Soak it up Marty Marincin!

Last week, young Oilers defender Martin Marincin was a surprise addition to Slovakia’s hockey team going to Sochi for the Olympics. What a great feeling that must have been for him! The soon to be Olympian will turn twenty-two during the Olympics. The Olympics are huge for Europeans. After playing in three different European countries I can tell you people love to talk about past athletes that have represented their countries proudly. He and his family must be very excited.

Marincin has been a nice surprise for me on the back end. When you look at him on paper it is impossible not to like his height. Watching him in practice he is a nice skater, is comfortable with the puck and has a shot. But the games are where it counts.

Playing on a weak team is difficult for all the individual players. It is especially hard on the defenceman and goalies. This group finds themselves facing odd man rushes against and spending lots of time in their own end. The defence corps is always under pressure. I am not saying the D for the Oilers is not responsible for some of the issues but not having a more consistent defensive minded group of forwards makes it rough.

This makes it hard for a young d man to feel his way into the NHL.. On a stronger NHL team there are games where you find yourself standing on the offensive blue line for a whole shift as your forwards light up a weaker team in their own end. A young defenceman can get used to the speed and flow of the NHL game at a more reasonable rate. Not so on a weaker team. Most nights it can feel like you are under siege. There are times when you want to yell out "Broken Arrow" as you are being overrun!

Marincin has looked calm to me. I don’t see him panic with the puck. (I thought Hunt was very nervous and jittery with the puck for the three games he was in the lineup). He seems to find the play to make quickly. With the pressure d-men get in the game today knowing what to do with the puck before you actually have it is a must. He has shown me poise, a nice asset for a young player.

The first job of defencemen is to stop the other team from scoring. In his first nine games I can only think of one time where he was really out of position that led to a goal. That is impressive. He needs to keep that up and slowly work in some of the offence we know he has.

The one area I would like to see him improve is his weight and strength. He is listed at 6’4, 188 lbs. Not enough muscle on that body. Much like our friend Wanye he needs to lock himself in a gym this summer that has a buffet included! I would expect him to play at close to 210 lbs or more three years from now. He needs to match the strength of the big bodies of NHL forwards.

I saw a play against the Penguins that really showed me this need. He did a nice job on a James Neal rush to keep him to the outside and force him behind the net. As Marincin engaged him physically Neal pushed him off with his superior strength. Nothing came of the play but a big guy like Marty needs to have the ability to respond with the same amount of strength.

Moving forward after the ten games he has played I see really no reason to change the way the Oilers are handling him. His ice time has been roughly fifteen minutes a night, a very manageable amount. He is not over-stressed or drowning so his confidence if anything is improving.

Marincin will get a great opportunity to soak up knowledge from a player who is most likely his idol and is the captain of the Slovakian Olympic team, Zdeno Chara. What a chance to learn for Marty! Chara is everything you want in a role model for a young defenceman. He is in incredible shape, he plays hard every night, he’s extremely competitive. He’s a leader who doesn’t wilt under pressure and a very good defender. The list goes on and on. Marincin needs to have his eyes glued to Chara both on and off the ice during the whole tourney.

Organizations dream of the opportunities like this for their young players. For Marincin he needs to take advantage of everything he will learn from Chara, the Olympic experience and this stretch of NHL games to keep his development moving forward.

Set Your Alarms Boys

8 am practice?

Are you serious?

These words would have been uttered after Oilers players were informed of their coach’s decision to practice twice last week very early.

I have never heard of any coach setting a practice time on a non-travel day at 8 am in my life! There were many reasons mentioned by Eakins as to why he made that choice. I didn’t agree or buy any. This is the truth. It is a reverse curfew. It is that simple. The moment I read the tweets I knew that.

Sleep is vital for an NHL player. For many sleeping after a game does not come easy. When I played some nights I wouldn’t fall asleep till three or four in the morning because I was still fired up. Maybe I would watch the game again or watch a couple of movies to settle down. It was frustrating to not to be able to sleep sooner and the lack of sleep would wear me down.

Eakins admitted earlier this season that he was surprised how difficult the travel was out here. The flights are all three hours or more after Calgary and Vancouver. It is long and late nights coming home from everywhere. Most guys can’t sleep on the plane. Some come home to families that they want to spend time with so that means no naps.

At every turn sleep is slipping away. I know that when you are not rested and tired injuries are more likely to happen. It is a fact.

So with all of this knowledge is there any other reason than the one I stated above to think that at 8 am practice has benefits? No. There isn’t.

I don’t know if there is an issue with the night life of players on this team. My days of shooters, doing the worm and late nights are mostly behind me now. I do know that when I was a young player I enjoyed myself when the opportunity presented itself. I was smart and made sure late nights didn’t hurt my games or practices. Older players showed me the way and kept me accountable.

I played with some guys who were animals and went out all the time. They showed up at practice and games and played their hearts out. It didn’t affect their performance. They had long careers. I played with other guys who were puddles the couple of days after a big night out. They couldn’t produce and they were out of the league quickly.

If Eakins feels some guys are not living up to his standards after a late night out I have no problem with that. As a professional hockey player that is part of the deal. If you dance to the music you need to pay the piper. Eakins and the veterans need to sit the players down and outline clearly how it needs to work.

BUT… having early practices to send or reinforce that message is not the way to do it. Eakins is actually shooting himself and his team in the foot. He is unnecessarily tiring out his team.

LET THE BOYS SLEEP!!!!

  • From everything I’ve read and seen so far I’d go with Draisaitl over Ekblad especially since Oilers have a ton of defensive prospects on the way (Marincin, Klefbom, Nurse, Simpson, Gernat, ect) and not really any centers that project to be top six.

  • book¡e

    So, is this article meant to suggest that Eakins is out of line in teaching his NHLers that they are privileged in that their biggest problems in life are finding time to have a nap and/or entertain the wife when they get home from a road trip?

    It kind of does the opposite.

  • Nicely done, Struds!

    Do you think Marincin really needs to add 25+ pounds to be an effective d-man? Pronger played at a lean 6’6 210. If Marincin added just 10 lbs, he would be a lean 6’4 198. I am not sure size is a precursor to effectiveness but taking no quarter from James Neal might be, as we know The Rake would never allow.

    Your points on sleep are spot-on! On the other side of things, I was wondering what the early practices do to normal routines later in the day? I can understand losing sleep across the night, but what can changing when a player spends energy do to the patterns of the day?

  • I think the 8am practices are pure genius. It’s a big red warning sign being thrown at the players. Be professional or else. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the 8am practices haven’t been a continuous thing, it’s only been twice? So it’s really Eakins saying ‘Try me’. If the boys continue to be irresponsible with their time management, then a real curfew is next.

    On the other hand, maybe it has nothing to do with late nights, and Eakins just likes early mornings. It wouldn’t be the strangest thing I’ve heard. He’s known to be outside the box on one or two ideas.

  • Well Mr. Fitness will now be know as MR. Sleepless.

    Mr. Sleepless has changed everything he could, gone are the pictures of the “great Oilers dynasty, gone are the donuts, gone are the regular practices at a normal time? Come on really??

    Yes Mr. Sleepless knows what he is doing…….just wait and see when he learns who his players are, what position they play, who they are as people, well then it’s time to look out!

    When you are a ego maniac who is totally self absorbed, you start thinking everything you do is something special. Enter Eakins with his 8:00 am practices. This is pure foolishness and someone will have to explain to this clown that finishing a game at 11:00 pm and then going home to eat, and wind down has a player not being able to sleep very much……….only to get up at 6:00 to prepare for a 8:00 am practice.

    The players have all quit playing for this clown……..but he is totally unaware of this because he spends too much time listening to his inner fool!

    • pkam

      So far there were only 2 early practices. One was on Jan 6th after a 6:00pm game against the Tampa. The other one was on Jan 9th after a day off.

      I went to a couple of games per year. I arrived home about 12:00am after the game and I had to wake up 6:00am the next morning for work. And I believe a lot of fans were under the same boat.

      If it is too much to ask these millionaire players to wake up at 6:00am after a 6:00pm game the night before or after a day off, how can they expect fans who have to wake up at 6:00am to attend their 8:00pm games?

  • Shocking. These poor souls are being forced to get up around the same time as everyone else. THEN they are being forced to play hockey, with the only recompense being millions of dollars.

    I am outraged. Flabbergasted, sir.

    Why aren’t the proper authorities being brought into this?

    Cruelty to millionaires. A new BBC documentary in the making no doubt!

    • Rob...

      I propped you because I share the sentiment, but I doubt there are any Sports Performance Specialists out there that also share it. I might find it sickening to hear the players talk about their pre-game naps, but if this wasn’t the smart thing for them to do they likely wouldn’t have it as part of their routine. The same goes for the sane coaches not having early morning practices.

      Also, partying after a bad loss is probably going to help them mentally cope and reset for the next game more than going home to an empty house and stewing about it will.

  • northof51

    If partying is an issue with some of the players then you need to deal with this issue especially if it’s affecting their results on the job.
    The early practice impacts everyone therefore it should not be used as a method to get some of the kids to bed! The other players have a life after all.
    Now I don’t know if this is the reason for the 8:00 a.m. practices but I do find it odd!

  • northof51

    I get what Struds is saying about the 8 am practices. I quit my beer league team this year cause I couldn’t handle getting home after midnight, falling asleep somewhere around 2, and getting up before 7.

    It is a NHLer’s job to perform late in the evening, not at 8 in the morning like the rest of us in the working class.

    Props to Marancin for his first 10 games. Hope he only gets better.

  • northof51

    What a joke….my 8 year old has 6am practices ..my wife gets up at 5:05 so she can get to the hospital in time to start her 12 hour shift at 6:30..and as for your comments about not being able to sleep after games..most of these guys fall asleep in the first intermission. The more they loose the harder they should work period………

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    @Struds

    It’s a pretty well known fact that the Oiler “kids” go partying very often. They have been seen at the bars after tough losses which does nothing to help their reputation.

    Obviously kids love to party, but it would be easier to see and allow if they actually won some games.

    To illustrate the point, there was a tweet that said “Maybe if they named the new arena The Ranch Roadhouse, the Oilers would actually show up.” The guy had 60 followers and it was retweeted 100+ times.

      • Rdubb

        I’d love for everyone to stop going to the Oilers home games, but that won’t happen. Why, because this town (& it’s out lying areas too) absolutely LOVES THE OILERS…but, I really wish, and we can all do this, pick one home game, and NOT GO!!! Let’s show the Oilers Brass (namely Lowe & Katz) that we, the fans are sick and tired of being treated like scum (so-to-speak). Edmonton has the 4th highest average ticket price in the NHL, and for what, the 28th, 29th, 30th place teams? NOT COOL
        Maybe, by skipping ONE game, MacT & the players will pick up @ how unsatisfied we fans are.
        It is my belief that the players try every night for the most part, but what they don’t have is HEART & the willingness to learn.
        Look @ CAL, a mostly unskilled team who tries hard, night in and night out, they have heart and they learn and do what the coaching staff tries to implement, & the Oilers are a highly skilled team who are sitting lower in the standings. This SHOULDN’T be happening!!!
        How does MacT fix that? SHAKE THINGS UP! How? Trade Yak, Hemsky (while you can still get something for him), Gagner, & on D, you trade Petry, N.Scultz, Belov, & in goal, trade them both!!!
        Who DOES MacT keep? Hall, RNH, Eberle, Peron, Archo, & Gordon, even R.Jones (as he is starting to get back to the Jones of 2+ yrs ago).
        Bring up the D guys, Gernat & Klefbom and play them the rest of the yr and see what you have, the season is already lost, and if you trade both tenders this season (while you can get something for them) bring up Bachman and Brossiot and see what the future holds…many teams now have a log jam in goal such as CAR, LA, ANA, WAS…
        It shouldn’t be hard to bring in a top 6 bigger forward with skill, or a 1-2 d-man and a tender from the above teams with what EDM has to offer up. The question is; where to start? Yak, Hemmer & Petry for a 1-2 D-man? Yak for Stewart (in STL), perhaps Gagner & Petry for Lucic (BOS)?
        I could go on and on what I think and feel, as could most of you who post in here, but it is essentially all up the MacT, lets just hope he keeps the core (or the guys mentioned above)…
        Just my thoughts
        PECK

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Just want to make a few comments. First of all, congrats to Marty for making the Olympic team. A huge honour for the young man, and what a bonus to learn from Chara.

    My personal opinion of Eakins is that he is in way over his head, and is proving to be incompetent and is at a complete loss as to how to be effective. He has clearly run out of ideas on what to do. I also think he is a hypocrite. Early morning practice–CRAZY!!!

    Jason, based on your experience as a player, and the observations you have made, do you see the players buying in or protesting the system Eakins has in place? I’m asking this, because I see Eakins showing a considerable amount of inconsistencies in many of his decisions every game. As a result of this, I don’t know how the players know what to expect, so they are playing their own game.

    • Jason Strudwick

      Since the team has got healthy their record has been around .500. That is about where I saw them finishing. There are weaknesses on this team that are hard to coach around. How many coaches need to be fired before that is fixed?

      • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

        One to many Jason, Ralph Kruger should not have been fired. He had this team trending the right way but MacTavish’s ego got in the way and he made a very poor decision. Eakins will last at the most two years that is painfully obvious. The guy is an egomaniac. He will be back doing his marathons soon enough thank god.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Draft Ekblad. If he’s gone, go for that Draisatl kid. Last year he got 58 points in 64 games in the Dub, this year he’s at 35 games played and is already at 54 points. 6’2″, 208 lbs at 18. Could be just what the doctor ordered for our 2C position.

    • james_dean

      You know, I was positive we should trade the first rounder if we couldn’t get Ekblad, but after doing my research on Draisatl he looks like an excellent fit for 2C, like you said. Big kid, lots of heart, hits, good defensively minded. It’s the exact opposite of Gagner. Perfect.

  • Raider Jesse

    It’s about time someone starts calling out Eakins. He’s a disaster.

    Between this artcile and the most recent MC79Hockey article showing evidence that MacT’s comments about Hall and Company’s usage against tougher competition being hogwash, it’s nice to see some people take some legit shots at the organization.
    On the positive side, I’ve been very happy with Marincin and I think we have a player there. Great job so far.

    • pkam

      Enjoyed your interview with Mac T and your part on Lowetide this morning.
      It is unfortunate you could not have done the interview with Katz or Lowe, Mac T has a way of answering but not really answering some of the questions making you feel like you ate Chinese food, it fills you up for an hour and then you felt like you never ate anything.

  • John Chambers

    There’s a possibility that the Oilers future defense corps stacks up something like this:

    Nurse – Ekblad

    Marincin – Schultz

    Klefbom – Gernat?? Simpson??

    That would be worth getting excited about.

    If only we had dynamic scoring forwards. Oh wait!

    • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

      Not sure how you can get excited about a defense that has one guy with NHL experience. Until the others play in the NHL and prove what they can do you are dreaming big. Of that list it would be good luck if 2 or 3 turn into solid NHLers That does not include Schultz he has played enough games to prove he will be an NHL regular

    • Zarny

      First, Ekblad will go 1st or 2nd and the Oilers won’t be drafting that high.

      Second, aside from Marincin’s 10 games Schultz is the only D with any NHL experience on your list…all 88 games worth.

      That’s insane. We’ve seen the problems of playing all of the young F together while they learn a 200 ft game. An entire D core of rookies and players with less than 200 games experience would be a disaster.

      If this D core is the Oilers’ plan they’ll lose for another 5 years.

      • pkam

        I believe Calgary will finish last. Sabres and us will be battling for 2nd and 3rd last. So there is 50% chance that we will finish 2nd last.

        Mid term ranking just came out today and Ekblad is ranked 3rd. As far as I remember, Seth Jones never ranked 3rd and was 1st since mid term ranking last year. If Jones can go 4th, what makes you think Ekblad can’t go after 2nd?

        I am not saying Ekblad will not go 1st and 2nd, but chances are he may not.

    • Randaman

      We will not be getting Ekblad!! We will finish ahead of Buffalo, Calgary, Florida. He will not be available at 4. PERIOD!! We will have to trade as no FA will want to come to this joke of the NHL. PERIOD!!! I’m not negative, just a realist.

      • pkam

        I doubt we will finish ahead of Panthers. They are 6 pts ahead of us and have 3 games in hand, and compete in the weaker East conference.

        Buffalo are 4 pts behind us and have 4 games in hand. Assume they can get just 2 pts out of the possible 8, they will be 2 pts behind us after the 4 games. And with easier west opponents for the majority of the remining 34 games, it will be a dog fight in the standing between us.

        Calgary finally falls back to reality. But they are still 1 pt ahead of us and 3 games in hand.

        I expect these 3 teams to finish last, the standing will be anyone’s guess. I believe I am more realistic than you.

        • Randaman

          Well, if anybody can find a way to screw up a sure thing, It’s the Oilers. That is fact. Even if we don’t pass Florida as Pkam suggests Ekblad will not be there at 3. We have to trade Eberle + to get a #1 or #2 D man here pronto!

      • John Chambers

        I too would prefer a gentler transition into that D corps.

        Perhaps if the Oil could trade Gagner for a Kulikov type, and get an Andrew MacDonald or Dan Girardi in free agency, we won’t have to trade the pick or any of those delicious prospects.

        • John Chambers

          i don’t know what to do. we all agree the defence is not up to par for an AHL team, and if you trade gagner for some help whats the center ice look like?? this team is heavy on the wings, weak up the middle, weaker on the back end and we can all debate about the net. completely opposite of how to build a contender

          • John Chambers

            Yeah, I think next year would be more bearable if it looked like:

            Top L Defenseman – Top R Defenseman
            Petry – Ference
            Marincin – Schultz
            Belov

            Byfuglien and Markov would be on my wish list without sacrificing any key pieces.

            The year after we buy out Ference slides down to the 7th spot, with Nurse replacing Belov, with Ekblad and Klefbom replacing Byfuglien and Markov as they’re ready.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      The potential of that D corps makes my eyes water. But I’m sick to death of potential, it’s time for results.

      Lordy I hope we get Ekblad. Nurse and Ekblad would be quite the 1st pairing.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I’m the same age as Hall, and I go pretty hogwild some nights. I can only imagine what kind of shenanigans the kids get up to with access to that kind of cash. As long as it doesn’t affect your work (play?), then all the power to you.

    Fire Lowe.

    • Lofty

      If your P. Kane and you’re on pace for 90pts and play on a team leading your conference you have a lot more room to get sloppy on the regular.

      When your team is DFL and hasn’t made the playoffs in 8 years, you should pick your spots carefully. They’ll have a long offseason to troll the watering holes. At least a couple more months than the contenders.