With 117 seasons of coaching experience on his resume, Edmonton Oilers bench boss Pat Quinn probably doesn’t need any advice from somebody like me, but he’s going to get it anyway.
By wavering on the win-and-you’re-in edict he issued to goaltenders Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk a few weeks ago, as he did after Sunday’s 5-1 win over the San Jose Sharks, Quinn is not only mixing his messages, he’s doing so at the worst possible time.
After watching Dubnyk grind his way through an 0-8-2 stretch in the first 13 appearances of his rookie season before beating Detroit 3-2 in a shootout Friday, then coming within three minutes of a shutout against the Sharks, Quinn is now re-thinking his approach after a conversation with goaltending coach Frederic Chabot.
Apparently, Chabot is concerned that win-and-you’re-in might leave either Deslauriers or Dubnyk on the outside looking in for too long if the team gets on a roll. Fat chance of that, but that’s his argument.
I get the thinking behind that, but the way I see it, the benefits of letting Dubnyk build confidence as a reward for outstanding efforts in back-to-back games should trump any concerns about Deslauriers having to sit too long at this point in the season.
JDD has had his chance to shine. Dubnyk deserves the same.
STAY THE COURSE
As much as I respect Quinn, I’ve had some difficulties with some of the decisions he’s made this season. You can add abandoning the win-and-you’re-in approach to the list if he listens to Chabot and gives Deslauriers the start against the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday.
We asked Quinn about that possibility again today after it came to light in his availability after the win over San Jose. Nothing in his answer made me think it’s a good idea.
"We’re going to talk about that a little bit," Quinn said. "There’s a decision time coming for this organization in the sense of one of these two young guys.
"While we thought the idea of win and you play is a good one, and could still be a good one, we also don’t want to get anybody isolated in case we run the table out, that sort of thing.
"Whatever our decision is as to how we’re going forward, when we tell our young goaltenders this is what we’re deciding on right now, it has to make some sense and has to have a sense of fairness to it."
Yes, it does. And after Deslauriers, who has made 42 appearances, was given the chance on more than one occasion to stake his claim to the crease with some fine performances, fairness dictates Dubnyk should get the same opportunity, no?
Of course, I suggested months ago that Deslauriers and Dubnyk rotate no matter what the result so that each could stake a claim as back-up to Nikolai Khabibulin going into next season. I liked the idea.
Then again, I can’t say I minded when Quinn suggested he’d stick with the hot hand, either. That was, frankly, because I didn’t see either one of Deslauriers or Dubnyk getting on enough of a roll to keep the other on the bench for any extended period of time.
To change it now, to flip-flop, after Dubnyk hung in and took his lumps behind a thinly disguised AHL defence to put together two outstanding efforts, would be a bad call. It’s one Quinn has to rethink.
THE WAY I SEE IT
— I’m told president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe and GM Steve Tambellini are in Portland taking a look at Nino Niedereiter of the Winterhawks.
I wouldn’t read too much into that because Lowe and Tambellini will look at every player ranked in the first round, and Neidereiter, a right winger ranked 14th among North American skaters, will certainly go in the top 30. The Winterhawks also have a centre, Ryan Johansen, ranked 16th and a defenceman, Troy Rutkowski, ranked 43rd.
— Ales Hemsky skated with the Oilers for the first time since having shoulder surgery today and, NO, he will not return this season.
That said, one good arm and all — he still isn’t healed enough to take any contact — Hemsky looked better shooting and handling the puck while taking a twirl than anybody else on the ice.
— Too bad Theo Peckham is out for the final 10 games with a separated shoulder after ending up on the hurting end of a hit by behemoth Doug Murray because he was coming along nicely.
Peckham will be a younger and cheaper version of Steve Staios for seasons to come, as long as he stays on top of his conditioning. He’s mean as hell, and that’s an element this defensive corps is lacking.
— There’s still no official word from the Oilers medical staff, but as I suggested March 5, expect Ryan Whitney to have off-season surgery on his right foot to correct a defect he’s already had repaired in his left foot.
Whitney had what’s called on osteotomy on his left foot in August 2008 to re-align bones in his foot. Whitney has extremely high arches that lead to chronic pain.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.