With each passing day, frustrated fans continue to find new or old reasons as to why this team is where it is. Everyone is searching for answers, with many targeting the “old boys club” that has become the Edmonton Oilers. I don’t know if this is new but many want to focus on the assistant coaches today and blame them for this team’s demise.

I’m not going to sit here and defend the constant re hiring of former Oilers because if it works its great and if it doesn’t then it’s a failure and normally fixed. It’s tough to let go of good people and players that have been great to an organization.

I believe like many of you, more changes on ice and potentially off the ice are likely needed, but I do find it strange the focus is now being directed at assistant coaches Kelly Buchberger and Steve Smith.


It’s easy to assume Eakins truly didn’t have a choice in picking his assistant coaches but maybe Eakins did decide he wanted to keep Buchberger and Smith? Maybe the players in the room were a vote of confidence for those two and Eakins understood that? That I cannot factually answer and everyone can form their own opinion.

He did however; bring over his buddy Keith Acton from Toronto, so he has someone he is familiar with on his staff. It’s very common for coaches to bring “their” guys to each new job but it is actually not uncommon for teams to retain an assistant coach when a head coach has been relieved of his duties.


I’ve seen it on two of the three teams I played on in the NHL. When Glen Hanlon was fired in Washington and Bruce Boudreau was hired, Dean Evason (my favorite assistant coach of all time) was retained and Bruce kept him for his entire tenure in Washington. Dean had a great relationship with the guys and was very respected by everyone.

In Dallas Stu Barnes survived the Dave Tippett firing and worked under Mark Crawford for his 2 years in Dallas. Not to mention they were both former players for those respective organizations. It’s not just in Edmonton.

Regardless of all that, I think there is a bit of a misunderstanding of what exactly an assistant coach brings to the table. With all due respect to the great assistant coaches around the league, assistant coaches provide value but not near enough to blame them for day to day decisions.


I was always very tight with my assistant coaches. I have played for some fantastic ones. This was because they were tremendous guys. When times are tough and you have a question about how to handle a certain situation, you could go to them. Assistant coaches could get a message to the coach or from a coach to you about what he is thinking or why certain decisions are being made.

The reason former players are often hired to be assistants is because they have played the game, they understand the ups and downs throughout the year and how players want to be treated. Great assistant coaches in my opinion provide a pipeline to the coach, and they provide tips and good stories or techniques of how they would handle certain situations. They watch game tape and do extra work with you on things that need it. Many head coaches don’t want to deal with the day to day of player mentalities or headaches; this is the greatest asset an assistant coach provides.


Assistants have certain assignments and often run the power play or penalty kill meetings but many are mistaken if the thought is assistant coaches are calling the final shots on the systems you see. Some assistants are more active than others and handle more of a load but at the end of it all the head coach is taking their advice and providing the players with his message. It’s him who will ultimately land on the sword if things fail.

Be mad all you want at Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini who re-built this team. Be mad at the fact the players themselves haven’t produced winning results since Gregor debated a comb over, but I don’t think for a second if they had two different assistant coaches this team would be dramatically better. I think we’re reaching now.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    The two Alberta teams are so competitive….”We’re the a Worst Team in the league”…….NO!……”We Are!”……”Are Not!”……”We Are!”…..

    • Bryzarro World

      You seem a bit confused…let me try to clarify things for you.

      I attended the Young Stars tourney in Penticton this summer. The Oilers by far had the worst young talent. It was very obvious the top skilled talent belonged to the Jets and Flames. and that didn’t even include the star laden young strs the Flames have in college. It’s amazing the accomplishments of fat boy Jay Feaster in 2 short years vs the accomplishment of 6 rings Kevin Lowe in 8 years. As a Flames fan I’m hoping Mr Rexall Drugs gives Kevin a raise and contact extension. That will ensure the next 10 years of excessive losses continue for the Oilers. The only part that hurts is that the Oilers continue to inherit top drafts and shattered dreams.

      Go Flames Go!!

        • Boourns99

          DSF, Do you seriously have nothing better to do? I don’t understand how trolling this site can be enjoyable AT ALL, especially at a time like this.

          And your suggestion is ridiculous. Look at the body of work. Taylor hall was the right choice.

          Now go do something meaningful. And let us Oiler fans wallow. Kicking while we’re down is just petty and mean. For shame.

          • YFC Prez

            You still put Seguin ahead of Hall ? That’s just plain whacky , Hall over Seguin has to be one of the few clear cut wins for this oilers mgmt group.

            Seguin is playing really good hockey right now and Hall is slumping with the rest of the team but Hall is the better player, I don’t see how this is even debatable anymore.

          • pkam

            Actually, most Scout’s at the draft picked Seguin to be the better player over Hall long term. At the draft they agreed Hall was better at that moment.

            Its not unrealistic to think Seguin is going to be better in the long run. You can see improvments in all areas of his game since he was drafted. He’s also getting stronger and tougher. He doesn’t get pushed off the puck near as easy as Hall.

            I haven’t seen much improvement from Hall or Eb’s since they started playing with the team. Neither seems to be working too hard to improve. Both are still mostly offence, with little defensive upside. A small breeze nearly knocks both of them over.

            I’ve moved on from blaming coaches and GM’s, and am starting to wonder about the training staff, and the players commitment to off-season training. Nobody seems to be actually getting better, or stronger, and the constant injuries would support that theory.

          • DSF

            The Taylor-Tyler debate won’t be decided until their careers have ended- they are both supremely talented players with enormous potential.

            I did note that last night that Seguin was on the receiving end of some stellar work by Team Canada hopeful Jamie Benn (and some Oileresque defending by Calgary) . As RNH matures, I expect Hall will have some similar nights.

            Tyler won’t “blow away” Hall. But hopefully the debate will go on throughout their careers.

    • Hauk15

      Good for him, Hall is a better player still.
      Hall has more points, less games, and he plays for EDM. Seguin has played on good teams, if he was so much better than Hall than he should have a lot more points.
      On another note, nothing makes me happier than seeing calgary get stomped. 7-3 final.

      • Rob...

        Two other things to add:

        -Oh look, Taylor Hall scored the fastest two goals in Oilers History. I wonder if the Bruins would like a mulligan to try and trade for the #1 pick.
        -What about all the Oiler haters talking about how Yakupov shouldn’t be in rookie of the year contention because he scored most of his goals in a cluster, including a 3 point night? I’m pretty sure you were one of those using that line of reasoning, DSF.

    • Blood Orange

      I was reading the comments and thinking… “Wow, DSF will all these valid points.”

      Then I come across this…

      Players have ups and downs all season. He gets 5 points against the Flames and you cherry pick stats.

      ‘X’ player has 15 points in their first 10 games and are on pace for 123 points in a season, doesn’t mean they will…

      First 10: 18 points in 10 games. On pace for 147 points.
      Current: 24 points in 18 games. On pace for 109 Points.

      One streak of 6 points in his last 8 games changes his ‘on pace’ statistic by almost 40 points.

      Today : 22 points in 19 GP. On pace for 95pts.
      Before Flames: 17 points in 18 GP. On pace for 77pts.

      C’mon man.

      • camdog

        If Jamie Benn stays healthy, there is a good chance that Seguin gets 80+ points this season with the possibility of an Olympic berth. As far as I am concerned Benn is going to be a superstar, Seguin right now has the abilities to be the “sidekicks” to one of the greatest one two punches in the league “this season”. lol

      • pkam

        Nice picture on Oiler twitter site of Hall’s birthday dinner? Looks like an Elementary kid’s birthday dinner. What a cute collection of little people and softies (J. Schultz). McGrattan, Jackman, Breen (6’7″ enforcer – Suds battled him last year in the AHL), and O’Brien must be laughing their heads off at the little sweeties coming into the Dome for the “battle” of Alberta tomorrow night! Nothing wrong with the core MacT???? Hockey is a man’s game! GET SOME MEN ON THIS TEAM PLEASE!!! P.S. Why wasn’t YAKUPOV invited to this birthday party?dinner???? Is he too TUFF for this group???? SIMMONDS, OTT, DUBINSKY, FOLIGNO, COBURN, etc. This is what you need MACT! NO more SMURFS!!!!

      • pkam

        When did DSF not cherry pick stats to irritate Oilers fans?

        Let me use an example to show how meaningful his comment is. Fedun is 2 pts and +1 after 2 games, so he is on pace to 82 pts and +41 after 82 games as a rookie defenseman. And base on this, he is better than Bobby Orr.

        That is why I have stop reading his comment anymore. It is a total waste of time.

  • O.C.

    I was AT the game on Wednesday. I’m going to see Bryz on Saturday in Abbotsford. Time for some points.

    I was pi$$ed while watching the warm-up. If the Oil call me, I’ll give a quick easy fix piece of advice, ANONYMOUSLY, and at no cost.

    (I’m not holding my breath for the call though.)

    On to other things:

    – Those of you who called in on 1260 after 9 to complain how bad the D were on Wednesday…

    THE OIL GAVE UP ONE GOAL! The D did not lose that game. Stop fishing to make yourselves sound smart.

    – Those of you who say “DD was great and kept them in!”

    No, sorry, Dallas shooting wasn’t that great. DD was neither what kept them in nor did he potentially cost the game. He was average. Then again, the opposition’s keeper was the best goaltending the Oiler saw this year.

    – Those who didn’t notice why the PP sucks.

    The PP SUCKS because they take their position and DON’T MOVE.

    My grandmother could cover the Oil on the PK. She died 25 years ago. She could still run interference on the lane that DOESN’T CHANGE between players.

    That said, this was NO WHERE NEAR the same team that sucked the hind teat on an old sow against Detroit. It’s improving. It has no hope of making this year’s playoffs.

  • O.C.

    *tired of how buggy this site has become*

    – iPad crashes all the time on this site.

    – PC (an advanced system) also hangs but only while on this site.

    Too many advertisements maybe?

    I’ll check in in 3 weeks to see if it’s sorted out. If not… well then no one cares and my decision is made for me.

  • DSF

    Seguin is the new Pierre Larouche. He will get traded again and again. All the while putting up big numbers.
    What message would it have sent to the rest of the Bruins if they’d kept Seguin after last spring’s complete lack of playoff focus?
    Hockey is a team game.

  • DSF

    How long will Yakipov put up with the Edmonton oilers before he bolts back to the KHL where he can play all he wants in front of his home country and make more money?

    Unload his sorry attitude while he still has value…

  • There is indeed nothing strange about assistant coaches surviving a head coach.

    It is very strange when they survive the firing of four different head coaches like Buchberger has. Are they tenured? Smith is only on his third.

    They are as untouchable as Lowe is. Oilers are stuck in mediocrity because it’s not a team that believes in meritocracy.

    Since Lowe took over as GM in 2000, they have made the playoffs three times out of twelve (6th, 8th and 8th in the West). The average finish over that period is 21st in the league. The stench of failure is all over these guys.

  • Bucky and Smith have contributed to the worst record in hockey over the last seven years. In any other business if you were a manager in a group that performed that badly for that long you would get fired. Even if you aren’t the problem, after that long it would also be clear you aren’t the solution. They should have been fired long ago.

    • DSF

      I think some writers become emotionally attached to people within the Oiler organizations and as a result they unwittingly?unwillingly? become apologists for management. I agree with his statement that assistant coaches are there for off ice issues but the fact is that the issues are on the ice! We, unknowing Tier 4 fans(live in Calgary) can consistently see two Oiler D men behind the net. Wouldn’t that be the role of say Steve Smith to teach even the basic fundamentals that we learned in friggin pee wee!

  • Sort of interesting blog

    I am still not sure what the role for each coach is.

    We have four AC in the bench, what is the role of each coach? Do we have a coach in the pressbox communicating with the bench.

    Is there a role of technology on this team. Could ipads be used during the game to show the players there last shift, the last forecheck the other team deployed ect?

    It seems standing behind the player saying “ata boy,”, “come on boys we have to be committed to defense” is kinda 1950′ s.

  • Rob...

    I agree the 2 assistant coaches have become too much of a lightning rod for this whole mess. The real problem is the owner who appears to place more value in being able to consort with Kevin Lowe and other Oilers from that era than ensuring his hockey team is properly managed. Any other competent owner of a professional sports franchise would have removed by now this management team due to their track record and consistent bad decisions. The scary scenario now is he is going to leave these very desperate men in power to deal with the current crisis. We are now told that they will deal our 1st round draft choice next year for a “stud” defenseman. These guys are on the virge of making another enormous mistake. Our 1st round pick next year has considerable worth and the only defencemen that would be worth such a pick are not available– Doughty, Weber, Pietroangelo. We are going to get a 2nd tiered defenseman for that pick and we will rue the day that this occurred as we could have used that pick to take a defenseman like Ekblad who could develop into one of these top tier defenseman. Ask Nashville whether they would have traded their top pick last year for Christian Ehrhoff or Brian Campbell. The owner has to realize that the Oilers are not like owning private companies where there has not been a lot of scrutiny as to how vast sums of money were made by selling overpriced generic drugs. Even though the Oilers are privately owned there is a huge public trust component to owning a sports team such as this which brings public accountability. Sadly this owner seems incapable of dealing with this situation and so we the public will just have to continue to watch this franchise being run into the ground by men who are under enormous pressure to do something immediately to right the ship which is the recipe for another enormous mistake.

  • Rob...

    Part II– the owner should get somebody in charge of this team who has earned the position of General Manager by apprenticing as an assistant GM for an extended time with a successful organization. There are several individuals that are available who have proven track records of participating in excellent drafting and making wise personnel decisions over many years. Although he no longer is available, Jim Nill is an example of the type of individual the Oilers should recruit to take charge not ex Oilers who have no track records. Some names come to mind – Paul Fenton, Lawrence Gilman, the assistant GM in Phoenix(cannot remember his name) and I will even give you one ex Oiler if you have to have that- Norm McIvor — but he has a successful track record in a winning organization. If someone like this came in they could take a measured approach rather be under enormous pressure to make a mistake. Why doesn’t Katz realize that he could come out of this as a winner by immediately dismissing the current management and replacing them with outsiders who have a successful and proven history of running NHL hockey teams?

  • TKB2677

    Does anyone know when Sam Gagner is supposed to start playing?

    I checked the stats and it says Gagner 7GP, 1pt, -10. So basically since he has come into the line up, he’s been completely useless. It’s baffling, almost incredible to me how a player going into his 7th NHL season can come in to a line up and be -10 in 7 games. I think you actually have to try pretty hard to be a -10 in 7 games.

    I know he is coming off an injury and when it’s a jaw you are probably going to feel every little bump so he’s probably a little tentative. Plus missing time you are going to “game speed” but holy crap!! If Gagner is going to be that bad, maybe he needs to sit out a few more weeks until everything is 100% and he no longer has any concerns. He’s literally doing NOTHING to help the team and one can argue, he’s probably hurting the team with his play right now.

    I honestly don’t think a player can play any worse based on his stats.

    • Phuryous George

      Early on, it seemed like he was having trouble finding the puck with that chin gaurd on. It’s got to be a distraction, and you would lose the puck in you peripherary really easy, even in the faceoff dot. I thought he would adapt quicker and chip in, but maybe he’ll need to get that guard removed before he really starts getting back to playing the way he has before. Remember, he looked pretty strong pre-season before the injury.

  • TKB2677

    I Blame the oilers for ruining
    My morning!!! I wake up happy ready
    To start off my day, tune in to
    My radio station to have it all go
    To poops when they talk about
    The oilers. It is easy to just
    Turn off the radio !!!
    The problem is I bleed

  • camdog

    Suds, the call for the firing of Bucky and Smith is a call to fire Kevin Lowe and nothing more. After all it shows Mr. Lowe’s continued influence on day to day operations while at the same time saying that he had no control over day to day operations. In my business we would call Bucky and Smith spies as they have direct ties to the President and everything that occurs in the dressing room, goes directly back to Lowe. It’s really tough to do your job (coach), when you know your assistants have such a clear pathway to the President.

    It appears as though the number one prerequisite to getting a job within the organization is not quality of the resume, but rather loyalty to Kevin Lowe. This is the problem Oiler fans are having right now with the way the organisation is being run. It has nothing specific to deal with Buck or Smith, but what they represent within the organisation.

  • TKB2677

    Oil are so bad right now, confidence at an all-time low. Watch the Sharks come in tonight and just titty pump these little guys. Im guessing 4-1 sharks final with EDM not scoring until the third period once the game is out of reach. Expect some boo birds in the stands. Dubnyk will play his best but defense will let him down. Oilers will have chances to score but wont. More of the same

  • pkam

    This Taylor Tyler debate is hilarious. Seguin is a good player, but until he finishes in top 10 in league scoring like Hall has, he is 2nd best.

    Im not saying Sequin wont be better than Hall at some point in their careers, but to date, not close. The fact that Boston shipped a #2 overall pick out of town before his 22nd bday because he partied too much during playoffs is all I need to know about the kid.

  • Bryzarro World

    Maybe maybe maybe… tired of it. Fact is that they were here for several coaching changes. NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. Fact is that the players play like pussies with NO heart so who really cares what they think? Listen to players that play like garbage and want to krep fluffers around them? Kick their asses out already. They have proven they can’t do the job and can’t gey the players to do their job so……