MacT and the future of the Oilers


As the Oilers signed sticks, pictures, jerseys and said goodbye after another disappointing season, all of the buzz around the locker room was whether Craig MacTavish would resign or not.

I’ve said it all season that if they missed the playoffs he would step aside, and it seems that announcement will be made official later this week.

MacTavish opened his press conference saying he wouldn’t answer any question regarding his future. He will speak with Steve Tambellini tomorrow and Wednesday, but MacTavish did say that his future plans will be made public later this week.

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The biggest statement, and the one that confirms he will step aside in my opinion, was when he stated, “The thing most disappointing for me was that our culture took a hit; in terms of our work ethic, our selflessness and the universal commitment that we had here for so many years. There were a lot of nights as a coach I had to ask for more and sometimes the tank was pretty empty. It was difficult year for sure.”

That sounds like a coach who is wondering whether he can get the most out of his players. Whether you like or hate MacTavish, you can’t question his commitment to the team. When he leaves later this week, it will be because he feels that this group of players and him just don’t gel.

MacTavish has to shoulder some of the blame as well.

He didn’t throw any players under the bus. When asked about Penner, he said that he had already commented enough on Dustin this season and didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

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Regarding Nilsson, he said he made strides at times, but once again fought inconsistency. Not really what I would call throwing players under the bus. I think a more direct message was when Penner, Nilsson and Brodziak were in the pressbox on Saturday. A final message or possible parting shot from the coach came in that move more than what he said today.

Tambellini’s in charge

While the optics make it fair to question how much control Steve Tambellini has, I was told today that he is the boss.

Does Tambellini ask Kevin Lowe for his opinion on certain matters? Yes. Does Lowe go to Tambellini with suggestions? No.

The plan, as I was told today, was to bring in Tambellini and let him assess the team for the year. It is clear now, that this team was not as good as the organization thought they were and now it is up to Tambellini to start the renovations.

Tambellini will put his fingerprints on this team ranging from the coaching, to veterans moving out and which youngsters will be coming in. It would be unrealistic to expect massive trades and a complete purging of the team, but don’t be surprised to see at least one, if not two, significant player moves over the summer.

Oilers at the worlds

The golf season will be delayed a few more weeks for certain members of the Oilers. Tom Gilbert and Patrick O’Sullivan will suit up for the USA at the worlds. Denis Grebeshkov will play for Russia, Ales Hemsky and Ales Kotalik will play for the Czech Republic and Dwayne Roloson has confirmed he will wear the maple leaf, with Shawn Horcoff committed to playing as well. Robert Nilsson hasn’t been asked yet and he hinted he has some injuries, so even if a call comes, which is doubtful, he won’t be playing for Sweden.

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Stanley Cup and Regular Season tidbits

The Columbus Blue Jackets will finally play in a playoff game when they battle the Red Wings in round one. Will the Steve Mason v. Chris Osgood matchup allow the Jackets to pull off the major upset?

Only one team has ever won the Stanley Cup the first year they made the playoffs. The Leafs did it back in 1918. The Florida Panthers came close in 1996 when the lost in the Finals. The Habs (1918) the Bruins (1927) and the Blues (1968) are the other teams that lost the final the first year they made the playoffs.

Sixteen teams lost in the first round. Anaheim, San Jose (who beat Detroit in 1994), Washington, Phoenix, the Islanders, Pittsburgh and Dallas all won one round. The Wild won two rounds in 2003.

Don’t pick the Jackets to win the Cup, but 14 of the previous 29 teams have won at least one series during their first trip to the dance.

  • Claude Lemieux will try to become only the second player to win a Cup with four different teams. Jack Marshall is the other.
  • Olli Jokinen will play in his first playoff game after 799 regular season games.
  • The last time the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, they finished the season with 119 points. They had 116 this year, their highest total since 1972.

  • Rob

    I hope you are right about Mact. The interview today left me uncertain. Will management blame the players as always or will the coach have to take some blame as well this time???

  • RossCreek

    Off topic, but Gregor, you mentioned Lemaire to Montreal. I know things can change, but I've heard him in the past state that he had no interest in ever coaching in Montreal.
    Also, did he specifically say he was interested in coaching elsewhere, or that he was interested in another job in hockey. Could he be interested in a GM role for instance, perhaps in Colorado??

    And speaking of GM's, Minnesaota should be looking for a new one. But I suspect he'll have another year with a new coach before he may feel the heat.

  • rindog

    Gregor – please don't take this as an " I told you so" or a "in your face" type of reply.

    I simply have some questions???

    What would you (or any any other media mogul) say to those people who have been saying that MacT is not the right man for this team (and hasn't been for some time)?Why is it okay to now say his time has come? What would have making the playoffs this year changed?

    What also does it say about the management team – when average Joe Fan could see that there was a disconnect between the players and the coach all season?

    There were many points in this season that a coaching change could have (and should have) been made – why wasn't it?

    MacT mentions the selfishness of the players?? What about the selfishness/stubornness of the management to not make the change?

    We essentially wasted a season (in which a post season birth was easily attainable) to see if a worn out coach could muster up one last kick at the cat?

    Finally, for all of those people that feel sorry for MacT?? The fact that he would send that message to Penner, Nilsson and Brodziak at the end of the season is laughable (if not for the fact that is so, so sad).

    What kind of coach uses his position to take pot shots at players? Maybe Tambellini should have benched MacT for the last couple of games – because MacT sure didn't get the message after a full season either??

    Gregor we have had many discussions regarding the coach (which have taken away from some good debate regarding our players). I look forward to a new coaching staff so we can actually focus on the players and whether or not they have what it takes to be a playoff team.

    In a year from now – I will have no problem admitting that we may not have the right players (if a new coach with a different philosophy comes in and bombs). Until that happens – I will finally be able to look at this team with optimism instead of the dark cloud of pessimism that MacT has forced me to endure.

  • Rice

    rindog wrote:

    I look forward to a new coaching staff so we can actually focus on the players and whether or not they have what it takes to be a playoff team.

    two things…1 changing the coach isn't going to stop the fans from picking apart their style. 2 changing the coach wont be enough to take them to the post season.

  • jdrevenge

    @ RossCreek:

    I'm in the MTL right now and the fans are losing their mind over this team. It appears that the Russian/Czech clique is running the team and doesnt want to listen to anybody. They have a tonne of guys hitting free agency this year so maybe Lemaire wouldnt want to start from scratch… He's getting pretty old and the well here in terms of prospects isnt overly deep.

  • RossCreek

    Here’s my list of potential head coaches for the Oil:

    Scott Arniel
    Marc Habscheid
    Paul MacLean
    Kevin Dineen
    Marc Crawford
    Randy Cunneyworth
    Willie Desjardins
    Dale Hunter
    Perry Pearn
    Peter Laviolette
    Pat Quinn

    Missing anyone with a legitimate shot??