A Busy Morning

Jonathan Willis
April 21 2014 12:03PM

77-Belov-4

There aren’t a lot of busy news days for teams outside the playoff picture at this point, but for good and ill the Edmonton Oilers had one on Monday. Front office changes and a disgruntled player speaking out made for a very interesting morning in Oil country.

Bill Scott Promoted

Scott, Bill

Bill Scott, who has served as the general manager of the Oklahoma City Barons over the last four (very successful) seasons, has been promoted to the role of assistant general manager. The Oilers’ official release described his new duties this way:

As a member of the Oilers Hockey Management team, Scott's responsibilities will include player and staff contract negotiations, scheduling, salary arbitration, salary cap management and all day to day administrative duties. He is also the club's liaison to the NHL regarding matters pertaining to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

I had some interaction with Scott during my time in Oklahoma, and came away with the impression of an intelligent man who was diligent and professional. Talking to veteran players over the course of the season, one got the sense that from their perspective Oklahoma was a model NHL club; a lot of that certainly relates to the budget provided by ownership but it’s also hard to imagine it happening independent of a good general manager.

Just 33 years of age, Scott has climbed the organizational ladder in a hurry.

Ricky Olczyk Departs

In the same news release, the Oilers announced that former assistant general manager Ricky Olczyk had been offered another job within the organization, but had “respectfully declined.”

It’s extremely difficult for someone outside the organization to evaluate what Olczyk has done, and it would be foolish to try and suggest that any analysis from this vantage point is comprehensive. With that said, there have been some actions that suggest the Oilers have done a poor job under Olczyk of navigating the CBA and other key NHL agreements. From my spring 2012 profile of the man:

One of the interesting things to come out of the Dany Heatley boondoggle was the fact that apparently both the Oilers and Senators were confused about when Heatley’s bonus was payable, which reflects badly on Olczyk. Then there was the time the Oilers may have been confused by Gilbert Brule’s waiver eligibility. Then there was that time that someone high up in the organization didn’t know how long the team had to sign Teemu Hartikainen. Again, it needs to be emphasized that we’re constructing a picture based on glimpses, but those sorts of things look really bad. Also bad in glimpses? Olczyk’s player evaluation – he may have been toeing the company line, but calling Khabibulin the team’s MVP and talking about the “great job” done by J-F Jacques doesn’t inspire confidence.

Less than a month after that profile was written, the Oilers’ recall of Magnus Paajarvi was rejected by the NHL because Edmonton had already reached its maximum number of post-deadline recalls.

We don’t know what role Olczyk played in these blunders, and we don’t know how he performed in his other assignments. What we do know is that the team publicly designated him as their CBA expert and that over his time in Edmonton the Oilers repeatedly made embarrassing CBA-related gaffes.

A little more reading between the lines: It seems suggestive that the Oilers offered Olczyk another position within the organization. Edmonton’s management may not have wanted Olczyk to stay in his current job but obviously the team still saw value in him.

Anton Belov Speaks Out

Dallas Eakins 3

Russian reporter Pavel Lysenkov caught up with Anton Belov this week and asked him why he returned to the KHL. Via Puck Daddy, this was Belov’s explanation:

There is no one reason that made it an abrupt change. It all was building up during the season, especially more so after the Olympics. And the hire of coach Bykov (by SKA) was also an influence. The other point is that I could have re-signed with Edmonton, but I didn’t want to stay with that coach [Dallas Eakins].

A few points:

  • It seems the Oilers had interest in re-signing Belov, which is an encouraging sign.
  • It’s important not to read too much into one man’s comments on Dallas Eakins. Personalities differ, we don’t know the particulars of the situation, and so on. Plenty of great NHL coaches have run afoul of individual players.
  • With that said, this isn’t a good sign for Eakins. Belov’s not a franchise cornerstone, but he’s a player useful enough for the Oilers to seemingly want to bring back, and according to Belov his distaste for the coach was a primary reason the team won’t get that opportunity. Eakins had a line early on in his coaching tenure about the importance of coaching players on an individual level; by that metric this can only be regarded as one failure.

In short: it really isn’t a good sign, but it would be a mistake to read too much into it.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Lofty
April 21 2014, 04:47PM
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Hall, Eberle and Nuge not going to play for Canada in the IIHF Worlds is rediculous!

They're screwing themselves for next season. Look what it did for Dubnyk... He had a record breaking NHL season because he played in the tournament last year with an undefeated record!

Many elite athletes get away from there sport in the offseason for a month. Most fans don't realize the intensity of training in preparation for a season. You want Nuge or Yak to gain 10lbs of muscle in the offseason? They do it by going balls out in the gym from June to September.

Nothing wrong with players taking a month or so to themselves as long as there focus is dialed in when it counts. I can't say this is what they're doing but I can't see it hurting them in any way.

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#52 Sorensenator
April 21 2014, 05:06PM
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Why you have be mad? It's only game

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#53 Max
April 21 2014, 05:07PM
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Dallas Eakins is NOT Mr. Personality or Mr. Emotion. He looks and acts as if he is chiseled out of stone. I have serious doubts about his ability and certainly want to see BIG progress next season. If we limp out of the tunnel for the first 6 games then he HAS to go, we cannot and will not tolerate another lousy season. I like the Bill Scott hiring, but one replacement isn't enough IMO. Belov could have been right, some players truly don't like their coaches, some coaches dislike some of their players. Eakins talked a good talk early on - pity he had no idea on how to follow through. He needs experienced help (not from Acton, Smith or Bucky) and he needs it fast. If the closest he came to emotion was swallowing hard when Smytty hugged him after the final game, then heaven help us all. Emotion and passion is what drives players and fans. Maybe lessons in emotion/passion in the off season would help. Right now I'd try ANYTHING to make our team better. I'm rooting for the Red Wings for the cup - why? because Tom Renney was dealt a horrible deal and patience would have paid off. Another blooper courtesy of Tambellini.

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#54 RexHolez
April 21 2014, 05:11PM
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Just when you thought the circus was over for a few weeks the tent gets setup again. Olczyk takes a bullet so they can atleast say they did somthing, and Belov confirms what 95% of the fans already knew about Eakins.... Hopefully atleast real change will come next year when they suck again

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#55 Oilers
April 21 2014, 05:37PM
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RexHolez wrote:

Just when you thought the circus was over for a few weeks the tent gets setup again. Olczyk takes a bullet so they can atleast say they did somthing, and Belov confirms what 95% of the fans already knew about Eakins.... Hopefully atleast real change will come next year when they suck again

No change will come until there is a culture change by getting rid of the Old boys club.

Every old Oiler in management must Go. This team needs some real leadership.

Ask yourself this question. Why has there been 8 years since a GM who was a player who the cup. (2006 Hurricanes when both finalists just squeaked in) And why have Canadian teams been so terrible at hockey.

Well, too many ex NHL'ers in management. The US teams pick GM's who have been involved but don't come to be president of the team after 6 years of doing nothing (ie Trevor Lindon in Vancouver).

Would Toyota take an assembly line worker and make them CEO of the company the next day. Canadian teams do that with ex players, that is why they, and the Oilers are failing.

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#56 RexHolez
April 21 2014, 05:50PM
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@Oilers

I'm just worried that even another bottom feeding season next year still won't be enough to get rid of Lowe. He seems to be untouchable no matter how pathetic his teams are

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#57 Spydyr
April 21 2014, 06:24PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

To be honest, I haven't written at length about it because it isn't a subject I'm interested in.

Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins are all adults, and under no obligation to represent Hockey Canada. It's also a lot easier to enjoy nightlife with a nagging injury than it is to play in a competitive tournament, so I don't see the various reports that have surfaced as proof of anything, really.

Personally, I like seeing players go to the tournament, and the Oilers' rich history of sending guys over is a mark in favour of the organization for me (all three of Hall, Eberle and RNH have done it before, Eberle on multiple occasions).

So if I were to write a piece, it would be something along the lines of "Even rich young athletes are entitled to living their lives the way they like in the off-season if it doesn't interfere with their NHL careers."

But like I said, it's not a subject I'm all that interested in.

There is a story there.It is a story about character,some have it like Captain Canada some don't like the three players that cannot be bothered to play hockey in May or represent their country.

The entire Oiler organization lacks character.

It shows in the standings.

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#58 Cold Hard Truth
April 21 2014, 06:27PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Just a reminder, before we get into the 'all the players want Dallas gone!' portion of the discussion, here's what Taylor Hall said about the coach:

As long as I can remember, we’ve gone into off-seasons not knowing if the coach was going to be back or not. I think it’s pretty obvious Dallas will be back and that continuity for me is great and will be for a lot of guys in terms of just knowing what to expect. There’s not that awkward handshake when you come into camp. You know what expect, what he’s going to teach, and most of all, you know what he’s like. That’s important for all of us.

Maybe he was toeing the part line, maybe he was making the best of a bad situation. But Hall's positive public comments are just as much a data point in Eakins' favour as Belov's negative ones are a point against him.

Not quite.

I don't think Hall's positive statement can be weighed equally against Belov's.

You'll often get a more honest answer from someone who no longer has a stake in the team.

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#59 kale
April 21 2014, 07:00PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Just a reminder, before we get into the 'all the players want Dallas gone!' portion of the discussion, here's what Taylor Hall said about the coach:

As long as I can remember, we’ve gone into off-seasons not knowing if the coach was going to be back or not. I think it’s pretty obvious Dallas will be back and that continuity for me is great and will be for a lot of guys in terms of just knowing what to expect. There’s not that awkward handshake when you come into camp. You know what expect, what he’s going to teach, and most of all, you know what he’s like. That’s important for all of us.

Maybe he was toeing the part line, maybe he was making the best of a bad situation. But Hall's positive public comments are just as much a data point in Eakins' favour as Belov's negative ones are a point against him.

Seriously? except one is still with the team and one left, hardly comparable.

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#60 #SixRings
April 21 2014, 07:32PM
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Spydyr wrote:

There is a story there.It is a story about character,some have it like Captain Canada some don't like the three players that cannot be bothered to play hockey in May or represent their country.

The entire Oiler organization lacks character.

It shows in the standings.

Willis is correct, there is no story.

You're conflating numerous factors into a non-sensical narrative.

They're wealthy, young, and have free choice to do as they please. If you perceive those facts to be flaws, that's your problem. Not theirs.

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#61 6 ring circus
April 21 2014, 07:32PM
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Hall,RNH and Eberle are not used to playing hockey past April,give them a break ,they do not want to break up their routine LOL!!!!

They obviously did not learn anything from Ryan Symth or all three would've of been there.

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#62 Duke
April 21 2014, 08:31PM
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I haven't read through all this so pardon me if it's been covered.

My first thought upon reading this was it opens a door for Bucky to be GM in OKC and thus gets moved but not fired.

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#63 Spydyr
April 21 2014, 08:45PM
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#SixRings wrote:

Willis is correct, there is no story.

You're conflating numerous factors into a non-sensical narrative.

They're wealthy, young, and have free choice to do as they please. If you perceive those facts to be flaws, that's your problem. Not theirs.

Hockey Canada played a big part in making them wealthy.Like Chimera said unless you have a broken leg you play for your country.Pay back some of what you received coming up.

Why would they try to improve their games they are all guaranteed six million a year for the next half a decade.

Might as well have a good time instead spend some of that scratch.Chase some babes.

Lack of character.

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#64 Smokey
April 21 2014, 09:48PM
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@Spydyr

I take it your joking.

World Championships after the Olympics is a bunch a C rated NHL'er and tier 2 proffesionals. Who cares, let them chase all the tail they want, and be ready for next season.

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#65 Wax Man Riley
April 21 2014, 10:07PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Hockey Canada played a big part in making them wealthy.Like Chimera said unless you have a broken leg you play for your country.Pay back some of what you received coming up.

Why would they try to improve their games they are all guaranteed six million a year for the next half a decade.

Might as well have a good time instead spend some of that scratch.Chase some babes.

Lack of character.

Wow, are you ever clueless.

Really. In the purest sense. You have absolutely no clue what is happening in those players' heads or in the dressing room. You are just making things up for the sake of spreading hate.

I can't say I completely disagree with you, but maybe they are banged up a bit. Maybe the team asked them not to go, and they are thinking about the "front of the crest" first. Maybe they got together and decided they are better off training and preparing for the upcoming season.

Am I wrong?

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#66 David S
April 21 2014, 10:38PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

Wow, are you ever clueless.

Really. In the purest sense. You have absolutely no clue what is happening in those players' heads or in the dressing room. You are just making things up for the sake of spreading hate.

I can't say I completely disagree with you, but maybe they are banged up a bit. Maybe the team asked them not to go, and they are thinking about the "front of the crest" first. Maybe they got together and decided they are better off training and preparing for the upcoming season.

Am I wrong?

Maybe after Hall was so poorly treated by Hockey Canada last year he said eff you and so did his closest friends.

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#67 God
April 21 2014, 11:12PM
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Are all three healthy?

Have they released an official statement about why they aren't going?

There seems to be a lot of speculative judging going on.

Why get so worked up with limited information.

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#68 Dangilitis
April 21 2014, 11:53PM
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#ThereGoesTheOilers wrote:

I'm also indifferent on Eakins right now, but I do feel a bit conflicted knowing that Trotz is likely to land behind a different bench very soon, heaven forbid Vancouver.

COULDN'T AGREE MORE. Continuity is the weakest excuse to keep bad leaders.

I would rather Hall and co. re-learn a good system than have to stick to a bad one for multiple consecutive years. Any NHL player who can't stick to a system is either selfish or too effin stupid to be employed.

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#69 Maggie the Monkey
April 22 2014, 12:50AM
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Cold Hard Truth wrote:

Not quite.

I don't think Hall's positive statement can be weighed equally against Belov's.

You'll often get a more honest answer from someone who no longer has a stake in the team.

I don't think you've given a basis to take Belov's perspective rather than Hall's, other than simply expressing your own bias.

From my point of view (and please note that I'm clarifying it as such), Belov has no accountability to his comments at this point. Being away from the team, the continent, and the North American media does not add to his credibility in my mind. How does a lack of accountability contribute to honesty? But this is just my opinion, and doesn't carry any more validity than yours.

Despite what your moniker suggests, there are often many versions of "the truth". Both Belov and Hall can have different opinions about Eakins that have relative validity; one can find him a strong communicator while the other does not, for example. Neither is wrong, it is entirely their own perspectives about similar experiences.

With this in mind, how can their contradictory positions be taken as anything other than inconclusive data points?

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#70 Chainsawz
April 22 2014, 08:39AM
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Naky wrote:

@Chainsawz

So you are admitting that you're intimately familiar with Hall, Eberle, and Hopkin's bodies then? So intimate, in fact, that you know that they are completely injury free? Wow, man, that takes balls. Not everybody comes out on a message board, but I'm proud of you. I'm here to let you know that this is a no judgement zone and nobody here will hold it against you.

Or you can just not assume silly things and make sillier comments.

No, I'm not intimately familiar with the 3.

As no judgement zone however, I won't hold it against you that you are unable comprehend probablility and may be a touch gullible.

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#71 Tikkanese
April 22 2014, 12:08PM
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Soccer Steve wrote:

What Belov said about the coach and, by extension, the Oilers as a whole, doesn't bother me in the least.

Neither does what Souray said. Or Hemsky. Or Smid. Or Bryzgalov. Or Pronger. Or Heatley. Or Nylander. Or the jersey tossers. Or the city of Seattle.

Pronger's wife forced him to leave because of his extra-marital affairs. Had nothing to do with the Oilers or the city.

Nylander WANTED to be an Oiler, he verbally agreed to a contract. His wife made him sign elsewhere.

The rest I agree with. Tho Belov was just sore for being a healthy scratch many times and he will make around 3X as much in the KHL than he would in the NHL.

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#72 TonyT
April 22 2014, 02:26PM
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one of the strengths Eakins supposedly has is his ability to deal with and develop young players. Not suggesting that Eakins needs to be replaced this minute, but it is worth noting that many young Oilers had sub-par years and his attempts at making Yakupov accountable while others seemed to operate with impunity does not inspire confidence.

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#73 TigerUnderGlass
April 22 2014, 02:41PM
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Chainsawz wrote:

No, I'm not intimately familiar with the 3.

As no judgement zone however, I won't hold it against you that you are unable comprehend probablility and may be a touch gullible.

As in the probability that after playing a full season of a high speed full contact sport like hockey they have nagging injuries?

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#74 Joy S. Lee
April 22 2014, 03:51PM
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David S wrote:

Maybe after Hall was so poorly treated by Hockey Canada last year he said eff you and so did his closest friends.

I had this same thought. Wouldn't surprise me in the least if Hall said F-U to Hockey Canada for giving up a month of his time off to play for his country, only to be treated like some kind of leper by an assh**e coach who didn't like the mistakes he was making.

Any coach worth his salt would, by my estimation, know that these players were sacrificing for team and country, and would treat them with the respect they deserve. A lack of respect for the same would personally drive me insane, if it had been me in Hall's position.

I watched a little of that tourney, and saw the game Hall kept turning the puck over in. Hall's ice time was very limited, while Matt Duchesne was given the keys to the vault per lots of ice time, the best linemates, and the freedom to be the player he is. Hall was given very limited ice in a 4th line role, and screwed up in an unimportant, unemotional game, and was stapled to the bench for the most part thereafter.

Oddly enough, the Avs picked 1st overall last year; and the Oilers and Hall torched Duchesne and the Avs whenever they met. Yet Duchesne got the plum job while Hall was treated like a dog. Lindy Ruff made it abundantly clear which player he liked better, and while it's fine to have opinions and preferences, if you berate and punish someone after they've stepped up for the cause, you're playing with fire. Hall will get his redemption. But I fully suspect that how he was treated, and his influence on the others was important in their rejection of the offer. Hockey Canada had best be careful. They haven't had enough success lately to deem themselves the all-knowing, all-powerful organization they think they are. After Hall's treatment last year, I'd have done the same thing, in fact, I'd have come right out and told the media that I was supremely choked about the way Hockey Canada treated me, the pathetic non-support, and that I wouldn't be back until they got their s*#t together. I'd have probably made it clear that they could kiss my ass, in no uncertain terms. It's not like Hall owes them anything, other than a good taste of their own medicine, so he should be able to get away with it. It's my belief that he's just worried about upsetting Canadians in general, and having it unfairly taint his name. But Hockey Canada, without Ken Holland and the Olympic brass, or super-coach Mike Babcock and his staff, is an organization that has failed repeatedly over the past number of years, and they've got more resources than just about anybody on the planet when it comes to hockey. They act like the Oilers used to: entitled. And that hurt our NHL team for many years (and still is), because it created a losing culture where improvement was hardly a concern.

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#75 Casey
April 22 2014, 09:06PM
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Dallas's personal preference of players cleary impacted the team. The way he chose Fraser>Belov Acton>Lander Gagner>Arcobello Joensuu>Yakupov so on. He is the type of guy who would choose Kadri over Toews because he got to know Kadri more

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#76 Dan 1919
April 22 2014, 09:42PM
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David S wrote:

Maybe after Hall was so poorly treated by Hockey Canada last year he said eff you and so did his closest friends.

Exactly, I'm surprised more people don't share that opinion. You don't snub a heart guy with a work horse attitude who has finished top 10 in nhl scoring the last two seasons who is only 22 years old.

Even though they won gold Hall should have been on that team before Duchene or Benn, and St. Louis should have been an original pick.

Between Hall having to deal with this joke of a club called the Oilers and being disrespected by hockey Canada the guy still maintains a great attitude. The worst is when the clueless fans throw Hall (one of the best players in the NHL) under the bus with this lousy team. I just hope the guy does not ask for a trade but personally I don't see this thing going much past next season's tanking before the wheels fall off and the young guys start wanting out. After that happens I think Katz will actually bring in a new PHO, then we wait again...

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#77 Saytalk
April 23 2014, 06:37AM
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Joy S. Lee wrote:

I had this same thought. Wouldn't surprise me in the least if Hall said F-U to Hockey Canada for giving up a month of his time off to play for his country, only to be treated like some kind of leper by an assh**e coach who didn't like the mistakes he was making.

Any coach worth his salt would, by my estimation, know that these players were sacrificing for team and country, and would treat them with the respect they deserve. A lack of respect for the same would personally drive me insane, if it had been me in Hall's position.

I watched a little of that tourney, and saw the game Hall kept turning the puck over in. Hall's ice time was very limited, while Matt Duchesne was given the keys to the vault per lots of ice time, the best linemates, and the freedom to be the player he is. Hall was given very limited ice in a 4th line role, and screwed up in an unimportant, unemotional game, and was stapled to the bench for the most part thereafter.

Oddly enough, the Avs picked 1st overall last year; and the Oilers and Hall torched Duchesne and the Avs whenever they met. Yet Duchesne got the plum job while Hall was treated like a dog. Lindy Ruff made it abundantly clear which player he liked better, and while it's fine to have opinions and preferences, if you berate and punish someone after they've stepped up for the cause, you're playing with fire. Hall will get his redemption. But I fully suspect that how he was treated, and his influence on the others was important in their rejection of the offer. Hockey Canada had best be careful. They haven't had enough success lately to deem themselves the all-knowing, all-powerful organization they think they are. After Hall's treatment last year, I'd have done the same thing, in fact, I'd have come right out and told the media that I was supremely choked about the way Hockey Canada treated me, the pathetic non-support, and that I wouldn't be back until they got their s*#t together. I'd have probably made it clear that they could kiss my ass, in no uncertain terms. It's not like Hall owes them anything, other than a good taste of their own medicine, so he should be able to get away with it. It's my belief that he's just worried about upsetting Canadians in general, and having it unfairly taint his name. But Hockey Canada, without Ken Holland and the Olympic brass, or super-coach Mike Babcock and his staff, is an organization that has failed repeatedly over the past number of years, and they've got more resources than just about anybody on the planet when it comes to hockey. They act like the Oilers used to: entitled. And that hurt our NHL team for many years (and still is), because it created a losing culture where improvement was hardly a concern.

So Hockey Canada has failed repeatedly and is at fault for the Oilers' losing culture? Get real.

I think that Taylor Hall is a mature professional and not a begrudging primadonna. Hall got benched by Ruff because of his individualistic play that led to turnovers, not because of favouritism as you suggest.

What you are suggesting is a complete overreaction.

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#78 Joy S. Lee
April 23 2014, 08:22AM
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Saytalk wrote:

So Hockey Canada has failed repeatedly and is at fault for the Oilers' losing culture? Get real.

I think that Taylor Hall is a mature professional and not a begrudging primadonna. Hall got benched by Ruff because of his individualistic play that led to turnovers, not because of favouritism as you suggest.

What you are suggesting is a complete overreaction.

Not sure where you got that from, but in no way did I suggest Hockey Canada was at fault for the Oilers pathetic situation.

And, again, if you actually read what I wrote, you'd notice that I acknowledged Hall's turnovers and poor play in the WC's. What I was saying, however, since you need me to repeat it and spell it out, is that he wasn't given much of an opportunity to right the ship, and that IS on the coach.

You want to punish a hugely-talented youngster by taking away ice time and giving him limited opportunities, okay, that's fine for the team that signs his paycheque. But don't be surprised if he balks when the next volunteer committee calls him back to come donate his time and body again.

Interesting that you call my thoughts a complete overreaction, when you clearly didn't take the time to consider the full scope of my post, but felt compelled to trash it. Get real yourself.

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#79 Joy S. Lee
April 23 2014, 08:31AM
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@Joy S. Lee

And furthermore, have you noticed Hockey Canada's insane desire to leave one or two of the most talented players in the country off the WJC team every year, because they're too young, too inexperienced, too soft, too whatever? They barely let Nathan MacKinnon on the team, then stuck him on the 4th line, and look what he's doing a year later...in the NHL.

Hockey Canada is a screwup organization, almost as much as the Oilers have been, and it largely comes back to that sense of entitlement. The entitled feel very little sense of ownership about doing what's right; all that matters is that they get what they are entitled to. That virtually eliminates any chance for growth, and yet that is precisely what this organization is supposed to stand for. It's become all about the $, for these guys, and they are entitled. That's just my opinion, and from a limited perspective, I know, but it's what I see. I suppose I could add that the Oilers situation is all their fault, too, but that would be utterly ridiculous.

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