Ken Hitchcock has been a head coach in the NHL for 15 seasons, and he’s earned a reputation of being a very demanding coach. Last year, Hitchcock told me he’s changed his coaching style a bit. He isn’t as demanding on non-game days as he was when he coached the Stars and Flyers, but on game days players still need to play the way he wants or they likely won’t play.

Hitchcock gave me some insight into David Perron, and he also shed some light on how he plans to alter Magnus Paajarvi’s game.

Perron is, and will be, a better offensive player than Paajarvi, but what was it that Hitchcock and the Blues saw in Paajarvi that they liked?

I asked Hitchcock where Paajarvi would fit amongst the Blues’ forwards.  

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We saw the chemistry he had with [Patrik] Berglund in the World Championships because I coached in those Championships. So we see him and Berglund as a pair and then whether we use [Vladimir] Tarasenko or [T.J.] Oshie, we’ll see. We feel he’s a third line player, a real defined third line player that is going to be able to kill off penalties and we’re banking on the chemistry that he and Bergman had in the World Championships continue. They’re good friends, they get along well together and we see that as a real positive for us. We don’t see him as a top-six for us right now, we see him as this defined third line guys that’s going to fit in well. 

One of the things that the trade does is that it really does open up ice time for [Jaden] Schwartz and Tarasenko. Both of these guys played great last year, we need to create space and time for them.

We know that David is a good player; Perron is going to be a really good player for Edmonton. He’s more than a scorer too, he’s a really competitive guy, and we used him a lot to kill penalties. He can play in every situation and we know he’s going to be a really good player.

But with Magnus we feel that we got some definition on that third line which we didn’t have before and we think that he’s going to add a lot to our group. He’ll probably get 10 to 20 goals and as I said he and Bergie are going to be able to play against top players. 

After watching Paajarvi for the past few seasons I felt he would be a solid third line player, rather than a top-six forward, so it makes sense listening to Hitchcock’s evaluation of him. It is interesting to note that he plans on using him against top players, although playing with Berglund will help. Paajarvi has world class speed, and the Blues desperately needed more speed in their lineup.  

The one criticism of Paajarvi has been his unwillingness to use his size to his advantage. He is still a young player, so he has time to work on that, and when Brownlee asked Hitchcock about Paajarvi’s style of play, the Blues’ coach very quickly outlined how he plans to enhance Paajarvi’s game. 

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I know what you’re saying Robin and the question is are we going to get him to play through people, and the answer is yes. We’re going to get him to play through people. I know what you’re saying; there is a difference between playing to people and playing through people. In St. Louis we had the same challenge with three or four other forwards; Jayden Schwartz was the same was, he used to just play to people. T.J. Oshie was the same way, we were able to make those guys and get them to adjust, Valdimir Sobotka, the same thing, we were able to show them the difference, explain to them how to do it and then put mechanisms in place and sometimes the bear in the woods had to come out. But we got ‘er done and they learned how to do it properly and we feel very confident that Magnus will be able to do that for us in very short order.

Hitchcock has a plan for Paajarvi, and he isn’t afraid to be hard on young players to get their attention. He won’t shy away from bringing out his "bear in the woods" persona to get their attention.

Listening to Hitchcock talk about getting players to play through people and to people was awesome. I’ve said for years the Oilers have been too soft. Sadly, many felt that comment means they have to fight more, and that isn’t the case at all.

I love a good tilt now and again, but they Oilers don’t need a heavyweight, they need to be more competitive and play harder. Hitch’s definition of playing through people rather than to them makes perfect sense, and I’ll be curious to see if Dallas Eakins tries to employ a similar mindset in Edmonton.

Jonathan Toews is a great example of a skilled player who plays through people, not just to them. How often in the past five years have you seen the Oilers coast towards the opposition. They haven’t been dogged on the forecheck, and they don’t create enough turnovers.

It is clear Hitchcock is going to challenge Paajarvi to alter his game and play through people. I hope Eakins does the same with the Oilers.

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When Craig MacTavish acquired Perron I thought it was a great trade for the Oilers, mainly because they got the better player. Some wondered why the Blues would part with a skilled, young player. Hitchcock explained why Perron was available. 

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I think that everybody knows it was obvious. We all know the financial situation in order to fit everybody under the cap and being in the position of having to sign Stewart, Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo we knew we were going to be in a squeeze. We’re going to be a cap team, like a lot of team, but we needed to make sure that we had everything in order. 

The biggest thing for me with David is that when he puts the work in ahead of the skill, he’s an impact player. He’s a defined top six guy, he’s going to have a huge impact on the game, but he’s no different than anyone else. The Oilers have had guys to learn that over time.

When you put the skill in over the work, you know what happens, you end up maybe scoring goals, but you end up a minus player. David really improved last year in putting the work in ahead of the skill, and if he does that I think that everybody in Edmonton will be thrilled by him. But he’s like a lot of other young guys, it’s hard to do that every night. Sometimes he fell off a little bit and he’s having to learn that. He’d be the first guy to tell you that he’s starting to recognize when he does and doesn’t do it. If he can reach that stage where he does it every night, he’s going to be a hard guy to play against. 

Again Hitchcock nailed it. You have to put the hard work ahead of the skill. Every hockey fan can see the Oilers have loads of skill in Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, Sam Gagner, Justin Schultz and Perron. However, if the Oilers are going to succeed this season, Eakins needs to improve the overall effort of the team.

I’ve debated for years that the Oilers don’t work hard enough on a nightly basis to win in the NHL. last year they showed they were good enough to compete, however, they didn’t learn how to find that competitive level every night. It is the main reason why they could win 6-2 one night and then get dominated in the next few games.

The good teams not only have elite level skill, they have incredibly high work ethic. Having experience is a major plus as well, because some nights when they feel sluggish they can rely on experience and smarts to make the right plays.

I don’t want the Oilers to play the same style as the Blues, and frankly I don’t think they could, but it would be great to adopt or employ the two traits that Hitchcock outlined; play through people and put work ahead of skill consistently.

I’m not suggesting the Oilers abandon their skill, far from it, but you can’t win in the NHL on skill alone. The Oilers aren’t the only team with elite skill.

Do the Oilers have more proven skill in their top six than the Ducks, Kings, Canucks or Sharks? I didn’t think so.

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If Eakins can convince the Oilers to increase their competitive drive on a nightly basis, then they will be competitive. If not, they are destined to extend their playoff drought to eight seasons.


  • OilClog


    How exactly are the Oilers top 6 “unproven”

    “Proof” to me would be evidence of the point you are trying to make. Both Hall and Eberle have finished top 15 in the NHL in scoring, in the last 2 seasons. RNH should have won the Calder, and Yakupov was in the conversation. You dont get Calder nominations if you’re a nobody, and you’re not producing. Perron and Gagner are easily steady, if not high scoring 2nd line players.

    Inexperienced? sure. Unproven? I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

    “well, they haven’t won!” So Raymond Bourque before his trade to Colorado was “unproven”, Dave Andreychuk, Rod Brind’Amour. Winning is a byproduct of a good team, not being a “proven” player. Is Bouwmeester proven?

    “they haven’t put up points like the other guys”. If I score 8 goals a game, in 3 straight games, and you get 6, in a 30 game season, guess what? I am a better skilled hockey player, period. Full stop.

    LA has one guy (Kopitar) higher than .65 PPG career in their top 6, Van 2 (Sedins’), SJ has 2 (Marleau, Thornton), Anaheim has 3 (Getzlaf, Perry, Selanne)

    Oilers have Hall 0.84, Eberle, 0.8, RNH, 0.75, and Yakupov at the cut off 0.65.

    Assuming correctly, that the first 2-3 seasons on the average NHL career are not as high scoring as seasons 5-8, the Oilers top 6 is already better than their competition, and as you mentioned, still on their way up. SJ,Vancouver,Anaheim are either cresting, or already starting to decline.

    • Jason Gregor

      If you want to debate have accurate stats. Jeff Carter averages more than .65 PPG, but don’t let the facts get in a way of a rant. I didn’t bother looking up more players, but Carter was the first one I checked.

      Jim Carey won a Calder, not lose it, did it guarantee his success?

      The Oilers top six was all here last year, what did it get them? 24th. I guess that means they are great.

      Until they learn to play in every zone, they aren’t as proven as the Kings, Canucks and Ducks best players.

      The Sharks and Canucks are aging, I never said they weren’t, but the Oilers aren’t as proven as them. If they learn to play in every zone they should be very good, but they haven’t thus far.

      Love the Oilers all you want, but all they have proven is they have elite skill some nights, but haven’t been able to do is consistently as a group.

      • Crispy

        You can’t blame the 24th place finish on the top 6 forwards. Don’t you think it might have a bit more to do with our awful defence last year, or having 3-4 line players who were “at best a non-factor”? (Quoting Mac T)

        I think your definition of proven skill is a bit ambiguous. I think we have one of the most skilled top 6 in the league right now, not just potentially skilled.

    • J

      It’s called backchecking. Quote PPG all you want but it means nothing when the skilled primadonnas allow more goals than they score. It’s time the coaching staff, media and fans start asking the players why they don’t put in an EFFORT to play the full 200 feet of rink. Hitchcock will do it to Paajarvi and I can only hope that Eakins will do it to Gagner, Eberle and Hemsky (yeah I’m looking hard at those 3 in particular).

  • I believe Hitch is more capable of getting Paajarvi to play phyisically than Krueger or Renney. Not sure why, a gut feeling I guess. The other two strike me as Xs and Os but Hitch has a bit of a fire to him. That might not mean a thing, but its the impression I got.

  • T__Bone88

    I wish Paajarvi could of worked out here in Edm as a 2nd/3rd line LW but I won’t complain about bringing in Perron. I absolutely agree that there needs to be more complete from this team to be successful. Looking at how the Oilers can possibly make the playoffs is through the cross-over unless Anaheim or Vancouver regresses which I don’t see happening.

    I keep picturing Hitchcock to be posing with 80’s Hulk Hogan in that photo.

  • LinkfromHyrule

    lol bear in the woods, that’s funny.

    Hitchcock strikes me as a guy with an amazing understanding of the game. If anyone can coach paajarvi into a better player, it’s him. I just don’t think Oilers management/coaching was capable of bringing him to that next level.

    I hope Eakins has a similar philosophy to Hitchcock, it would do WONDERS for this team. Competing on a nightly basis almost seems like a foreign concept.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Raising the effort level could be a tougher chore than first thought for MacTavish/Eakins. After 3 yrs of throwing their sticks out there everynight, and losing being their best option, these kids know where that acceptable level of commitment rests at in this market.

    Eakins might be biting off more than he can chew in his rookie coaching year. Hopefully Perron,Gordon and Ference can bring some of that Hitch/Tippet type work ethic with them. Work ethic should be rewarded when it comes to whose wearing a letter on their jersey this season.

  • Ducey

    Do the Oilers have more proven skill in their top six than the Ducks, Kings, Canucks or Sharks? I didn’t think so.

    Vancouver?? You have to be kidding me. They have the twins, a broken down Kesler, and then Burrows, Higgins and Hansen. Not even close JG.

    SanJose has Wingels, Burns (a guy just converted from D), an aging Marleau, and Raffi “headshot” Torres as their top wingers. I’ll take the Oiler’s wingers.

    ANA has Penner, Cogliano, and Palmeiri in their top 6.

    I think you vastly underestimate the strength of the Oilers top 6. Its the 3rd line and defense that has been the problem.

    • French Toast Mafia

      As much as you may want to hate on other teams top 6 players like an aging Marleau, headshot Torres, or the twins in Vancouver those team are much much much better than the oilers.

      Arguing that the oilers have players that are way better then other teams is just not correct. If it were they wouldn’t finish about 30 points behind those teams every year.

      Hack on San Jose’s team all you want but it doesn’t change the fact that a line of Thornton-Torres-Marleau is going to walk all over the Oilers, only exception being Hall.

  • O.C.

    I hate trolls but this is too important.

    As reported by Tim Wharnsby Bodog’s official worldwide betting line for odds to win the next Cup.

    Canucks. 16:1
    Oil 20:1

    This isn’t some guy betting with his heart.

    Oil are favored over Caps, Flyers, and every other Canadian team.

    Resume regular programming. I hate trolls so yes, I liked MPS but change was needed.

        • DSF

          You’re assuming Leafs fans would be willing to plunk down their dollars that the Leafs would win the cup.

          They’re not that delusional.

          Vegas odds makers set the line to make themselves the most money….they don’t care who wins and likely know f all about hockey.

          • O.C.

            Disagree. People are people. If anything, it explains how the leafs are a fave over the Sens. Still, it’s an opening line. Be more interesting as pre-season starts.

          • GVBlackhawk

            That was in reference to your statement that “bettors” will bet with their hearts. People do it all the time…and usually lose a lot of money.

            Vegas odds makers definitely set the line to make themselves the most money. They don’t know much about hockey strategy and tactics, per se, but they do have complex algorithms that they use to come up with their odds. And they are very accurate.

      • O.C.

        Who, Tyler? Wait, what?

        A betting line is a relative sampling as to how the sports populace perceive teams. More than that?

        Odd how the sporting community sees Vancouver that low or Edmonton that high? I wouldn’t put Oil before Caps or ROC, would you?

        There is no explanation.

        • J

          There is an explanation, sports books don’t just make up numbers and betting odds based on team perception.

          They understand the market for each team and the tendencies of their fan base to bet on their team. Edmonton and Nashville might have the same chances of winning the cup (Just and example, don’t start ranting about how much better the Oilers top 6 are), but sports books know there is much more interest in the Edmonton market and therefore will give Edmonton worse payout odds (20-1 vs. 30-1) to protect themselves because they may have 50% more people bet on Edmonton than Nashville.

          The other factor that separates Edmonton from other hockey crazy markets is the disposable income and wealth in Edmonton compared to many other markets. It’s no coincidence there are so many 6/49 and Lotto Max winners from in and around Edmonton. We love to gamble and have the money to do it. Sports books and Odds makers know it.

          • French Toast Mafia

            We are just another drop in the bucket when it comes to gambling . Has little to do with the odds when it comes to our home team . Lotto 649 and Lotto max almost always goes to Ontario and Quebec , B.Columbia and only occasionally here in Alberta . Don’t believe me check it out for yourself for umpteen years . We spend /capita much more than we proportionately receive . We gamble but very few high rollers and conglomerates compared to other major cities . You make bold statements that bear little fruit in actuality . Where did you learn these myths ?

          • J

            Sorry madjam, I didn’t know I needed to cite references on the comments page. But if you insist; here we go…

            According to a 2011 Stats Canada report Albertans spent an average of $785/year on gambling. madjam, do you know where that ranks Albertans on money spent towards gambling? Number 1!

            Our friends to the east, Saskatchewan were #2 at $735 per capita each year (there are a few Oilers fans there).

            Any guesses on how much the average person from BC, Ontario or Quebec spent on gambling?

            BC – $450/year
            Ontario – $490/year
            Quebec – $375/year

            But you’re probably right, people that set lines would’t care about the fact that Oilers fans spend almost twice on much on gambling in any given year than fans of most other Canadian teams.

            madjam, If you decide to call me out on you might want to make sure your facts are accurate.

          • J

            I don’t dispute that madjam. The point I’m making, and you decided to argue against is, betting odds are impacted by a teams fan base and their capacity and willingness to bet for their team. It’s much more than as you put it, “a drop in the bucket”.

            The Oilers have a large & loyal fan base with strong disposable income. It effects the line and makes it a poor bet for the value. Bodog has the Oilers with 9th best odds of winning the cup, I would strongly argue against them being the 9th best team in the league.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Proven? They have proven they might show up every few games, but they have not proven anything serious until they take this team to the playoffs-for starters. Flip passes and through-the-legs circus stuff is good for the back rink, but in the Show these kids haven’t out-proven the likes of Getzlaf,Perry,Sedins,Kesler,Kopitar,Richards,Carter….they still have zero playoff experience.

    Potential is a different story, but this is part of the problem with the jaded view of a lot us Oiler fans…..we have been in the basement for YEARS….playoff-less for 7….to compare Stanley Cup champions to Spring golfers is ridiculous. Gregor is 100% correct here.

  • J

    Yes jason;
    you would take 12 stortini’s over 12 perron’s
    You would have all the hard work you want

    Gregor? basing a team result to rate a player over another.

    It is a shame Ray Bourque could not be a quality player until his last year in the league.

  • Citizen David

    Pajaarvi is a 3rd liner on a Stanley Cup contender? DSF must be losing his mind.

    Hall Nuge and Ebs already can play with the big boys and generate more offence than they give up. The second line hasn’t yet. But don’t be surprised if this is the year.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    Imagine the players we could acquire if we decided to trade:

    Hall, Eberle, Hopkins, Yakupov, Perron and Gagner…

    That’s how we know our top six is unbelievable, the value of these players are ridiculous… We have 6 solid assets in our top six, while most teams only have 2-3…

    • DSF

      Imagine the players Vancouver could get if they traded the Sedins, Burrows, Kesler, Hamhuis, Edler and Bieksa.

      It’s a silly game.

      All that matter is how many points each team accumulates next season.

      • nuge2drai

        Oiler Domination To Follow

        Your comparing our roster and top six to the peronial western conference champions. You put up 4 forwards, the defenseman were not needed. I’m sure J Shultz, Petry, Smid, Nurse and Klefbom have value.

        My point is our top six is the most valuable in the league, other than the Pens and Blackhawks.

        We have assembled an enormous amount of tradeable assets through the draft, allowing us all most unlimited flexibility moving forward.

  • Jason Gregor

    Yes, DSF, the oddsmakers massage the odds to make the most money, but they cannot do that effectively unless they know a great deal about who is likely to win, can they? Otherwise the smart betters would place a lot of money on the good teams they underrate and the oddsmakers would lose money, which they very rarely do. Instead they make their money by offering slightly shorter than fair odds on the teams with the most passionate fans because they know these people tend to bet on their own team even when the odds are poor, and do the same with the popular favourites because as any gambler knows people over-bet on favourites. The oddsmakers’ living depends on their knowing an F of a lot about the sports they offer odds on. It is you who knows F all about the oddsmakers.

  • Rocket

    I’m kinda torn on Paajarvi. I like the tools he has & I’ve always wanted him to do well. But now that he’s on The Blues I’ll be cheering against him. Also I just want The Oilers to win a trade for once.

    If Paajarvi turns into that physical winger with speed & skill we all hoped for, I will be supremely pissed at Oilers management for seemingly mishandling him. It’s not all on the coaches & management of course but I just don’t want Paajarvi to turn into an Oiler-killer.

    BTW, sweet pic of Hitch.

  • OilClog

    Edmonton’s lowest drafted top 6 forward was Ebs at 21?

    Even if we just go on draft pedigree alone

    Hall, Yak, Nuge #1
    Gags 6?
    Hemsky 13?
    Perron 15?
    Ebs 21?

    This is the top 6 forwards cluster that is the envy of the league, the rest of the roster may be a crap shoot, but that top 6 is an absolute nightmare for any opposition. This isn’t 3 years ago anymore, this group can’t be denied, sorry to go off but to say our top 6 isn’t in the same class as the rest of our division as it stands, is false beyond false.

    • OilClog

      Not to nitpick but Eberle was taken at 22 overall and Perron was 26 overall. Get your facts straight. You’re “False beyond false” with this post good sir.

      • OilClog

        Sorry I was off on Eberle by 1 spot, my bad.

        Perron by a dozen.. So Perron is the latest selection at 26.. when we should of picked him at 15.. my bad.

        Still, Gregor is wrong on every level of this. There is nothing proven in the top 6 of any team in our division that is comparable to what the Oilers have assembled.

        Hall – Allstar
        Yak – lead team in goals
        NUGE – undeniable
        Ebs – how much more can he prove at this point?
        Perron – Proven.
        Hemsky – Proven.
        Gags – Proven.

        What am I missing? this is a topic about the proven performances of our divisions top 6. Our top 6 is proven!

    • Jason Gregor


      You two seemed to have missed the word Proven.

      Oilers skill hasn’t proven much, that is a fact. You can be in love with their potential, that is fair, because they project to become stars.

      But Kings, Sharks and Canucks top guys have won many games, put up big points, and they have solid two-way games.

      You can look at best-case scenario regarding the Oiler kids, and they look to be very good in the future, but they have yet to do it consistently as a group.

      Hence, unproven.

      • OilClog


        San Jose.. Proven? proven at what early eliminations? Thorton and Marleau are pass their exp dates, Couture is really their only bright spot.

        Vancouver.. Do we really need to discuss their proven history?

        Anahiem.. Last year was a blip, they were nowhere near as good as their record suggested, goes hand in hand with their early exit.

        LA.. they’re proven. I’ll give that, but I’d still take our top 6 any day of the week.

        Taylor Hall.. NHL 2nd team all star!
        RNH.. Robbed of a calder!
        YAK.. Robbed of a calder!
        Ebs.. Breaking 70pts a couple seasons ago wasn’t proven?
        Perron.. Proven.
        Hemsky.. Proven.

        What are you trying to suggest to us the readers.. I understand our team has sucked horribly for the last decade, but to suggest our top 6 isn’t in the same class as our opposition is ridiculous. They’re proven!

        • J

          YAK.. Robbed of Calder?

          Do you want add Dubby robbed of Vezina, Kreuger robbed of Jack Adams, RNH robbed of Selke and Justin Schultz robbed of Norris?

          I understand this is an Oilers fan site, but you’re taking being a homer to the next level.

          • Clyde Frog

            Yeah, Yak didn’t lead rookies in goals and tied for the lead in points.

            Who ever thought to put him in the same conversation for the Calder is silly.

            Just like RNH putting up 52 points in 62 games should never have been considered as he was greatly outperformed by Landeskog’s 52 points in 82 games.

          • J

            My point is that saying Yak was ROBBED of the Calder is very narrow sighted and a complete homer statement. He wasn’t even a finalist and was not the best all-around rookie in the NHL.

            Hall was robbed of the 2nd Team All-Star team LW spot. I’m fine with the opinion of RNH being robbed, but Yak was definitely not robbed of the Calder.

          • GVBlackhawk

            The guy who won the Calder was -15. Yakupov was -4. Even though I dislike the stat, there is no way you can argue that Huberdeau was better all around than Yakupov.

            And Yakupov did win the rookie scoring race, which is most often the benchmark used for picking the Calder winner.

            Not like it really matters — Yakupov is by far the best player of all the Calder nominees and he’s an Oiler.

          • 2004Z06

            RNH, Yak, Eb, Hall, Sch, Gag, Per, and Klef have to many stanleys to win to care about some dumbass east conference writers award thingy.

            Here’s to them all Shutting it U.T.B.S.O.T.C. in 2016. #oilerswinin2016

      • Vaclav


        I assume you’re not referring to the Sedins as having “solid two-way games”. With 63-80% offensive zone starts under Vigneault I’m not sure these two even know what their own end of the rink looks like. And they certainly never got a sniff of the PK in Vancouver.

      • Czar

        Sedins have proven regular season success means nothing in the playoffs. Yes they’ve been to the playoffs but all they’ve proven is that they don’t have the balls to win in the playoffs.

      • OilClog

        Reading this just bugs me so much.

        Hall – Allstar.. That is recent proof.
        Ebs – 76pts last full season – proven
        Nuge – Playing with one arm was still holding his own. Let alone everything else.. Proven
        Yak – lead team in goals, going to be on Russia’s olymipic team. Proven he’s arrived.
        Perron – Proven everywhere
        Gags – Proven last season for sure.
        Hemsky – Do we really need to go into depth about his proof

        The Oilers have been terrible, but we’ve had many bright spots, to say our top 6 isn’t proven, is ridiculous in my opinion. It’s Edmonton’s most proven area!

      • Ducey

        If your point was that some of the Oilers players have to “prove” themselves as NHL players, I’d have to agree. But so what? Hardly earth shattering insight there.

        The issue is not who is “proven”, the issue is who will be better in the next few years.

  • Rocket

    Interesting to hear Hitchcock talk about skill being behind hard work in terms of importance.

    What is real special is when you have skilled players playing hard like Hall, RNH, Datysuk……..these guys give their teams a chance to win each and every night.

    Magnus also worked hard, but was afraid of hitting and playing physical in general. Players like this continously tease you ………it’s good we weeded him out now.

    If Dallas Ekins can set the agenda of “hard work = ice time”……and do this consistently we should have a good season.

  • 2004Z06

    Eakin preaches and teaches tough hard on the puck hockey,relentless skating.. and Oh ya you better be in shape. Boys eat your wheaties.

    He had a bunch of rag tags in the Marlies and made them better players… even a guy like
    Gardnair, had to hang his ego and press clippings at the door. At the end, he was a much better player.

    I think of the top six, Hall, Yak, Gagner and maybe even RNh will adopt his style. Perron as well. Guys like
    Eberle, Justin Schultz and Hemsky not so much.

    Other than Canucks, this is a tough division to play in…..time to get down and gritty, in your face hockey.

    • Old School G

      Eberle is a heart and soul assassin out there, he’s a leader and works his tail off. JSchultz is a smooth skating offensive weapon, he’s going to be a great Dman for us for a long time. Hemsky plays a silky smooth, some would confuse as lazy, game and though he frusturates me like no other Oiler ever has some nights, he played a good chunk of last season on a broken foot. Respect.

      We don’t have a lazy hockey team we have a team that has needed the right kind of coach to get them to going in the right direction. I’m incredibly excited to see the compete level there every game this season, if we compete in every game we’ll make the playoffs we certainly have the skill to take the next step.

      • nuge2drai

        Nothing against Eberle, great talent, hockey IQ etc etc, but the point was guys willing to go
        through someone to get there… not Ebs style.
        He has no grit or toughness to his game… Like Hemsky, I have seen him do a lot of fly bys in his play.

  • Ducey

    His focus on “hard work” will get Hitchcock fired in two or three years.

    He has a history of turning teams around by tightening their defenses, but then losing the players as they get increasingly fed up with playing in straightjackets.

    7 years in Dallas – fired

    4 years in Philly – fired

    4 years in Columbus – fired

    Great coach but he has about 2 years to get STL to the Cup.

  • Clyde Frog

    The Oilers’ skilled players haven’t had enough time to prove their skills. 2 rookies, and a sophmore made up their elite forwards. The greybeards of the group aren’t even in their mid 20s yet.

  • OilClog

    If the NHL decided wins and losses by using a skill competition format like at the allstar weekend instead of the usual three period scrimmage then I bet the Oil would win 70 games a season..they’re that skilled.
    The oilers may not be the youngest team in the league but their top six is by far..I’m willing be be patient for three more years, if they don’t make the playoffs by 2016 then I will start getting worried..till then, keep compiling the skill, work at the grit..it’ll come eventually.

  • Mantastic

    On a side note, my buddy saw that Paajarvi home jerseys were on for 50 bucks at West Ed (Game On, I believe). If I didn’t already have a Maggie jersey I’d jump on that deal in a second.

  • Mantastic

    It’s going to be fun to watch the current Oilers turn the corner the way the Gretzky Oilers. Probably not a crazy 5 cup dynasty team loaded with hall of famers but still they are going to be one hell of a team =D.

  • OilClog

    ^^^^^^^THIS to the article, let’s put Paajarvi and Perron aside for a second and ask how the Oilers can get a coach like Ken Hitchcock. That is what the team needs.

    If you want proof of how hard work trumps skill, just look at how the Ottawa Senators have played the past two years. Paul Maclean has a team full of scrubs making the playoffs and giving teams a hard time in the playoffs too.

    • I tried it at home

      Thats what Ive been saying last few years, while the Oilers were giving all the ex-Canucks and -Oilers buddies a try at the helm, why didnt we get a proven, Edmontonian coach who actually demands his players actually, you know, give a stiff. He was sitting at home most of the time “our” team was supposedly doing thier due diligence, guess he just wasnt buddy buddy material.

  • I tried it at home

    Just more Jason Negative. “Every coach, every manager, every player, every organization, is better than any oiler”.

    I had stopped reading and listening to Mr Negative but, thought I would like to hear Hitch. Hitch was good as always. Jason? Negative as usual.

    • Jason Gregor

      That is what you got out of this article? hahaha

      The Oilers have unreal potential, but they have to realize it. If you think that is negative, good on ya, i’d say it is realistic.

      The Oilers in the 80s mentioned they needed to learn how to win and compete. They couldn’t get by with just great skill. This team needs to learn that as well. Far from a negative.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    That’s one thing we never hear in Edmonton, in regards to bringing in a new kid/project. I’ve never heard the words, i’m excited to see what our guys (coaching/support staff) can do with this kid upon arrival here. Heard it right from the getgo from Hitch and the Blues.

    Edmonton must be one of the worst orgs when it comes to developing talent in house, maybe 30th,30th,29th and 24th confirms that.

  • GVBlackhawk

    DSF I live on the wet coast aswell.If I buy you lunch would you leave oilernation once and for all.In all honesty bud it getting real old and its time for you to move on to bigger and better.

  • nuge2drai

    “…we were able to show them the difference, explain to them how to do it..”

    Hitch is talking about specific directions to specific players to address specific deficiencies in their games. And using “mechanics” (ice time? practice time?) to ensure the message is learned.

    This sounds different than “motivating” players as per Kreuger, or protecting players and line matching as per Renney.

    I don’t want to start a war about which players on the Oil could most benefit from Hitch’s approach, but it’s clear the team will benefit if Eakins is far more specific than previous coaches seem to have been about addressing specific player deficiencies by actually showing them exactly what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and what part of the bench or press box they will sit on if it doesn’t happen.

    And the same standards have to be applied equally to everyone on the team, regardless of seniority, salary, nationality, or anything else.

    Enough with the accountability speeches at the start of every year that go out the window before pre-season is even finished.

    C’mon Eakins, make me a believer…

  • Jason Gregor

    Ah yes, the savvy sports guy in Jason Gregor
    Have you ever noticed how he talks about passion within the competitive spirit? Within all sports .but also in the fan base?
    This is a great article, not only in conjuring Hitch, who I hope most people know, is an Edmonton product( ok Sherwood park) but also pointing to the,( to me) the obvious point the oilers have done dick lately. I am not sure some bloggers get his point? There is a lot to prove..ask any one of the top 6 or more on the oilers and see what they would say. We all hope that they will “prove” to be a great team!…a great team and win many games and playoffs. But I love how he gets everyone going!…good on you Gregor