Monday Mailbag – December 29th

MailTime

I hope all of you had a fantastic Christmas break! May you drink and eat far more than you ever should.  If you have to work today, the mailbag is here to provide a distraction and waste company time.  If we can’t help you waste company resources, what’s the point of being here? If you have a question for the mailbag, email me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk.

Delusional

1) Craig Smallwood asks – In April 2013, MacT said “The line from getting in and winning a Stanley Cup is a lot finer than it’s ever been before. I don’t think we’re that far off.”  Was MacT that misguided or was he blatantly lying to the Fans?

Jonathan Willis:

I think the Oilers have disappointed a lot of people with its play this year. Certainly the roster has serious flaws, but the results should be better than they are; the team shouldn’t be *this* bad.

Lowetide:

I think he probably didn’t know how far away the team was from contention until the club got well into the season. It was a mess (roster) and there are still major holes.

Jason Gregor:

The Oilers have made a habit out of overhyping themselves. That comment combined with “Norris Trophy potential” to “Bold Moves” to “Craig’s On It”. They need to learn to say less and show more. Their actions have not come close to matching their words. If he actually believed his team was not far off, then I’d question his ability to see what a contending team looks like.

Jeanshorts:

I love the idea that he was blatantly lying to the fans. Like he gets some kind of kick out of getting our dumb hopes up and then purposely being terrible at his job just to see us have a bad time. 

A GM is very similar to a politician; they say A LOT of things they know aren’t necessarily true, but it buys them goodwill and/or time to try and make those things a reality. And he also can’t come out and say “well we have a lot of holes in our roster and a lot of players here who probably shouldn’t even be in the NHL and we’re still probably 3 years away from even being in the conversation for a playoff spot” because he’d be absolutely roasted in the media for “not having his teams back” or whatever. You know, I’m starting to think being a GM isn’t a very easy job. 

Anyway I think it was a combination of “saying the right things” and overestimating the talent on the roster.

Robin Brownlee:

Neither, although he was applying a liberal amount of positive spin. If you can get to the playoffs and get on the right roll, you have a chance — we saw that in 2006 with the Oilers. The problem, obviously, is getting in and this team is still well short of being able to do that. If the need for two true top-pairing defenseman, another bonafide NHL centre and an actual NHL starting goaltender — and having all those pieces come together at the right time — isn’t far off, then they aren’t. In other words, it’s a reach.

Baggedmilk:

At this point, I really hope he was just lying to us.  If he honestly believed the words that left his mouth, then I think we’re in a lot more trouble than we think.  At this point, I think that Oilers management would be better as politicians than they are at running this hockey team. 

NoGoal

2) John K. asks – With players, coaches, GMs, and basically everyone else in hockey expected to occasionally address the media to justify their reasoning or decisions, why are the officials not required to do the same?

Jonathan Willis:

That’s an excellent question, and one for which we don’t have a satisfactory answer. The NHL really should make referees available after the game the same way it mandates that coaches be available. I assume the reason it doesn’t is because it doesn’t want officiating to be a story, which is understandable even if it isn’t in the best interests of fans.

Lowetide:

I think it’s a bad idea. Officials do their best and mistakes happen. The questions could be hilarious but one suspects anonymity has value in this case.

Jason Gregor:

No one cheers for the officials. Why would you want to hear from them? To explain they missed a call. We all see it. It happens. People would only want to hear from them after a mistake. After a game that had no errors in eyes of fans or media, what would you ask them? I don’t want to hear from them.

Jeanshorts:

I’ve wondered this same thing for a number of years, and part of me agrees that they SHOULD have to do it, especially after calls like that phantom goalie interference call in the Wings/Capitals game this season. Just so they can tell their side as to why a guy was called for a penalty when he was 30 feet away from the goalie. But at the same time I also don’t really see what it would accomplish. It’s not going to get that call overturned or that no-goal turned into a goal. It’s not necessarily going to make the officials any better at their job. And I’m assuming the league takes care of these things internally. Just look at Stephane Auger; there was that huge controversy with Alex Burrows, and the league quietly took care of things until he “retired”. The officials already get roasted by the fans and media enough as it is, I doubt that them having to face the media spotlight would help anything.

Robin Brownlee:

Supervisors of officials will occasionally address the media after a game when a call is very controversial. Otherwise, you’ll get an explanation via video etc. There’s more scrutiny now than there ever has been.

Baggedmilk:

I don’t think anybody would care about what the refs have to say 99% of the time.  That being said, it would be interesting hearing what the refs had to say if they completely blew a call… *cough Mick Magoo phantom hand pass cough*

Fishing

3) Clarison L. asks – IF (Huge IF) we do get rid of our management team top to bottom, is it taboo or are there rules set by the NHL in place to hinder fishing personnel from other organizations?  How does that work?

Jonathan Willis:

Teams have to ask for permission to talk to personnel under contract with other organizations, but typically if the new position is a promotion NHL teams don’t interfere with the process. 

Lowetide:

A team has to ask permission from the organization who has talent under contract (for instance, Dallas Eakins) and it may or may not be granted. Usually a team will grant permission with restrictions (you can speak to our scout but not until after the draft is completed). 

Jason Gregor:

You need permission from other clubs to talk to their personnel that is under contract. Or you can get hit with tampering. I’m sure teams have spoken behind the scenes before, and will do so again, but if they get caught they can be fined.

Jeanshorts:

I tried Googling “NHL Tampering Rules” and all I got was 2000 articles about that horrendously embarrassing incident where the Canucks whined and cried to the league after Ron Wilson basically said he’d love to have the Sedins play for the Leafs. God the Canucks are just the worst. 

So I have no idea if there are actual rules in place to prevent, say, Katz from driving a gold plated dump truck full of cash up to Ken Holland’s house and handing him a blank cheque with “OILERS GM SALARY” in the memo line. But this being the NHL I bet if something like that did happen the entire league would start rolling around on the floor crying about this being a “classless” move or something, then we’d get a bunch of middle aged men trying to fight each other in barns and it would just be a huge mess all around. 

I do recall hearing the phrase “asking permission to speak to so and so about such and such job” over the years so I think there is some kind of proper channels to go through when these guys are still under contract.

Robin Brownlee:

“Fishing” personnel? Of course there are rules in place. You cannot talk to a member of another team about a contract or employment without permission. That makes all the sense in the world to me.

Baggedmilk:

We hear about this all the time, where teams give other teams permission to speak to their guys.  You usually see it with assistant coaches getting a chance at a head coaching gig, or the same thing for an assistant GM etc.  I think the NHL should let NHL teams trade their coaches and management like players.  I’m not sure why I think that’s a good idea, but it would definitely spice things up a bit.

BreakingBad

4) Serge F. asks – Can a team be skilled enough, but not have the required chemistry to put it together?  If yes, are there examples?

Jonathan Willis:

I’d say that teams can be more or less than the sum of their parts. The 2003-04 Avs are a good example; that was the year both Paul Kariya (he had some injuries) and Teemu Selanne (78 games played) failed to hit the 40-point mark and a team that should have been a legitimate contender limped into the postseason and was knocked out in the second round. With that said, I think that the hockey community (myself included) has a bad habit of conflating “skill” with point totals when really skill is just hockey ability. Todd Marchant may not have been a “skill” player, but he was unquestionably skilled at playing hockey. As a rule, a team with enough good players is going to fare well.

Lowetide:

Yes, I think so. Teams sometimes collect the wrong talent (heavy on wing, poor at center) and are forced to make moves. The old Quebec Nordiques who drafted first overall three times were an example as are the current Oilers.

Jason Gregor:

Many teams are skilled enough that don’t win. Chemistry might be a factor in the playoffs, but getting a lucky bounce or two can play just as big of a role. It is difficult to say with certainty if chemistry was the reason a team that was good enough to win didn’t.

Jeanshorts:

Yes, and I can’t think of a better example than the San Jose Sharks. They’ve been one of the top teams in the NHL basically since they entered the league in ’91 (they’ve only missed the playoffs 5 times in franchise history!!), have always had incredibly well built teams, and yet they’ve only made it to the conference finals 3 times in their entire history, winning a grand total of 3 games. It boggles the mind to think they’ve never had ONE Stanley Cup finals appearance. I’ve always said that winning a cup is basically like catching lightning in a bottle, and the Sharks have never been able to find a bottle. 

Robin Brownlee:

Countless examples. Too many to list here.

Baggedmilk:

Wasn’t that the story of the NY Rangers in the early 2000s era?  I’m pretty sure I remember that being a thing. Look at the roster from the 2001-2002 Rangers, and you could argue that this is probably the case.  Lots of tools in the shed, but none of them seemed to play well together.  Too many chefs ruins the stew, as they say.

If that doesn’t work for you, look at the team in the NHL with 3 first overall picks and are currently dead last in the standings.  I’d say that likely qualifies.

WhatIsRight

5) Douglas Reid asks – The Oilers are basically eliminated from the playoffs again… What would be an acceptable finish to the season?

Jonathan Willis:

At this point there is no acceptable finish to the season for the team. For Todd Nelson? My guess is that something in the 0.500 range would allow him to keep his job. 

Lowetide:

I think they should try to exceed last year’s win total. Or get to 20. Or 15. Definitely 15. Certainly 10. ABSOLUTELY 8. Have to get to 8.

Jason Gregor:

30th. Why would you want to finish any higher at this point? Ensure you get one of McDavid or Eichel. Yes, it sucks to lose, but at this point what is the benefit of finishing 27th or 28th? A 30th place finish should force ownership to make some actual changes in management as well.

Jeanshorts:

Honestly at this point if the Oilers manage to win 10 games the entire season it will feel like a miracle. Never in my wildest dreams could I ever have seen them being THIS bad. It’s like a horrible fever dream. I’m probably more likely to wake up in a mental hospital and have the doctors tell me I’ve been in a medically induced coma for the last 10 years and this entire thing was all taking place in my head than the Oilers are to finish this season with 50 points. 

I also appreciate the “basically eliminated from the playoffs” part. Keep that glimmer of optimism burning bright, brother! 

Robin Brownlee:

I thought this team might finish in the 80-point range but that’s not going to happen now. Not really thinking about an “acceptable finish” in terms of points. It’s way more important that they get their coaching, management and scouting staffs in order and that they decide who stays and who goes in terms of player personnel.

Baggedmilk:

An acceptable finish probably went out the window at some point in November.  At this point, I just want to see how bad this dumpster fire can get.  As I write this, the Oilers are on ANOTHER 9 game losing streak.  That’s amazing!  I don’t even know how they’re finding such amazing ways to be awful.  This truly is a special hockey team… of course I mean special in the most awful sense of the word.  What was the question again?

  • Justice4Tkachev

    Question. When you have to hire an outside individual to do a forensic audit to find reasonings as to why the organization is so terrible, should you not atleast get rid of the person who’s been in charge of it thru the entire downfall?

    • Doctor Smashy

      Interesting enough that this did happen just down the highway not so long ago. It only took a horrible offer sheet to ROR that could have cost the team a 5.0Mill upfront signing bonus & a 1st (Monahan) & 3rd picks to a prospect talent starved team & loss of the player they had offer sheeted to waivers. The GM proceeded to make a TSN fiasco of the way everything unfolded when they traded their long time franchise player. Difference was, they had an Owner that was embarrassed & cared about his franchise to go out & hire what they called a new position but still a POHO & assigned the current one a different job description. (Mr Katz, where are you???) That new POHO (Burke) proceeded to replace the GM within a short period after doing a forensic audit of the organization.

      Sadly, optics to me appear that Feaster did more for the Flames than MacT has done in his time here. How incredibly sad.

      If we went back last year same time, how have all the posts & message boards changed from this year & now? Holy smokes. The house should have been cleaned last year by any other owner in this league. We’ve let this infected wound get so bad, we are going to have to cutoff part of what we thought we grew & suffered over for the last 5 years of this damn rebuild. So now here we are, worried about young future stars are even going to want to come here because this Management infection is now turning into gangrene!! & it still isn’t being treated!! WTF! Am I missing something here?

  • Justice4Tkachev

    It bad enough they didn’t pick up Leddy or Boychuck in September…

    If the Oilers don’t grab Derek Roy on waivers you seriously have to question this Management.

  • Justice4Tkachev

    How pathetic is it, that for next year I hope the Oilers get to 30 wins. I thought the rebuild had already started. Guess not…Hopefully the next one doesn’t take 8 years

  • Doctor Smashy

    Question 1 is the most important question of all. In regards to MacT’s comments, really since he started – the real question is “is he that stupid or that dishonest?” Either explanation is extremely damning. If he is that stupid then…there you have it…he lacks the competence, perspective, skills, experience, you name it…he doesn’t have it. He has absolutely no idea what he is doing. If he is that dishonest then that has to pervade everything he does in the organization. The players can’t possibly trust him, his co-workers, other GMs…what else is he lying about? Why would he make those really outlandish statements? Schultz has no Norris potential…he shouldn’t even be qualified in the summer…I doubt he plays 30 games in the NHL next year. Bold moves? Why would he say that? HE hasn’t done anything bold…as we all know and has been said many times. If it is lies then the ulterior motive cannot possibly involve making the team better.

  • Cain

    Fraser, huh? He brings nothing. Even Allie is a better player.

    So we need another pylon blocking the return of Marincin.

    I’d buy a ticket to an Oilers game for one reason, to start the fire MacLowe chant. Fans need to start the fire chants and be relentless. Time to send a message.

  • I seriously think the one critical mistake that Mac T made was over estimating the quality of his two shiny new goaltenders. The fact that Mac T saw Scrivens actually make saves late last year ( 59 against SJ) and single handedly win games clouded his judgement.

    If we are all honest with ourselves, most of us thought the same……that having Scrivesn over Dubby was a good thing. If history has taught us anything, it’s you cant win without good goaltending and the lack of solid goaltending has deflated this team time and time again.

    What would this team look like with Price or Schinider playing nets?

  • WTF2

    It would look the same with Price or Schneider in net. You’re forgetting that this team can’t score. Never mind the goaltenders not playing well enough, because they aren’t, but this team can’t score goals either for all of our supposed offensive firepower.

    Also, I’m having a good laugh over claiming Fraser instead of Roy. Like we really needed another winger instead of a proven NHL center. This management…

    • wiseguy

      It’s had playing down 3 to 0 after the first couple of minutes of a game……….time and time again.

      When the players lose all hope of a goalie making a save………the end is near.