MacT and the future of the Oilers

backtothefuture

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??

  • rindog

    @ Rice:

    changing the coach wont be enough to take them to the post season

    How can you know that? Even with all of the turmoil of the season; we controlled our playoff destiny with less than 10 games left. If we would have went 6-4 down the stretch – we would have been in. Is 6-4 really that much to ask of a team? Especially considering that 3 of the losses were to team that were not playoffs teams…

  • RossCreek

    jdrevenge wrote:

    @ 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.

    ??
    "…I’ve heard him in the past state that he had no interest in ever coaching in Montreal."

    So are you stating basically the same as I did, Rwha?

  • RossCreek

    rindog wrote:

    @ RossCreek:
    I would like to see if Kirk Muller is available?

    For the Oil?
    What makes you think he's more qualified than the names I mentioned? Just wondering (no disrespect).

  • rindog

    @ RossCreek:

    I don't think he is more qualified

    I just think he would be a good fit. He understands the offensive side of the game. He demands respect. He is ultra-competitive. He knows what it takes to win. And most importantly; I think he knows the simple team philosophy that in order for a team to be succesful-you have to let your best players – be your best players….

  • I said it back in November that Mac t had lost the room and was told that was not the case because none of the players had come out and said so.I think he did himself in by throwing two of his players (Penner and Neilson)under the bus,This was the begging of his undoing you cannot expect players on the team to support Mac T when their teammates are being blasted in the media,he then has a AHL player playing on his top line, what do you think the guys on the team where thinking about their coach when they saw that? How about Hemsky what do you think his take was on the situation having to play with Reddex when Mac T was benching Penner I think given the choice he would have prefered to play with Penner than Reddex.If Mac t is gone look at Pennner,Neilson and a few other guys on this team to have career years, Mac T found ways to have these guys lose interest and they where not going to play for him under any circumstance.

  • RossCreek

    Reggie wrote:

    What about Boris Rybalka from the Camrose Kodiaks ? or is that too out in left field since he has no AHL or NHL experience.

    Too far out in left field.
    As an Assistant, perhaps.
    AHL seasoning would be more likely, although I think Boris has a pretty sweet gig in Camrose, and might be more interested in an Assistant job at the NHL level than an AHL gig. I could be wrong on that though.

  • Jacob

    "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."

    Let me start out by saying that I'm not insinuating that these events are strongly correlated, however, it seems interesting to me that we won the game with Penner, Nilsson, and Brodziak, and lost the game with those three in the pressbox.

    Nilsson wasn't outstanding against the Flames, but did manage to come away +1. No shots on goal, though, so I can kind of see that one.

    Penner? Six shots in ten minutes of ice time, second only to O'Sullivan, who had 8 in almost 17 minutes. Penner was also plus one.

    Brodziak had two assists.

    So, as far as I'm concerned, in that regard, no real message was sent there. (Aside from despite how well you play, if the coach just flat out doesn't like you, you may end up sitting anyway.)

  • West Coast Oil

    Give me Scott Arniel as a new coach. The guy has been super succesful in Manitoba with a boatload of prospects who werent blue chippers and a journeyman AHL goaltender for most of his coaching career!

  • rindog

    @ Jacob:

    And yet guys like Moreau and Staios were never benched once.

    Aren't they our leaders that lead us to this season?

    Did they do their jobs?

    MacT = Consistently, inconsistent!!!!

  • RossCreek

    West Coast Oil wrote:

    Give me Scott Arniel as a new coach. The guy has been super succesful in Manitoba with a boatload of prospects who werent blue chippers and a journeyman AHL goaltender for most of his coaching career!

    I'm thinking along those lines as well. I've been throwing out Habschied's name for the last year or two for the Oil. I still think he'd be a good pick. I know he's a former Oiler, but I wouldn't consider him a member of the "old boys club". Maybe he'd be kind of a happy-medium for both sides of the ex-Oiler/anti-exOiler.

    Scott Arniel may infact be the right man for the job.

    (Did he run Buffalo's PP a few years back when it was clicking pretty good? Anyone?)

  • Mark

    @ Rob: come on people. stop looking at this team like an Oiler fan and give them an honest shake:
    – your top scorer finished #75 in goals and #46 in overall points (just north of some dude named James Neal).
    – your second highest scoring player was Souray (a defenceman)
    – your starting goaltender was dealt here after losing the starting job somewhere else – and not to mention has left his best days behind him.
    – you have a solid core team of very young players that need a lot of development (Gagne proved that this year)

    In short, the Oilers don't have a playoff worthy team. I think Mac T did the best with what he was given. A bunch of overpaid, solid, but probably second line on any top 10 team players.

    Get this simple fact into your heads: no one wants to play here. The Western conference sucks because you have to travel way more as a player, Edmonton weather sucks, and whether you want to admit it or not most guys making 7 mil a year would pick a lot of other places to call home.

    If Edmonton really wants to put together another truly worthy cup contender (rather than a barely playoff worthy team that gets hot at the right time), we need to draft better players. I don't mean, hey this dude could be a solid 60 point scorer in 7 years, I mean names like Crosby, Teows, Kane, Malkin, Gaborik, etc etc. TOP players. ELITE players. The only way you do that is by sh**ing the bed for a few years. Instead of always trying to scrape by and make the playoffs by over paying and clinging to scraps the Oil need to REBUILD by tanking and getting better draft picks. Teams like Pittsburgh, Washington, Tampa have all done it. If we want this to be the city of champions again we're going to need to suck it up and check our pride for a few years.

    Until then quit blaming a decent coach for doing his best with a mediocre team.

    Lace 'em up – it's gut check time!

  • rindog

    Some food for thought????

    Don't get me wrong – I will be ecstatic when MacT resigns!!!

    But, does matter if he resigns or gets fired?

    Is there a message (from management) to be sent (or not sent) either way??