Pat Quinn: the truth? You can’t handle the truth

So, I wonder how Pat Quinn’s honesty will play in the Edmonton Oilers dressing room, given all the trouble former coach Craig MacTavish talked himself into last season by speaking his mind.

I’m not sure, but Quinn made some less-than-flattering remarks about Ales Hemsky and Mike Comrie today during his availability with reporters after practice at Rexall Place.

Last season under MacTavish, the kind of criticism Quinn offered up today was characterized time after time as "MacTavish throwing Penner under the bus" or "MacTavish throwing Nilsson under the bus" and blah, blah, blah.

People who latch on to catch-all phrases that mutate into inaccurate or meaningless jargon, people who say "at the end of the day" or "methinks," should be thrown under the bus or backed over by my Navigator, even, but I digress.

Telling it straight

Quinn was praising the practice habits and work ethic of journeyman Dean Arsene today. Then, he turned his attention to Hemsky in a question posed by Mark Connolly of CBC, who noted that associate coach Tom Renney had engaged in an animated discussion with No. 83 this morning.

Quinn said:

"Again, as a coach, you try to have… Our job is to help these guys get better. I mean, it really is. When you’re putting in an effort to try to help them be better and some guys don’t seem to value that effort that you’re making because they have their own habits or maybe they don’t need to practice that hard, they think in their minds game day is tomorrow, I’ll turn it on tomorrow.

"They’re the guys who often kid themselves. Yes, they’ve got great talent, but, you know what? We’ve missed the playoffs two bloody years in a row and five of the last eight, so, at the end of the day [oops], you’ve got to start saying, ‘Well, wait a minute. Talent is what?’ Talent is part of it, but we need a bigger package. How do you get the bigger package? Well, you ask people to work."

Of course, Quinn meant to say "three straight years" out of the playoffs, but that was probably just a slip on his part. I’m sure he knows it’s three years — I’ll be sure to remind him in the hope of generating even better quotes. I’m also intrigued about getting that bigger package, but…

While Hemsky has been productive, albeit streaky, this season, he’s no workhorse at practice. He’s off the ice, showered and gone long before the grunts even get into the dressing room. In all the years I’ve covered the Oilers, only Joni Pitkanen got gone faster.

On Comrie

As for Comrie, who is out with mononucleosis, his name came up in a discussion about using Penner in shootouts. Quinn, to understate, wasn’t impressed with a move Comrie made during the shootout in Ottawa — Junior B stuff, where he tipped the toe of his blade down toward the puck before letting a shot go.

Quinn said:

"I don’t feel uncomfortable using him [Penner] there. On that particular night, if I’m not mistaken, I’d watched Comrie turn his stick over and screw around in Ottawa. He wasn’t going to get a chance again, I guarantee you that. If you want to clown around on my time, then, you know…"

For my money, Quinn calling it like he sees it is not only refreshing, but a godsend to reporters, who too often have to try to spin cliches and pat answers into something worth repeating.

While MacTavish was guilty of cutting the same cows out of the herd too often, namely Penner and Nilsson, and seemed to be doing so out of a mounting sense of frustration rather than as a way to get a meaningful message across, Quinn doesn’t come across like that.

I’m guessing Hemsky and Comrie won’t like what was said today, but too bad. It’s not like they’ve been singled out time after time, as MacTavish fell into the habit of doing with Penner and Nilsson.

The Oilers are 9-10-3, so there’s lots of criticism to go around. From where I sit, the old coach is calling it as he sees it and dishing out that criticism with an even hand.

— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

  • Been a looooooooong week without internet access… well… I could read on my phone, but for some reason, ever since the upgraded Nations, I cannot comment from my phone.

    Anyways… what'd I miss… uuuummmmmmmm, let me see…

    Shouts out to all that 'missed me' (and vice versa)

      • Thanks man 🙂

        *wipes away single tear drop*

        A Flames fan says Sutter must go? Blasphemy! That phugly pussi, Herman Munster-looking muthaph… Dion Frankeneuf best be gone b4 either Sutter moves on!

        YAAAAAA! FLAMES UP 3-2!

        *now back to our regularily scheduled rant*

        … Fcuk 'sloppy seconds' Phaneuf.

        Well, not exactly. I may have got carried away there, but I'm sure some of you's were loving that. I don't mind Dion, but to question 'Lord Sutter' (this goes for any Sutter… except the drunk one) is NOT COOL, MAN.

        In any case, this is one Flames fan who'd take Seabrook & Weber over Phaneuf 7 days a week. Bouwmeester is SO DAMN GOOD!

  • @ Jeanshorts

    It is (bad but not bad enough) and I share your frustration. 9th – 13th does't cut it…go one way or another.

    Just saying though, selling off Souray, Vish, Bullin and replacing them from whithin would be the logical "rebuild" step…. could you handle watching this team, without those three for the next couple of years and then ending up with a bust, 2 second liners and a 2nd pairing dman with your 1st rounders….that's very possible.

    • One of Souray or Vish should be kept around to anchor the D and help groom the Smid's and Grebeshkovs. It's the Pisani's, Nilsson's, Moreau's and Staio's that they need to get rid of somehow. Easier said than done I know, but there are far too many guys on this team, making way too much money to play a role that can easily be filled, and sometimes filled far better by guys already in the system, for a fraction of the cost.

      And again drafting is a slippery slope, especially with the track record this team has. But something has to give. Whatever strategy this team has been using for the last decade or so (try to land a giant free agent, pick up mediocre NHL'ers to try and fill the gaps, etc) clearly isn't working.

      I feel the same way about how this team is being built, that I did about MacT. What they're doing isn't the worst thing in the world, but it's probably time to look at going in a different direction.

    • I think what I was trying to say in regards to cutting loose the players that seem useless and make too much money, is that I'm not against getting rid of these "NHL'ers" in favor of dressing a half Falcons squad. And I'm not guaranteeing that would make us drop in the standings enough to get a high draft pick, but. umm. yeah. I still have no idea what I'm trying to say.

      In conclusion- drafting high, good. Finishing in the middle of the pack 20 years in a row, not so good.

  • Mitch

    Maybe just maybe what Quinn is pointing out will hit home with Hemsky and he will take his game to another level.Hemsky talks about wanting to be the leader but only shows very limited flashes.John Muckler was the one who pointed out that Gretzky was the greatest player he had ever seen but also the hardest worker in practise. Dean Arsene is like RUDY right now, All the players could learn from Arsene. The Edmonton Oilers have a whole roster of players who are not willing to pay the price wether it be a practise or a game.

  • devilsadvocate

    Robin Brownlee is annoying! As i drive home from work all i hear about is media guys complaining about how a guy practices. The only guy on our team that can even be considered a legitimate elite player and we start carving him because he doesn't stay on the ice after his job is done. When 330 hits and my workday is complete…I must admit that i like getting out the door to continue on with the other things in my life. Im sure Hemsky feels the same. I could understand if it was a player like Gilbert or neilson or maybe even o sullivan taking off right away might ruffle a few feathers because of their underachievement, but we are talking about Hemsky! It doesn't make sense.