Real Talk

So we made a friend awhile back who has the most interesting skill. It seems he knows exactly what’s going on in the room right now for the Oil. Stranger still, it seems he is ok with letting some info out to your ol’ pal Wanye from time to time.

Now this isn’t the kind of friend that you would call up on a regular basis and ask, “Does Kyle Brodziak put on his left or right skate first?” But it is the kind of friend with whom we have an understanding that when we run into each other from time to time he’ll let us know if anything is new or interesting behind those enormous sliding doors. And his message is pretty much confirmation of what is widely suspected and increasingly becoming known — there are cracks in the room these days that are expanding at a slow but steady rate and it has been affecting play on the ice.

Why are their cracks forming you ask? It seems the Oil –- particularly the youth movement — no longer enjoy the lack of respect doled out by their head coach on a continual basis and many feel his methods of coaching are no longer effective.

Translation: MacT doing dick stuff to the team will eventually make his players hate him. It’s pretty much that simple.

It would seem there is a constant stream of disrespect aimed at the players these days. As it was explained to us, no one incident that stands out above the rest but a bunch of continual things that has helped MacT lose big chunks of the room.

MacT Dick Move #138,962

The Oil played the Coyotes on Dec 22 going into the Christmas Break. Santa delivers and the Oil win 4-2 to send the team into the break on a relative high note given how things were unfolding during the first three months of the season. Now you know how it is around Christmas: you want to be home with your families if at all possible. The understanding seemed to be win on the 22nd and part for the holidays filled with Christmas cheer.

But not with ol’ Coach here in E-town.

In his infinite wisdom, MacT switched it up and made the team attend practice on the 23rd. As a direct result all players couldn’t get back east to their families for Christmas as many had planned. Instead they were stranded in Edmonton and away from their families over the holiday. Classy.

Now we can hear you out there saying:

“Shoot Wanye! Miss Christmas? Boo-freakin-hoo. If I made Lubo money it would be Christmas every day! I would hire actors to be my family and they would go with me everywhere and every morning we would gather under the tree and open presents 365 days a year!

Are you suggesting that:

1) I should believe that missing Christmas makes the PK bad; and,

2) I should care about these rich athletes in the slightest?”

This is completely fair. If we made Lubo money we would hire Lubomir Visnovsky himself to carry us around on his back all day long. “Mush Lubo!” we would yell, “to the liquor store!” And dutifully, Lubo would piggy back us all the way to Liquor Depot because the only thing better than making Lubo money is making even more money. If we happened to pass someone being piggybacked by a cheaper Oiler –- say Liam Reddox -– we would make Lubo stop and we would stand there laughing heartily at the cheaper player and his fare. But that’s just how we would roll.

But back to the Oilers missing Christmas. Rich athlete or not, people want to be home for Christmas if at all possible. A last-minute practice after a win is a dick move plain and simple. This is a single instance that came up in our conversation and the message was, “There are a million things that have gotten the room to where it is today. This is an easy one.”

It’s a coaching style — plain and simple. And if you believe that an under-performing team with myriad players who are under-utilized, miscast, miscoached or poorly motivated may not be responding to the style of their current coach, then you arrive at the same conclusion we did last night when we were hearing these tales.

There has to be a change in coaching style

There are “players’ coaches” who cater to the room like Tom Renney in New York. Coach Renney let Jagr sit in the front seat of the Rangers bus anytime he wanted and he had an unlimited Xbox rule on the road. JJ loved his videogames and riding shotgun, and he produced as a result of the treatment he received.

Then are also hard asses like John Tortorella who used to beat Martin St. Louis without mercy in the dressing room before games until Oren Koules bought the team and promptly destroyed it. St. Louis would crawl into the corner and hide for 20 minutes, then he would go out on the ice and dominate. This hard-assed style worked for him.

Then there are coaches who have lost the room and act the arrogant fool. They take a hard line with rookies while showing Buddha-like patience when veterans have mistake-riddled games. Think the hardass line is working, Nation? Think the team is finding its motivational state of balance? Hells no — its Chakra is destroyed these days.

Look at this graph, it’s all very clear:

As the team mails in game after game after game, it’s becoming evident that MacT is no longer capable of coaxing, cajoling or Jedi mind-tricking the Oilers into consistent performances this season. His coaching style of taking a continual hard line doesn’t seem to be having much effect anymore — and as we all know you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Instead you hire a new dog who has a whole new bag of tricks. Right?

Miss Christmas with your family. What a dick.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    @ King Mob:

    No there is no point to be made here. Fact is these are guys that have 29 other options to play from when their contracts are up and their job keeps them away from their families far more than the average person. Getting a chance to spend even a small time at home over the holidays would have been much better for the morale of this team then getting a holiday bag skate. No, wait… This tremendous winning streak since Christmas has shown that MacTavish actually made the right call. Right?

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Jack Bauer wrote:

    ETD is not the only MacT apologist in town. There are plenty of these guys.

    There are plenty of Flames fans too. That doesn't speak well of your city.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Jack Bauer wrote:

    ETD is not the only MacT apologist in town. There are plenty of these guys

    Yeah I guess. There is Moreau, Horcoff, Staios… and a number of other players who take undisciplined penalties, cough up the puck in critical situations in the defensive zone, miss "optional" practices, and generally play below their capability without consequence. These players probably LOVE MacT.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Stop argueing if making them practice on xmas eve was good or not, the entire point was MacT has done ALOT of things that upset the team not just one, he was just using a recent example, dont take it so literaly its not like the people on the team missed xmas and now hate their coach. It is all the little things adding up.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Rick wrote:

    I know you mentioned that the Christmas example is just one of a few but if that is the worst one and it is enough to divide the room the it leaves me wondering just how fragile and spoiled this group muffins that we call the Edmonton Oilers really are.
    I am curious, was it said outright or just implied that they also believe MacT purposely controlled the weather on that fateful day which left them stranded here in Edmonton?
    The Oilers underachieved leading up to Christmas and he wanted another practice. Big freakin deal, I thought everyone has been demanding some kind of accountability from this club…any accountability, from any part of it?
    It looks to me like this was an attempt at it, certainly more so than patting them all on the back and saying “yeah we pretty much sucked up to this point but go stuff your face with turkey and forget about if for a few days”.

    I hope you're not a teacher or a boss somewhere. Absolutely ridiculous.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Chris wrote:

    There is Moreau, Horcoff, Staios… and a number of other players who take undisciplined penalties, cough up the puck in critical situations in the defensive zone, miss “optional” practices, and generally play below their capability without consequence. These players probably LOVE MacT.

    My guess is this is the real source (if there is one) of the angst with the younger players. They're working far harder, for far less money and way higher expectations. They get crapped on when they screw up. Fine. But the rules need to be the same for everybody. THIS I get.

    Still, I remember reading MacT saying that he thought the X-Mas break was a bit too long for finely tuned athletes. It sounded to me that this practise was always on the schedule. Maybe your "source" thought the 23rd was a free day in error. Besides, the weather was the culprit for people missing flights. Hardly a dick move by the coach to my mind.

    As far as the rest goes, at the end of the day these are PROFESSIONAL athletes. They are payed craploads of cash to come to the rink motivated and ready to play. Anything less is, well, unprofessional.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Wanye: The split between the younger players and the veterans is a more significant factor in what ails this team, but incidents like the early practice before Christmas add to an unhappy room, that's for sure.

    I've heard rumblings about various "issues" for over a month now from people I trust, but there's some things I'm not going to write until I check them out. I'd better get on that before you and your "source" beat me to the punch.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    @ RobinB:
    holy man Robin! get on that quick. By the way, Is it really true that Oilers have really always been a close knit team? Or was that just media hype. If so, would you say that this team is less cohesive than any you've seen in the past. I believe you touched up on it earlier (maybe Greggor) about the lack of young Veterans (Stoll, Greene, Torres etc.) to bridge the gap from rookies and vets.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Ender the Dragon wrote:

    Hey, everyone, do you remember where you were on the morning of Tuesday, December 23rd? I do. I was at work. Just like all my friends. Just like everyone I know.

    Fair enough, but do you get to go home everyday after work? Do you get to go home and spend time with your family on the weekends? Or do you spend 8 months away from your family for work?
    I see your point, but an NHL players job is a little bit of a different circumstance then the rest of us.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    jeanshorts wrote:

    Ender the Dragon wrote:

    I see your point, but an NHL players job is a little bit of a different circumstance then the rest of us.

    Yeah. They make as much in a month as I make in a year. For that kinda cash, I see my family a bit less than a regular guy. Then I retire at 35 and see them every day for the rest of my life.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Sing A Song For SingSing wrote:

    I hope you’re not a teacher or a boss somewhere. Absolutely ridiculous.

    What part do you consider rediculous the part where I disagree with rewarding employees for not performing to their capabilities and expectations or the part where I think that it's fair game to come up with some sort of attention getter when that situation arises?

    Keeping in mind of course that the CBA specifically calls for the 23rd of December as a work day.

    When all is said and done it is a problem if the room, particularily the young kids, are turning on MacTavish but the answer that needs to get flushed out is wether the problem is that MacT is too heavy handed or if they are dealing with over priveledged youngsters that don't understand what comes with being a professional.

    Like I said earlier, I can't see any level of logic that would suggest that kids have earned the right to question or tune a NHL coach.

    I also don't think MacT, atleast what has been made public, has done anything that seems worse than what you hear about coaches doing elsewhere around the league.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Rick wrote:

    What part do you consider rediculous the part where I disagree with rewarding employees for not performing to their capabilities and expectations or the part where I think that it’s fair game to come up with some sort of attention getter when that situation arises?

    At what point do you take responsibility for not being able to coax the most out of your workers? It's a two way street, in that it is on the players to perform better but it is also the boss's responsibilty to use his staff to their strengths to get the most out of them. Again, just pissing everyone off may get the minimum work to be done but you'll get more out of everyone if they want to work well and excell for you and are afraid to let you down.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    jeanshorts wrote:

    Do you get to go home and spend time with your family on the weekends? Or do you spend 8 months away from your family for work?

    Define family for me, JS, and then tell me which Oilers didn't see their wife and kids on Christmas. And if you want to play the extended family card, I know there's a ton of ON readers who didn't spend Christmas with Mom and Dad this year either (me included), but we didn't write a blog about how it was our boss's fault.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    president's trophy or bottom of the basement, its tough for me to take pride in a team that would whine about a dec 23rd practice.

    I miss the edmonton oilers 🙁

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Travis Dakin wrote:

    At what point do you take responsibility for not being able to coax the most out of your workers?

    Ultimately MacT will take the fall for the team underachieving so he actually will be taking responsibility for it.

    However, based on what Robin just said, the tension has been building for just over a month now. how do you explain the exact same lack luster performances prior to that?

    It would appear that hand holding didn't work and now cracking the whip isn't working.

    At what point do the players need to be held responsible?

    None of this is suggesting the problem lies in one place or the other because it seems clear to me that it is a case of both.

    That said, this article was based on inside info that the practice on Dec 23rd upset a few players to the point where the resent MacT and on that single issue I have no sympathy for the basket of muffins that currently occupies the Oilers dressing room. Some times you just have to take it like a man and suck it up.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    A boss that has your back and shows a little compassion can get a lot more out of his employees than a prick that rides you every step of the way.
    Highly paid athletes yes, but they're still human and when 3 on one side of the room are left alone and 3 on the other side are getting ripped, there's going to be problems.
    Not many guys on this team are free from deserving an ass kicking at some point this year. Maybe it happens behind closed doors but publicly it seems a group gets off easier than another.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Rick wrote:

    However, based on what Robin just said, the tension has been building for JUST over a month now.

    That said, this article was based on inside info that the practice on Dec 23rd upset a few players to the point where the resent MacT and on that single issue I have no sympathy for the basket of muffins that currently occupies the Oilers dressing room. Some times you just have to take it like a man and suck it up.

    The quote from Robin says that he has heard rumblings for over a month. There is no "Just" to imply whether that is one day or 30 days.

    The article does not say that these guys were happy until the Dec 23 practice, it implied that the practice was just the straw that broke the camels back.

    Alot of the disagreements hear seem to be people adding a word or two to a comment, or reading a comment and interpreting it a different way.

    Agreed that these are high paid professionals and sometimes need to suck it up, but also the workplace environment has a lot to do with employee productivity.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Ender the Dragon wrote:

    I know there’s a ton of ON readers who didn’t spend Christmas with Mom and Dad this year either (me included), but we didn’t write a blog about how it was our boss’s fault.

    I wrote a blog about how my boss made me miss Christmas?

    1) I don't have a boss
    2) I didn't miss Christmas

    Ender you articulate son of a gun you are so hot right now with your eloquent MacT defense that I won't even bother to correct you.

    But do note Nation that this is merely one story and certainly not the entire scenario.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Wanye Gretz wrote:

    But do note Nation that this is merely one story and certainly not the entire scenario.

    Well, do you have any other stories your source might allow the nation in on?

  • I'm a Scientist!

    MacT's gotta move on after this season … but he was right about one thing, Dustin Penner's a joke. Making how much and needs to be encouraged to play hard? LOL Time to retire Dustin so you can dedicate yourself to eating cheeseburgers and playing Xbox…

  • I'm a Scientist!

    hockeyfan wrote:

    The quote from Robin says that he has heard rumblings for over a month. There is no “Just” to imply whether that is one day or 30 days.

    Your right I actually meant to go back to clear up my wording but got distracted.

    However the point is still there.

    Unless MacT was using these so called heavy handed tactics from day one, it is the crappy play of the players that forced him to take these more desperate measures.

    So if the players weren't playing well when all was good and now they aren't playing well because all is not good, at what point do you have to look at the players and ask WTF?

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Bruthah wrote:

    Maybe we can wait and see if Gregor or RobBro have some insight into this, like was there actually a practice that fateful morning?

    Yes there was a practice. No way Wanye would report it if it didn't happen. I know players weren't happy with the idea of that practice, but I did speak with someone who does the travel for the team and everyone who was planning on going home for Xmas made it home.

    I don't see how a morning practice would help the team that much, but clearly MacT did and then won on Boxing day. So while I think it pissed off some players, they won so the coach looks smart. If they really wanted to get their coach canned they could have tanked that game and a few others….

    They can't even lose the games that would benefit them…damn mediocrity.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    boo hoo, the players who have collectively underperformed (but won't be returning any of their cash) couldn't open up presents and chug back egg nog – this is a joke right? Rewards are earned and they haven't earned them. I'm tired of mediocrity and losing. Push them to the limit of the contracts and start winning!

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Ender the Dragon wrote:

    Define family for me, JS, and then tell me which Oilers didn’t see their wife and kids on Christmas. And if you want to play the extended family card, I know there’s a ton of ON readers who didn’t spend Christmas with Mom and Dad this year either (me included), but we didn’t write a blog about how it was our boss’s fault.

    Family: Wife, kids, perhaps mom and dad.

    If you had a high stress job, in which you were away from your family for more than half of the year, and pretty much the only thing on your mind during that time was your job, but you knew there was 2 or 3 days during that year in which you got to go home, spend time with your loved ones, and not think about your job, celebrate and just have a good time. Would you not be mad if that time was taken away from you with no notice?

    I'm not making excuses for the players. I don't care if they had to practice on the 23rd, boo hoo, they get paid to practice, it comes with the job, etc. But I can understand their point of view. The moral in the room seems low enough as it is. Why make it worse by taking away a day from them that they had planned on using to get some much needed time away from the rink?
    I can see MacT's thought process behind getting one good skate in before, what was virtually one day off, but it just feels like really poor timing. There's plenty of time throughout the season to get some skates in, and one morning practice certainly isn't going to turn the team around.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    @ Rick:

    Agreed that the players do need to step it up as well. I also believe that from the beginning of the season there were flaws in Coaching. We all know the out of positioning that went on at thew beginning, the mis-handling of the goaltenders after game 4, etc. At what point does the coaching staff need to look at the players they have, adjust them to positions they are strong at and then employ a strategy that plays to the strengths of the players that they are delt.
    I'd bet Cole was probably beginning to get a little frustrated playing the off wing. it may be somewhat simpler to change wings or positions in beer league but at the NHL level adjusting to another position when you have played another your entire career, and against stronger opposition, is porbably not the easiest transition. Oilers need to put players in a position to suceed, not fail. That falls on coaching.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    hockeyfan wrote:

    @ Rick:
    Agreed that the players do need to step it up as well. I also believe that from the beginning of the season there were flaws in Coaching. We all know the out of positioning that went on at thew beginning, the mis-handling of the goaltenders after game 4, etc. At what point does the coaching staff need to look at the players they have, adjust them to positions they are strong at and then employ a strategy that plays to the strengths of the players that they are delt.
    I’d bet Cole was probably beginning to get a little frustrated playing the off wing. it may be somewhat simpler to change wings or positions in beer league but at the NHL level adjusting to another position when you have played another your entire career, and against stronger opposition, is porbably not the easiest transition. Oilers need to put players in a position to suceed, not fail. That falls on coaching.

    And those are all legitimate critisisms, a bunch of over priveledged nancy boys getting their gonch in a bunch because they were forced to work overtime isn't.

    If the Oilers were 6 games over .500 heading into Christmas and MacT did that then I would have more sympathy, mind you I doubt that they would have had the practice at all if that was case.

    Under achieving requires consequences and, for me, that is all this looks like.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Wonderful wrote:

    boo hoo, the players who have collectively underperformed (but won’t be returning any of their cash) couldn’t open up presents and chug back egg nog –

    @ Wonderful:
    Kevin? Is that you?

    Sincerely Rich Winter.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Rick wrote:

    over priveledged youngsters that don’t understand what comes with being a professional

    Maybe in fact it is you that doesn't understand. What part makes them over priveledged? Players in the NHL have busted their ass since they were 14 to get where they are. Just because they make a shit load more money doesn't mean they haven't worked nearly as hard as you.