expectation of this team is trying to stay competitive. It may not be one or two problems with this team, but fix them one-by-one is still needed right? Just because Oilers have lots of issues doesn't mean that managements should just sit on their collective ass and pray for the best right?

Fire Eakins! Fire Eakins! Fire Eakins!

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#21 ShakyDS
March 10 2014, 06:14PM
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When I clicked on the link for this article on twitter, I fully expected it to be the longest article in ON history. Thanks for summing up years of reasons and excuses so briefly Robin.

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#22 Rick Stroppel
March 10 2014, 07:59PM
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APROPOS OF NOTHING

I am really excited about George Strombolopolous taking over as host of HNIC! The new "Satellite Hot Stove" is going to feature Jann Arden, Rick Mercer, Tegan and Sara, and Steven Harper.

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#23 Young Oil
March 10 2014, 06:40PM
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To me, it isn't about getting bigger and tougher, it's about getting players who are going to give their all every single shift, in all areas of the rink. You don't need to be big or tough to take the initiative to hit a guy after he takes a pass. I'm not saying we need to goon it up, but at least make yourself hard to play against, and don't let the other team make easy passes. Make them earn every inch of ice.

The sad thing is, the two players who have been by far the best at this (Arcobello and Pitlick) are in the minors. The players need to step up and take the initiative to be harder to play against,and the coaches and management need to reward the players that consistently play that way instead of keeping them in the minors. If Hall, Eberle, Gagner etc. can't learn to play on both sides of the puck after 200+ games in the NHL, then they need to be moved out for someone who can.

Trading a first liner for a second liner and a top 4 D isn't a terribly rare move, and it could help this team immensely.

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#24 Cold Hard Truth
March 10 2014, 06:42PM
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I think much of the problems you've listed stem from the same source: patronage. The Oilers organization, rather than hiring and promote personnel based on merit, performance, and credentials, is an old boys club that hires its friends. It operates as a club, not a business.

Now, hiring your friends isn't inherently wrong; however, when your friends are unqualified, and when your friendship prevents you from firing your unqualified friend, then it is wrong. This is exactly the case of the Oilers, i.e. MacTavish hiring, and the fact that Smith and Buchberger are still around.

I think this is the biggest problem which compounds all the others. Add it to the list.

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#25 Young Oil
March 10 2014, 07:27PM
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Oiltown3000 wrote:

Too long don't want to read that

Then why do you comment and make all of us scroll through it again haha?

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#26 bwar
March 10 2014, 11:45PM
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I can't wait until we get to do this all over again next year.

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#27 Rod from Viking
March 10 2014, 08:16PM
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Oil Can wrote:

I said it last year at this time and I will say it again. Hire Brent Sutter before someone else does. Then let him replace ALL of the assistant coaches, including the goal tending coach before he ruins Scrivens and Fasth. Or do we wait until someone else hires Brent and then we are on here saying, look at the job he is doing with his new team, just like Maurice, Hitchcock, and the others in Montreal, L.A., Anaheim, Dallas, ect. All NHL coaches who took struggling teams to almost instant success. Yes we might still need a couple of line up changes, but at least then Mac.T. would know what exactly he has and doesn't have. And maybe Sutter can get the players to play with pride, heart and intensity.

Brent was interested when they hired Kruger for the head coaching position and the Oilers never contacted him, at that time he wanted to stay in Alberta. I don't know what he is thinking now but I doubt if he would be interested in an assistant coaching job.I do think he would be a major upgrade because he actually would make everyone accountable.

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#28 Czar
March 10 2014, 06:31PM
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@Derian Hatcher

I think it was Brownlee that suggested bringing in Maurice after a night on "the panel" where he wasn't roasting the Oilers like the rest of them. Another missed opportunity to get some experience behind the bench, NHL experience.

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#29 Quicksilver ballet
March 10 2014, 06:18PM
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It's hard to have any level of success when losing has the annual luster of a Hall, Hopkins, Yakupov or an Ekblad. This is clearly managements goal from day 1. Let this club hit the ice without the important pieces in place every fall to insure Kevin Lowes goal is carried out.

Firing coaches and GM's is all the fanbase will get till these kids mature on their own without supervision it seems. It's clearly been proven, Kevin knows as much about losing, than he does about winning.

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#30 I AM KEVIN L.
March 10 2014, 06:49PM
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One word: KLOWE.

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#31 Red
March 10 2014, 08:21PM
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@Red

Oilers braintrust.

Ha Ha Ha

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#32 Serious Gord
March 10 2014, 09:01PM
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Happy and sad to see you put together this list robin.

Happy because of its comprehensiveness - I have written spoken about all of them including hemskys addition over the years (I really question halls hockey intelligence In particular - he certainly is no Johnathon Toews).

And they are ALL part of the reason for the unprecedented years of failure.

What saddens me is that you avoid agreeing with the the root cause items - ownership, management and coaching. None of the items you do agree with would have been or are the case today if those items had been different or addressed. I think you know that and I regret that you publically don't say as much.

As for blanketly accusing everyone for oversimplifying the situation - i would counter that attacking the very root cause - the basis upon which all of the misery has been built - the hiring and retention and promotion of Kevin Lowe and making it the paramount objective is not oversimplification but FOCUS.

Unloading hemsky (at long last - just 18 games before he was out the door anyway) for example, was a belated treatment of a symptom not the cause. I suspect - in fact I'm quite sure that we will continue to see treatments of symptoms rather than any serious attempt to address the cause(s). And the result I fear will be more years and years of failure on the North Saskatchewan.

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#33 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
March 10 2014, 09:42PM
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mesa wrote:

A,B,C,D,E,F,G ,H,I,J,K .and cause they never mentored by good players i do not agree with L.

I think, in order, it goes M then I then C then K then E then Y.....then MOUSE.

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#34 YAKCITY64
March 10 2014, 10:19PM
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I have to go with B. I have given Eakins every chance in the world and I really think putting all of the blame on the coach isn't right either. The problem with Eakins is he came in and acted like he has everything figured out that his systems and philosophies would take over and winning would follow. Its called tact and professionalism and he lacks in these areas. He comes in and he believes the SWARM will solve the fact we have 7, 6&7 dmen. He also told everyone that the oilers were going to be a team that Plays a 200' game. Are you kidding me we have 7 midgets playing forward and couldn't win a battle again Midget AAA players. Once again he shows his arrogance trying to be something we are not. Until we change personnel on this team we need to play a regroup/transition game like the Detroit Redwings used to play.

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#35 dave
March 10 2014, 11:19PM
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@Pouzar99

YES !!! What happened to that chemistry.

Under Renney and especially under Krueger the Oiler's young stars were developing well and the top line was more than holding their own against the best lines in the Western Conference. RK had the sense to keep those three kids together and they just got better and better. Under Eakins they have all regressed as individuals and as an entity, an alarming development that cannot be allowed to continue. For that reason alone he MUST be fired, as these players, and you can throw in Yak and Schultz, who are also going backwards, are the core of the team.

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#36 Cold Hard Truth
March 10 2014, 06:37PM
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Indeed. It is a red-herring to assume it's one problem, and that the Oiler's are one fix away from catapulting into the standings.

The best case scenario to turn this organization around would be to have a third-party consultant -- someone with credentials from outside the organization, i.e. not Messier -- make a complete evaluation of the organization, and then go from there. If MacTavish's performance as GM is deemed to be subpar, then he should be dismissed, if not, not.

I know - I'm dreaming. Katz would never allow a third-party consultant come in and call the shots.

Therein lies the problem (Which you can add to the list, Robin).

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#37 Oil Can
March 10 2014, 07:25PM
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I said it last year at this time and I will say it again. Hire Brent Sutter before someone else does. Then let him replace ALL of the assistant coaches, including the goal tending coach before he ruins Scrivens and Fasth. Or do we wait until someone else hires Brent and then we are on here saying, look at the job he is doing with his new team, just like Maurice, Hitchcock, and the others in Montreal, L.A., Anaheim, Dallas, ect. All NHL coaches who took struggling teams to almost instant success. Yes we might still need a couple of line up changes, but at least then Mac.T. would know what exactly he has and doesn't have. And maybe Sutter can get the players to play with pride, heart and intensity.

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#38 Spydyr
March 10 2014, 07:55PM
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OK you are 18 starting your first job say you are making 50k a year.Not bad change for a first job.Even though you really have done nothing special the boss sees potential in you.He gives you a six fold raise anyhow.The raise is guaranteed the next six years.So you have done nothing except show potential now you are 20 making 350k a year guaranteed.

Now change the numbers to to NHL money 6 million for the next 6 years.You just might lose some desire to improve.

It shows.

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#39 vetinari
March 10 2014, 09:37PM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

Hemsky is having another great game for the sens. Another three assists tonight.

7 points in 3 games so far.

Good for him, wish him all the best.

You have to wonder why he played less than 15 minutes a game with the oilers.

Don't you mean, "Oiler Self-Destruction to Follow..."?

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#40 J.R.
March 10 2014, 06:01PM
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I choose B. (Although I know there is more to it than just craptacular coaching)

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#41 Shifty203
March 10 2014, 07:17PM
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VK63 wrote:

So i guess the Assistant captain letters these kids are wearing were a tad premature? ;)

Many players over the years have said that leaders will lead, regardless of who's wearing the A's and C's. This is why I disagreed with giving Hall the C this last summer.

There's one of two things that can be inferred from what we are seeing this year:

1. Hall is unable to unwilling to lead.

2. Hall is leading, and this consistently lazy half-assed play by the team is the result of his leadership.

Now, that's not to say Hall sucks by any stretch, he's an amazing player. I just haven't seen anything from him at all to believe he deserves the C. He's been handed enough opportunities while he's been here, its time for him to earn one.

I also don't believe this team is as bad as they show in the standings, I still say it laziness and a lack of commitment. How many individuals have stepped up and improved? How often do we hear of slacking in practices? How often do they stand up for each other in scrums? There is a severe lack of pride on this team.

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#42 Al Low
March 10 2014, 10:05PM
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It's great that Hemsky let his opinion be known. The top guys aren't held accountable and it's about time they got called out by somebody on the inside. For all of the talk of the D being terrible (which it is), there's nothing set about the top 6. 2 of that top 6 needs to be moved. Gagner and Eberle appear to have the least amount of compete to the game and need to be offloaded. Let's hope Lander and Pitlick can actually make the bottom 6 and join Gordon, Hendricks and likely Smyth and inject some new blood. I can't bear watching guys like Joensuu, Ryan Jones and Gazdic getting completely outplayed everytime they are on the ice. If Edmonton developed their roster correctly, we would still have guys like Cogliano and Brodziak in the bottom 6 and not have to worry about that part of the team. The list is all encompassing and perfect. What an absolute mess.

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#43 Sevenseven
March 10 2014, 09:51PM
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Whatever the problems are, ultimately it falls on klowe. He orchestrated this mess for the last decade. He is the common denominator. Any rebuild should show signs of success this far in.

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#44 Randaman
March 10 2014, 10:16PM
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Al Low wrote:

It's great that Hemsky let his opinion be known. The top guys aren't held accountable and it's about time they got called out by somebody on the inside. For all of the talk of the D being terrible (which it is), there's nothing set about the top 6. 2 of that top 6 needs to be moved. Gagner and Eberle appear to have the least amount of compete to the game and need to be offloaded. Let's hope Lander and Pitlick can actually make the bottom 6 and join Gordon, Hendricks and likely Smyth and inject some new blood. I can't bear watching guys like Joensuu, Ryan Jones and Gazdic getting completely outplayed everytime they are on the ice. If Edmonton developed their roster correctly, we would still have guys like Cogliano and Brodziak in the bottom 6 and not have to worry about that part of the team. The list is all encompassing and perfect. What an absolute mess.

Agreed to a point. Gazdic has been above and beyond. He might not be sound defensively but he is getting better and I don't see anybody else in this pathetic, weak group standing up for each other. We must have that from someone! Gazdic stays. Have you noticed how a lot of guys shy away from him now? That is one of the few small victories this year and Lord knows we need something

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#45 bazmagoo
March 10 2014, 11:51PM
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Personally I'm starting to think Eakins is the new Tambellini, brought in to get us another high draft pick or two. He'll be the new fall guy to deflect attention away from the maestro of the "Never Ending Rebuild®".

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#46 Harry
March 10 2014, 06:04PM
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Maybe we should add to the list the fact that Hemsky had 7 goals by the trade deadline. Funny how Hemsky doesnt talk about his own terrible play. Once a loser always a loser I guess. So glad that pylon is off the team

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#47 I AM KEVIN L.
March 10 2014, 06:31PM
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The Oilers do not stink. The fans go to see the games, they like the team.

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#48 mike
March 10 2014, 06:00PM
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Good read, Brownlee.

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#49 Danger Pay
March 10 2014, 06:23PM
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Harry wrote:

Maybe we should add to the list the fact that Hemsky had 7 goals by the trade deadline. Funny how Hemsky doesnt talk about his own terrible play. Once a loser always a loser I guess. So glad that pylon is off the team

Agreed, Hemsky has been mailing it in for a while and I'd also like to point out the most selfish play in hockey, the offside caused, I swear to God, Hemsky caused at least 2 offsides a game which just kills momentum and it was even worse when the Oilers couldn't win faceoffs!

Hemsky... rhymes with Gretzky so give him $5 Mil per (at least that how I think how Tambo and Lowe came up with that contract).

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#50 Cervantes
March 10 2014, 07:02PM
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I think you copy a couple of points, and they can be reduced to a bit shorter and less terrifying of a list.

Coaching - Eakins tried to do too much. He's learned his lesson and has clearly reduced his reach as of late. Now the coaching staff needs to reflect the coach. He is a good general developer of players, but he is not a PP specialist (as shown by his team record here and with the Marlies), he is not particularly strong at developing defensemen, and he does not have NHL coaching experience to know the little tricks that help you win. The Oil need to add 2 assistant coaches that collectively cover these 3 failings, so Eakins can focus on his strengths. At least one of Bucky or Smith need to move on to make room, and we need to bring in an experienced NHL assistant coach, and the next coming of Charlie Huddy for D development.

Players - Barring an incredibly Bold (tm) move, our Top 6 is set. Hall/RNH/Ebs, Perron/Gags/Yak. Of those, Perron is the obvious agitator, but Yak and Hall both have shown they don't back down, and that'll get more noticeable as they add another year of muscle on. The obvious bait here is Gagner. Gordon looked really solid as a 2C when Gags was out, and Arco has better underlying numbers in his Top 6 time. Gagner for a larger, rougher 2/3C, even one who needs a year of development, is entirely plausible with the replacements we have already available in the system. However, bottom line, looking with envy at the Kings and Sharks will not help. They spent years slowly getting players who are 2" and 20lbs heavier than ours. We're not going to buy our way into suddenly having a large team. Play the hand you're dealt.

The bottom 6 - They're more important than we're giving them credit for, and weaker than we realize. Right now, Gordon is spending his whole game doing the heavy lifting for the top 6, while the 4th line is just spinning it's wheels. The actual, hockey purpose of a 3rd and 4th line is to be able to split ~20 minutes a night taking PK and DZ responsibilities and push the river the right way. Right now there's only 2 or 3 players who can do that. As a result, our top 6 play more minutes than is ideal. The role that Gordon/Hendricks/Jones have been doing is perfect, but we need a 4th line that is similar. As much as I like their moxie, none of Smith/Gazdic/Joennsu are getting it done, and it weakens the whole team as a result. Gordon is getting run off his feet, the top 6 are putting in more minutes than they should, and we're spending more D zone time as a result. As much as everyone dumps on "tinkering with the 4th line", it's incredibly important, and we've had too many swings and misses for what isn't an incredibly hard role to fill. I'm hoping that Henricks as 3LW is an attempt by the organization to appease him after we did an end-run around his rejection over the summer, and next season sees him as 4C, with a pair of wingers who can handle 10 minutes a night of hard minutes.

Defense - it's obvious, everyone would love a new top pairing, but that would cost more than we can muster. Much like bottom 6 / top 6, I think D choices trickle down. We don't need a pair of Shea Weber's, but another competent top 4 D to even out the minutes. Petry is underrated by the fan base, but he's a legit top 4, even if he is getting an inexplicable lack of PP minutes. Ferrence is a solid 3/4. If Schultz can progress a bit more he'd be a solid 3/4 as well, he's not quite there yet. Marincin is doing well in a small sample size, an ambitious observer would also pencil him in Top 4. The organization doesn't seem sold of Fedun, but the last few years would tell every observer he is a legit NHL defender, even at bottom 6.

Now, if we can slot in a top 4 defender, what happens to that list? Everyone gets pushed down a peg. Is it possible? Meszaros got picked up this trade deadline for cheap. McDonald as well. As nice as it would be, we don't need to spend on a defender who's good for 5+ years, just legit top 4 minutes for a year or two, so Nurse/Klefbom/Gernat/Musil can all mature and emerge. Yes, a top minutes defender would be lovely. But it's not likely to happen, unless we move a top 6.

Anyways, what does all this rambling mean? That there's work to do, but it's not the impossible mountain that everyone seems to think. We're not firing the coach again, we're not pulling off a blockbuster trade for Nash or Weber. Ekblad is not a rookie Top 2 NHL defenseman.

The realistic fine tuning on the rebuild is:

2 assistant coaches for PP, young D, NHL experience. A rebuilt bottom 6 to take more minutes on, push the river, and handle a bit of offense too. Of the existing, only Gordon, Hendricks, Gazdic (13th F I hope), and Jones would be acceptable. Adding experienced players who can move up, similar to Dustin Brown, would be ideal. A single top 4 defender who has 2 good years in him before he starts to decline. Either a 28-30 year old free agent who can play 20 minutes a night, or a younger guy who needs a change of scenery (Tyler Myers).

The resulting change of minutes distribution for all the lines would let everyone succeed, and would definitely push us in the right direction next season. I think everyone is getting carried away proclaiming all our weakness requires massive shifts. We look with envy at the Sharks and Kings? They spent a decade working hard to get forwards who are 2" and 20lbs heavier than ours. We're not going to emulate them with trades. Play the hand you've been dealt. We're not that bad off.

The only Bold(tm) move I can see coming would be Gags moving before his NTC kicks in. If that resulted in a bigger, rougher 2/3C, that'd be great. Gordon can handle 3/4C, and Arco and Lander can come in and actually play real minutes with real players.

Anyways, sorry for the wall of text. It's just getting a little stale seeing everyone Chicken Little over the Oil. We're not that far off, we just need better distribution of minutes, and players who can handle it.

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