MacT Speaks…

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Craig MacTavish opened his press conference with, “This availability will not satisfy anyone.”

Bang on, but some of his responses to question did grab my attention.

“I think we are visually better than our record. We played a smarter more mature game vs. Winnipeg than we do normally. Nashville was the same. I’m not naive enough to think there won’t have to be personnel change over time, but for me the focus, currently, is helping this group of players execute at a high level.”

He is correct that in those two games they were better, but what about games vs. Arizona, St.Louis and others? Two games doesn’t equal 26. The reality is that this team still plays more inconsistent games than consistent ones. So who should rectify that?

MacTavish was asked if that falls on coaching to get more consistency?

“One philosophy doesn’t reach every player, as a former coach I know that.
If you are talented player and every time you turn the puck over you
come to the bench and the coach yells at you, you won’t have the
confidence to make plays. Where we struggle internally is how do we
approach that. I think we are getting better.

“I think people who
cover our team regularly recognize that that level of accountability is improving.

“It starts with the coaching staff identifying these situations, but it
doesn’t end with the coaching staff. It has to come internally from the
group.

“Taylor Hall has to be a voice in that. Jordan Eberle has to be a voice
in our leadership group and he has to be demanding more of the team.
Taylor has to be demanding more of the team, and when you start
demanding more of the team it has a residual affect in your decision
making on the ice. When that starts to happen at a greater level to what
it has happened at this point I think we will make a turn.”

We have seen Schultz get benched, so I guess that would classify as improvement in accountability. The remainder of his response was a challenge to Hall and Eberle. They have been here five years. I felt MacT challenged them in a way without ripping them. He basically said if those guys demand more from the team then they will demand more from themselves, thus limiting turnovers and bad decisions. It makes sense, but are they ready to do that? I don’t know the answer, and what happens if they aren’t?

MacTavish did expand on coaching…

“When we asked Dallas to commit to us he had plenty of opportunities
and was a heavily sought after coach. I think he is a good role model
for our players. He is passionate about the game. He is evolving as a
coach. I like his resiliency as a coach. It is not easy feat to have had
the record that we have and still, in my mind, have the support of the
entire group (players) in there.

“Make no mistake the coaching is
under scrutiny, but in my mind at this time to make a coaching
change…we’ve changed assistant coaches, we’ve brought in co-coaches,
we’ve brought in former coaches and we’ve made four coaching changes.
All four coaches were bringing the same message; we need a higher level
of execution.

“I believe our team is evolving to the point where the expectation internally is that they do have to execute at a higher level.”

“Our
group, for whatever reason, does not exhibit the urgency that the
situation requires. That’s the work ethic and competitiveness that we
need at a greater level out of this group. The shortcomings in our team
game…we are very seldom on the dial on the competitive moments of the
game. We don’t control them, we play well in spurts, but when the game
is on the line the opposition normally dictates the pace and tempo of
the game.”

There is much to discuss in this response.

I have no idea how many other opportunities Eakins had, but I don’t think that is very relevant to today. Results matter, and I think it is obvious that MacTavish doesn’t want to scapegoat another coach. If the losing continues he might have no choice, but he is adamant it just isn’t the coach. Eakins has made some  bad decisions, and I think not asking for more accountability from his skilled players early on was his biggest mistake. Can he reverse that now and be harder on them? Time will tell.

The last part of that response speaks volumes. Essentially he is politely saying the team is soft, either mentally or physically. He is bang on. I’ve been saying for years this team does not battle hard enough most nights, and this season their ability to make horrendous errors at the most important areas of the ice is the main reason they are losing so frequently.

Can they change that? Will they learn to play smarter and harder? I firmly believe not all of them will, and those who won’t, even young players, need to be weeded out.

WHO IS TO BLAME FOR THIS?

It is in our DNA to want to find blame. Most fans wanted that question answered, but, not to my surprise, that didn’t happen today. Here is what MacT said on that topic.

“I am accountable for it all. I’ve switched out 14 or 15 players in the 18 months I’ve been on the job, and what I think I have now is a group that is capable of growth and what I think I inherited was a group on the demise.

“My evaluation of the group is that they are still developing and it is taking time for these guys to develop. Outside of the real generational talents, Crosby, Toews, Kane who arrive at the NHL as a pretty finished product, it takes time for most players to develop into dominant players.”

“We are close to reaching our choke point, but that doesn’t mean we are going to punt out our three best players.”

I would agree that the majority of players he didn’t resign or traded away were garbage. Of course he also brought in Fraser, Belov and Grebeshkov, so he has also erred in some of his acquisitions.

I don’t believe they can win with this group. He needs to make some trades, and I’m fully aware that is very difficult to do and will take time. I know he has looked at those options, but the organization needs to realize that the combination of young players they have assembled is not a winning formula. They have too much of the same and need to make a trade to alter that.”

I asked MacT if starting the season with two NHL centres was a mistake?

“I wouldn’t say it was a mistake. It would be foolish to not have tried to find another centreman to come in here. We are not in a position to pay the asset ask for a positional bias. We just don’t have the number of assets to make the moves. We have four or five players who could get us a good return, but then it is fixing one hole and exposing another.”

I disagree. It was a mistake. Entering the season with only two NHL centres, the most important forward position, was a bad call.

I do agree fixing one hole will create another, but I’d rather have a hole on the wing than down the middle, however, if he would have signed a stop gap centre in the off-season he wouldn’t have had to give up anything. I know a stop-gap wouldn’t make them that much better, but it wouldn’t have forced them to rush Leon Draisaitl.

Speaking of Draisailt…MacTavish was asked if they will lend him to Germany for the WJC

“We have talked about it. The one factor with Leon is his own personal
development and that is the singular most important decision for us. It
is unlikely we will send him (WJC). I thought he played well in Winnipeg
and I’m satisfied he is developing.”

I will never agree that the best decision for Draisaitl was to be here this year. Even if he went to Germany to play against men would have been a better option. The NHL is not a development league, and MacTavish admitted earlier that they have underestimated how long it takes for players to get comfortable. So if that is the case, why rush another one?

He was asked about poor pro scouting and specifically Niktin?

“I will argue about Nikitin. We needed help on
defence and we needed to stop gap our defensive position before Darnell
Nurse and Klefbom were ready to get in our lineup. Klefbom has shown he
is ready now, based on his play.

“Nikitin to me is an NHL talent.
He has been up and down in terms of his perfomance level, but I don’t
think there is anyone who will question he isn’t an NHL player. He has
played at the Olympics and has played at very high levels of hockey. He
has been inconsistent in his performance here so far…

“As for the
pro scouting…the players that we bring in should, and has been better
than the previous years. Prior to that we were left with players who
had very few alternatives on where they could play. Now when I’m
recruiting these free agents I have a much better story to tell. I know
we haven’t realized any of the upside that I forecasted for these
players, but we have a better story to tell now.”

Sure, Nikitin is an NHL d-man, but he is an inconsistent one. Playing in the Olympics doesn’t mean much, considering Belov was on that team as well, so I wouldn’t have used that experience as why he is good. Watch Nikitin when he defends the rush. He backs in too far and allows too many quality shots or passing lanes to the opposition.

Right now the only story the Oilers are telling is a horror story. It will need to change, and the organization can’t expect to rebuild their team through free agency. It won’t happen.

His thoughts on Ference’s Arizona post-game comments.

“The coaches can go in there and talk about competitiveness and going to the net, but there has to be a level of internal accountability in there (dressing room) and good teams have it. Andrew’s comments were emotional at the time, but they were directed in the right frame of mind. We need a more competitive group and at times we get it, but it is not there consistently enough to have success and get off this treadmill that we are all on.

Getting off a treadmill can be very difficult. And the way this season has gone, the Oilers will likely struggle as much as others have.

DAY 4…MONTH OF GIVING…

Thanks to Derks Menswear for their shopping package and to Ken for his generous bid of $2,350.

Today’s packages…

Package #1…

RVH_4322_River Valley Health

A 4322 Performance Assessment and 12 one-on-one training sessions courtesy of River Valley Health. This is great for your son or daughter who is training, or for yourself if you want to dominate men’s league.

Package #2: Tee It Up.

  • 10 rounds of golf at the Ranch Golf and Country Club (hole 14 above)  with a power cart with each round and use of driving range before every round.
  • One round of golf for three people with their Head Pro Shawn Piercey.
  • One round of golf for two with GM Murray McCourt and Kevin Karius from Global TV. This is a spirited match and usually involves some friendly “wagering.”

You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today.

Thanks in advance. All proceeds go towards Santas Anonymous.

Recently by Jason Gregor:     

  • Stack Pad Save

    So; hmm. Migraine. A quote popped into my head; ‘Happy fans, happy pockets.’ If Katz doesn’t do anything quick (like tomorrow) the consequences will be dire. How far can this abyss go? (In a decade to Seattle!) So here’s a sarcastic rendition of the GOOD, BAD and the UGLY.

    GOOD: Katz gets hit in the head by a fluke slap-shot by his son and completely fires upper-management; Lowe, MacTavish, Howson and Eakins. Moves Bill Scott to take the reins temp, and doesn’t hire a coach from Toronto Marlies.
    -people cheer and officially make it a provincial holiday!
    -faith in the Oilers is restored and hope flourishes bringing the fans back.

    BAD: They continue to do nothing. They suck worse. The stadium seats are empty.
    -their fan base plummets and merchandise sales plummets. (duh!)

    UGLY: The players/fans begin to lash out and revolt. Hall and Ference get into a fist fight on the ice during the ‘EPIC Catostrophy of 2014’ Coyotes/December 23rd game. Edmonton begins to burn like Vancouver 2011. The new stadium is demolished! Hall slices his hand on Ferences ‘have some pride’ skate and then ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE!!!
    -everyone in the world now hates the Oilers.

    LET’S DO THIS!!! *Play scene from Breakfast Club end credits, fist of fury “Don’t you forget about me!”

  • Lumley

    HEART

    H – Help needed immediately

    E – EVERYONE, please buy in to winning

    A – ALL of you start please start competing

    R – RESPECT you fans

    T – Try showing up for EVERY game

    Thank you and goodnight

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Why do the Oilers brass keep saying that they’ve played well enough to win a game or two?

    I disagree.

    This team is getting exactly what it deserves. They haven’t played well enough to win the vast majority of the games in which they’ve played.

    • CMG30

      Because they arnt good at evaluating hockey. They honestly think they’re doing a good job. This is the problem!! Honest to god they think Jultz really has Norris potential. They actually thought Nikitin would help. I could go on and on but bottom line is these guys are terrible at their jobs

  • vituperative detritus

    Sorry, used the word ‘start’ twice and I meant respect ‘your’ fans. I may have had one glass too many – it’s been a rough season so far……………….

  • Brian Burke hired Sept 2013

    Brad Treliving hired April 2014

    First overall picks ZERO

    So why Mac T how can Calgary have so much success in barely 8 months with their GM and no first overalls and you have so little?

    “……. Ah well you and everyone else would have to agree that their appearance is really bad though”

    Give me a break. Pathetic.

    • Funny how they can still spin things eh?

      People have mentioned the tanking thing, and I had never agreed with the theory.. I honestly thought the team was just THAT horrible. After all of this though, it’s really hard to imagine any other reason isn’t it?

      Is it possible for a professional group to make these moves if they were trying? Is it really? Is it reaaaalllly?

      The truly sad part is that even though they may be tanking now, they are way too stupid to know what to do with another epic top two again. The oilers couldn’t build a team with the first 10 overall. They have tried that route for years, but the group is a cancer, and nothing will ever work.

  • Brian Burke hired Sept 2013

    Brad Treliving hired April 2014

    First overall picks ZERO

    So why Mac T how can Calgary have so much success in barely 8 months with their GM and no first overalls and you have so little?

    “……. Ah well you and everyone else would have to agree that their appearance is really bad though”

    Give me a break. Pathetic.

    • Burnward

      Possibly doing a simple forensic breakdown of the Flamers last two season should give everyone a reasonable view of the “process” changes they made to turn their team into one which wins more than it loses.

      Maybe Calgary has a better advanced statistical analysis guy than Dellow?

      What did the Flamers change recently?

      • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

        Made core changes,

        Got thier young players signed to great term and price brodie for 4.25mill per. Not a player on our roster better than him but plenty making more..

        Curious to see what price the get monahn at … willing to bet there will be a bridge contract and will be less than rnh

  • How come no one in the media asked “How many years of over seeing the worst team in hockey do you think Lowe can have and still remain in his position?”

    I mean seriously, Jay bloody Feaster is making fun them!!!

  • Zarny

    I didn’t catch the presser till after work and ~ 200 comments. Interesting perspective. Perhaps Wanye can let the Oilers know PR stands for “public relations”. There was only one entity MacT had to satisfy – fans.

    He should have opened with it’s all on me not tucked it in the middle. The owner is p*ssed. Everything is under review and subject to change.

    I thought some of what MacT said was very accurate. He called his team weak and they are. They make their mistakes at the most critical times of a game. Their execution is poorest when it matters most.

    I agree with Gregor keeping Draisaitl was a clear mistake. I’m fine with him not throwing Nikitin under the bus.

    His assessment of where the franchise is at was grim. 4-5 players who can return good value. He feels the asking prices are too high because he can’t afford to give up 2nd and 3rd rnd picks; because the pipeline is a trickle.

    MacT couldn’t distance himself fast enough from Lowe and previous decisions. It’s “year 5” and the GM is talking about competitiveness. Need he say more.

  • Jason Gregor

    At Mac Tees “Availability Conference” he forgot to announce the Oiler Promotion of Brown Paper Bags. This promotion is likely to last several years. Hockey fans across the World can order bags individually or on a family plan from the Oilers. Purchasers may use crayons or pencils to decorate this headdress. The bags have a life expectancy of 17.674 years.
    This is expected to promote the Oilers and our City. At the next availability time the Oilers will be announcing the results of their Bag Program. How many wins the team bags will be announced another day when AVAILABLE!!?