EVERY CHANGE MATTERS…

The past eight Oilers seasons have been painful for everyone involved. The players are sick of losing, management and the five head coaches are tired of it, the fans have to give each other a pep talk before every game just to keep watching and even the media is tired of covering the constant losing.

There are some things none of the aforementioned groups can change instantly, like suddenly making the Oilers contenders, however, there are some small things that can and must be changed to make the process more bearable.

We can all agree what needs to change in the near future for the Oilers to become competitive. They need a better blueline, they need more size and experience up front, the players who return next seasons need to be more consistent and competitive on every shift, and the Oilers must add more experience within their assistant coaches.

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Ultimately, those moves or decisions will be made by Craig MacTavish and Dallas Eakins. We will debate, analyze and scrutinize their decisions. That is our job, and it’s what fans love to do and that is what makes sports great.

Every fan and media person will have differing opinions on players and how organizations build their teams. That will never change; however, there are some decisions within a pro team that fans can impact. One of them is the music played at their home facility.

The Edmonton Oilers owe it to their loyal fans to make the in-game experience as enjoyable as possible. The product on the ice hasn’t been doing it, but the fans can demand and should be treated to a better in-house atmosphere.

The music during Saturday’s OT loss to Philadelphia was atrocious.

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I watched the game from the stands, and I asked the fans around their thoughts on the horrendous playlist? These fans ranged in age from 20 to 60, yet unanimously they agreed the music is awful. This is not a new problem, but the Oilers either don’t feel the fans deserve a better experience or they haven’t searched hard enough to find a better DJ.

Late in the third period and leading into OT the DJ played Give Me Some Loving, a Beatles song and Wooly Bully. The Beatles are one of the greatest bands ever, but their beats aren’t energizing. I could not believe how bad the song selection was late in a tie hockey game. None of those songs got the building rocking. Seriously, it shouldn’t be that hard to find more appropriate songs during key times in the game.

The fans deserve better, and so do the players. I spoke to three different players off the record and when I asked them about the music they said the following:

"It is embarrassing," said the first one.

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"Most rinks play heavy, deep, quick paced music, but we rarely do," said the second.

"My friends come to games here and they all mention the music, and not because it is good," said the third.

If the Oilers don’t want to listen to the fans, they shouldn’t they at least listen to their players?

I know the music isn’t the reason the Oilers are losing, and none of the players suggested that, but the Oilers need to look at improving every aspect of their team and in-game experience. Emotion plays a huge factor in hockey, and a better playlist could get the fans more into the game, thus improving the atmosphere and that could ignite the Oilers at certain times in the game.

Regardless of whether it helps the Oilers or not, the fans deserve better. I am a season ticket holder, so I’m not writing this from a media person’s perspective. I’ve been to many other rinks around the NHL and the music and in-game experience is better in those rinks. The music selection in Edmonton if brutal.

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I don’t expect the management or scouts to listen attentively to media or fan’s opinions on players, although getting as much info as possible is never a bad thing, however I do expect the organization to listen to fans when it comes to non-hockey matters.

It is time the Oilers improve the in-game ambiance. It is the least they can do for their loyal fans, and considering the players admit the music is terrible, an improved musical selection might even help the product on the ice.

QUICK HITS…2ND HALF

  •  The Oilers were 4-15-2 in the first quarter of the season and 9-9-2 in the 2nd quarter. They aren’t as bad as they were in the first quarter, but they need to at least maintain a 20 points in 20-game stretch pace the rest of the season. If they pick up 43-46 points in the second half that would be a major improvement, and they need to come close to that to realize the effort and execution necessary to be in the playoff hunt next season.
     
  • Nail Yakupov won’t play tomorrow in Phoenix. Yak looked frustrated on Saturday night, and I’m all for sending players a message by putting them in the pressbox, but is Yakupov receiving the message and is it the right one? If they want him to regain his confidence would they be better off sending him to OKC than sitting him in the pressbox?

    I understand that all players mature differently, but playing him six to eight minutes a night or sitting him in the pressbox might not be the best way to develop him. Make a tough decision and send him to OKC for a few weeks. In my opinion he needs to play 15-20 minutes a night and regain his confidence.

    I know many fans are going to scream they are ruining Yakupov, but the harsh reality is he will need to play himself out of it. Missing a game or two won’t hamper his long term development, but they need to find some common ground. If they want him to be better away from the puck, then let him learn to do that in the AHL where it will be easier to learn. That isn’t quitting on the player or punishing him, it is about trying to help him become a better player.
     

  • "It was a good conversation… We have a definite plan moving forward," Eakins said this morning about a 45-minute chat he had with Yakupov. He didn’t outline what the plan was, but I’m curious to see what it will be. The Oilers don’t need to just give Yakupov icetime, but they have to ensure they nurture his development and not ruin his confidence. It is a fine balance, but it is one they have to master. He isn’t the first #1 overall pick to be benched or play on the 4th line. Steven Stamkos and Joe Thornton did and both became great players, however, they were 18 and didn’t have the option of being sent to the AHL. 

    Will the plan see Yakupov playing on the 4th line at ES and then getting PP time? That would allow him to see easier competition at ES, but also allow him to maintain some offensive confidence. I doubt he sits out more than one or two games, and when he returns I’ll be intrigued to see what "plan" Eakins has come up with for Yakupov.
     

  • I know it is only a few games, but Justin Schultz has been better the past three games. He is making better decisions with the puck, and more importantly he is making better defensive decisions. His positioning has been better and I haven’t seen him getting beat one-on-one. It is a small sample size, but he needs to continue his improvement during the 2nd half of the season. He’s only played 81 NHL games, so people need to recognize that it takes time for young, offensive D-men to get comfortable in the NHL, however, the Oilers desperately need Schultz to develop into a solid top-three D-man if they want to become a playoff contender in the near future.
     
  • Roman Horak will make his Oiler debut tomorrow night on a line with Gagner and Eberle. Todd Nelson told me he thinks Horak has potential to be a solid 3rd line centre, and potentially a 2nd line forward if he learns to use his speed regularly.
     
  • I would like to extend a huge THANK YOU to all the sponsors who donated packages during Month of Giving, and to all those who bid on packages. This year we raised an amazing $77,150 for the Christmas Bureau, Santas Anonymous, Operation Friendship Senior Society and MS Society during the Month of Giving on my radio show and promoting the packages on the Nation. That is awesome. Thanks again.
     

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

 



  • Alsker

    They should play Benny Hill or Keystone Cops music. The music from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” would also be fitting.

    Maybe add in some toilet-flush or flatulence sound effects..

  • Alsker

    it’s funny i’ve always wished rexall had a DJ with a sense of humour. you watch some other teams and their DJ’s are so spot on with the music. visiting coach complains to the ref, visiting player gets a penalty or ejection, it seems like some have that perfect song just waiting.

    meanwhile we have the “carefully selected” octane girls dancing in their “carefully selected” outfits, dancing to “carefully selected” music.

    as for the oilers goal song. i always chuckle to myself. because it seems more often that not “The Party!” seems to end quickly and often.

  • Oliveoiler

    Well, what about the same music they played back in the day when the 5 cups were won? couldn’t do any harm, could it? As I seem to remember it was all organ music!! It’s a nice try, but really not a huge issue. How about ‘move it move it’ from the movie Madagascar??? Let the team choose the music and see how it turns out….. As for Yak? do him and everyone a favour, send him to OKC, give the kid mega minutes and watch him flourish. He needs to unwind, mature and have the pressure taken off a bit. It’s kinda like a parent bullying his kid to make 100% in every test – backing off could do no harm.

  • Silver Streak

    Now this post really made me laugh. Not only do we – once again – have the worst team in the league, but we have the worst dj’s in the league as well?
    How can you possibly make a mistake with respect to what songs to play during an NHL game?
    I mean I guess we’ve only been in the league for 34 years, so maybe we need a few more until we get that playlist juuuuuuust right…

    • Silver Streak

      Hmm I think my initial post was unclear after re-reading it. I just meant that I 100% agree with Gregor regarding the music and I can’t believe we can’t even get that right.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    A player that said our music selection is embarrassing is right. It is . He should look at some other embarrassing things with the team while he is at it.

    Look at us–Six rings and most of the rest of the old boys club looking after the team along with an AHL coach. A President of Hockey Operations putting the fans into categories based on income–Tier 1, the fans that can afford to attend the games, and Tier 2, the fans that have to stay home and watch the games. A team full of smurfs stuck near the bottom of the league again this year. An owner that simply refuses to address the fans and media to put things into perspective or at the very least explain his vision, or his apparent satisfaction with how things stand so far. Eakins who clearly suffers from small mans syndrome, likes to talk big and insult the fan that threw away his jersey from pure frustration and disgust, by calling him a quitter. It is the Oilers that quit that night–a fan just reacted to it. The only bright spot on this team is Joey Moss.
    Music and everything else about this team that sucks will stay the same because upstairs doesn’t give a damn what we think. The seats are sold.

  • Silver Streak

    Roman Horak will make his Oiler debut tomorrow night on a line with Gagner and Eberle. Todd Nelson told me he thinks Horak has potential to be a solid 3rd line centre, and potentially a 2nd line forward if he learns to use his speed regularly.

    Flames fan here, and I don’t think there’s any chance Horak becomes a 2nd line centre. He could become a very useful 3rd, but 2nd line? I doubt it

  • Spydyr

    “I know the music isn’t the reason the Oilers are losing, and none of the players suggested that, but the Oilers need to look at improving every aspect of their team and in-game experience. Emotion plays a huge factor in hockey, and a better playlist could get the fans more into the game, thus improving the atmosphere and that could ignite the Oilers at certain times in the game.”

    C’mon Gregor… Better music=better fans=better players?

    If it was that easy, don’t you think someone (ANYONE) would’ve done something about it by now?

  • Spydyr

    I don’t waste my few paultry doubloons on travelling to Etown to watch the Oil. If I want my pocket picked I’ll hang out downtown Etown after dark. The whole Rexall experience sucks from the price and quality of the food/beverage to available parking. Oh, and yes of course the music. Going to and from that arena is not worth the 41/2 hour trip. I’m not dissing Etown so the hyper sensitive crowd can relax their collective cracks. It has to be one of the very worst rinks in the league.
    The Oilers staff in charge of the most basic of ammenties on site are a colossal failure IMO.
    On Yakupov I think Eakins is the main culprit. He is too busy trying to look like an NHL head coach instead of being one. I’m willing to bet the biggest fail of the GM so far is turning that Idiot loose on this young team. The wrong draft picks and most trades are on the GM’s current and previous. The problems of this organization are just beginning to unfold. The real crap has yet to hit the fan. When the light goes off over Katz’ head and he realizes he may be facing another re-build and the herd of ex-oilers slopping at his trough have been an enormous failure….well….heaven help us.

  • Thank you Gregor. Finally someone Addressed the terrible DJ/Fan Experience. My friends and i noticed this years ago. Some games they play the same music at the same parts of the game. Embarrassing indeed! I can’t remember all the songs they keep playing over and over, but I do recall they play Kickstart my heart either to start the 3rd or sometime during the 3rd.

  • Spurzey

    While their at it, get a new announcer too. That yelling and fake emotion goes back a long way and is very old.

    I was disappointed Eakins didn’t send Yak to OKC.

    • camdog

      I disagree, part of going to Rexal is the ambiance, right now that building has none. People spend good money to be entertained and on many nights the entire organization does absolutely nothing to try and entertain. I have also found that Eskimo games also have boring predictable half time shows. The entertainment value of the 2-major sporting teams is as bad as it ever has been.

        • camdog

          I was at the Grey Cup game in Toronto when the Argos were in it 2 seasons ago. Playing Justin Bieber at the half time killed the energy in the old Skydome. The building was packed, the home team was winning, but the energy was gone. I guess you have to experience this for yourself too understand the effect it really does have on the atmosphere at an event.

          Simply put music can be used as a tool to pump up the fan base or it can mellow out a fan base. At Rexal it mellows you out. The team can still lose and the building can be rocking, but not with the tunes they play at Rexal.

  • Spydyr

    Hey Gregor. Awesome job! You really set Patrick laforge straight. Sure the teams going to hell, 14 games under 500 or whatever, they’re healthy scratching yak while gagner and co ramp up huge minutes. Sure “winner” Kevin Lowe continues to make big bucks as president of hockey operations, Bucky and Steve smith continue to suck it up as assistant coaches, the power play is worse than it is under the coach they fired after 40 games… But you got that music fixed!! Awesome!
    Sarcasm over… Can we get a guy on the radio in Edmonton who will talk actual issues. No one at ched will do it, and even the non rights holder is all unicorns and love in’s. It’s actually quite annoying. In our 8th year of losing, any other town and the media would be running management out of town and questioning coaching decisions. Here they’re talking about changing music selections and getting excited about nurse and klefbom. All this after your article last week about staying patient and the Oilers following the path of the penguins and hawks lol. so yak gets benched after playing like 5 minutes, 3 games in a row and that makes sense to you? Why am I not suprised. how did they evaluate him in those five minutes of playing time? eakins could wear a thong on the bench and Gregor would say, awesome idea!! The fans may not like that thong, but it makes sense to me.
    Anyhow, I’ll slow this rant down to say the Edmonton sports media is communist era eastern Europe.

  • Was at Recall Saturday after a few minutes he played “make some noise” and I heard a sort of cheer. In the third period during a powerplay the fans started on there own the “let’s go Oilers ” chant. Which was louder than I heard in quite a while. Whoever is in charge is not in tune with the fans(.)

  • Dallylamma

    While we’re changing the in game experience how about some better food at Rexall? We all gladly down $9 heroin beers but the other staples like cheeseburgers and fries are f’n weak. How about a little more value for money Northlands?

  • Spydyr

    Laughable as the music is, I don’t tune into a SPORTSTALK RADIO for music advise. ..

    Gregor loves to argue, whether he’s on par or not. Yesterday’s hypocrisy begins with telling Oiler fans that Krueger having a better power play and better PK is not a valid point at all. In the next breath blabs like a Willis or any other stats meathead about how the shot differential is improved and that’s all that matters now. How about the Wins Gregor? Krueger had more, with a worse team and no training camp. Eakins is in over his head, very obvious.

    • Jason Gregor

      If you are going to make a post at least be truthful about it.

      The caller said the best way to tell if a coach is good is by looking at the success of the special teams.

      That is completely incorrect.

      Special teams is on average about 12 minutes of a game.

      The Oilers PP was 20.1% last year and this year it is at 17.9%. That is a whopping 3 goals difference from last year to this year. Do you think those three goals make Krueger a much better coach.

      Do you think Krueger’s coaching had anything to do with Dubnyk’s .920 Sv%. Did Krueger believe that getting outshot by 6 goals a game would be better for his goalies SV%.

      You think Eakins is the reason Dubnyk’s SV% is 0.896? Seriously do you.

      Show me the stats that suggest Krueger was a better coach? Or did he just get better goaltending than Eakins did in the first month of the season?

      Feel free to debate all you like, but make sure your facts are accurate.

      Don’t post complete lies to make your point, it doesn’t help the conversation.

  • Spydyr

    @Jason Gregor
    I finally got a chance to listen to your discussion with Pat Laforge last night, he sure was defensive and condescending,it sure seems to be a job requirement of the Oilers.
    I also am a season ticket holder and the music and the “ambiance” does suck and to say the music seems better in Chicago because the team is better is just a dumb comment.The music selection in Edmonton is brutal and I know my daughter or even my mother could do a better job.
    Who owns Aquila Productions anyway, another one of the buddies from the 80’s?

  • S cottV

    Hobbema to Maskwacis? Who cares? People still know you have a good chance of getting sh…… anyways! Yak was having a Stamkosian turn around in the final month of the season. You have at least seven of the same type of smallish skilled forwards who have a tough time maintaining posession downlow. Its like having a big box of brand new nike shoes and finding out all of them are right feet.