Many things need to change

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It is December 2nd, and once again the Oilers’ hope of a playoff spot is officially over. The Oilers have accumulated a paltry 16 points in their first 25 games. They would need 76 points over their final 57 games to reach 92 points, the current pace for 8th place in the west.

It isn’t happening, but what should the Oilers do now?

Before we discuss what needs to change, I want to share a few observations from my recent trip to Los Angeles. My wife and I spent four days in LA. We went to the Lakers/Timberwolves game on Friday and then watched the Kings/Hawks on Saturday. My wife isn’t a diehard sports fan, but Kobe Bryant is her favourite basketball player and she really enjoys going to live sporting events, so she was pumped we spent two of our four nights going to the Staples Centre.

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Bryant is in his 19th season and watching him live gives you an even greater appreciation of how insanely competitive he is. You don’t become great by being passive. Sitting that close you get to see more of the game within the game. We sat row six at centre court, and the tickets were cheaper than row five centre ice for an Oilers game, and I focused much of my time on Bryant.

He isn’t the player he was when they were winning, age does that to you, but he still had 26 points, on 10 of 18 shooting, but he competed for every inch on the court. On the offensive sets he didn’t have the ball, he worked over Andrew Wiggins. He set hard picks and was constantly challenging Wiggins, who guarded him the most, for every inch of space. The Lakers are not a good team, and it clearly frustrated Kobe, but that didn’t stop him from battling. He doesn’t come across as a great team player, but there is no denying why he is a Hall of Famer. Yes, he is very talented, but he works his ass off, and it is the one thing the young Oilers have yet to realize. Until they start working as hard as the other team, they won’t win. Simple.

The Hawks/Kings game was electric. The atmosphere in the building was awesome, even though the Kings lost. It is obvious the Oilers aren’t close to either team, but watching them play one another it was apparent what separates these teams from the Oilers.

  • Both teams are accountable. They don’t make glaring mistakes, and if they do, it happens once.
    They get pucks deep when necessary.
    All the players go to the net.
    The support one another.
    The third forward into the zone rarely attacks the defender, unless they are certain they will keep the puck in.
    They rarely went offside.
    Darryl Sutter switched lines regularly to get things going and the players all knew how to play with new linemates.
    When the D-man pinched the forwards covered.
    Duncan Keith spent 30 seconds down low in the offensive zone, and it wasn’t considered a negative. His wingers gladly manned the point and didn’t make dumb decisions to try and get in the play.
    Players stood up for each other, but also themselves. Patrick Kane didn’t like McNabb running at him and he got in his face and gave him a few crosschecks. Both teams have a pack mentality, and both groups battled hard all night.
    It was refreshing to watch two teams compete that hard for an entire game.

ABOUT THOSE OILERS…

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The Oilers can’t stay on the tracks long enough to even see the tunnel, never mind witnessing the light at the end of it. The entire organization is in disarray, but what should they do know?

Many of you might not agree with me, and before you read the next sentence please don’t have any fluid in your mouth. ( I warned you)

The Oilers shouldn’t make any changes right now.

Okay, I hope you listened and didn’t spit out your coffee, tea, water or alcoholic beverage if you felt you needed one to read anything relating to the Oilers, after reading that. Stay with me…

The season is over.

We all know it.

I agree that changes need to be made, but why not wait until the New Year in the hope the Oilers fall farther behind Columbus, Buffalo, Carolina and Philadelphia. Due to the changes to the draft lottery in 2016, this is the final time that finishing 30th guarantees you a top-two pick, and with Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel touted as generational talents, why make a move now that could jeopardize that?

Honestly, if a new coach can make the Oilers win 4-5 more games that could cost them McDavid. I know it sounds like a loser mentality, but finishing 24th or 25th will not help this organization. I fully realize that finishing 30th won’t guarantee this team improves, especially if the decision makers at the top aren’t changed, but if I’m Daryl Katz I’m not rushing to make a major change right now.

It pains me to write that, but now is not the time to make any major moves.

Outside of losing out on Eichel and McDavid, the other reality about making a change now is that the list of potential coaches, general managers and presidents is much smaller today than it would be at the end of the season.

I realize the last statement only makes sense if the Oilers elect to change their ways. That is a major IF.

The on-ice product is what we witness every day, but many of the off-ice decisions are why the on-ice product is so terrible.

The biggest flaw within the Oilers is their unwillingness to interview people for job openings. How can they say this guy was the best candidate when they never actually interview any.

Kevin Lowe hired MacTavish without interviewing anyone else for the job. Why not take that opportunity to interview some people and hear four or five different perspectives about your team?

They promoted Scott Howson without looking at anyone else for the senior VP of hockey operations.

Craig MacTavish fired Ralph Krueger and hired Dallas Eakins. He didn’t fire Krueger and then go on an extensive search for a head coach. Nope, as he was looking for an assistant, he met Eakins and decided he’d be the best head coaching candidate.

The didn’t fire Freddy Chabot in the summer when they could have interviewed multiple candidates, instead they waited until the season was 20-games old, and already wasted, before canning him and hiring Dustin Schwartz.

To me that is a habit, and a terrible one when you trying to build a winning franchise. Maybe those men were the best people for the job, but the organization never conducted a proper and thorough interview process to determine that. Losing companies do that, not winners.

The other glaring mistake about all of those hires, excluding Howson, was that MacTavish, Eakins and Schwartz were all rookies in their role at the NHL level. You can’t have that much inexperience in one organization and expect to win.

My advice to D. Katz is not to make any major moves today and risk losing your grasp of Eichel and McDavid, but when you finally make a move, please, for the sake of your fansbase, conduct a thorough and professional interview process.

Changes need to be made.

Bring in people from other organizations and listen intently as they tell you what they see wrong with your hockey club, because the people currently running it have been unable to solve the problems, many which they themselves created.

QUICK HITS…

  • Andrew Ference didn’t mince his words last night.

    “We’re talking about things that work, the base of winning hockey. Guys
    who come from different organizations know the difference,” he said when stressing it isn’t the system, but rather the player’s unwillingness to play it.

    He then referred to certain players needing to be convinced to be happy about being in the NHL and not mopping around feeling sorry for themselves. Ouch. There are bigger issues here than just coaching.

  • Please stop saying the Oilers are playing better at even strength this season because the shot metrics and Corsi numbers say they are. You could make an argument about that after 10 games, but it is game 25 now and they have given up the most EV goals in the league. They are 22nd in EV goals scored. Making glaring mistakes every game at EV does not equate to playing well. I’m sorry, but any suggestion that their low (unlucky) SH% will suddenly even out is strictly wishful thinking.

    This team does not compete hard enough. They don’t play smart enough for long enough stretches of the games. IMO, until those two things change, the underlying numbers mean very little.

MONTH OF GIVING…

Let’s end on a positive.

Our 4th annual Month of Giving begins today on TSN 1260 during my show.. During the past three
years we’ve raised over $183,200, including an outstanding $77,150 last year, with all the proceeds going to various Christmas charities to help those
in need.

We have some great packages again this year…

  • A
    high efficiency furnace or Central air conditioning system including
    permits and installation and removal of old furnace from G&H
    Heating and Cooling. Value $7,000.
  • Michelle Derk from Remax Elite has donated her “seller’s commission” on a house.
  • I have some dinner packages with the Eskimos and Oilers…
  • Rush VIP package…Eskimos VIP package
  • Golf packages, jewellery, Wine package
  • Performance assessment and Training package at 4322
  • Oil Kings VIP…
  • Shopping spree at Derks clothing and dinner….
  • And more…

TODAY’S ITEM…

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Homecrest Outdoor fire
pit courtesy of Dinette & Patio Furniture.

  • 65000 BTUs
  • 20lb tank and metal cover protecting
    glass.
  • 42 inches wide, 19 inches
    high
  • Can be switched to natural
    gas

You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or texting 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today during the Jason Gregor Show.

Thanks in advance to all who will bid on these packages over the next
few weeks. 100% of the money raised goes directly to the charities, and
please know that you will be making some people’s lives much more enjoyable
during the holiday season.

I’m hoping we can reach $75,000 this year.

Recently by Jason Gregor:   

  • Jason Gregor

    ……Jason what kinda crap are you spouting, ‘Changing the coach won’t make any difference’ we are where we are today because of lack of coaching, this team looks beaten before we start, no system, no plan, repetitive mistakes, goalies that are second rate, no shot blocking, losing possession, all skills that are not evident on the Oilers and suppose to coach on to the team. The Oilers when Eakins took over gave the impression that conditioning was going to be paramount yet we look slow, tied, fatigued puck losers.
    I am sick of it, lets at least win some fights Gaz………..have we won any coin tosses this season, can we win anything here?

  • hitchikerforajax

    ……Jason what kinda crap are you spouting, ‘Changing the coach won’t make any difference’ we are where we are today because of lack of coaching, this team looks beaten before we start, no system, no plan, repetitive mistakes, goalies that are second rate, no shot blocking, losing possession, all skills that are not evident on the Oilers and suppose to coach on to the team. The Oilers when Eakins took over gave the impression that conditioning was going to be paramount yet we look slow, tied, fatigued puck losers.
    I am sick of it, lets at least win some fights Gaz………..have we won any coin tosses this season, can we win anything here?

  • Jason Gregor

    Like someone stated in an earlier comment, the Oiler’s franchise is a business. We can complain all we want, but until it hurts Katz all the way to the bank, nothing is going to change all that much in the near future, or at least not enough to make a big enough impact. I’m one fan who does not attend Oiler games anymore, nor do I buy any Oiler merchandise. We as fans could boycott the next Oiler home game by not attending and leaving the arena empty in protest, thereby saying enough is enough, we are not going to take it anymore!!!Question is how many fans would take on that challenge or is it easier just to vent?

  • Jason Gregor

    We need to get rid of Lowe ASAP. Let the new guy hire his management team and then sit and watch this team. Then get rid of the losers in the off season

  • Anton CP

    No change for now, no more quick fixes. Nothing can change the course of this franchise to hit the bottom. Any decision to be made at this point will be 100% wrong. Find a team identity, build a system, evaluating pieces, then change things accordingly.

  • DoubleDIon

    Top talent needs to be developed too. Pittsburgh had Lemieux to teach Crosby. You guys have ference. Ference is a good guy but he’s a number 5 defenseman.

    This fan base deserves this team. Tank nation in full force in November. Trying to fail their way into winning again. Some people never learn. What useful veteran would ever consider coming to an organization hell bent on losing intentionally year after year?

  • DoubleDIon

    @Jason Gregor

    So how did Edmonton manage to acquire McDavid that year “oh yeah they decided to tank the last 50+ games in 2014-15 season and finished last.”

    Heh Connor how do you feel about joining the Edmonton Losers?

    “Ah well I guess it’s an honour to be selected 1st overall and if they lost to get me well……. I guess that means they really want me. What a great organization . . . .I guess.”

    So your wrong Jason…….. and this is what’s wrong with the Oilers (their team their management their coaches their players everyone) – Losing and Failure is now acceptable.

    Even with McDavid and his “generational gifts” that won’t change a thing and with this as our mantra the Oilers next year will be scoring “pretty” goals on a loser team. ……again.

  • hitchikerforajax

    The final word.

    I like to think Gregor means not sucking on purpose, rather, just simply stay the course.

    I stand behind Gregor’s sentiments about staying the course.

    A couple things come to mind that are both a benefit and detriment to the Oilers that I can elaborate on.

    You never want to trade in a position of weakness or when the other GM’s know they can really put the squeeze on you.

    At this point the Oilers would be dealing from a position of utter failure…..this is can only end badly.

    The Oilers hold very little player value, Yakupov isn’t going to get you much, Schultz played himself out of value.

    The only player worth his salt this year is Perron, if MacTavish trades Perron what message is that sending?

    Play hard, play hurt, play with passion, commitment & dedication, be a leader, stick up for teammates……………trading THAT player is just super crazy talk.

    More trades open up in the off season, teams are more apt to trade a big ticket player then, trading now the Oilers are using the penny to dollars ratio that got them in this mess the first time.

    The Oilers have a chance of a lifetime afforded to them by shear inept stupidity, compounding it by thinking they can fix this now only makes it worse.

    This summer, you can draft a generational talent & revamp this team with competent management team lead by the new head coach Babcock.

  • hitchikerforajax

    I am a gutless apologist…. I am a gutless apologist….. I am a gutless apologist…. I am a gutless apologist ….I am a gutless apologist….. I am a gutless apologist….. I am a gutless apologist…… I am a gutless apologist….. I am a gutless apologist….. I am a gutless apologist….. I am a gutless apologist…… I am a gutless apologist…… I am a gutless apologist…… I am a gutless apologist…… I am a gutless apologist

    That is all.

  • hitchikerforajax

    Although feeling bad about tanking does you credit, your team is already tanking without doing it on purpose. Enjoy the never ending process. And feel righteous about it. As you have for so long.

  • Zarny

    The article is good advice. This season is toast. Sadly, the Oilers’ best scenario is once again bottoming out for one of the uber elite prospects this year.

    Oilers management has proven themselves a failure. Their “plan” was to rebuild through the draft yet in 5 years they’ve only added 5 additional players; 2 of which are still only part-time. Meanwhile, they spent 3 years adding nothing else to the team. Literally. To top it off they brought in AHL caliber players and over-the-hill vets to “mentor” the kids. To no one’s surprise that has failed.

    Nothing is gained by cleaning house in December since you can’t start a search for replacements until April. Come March Katz should clean house. The Oilers have some very good building blocks. Find the right hockey people that can build a complete roster. 4-5 players, no matter how good they are, is not a complete roster.

    • S cottV

      I would agree depending on just how much things are unravelling in that room and the extent to which the losing rate continues.

      Have a real problem with a deliberate tanking and allowing too much chaos to take route in that room.

      Makes sense to hold off on key replacements in the organization, including the Coach – until a larger pool of potentials may be available. Also – if Katz were to make a bold move and talk Lowe into retirement and or replace MacT, then the new regime would want to pick the Coach.

      However – if chaos is reigning supreme (which may be the case and or the losing rate continues, the logical step would be to fire Eakins and have MacT assume control behind the bench, for the remainder of the season.

      • Zarny

        I disagree somewhat. Coaching and GM are not part-time jobs. I think the notion that MacT could function as both, even temporarily, is foolish.

        As well, if chaos is reigning supreme in the dressing room it’s because the GM failed the players. Obvious needs were identified, admitted to and nothing was done. I can’t see a GM that failed his players and coaches so badly being able to gain the confidence a dressing room that is in trouble.

        If the dressing room is truly toxic and the decision has been made to clean house then there is merit to do it now including the GM. Nicholson would temporarily assume POHO duties, Howson or someone would assume GM duties on an interim basis with a limited mandate and you either turf Eakins now and Ramsay assumes coaching duties on an interim basis or Eakins runs out the season and is likely turfed by the new GM.

        The risk with cleaning house right now is that it’s a formal declaration that the rest of the season is irrelevant. A very bad situation could turn catastrophic.

        • Zarny

          If i could think of the worst thing that could happen to lets say LA kings, it would be to lose 10 in a row possibly more and not have a win against any western conference team by December, i think that would be considered catastrophic.

          • Zarny

            The Edmonton Oilers are not the LA Kings.

            Chris Hadfield has a good quote…no matter how bad things are, you can make them worse. That applies as much to hockey as it does space walks.

  • Sheckey

    MacT interviewed Dallas Eakins and discovered that, wow, there is a lot more to this guy than i imagined before this interview.

    That was the moment he should have realized that maybe interviewing someone else for the part might yield similar results.
    He should have realized there was a slight possibility that someone else might even be better than Dallass….but he didn’t and so no further interviews and here we are.

  • Zarny

    The reality is you kind of need to hire a new president now so that he can start the search for a GM quickly as the new GM is going to need the off season to hire a new coach and start a retool.

    If you don’t have the president and GM in place until the summer your going to have to start next year with Eakins in place