GDB 32.0: Will coaching make a difference?!/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_960/image.jpg

The MacNelson regime begins tonight. Craig MacTavish will go behind the bench for an unspecified amount of time, to help transition the team to Todd Nelson, and then Nelson will be the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

MacTavish wants to get a more accurate pulse of his team, and I believe get a firsthand insight into which players he likes and who he wants to jettison out of town.

The pressing question is: will this coaching change help the team?

I’m skeptical it will make a massive improvement, but we will see a spike in winning%, however, that won’t be hard considering the Oilers won only seven of their first 31 games.

The Oilers aren’t that good, I didn’t pick them to make the playoffs, but I also didn’t expect them to have fewer than 60 points at the end of the season. The Oilers are on pace for a measly 50 points. When people talk about this move hurting their chances of tanking, I’m not sure they realize how awful the Oilers have been this year.

Since 2004, only seven teams have had fewer than 60 points in a full season.

Buffalo had 52 points last year.

Philly had 56 in 2007.

St.Louis had 57 and Pittsburgh had 58 in 2006.

Pittsburgh had 58 while Chicago and Washington had 59 in 2004.

Those were bad hockey teams, and the Oilers are right with them.

The Oilers need 41 points in their final 51 games just to reach the 60-point plateau. Remember Ralph Krueger? He was 19-22-7 during his 48 games as Oilers head coach. Matching those numbers would be a monumental accomplishment for this team, and that would still only give them 64 points. So the Oilers can be on pace to be the 24th place team down the stretch and they will still only reach 64-66 points.

Their bad starts were not all Dallas Eakins’ fault. He should, however, take some blame and did so today at his press conference where he said, “We probably got ahead of ourselves systems wise. We should have focused on the fundamentals more.” That was obvious, but the make up of this team is simply not good enough.

I asked MacTavish yesterday if he had given Eakins a strong enough lineup to compete?

“There’s blood all over my hands, too, as well, because I put together
the line-up and the roster. I’m not here to absolve myself of
accountability for the situation we’re in, nor am I here to solely blame
Dallas for the job he did because in my mind he did a lot of really
good things for this group,” said MacTavish.

He clearly hasn’t, but now it will be MacTavish and Nelson’s job to try and get more effort and execution from this group.

It won’t be easy.


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Boyd Gordon took the morning skate and is a game time decision. Craig MacTavish will get an up and close personal look at how difficult is to win for any coach with that group of defenceman.

If the players in the lineup don’t battle hard, play smart, make some saves or crash the net and work along the boards, this team won’t win. Line combinations mean little to me at this point. Effort and execution are needed from everyone, regardless of who they play with.

You can see the Coyotes lineup at

I also asked MacTavish about Lander and Marincin, but he said he wasn’t going to comment on personnel at this time. Nelson has seen Lander more than all of us, and I’m sure after a game or two he can tell MacTavish if he is a better option than what they currently have.

However, bringing up those two won’t be a major improvement. The best move would be to recall Lander and send Draisaitl to junior and let him develop, but they won’t and that is why I’m skeptical that this management group is capable of building a winning team.


  • Yesterday Darren Dreger was on TSN radio in Toronto and said the Oilers would consider trading Hall. I understand every player is tradeable, and I know many players have been on market that never get traded, but what caught my attention the most was Dreger’s comment about Hall from the organization’s brass. “Taylor Hall from a culture standpoint, not a on-the-ice standpoint, hasn’t been what they thought he would be.”

    I have no doubt someone from within the Oilers told Dreger this. He wouldn’t make that statement otherwise, and that is what irks me. The organization has the gall to believe Hall is not good for the culture of this team.

    Is it Hall’s fault the organization expected him to be the next Jonathan Toews? Not all players are born leaders, but Hall never had a Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook to make his transition into the NHL much easier.

    Is it Hall’s fault the organization has had try to adapt to the NHL under three head coaches in four and 1/3 seasons? He was a point-a-game player under the previous two coaches, and while he could always be better defensively, at least he was excellent at the hardest aspect of the game — producing points.

    Is it Hall’s fault that the organization wanted him to be the face of the franchise when he was only 21 years old?

    Is the organization actually upset that Hall likes to have fun off the ice? Seriously, do they not remember how they acted when they were 22 and single?

    Hall is not a vocal leader. He is a highly emotional player and sometimes he lets his emotions get the best of him, but being outwardly emotional doesn’t mean he is a big talker. He is actually rather shy and sometimes people perceive that as cocky or standoffish.

    I’m not saying Hall is perfect. I’m sure he could act better off the ice and be more mature, but just because you heap responsibility on a young man, doesn’t mean he is ready to accept it. How about work with Hall? Find ways to relate to him, rather than point blame at him.

    It seems their strategy is too to give the players responsibility and long contracts, and that will magically make them mature quicker. And now that they have led them out of the NHL wasteland they will question the young players. Hilariously wrong.

    It is disgusting to me that this management group has the audacity to consider trading the one player who made a difference in most games, because suddenly he is the problem. What difference have they made off the ice? Are they better at their roles within the organization than Hall is on the ice? I sure as hell haven’t seen it.

    The only smart decision the organization made regarding Hall was not giving him the captaincy. He wasn’t ready for it, as I’ve stated for two years. It is a lot of responsibility, especially in a Canadian market on a losing team. Because he isn’t ready for it, that doesn’t make him a bad person or a bad leader, it means HE ISN’T READY.

    And before you say trading Hall would be good as long as the Oilers get fair return, tell me the last time a player of his age and caliber was traded and the team got fair value?

    There is no doubt Hall can mature off and on the ice, but he turned 23 a month ago. I don’t expect him to magically be mature enough to carry the franchise on his shoulders. Just because Crosby and Toews were ready for it, doesn’t mean Hall should have been. They are different people and the Oilers have never surrounded him with skilled, older players that Toews or Crosby had. Remember Crosby had John Leclair, Mark Recchi, Ziggy Palffy and Sergei Gonchar as teammates when he was a rookie and always had competent veterans around him so he could learn and be protected. 


From The Hockey Writers…

The anguish in inside of Arizona Coyotes’ coach Dave Tippett continues to spread.

A proud man with a stellar professional approach, Tippett is currently going through the worst period in his hockey career, player and coach. His Coyotes have lost nine straight at home and seem to be sinking further out any playoff conversation.

Coming into Tuesday’s home game with Edmonton, the Coyotes have 24 standing points, and that’s 28th among all NHL teams. Only Carolina and the Oilers have earner fewer points. Plus, the Coyotes are 12 points behind the Kings and Jets for the final playoff spot in the highly competitive Western Conference.



GAME DAY PREDICTION: The last time the Oilers fired their head coach mid-season was in 1995. George Burnett was canned and Ron Low came in. They lost the first game with Low 5-0 to San Jose. The Oilers need a few wins to feel good about themselves, but not against teams like Arizona (draft rankings), so they do fans a favour and lose 3-2

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Someone will comment that Hall is not a good leader because he didn’t hang on their every word when they went up to him at a bar or agree to pose for a picture. 

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Sam Gagner and Tobias Reider don’t get a point. Usually ex-Oilers light up the Blue and Orange, but tonight the curse of the Ex-Oiler doesn’t surface.


    Thanks to the Edmonton Rush for the Rush VIP package yesterday and to Danny for his generous bid.

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    Recently by Jason Gregor:     

    • Serious Gord

      Honestly, did you guys really expect anything to change? If a coach made all the difference then the team with the best coach would win. It’s not that simple. And furthermore, when you only do one interview its very unlikely the Coilers would ever have the best coach. I mean, Scrivens had to stand on his head against a team who has lost 9 games in a row at home and we still lost.

      News flash. This team is sh$t. When your main ingredient is sh$t you only have so many things you can make.

      Sh$t salad
      Sh$t sandwiches
      Sh$t tacos
      Sh$t “insert your favourite food here”

      Which of the above do you want to eat? If you want something different then change the main ingredient

      It’s that simple

      Fire Kevn Lowe

    • Admiral Ackbar

      “And before you say trading Hall would be good as long as the Oilers get fair return, tell me the last time a player of his age and caliber was traded and the team got fair value?”

      C’mon man, Boston got good value for Seguin… Oh, wait….