The dreaded vote of confidence

Yesterday, Craig MacTavish spoke to the media about the Edmonton Oilers’ performance. Among other items, he made it clear that he still has confidence in head coach Dallas Eakins.

After uttering similar lines during his availability and stressing the need for stability behind the bench, MacTavish told Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now that he “really couldn’t be happier with the coaching.”

The Vote of Confidence

The interesting thing about the managerial vote of confidence is that it often seems to precede the firing of said coach in short order. There are, I think, a couple of reasons for that.

The biggest is that managers don’t have to give coaches with good records a vote of confidence. Reporters don’t generally ask whether guys like Jon Cooper or Joel Quenneville are going to get fired; it’s obvious that they’re safe. Columnists don’t speculate on the safety of Todd McLellan or Dan Bylsma, at least not when those teams are winning, because there’s no question that the results support their continued employment.

So by the time the manager is in a position to opine on his head coach, there’s something in the record that suggests said head coach should be fired. And as a general rule, the media will always be ready to fire the coach before management is, which means that even when the coach is going to be fired there’s often a period of time when the media thinks he could be and the manager wants to hang on a little longer to see if the coach can turn things around.

The other reason is a simple trick of memory: we tend to remember the contradicition of a general manager supporting his coach and then firing him a week or two later, while we don’t necessarily remember the close call that turned out okay.


The thing keeping Dallas Eakins safe right now isn’t necessarily Craig MacTavish’s public statement, and it certainly isn’t the record or the underlying performance of his team (both of which are awful at the moment). It’s history.

Too many coaches in Edmonton have fallen by the wayside. The traditional point of reference is Sam Gagner; he’s just started his seventh season with the Oilers and he’s on his fifth head coach. It’s ridiculous. 

There has been too much turnover, and other things need to change before the coaching does.

  • camdog

    Not much one can say about this Sh*t show called the Oilers. It is a joke and emarassment to the city. MacTavish is an idiot and should never have been hired back here. We were rid of him and somehow he weasled his way back. With this current group of Management and coaches the Oilers will always be the laughing stock of the NHL

  • Crackenbury

    For me the biggest disappointment this year has been the lip service about accountability and earning your ice time. I didn’t expect much out of Arcobello when he started the season with the big team, but man he showed himself to be head and shoulders better at a 2-way game than the most of the so-called stars on this team. He was leading the team in points and +/- at various times and where does he find himself? – 4th line. Acton is told he’s not going anywhere a few games into the season and arguably your best playing player on the team is shuffled around to make room for an obviously still too injured to play player in Gagner.

    If the Oilers would simply ice the lineup that gives them the best chance to win instead of slotting players where they think they should be based on contract/seniority/pedigree they would improve their chances.

    Even the most casual fan can see Arcobello should be playing 2nd line centre and Gagner should be moved down the lineup and onto wing. Put Yakupov on the wing with Arcobello on the second line and start using his best asset – his one timer.

    Eakins and MacT seem to be cut from the same cloth when it comes to tunnel vision with their players.

  • pkam

    You should not keep a bad coach, just for the sake of keeping a coach. If Eakins is not fit for the job, he should be replaced by somebody who is. Yes it sucks that there’s been such a high turnover, but sticking with a bad coach won’t make things better.

    • Bleak Winter

      Suggest one who’s available and capable of turning this around and would be best served in their career by taking the position at this point? Keep in mind if offered the job they’ll likely believe their shelf life as an Oiler coach is a year at most and that they may never work again in the league is a real risk. That’s sort of the job description these days.

  • pkam

    In this presser Didn’t Mac T say he was looking to get bigger and have more grit??? ooooooooohhhhh wait.. so then why did we trade Smid and Brown??

    Sorry Mac T but ur making yourself look like a fool and whats worse is that I actually think you guys think that us as fans are believing your bullsheet.. Lots of interest in the core.. well geezuz…. get gojng and make a sound trade… LETS GO ALREADY!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Lowe But Now High Expectations

    Apologize to Krueger and get him back! There was now way his firing was justified after a 48 game lockout shortened season with no training camp. Everytime our guys would go out on the PP under him I felt like we were going to score, or had really good chances to score. When we get a PP now I cringe and turn away from the TV. Eakins has made some very questionable coaching decisions in my mind.

  • pkam

    @JW – your claims that a vote of confidence come in short order before a firing is interesting. So I read on hoping to see examples of this, especially if this was the case for the 4 last Oiler coaches. But you gave none. Just made the claim and left it at that. Weak, weak article from a generally good writer.

  • Lowe But Now High Expectations

    This team simply put has too many perimeter players. Not that players like this can’t be valuable to a team, this one is overloaded with them. For me, other than Hall & RNH every other player on the current roster is available for trade. It’s time to start the overhaul of this roster, as the way it’s currently built will never be successful.

    I don’t know why the management of the Oilers would be so afraid of trading some assets. One of the reasons you draft the most talented player available rather than for positional need is that the more talent a player has the more value in return you’ll receive.

    • match16

      This. That 5 on 3 vs Dallas was a perfect example. ALL 5 guys were on the perimiter… Even though Hall fed Perron with a nice pass in the slot, Lehtonen had clear vision and was able to easily snag the puck out of the air. Need some bodies in front…

    • Phuryous George

      Agree. Hall and RNH are at the core. I was in favor of a Yakupov/Hemsky deal since before the season started, to bring defence in. And at the risk of being unpopular, i’d be all for trading Eberle ahead of Gagner,only because we were so weak at C at the start of the year ( it’s filled in nicely) the return on Ebs would be better, and once Gags gets the headgear off (thats gotta be distracting) and can see the ice at his feet again, he’ll get back to being a contributor.

      Yeah, i said it. Go ahead and tell me i’m a fool. Hate is the fuel that feeds the batteries that keep the Internet up and running, and i need to get my daily fix of cat pictures.

  • I see the Oilers winning maybe 3 more games this month on the top end.

    why is this important?

    Come December & January , the Oilers will be lucky to win 3 games the whole month of December, they may not even win a game in January… there are some tough teams coming this way.

    It’s going to get nasty.

    I’m not sure how Katz or MacTavish is going to spin this.

    • Bleak Winter

      I agree, in fact I think we’ve basically got to catch a weaker team napping at this point to have a chance in any given game. This gets a lot worse before it gets better, it pretty much has to. How did you say in the other thread, we’re in for a new version of suck?

  • pkam

    Oilers laughing stock in all sports world!!! Managment needs change. Actually Katz needs to pack his team and get out of Edmonton. We have a better chance at bringing in a new organization with class and integrity. Take down all memorabilia of old Oilers an start fresh. Change Wayne Gretzky freeway back to Capilano freeway. Change Messier Trail back to St.Albert Trail. Close down all rexall and turn them into Shoppers Drug Mart or better year Walmart. Just go Katz and his friends. No longer an Edmontonian. Leave please!!! Gary Bettman we want a new Franchise!!!

  • D

    MacT made an amateur mistake firing Krueger when he did and the way he did. Ralph was popular with the players and I’m sure it rubbed a few of them the wrong way on how that was handled.

    • Newj

      He said they started the year making junior mistakes but there has been progress, thanks mostly to the coaching. So no, I don’t think there is a short leash. I bet money Eakins is here all year. Whether that is right or wrong is up for debate.

      However, if winning doesn’t happen very soon, MacTavish must do SOMETHING. He said he’s impatient. He also said on the latest Oil Change episode that talk is cheap. So I say- enough talk. If you really want to turn this around, take action. Trade Yakupov. Trade Hemsky. Trade J Schultz. Trade the first pick. If wins don’t start coming immediately(I still hold out a sliver of hope), this team needs to be renovated significantly. Change the dynamic. Change the makeup. Sooner rather than later. Oil fans honestly deserve so much better.

    • pkam

      Didn’t Eakins say some players were making junior hockey mistakes too and need to learn to get rid of those bad habits? I think MacT just backed up what Eakins had said before.

    • 2004Z06

      I totally agree with Crackenbury :

      “Even the most casual fan can see Arcobello should be playing 2nd line centre and Gagner should be moved down the lineup and onto wing. Put Yakupov on the wing with Arcobello on the second line and start using his best asset – his one timer.”

      So why doesn’t Eakins do this – are we wrong ?

        • pkam

          MacT started a new chapter this offseason, so if any changes need to be made, wouldn’t you think it is the best opportunity, and hopefully things will settle down after that for an extended period of time?

          • camdog

            Again. MacT can’t complain about the coaching carousel then fire a coach who had 48 games with the club. If he wanted to fire him then fine, so be it. But don’t complain about the number of coaches when you’re part of that problem.

            And if his master plan is that “hopefully things will settle down”, we’re all in for a tough go.

          • pkam

            The hiring of Eakins started like this. Kureger told MacT that he needed an associate coach. But instead of him searching for the associate coach himself, he left this to MacT. This is where Kureger shot himself in the foot.

            In the process of searching for the associate coach, MacT interviewed Eakins and felt he was a better candidate than Kureger. So what should MacT do? Keep Kureger for another year or 2 then fire him and switch to Eakins? If he likes Eakins more, shouldn’t he make the change then instead of waiting for the change to happen a year or a few month later?

            When I said things settle down, I means his plan. If items on his plan hasn’t been accomplished, then we should finish them ASAP. And hopefully it works and we won’t need big changes, like management, coaches and core players.

          • oilabroad

            Why shouldn’t he make the change? Because he says he wants stability. What if he talks to someone else and likes him a little more than Eakins? Do we just keep doing this forever?

          • pkam

            I want to response to your earlier comment. MacT never complain about Kureger. In the press conference, he said he found a better candidate for the head coach.

            I have pointed out that MacT started a new chapter when he became the GM. New GM, new VP of hockey operation, and expecting a new associate coach and lots of new players. It he found a coach in his opinion better than the current one he had, wouldn’t it be the perfect time to make the change instead of later?

            You make changes when you believe the change will benefit the team. If MacT finds someone else he thinks will benefit the team, do you think he should make the change?

          • Spydyr

            Please show me examples of how Eakins is better then Ralph.His record does not show it.The special teams have gone from top ten in the NHL to bottom five his system sure doesn’t work. The kids are a year older and have all regressed this year.Not one player on the team last year has improved this year.

            MacT got conned by a good salesman selling himself.

            The sooner he admits to and rectifies his mistake the better.

          • pkam

            Where did I say Eakins is better than Dureger or vice verse?

            All I said is MacT felt Eakins was a better candidate than Kureger after the 5 hours interview with Eakins.

            I can say one thing about Kureger. As a head coach, choosing the associate and assistant coach is his job. He shouldn’t let someone else do it for him.

            Hiring a head coach is MacT responsibility. The question is when he thinks there is a better candidate, should he make the change? Not arguing whether his judgement is right or wrong, but should he make his decision based on his judgement?

      • Randaman

        Maybe. Or maybe some stability for the younglings would have done more. I guess we’ll never know. The Oilers were doing better last season until they petered out towards the end.