The Edmonton Oilers are in a bad spot now, and with a 4-13-2 record to start the season you would be reading some ‘fire the coach’ articles by now if this were any other franchise. The thing is, they’ve done that already, seemingly every summer since 2009. I guess they could fire a coach in-season, but I don’t think that is going to happen. The alternative? A wild and crazy ride.

Do you remember the famous line uttered by every GM who ever fired a coach? It goes "well, you can’t fire all 23 players" and is followed by knowing nods from all gathered for the media conference. I think we’re about the see the reverse, kind of a "well, you can’t fire 23 coaches" plan.

It started with Ladislav Smid. Dallas Eakins didn’t give him a lot of time on the Smid-Petry tandem and honestly Smid’s skill set doesn’t really fit the Eakins template (get puck, move puck, rinse, repeat) for puck handling. The Oilers sent away Smid partly for cap savings into the next seasons, and that may be the case with more players as the MacT-Eakins tandem makes more final decisions on who can and cannot handle the Eakins way.

Sam Gagner may be in some peril as a center in this system. It’s early, and he’s coming back from injury, but he’s been exposed on this road trip by eye and by math–he’s not in good positions, doesn’t win enough battles and when he’s not helping offensively 89 doesn’t do enough without the puck to warrant top line minutes.

Dallas Eakins is the first coach in forever Edmonton has employed to deliver results without worrying too much about talent development. Eakins has to nurse Yakupov a little, but other than that it’s a results oriented business and those who can’t or won’t will be shot out of a cannon to their new home.

Bottom line: Dallas Eakins has a right to ask each player on the ice to be defensively responsible. We’ve been talking about systems but these aren’t new ideas brought from Mars, these are defensive tactics that require a player to adjust to the situation and mark his man. The results so far show some players have been able to adjust and flourish despite some stumbles, and others appear lost. Gagner has played far fewer games than the others, so there may be a sense that he can recover over time–however, at some point he’s going to pay for indifference or inability with lost playing time, a change in position, or a ticket out of town.


It began with Belov replacing Smid on the top 4, and resulted in Smid being sent away. Next step: Mark Arcobello at center, Gagner to the wing. The Edmonton Oilers have lost the season already and that is a horrible reality. The next logical step is to refine the roster to better reflect Dallas Eakins, culling those who don’t fit and adding those who are a better match.

Stay close to your internet, this is going to get choppy.

  • two smokes

    It seems to me one of the causes for bad morale is the players don’t back each other up. Time and again I’ve seen Oiler players roughed up and become intimidated and timid. I’ve seen players like Smid and Petry hang their heads and sliink their way to the player’s bench rather than stand up for their teammates. They aren’t the only culprits for there are too many to mention. That has to change. I have seen some gutsy players stand up for teammates this year but far too few.

    I think there are too many cowards on this team to have any chance of earning anyone’s respect. The demoralized Oilers are a bunch of snivelling whiners Skill my ass…get some freaking balls already.

    For all Taylor Hall’s skill and passion he doesn’t strike me as anything close to a team ‘glue’ guy. Someone needs to teach these guys what teamwork is. Ebs needs to set sside his Hollywood aspirations and focus on earning his 6 mil.

    Eakins needs to shelve his bloated ego and get this thing turned around. I think there may be a circunstance that Mactavish’s hand gets forced by fan and media pressure and aeakin’s ass may be grass before the end o’ season.

  • camdog

    Play Smarter!

    Eakin’s, ” we need to apply 2 man pressure on the guy with the puck. overload one portion of the zone.”
    Oiler player, ” Coach? Shouldn’t we cover the guy in front of the net.”
    Eakin, “you do not understand the system.”
    Smid, “I understand it Sucks!”

  • WinterNightSky

    The morale is bad because Eakins is a horrendous coach. Can’t bring your AHL mentality to the NHL and be so arrogant doing it. He has won nothing and it is being proven his systems don’t work, Suck it up MacT and say I made a huge mistake and get rid of this useless coach. He has most of the guys so scared to do anything they are playing horrendous. He clearly has his favorites that he plays regardless of mistakes they make. Ference has been god awful all season and he is still playing high minutes. If you think Smid couldn’t move the puck watch this guy try and move it. Undersized and over hyped. The ship is sinking faster than the Titanic, get off now oiler fans get off now

  • two smokes

    Gagner needs to go, I would have traded him the second after his first game this year when he watched that guy tap the puck in on a 2on 1when Sam could’ve easily stopped it….I think we’ve all been letting samwise get away with his lack of defensive effort for way to long

  • two smokes

    Perhaps at the GM meetings they should discuss this……

    ….. I think a team should only have so many first overall top picks in a specific time frame. Why do teams get rewarded for continually being bad?

    ….yes I am an Oiler fan.