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?

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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…

photo-1

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:   


  • Mason Storm

    Drafting is one thing that needs to change, drastically. Courtesy of Bruce McCurdy:

    “Since 2009 #Oilers have had 43 draft picks in 2nd round or later.

    They have scored 7 NHL goals.

    Tobias Rieder has 4, others combined have 3.”

    I’m sorry, but this is bad.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      ^this is one of the areas that need changing as well in my opinion….scouting. time for Stu and the staff to go and a different approach to come. 2009 was a bad, bad draft for the Oilers. other than trading an ineffective Magnus for soon to be gone Perron, we have NOTHING to show for that draft !!

    • oilerjed

      I wonder if part of this is because we have had so many high draft picks that have been graduated to the NHL that we don’t have room for the second tier player. For instance, Reider and Nash have turned out to be players but were released as they wouldn’t fit within our current line up. Lander remains in the system but is being blocked by Drais (if you can believe it). Pitlick, Klefbom, and Marincin are on the verge but won’t score many goals. Moroz, Kharia, Yak2 are bubbling but there aren’t a lot of pure goalscorers in that group.

      The stat is bad. No question. But we really need more than 5 years to evaluate the entire cluster.

  • Sal-Sational

    @Gregor, do you think the Media is doing their part in holding people accountable for this mess? all I hear is well it’s not MacT’s fault because he doesn’t have a trading partner (maybe because he’s not competent enough to convince another GM to make a trade) or its not Klowe’s fault because he’s not part of the day to day decision making Team.. or the coaches fault because he doesn’t have the players to work with or the players fault because they don’t have the right coach…
    Who’s fault is it? when are you guys going to start ask the really hard questions.. (the ones that make everyone uncomforable)
    We have Old boys club running the team at the management level and the “Kids club” aka “the Core” running a Gong show at ice level. The players need a Major wakeup call and the only way u can do that is by trading a key component of the team.. not Yakupov or Perron or Petry.. I’m talking about Halls best buddy Eberle. Then and only then they’ll realize that something’s wrong..
    ps.i agree with you about waiting till January to make the change.

    • Jason Gregor

      All of them are accountable. MacT’s job is to find trades. If he can’t, then he isn’t working hard enough.

      If Lowe is not having much impact, which I believe to be true, then letting him go won’t change much, but it also means they aren’t losing much either. So, yes that move needs to be made as well.

      Who do you want me to ask questions to?

      GM, President and Owner haven’t spoke this year, and I have asked to have them on my show.

      I’d deal anyone but 4 and 93…Major moves need to be made…as long as they are smart deals, not losing deals.

      • camdog

        Too bad there aren’t any retired veterans whom could give us some ins of the culture of the Oiler dressing room. Don’t think things have changed much the past 5-6 years.

        As to changes the only change the Oilers can make to help the organisation right now is to send the young German back to junior. If those at the top of the organisation truly cares about where they are headed they would do this asap.

      • Serious Gord

        Why such equivocation regarding Klowe?

        He is a lightning rod for most fans. His firing takes all of the pressure off of the team. And he cannOT be the POHO who hires the hiring of a new GM and supervises the hiring of the next coach.

        Now IS the time to fire Klowe because it gives Nicholson and his search team plenty of time to find the best replacement.

        • Salty

          100% this. Sacrificing Klowe shouldn’t sabotage their chance at McDavid or Eichel, sends the right message to everyone else in the old boy’s club, and perhaps will allow the next 52 year cycle to begin if the gods are strong enough to stop the universe from being destroyed. I mean, a sacrifice and new fire ceremony at Rexall on a game day would be pretty cool, right?

  • Sheckey

    Last nights comments by Andrew were just what the doctor ordered. Should be interesting to see what comes out of this as it was funny to watch Eakins get asked questions about Andrew’s post game comments and stumble through them. Time to get ready for golf season!!

  • Oiler63

    Great example by Kobe. There are numerous examples in NHL, from 42 years old Jagr to best player in the league Crosby, to Datsyuk, to Toews. Those guys all work their ass off and compete for every inch of the ice. When they work like that, you really don’t have any excuse not putting in at least same amount of work, no matter who you think you are.

  • oilerjed

    I’m not sure how I can express how much I disagree with this Gregor. Firing Lowe NOW would not effect the wins on the ice whatsoever, the team is still a gong show. But you have to start somewhere and they should start at the only person who has been here for every bad decision and every catastrophic result. Period
    Perception matters and if he is going to go he should go now!

  • tileguy

    Bang on! Stay the course, take our lumps, try to make it hot for Katz so that he cleans house.. If you want to support the team go ahead, it’s your money.

  • Matty31

    Before we draft #1 or #2 overall is the time we clean house. Either front office or the players on the ice. We cannot bring in McDavid into this mess. I would gladly trade Hall, Ebs, Schultz, and only keep Nuge. Get some hard working 2 ways players that know what it takes to battle and win. Do some good pro scouting for the rest of the year so you have a plan on who to target come July.

  • Zamboni Driver

    Yup.

    We’re at the point that getting marginally better would be typically Oilers and screw themselves out of McDavid or Eichel.

    Ride it out.

    Have a half-full barn a LOT (again, KidsUpFront don’t leave your seat empty) – fire the lot of them and get people who know what they’re doing in charge.

    The little boys are done playing with our toys.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    I say we give Lowe and Mac a chance! You can’t turn a team around in just 5 years!! It’s a process that they need to assess and evaluate.

    Mac made a bold move by starting the season with 2 centers, no top pairing D and 2 back up goalies. I think he needs to be less bold. The good news is they can hit the reset button and try again over and over and over again as many times as they want.

  • Matty31

    The funny thing is that the most competitive oiler had to be Kevin Lowe. I can’t fathom how he can be happy with this performance.

    I know everyone is fed up with him but it doesn’t change the fact that 27 year old Kevin Lowe would have taken someone’s head off by now.

    • Old Kenny

      @Deke Rivers

      I too find this most confusing. Lowe was a beast as a player. I remember the 91-92 conference finals vs the Blackhawks. Lowe was the captain and the Oilers were completely outclassed but even hobbling around injured Lowe was a beast. They lost 4 straight but Lowe never quit.

      I know being a player and being a manager are different, but where is he? I guess I have no idea what a POHO is, but ya, he must be going crazy.

      Just sad and confused

      • T&A4Flames

        Katz and Lowe are in too deep to quit now.

        I firmly believe the dream all along has been to raise the Stanley Cup banner the night #4 is retired to join 99,11, 7,17 et al in the rafters of the new Katz Koliseum.

        If Lowe packs it in now, with his decade of suckage at the helm and nothing to show for it, how will he get the support for retiring #4?

        No, Katz and Lowe are all in. Their only hope is McDavid. They are standing together, deep in the pocket, throwing their last Hail Mary. They aren’t quitting now.

  • ubermiguel

    I agree completely with the statement that no changes should be made right now. Everyone associated with the team is under pressure and probably angry. This does not lead to clear thought.

    The single most important chip that the Oilers might have is their 2015 first round draft choice. If, asit is currently looking, this has the chance to be McDavid, nothing should be done to jeopardize that.

    As for the young core, they have a choice. They can pout or they can get angry and start to play NHL calibre hockey. They know what it takes they just have to do it. They may not win a ton of games but they should still be competitive night in and night out.

    As a secondary concern, what will it take for the Oilers to draft a meaningful player beyond the first round. What ever it takes must be done, even if it means using a damn ouiji board.

  • I think the solutions are pretty easy here. You fire Kevin Lowe now. Spend the rest of the season to find his replacement. You fire MacT in the off season. Spend the playoffs/time before the draft to find a new GM. Fire Eakins after you find a GM and find a new coach. Then you start putting the pieces together. Maybe this process takes until next season but unless that happens, NOTHING will save this team from being the utter and complete pack of losers that they are. This team is dead in the water worse than the titanic with these people running the show.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    So continue to be an absolute laughing stock, continue to foster the sort of atmosphere that makes us such a no-fly zone for UFAs that we have to pay Nikitin $4.5M and get another 18 year old that we can plug straight into the top-6?

    Makes sense.

    • Zamboni Driver

      Actually the first move the Oilers should be making is getting Leon the hell out of here.

      Back to Junior, then World Juniors, and no more NHL for TWO years.

      Not one. TWO.

      Imagine?

      A draft pick playing and getting good in the Minors??! Like..you know..good NHL teams do.

  • smith

    Gregor, Howson is not the assistant GM, he’s a senior VP of hockey operations. Bill Scott is the assistant GM, promoted from GM of OKC. Just FYI, might want to fix that. Doesn’t really affect your point because it doesn’t look like they interviewed for either position.

  • Rebuilding the Rebuild

    In the last 8 years, every single player on this team has either regressed or underachieved. Working hard is one thing – they didn’t make it to the NHL by being lazy or unmotivated, but these guys aren’t being taught or shown how to work smart and compete at an NHL level. That falls on Coaching and Management. They are failing the players.

    Ference’s comments make me very uneasy. He’s clearly calling out Ebs, Jultz and/or Hall. I hope it’s just Jultz, cut him loose and it’s no lose in my opinion. But it’s very likely that Hall and Ebs are on the verge of throwing in the towel with this team. They’re wasting their best pro years playing for LITERALLY the worst team in NHL history. If I were them, I’d be looking for a way out. I hope they’re not, but it looks that way.

    Redefining rock-bottom since 2009.

  • Gregor,you are dead wrong. you’re saying the same things you say and the Oilers also do every year, wait.till the end if the season. how has rhat worked out… oilers need to do something now, make people accountable now, not later. That is not a competitive spirit, and it starts with that, now, now now not later.

  • Agree 100% I know some people say “How are McDavid or Eichel going to help a team this bad?” But one player can change the fortunes of a team if that player is elite.

    In a rebuild it’s important to be bad and get the top picks but it’s just as important to be bad at the right time. Luckily for the Oilers they’re bad all the time. But this draft has two players available that are projected to be the best talents since Crosby. Why be as shamefully awful as we’ve been for this long and pull up out of sadness and into mediocrity right before we have a chance to pick a kid who can singlehandedly change the fortunes of this team?

    The only thing that should result in MacTavish being fired this year is if this team sits in 30th all year and MacT makes a deadline deal to shake things up and we find a spark and finish 26th, miss out on McDavid and Eichel and then get back to the business of being 30th out of the gate next year. Just sit tight and do nothing.

  • Cementhead

    i live in winnipeg and have a 12 year old who loves the oil so much he cried when nashville won in ot. he doesn’t understand how they can suck so bad. his 12a3 team could beat them right now. we have tix to the game in winnipeg tomorrow and he does not want to go. he doesn’t think he could handle it.

    i proposed to him that we have bags on our heads while we watch but that won’t do. i feel for him and have no way to comfort him.

    he seems pleased that mcdavid could become an oiler but thinks eakins will ruin him.

    poor kid.

  • smith

    Again with this. Every year by December this is the common refrain. Let’s not do a thing. Just keep loosing. Do you not think the best time to change attitudes and work ethic is now! Why procrastinate. Do what needs to be done before another 1st round pick is exposed to this poison. Hopefully Nurse has been kept far enough away to not be impacted.

  • Hemmercules

    I think you fire Lowe and Eakins today. Send Leon down before he totally gives up on this team. Block Mact from making any trades and let him coach the team further into the toilet. Fire Mact, Howsen, scouting staff and assistant coaches April 1st. Interview, interview, interview, interview until you find the right guys.

  • Hemmercules

    K Lowe needs to create an environment that attracts talent to Edmonton. Good organizations attract good players.

    Playing for last place is a disgrace. The Oilers have been accused of tanking in the past. This needs to stop and it shouldn’t be encouraged.