Monday Mailbag – December 1st

December

Can you believe it’s already December? Even stranger, can you believe that the Oilers still don’t have a win against the Western Conference? It’s insane, but that’s a matter for another day. Today, we take a look at the questions you’ve sent in for our panel of writers. If you have a question, you can email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. I’ll try to get your question as soon as I can. With that, here’s another edition of the mailbag.

BigMouth

1) Christopher Williams asks – What do you make of David Perron’s post game comments where he said “it’s about a full 60. We need accountability from coaches and teammates?”

Robin Brownlee:

I take them at face value. Everybody has to be accountable.

Jeanshorts:

Obviously he’s a competitive guy who’s frustrated with what’s happening this year (and I’m sure with the continuation from last year). I mean, look how angry the fans get with the amount of ice time and the never ending leash Justin Schultz is getting. Can you imagine being a teammate? Having the coach (presumably) say one thing, but then do the opposite? I guarantee everyone in that room is far more frustrated with what happens on the ice than any fan could ever be, and I’m actually surprised more guys haven’t started venting to the media more.

Matt Henderson:

I think it was a challenge to players like Justin Schultz. He saw the same mistakes over and over with no remorse or learning and he called out him teammates. If you watch the whole thing he does everything but name Schultz. It’s no coincidence that not long after that Justin Schultz got benched in the Dallas Game.

Lowetide:

He’s frustrated at his teammates, and he should be. The Oilers are fighting for their lives and some of these gents can’t be bothered to check or get to the bench. Maybe they should read through Oilers history and have a look at how many NHL careers have ended with this team. Anyone remember Robert Nilsson? Didn’t think so.

Jason Gregor:

Nothing wrong with speaking the truth. We all see that the Oilers are making major errors in the game and often beating themselves. I have no issue with it at all.

Jason Strudwick:

He is right. Everyone is thinking it. I am sure the coaches have said it in the room many times.

Baggedmilk:

I’m glad somebody said it!  I loved seeing how pissed off Perron was when he called everyone out.  It’s nice to see some passion on a team that’s sorely lacking in that department.  The stupid thing was that Perron’s name started coming up in trade rumours almost immediately after this. The Oilers need MORE DP – not less.

CoreSample

2) Ryan Beck asks – I think it’s time to trade a core member. Do you think it’s time? If so, who would you move?

Robin Brownlee:

No I don’t. Trading from the position of weakness the Oilers are in is bad enough when you make a move of any kind because you don’t get full value. Trading one of your best bargaining chips is worse. It’s more likely the Oilers will trade somebody like Perron — talk now is about Anisimov — to get a usable player. Oilers need an NHL centre. Not an elite NHL centre but somebody who can take second-line minutes. You don’t give up Hall, Eberle or RNH for that.

Jeanshorts:

The Oilers are between a rock and a hard place right now. No matter who they trade away they’re going to get less than fair value because everyone and their dog knows they’re dealing from a position of weakness. They desperately need to fill multiple holes and any GM worth his salt would try to take as much advantage of that as he could. And as much as it pains me to say it I think Eberle is the odd man out here. He’s an amazing complimentary player but he’s not quite at the level of Nuge or Hall, and I believe that Yak just has way too much potential and has made great strides in just two seasons that he’s going to burst through the stratosphere any day, and you’d be insane to trade him. 

As I said they’re going to get fleeced in basically any trade they try to make during the season, so I don’t know if we’ll see a trade any time soon, for better or worse.

Matt Henderson:

If it isn’t time then it’s close to it. The core member I trade is Jordan Eberle because he has the most value among players not named RNH and Hall. Jordan Eberle can net you something very good. Wait, is Justin Schultz part of the core? If he’s part of the core then I might change my answer. 

Lowetide:

It depends on the return, but yes I think it’s likely time. I would nominate Justin Schultz, and do wonder if they’re going to be forced to cut bait on Nail Yakupov as well.

Jason Gregor:

Schultz would be first to go for me.

Jason Strudwick:

It depends on who is your core. I don’t move 4,93,14 or 29. 

Baggedmilk:

I would never say never.  It all depends what would be coming back the other way. Put it this way: if the Oilers truly want to trade for a top centre or defenceman they may have to trade a guy like Eberle.  I’m not saying it’s right, but it would have to happen.  It’s one of those chicken and the egg situations. We want to trade for great players, but we don’t want to give up solid assets to get one.

King

3) Stephen Wilsons asks – Let’s say you got to be Daryl Katz for 1 week, what changes would you make with the Oilers front office? Do you have names for who you would bring in?

Robin Brownlee:

I start with Kevin Lowe. Not because firing him will make any difference to the on-ice product today or tomorrow, but because it signals a real change and gives somebody from outside the organization the rest of this season to assess the performance of Craig MacTavish and everybody under him. Based on that assessment, changes follow. Bob Nicholson could oversee the interview process for a new POHO and act in that position until its filled.

Jeanshorts:

#FireTheMall 

Obviously the first order of business is to fire Kevin Lowe. I don’t think it will magically turn this team around like an alarming amount of people seem to, but he’s been at the helm of this sinking ship since 2000. 2000!!!!!! That is insane!!! The guy has had a job for 15 years and has done NOTHING in that time! 

And I’m not wise enough to have any suggestions about who could replace him. I’m sure one of the 1500 assistant GMs in Detroit or something that could fill the role admirably. And then I’d let that person decide on whether or not to keep MacT (I wouldn’t fire him yet) and go from there. 

Matt Henderson:

The biggest change to the front office I would make is that moving forward any openings wouldn’t be filled by anyone but the best. I have no beef with MacT as GM and I’m not convinced Kevin Lowe is pulling strings. If Kevin Lowe wants to step down then I’d let him, but Nicholson runs the OEG and MacT runs the Oilers. Maybe the one guy I would can is whichever person is responsible for knowing the CBA inside and out. I’m still chapped about Tkachev.

Lowetide:

Well, I’d fire whoever didn’t know about the Vladimir Tkachev contract situation and I’d fire the pro scouts. I would do more but don’t think turning over an entire staff in one week is realistic. 

Jason Gregor:

One week won’t change all the issues within this organization. I don’t have names, because I would actually interview multiple people for jobs rather than just promote from within or people I knew. That is the problem with firing people mid season: your replacement options are limited. I would want to be the owner for two months in the off season and have time to properly interview people and go through the process of hiring a President, GM and coach if all three were necessary.

Jason Strudwick:

God created the world in 7 days but to turn the Oilers around will take more time. I wouldn’t take the job unless I got to be in charge for a long time. So keep your one week.

Baggedmilk:

I’d put a system in place whereas management actually has to endure a job interview before being handed the keys to the franchise. That’s all I want – a little bit of due process.

4) Dave C. asks – It’s been discussed at length that firing the coach is not the solution because there have been so many coaching changes already and the players need some continuity. Now that the season is all but lost, is that argument invalid? If Eakin’s days are numbered, wouldn’t it make sense to fire him now so the players can spend the remainder of this otherwise wasted season to learn the systems of a new coach?

Robin Brownlee:

It makes more sense to me to start as the top, as I said in the question previous to this one. Find a new POHO. He hires a new GM, if that’s the call that’s made. The new GM hires the coach he wants. The new coach hires the assistants he wants. What good does it do to fire Eakins now so the players can spend the rest of this season under a new coach if that new coach isn’t around to start next season because the new POHO or GM doesn’t want him?

Jeanshorts:

I still think it is valid, but this is a giant hole Steve Tambellini has put the Oilers in that MacT now has to try to dig them out from. If either one of Renney or Kreuger had gotten 2 or 3 seasons, and the team was still this bad, then I’d probably be more on board with looking into a new coach. But obviously the coaching carousel hasn’t done any good for anyone. I’m definitely willing to concede that Dallas Eakins may just not be the right fit for this team, and that maybe he’s just one of those guys who is better suited for the AHL. And, BOY, is it getting harder and harder to defend Eakins with each passing game, and each head scratching line up decision. HOWEVER, as has been said ad nauseam bringing a new coach in isn’t going to fix this team. 

I can see the merit in the argument that bringing in, say, Dan Bylsma now would be a smart idea so that at least he and the team could have 3/4 of a season to get to know each other and figure this mess out, rather than having to start from scratch at the beginning of next season, but I just don’t see it happening.

Matt Henderson:

No. Now is the time you stick with the coach more than ever. The organization needs to show these players the coach isn’t the problem and if they want to start winning they have to start learning. Given the change in possession metrics I would be happy seeing Eakins into next year. Maybe give the guy a goalie though.

Lowetide:

You may not (probably wouldn’t) get the best possible candidate if you fired Dallas Eakins now. Best to wait I think. 

Jason Gregor:

What if Bylsma doesn’t want to come here? Who do you hire? Promoting Nelson just brings in another rookie NHL head coach. No thanks. If you can Eakins you likely go with Ramsay as an Interim coach and then in the off season you do an extensive search for a head coach.

Jason Strudwick:

Who is the new coach? The default position seems to be Bylsma. If a coaching change is needed I don’t just give it to the next guy available. I wait till after the season and do a huge search with many interviews.

Baggedmilk:

I’d be more interested in seeing what Dallas Eakins can do with some actual NHL players filling up his roster.  I know it’s a popular opinion around here that another coach will be the answer, but I don’t think that’s the case.  It’s not Dallas Eakins’ fault that he went into this season with 2 NHL centreman, and a plethora of 3rd pairing defenceman.  Craig MacTavish has to do a better of job of putting his coach in a position to succeed, and that means giving him better players.  Personally, I’m not convinced Scotty Bowman himself would be able to turn this thing around.

GoodOrBad

5) Craig Smallwood asks – Is it easier or harder to write about a terrible sports team, compared to a mediocre or great team?

Robin Brownlee:

Easiest to write about a great team. You can break up the grind of day-to-day results, game stories and practice pieces with features that are fun. Readers like that and writers like that. When a team’s in the crapper like the Oilers are, it’s kind of difficult to pull a player aside and do something goofy or fun — unless you’re Gene Principe. Nobody wants to talk about their “best minor hockey memories” or “who does the cooking at our bachelor pad” when the team has lost 101 straight games.

Jeanshorts:

For me, personally, I find it easier to write when they’re terrible. I’m not good with stats or breaking games down to point out why a team did or did not win, but I’m GREAT at making terrible puns and droning on and on about how dumb it is for Luke Gazdic to get praise for his play during the second intermission of a game in which he played ONE shift in a period. 

Matt Henderson:

I wouldn’t know! I’ve only ever written about a terrible team. My guess is that we have a LOT more to talk about though. 

Lowetide:

I like to watch teams being built, so in theory this is my favorite time to observe and write about a team. However, there’s plenty to write about in OKC and the draft, so I’ll happily spend more time there if that’s where the season takes us.

Jason Gregor:

They all have different angles and challenges. It gets tedious always writing about what is wrong with a team. Eventually it would be nice to write about “this move could push them over the top” rather than “this move will cure their woes” because we know the latter is never fixed with one move. It would be a wonderful change of pace to pen words about a competitive hockey team. I can tell you that writing articles on the Eskimos and Rush the past year were a breath of fresh air. But I wouldn’t say one is easier or harder, they are just different. It is nice to write positive things sometimes. Always focusing on the negative gets tiresome.

Jason Strudwick:

Yes. Who likes to be negative most of the time? I would rather talk about tweaks to a lineup rather than changing a bunch of things.

Baggedmilk:

I wish I could tell you what it’s like to write about a good hockey team.  When that happens, I’ll let you know what I prefer.  Unless you guys want me to start covering the Blackhawks or something. 

  • Spydyr

    3) Stephen Wilsons asks – Let’s say you got to be Daryl Katz for 1 week, what changes would you make with the Oilers front office? Do you have names for who you would bring in?

    I would sell the team to myself.Set up a deal where the profits go to purchase the team.The Oilers made 119 million in profits last year.Therefore with a purchase price of 400 million plus interest I would own the team outright in four years.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Solid MB this week.

    Its apparent to me that Katz is just a total Fanboy- doesnt have the hockey knowledge just wants to try and impress his old oiler buddies. The only reason Kevin Lowe is still around is because he has katz duped into thinking Gretz wont come around for dinner anymore is Lowe isnt there.

  • Rnr

    According to sportsclubstats, oilers have less than 1% chance of playoffs. Next year time already.

    Trade Schultz while (if?) he still has any value.
    Do not make any panic trades.
    Let Leon play world junior and go back to PA.
    Evaluate carefully what we have in house.
    Give younger guys ice time, especially Yak.
    Get a new POHO asap.
    Get the best player available with the high pick.
    Hope to hell we aren’t out of playoff race before end of November next year.

  • Zamboni Driver

    In related news – Anisimov out 3 months.

    No confirmation that he tore his triceps whilst flailing his arms in a Nooooooooooooooo-sort of affectation having heard the Oilers rumours.

    • Thanks for this. Literally made me laugh out loud, which drew some strange looks in the office.

      Sad though, that its come to this. Any player who gets traded here is going to be all kinds of unhappy, and unless they come with a mega contract, doubt we’ll get more than a VERY temporary placeholder for any of our woes

      • Andy7190

        People didn’t expect a contender in a year and a half from MacT.

        They expected to be in the top 20 though.

        They expected the Oilers to show upward movement in a few areas.

        They’ve gotten worse. In every area!

        I’m sure they didn’t expect the Oilers to be win less against western opponents on Dec. 1.

        Tambelini deserved to be fired, but he is not the one who fired the coach for no reason, replacing him with a rookie, and he is not the one who thought a team with 6 6th defenceman and one NHL Centre was somehow a plausible battle plan.

        No, that is on MacT.

        Contender? They should be moving up. They can’t move down. There are only 30 teams.

      • OldSchool

        I sometimes wonder how many wins Krueger’s Oil would have had vs. the East in the lockout shortened year.

        What I do know is how many wins Eakins’ Oil has vs. the West… I don’t think many fans were expecting us to contend this year, but we certainly expected better results.

      • Spydyr

        No one is asking for a cup in 1 year. How about any improvement at all? Ya he has been here a year and a half and has shown absolutely no progress. You are happy with that? Even a small step forward would be nice. Playoffs 2058 here come the Oilers.

    • SSB1963

      What would hate to work for you, man has been on the job for 1.5 years and you expect him to make everything ok. Remember you have to have a trading partner before you can make a trade.

      • smith

        I expect an improvement. That is it. If they were 23rd in the league I would be okay. 1.5 years is enough to show an improvement. Yet they are going backwards. Picked seventh in 2013, 3rd in 2014 and ? in 2015.

  • “I start with Kevin Lowe. Not because firing him will make any difference to the on-ice product today or tomorrow, but because it signals a real change”

    I could not agree more with this statement. What message does this send to the players? The rest of management? or future UFA signings?

    Does Katz not understand that most players sign with teams because they want to win? Everyone in the league knows Lowe is a buffoon, why the hell would they come here knowing he’s still at the top of the food chain!? You want real change you start at the top and work your way down.

    I said this before and I’ll say it again. How many of Daryl Katz’s buddies from “back in the day” are on the board of directors at Rexall? I’d bet my car its zero!

  • The Last Big Bear

    I’m sure there is a mob of competent, motivated, and experienced NHL head coaches who are trying to smash down the door for a chance to coach the Edmonton Oilers.

    Heck, Mike Babcock is probably trying to negotiatie his way out of his contract with the Wings *early*, just in case Eakins is let go before the season is finished.

    After all, who can resist a chance to become the next former coach of the Oilers?

  • nuge2drai

    #saddesttimeinhistorytobeanoilersfan

    December Oilers game routine…

    PVR game, fwrd to useless oilers pp, fwrd to opposition goal, fwrd to Eakins sour face, fwrd to an Eberle no look between the legs pass to the tape of an opponents stick…

    fwrd through opponent goal, fwrd through numerous odd man rushes, fwrd through an Eakins sour face…

    Fwrd and puke during a post game interview where coaches and players talk about bad bounces, hard work and a good effort…

  • nuge2drai

    It baffles me how much of a free pass MacT gets. Tambellini didn’t do the following:

    -Give Gagner a 3-year contract only to trade him 1 year in
    -Obtain Purcell who has done little so far
    -Hire a rookie head coach who has (if anything) underperformed
    -Despite recent goaltending struggles, retain the goalie coach in the off season only to fire him during the season
    -Rely on two backup goaltenders when a number one is desperately needed
    -Go into this season with 2 nhl centres
    -Sign Grebeshkov who wasn’t even great in the KHL
    -Advertise to the world that he was trying to move Hemsky and Horcoff
    -Sign Nikita Nikitin who has been terrible
    -Sign Andrew Ference who is overpaid
    -Sign Jesse Joensuu who was just waived
    -Obtain a record of 28th place in the NHL last year and 29th place as of today

    • Burnward

      Exactly. The team is in worse shape under MacT than it was under Tambellini, which boggles the mind.

      MacT has made the defence worse with all of his changes, actually brought in weaker goaltending (I thought it was impossible after the start of last year), and created a huge hole down the middle. As bad as Tambi was, it looks like MacT is even more clueless about assembling a playoff team. Most contenders build from the blueline and center position out. MacT appears to be trying to do it with wingers and back-up goalies.

      And before anyone starts to bring up 2006 again, remember, Lowe was the GM who brought in Pronger, Peca and Roloson, not MacT……..

    • Andy7190

      RELENTLESS FAILURE

      Sorry you missed a few: giving away Smid for nothing;Belov; Bryzgalov; total overpay (term and amount) for Pouliot; total clown show at both drafts (except maybe the first round picks), etc. For every smart move (Perron) he has made literally TEN stupid moves.

      Now people say MacTavish needs to provide Eakins with “NHL players”. FROM WHERE? Is he going to fart them out? Edmonton has almost nothing to deal with. If you want to GET an NHL player you have to TRADE an NHL player so ultimately you are just shuffling.

      As long as Lowe, MacTavish and Eakins are in charge, I believe the situation is hopeless.

      • nuge2drai

        #saddesttimeinhistorytobeanoilersfan

        The only time this roster has a chance to improve is pre draft when contending teams are looking to dump salary. Boychuk, Perron type players become available…

        Free agents will only sign here if we give out ridiculous term and money…

        Players like Spezza and Thorton would never accept a trade here…

        Unless Nurse becomes an elite Dman, this team is screwed…

        Maybe Connor McJesus can save us, but I doubt it… And who even cares anymore…

  • Andy7190

    @ Jeanshorts “I still think it is valid, but this is a giant hole Steve Tambellini has put the Oilers in that MacT now has to try to dig them out from. If either one of Renney or Kreuger had gotten 2 or 3 seasons, and the team was still this bad, then I’d probably be more on board with looking into a new coach. But obviously the coaching carousel hasn’t done any good for anyone. I’m definitely willing to concede that Dallas Eakins may just not be the right fit for this team, and that maybe he’s just one of those guys who is better suited for the AHL. And, BOY, is it getting harder and harder to defend Eakins with each passing game, and each head scratching line up decision. HOWEVER, as has been said ad nauseam bringing a new coach in isn’t going to fix this team. ”

    You can’t blame the coaching carousel solely on Tambellini if 2-3 years is your criteria. Renney was Associate HC with Quinn, then 2 years full on as HC. Ralph only lasted one year as HC due to MacT, not Tambellini. I am not trying to defend Tambi here as he was a bad GM, but MacT was a big part of the carousel as well – both GMs had one year coaches (Quinn for Tambi, Krueger for MacT) and two year guys (Renney and now Eakins, unfortunately…..).

    It is interesting to see that the team improved for three years straight in points per season from Renney through Krueger with arguably less talent, but has fallen off the cliff with Eakins……..

    • Spydyr

      Arizona began the second period with THREE goals.
      They must figured out a couple of “weak” spots on the Oiler team. The Oilers are not ready for power plays or playing a man short.It probably did not take analytics for the Coyotes to figure this out.
      Will Hall be benched for the rest of the second period? 10 is very conceivable.

      • Spydyr

        The Oilers continue to be the most “consistent” team in the League. The Washington Generals were supposed to put on a losing entertaining show against the Globetrotters. The Oilers are expected to win on occasion. They just haven’t figured out when the Occasion is there. Maybe 12-15 losses will generate a win??!

  • Andy7190

    Great responses from the esteemed panel of writers. It seems that the overwhelming theme is to start your pruning at the top and work your way down…….have to agree with that!

    I’m starting to think that Dallas may have someone behind the scene ( Mac T, Lowe, Howson) pulling all the player/personnel changes, which there have been many. With a poor start, (largely responsible by having too many players competing too long and into the start of the season), indecisiveness on players, and no chemistry as a result, who take responsibility for this?

    When coaches say ” everyone will have to earn their ice time, regardless of who they are”, and then do exactly the opposite……..it’s no wonder DE lost the team so early in his tenure.

  • The Funky Chicken Has Left The Building

    Thank gawd the Oilers trotted out Bob Nicholson to throw some light on the dark place Oiler fan resides. Now focus Oiler fan focus! This is kind of like quantum physics/string theory…its not about being relevant or contending for a playoff spot – its about winning the Stanley Cup!!!

    …sooooo the Oilers time machine\dimensional jumper is nearing completion?!

  • Serious Gord

    Re: katz for a week

    Robin calls it correctly. Is there a more indefensible action on katz’ part than NOT firing Lowe? Jean shorts drove that point home quite well

    Lowetide can’t bring himself to say fire Lowe – he is as bad or worse than katz for living in the past and lacking objectivity.

    Strudwick and Gregor ducked the question. Pathetic. Struds you actually serious you wouldn’t take the one week offer? Christ, give me 45 minutes and a Skype connection and I would take a flamethrower to the management.

  • Spydyr

    I absolutely think Kevin Lowe should be fired. He had shown his incompetence for years. That said, there is ZERO chance that it happens so staying with Eakins until there is a new POHO doesn’t make any sense. For better or worse…and it’s worse, much worse, Katz has proven that Lowe isn’t going anywhere. I say fire Eakins now and let MacT take over for the rest of the season. He can see first hand who needs to stay and who needs to go. And maybe playing for the GM will wake a few guys up. If not MacT, I’d bring up Nelson from OKC for the rest of the year on an interim basis. If they go on a tear he can start next year…if they don’t (which they likely won’t) then he goes back to OKC and you have an extensive search. I agree that continuity is important in coaching but unfortunately when you have the wrong coach you have to be able to see that and fix it. You don’t stay with the wrong guy just because he is the current guy.