Tough love time…

The Oilers ended their 11-game losing streak with a solid 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks last night. It was a welcome change for the organization and the fans. The losing was starting to bother even the most pessimistic fan.

It is only one game, and the Oilers woes are far from over, but if this team is going to continue to improve now is the time for some tough love from head coach Dallas Eakins.

The Sharks didn’t generate many quality scoring chances last night, I counted seven, and for the majority of the game the Oilers played smart. They deserved the victory and earned it. Good for them.

The one goal the Sharks did score was a result of a major failure in one of the most simple parts of the game; pick up the high man coming in.

I noticed many people wanted to blame Justin Schultz, and he definitely deserved some flak, but there is much more about this play that needs to be discussed.

  • When Draisaitl doesn’t get puck deep, he is in best position to slide over to his right and pick up McGinn, but he doesn’t. He just glides back in the zone.
  • Schultz tells Draisailt to look to his right and pick up McGinn. Draisaitl ignores him. Schultz should have then done it himself, but Draisaitl was in the best position starting in the neutral zone to pick up McGinn.
  • Watch at the :34 mark or at the :40 mark (better angle) and you will notice Draisaitl actually looks over his right shoulder, but then he just ignores the man and turns back to stare at the puck.
  • Scrivens at the :41 mark is CLEARLY pointing for someone to pick up McGinn. And he had every right to be frustrated after the goal.

To me, Draisaitl is the main culprit, while Schultz is #2. I recognize that young players will make mistakes, but this one was horrific, and there should be consequences for these types of bad plays. The coach simply can’t allow those types of decisions to be made.

But once again, Dallas Eakins did nothing.

Draisaitl missed one measly shift, and didn’t get the message because his next shift he was on the ice for 1:04. He had ten shifts of :50 or longer. His shifts are too long. Last night his first eight shifts were :56, :54, :58, :52, 1:12, :34, 1:16, 1:10. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins averaged :45 seconds a shift, why is Draisaitl continually being allowed to take this long of shifts?

Schultz wasn’t benched, but he was on the ice for only one shift, a measly nine seconds, in the final eight minutes of the third period, but that’s because they were protecting a lead and he is not a stellar defender. It makes sense. A benching happens immediately in my books.

The major issue in Edmonton is that the team has consistently given too much rope to first and second year players, especially forwards. Tom Renney benched Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle for a period once and many fans incorrectly complained. When Eakins did that to Yakupov many fans incorrectly called for Eakins’ head, even though it was the correct decision.

It was only recently that Schultz was sat down for indifferent play, but for the most part Eakins and the organization aren’t willing to send these kids a message.

I don’t understand it. When Craig MacTavish was a coach, and his team was competitive, he made it very clear that young players either played the right way or they didn’t play.

Fernando Pisani shared a story with me this past Friday about his rookie season.

“As a rookie if I made a mistake I would be sitting on the bench. One
game I didn’t cover Steve Thomas in front of the net and he scored. I didn’t
tie up his stick. I sat the rest of that game and then sat out the
next two.

“I wasn’t given much rope when I was young. I knew that
and I learned quickly after that benching to make smart plays if I
wanted to stay in the lineup,” Pisani said.

Pisani was a very responsible player. He was beloved for his two-way play, and of course his magical run in the 2006 playoffs. Pisani was never an elite scorer, but he was a very good checker and penalty killer.

MacTavish sent a message to him and Pisani was wise enough to pick up on it. Play the right way and you will play, don’t, and you will sit.

I have no idea why the Oilers, and some fans, feel young players should be immune to learning how to play without the puck. The coach can’t just keep showing them video of their mistakes and hope they learn. 

Eakins is finally showing some tough love with Schultz. Schultz didn’t play in the final five minutes of last night’s game because the Oilers were nursing a one-goal lead. If he wants to play at crucial times he will need to show he deserves the icetime.

It is about time Eakins coached this way.

Draisaitl is not producing enough points to overcome egregious errors like that. If you are scoring 60+ points a coach will let you get away with more, but if Patrick Roy can bench Nathan MacKinnon, like he did over the weekend, then why can’t Draisaitl sit?

If the Oilers want accountability from their players, then the coach has to set the level of expectations.

Draisaitl has one point in his last 11 games. Marc Arcobello could have easily slid up to the 2nd line for the rest of the game, while Eakins sent a message to Draisaitl.

If the Oilers actually believe it is best for his development to be here, instead of in junior, then at least coach him to play the right way. He has six points in 27 games. He isn’t producing offensively, so he at least should be responsibly defensively.


I like seeing Scrivens get fired up after that play. You could tell he was mad, but he didn’t embarrass a teammate. If the Oilers are going to improve they need players challenging each other to be better.

Pisani shared this about being competitive and developing a strong work ethic within the team.

“The work ethic game from both the room and the coach. I came in as rookie and saw how much work went into being competitive. I saw how hard they worked in practice and in the weight room. I thought I worked hard in junior and then in the AHL, but in the NHL you have to work even harder if you want to win,” said Pisani.

Work ethic has to be the foundation if the Oilers want to become a good team.

The players need to demand it from one another, but Eakins can’t be hesitant to send a message to young players. This season is over. The Oilers aren’t making the playoffs, but if Eakins and management want this team to avoid a similar fate next season, now is the time for some tough love.

It will make the team better in the long run, and hopefully end this decade of losing.


Trading Hall would be asinine. Just ask the Boston Bruins. For the sake of Oilers fans I truly hope the Oilers are not seriously considering it.


Thank you to Dave, Sasha and Frank for their generous bids and to The Ranch Golf Course and River Valley Health for the great packages.

We have raised an amazing $26,950 in the first four days! Let’s keep it going this week.


Package #1…

photo 3

A signed Paul McCartney guitar courtesy of Greg Christenson from Christenson Developments. This is an awesome authentic piece for the music lover. (Includes letter of authenticity.)

Package #2... A fun-filled surprise package that includes good food, good chirps and maybe, depending on who wins it, some romance…Tune in on TSN 1260 today at 2 p.m. to find out.

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

Thanks in advance. All proceeds go towards the Christmas Bureau

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  • Randaman

    Is it just me or could Scrivens be goat #3 on that play? He was pointing out Mcginn in the slot for maybe a half second too long. Didn’t look settled in position for the shot. Also Marleau watched Scrivens point out open man when he looked back, then looked at puck in the corner and made pass. Scrivens basically put a flare up over McGinn for Marleau too.

    • Puck_In_Throat

      Ben had 3 hiccups during the game which need chit-chat,He needs to talk to Halls counsellor,yesterday.Why he heff try so hard?Is only Hokkey?

      You have a good eye and tracked the dynamic action and causality instead of just using statistical perspective. Nice job.Are you Russian/Euro because you couldnt have learned to see the game that way in North America with the Vanilla Pudding cookie cutter stats based Coaching methods used here.Everything good that happens in NHL comes from Russia with love first,da,even 80s offense.

  • Randaman

    Coaching is different now from even Pisani’s days these kids and coaches are fully aware of mistakes they make and will make the right adjustments. Punishment is so medieval it does not translate for players in any sport today or maybe they could have made Leon wear his hockey gear home after the game to teach him a lesson. No pizza for you big boy we saw you look over your shoulder and you expected someone else to check Mcginn tsk tsk.

  • Harry2

    What the hell is wrong with you people!!!! Benching Draisaitl should have been done. JEEEZ first Yak now LD. Why are we putting these guys up on a pedestal, so young and so early when they haven’t earned anything!! Its absolutely maddening how some fans think.

    Have any of you played sports before? I can tell you that whether it be football, hockey or soccer if I made a lazy defensive play live LD did you bet your ass the coach would have chewed mine out.

    And what is all this “hes young he’ll make mistakes” BS. Draisaitl has played this game his whole life. He was directed to pick up the trailing man by JS and Scrivens and yet he did absolutely D’CK all instead.

    This wasn’t a tough play to make and LD should have made it. He didn’t and should have been made an example of. Who cares if hes young

    • Puck_In_Throat

      Players like Leon know when they have made mistakes after the fact,they also expect to be held accountable if they have had good coaching and most have which is how they develop so well initially.

      Communication problems are 100% avoidable,but this is a going concern in games,it is detail which needs work every night.

      I look at it this way,everything between whistles or play stoppages belongs to the group involved in that timespan,a goal against belongs to all of them,the entire dynamic that happens between play stoppages is an entity unto itself,this is a basic perspectice change most are uncomfortable with.The puck may change possesion between whistles more than once before ending up in your net,but it may have been the 1st turnover which was a player decision error while the next one might be system let down.When you try to review the game to seek causality you must dig deep if you want to be accurate.As a Coach you absolutely must with 100% accuracy delineate between individual decision based erors and system generated errors.

      With the case in point I want to review everything which happened before the terminal ending in the o-zone,everything between whistles which led to the situation those 3 men had to deal with where the communication broke down,the men WERE within reach so the System doesnt look guilty,but we arent looking at enough evidence .

      But these are perspective changes which need to be made and they cannot be made without the rest of the process being followed.

      It is like watching goal after goal after goal against where an oiler is simply hanging his stick on the opposition player, “someone” has given them the perspective that it is better to allow goal against than take a penalty against…..if you can hang your stick on him you can break it on him… until the process changes enough to make this dynamic change why would we expect the goals against to stop flooding in?The COACHES need to find a new way of looking at the game,then apply their acumen to this new direction.If you are in the playaction and CAN change it you MUST do so,penaltys must be taken and accounted for by the Coaches.If the players dont get penalised when the system stretches them out to far the Coaches dont know where to adjust their system,you MUST take penaltys for the process to work properly.

      The System NEEDS players to take penaltys in certin dynamics.The Coaches NEED to see the penaltys being called.

      Now anyone sane will tell you that Dallas and most NHL Coaches would laugh you out of the room if you told them their System was not generating enough penaltys against to accuately and properly diagnose and manage itself,and the volume of teaching it takes to bring traditional pespectives around is substantial so unless you are getting paid a heel of a lot of denaros why bother helping them?

      What System ever LOOKS for penaltys and demands them of the Players…the NHS does.Winners pick their own poison.

      Stats would never allow this type of non-traditional management process room to grow and produce superior results,they would do everything possible to undermine this process to ensure their own survivial.Stats say dont take penaltys,they even show you where to not take them.

      • MGD

        The idea of taking a penalty to save a goal is not NewAge Anything. Commentators have been calling penalties that save goals “Good Penalties” for decades. It is “common knowledge”, not some impressive new coaching theory.
        While I tend to agree with you that letting the best of the best hockey players in the world use their intuition to best play the game, you claiming to have invented these ideas all of the time is getting tiresome.

        • Harry2

          A System or process and philosophy which create a tactical template that incorporates specific penaltys at specific times based
          on Intuition is NEW……just because someone invented flour 10,0000 years ago doesnt mean they ever created a Cookie recipie.Or that they should be credited with every recipie made with flour.

          Commentators have been calling them “good penaltys” for years but no one has been making them a System responsibility,and just generally telling the guys to hurt em before you let em shoot it is not what I mean.”good penaltys” are the end product of a process which must be managed by the bench not mentioned.Everything managed from the bench can be written into the System.

          You try to split hairs and claim a pocess is simply the sum of one part.

          I am not talking about “letting” the best players in the world use their intuition,I am talking about a System which by proxy teaches and allows any average player to produce “best player” statistics by simply following the process.By providing them a System with an elite level of Intuition built into it.

          I did invent the NHS and its signature processes.

          You can give a man materials and teach him the proceeses he needs to know to become a Painter,almost anyone can learn these processes,however making a man a Painter DOES NOT make him an artist,an artist takes traditional processes FURTHER than any painter is capable of doing.Every Artist becomes a Painter first then evolves.

          People try to replicate Artists,so when you show a history of your work being replicated consistantly you may consider yourself to be an artist as I do.

          NHL Head Coaches and Star Players are artists,people who create NewAge philosophies concepts and PROCESSES,like I have done with the NHS are artists,not painters.

          The least progressive method of painting is “paint by numbers” this is what stats based processes give you,simple empty hollow outlines of what you need to fill in,the Oilers failure is directly connected to this fact.

          Winners are not the majority perspective,ever.
          Winner are quite content to be the minority perspective,this is why Wayne and Mark and Sather bent the Oilers over when they left without passing on their management program.Well I created a better one than they had using their results and processes as my template.

          If my Philosophy and Management processes DID NOT come across as Greek to 90% of people I would be worried they were inferior,because the majority perspective NEVER wins,I want and need to distance myself from the majority mindset to create winning processes.

          Yes I INVENTED the NewAge Hockey System and its Intuitive Dynamic Management and Intuitive Dynamic Analysis programs.Undermining comments cannot change that history,not unless you can go back and erase the statistical and dynamic template records of the last 4 NHL years,good luck .I hope you are prepared to debate minds like Pat Quinn ,Sutter,and Scotty Bowman because unofficially by proxy of actions these are the front-line NHS supporters you will encounter,again good luck with that.

          Its art which carries your stylistic signature when you via customising status qou processes use traditionl ingredients to produce above average results consistantly.Art is original,as the NHS is original.

          Processes which are valid must create demand, for this beginning to take hold it must root itself in winning results.I gave my data away to specific NHL teams in a specific sequence
          because I had to to create a statistical winning record for it to be accpeted mainstream,over the last 4 years I have been disenfranchised from the winning results but the record will always show the true facts.

          Intuition is what begins the process of producing wins and losses which is where statistics come from.Intuition BEFORE statistics 100% of the time it is nature not preferance which dictates this process,there are places to ask for help to better understand this natural process.

  • MGD

    Totally agree with pretty much every comment in the blog!

    A bigger question is who holds this organization accountable after years of mistakes in the chain of command.

    My only answer as to why players don’t get benched more or sat for games is depth in the line up. Dallas is desperate for wins and so is the organization.’They clearly don’t see the bigger picture in terms of player development. The year started to spiral so they think Draisital with some gaffs, Hall handing over the puck, Eberle picking occasionally times to show up, and Justin Schultz who has been terrible defensively and should have spent two years in the AHL is better than Lander, Arcobello, Purcell, etc playing more minutes.

    The team has a flaw in its system. So happy that the same guys that created the problem are analyzing how to fix it minus Bob Nicholson who is friends with them all anyways. None of these individuals had any experience in the NHL in thier current role from Kevin Lowe down.

    Mark my words until the organization does a restart from the TOP the on ice issues will continue because they don’t properly prepare them for the NHL!

  • Puck_In_Throat

    Leon was going to where he should be supporting the puck and defense in the corner. Shultz should have went to the front of the net, the fact that Shultz began to go towards the corner when drassitl was right beside him shows he doesn’t know his postioning. Shultz should realize this before Leon does, it only confuses Leon. Also the trailing winger should have also been on that San Jose dman rushing in. Everyone is at fault, but first is Schultz, not drassitl

  • Harry2

    So on the surface I agree with you that Hall is an elite talent and he will flourish where ever he goes


    If the Oilers cannot win with him should they stick with him?

    I think Hall has some serious flaws in this game that all seem stem from the same thing – I am not sure he’s an astute “thinker” of the game.

    I would say his decision making and perhaps “selfish” play will be the ceiling for Hall’s career. Lindy Ruff seems to think this when he was at World Champioships, and I would say plays such as:

    1. In the first period against the Sharks when he did the glide through the crease vs. had he stopped he would have had an easy goal but in the end all he could do was muster a weak backhand.

    2. Vs the Jets he can’t hold onto his stick in OT and makes a weak attempt going to scorer point man

    3. I think his petty jab back at Ference about “reminding yourself why you play in the NHL” shows his disrespect for veterans and coaching staff

    If this attitude hurts your team then he should be moved.

    In the end if you trade him for 3 for 1 or for picks then Oilers lose that deal every time UNLESS one of those teams is Buffalo, but no way Buff makes that deal.

    If Hall wants to be a game changer and get those 1.05 ppg as game winners vs 3 pts in a 6-2 win on goals 4-6 then he needs to make a change and start stepping up – otherwise I would deal him and I would do it this year.

    • Puck_In_Throat

      Hall has been given the Ops, it was suppossed to be Nuges turn last season to be made the scoring focal point and this year it was suppossed to be Nails turn.Hall got an extra 2 years of being the primary recipient of the easy money.It pucked the development program.

      There was only ONE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY to bring the 3 #1 picks evolutions together on track ,and the Oilers managers pucked it up.When they screwed with Ralph they wrote their own tickets,only Katz keeps them here now.

      Management and Coaching have become so discombobulated no player valuations can possibly be accurate,it would be insanity to trade ANY of the core until a winning environment is created so we can see what better management and Coaching can do with this Core.

      I dont believe the Management “message” or the men paid to make it happen deserve any more than the remainder of this season to produce Playoff level results,pro-rate the games left and if they dont make the mini-playoffs then make the tough decisions.The “continuity” has been executed via management message to the last 4 Coaches according to Mac-T,the Coaching “continuity” is not critical the “message” is,the Core developing chemistry with the “message” is far more important than the Coaching crew.

      We have seen the Coaches then players changed completely several times,but we have not been privilged enough to be told exactly what the “message” is but we sure as hell know it is the only thing that has been around longer than our Players and Coaches.

      Dallas Eakins and his crew just cant seem to find enough words to get through to all of the men all of the time,everything is to abbreviated,to compact,to condensed.The “message” isnt formatted right.

      Yes,the Oilers could trade Hall,but they might need 20 more years to replace his skillset.

      Its much less risky to turn over Coaches AND Management than to draft superstars,we easily forget Teams can go decades without a top 1st round pick and most would NEVER even think of letting a Coach kill one,we have 3 and are drunk with potential and a moron who almost ruined two of them,one in obvious ways and Nuge in subtle developmentel ways.Derelict management is what it is.Most teams would NEVER consider running off a Hall to support funky Management messages and flunky Coaching.

      I would be happy to wake up tomorrow with the entire roster and no current Management or Coaches….I would be not willing but HAPPY to see everyone gone but the Roster.I would have traded any management and Coaches over the last 20 years to get this CORE,this group will go down in history as Dynasty Killers if they puck this up.No one will remember their rings,not even if they have 6 of them.I just cant trust them any more,not with this Generational Core in play.

  • 1979


    Agreed! Tough love! Agreed! Don’t trade Hall for lesser assets. Disagreed! Don’t allow Hall to be a possible trading asset.

    The most important part of changing the Oiler’s fortunes is changing the culture. Is it a coincidence that Calgary’s culture changed drastically for the better when Iginla left? No. Iginla was not young like Hall but he was clearly holding them back from a well needed culture change. If Edmonton had a culture like Calgary this season would be different and we would have much less complaint. I don’t necessarily believe Hall is the problem but your whole article is centered around accountability. The opposite of accountability is the entitlement you suggest by making Hall untouchable!! There should be no untouchable’s ever in my opinion. Don’t make stupid trades, but clear out the culture of entitlement that has infected this team by making it clear that no one is untouchable! That’s true tough love!!

  • 1979

    @1979 “Don’t make stupid trades, but clear out the culture of entitlement that has infected this team by making it clear that no one is untouchable! That’s true tough love!!”

    AMEN. There will be no accountability if we basically say “you 1, 2, 3, or 4 players, you guys will not be traded. Full stop. No matter what.”

    That just lets those guys think that this tire-fire is really someone else’s problem, that they’re just a-okay, perfect as-is, when that’s not the case. The core isn’t the ENTIRE problem, but they’re also not free of any of the blame.

    Not saying that we could get a decent trade for any of our core, but I think if a decent (read: realistically decent, rational, fair) trade comes along for ANY player on our team, you make the trade. This is not a team that’s going to even make the playoffs, much less contend for the Cup. And while I hear the screams about trading away our star, what has keeping him done? 30th, 29th, 24th, 28th, and on pace to be dead last again this year in 30th.

    It’s not necessarily his fault, but we can hold onto him for the remainder of his contract, and that’s not going to make any meaningful difference in us improving. Time to try something new. Get rid of him, get a new piece in. At this point, if we continue to lose, at least we can say we tried something different. Clearly, holding on him/the rest of the core isn’t helping and doesn’t look like it ever will

  • 1979

    This is the problem, again we want to change players and change how they play the game.

    This is the equivalent of saying hey Jason, yo are a great radio host, I want you to do TV for us, or better yet do the financial news on radio.

    “Jason, we feel you have a lot of skills in sports radio, but we want to ensure you are a rounded radio host, so we need you to brush up on your economics and discuss the markets”

    Building for failure is what that is.

    Draft two way players, stop drafting offence. If you/the coach/the GM all want a two way player than draft/trade for them. Yakupov is never going to be a two way player, but Oli Jokinen made a good career out of being a one dimensional player.

    We are still coaching, drafting and developing players based on the early 2000 era of the cash tight oilers. We now have the ability to draft skill and pay for skill and the problem and only problem is we do not know what to do with a player with skill.

    Sorry wait that is unfair. Kroeger knew, wish we could get him back, but wait he is finding success with EPL team in a sport that he had no prior experience.