Nilsson making bad choices?

In your last 22 games you’ve scored a measly two goals and four assists, your head coach benched you, publicly chastised your play and then sent you to the press box and you respond by skipping an optional practice. Not a good move, Robert Nilsson.

Only two games removed from the press box, Nilsson made a stupid decision and didn’t take part in practice this morning. Technically he didn’t have too skate, but an optional practice is optional for guys like Hemsky, Souray, Roloson, not for an underachieving 23-year-old.

That’s like when your girlfriend tells you it’s your choice if you want to come to her parents’ house for dinner or stay home and watch the game. Sure it’s technically your option, but you know that going to the ‘rents is your only real option if you hope to have any sort of scoring for the next few weeks. Sometimes you choose the game, but you do so knowing the consequences are chores, groveling and a few quality nights with the palm sisters.

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You could chalk it up to a rookie mistake, but Nilsson isn’t a rookie, and he knows better. To me this is a clear case of Nilsson trying to show the coach he isn’t happy. He isn’t injured or nursing a nagging ailment, he simply didn’t put on the blades. The problem for Nilsson is he hasn’t been showing up on game nights often enough to be a no-show for an optional skate.

What makes this stranger is that Nilsson is always one of the last guys off the ice after practice. He — along with Smid, Brodziak, Gagner, Cogliano, Pouliot and Gilbert — normally play games after practice that sometimes last 30 minutes. This is completely out of character for Nilsson, so it makes you wonder if he was trying to send a message to his coach.

It’s hard to defend Nilsson in this situation. He gets benched for a game but comes back and gets to play with Gagner and Cole on the supposed second line. Is he that fed up with his coach? Does he want out of Edmonton? Is he happy with his game? It can’t be the latter, so I’m guessing it’s one of the former.

We will have to wait until tomorrow to find out the answers, since Nilsson wasn’t available, but the only way Nilsson doesn’t find himself back in MacTavish’s doghouse is he starts scoring, and scoring fast. You wonder if this is the beginning of the end for Nilsson, or just another bump in the long road to becoming a professional?

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  • Ender the Dragon

    Gord wrote:

    Ender the Dragon wrote:
    That’s a pretty big presumption, don’t you think? Are there not times when the coach might know of a reason, usually personal, but not feel that it’s their place to discuss it publicly with the media?

    If that was the case then the coach would say ‘Nilsson had a personal issue and cleared it with me.’
    It is obvious from Gregor’s report that wasn’t the case.

    Or maybe since it was an 'optional' skate, Nilsson didn't fill MacT on everything beforehand but still had a potentially valid reason for being away. It could be that MacT was just being politically correct until he'd heard back from Nilsson, something maybe more of us could take under advisement before jumping to (potentially) incorrect conclusions.

    If he's done bad, fine, but we don't know that for sure yet, do we?

  • Having just listened to the press conference, MacTavish said pretty clearly "it was a no strings attached optional workout for him."

    Did I miss something obvious? Sounds to me like MacT isn't upset, so why should we be?

  • Fiveandagame

    If I were Nilsson and my coach publicly humiliated me in the Media for not having enough competitiveness and questioned my character, I'd be pissed.

    Nilsson had a good game last night drawing three penalties, he also looked like he was afraid to screw up, afraid to hold onto the puck for a fear of turning it over and being benched. He played a safe boring Reddox style game, was hard on the puck and drew penalties.

    Now if after the game he got a "good game" I am sure he is at the optional skate today. If he gets a you need to carry the puck more and attack the blue line with speed, or any other criticism, I would have a big F U to MacT too.

    I don't know if anything was said in the room or on the bench. But that is a big single finger salute to the coach.

    If MacT thinks players walking on egg shells is the way to motivate them in to playing a solid game with confidence and charisma, he is sadly mistaken. It may work for a guy whose job it is to chase down guys like a terrier, but when your skill set is creativity and offense, it's hard to do that when you're afraid one wrong move and you're back in the press box.

    I hope he scores a hat trick next game.

  • Trade him. He is easily less valuable than either Cogliano or Gagner on any given night on any given line. His defensive awareness and skating speed may be better than Gagner's – but for how much longer?

    Kent Nilsson's mini magic son or not, even Steve Tambellini was asked about whether he had taken the job with the Islanders, he answered that his first task would've been to trade his son Jeff.