The Edmonton Oilers fired Springfield Falcons head coach Jeff Truitt back in early February. The Falcons have struggled mightily this season and Truitt’s replacement, Rob Daum, has made some gains but has been unable to turn the team around.
Here’s what the players in Springfield had to say about Truitt being fired:
“I personally didn’t think he deserved to be fired — he was a great coach — he didn’t make the mistakes out there, we did. We let him down, along with ourselves and I think that he would want us to go out and play hard and do as well as we can for the rest of the season.”
– Springfield Falcons captain Tim Sestito
“We let [Truitt] down and he took the fall for it.”
– Springfield Falcons forward Ryan Stone
“It’s still a shock.”
– Springfield Falcons forward Rob Schremp
“Truitt was well-liked by his players, coaching staff, the media and the team’s staff. But in a results-oriented business, the Falcons weren’t producing.”
– Springfield reporter Frank Sypek
“ [Ryan] O’Marra described Truitt as a player’s coach and made it clear that even though the team has struggled mightily for the last couple of months, there was no dissention and that the coach had not lost the room.”
– Edmonton reporter Guy Flaming
“I asked Reddox if it was fair to say that Truitt was indeed liked by everyone and that he felt the Falcons coach was ‘a player’s coach’. Reddox echoed what O’Marra had told me in that Truitt had the respect of all of the players and that the team was taking responsibility for the poor play upon themselves rather than looking to pass blame to the coaches.”
Where am I going with this? There’s a popular notion that Craig MacTavish has “lost the room” in Edmonton; that players are tuning him out and aren’t willing to try for him.
I don’t spend time in that dressing room, but I haven’t read anything from the reporters who do to indicate that this theory is at all accurate. There’s the odd quote that is mildly critical of MacTavish (Hemsky’s quote yesterday being a good example), but no frequent grumbling.
When asked why they fell MacTavish has lost the room, the common answer I get from proponents of this theory is “look at their record this season” or “do you think they’re playing to potential?”
This is my response. The Falcons have been miserable this season; far worse than the Oilers. Players like Stone, Schremp, O’Marra and Sestito haven’t exactly had banner years, yet they praised the coach despite his firing. In short: a team’s record does not necessarily show how much they like or respect their coach.