Reverse Mailbag – My Questions for OilersNation


Every week I answer five questions from all of you. The good, bad and dumb questions are all answered. It is now your turn to answer mine. I only have three questions. I couldn’t compete with your ability to produce five.

Here you go!


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1 – Why do you want Katz, MacT or Lowe to come out and speak? 

This makes no sense to me. What do you want to hear? An apology? A plan? Are you looking to be inspired? Talk is just that…talk. It’s not going to change anything. 

As a player, I was always about results. If a teammate or a coach told me they were going to do something I would think it’s great, they are talking a good game, lets see how this goes.  If a guy said he wanted to get stronger, would I see him in the gym the next morning? If he was concerned about his weight, would I see him putting back bagels dripping in cream cheese the next morning? He wanted to kill penalties, so would he flamingo all over the ice when shots were coming at him?

Talk is easy and cheap. Results are all that matters. Anyone can say they want to change or improve, but putting a plan into action is much harder.

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Personally, I don’t need to hear from anyone in the organization. This won’t do anything for me. I suppose, if it is an action press conference, where a change is happening with the staff or a trade, then I would be interested. I am not interested, however, in a state of the union. Quite frankly you shouldn’t be either.


2 – Why are the goalies blamed for so much of the lack of success for the Oilers?

Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth have yet to prove they are NHL starters. That day may never come, however, since they are both fighting for their lives in the net every night.  Right now, they’re getting very little consistent support around them from their teammates. The lack of an overall team defensive structure, and consistent ability to play it, has got to be frustrating for these two. These goalies face five bell chances every single period. Breakaways, two on ones, three on twos, and top NHL snipers being left in the slot alone happens far too frequently. 

These two have let in some bad goals, and they have owned up to it. But why do you all let the skaters off the hook with their defensive play? I can’t understand it. Yes, the goalies are easy targets to pin a failed season on, but there’s plenty of blame to spread around. 


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3 – Why is it just assumed that Oilers scorers that are struggling to score will simply rebound to their “previous” shooting percentage of years past?

This may be the most baffling of my three questions. This question is the one I would really want some clear answers for. 

I get that players go through tough times, and that their previously set benchmarks are what becomes expected for them. But if a player is struggling to score is it just luck that turns around for them? Can it be that easy? LUCK? In a game that players work out, and practice all year to prepare for, success comes down to the worst phrase in hockey: “PUCK LUCK?” No, it doesn’t.

Goals are earned the hard way. You don’t score goals by shooting from the perimeter, or trying to tip pucks in with a long stick so you don’t get roughed up in front of the goalie. Scoring goals hurts, and it should because it is so much fun to do. 

An example is Yakupov. His shooting percentage is 5.5%. Down from 9.0% last season. He is playing too much on the perimeter. He needs to get to the net, and battle for position and goals. That will get him on track and open up for the further out shots he likes to shoot. That is what will increase his goal total and shooting percentage. It won’t just go up on it on because that is what has happened in the past. He needs to change his playing habits, not pray to the hockey gods for the words phrase in hockey, “PUCK LUCK”

I now leave it to you, OilersNation. Answer my three questions like I answer your five every week. You owe me, and I am genuinely interested in your answers.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    Dear Strudders,

    1 – I DON’T want to hear from those guys. Sure, maybe at the end of the year I’d like to hear how they got the copious amount of egg on their face that is this season…but during the season I couldn’t care less to hear from them. (It would be interesting to see McTavish’s take on his pre-season prediction that the start of last season couldn’t be duplicated…but that is another day!)

    * More importantly, that shooter tutor… We had the exact same one growing up. I remember watching my brother shoot for the five hole from the back of the net… well the frozen tennis ball was a PERFECT shot – through the five hole, stretching the netting past what I had considered, giving me yet another bloody nose playing street hockey. Great memories!! 😀

    2 – Goaltending. It IS to blame. Is it all of the blame? No, of course not. But, we all (okay, they – I’m not in the NHL…) have to take accountability, but that does NOT make them immune to that blame. I’m not blaming them on a 2 on 1, or a blistering shot that Fuhr himself would have had trouble stopping, but easy, crappy goals often enough to bring the team down is on them. Even from an emotional point of view, as a former goalie – the easiest way to kill your team’s psyche is to let in an easy goal, thereby making any of their hard work useless. Yes, for the Oilers that’s not a lot of work that is made useless – but it still does have the same effect.

    P.S. Fully agree on how badly the rest of the team has played defensively. Again, you have to stop EVERY PUCK that comes your way, whether it is ‘fair’ or not…whether it is a 2 on 1, or a 3 on 1 every five minutes. That is a different concern. You have one. Only one…stop the puck.

    Until then, a goalie has nothing to say if he’s not doing his job first and foremost. (just my two cents)

    3 – I’m with you on analytics. I think it’s ridiculous too. If a player has a sniper’s touch – take Eberle in his first year…he is going to score that way all year. Likewise, a bad year, or confidence problems. Until you make changes, it is unlikely that the puck is going to go in. Playing minor hockey I remember I kept on missing the net high and wide – going for the top corners only. Once my coaches told me my loud shots going wide or hitting the glass, while looking impressive – were helping us none. Once I ate my pride, and just made sure I hit the net…it changed everything. But, I had to change my point of view first. (That was once upon a time, after my goaltending time had come to an end…and playing at a level below what I had become accustomed to. A great lesson in humility, where eating my pride resulted in helping the team go from worst to first that year!) 🙂

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    Great article as usual…by far the best writer on here and my favorite radio host. I agree 100% with you so I won’t answer the questions but I am curious to see what others think.

  • Goodkimchee

    1. I’d like an apology; an admission of, well, mistakes made.

    I live on Vancouver Island, and I listen to a lot of the Team1040, and I have to say, the difference in coaching and managerial styles is remarkable. When Linden came in as President of Hockey Operations, he was humble, called everyone he could to get some advice, and suggested that patience and change came hand in hand. He offered hope. No strident voice of prophecy, no arrogance. Humility, quiet, pride. Benning comes in, he is who he is and says the same thing that Linden does: humble, a need for change, pride.

    The thing with Lowe and MacTavish that really, really gets my goat is this arrogant pride, as in really, really arrogant, as “My sh*t smells way better than yours” hubris. Bold moves? I know how to build a team because I’ve won? No apologies, no quiet determination. Just…arrogance. I don’t have any other word for it. And that is the most offensive thing as an Oilers fan.

    Second, in the beginning, if there were problems on the Canucks, you know who spoke? Linden. Or Benning. Why? To draw attention away from the team, from the coach, let them focus on hockey and draw the ire and lense onto themselves. They take the shots for the team. Then when the hockey team is playing well, you know who speaks? The coach. The players. You hardly hear a peep from Linden and Benning.

    How different is that from the Oilers, who have seemingly left Eakins out to dry in the media? “No, I’m too flipping important to answer the same question again and again,” seem to be the thoughts from management. Just send Eakins out.

    I’d like honest answers for
    – Why can’t you just follow the Detroit model and let your prospects flipping develop? You did it with Eberle. Why can’t you do it with Yakupov, Draisaitl, etc? Seriously.
    – Why are you so desperate to move out useful defencemen e.g. Petry? WTF. Who on the team is a better d-man? Honestly.
    – Why can’t you admit you were wrong (Kevin) and shouldn’t have let Renney go. Ugh. So frustrating…

    But those are ancillary to my main frustration, and that’s their arrogance built on what they did as players, not what they’ve done as management. You have not earned the right to be that cocky. And now you’re sleeping in the bed you’ve made. Hope it’s comfy.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    1 – Why do you want Katz, MacT or Lowe to come out and speak?
    To be honest I am not sure I do yet at the same time I want someone with authority to fix this. I suspect that there are many attempts going on to fix this yet when every other team wants your gold in trade for beans it is hard to find a trade that actually helps the club. If I owned the team I would be frustrated but would want to allow the people whom I hired to do a job to do that job or why hire them in the first place. Inotherwords if Katz is coming to the mic someone’s head is rolling. As far as MacT goes I suspect that big trade everyone wants were we get a top defender for soon out the door prospects is a bit hard to find.

    2 – Why are the goalies blamed for so much of the lack of success for the Oilers?
    I really like Both of them and think that it has to be hard to come to a bottom ranked team and save it. Everyone wants a shutout every night and as far as I can see the goaltenders are getting hung out to dry very often. I have seen some soft goals but in at least Scrivens case he has been very willing to sholder the blame when he is at fault. By the same token he has been willing to give an honest evaluation of the team when they play poorly. I am not sold on Fasth yet but I feelmthere is no point trading a goalie until we get stronger on D.

    3 – Why is it just assumed that Oilers scorers that are struggling to score will simply rebound to their “previous” shooting percentage of years past?
    Not sure they can or will. It seems to me that team work is far more important overall than havering one or two superstars. It always blows my mind to see a player play very well scoring a ton of goals only to be traded and then get half of the production. Chemistry is so important and by the same token you can get a player like Peron on the cheep because he seems to be only a defensive specialist and he suddenly explodes for a best year. I have often been surprised when a player who has found that perfect matching complementary player on a team and is just loving the whole NHL experience chooses to leave a team and go to a new one in free agency only to bomb. I think a trade is probably coming but the solution here is the team learning that the help they need is not elsewhere but already in the room. If a player is weak in some aspect of his game teach him work with him. If he is not willing to improve MacT will notice and someone new will come. I also think that as players learn to lead and how to motivate each other it will improve. At the same time some who had great years may never get back to that level but nothing is worse than trading a player because you think they have lost it only to have them end up at the next NHL AllStar game.
    In the end I feel as if these questions are not about you wanting t know what we think but a creative way to get us as fans to evaluate what we spout off about. I do this as a teacher all the time and often it works. Then again I also get students whom are never going to get it. Enjoy retirement Sir.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    New age troll has 24 out of 185 posts with his name somewhere in The content. That is about 12.5 % he has to be from Vancouver as a fan from Calgary could would just repeat the we are in a playoff spot mantra.