A Busy Morning

77-Belov-4

There aren’t a lot of busy news days for teams outside the playoff picture at this point, but for good and ill the Edmonton Oilers had one on Monday. Front office changes and a disgruntled player speaking out made for a very interesting morning in Oil country.

Bill Scott Promoted

Scott, Bill

Bill Scott, who has served as the general manager of the Oklahoma City Barons over the last four (very successful) seasons, has been promoted to the role of assistant general manager. The Oilers’ official release described his new duties this way:

As a member of the Oilers Hockey Management team, Scott’s responsibilities will include player and staff contract negotiations, scheduling, salary arbitration, salary cap management and all day to day administrative duties. He is also the club’s liaison to the NHL regarding matters pertaining to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

I had some interaction with Scott during my time in Oklahoma, and came away with the impression of an intelligent man who was diligent and professional. Talking to veteran players over the course of the season, one got the sense that from their perspective Oklahoma was a model NHL club; a lot of that certainly relates to the budget provided by ownership but it’s also hard to imagine it happening independent of a good general manager.

Just 33 years of age, Scott has climbed the organizational ladder in a hurry.

Ricky Olczyk Departs

In the same news release, the Oilers announced that former assistant general manager Ricky Olczyk had been offered another job within the organization, but had “respectfully declined.”

It’s extremely difficult for someone outside the organization to evaluate what Olczyk has done, and it would be foolish to try and suggest that any analysis from this vantage point is comprehensive. With that said, there have been some actions that suggest the Oilers have done a poor job under Olczyk of navigating the CBA and other key NHL agreements. From my spring 2012 profile of the man:

One of the interesting things to come out of the Dany Heatley boondoggle was the fact that apparently both the Oilers and Senators were confused about when Heatley’s bonus was payable, which reflects badly on Olczyk. Then there was the time the Oilers may have been confused by Gilbert Brule’s waiver eligibility. Then there was that time that someone high up in the organization didn’t know how long the team had to sign Teemu Hartikainen. Again, it needs to be emphasized that we’re constructing a picture based on glimpses, but those sorts of things look really bad. Also bad in glimpses? Olczyk’s player evaluation – he may have been toeing the company line, but calling Khabibulin the team’s MVP and talking about the “great job” done by J-F Jacques doesn’t inspire confidence.

Less than a month after that profile was written, the Oilers’ recall of Magnus Paajarvi was rejected by the NHL because Edmonton had already reached its maximum number of post-deadline recalls.

We don’t know what role Olczyk played in these blunders, and we don’t know how he performed in his other assignments. What we do know is that the team publicly designated him as their CBA expert and that over his time in Edmonton the Oilers repeatedly made embarrassing CBA-related gaffes.

A little more reading between the lines: It seems suggestive that the Oilers offered Olczyk another position within the organization. Edmonton’s management may not have wanted Olczyk to stay in his current job but obviously the team still saw value in him.

Anton Belov Speaks Out

Dallas Eakins 3

Russian reporter Pavel Lysenkov caught up with Anton Belov this week and asked him why he returned to the KHL. Via Puck Daddy, this was Belov’s explanation:

There is no one reason that made it an abrupt change. It all was building up during the season, especially more so after the Olympics. And the hire of coach Bykov (by SKA) was also an influence. The other point is that I could have re-signed with Edmonton, but I didn’t want to stay with that coach [Dallas Eakins].

A few points:

  • It seems the Oilers had interest in re-signing Belov, which is an encouraging sign.
  • It’s important not to read too much into one man’s comments on Dallas Eakins. Personalities differ, we don’t know the particulars of the situation, and so on. Plenty of great NHL coaches have run afoul of individual players.
  • With that said, this isn’t a good sign for Eakins. Belov’s not a franchise cornerstone, but he’s a player useful enough for the Oilers to seemingly want to bring back, and according to Belov his distaste for the coach was a primary reason the team won’t get that opportunity. Eakins had a line early on in his coaching tenure about the importance of coaching players on an individual level; by that metric this can only be regarded as one failure.

In short: it really isn’t a good sign, but it would be a mistake to read too much into it.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • BRHLBryce

    How about Will Desjardins, who has the best coaching record in the AHL the last 2 years and was coach of the year. (not Eakins)

    He is with The Stars farm club.

  • camdog

    Horrible environment the Oilers locker room. This is where players come to end their career. This environment has been cooking as long as Kevin Lowe has been around. They steal the hearts out young players and turn them into average players at best. Next year when they don’t make the playoffs will fans still be trashing my comments. My guess is yes.

    I can’t see Oilers making the playoffs . So many teams are passing them by
    I feel sorry for the players that come here.

  • Lofty

    Hall, Eberle and Nuge not going to play for Canada in the IIHF Worlds is rediculous!

    They’re screwing themselves for next season. Look what it did for Dubnyk… He had a record breaking NHL season because he played in the tournament last year with an undefeated record!

    Many elite athletes get away from there sport in the offseason for a month. Most fans don’t realize the intensity of training in preparation for a season. You want Nuge or Yak to gain 10lbs of muscle in the offseason? They do it by going balls out in the gym from June to September.

    Nothing wrong with players taking a month or so to themselves as long as there focus is dialed in when it counts. I can’t say this is what they’re doing but I can’t see it hurting them in any way.

  • Joy S. Lee

    Dallas Eakins is NOT Mr. Personality or Mr. Emotion. He looks and acts as if he is chiseled out of stone. I have serious doubts about his ability and certainly want to see BIG progress next season. If we limp out of the tunnel for the first 6 games then he HAS to go, we cannot and will not tolerate another lousy season. I like the Bill Scott hiring, but one replacement isn’t enough IMO. Belov could have been right, some players truly don’t like their coaches, some coaches dislike some of their players. Eakins talked a good talk early on – pity he had no idea on how to follow through. He needs experienced help (not from Acton, Smith or Bucky) and he needs it fast. If the closest he came to emotion was swallowing hard when Smytty hugged him after the final game, then heaven help us all. Emotion and passion is what drives players and fans. Maybe lessons in emotion/passion in the off season would help. Right now I’d try ANYTHING to make our team better. I’m rooting for the Red Wings for the cup – why? because Tom Renney was dealt a horrible deal and patience would have paid off. Another blooper courtesy of Tambellini.

  • camdog

    Just when you thought the circus was over for a few weeks the tent gets setup again. Olczyk takes a bullet so they can atleast say they did somthing, and Belov confirms what 95% of the fans already knew about Eakins…. Hopefully atleast real change will come next year when they suck again

    • Joy S. Lee

      No change will come until there is a culture change by getting rid of the Old boys club.

      Every old Oiler in management must Go. This team needs some real leadership.

      Ask yourself this question. Why has there been 8 years since a GM who was a player who the cup. (2006 Hurricanes when both finalists just squeaked in) And why have Canadian teams been so terrible at hockey.

      Well, too many ex NHL’ers in management. The US teams pick GM’s who have been involved but don’t come to be president of the team after 6 years of doing nothing (ie Trevor Lindon in Vancouver).

      Would Toyota take an assembly line worker and make them CEO of the company the next day. Canadian teams do that with ex players, that is why they, and the Oilers are failing.

      • Dan 1919

        I’m just worried that even another bottom feeding season next year still won’t be enough to get rid of Lowe. He seems to be untouchable no matter how pathetic his teams are

  • Slapshot

    Hall,RNH and Eberle are not used to playing hockey past April,give them a break ,they do not want to break up their routine LOL!!!!

    They obviously did not learn anything from Ryan Symth or all three would’ve of been there.

  • Slapshot

    I haven’t read through all this so pardon me if it’s been covered.

    My first thought upon reading this was it opens a door for Bucky to be GM in OKC and thus gets moved but not fired.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Are all three healthy?

    Have they released an official statement about why they aren’t going?

    There seems to be a lot of speculative judging going on.

    Why get so worked up with limited information.

  • Tikkanese

    one of the strengths Eakins supposedly has is his ability to deal with and develop young players. Not suggesting that Eakins needs to be replaced this minute, but it is worth noting that many young Oilers had sub-par years and his attempts at making Yakupov accountable while others seemed to operate with impunity does not inspire confidence.

  • Joy S. Lee

    Dallas’s personal preference of players cleary impacted the team. The way he chose
    Fraser>Belov Acton>Lander Gagner>Arcobello Joensuu>Yakupov so on.
    He is the type of guy who would choose Kadri over Toews because he got to know Kadri more