The Perfect Storm

I love George Clooney. Call it a man crush! The guy has got style. He is the only person I know that can make a tuxedo look casual at the same time as formal. He has got it going on. How about his hair! Wow. Sick loaf. That salt and pepper look seems to really work it way into the ladies hearts. Probably doesn’t hurt that he has a great place to take them to his house in Lake Como, Italy.

I admire his acting ability. He makes it look so easy. In my opinion one of his best is The Perfect Storm. This about a boat of fisherman who get caught in one of the worst storms of the century and how they try to overcome. Multiple storms converge on their location creating a super storm.

In many ways this Oilers season has been a similar story line. Multiple issues all seemingly unrelated that intertwine to bring Oilers fan pain.

Storm #1— Youth and inexperience throughout most of the heavy minute eaters.

This group which includes Hall, Nuge, Yak, Eberle, Petry and J. Schultz. They are near the top for ice time each night. Although Yakupov is not at the top for ice time, he is near the top for creating goals against by his mistakes.

Playing against the oppositions top lines most nights has put a spotlight on how much this group of players need to learn. They are starting to understand how to play away from the puck. Unfortunately the only way to learn is through experience.

Storm #2—Unstable goaltending.

The Oilers overall team defence is not good. This puts a lot of pressure on the goaltending to make big saves on grade A chances. The two goalies who started the season here are now gone as a result of that. Bryzgalov and Scrivens are now the two under the gun.

All four goaltenders, this season, are not starting goaltenders. The have been in the past and could be in the future. This Oilers team needs a legit starting goalie. Not someone past their prime or a goalie trying to find out if they can play sixty consistent games a season. They need a solid starter. That goalie is not in the organization today.

Storm #3—Inexperienced coach

For many people Dallas Eakins was the best of the up and coming young coaches outside the NHL. He had success in the AHL and some coaching experience in the NHL as an assistant.

Looking from the outside I believe Eakins thought this team was a lot closer to being competitive than it actually was. There has not been a part of the Oilers game or a player that has been consistent all year. He must feel like he has been running from place to place putting out fires.

The goaltending, specialty teams, forecheck and all four lines have at different points this season been way out of sync. So not only has he had to deal with every aspect of the team but also learn how to coach against the top coaches in the world.

Just like players learning to compete against top players, Eakins has been dealing with in game adjustments and curveballs from coaches with over one thousand games coached in the NHL. He learning curve has been a steep one this year.

Storm #4—Inexperienced GM

MacT took over as GM with very little experience in the position. I like him as a person and as I coach I really liked playing for him. Being a GM is whole different game.

He is well spoken and fired up the Oilers fans with his promises of making change and a "Bold Move". Great to say but as I believe he has found out very hard to deliver.

He has made trades but I don’t think any of them so far will be talked about years from now. He is learning the NHL GM job on the fly and maybe he has been dealing with curveballs from other super experienced guys around the league.

This is a lot of inexperience for a team to overcome. There are teams that deal with some of these "storms" but very few that have all four combine in the same season. It has put a lot of strain on the team. Strain they have not been able to handle this year.

Next year Eakins and MacT with both have a year under their belts. The skaters will also have another year of learning. The issue for me is goaltending. This team needs a goalie, a legit number one goalie. Not a goalie of the future or of the past, a "now" goalie.

A legit starter knows he is a starter. He doesn’t doubt himself after a rough night. He doesn’t get to high after an incredible game. He knows how to come back and be solid after a great or terrible night.

The Oilers need stability between the pipes. This goalie will let the odd goal in and at times will look weak unless the team in front of him improves their defensive play. But he will know how to handle both of these situations because he has been through them before. He isn’t going through it for the first time.

There is a scene in The Perfect Storm where the clouds thin out and the darkness lightens to the point where the sun shines down on the Clooney’s boat. For a second you pray that it is over and that everything will be ok. Just as quickly as the sun comes out it is gone again and the storm swallows up the boat.

We haven’t seen to many rays of sunshine this season. I hope when we do it doesn’t mean the end is near.

In Your Head

I watched the Flames/Canucks game Saturday night. It was an entertaining game. Five fights to start the game was something to see.

I don’t mind it at all. The Flames wanted to set the tone in the Canucks building. Torts decided to send out his line to counter at the aggressiveness. The fights followed and eight players tossed. No big deal. No one was hurt. Move on and play the game.

I know that Hartley did it to rattle Torts. He got more than he could have hoped for as a response for Torts. Torts went nuts. After the first period he walked down to the Flames room and tried to get to Hartley.

This was a big mistake by Torts. Big mistake. He was completely out of control. As a coach you set the tone for your team. Your team follows you. Hartley was right inside Torts head and he made it look so easy by ignoring him!

Hartley was coaching in Hersey when I was in the minors. He was always chirping other teams’ players saying he was going to send different players after us to beat us up. I would just laugh and say send them out. I can’t wait. He was trying to get in our heads. My teammates and I were around twenty one at the time, we could handle it but an experienced NHL coach couldn’t.

There is no excuse for Torts going to the Flames room. He now has an in person hearing for his actions Saturday. I would give him ten games, at least. He needs to be put in his place.

I wonder if long term this hurts the Canucks and Torts. I think it does.

  • The Funky Chicken Has Left The Building

    In the final analysis what really needs to happen (…adieu Six Rings) to get this boat headed in the right direction is not going to occur (BFF) anytime soon. Barring other NHL teams replacing their front office staff with Maggie the Monkey offspring and/or losing 3/4 of their rosters to the KHL the Oiler organization will continue to deliver the same pathetic results.

  • Com’on Jason, the No.1 storm on this team is the
    defensive squad!. You numbered all the areas except the defense.

    You might not recognize the problem being a defense man yourself. There were problems back when you were patroling the blue line for the Oilers and they have gotten worse.. Dont be such a homer and call like it is.

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    I can’t believe the amount of people who carry on about the assistant coaches being the problem with the team. Buckburger and Smith are not the problem!
    The young top six ( lack of top end centermen), defense and goaltending are the problem.

  • Vaclav

    Struds,

    You have probably answered this a hundred times so I apologize for asking if that is the case, but do NHL players talk about management to each other? About needing sign player A or trading player B for a dman or goalie or anything like that?

    Or do most just worry about playing their game and let management worry about that stuff (I’m assuming this).

  • BabyNuge's_Baby

    None of these are storms. They are the consequences of decisions made by the organization.

    You build a team with poor goaltenders and you get poor goaltending.

    You build a team with one top four defender and you get poor defense.

    You build a team with one-dimensional young forwards and you get bad performance out of them.

    You hang on to front office staff that’s failed for over a dozen years and you get a front office that isn’t working.

    There seems to be (judging by Katz letter today) a feeling that the organization probably is just a bit unlucky. Because the realization that everyone involved may not be good at what they are doing is too terrifying to think of.

  • It sounds like barring any offer that they can’t refuse, they are for the most part going to wait for the young d-men.

    To really get what they need they’d have to overpay and that might jeopardize the ultimate goal of being a perenial contender.

    It sucks, but they might be right.

  • The only actor better than George Clooney is Dallas Eakins! He managed to convince MacT that he was a real coach. In stead we saw a coach that needed 30 games to find out who plays which position!

    He is apparently still learning, who does what, but he knows how to Chop Water and Carry Wood!

    A perfect storm is a bunch of unexpected events happening at once. I for one know that there were many fans, pundits, and experts that called this re-build incomplete at the start of the season. I for one trusted what MacT was layinh down at the start of the season.

    You can fool me once, but not twice!

  • Horcsky

    What a terrible article. Torts showed how much he cared for his team and was pissed that he had to send his players into that situation. Maybe if Eakins showed he had the backs of the players, and nit just run them down in the media, maybe the players would play for him. For being a guy who played in the nhl, your sort of clueless on how leadership works.