OILERS GET IT RIGHT WITH RAMSAY

Robin Brownlee
June 10 2014 06:56PM

Ramsay

Craig Ramsay's name didn’t draw much reaction from fans around here when I mentioned him as a top candidate to be added to the coaching staff of the Edmonton Oilers Feb. 6. Ramsay will get considerably more attention from here on out after being named as an assistant to Dallas Eakins today.

"If the Oilers are looking to add a coach to their staff in support of Eakins between now and next season -- they are -- they should be taking a long look at Craig Ramsay, who was sacked by the Florida Panthers last November when head coach Kevin Dineen was let go.

"Ramsay, 62, who has made coaching stops with Florida, Ottawa, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, where he won the Stanley Cup in 2004, is the kind of teacher and technical coach who'd be a fit here."

The item containing my assessment of Ramsay drew 135 comments. None of them, not one, contained a response about Ramsay. Not sure why. Older coach. A bit under the radar for many, I guess. Not a sexy hire. Besides, fans were justifiably skeptical that a FOK like Kelly Buchberger would be moved aside for a proven coach and teacher like Ramsay.

LEFT AN IMPRESSION

ramsay_craig_0809

Today, here he is. Jonathan Willis wrote about Ramsay's hire earlier today, so I won’t go over his resume again. What I will second is that Ramsay, who will work with the defensemen and the power play units, is exactly the kind of hire – experienced, technically sound and a teacher of the game – the Oilers needed to complement Eakins and associate Keith Acton.

I spent about 20 minutes one afternoon chatting with Ramsay in Tampa Bay not long after he was hired in 2001. I remembered him as a player. I'd read the stats. I knew what he'd accomplished as a coach, but I'd never spoken to him. The 20 minutes we talked that day, shooting the breeze talking hockey, was time well-spent. I've seldom been more impressed by a hockey man.

Ramsay's a soft-spoken type. He doesn't beat his chest to get his point across. He's a communicator and a teacher. Back when we chatted, a young Vincent Lecavalier, just 20 or 21 at the time, talked at length about Ramsay's ability to teach, to impart knowledge, especially with the younger players.

That impression stuck enough that with the Oilers struggling mightily again last season and debate raging about what changes were needed, including to the coaching staff, Ramsay came immediately to mind, even if it seemed like a long shot he'd ever end up here. The Oilers got it right.

ENTER LAXDAL?

laxdal

With Buchberger out, Ramsay in the fold and destined to join Eakins and Acton on the bench, we're waiting to see what happens with Steve Smith, who can either accept being bumped upstairs into the press box as an eye in the sky or seek employment elsewhere.

If Smith chooses to move on rather than accept the new gig, Eakins will be in the market for a coach to fill that role. That would open the door for Derek Laxdal, who, as everybody knows, led the Edmonton Oil Kings to the 2014 Memorial Cup and now has three 50-win seasons on his resume.

Yes, as many people have pointed out, Todd Nelson is also a deserving candidate based on the work he's done in Oklahoma City. No question about it. That said, my best guess is Nelson will remain on the AHL farm as head coach rather than take a job as an assistant here. He sees himself as a head coach and he's already had a gig as an NHL assistant.

From an organizational standpoint, it makes more sense to me to promote Laxdal to the Oiler staff as an assistant, promote Oil Kings assistant Steve Hamilton to head coach and have Nelson in OKC continuing the fine developmental work he's been doing for the time being. We'll see soon enough if it shakes out that way.

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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#51 Oilbaron
June 10 2014, 11:09PM
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Hiring a new DJ will make me even happier than the hiring of Craig Ramsay... nah jk

On an unrelated note I'm starting to have this terrible feeling that Draisaitl will go to Florida or Buffalo with the 1 or 2 pick

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#52 derek
June 10 2014, 11:20PM
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Ramsay looks like captain picard from star trek.

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#53 Dave
June 10 2014, 11:49PM
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Dave wrote:

Every time I listen to Dallas on the radio, I get creeped out. Really, he should not give interviews until he has actually accomplished something here. I am not hopeful.

OK, Maybe not creeped out .. That is too strong . He loses me when he talks about crafting a teams "personality" .

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#54 Dockstaff
June 10 2014, 11:55PM
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We have plenty of rookies and AHL level 'prospects.' I like the Ramsay deal, and I'd like to see another proven veteran behind the bench.

Rookies make mistakes. I like Eakins, but he was a rookie on a rookie team, and they made A LOT of mistakes. Perhaps Brent Sutter or Adam Oates. I know Oates wants to be a head coach, but he will Likely have to do some more time as an assistant.

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#55 Normie
June 11 2014, 12:19AM
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What if the coaching-go-round is not the only problem that needs a major repair job. What if the so-called talent players are so deep into lazy and selfish play they are almost un-coachable?

How do the Oiler coaches deal with players like Eberle, Hall, Newjie and Justin Schultz. These guys gave up how many goals against while on the PP? How many thousand fingers and toes would be required to count turn-overs in just the D zone? I really hope coaching is the required fix and not the players hockey IQ's and lack of compete.

Here's hoping.

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#56 Geoff
June 11 2014, 04:01AM
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Oilbaron wrote:

Hiring a new DJ will make me even happier than the hiring of Craig Ramsay... nah jk

On an unrelated note I'm starting to have this terrible feeling that Draisaitl will go to Florida or Buffalo with the 1 or 2 pick

Well florida did go off the board last year and draft the big centermen instead of drafting jones.

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#57 pelhem grenville
June 11 2014, 06:26AM
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Josh Oiler wrote:

2 WORDS - JOHN TORTARELLA

RUMOUR HAS IT IF SMITH DECLINES THE BIRDS EYE JOB THE TORTS HAS ALREADY ACCEPTED!!!

TWO WORDS - THAT'S NOT GONNA HAPPEN EVER!!!

oh wait...

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#59 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
June 11 2014, 06:30AM
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am i the only one who had "oh no you di-dant girlfriennnnd" pop into my head when i saw that first picture in the article?

**crickets**

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#60 Joy S. Lee
June 11 2014, 06:43AM
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Dave wrote:

OK, Maybe not creeped out .. That is too strong . He loses me when he talks about crafting a teams "personality" .

Why? Seems to me you are nitpicking.

Fact is, if you've watched the playoffs, every team exhibits a personality. If Eakins is wanting to create a certain type of personality, it's because he wants his team to embody a particular mindset.

I don't see a thing wrong with that. Be creeped out if you must, but personality is a part of the reason you watch and pick a team and cheer for them. Criticism for the sake of criticism is generally useless information that is really just droning on about what is. You are bitching and complaining.

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#61 pelhem grenville
June 11 2014, 06:53AM
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"...On an unrelated note I'm starting to have this terrible feeling that Draisaitl will go to Florida or Buffalo with the 1 or 2 pick..."

Hush Oilbaron...that can't happen...all the mouthbreathers will get their Ekblad and the oilers will get to wait a couple more years for him to find his NHL legs while playing 8 minutes a game...OR maybe oilers end up with Bennett and we can get a pool together to find out when he does his first pullup on the Hall & Ebs radio show!

...keep thinking draft Draisaitl OR DIE!!!

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#62 Spydyr
June 11 2014, 08:02AM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

"...On an unrelated note I'm starting to have this terrible feeling that Draisaitl will go to Florida or Buffalo with the 1 or 2 pick..."

Hush Oilbaron...that can't happen...all the mouthbreathers will get their Ekblad and the oilers will get to wait a couple more years for him to find his NHL legs while playing 8 minutes a game...OR maybe oilers end up with Bennett and we can get a pool together to find out when he does his first pullup on the Hall & Ebs radio show!

...keep thinking draft Draisaitl OR DIE!!!

Yeah , who would want their team to have a good defence.It is not like defence wins championships.

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#63 TRAINRECK
June 11 2014, 08:36AM
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Buchbergers out . Steve Smith is next . "Free to seek employment elsewhere"

Would you like Fries with that cheeseburger? MMM Cheeseburger.

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#64 Dman09
June 11 2014, 08:47AM
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Oilers looking at going to the 1st pick. One was to wonder if they would be looking at acquiring it out right instead of moving up. Moving up from third doesn't really make much sense.

Would Yak + Defense prospect + 2015 3rd rounder get you the 1st overall????

Take Ekblad and LD, move Gags to the wing

Perron - LD - Gags doesn't look too bad, Yak would still look better.

Interesting, wonder if anything will actually happen.

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#65 vetinari
June 11 2014, 08:57AM
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Buffalo and Florida both know that teams like Edmonton and Calgary would love to snag Ekblad so it's in their interests to talk him up, hoping that someone flips picks with them, even if they would prefer to go with one of the centres. It's called poker. But in this game, if the Oilers stand pat, they are still guaranteed a good centre or a future franchise defenceman.

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#66 SRELIOFAN
June 11 2014, 09:12AM
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BlazingSaitls wrote:

I never thought Id be this excited about the hiring of an assistant coach. Oilers fans expectations are so lowe now that even a new DJ at Rexall will make headlines.

#ThanksKevin

Who is the DJ at Rexall by the way? Does anybody know his (or her) name? Because we should start "fire -insert dj's name here-" chants next season. In between the "Fire Lowe" chants of course...

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#67 S cottV
June 11 2014, 09:17AM
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The present state of Oiler player personnel calls for the best possible coaching staff. To think otherwise is to seriously underestimate the task at hand.

Head Coaches like Babcock or Hitchcock would struggle with what the Oilers look like going into this coming season. While they would struggle, I am sure that they would find a path to lead this player group toward, that would generate reasonable best possible results.

Eakins? - It's gonna be painful once again, despite the positive addition of Ramsay.

Don't think too many free agents or good players with no trade clauses, are gonna be all that impressed with a coaching ticket that has Eakins in charge.

Oilers cannot afford to be percieved as anything but one of the very top organizations in the NHL - from the top to the bottom, in all aspects including coaching.

If the NHLPA conducted a survey of all players, ranking perceptions of each franchise, the Oilers would not want the results publicized.

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#68 Scott
June 11 2014, 09:19AM
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My favourite thing about Ramsay is he's not Buchberger. Hard to know whether Ramsay will have a significant positive impact on the team, but easy to know he's way more qualified than the man he's replacing.

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#69 freelancer
June 11 2014, 09:24AM
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“Once you make that first outlet pass and you see the rush going up ice, you’ve got to be a part of it. It’s not acceptable to say, ‘Hey, I’m a defenceman.’ You’re not just a checker, you’re not just a defenceman, you’re part of a team.”

Most interesting quote I found from Ramsey's interview. Sounds like he is definitely going to mimic Eakin's philosophy as far as puck moving goes. I really hope he can help enforce that "part of a team" aspect we have been severely lacking in.

I hope his idea of the team being part of the rush doesn't include defensemen chipping in too deep, causing a shorthanded break away towards our net.

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#70 SlowTalker
June 11 2014, 09:49AM
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Spydyr wrote:

Yeah , who would want their team to have a good defence.It is not like defence wins championships.

Not always. For years The Vancouver Canucks have lacked toughness, and had total crap goaltending. Their forwards became wilting lilies whenever they faced adversity. Totally "un-champion".

You got to have a complete team from top to bottom with size and toughness.That's why they will never be more than bridesmaids in my view.

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#71 Dave
June 11 2014, 09:59AM
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Joy S. Lee wrote:

Why? Seems to me you are nitpicking.

Fact is, if you've watched the playoffs, every team exhibits a personality. If Eakins is wanting to create a certain type of personality, it's because he wants his team to embody a particular mindset.

I don't see a thing wrong with that. Be creeped out if you must, but personality is a part of the reason you watch and pick a team and cheer for them. Criticism for the sake of criticism is generally useless information that is really just droning on about what is. You are bitching and complaining.

I think it is the job of the coach to employ the players he has in the best possible way to get the most from the team as a whole. I think it is the GM that crafts the team's personality by getting the type of players that match the GM's overall concept.

Joy, could you tell me how the mindset of the Kings differs from the Rangers. I am confused. Not complaining just ... not getting it.

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#72 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
June 11 2014, 10:04AM
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On the downside, he failed twice in short stints as a head coach. And only two of the eight teams he worked for saw fit to keep him for more than three years.

1986-87 Buffalo Sabres assistant coach.

1992–93, Florida Panthers assistant coach.

1995 Ottawa Senators assistant coach.

1997–98 Philadelphia Flyers assistant coach. 2000 interim head coach.

2001 Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach.

2006–07 Boston Bruins assistant coach.

2010 Atlanta Thrashers head coach.

2011 Florida Panthers assistant coach.

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#73 max
June 11 2014, 10:09AM
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Ramsay is the same age as me. On the day he was hired, I was fired from my job after many years, or "laid off" if you prefer. Later the same day I was offered another job, same profession, more money, less hours. I see that as a good omen, for me, for Ramsay AND the Oilers. Fingers crossed! Welcome to Edmonton Craig and family.

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#74 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
June 11 2014, 10:14AM
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On the upside, he brings experience, seems best suited to an assistants role, served as an assistant to many great coaches, is a defensive minded coach, and should be a significant, perhaps even a huge upgrade over Bucky and Smith.

As for first impressions, it looks like a good hire.

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#75 max
June 11 2014, 10:16AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Obviously, no guarantees with Ramsay, but he's a progressive guy who has evolved over time rather than having the game pass him by. Much like Ken Hitchcock in that sense.

I remember thinking -- and writing -- that Pat Quinn was the right guy when he was hired here. Years and years of experience. I had known Quinn dating back to Vancouver and through his time in LA and Toronto and thought that would translate. We know how that went.

Pat Quinn as coach was the beginning of the misery we have suffered - he was never interested in the Oilers or the fans. He was a bully and a die hard Canuck. Still is. Having his name mentioned in the same breath as the Oilers makes me see red.

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#76 Doctor Smashy
June 11 2014, 10:25AM
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Can we use that cover picture in a caption contest this season? What exactly is going on there? Was he complimenting someone on their new belt? See a mouse scurry across the floor of the players bench? Had he just finished telling someone to shove it and was about to add "and your mother..."?

The possibilities could indeed be endless....

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#77 Zarny
June 11 2014, 10:30AM
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Spydyr wrote:

I would have preferred news that Eakins was fired and Bylsma was his replacement but this is not bad news.

Baby steps.

Why?

Bylsma has a ring but he's also been badly out-coached by Babcock at the Olympics and on numerous occasions in the playoffs while leading perennial Cup contender Pit to multiple early exits in the Spring.

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#78 Zarny
June 11 2014, 11:04AM
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Dave wrote:

OK, Maybe not creeped out .. That is too strong . He loses me when he talks about crafting a teams "personality" .

The problem is Eakins is 100% right; the Oilers do need to craft a team personality.

All teams that actually win the Stanley Cup have one. Sure, they all have a mix of skill, size/strength,defense, grit etc and are able to win different types of games; but they all have a style of game they prefer and they impose that style on opponents.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson complimented the LA Kings saying it doesn't matter whether they are ahead or behind the Kings play the same way. Every player buys into the team philosophy. At the Olympics Team Canada displayed the same discipline which is extremely hard to do. The natural tendency when things go awry is to freelance and start playing as individuals.

What is the Oilers' personality? How do they win games?

Many like to think they are a fast, skilled, high-octane offensive team. The reality is they've ranked 26th, 20th, 20th and 28th in offense the last 4 years and are light-years from being a team that imposes speed and skill like Pit or Chi.

The Oilers certainly aren't a big, strong team that imposes their physical will like LA, ANA or Boston. They certainly aren't a team like Detroit who dominated by puck possession. They aren't the NJ Devils of yesteryear who won with stifling defense and goal-tending.

To overcome adversity you have to know who you are. And to win the Stanley Cup you have to overcome a mountain of adversity.

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#79 Soccer Steve
June 11 2014, 11:13AM
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derek wrote:

Ramsay looks like captain picard from star trek.

Bald guy from Top Gun.

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#80 Mustangheart
June 11 2014, 11:26AM
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Scott wrote:

My favourite thing about Ramsay is he's not Buchberger. Hard to know whether Ramsay will have a significant positive impact on the team, but easy to know he's way more qualified than the man he's replacing.

Thank you Oilers management on picking an experienced coach to assist both the players and Eakins. I think this is a solid addition to the team.

I agree; its now time for Smith to be moved and Laxdal would be an outstanding choice to compliment the team.

I read on someone's blog a while back about bringing in Cujo as the goalie coach?

Now, that would be "bold moves" definitely in the right direction to becoming playoff contenders.

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#81 camdog
June 11 2014, 11:28AM
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@Zarny

Many of the bigger guys on other teams are able to catch many of our smaller guys. This team needs more speed in the line up. I know Lowe has said we are a fast team before, but I don't know if he's watching the same team I am watching. Sure they are quicker than the Oilers teams that won the cups, but every other team is faster as well.

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#82 freelancer
June 11 2014, 11:47AM
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@camdog

I hate the notion of being a "fast" team. With the conditioning level in the nhl most players are skating at a very similar level. Speed means nothing on it's own, it's knowing when to jump up on a play, when to get back and backcheck.

It goes back to the size argument. Just because you're 220 pounds doesn't mean you're going to be a physical presence. Speed has it's place but smart hockey sense will trump a fast player any day.

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#83 Sorensenator
June 11 2014, 12:30PM
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Ok I'm on board, Oiler Domination to Follow

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#84 Danger Pay
June 11 2014, 12:32PM
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It is also time to make changes to the Scouting Department and for the love of humanity - GET A NEW DJ !!!!!!!!!!!

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#85 Zarny
June 11 2014, 12:37PM
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@camdog

Other than nifty toe-drags the Oilers need more everything in the line-up.

I suspect what Lowe meant was "we want to be a fast team". And the Oilers are fast in the top 6 F but a bottom 6 of mostly AHL caliber players negates that.

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#86 Juan
June 11 2014, 02:38PM
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Finished last place with Tom Renney. I think we need a coach in management to teach Kevin Lowe something about winning.

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#87 Dave
June 11 2014, 02:57PM
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Zarny wrote:

The problem is Eakins is 100% right; the Oilers do need to craft a team personality.

All teams that actually win the Stanley Cup have one. Sure, they all have a mix of skill, size/strength,defense, grit etc and are able to win different types of games; but they all have a style of game they prefer and they impose that style on opponents.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson complimented the LA Kings saying it doesn't matter whether they are ahead or behind the Kings play the same way. Every player buys into the team philosophy. At the Olympics Team Canada displayed the same discipline which is extremely hard to do. The natural tendency when things go awry is to freelance and start playing as individuals.

What is the Oilers' personality? How do they win games?

Many like to think they are a fast, skilled, high-octane offensive team. The reality is they've ranked 26th, 20th, 20th and 28th in offense the last 4 years and are light-years from being a team that imposes speed and skill like Pit or Chi.

The Oilers certainly aren't a big, strong team that imposes their physical will like LA, ANA or Boston. They certainly aren't a team like Detroit who dominated by puck possession. They aren't the NJ Devils of yesteryear who won with stifling defense and goal-tending.

To overcome adversity you have to know who you are. And to win the Stanley Cup you have to overcome a mountain of adversity.

Yes but is that his job ? Or is that Mac T's job ? It seems to me that Eakins wants to have a certain type of team but he may not have the right players.

The coaches should do the best they can based on the hand they are dealt.

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#88 azad
June 11 2014, 03:45PM
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YES hiring an assistant coach will bring us the cup. Morons

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#89 BLAKPOO
June 11 2014, 03:45PM
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Soccer Steve wrote:

Bald guy from Top Gun.

Freddy Krueger.

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#90 Spydyr
June 11 2014, 06:18PM
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Zarny wrote:

Why?

Bylsma has a ring but he's also been badly out-coached by Babcock at the Olympics and on numerous occasions in the playoffs while leading perennial Cup contender Pit to multiple early exits in the Spring.

That is one more ring than Eakins has.Not quite six but one more.He knows what it takes to win the Cup.Eakins knows what it takes to get rid of donuts.

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#91 Serious Gord
June 12 2014, 12:30AM
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Not quite as futile as rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking titanic but not far from it either in hockey terms - hiring Ramsay isn't going to get this team as it's currently - or likely to be - configured to position higher than 20th.

Ramsay, as has been noted above, has been a bit of a suitcase smith of the coaching fraternity - being treated pretty much as a spare part by most of his employers it would seem - especially in recent years.

And this may be a heralding of FOEs - friends of Eakins - Ramsay and he are very close.

Which begs the question: how much of a search effort was done before offering Ramsay the job? Is this yet another rushed, hire a friend or the guy who talks a good line decision like all of the others over that last decade?

And have any of the old boys ever actually been fired rather than moved around within the organization since Katz became owner? Just flat-out $hit-canning one of them would be a fresh of breath air rather than this rotten tripe of "we are all accountable"

Finally, robin you write: "...is exactly the kind of hire – experienced, technically sound and a teacher of the game ...". Isn't that what the oil should have looked for for the head coach position? To my eye the assistant has a better resume than the coach and the roles should have been reversed.

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#92 @kahmad92
June 12 2014, 10:38AM
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There should be a Photoshop contest with the first picture of Ramsay

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#93 Harry2
June 12 2014, 05:36PM
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Great hire

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#94 Harry2
June 12 2014, 05:53PM
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I am very concerned that Mac thought Edm had the right coaches in place before all this transpired.

Seriously what the hell was he smoking when he said that?

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