The Oilers are in the middle of a tough stretch. They have dropped 5 of their last 7 and a quick look at the upcoming schedule suggests it doesn’t get any easier.

In general, when a team is on a slide the players, coaches, media and fans come up with reasons for the lack of success. Power play, goaltending and mental breakdowns are just three examples we will hear often.

All good areas to look at but I believe the biggest issue preventing a team from turning it around is the ability to generate energy or passion from within the team.

When a team is winning the players can’t wait to get to the rink. They feel fresher, the practices seem shorter and every game feels like it will turn into a win. Ask medical staff and they will tell you that they hand out less ice bags after wins.

After losses players sleep worse, some have trouble eating, the flights seem longer and the medical staff is way busier.

So the million dollar question is ‘where does the energy come from to turn the ship around?’


This Bruce Springsteen song is one of my favourites. One line of the chorus is ‘you can’t start a fire without a spark.’ I love this line. The Oilers need a spark and I know who can provide it.



These two were brought in to not only keep the opposing teams honest but to instigate physical play. They can get the passion flowing for the rest of the team with some hard hits, fights and chirping. These actions will get the bench going. Winning teams have a very vocal bench.

Eager is playing around eight mins a night and Hordichuk about five. Getting these two more ice time is a move I think is important. Yes, it will have to be taken from some other players but when the team gets rolling their time can be adjusted.

I firmly believe hockey is a game that requires both energy and passion. Without them digging out of a hole seems like a tough assignment.

Time to let Eager and Hordichuk run.


Patrick Kane’s shootout move here against the Wild was one of the best I have ever seen.

Loved it.

  • Slick

    Having played elite levels in every sport that can be played in Canada including competitive drinking, I would have to agree that team confidence is key.

    And that physical players that don’t lose a given battle inspire team confidence. The question is will they both succeed? I think Eager can, being a beastly size and a hockey player, but Hordi? How about Eager and Tulipov, there are a couple of Ogres, and perhaps they could set an NHL precedent by fighting each other first, and then beating the daylights out of the other team. Talk about a change in tone for the Oilers.

    Really, I should be GM.

  • Rob...

    Jason, if you’d humor me with an answer, was Steve MacIntyre one of those sparks of a season past? If so, was it the fights, the deterrent factor, or something else? If not Steve, who else provided that bit of extra something to spark the team, and through what actions? Who was the best that you’ve played with at providing that spark and how did they do it?

    • Jason Strudwick

      I love Steve Macintyre and probably the toughest player I was lucky enough to call a team mate. With the way the game is played now though it is difficult for a Big Mac to start a fight to get his team going. For one, he is so tough no one wants or can fight him and two, players say no to fights, something that didn’t happen often before the lockout.

      To be effective in sparking a team players need to do something to get the other team to respond to them. A big hit always seems to be a reason to fight or a run at the other team’s top player or goalie draws a crowd.

      The best player I have played with at getting the other team off their game is Sean Avery. I was always amazed how the he could get a whole team trying to kill him with just a small comment or slash. He truly is a genius in that department. Our team would get energized from his actions, which often caused a few fights and then we were back on track playing with passion.

      Being an Avery type player is a tough job to do and even harder player type to find. When you get one, hold on to him.

      • “The best player I have played with at getting the other team off their game is Sean Avery. I was always amazed how the he could get a whole team trying to kill him with just a small comment or slash. He truly is a genius in that department . . .”

        I’m guessing it has something to do with the fact Avery is a dick through and through in every way you’d care to talk about.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    How come Renney doesn’t let Eager and Hordichuck run rampant every so often? I get the instigator rule(which is dumb) but every so often just say owell we’ll deal with the penalty just get us some energy.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Jason it seems that you have it figured out when it comes to sparking a team, however it seems that Renny has not figured this out.

    Hordichuck and Eager have only played one game together and they were not utilized effectively……..IMHO. By this I mean should they not play a more regular shift and be cycled through some of the top lines occasionally? Semenko use to occasionally play with Kurri and Gretzky and when this happened it was amazing the respect and room they got on the ice.

    Do you think that our tough guys are being effectively used to “generate this spark”‘ that you are referring to? It seems to me that there is a philosophical indifference to using tough guys by Renny and company.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Jason, your buddy Devan Dubnyk isn’t doing so hot. Are you guys in need of a goaltender over there?

    Need someone here who can stop the puck. Doobey isn’t cutting it.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Another beauty from Struddy!

    I wonder how easy it is to stay in touch with the North American game over there in Sweden?

    I also really enjoyed the Kane goal, he beat Backstrom like a Buffalo Cabbie!… Too soon?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Mark Messier was rumored to abuse some of his team mates physically when they did not put out a decent effort. Someone like him is sorely missing on the current team. Some of these guys need a little fear to be put into their heart.
    How about Mark as coach and Doug as GM. Things certainly can not get any worse.

  • Rob...

    Thanks Jason, and Merry Christmas… only two more years to go before kids stop being interested in the wrapping paper and boxes and start enjoying their gifts.