Forget the theory Robert Nilsson missed Monday’s optional practice as a way of flipping off coach Craig MacTavish or that he simply couldn’t be bothered to lace ’em up despite his recent stint in the doghouse.
It turns out Nilsson is guilty of nothing more than bad timing and making a mistake — not that he gets a free pass on either count, given his rap sheet and reputation as a slacker.
Nilsson slept in Monday morning.
“I made a mistake yesterday,” Nilsson told a throng of reporters gathered around his stall in the Oilers dressing room at Rexall Place this morning. “I made a mistake and it won’t happen again.”
Nilsson didn’t get specific as to why he didn’t arrive in time for the optional twirl, but I’ve got it from an impeccable source that he overslept, then got to the rink too late to skate.
The talented 23-year-old and MacTavish discussed the matter Monday after Nilsson’s absence raised eyebrows and kicked the speculation and rumour machine into high gear.
“This is one of those things my dad (Kent Nilsson) and myself talked about,” Nilsson said. “Sure, I learned my lesson.
“You’ve got to learn from your mistakes and that’s exactly what I’m going to do… I came down to get a workout, but I should have been on the ice.”
Wants to say
After being shown a seat in the press box against Phoenix Dec. 22 for what MacTavish deemed indifferent effort, the optics of Nilsson’s no-show aren’t good. No question.
To say he’s been a disappointment this season, having scored just 4-6-10 in the 29 games he’s played, is to understate. Nilsson doesn’t take issue with that assessment.
“I haven’t played as good as I should,” said Nilsson, who’ll be in the line-up against Ottawa tonight. “From now on, I better play my own game, like I should, and help this team keep on winning.”
Nilsson discounts any suggestion there’s any kind of ongoing issue or friction between himself and MacTavish, or that he’s unhappy in Edmonton.
“It’s frustrating, but you can’t give up,” Nilsson said. “This is still the life I want to live and I need to do a better job to stay here.
“This is the team I want to play for. I don’t want to be anywhere else. I like all the guys who work with us and who play with me, so…”
So, we’ll see.