Many things need to change

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.


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.


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.


  • 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.


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…



Homecrest Outdoor fire
pit courtesy of Dinette & Patio Furniture.

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

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:   

  • DoubleDIon

    Man, everyone who complains non stop about the oilers hiring practices (ie most of this article) is out to lunch and obviously hasn’t been in a management position before.

    Interviews are good for deciding people don’t fit, but if you want to find the best candidate, basing it mainly on interviews is madness – all you get there is the best talker. How are you most likely to find the best candidates? Working with them previously, or networking with other people who’s opinion you trust that have worked with them. You find out a million times more info about someone working with them than just talking to them in an interview situation.

    I couldn’t care less if the Oilers never interview more than a couple guys in a formal setting.

    • ubermiguel

      So, if the Oilers hiring practices were so good, why are we not the worst team in the NHL for the last 9 years?

      Hmm.. seems to me that they have followed in inbred hiring process, lead by Mr. Lowe.

    • Wax Man Riley

      You seem like an astute business person. Remind me to never invest in your company if you do not search for the best available employees. I kid, I kid.

      I understand your sentiment about knowing what someone is really like by working with them, but that limits your hiring base. Promoting from within is ideal, and much less expensive, but when you don’t have be horses to begin with, then you’re making sure that you’re never hiring the best person.

      In the case of The Oilers I get thre impression that nobody with experience wants to come here, and the “brain trust” doesn’t want anyone with experience as they might just speak up and tell the smartest guys in the room they are doing it wrong.

  • ubermiguel

    “Bring in people from other organizations…” Yes. Bring in people from other sports and other industries too. Cast the net wide and hire the best.

    Generational talent or not the time to change the losing culture is not later, it is now. Every game played is another game where bad habits set it and will need to be changed later.

  • Duchess

    Jason, what you are suggesting is akin to tanking. That is not acceptable. This deplorable organisation has already done that and the result has been more failure.

    I don’t care how great the potential number one pick is; tanking is immoral. That this team has become a world wide laughingstock is justice.

    Brian Burke didn’t go the tanking route, even though he had the public relations capital to do so.

    • Joe Mamma

      Hmm, so I guess Pittsburgh was giving it the ol’ college try when they bottomed out and got Crosby. And Malkin. And Fleury. And Stahl. and…..

      Yes, it’s totally karma. That’s why we suck. Not mismanagement, poor player development, sub-par coaching, nepotism, cronyism, hero worship, lack of veteran leadership, bad free agent signings, bad drafting, and so on and so forth, forever and ever amen?

      Get a grip. Building through the draft is a perfectly valid method of building a team…. If you have competent people at the helm.

      Good for Brian Burke. No one cares. Burke has one cup, that he won because he inherited a good team, then preyed on OUR team’s unfortunate trade demand from Pronger by providing the best smelling turd being offered. And other than that, what has he won? Squat. What has he done since? Been fired. So his over-achieving group of players is over-achieving. Yep, man’s a genius. Give me a call when the flames win a cup.

  • Duchess

    Just want to point out to the people worried about a “Lindros” situation that Mcdavid or Eichel will be worth a ridiculous amount on the trade market. Although I get if we don’t trust our current management to make that trade.

  • charlie manson

    I don’t agree Gregor….if you’re losing while giving your all I can see,fine…but playing like you’re lost is another thing.Bad habits are hard to change.I ain’t a expert,but I see a lot of bad habits,no desire and no desperation.There is a difference. Not fair to the season ticket holders to play like garbage.

  • S cottV

    Don’t buy JG’s argument either.

    You can’t let a high profile organization flounder, when it is obvious to all that changes have to be made.

    There is a point of no return that once crossed, leads to chaos.

    We’re seeing the signs of imminent chaos with the 10 game losing streak, Hall’s lame brain defence of Eakins, Ferrance’s calling out of the Fab 4 – etc etc..

    You just can’t afford the deep rooted damage that can occur from lack of action at a time like this.

  • S cottV

    I think the oilers should fire their secretaries and accounting staff.

    That would satisfy the second class fans and even a few first class fans.

    Call a press conference and announce the big changes

  • Wax Man Riley

    I feel especially bad for Hall. This organization is ruining him. No pressure kid, you’re 18, this is your team. It’s your fault if you don’t win a cup.

    Which elite player or even winning player was here to help him (and Nuge)? Eberle at least spent a couple years in Jr. and some time in AHL. Hall has had a revolvong door of poor leadership teaching him. How is he supposed to learn to lead with that?

  • Micbilly99

    Didn’t we get the “pick of the crop” when we tanked and got Hall? and then Nuge, and then Yak? Weren’t they supposed to be or saviors? So now we sit back and do nothing so we can get a “slam dunk” top class player who have the same kind of hype attached to them as our previous “star draftees” and wait ANOTHER 5-6 years just in case they turn out to be great?

    How about playing for pride? and showing passion? showing respect for the city and the fans? How about listening to what you are taught instead of playing your own way when it’s proved to not work?

    How about EARNING your fat salaries? and remember the fans who pay a large part of their income to watch you guys f**k around game after game.

    I always thought professional athletes had class – IMO there are a few Oilers that don’t answer to that description. One was a number 1 pick and the team played better when he was injured. Smarten up guys or hit the road, no other organization would put up with your prima donna antics.

    • Joe Mamma

      We got the cream of the crop in weak draft years. These players are not comparable to McDavid or Eichel. Agree with the rest of your comment, but you’re plain wrong on this one. This equates to saying that hey, we got Hall and Nuge, we don’t need no stinking Crosby!

    • hitchikerforajax

      This team, deserves no pay. This is a fuc#in joke. The fans, have more incept than management. What the hell is going on? MacTavish signs 2 back ups to back-up goalies, then wonders why the Oilers are goaltender deficient. This duo, should be playing in the AHL, period. I can count on 1/2 of my hand, the times, the Oiler goalies, played well & kept the team in a game! Richard Bachman, played well enough last year, to ge a shot at no. 1. What the hell was MacTavish thinking, signing the duds? He better get rid of the “core” players & just maybe the Oilers will have a chance for # 29th place. These guys, are not good enough to build a team around. Management better come to terms, that these guys, are at best 2nd line players, on any good team. RNH & Hall are the only desent players & are not even in the same breath of Crosby, Malkin, Perry, etc.

  • T&A4Flames

    There would be a major misjustice if the Oilers end up with either of McDavid or Eichel, or even Hannifin for that matter. If that happens, it will only prove that there are either no hockey gods, or that they don’t reward the proper things.

    The Oilers have tanked purposely for years under the guidance of tank guru Steve Tambellini and are now facing the consequences of failing by design. Getting a generational talent at this stage would just not be fair.

  • Chongler

    If I’m Katz I’ve done two things: instructed MacT to not make any trades/signings without my approval and launched a search for new executive leadership. Once that search is exhausted and the person/persons hired to lead hockey ops, then and only then would I authorize player movements/signings.

    Whatever Katz is up to now should be cast in the light of not handcuffing the future leader(s) of this organization.

    As fans, we can only hope this is occurring. We will have no way of knowing. The rational person in me wants to believe this is happening, the past 5 years of experience doesn’t provide me much hope.

  • Salty

    I agree that the Oil are well past the point of trying to salvage this season. Any move has to be looked at in terms of improving this team in the years to come. If we had confidence in the management group doing a trade then I would be okay with potential moves. But with the current management group I would recommend that Nicholson puts a moratorium on any moves until he completes his review and hopefully re-organization.

    Another disaster season might damage the development of some of the young players, it certainly won’t help anybody. Prior to the draft I suggested that considering trading the No.3 pick for something that can provide value now and in the future should be considered, rather than another teenager who is several years away from providing meaningful help.

  • Salty

    This McDavid kid better be worth it. If all of us die hard Oilers fans are throwing in the towel already then we better see some winning next season.

    I agree with you Gregor, why fire Eakins or MacT you’re not going to have a bunch of qualified candidates to step in right away however as you’ve already stated you believe Kevin Lowe doesn’t have much impact on how the Oilers play on the ice but Daryl Katz just fire the guy.

    Fire him for the fans. Fire him for the tier 1 fans that paid for season tickets to this gong show. At least give us all something to be happy about.

  • This mess is like the situation going on In Oakland.
    -The Raiders/Oilers are two proud franchises. Have HOF players, coaches and fans.
    -The franchises had a certain Model that worked for years and years.
    -Great drafting, evaluation of players and made the right moves when it came to signing free agents.
    -The results spoke for themselves. Championships. Multiple Championships.

    -Terrible Ownership.
    -Terrible Drafting.
    -Signing 2nd Tier/over the hill/over priced free agents.
    -Coaching changes after coaching changes.
    -You create depth by your later picks in the draft. Both teams have been horrible in this area.
    -Oakland lost by 50 Points this past weekend. 50? To a avg. Rams team? The Oilers are winless in 10 games. 10? Really? IT is a shame what’s happened to these once proud franchises.
    -At least I can watch some winning hockey down here at OKC. 🙁

  • Joe Mamma

    I can go along with Gregor’s rationale. I will look forward the cast of idiots and their egos parading to the stage, along with Harrison and his Dad to make the pick. Be the laughingstock. Better yet, new faces, new management, new, new, new. And I don’t mean Messier.

  • BubbaZanetti

    Absolutely agree. Nothing should be done right now. This rebuild has failed. Another rebuild needs to take place – but with new, proven, experienced and winning people.

    This team has to finish last. It is too late now. The house cleaning should begin as soon as the Oilers have locked down 30th. Surest way for this to go the way they want it, just leave everything as is.

  • BubbaZanetti

    There is a time to take out the fires hoses, and a time to just let the fire burn itself out and rebuild from there. I think it is the latter for us.

    We have to start rebuild 2.0. A major purge of mgmt, and scouting needs to take place first before we make any player deals.

  • Congo Powerarm

    I completely oppose purposely aiming to acquire talent at the top of the draft following the failed rebuild which we are now in. I view this as an illegitimate way of running a hockey team or any team for that matter. The damage to the culture of the team which has become apparent over the last few days is one of the main issues preventing this team from winning (there’s a laundry list of other issues too).

    So if it’s the case that these issues are a product of the rebuild, then how can we endorse using this approach again?

  • Oilers4Ever

    I agree keep tanking to get McDavid or Eichel but Katz CANNOT let the current clowns running the show. At the very least lowe needs to be removed immediately!!!

  • Anton CP

    While i understand what the article is stating, it is not a good idea to stand pay frontage sake of the future. Sure you might get eichel or mcdavid but the rest of the team will be so physcologically damaged that you might as well begin rebuild 6.0. It’s a tricky line to walk right now with this team.

    It’s been 20 years of frustration finally coming to the surface and it is not pretty. One fluke run and two first round upsets since 1994 is dreadful. I believe this team is on the verge of a HUGE change that will affect the club for years to come.

  • Oilers4Ever

    While i understand what the article is stating, it is not a good idea to stand pay frontage sake of the future. Sure you might get eichel or mcdavid but the rest of the team will be so physcologically damaged that you might as well begin rebuild 6.0. It’s a tricky line to walk right now with this team.

    It’s been 20 years of frustration finally coming to the surface and it is not pretty. One fluke run and two first round upsets since 1994 is dreadful. I believe this team is on the verge of a HUGE change that will affect the club for years to come.

  • Oilers4Ever

    jason, your one assumption is that without significant change from the top and direction of this team before the draft, McDavid or Eichel will want to come to Edmonton. Fat chance. Their agents are probably already advised them to run as far as possible from this toxic organization.

  • Oilers4Ever


    Buffalo and Carolina both won tonight. I am tired of all the talk about the Oilers “tanking”. That implies that they need to play bad deliberately. They don’t. THE OILERS ARE IN LAST PLACE BECAUSE THEY ARE THE WORST TEAM IN THE NHL. Stay the course, boys! Keep up the bad work!

  • Oilers4Ever

    You know how excellent players maintain a personal shooting percentage over the league average?

    I think the Oilers’ dysfunctional defence is bad enough that it unambiguously depresses goalies’ save percentages. Intuitively, this makes a lot of sense – giving up a shot at the perimeter is nowhere near as dangerous as giving one up in the shot.

    The way the Oilers are chugging along, it won’t be long until we have a non-trivial sample size. How many perfectly reasonable goalies have signed in Edmonton only to see their numbers plummet, only for their numbers to return to normal when they go to another team?

  • db7db7db7

    Hi Gregor, I 100% agree that new personnel should not be brought in until more candidates are available. However, actions need to be taken to ensure the current management group doesn’t attempt a hail marry to try and save their jobs. Lowe and MacT should be let go and Howson left as interm GM until better prospects are available. You don’t leave someone at the helm of your company when they know they’re on their way out. As unthinkable as it might sound, leaving them in charge through to the trade deadline could easily make things worse.