PLAYERS NEED TO TAKE CHARGE

take_charge_logo

It is interesting how winning changes people’s perception. Jonathan Toews is applauded as a great leader and is credited with leading the Hawks to two Stanley Cups in four years. It is hard to argue that, however, I notice he gets much more credit for the Hawks than his head coach, Joel Quenneville. I don’t have a problem with that, because I believe the players impact the game more than a coach, but if you coach a losing team much more of the blame falls on the coach. Why?

The saying and thought process is you can’t fire 23 players, so it is easier to fire the coach when things aren’t going well. That is true, but bad hockey teams remain bad regardless of who coaches them. There are cases where firing a coach makes sense, especially if your team has the talent to play better. Quenneville is a perfect example. He replaced Denis Savard and quickly added a bit more structure to a highly talented Chicago team and they succeeded.

Coaching can help, but ultimately no coach wins unless they have good players, and then the good players need to be willing to listen and follow the system he puts in place.

If you are an average team and you replace the coach, usually we see an early spike in success, but then reality sets in and the team goes back to being average. Look at the Winnipeg Jets. They won 9 of the first 11 games Paul Maurice coached. Many suggested he was the difference.

They have won 3 of their next 11 games. I doubt he suddenly became less intelligent during the last 11 games, instead we started to see the real Jets. The better question would be why has Maurice, just like his predecessor Claude Noel, used Andrej Pavelec more than Al Montoya? 

Coaching is important, but if you don’t have a skilled, committed group of players it is very difficult to win. We have seen great coaches go to bad teams, and they never had the same success they did when they coached a good group of players. Look at Ken Hitchcock’s career.

In eight of the ten years that he began the season as head coach of Dallas and Philadelphia they finished with 100+ points. He was fired during the other two seasons. He was fired 50 games into the 2001/2002 season after a 23-17-6-4 start. Rick Wilson took over and the Stars went 13-11-7-1 the rest of the way. Under Hitchcock the Stars were on pace for 91 points. Wilson had them on an 87-point pace.

In Philly he was fired only 8 games, 1-6-1, into the 2006/2007 season. John Stevens took over and led them to the worst record in the NHL. In the off-season the Flyers added Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen and Jason Smith while Braydon Coburn and Mike Richards emerged as key pieces. Coburn was acquired at the traded deadline in 2007 and was a top-three D-man the next year. Richards went from 32 points in 2007 to 75 in 2008. Stevens was behind the bench when the Flyers got back to 100-points, but changing out that many key players made a bigger impact.

Hitchcock wasn’t out of work very long as the Blue Jackets hired him a month later. The Jackets went 28-29-5 under Hitchcock that year, then they made the playoffs in 2008, but he was fired 58 games into the next season with a losing record. The Jackets had one good year under Hitchcock, but they didn’t improve much after he left, because the players weren’t that good.

My point is you need players to win, and those players need to take charge of the team.

BECOMING LEADERS…

Mel Gibson as William Wallace in the film Braveheart-1782041

Are Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz and Nail Yakupov ready and prepared to lead this team? If they are, they will need to show more leadership moving forward than we’ve seen thus far, and they will also need some quality veterans supporting them in their quest to climb out of the basement of the NHL standings.

Pittsburgh drafted Chris Joseph 5th overall in 1987. He was one of the pieces sent to Edmonton in the Paul Coffey trade and he spent parts of 16 seasons in the NHL. I asked Joseph his thoughts on leadership, coaching and more. (My thoughts are in italics.)


Gregor: How much of a difference does it make having veterans at the position that
you excel at? Do you need a guy who is similar to your style to learn more
about the game in the NHL, or is learning from a veteran of any position
beneficial?

Joseph:  I’m not sure that you need a guy that’s your
style. Leadership is valuable obviously, but you can have a leader that plays a
different style of game. For me, when I first came into the league there were
guys like Kevin Lowe, Steve Smith, I’m just talking defencemen, Craig Muni,
Charlie Huddy. I don’t know if you would say any of those guys played the same
style that I did, but they gave me a lot of valuable insight and made it clear
what’s expected of me daily in practice, what’s expected of me in preparation
wise, and how my role sort of complemented their role on the ice. So I’m not so
sure that you need that exact type of player. I think that it can be
beneficial, but good quality leadership is of the utmost importance and
whatever form that comes in is, you take what you can get.

***Ference has helped Schultz a lot in this way, especially when they were paired together. He spoke to Schultz after every shift, but who is helping the skilled forwards, and are they listening? I wonder if having a veteran in the top-six would help them, but they need to be willing to take the advice and implement it into their game.***

Gregor:
Did you have the veteran players tell you what was expected of you in practice
and the games more than the coaching staff?

Joseph: Ah… yes. The coaches would tell you
what’s expected and then the players would tell you how to get that done.
Sometimes there was a bit of a communication gap between players and coaches
and if you had a veteran leader there with you, they sort of fill in the gaps
if there is something that you’re not comprehending from what the coaches are
saying. But mostly the veteran leaders I found led by example. They didn’t have
to talk. Mark Messier rarely had to talk, Kevin Lowe for me rarely had to talk,
it was what they did day in and day out that really led the way for me.

When I first came in at 18 years old, I
thought that I was a hard worker, I thought that I was doing things well and
working well and I thought that I gave it my all, but then I came to the Oilers
and I saw what Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier and Kevin Lowe and Jari Kurri did
every single day, and I thought to myself, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to start
working harder.’

So that’s the sort of leadership that is
invaluable to a young player because there is a big jump skill wise moving up
to that level, but in your preparation and in your everyday activity there is a
huge jump as well.

Gregor:
I do think that a lot of players will believe, ‘hey I’m a hard worker, I’m
working hard’ but you get to that next level and it’s not just about skill. The
best players on the team usually are the hardest workers. How did you suddenly
improve your work ethic?

Joseph: Well I don’t think that it suddenly
happens. I think you sort of grow into it over time. As a young player you
think that you can get away with a lot of stuff, but you realize you can’t. I
was the type of player that needed a lot of… ah, I took a lot of chances;
offensively I would try to jump in and I pinched lots and I got burnt, but I
had the speed to get back at a young age. Now I jump up to the NHL and I don’t
have the speed anymore. I still have the speed but everyone else is faster. So
you have to learn how to play your position properly and then of course as you
get older, you become the veteran and then you actually start losing your
speed. Now you’re much wiser, but your body just doesn’t do what it used to do,
but your smarts allow you to stay in the game a few more years.

I think that it takes a while and during
the progression of a career you learn different roles, but it doesn’t happen
overnight. That’s the beauty of good leadership, those guys that I mentioned,
and there was a lot more guys that just those guys, but the guys that I
mentioned they did it every day.

I remember one time in Philadelphia. 
I come off the ice after practice and I’m bagged. I played with Paul
Coffey, the guy that I got traded for here, so you come off of the ice in
Philly and Paul would look at me and say ‘let’s go jump on the bike’ and the
last thing in the world that I want to do is jump on the bike, but I thought, ‘I’ll
be damned if I’m going to let Paul Coffey ride the bike without me.’

That’s the type of leadership that goes
a long way, and that’s the type of thing that you need from the veteran guys
for the younger guys.

***I think a main issue in Edmonton is the overall work ethic. The top-six along with Petry and Schultz need to battle harder and more consistently than we’ve seen thus far. Their consistency hasn’t changed whether Renney, Krueger or Eakins was the head coach. This is on the players. They need to work harder away from the puck, and many of them need to be more consistent. Right now Hall is the most consistent, as far as being in the game. Yes, he makes mistakes, but of all the young forwards and D-men he is consistently the most engaged in games.***

Gregor:
Chris, do you think that’s a concern in Edmonton
where the young skilled guys haven’t had enough veteran leadership in Edmonton?

Joseph: Oh absolutely. Any time that you
have a team that’s packed with young guys like they are, you have to go out of
your way as an organization to bring in those leaders. Now are those leaders
going to be around for the good days ahead? Probably not, but you have to bring
them around. And you know, a good example that I see is Ryan Smyth with the
Oilers. He’s a hard working guy and you watch him day in and day out, he gives
it his all. So for me that’s a good example and the young guys can learn from
him. Now you probably need more than just him. I think that Shawn Horcoff was a
good leader as well, but you need to bring those guys in.

 I
think MacT has tried to do this year, but you have to bring them in now and if
that means that they’re not going to be around for the good times, so be it,
but you have to teach the young guys the importance of preparation and work
ethic and what’s expected on a daily basis. It wouldn’t hurt if they had a
veteran skilled forward to show the kids some tips about attacking D-men and
such, but having guys who know how to compete and succeed in the league is the
most important.

In junior, kids have good
games and they have bad games. Sometimes we watch some of these guys and they go
lights out for one or two games and then they go in the tank for ten. In the NHL you have to
get to that level where you go lights out for ten and you’re maybe
off for one or two, so you’ve got to change it up. That’s all preparation and
the way that you prepare for games and your daily routines and your work ethic.

**Joseph’s assessment was 100% correct. The young, skilled guys have shown glimpses of what they can do, but it isn’t often enough. It takes time to learn how to play at the NHL level, but their consistency, more than any other factor surrounding the organization, will play the biggest factor in them improving as a team. Until they learn to be consistent in every aspect of their game, I don’t see this team improving.**

Gregor:
At what point does having the leadership change over to having the internal
drive and how much is it on the young players themselves to become better
players regardless of who else is in the room?

Joseph: Well, you know the old saying ‘you
can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink?’ So, you know, we have
talked, you and I just now about the value of good leadership, but honestly I
believe that it still comes down to the player more than the leader.

So you take some of the young guys in the
Oilers dressing room, [Nail] Yakupov for example. He’s got to want it bad
enough that he sees those veterans doing it, but eventually he’s going to have
to want to do it for himself. He’s going to have to want to do that extra stuff
for himself. I’d have to say that it has to be 95% on the individual young
player and maybe 5% on the leader. They can only do so much and they can show them
what is expected, but if a player won’t do it, then it’s a moot point, it
doesn’t really matter. And I’ve seen lots of that as well too. We’ve all seen
it, you ask Struddy [Jason Strudwick]. We’ve all seen guys with loads of talent
that don’t want to do it and then their careers sizzle out. Then on the
opposite end of the spectrum you see players that maybe don’t have the skills
that other ones have, but they work their guts out every day and they make it
happen, and they end up carving out a nice long career. The best players work
the hardest, and the fringe players who last a long time stay in the game due
to their work ethic more than their skill.

WRAP UP

  • Leadership is important for sure, but each player must be better prepared to play and battle. You can’t keep expecting the coach or a veteran player to magically instill this into them. It has to come from the players. The reason I said Ference should be captain was because I felt none of the players are ready to be the main leader. They still have to work on motivating themselves to be prepared for the games. It isn’t easy, and I still feel this team needs a few more veteran leaders, ideally one who is a top-six forward and one who plays amongst your top-four defenders. It will be difficult to acquire those types of players, but even if MacTavish does, I still think the young players need to do more on a game-by-game basis.
  • He has very good skills, but the thing I like most about Yakupov is when he is engaged in the game he doesn’t show fear or hesitation. He isn’t afraid to shoot, or stick a guy or jump in a scrum like he did yesterday. As Joseph said earlier, Yakupov, as well as the other young players, needs to be engaged for 8 out of 10 games, not 2 out of 10. Learning how hard you have to compete to succeed in the NHL is the biggest learning curve for most skilled players. The game was easy for them at lower levels, because they were so much better than everyone, but the NHL is filled with players just as good as them, and often they are older, stronger and more experienced. It is a tough lesson, but I’d like to believe the kids are sick of losing and will realize that they have to help themselves become winners. They can’t wait for a new coach or a veteran to magically instill a winning attitude inside the dressing room. They need to take charge and do it.
  • The streak is over. Prior to yesterday’s 2-1 win the Oilers hadn’t won a game where they out shot the opponents since January 10th, when they defeated Pittsburgh in OT. The Oilers out shot the Hurricanes 33-30 yesterday. It was only the 4th time in 2014 that the Oilers had more shots.
  • Last year the Oilers were out shot 32.8 to 26.8 and this year they have improved slightly to 32.4 to 27. Getting more shots won’t guarantee you success. Ottawa, Carolina, Islanders, Phoenix, Detroit and New Jersey are out shooting their opponents but none of them are a playoff team.

    Meanwhile, Toronto (6.0), Dallas (4.7), Tampa Bay (2.6), Columbus (2.2), and Colorado (1.9) all give up more shots, but they are poised to make the playoffs.

  • The Oilers are 9-4-3 in their last 16 games and they’ve been out shot in 14 of the games. Some believe they can’t keep winning if they get out shot, but that isn’t completely true. The Oilers likely can’t keep getting out shot by an average of 9.2 (34.8 to 25.6 during the 16 games) every game, but teams have proven you can win by being out shot by a smaller margin.
  • It was only two games, but Anton Lander looks like a much different player than last year. He is stronger on the puck, looks a bit quicker and most importantly he has confidence with the puck. It is amazing what confidence can do for a player.
  • I’m not saying Eakins gets a free pass, but I’m pointing out it is foolish to believe he is the only reason this team is losing. If you want him fired, fine, but then you better want many of the important players traded, because they are failing in their roles just as much as he is. If your excuse for the players is that they are young and inexperienced, then wouldn’t the same theory apply to Eakins? Both the coaching and the players need to be better. Not one or the other.
  • The Edmonton Rush have won 10 straight games. The Trappers and Eskimos won 10 straight, and the Oilers record is 9. The Rush could become the first to win 11 this Friday. It is crazy how big of a role one day played in allowing Derek Keenan to build such a dominant team.

  • We sold out the 3rd annual Gregor Charity WSOP tourney in 27 hours last week, so we have added a 2nd day. Rules and entry fee details are here. Winner gets entry to WSOP main event ($11,200 CDN), hotel, flights and spending money. Entries for day two will go on sale this Wednesday at 10 a.m. You can call 780.643.4060. Good luck.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR:

  • Tikkanese

    The defense is awful.

    The powerplay is awful.

    Like it has been said ad nauseum and I agree, another new head coach won’t be beneficial. It has been 5 coaches in 6 years, 6 in 7 is even more ridiculous.

    So keep Eakins, fire Smith and Bucky. Hire one as a Defense coach and the other as a new Powerplay coach. Coaching problems solved. NHL caliber defensemen problems a work in progress.

  • Word to the Bird

    Nuge’s play has me more concerned than Yakupov. I don’t have the sense that his hockey IQ is through the roof anymore. Surely, if he has such good hockey IQ, he wouldn’t continue on such an awful drought.

  • Im not too surprised that Lander has acquitted himself well in this go around. Line mates with a modicum of actual talent hasn’t hurt either (fwiw).

    Im a fan of that scruffy pirate look as well. The barons captain has some moxy. I like that.

  • A-Mc

    I Don’t buy that Eakins is the bad guy here, but i also don’t buy that he isn’t.

    The team has been asked to play a defense first style game, which is a big change for the kids. There will be dips in production but lets be honest: the kids are doing just fine. No one is being ruined here. Hall has 63 points, Ebs 50 and Nuge 44. Nuge is a little low but he has publicly stated that he’s more focused on being defensively responsible for his line than anything else. I would rather a defensively responsible centerman that scores 50 pts, than a pond hockey centerman that scores 60 but is a total train wreck in his own zone.

    Yak.. we dont know what he is yet. Last year he was pretty dry in terms of production until the last few weeks. I dont know enough about Yak to say that he’s under performing.

    The 1 thing that does get me, is the power play. It’s clearly a weakness this season and that is likely on Eakins. A Twitter fellow joked that when the Oilers get a Penalty they should immediately slash a player next to them to create a 4 on 4, because they have a better chance at scoring 4 on 4 than 5 on 4. i chuckled because it’s seemingly accurate!

    I believe the failure at the beginning of the season was mostly due to goal tending: it was brutal. Since we’ve cleaned up our goalie situation the Oilers are essentially .500. If the Oilers went this entire season playing .500 hockey, i dont think we’d see quite so many attempts at Eakin’s throat. We’d still be pointing out the poor power play, but other than that i think fans would direct their attention to the type of players we need to acquire this off season in order to push for the playoffs.

    So lets get back to that!

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      RE: taking a penalty for a 4 on 4, correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t that the reason they introduced coincidental minors? The 80’s Oilers would take a penalty just so they would have more ice to work with.

  • Puck_In_Throat

    I concur Gregor, as I had posted last week:

    #5 Puck_In_Throat
    March 10 2014, 01:58PM

    Trash it!

    10

    trashes

    22

    props

    ReplyEdit

    I know that Eakins is taking a lot of heat here, and part of that is his own fault. He shot his mouth off a bit at the start of the year talking about how his system was going to make a big difference.

    But I have to say what has been said by other people: even a great coach can’t coach a team full of bad players to the finals.

    Exhibit A: Ken Hitchcock – coaches a Stacked Dallas team to 5 straight years of 1st place (division) finishes; sacked when performance drops (coincidence: Brett Hull retires and the Stars lose 39 goals and 75 points).

    Hitch coaches Philly to divisional finishes of 1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd – fired in year 5 with a 1-6-1 start. Goalies for philly all have GAA of above 3.00 and Biron is tops for sv% at .908. ouch

    Hitch coaches CBJ to a 20 point improvement over 3 years, culminating in their first playoff appearance. Columbus is eliminated in the first round. Hitch is fired the next year when it becomes clear 60 games in that they will not make the playoffs.

    Hitch takes a year off and is hired by the Blues. They finish (divisional) 1st, 2nd, and soon-to-be 1st.

    Did Hitch all of a sudden become a bad coach in 2002 (fired from Dallas), 2006 (1-6-1 start in philly) and from 2006-2010 in Columbus where his best finish was 4th in the division?

    Or is it more likely that a good coach can only win with a good team?

    All those who say it is “Eakins fault”, you may be correct in saying that a good coach could get more out of the team (hello Ralph), but what Gregor and others are getting at is that this TEAM sucks, and that it wouldn’t matter if Scotty Freakin Bowman himself came out of retirement to coach these guys. The Oil would still suck.

  • Anton CP

    This article only explained why Oilers shouldn’t fire Renney let along Kreuger. So for those Eakins supporters or some of those believed that Oilers should keep Eakins for consistency sake have to understand that Oilers is nowhere near of being a contender at the start of the season. However, Eakins is becoming part of the problem for this team instead of as solution. Throughout the season that Eakins has pointing fingers on everything and everyone else, even fans. A new coach may not immediately makes an impact but at minimum that he shouldn’t coach the team to regress. Let’s try to tell Canucks fans that they shouldn’t fire Torts with the same analogy, see how many of them will tell you to go to hell.

    If anyone actually expect Oilers to start winning from the beginning of the year then you clearly have no sense of what kind of team that you have. If Oilers were developed correctly that they may win a few more games but overall is the level of willingness that you cannot find on Eakins team. Some from previous post were right about the bad play of Dubnyk exposed this team is nowhere near to be a contender. However, Eakins is still the worst coach that Oilers can have. If a team is full of problems, coach should at least not to become part of the problem.

    • **

      Dubnyk’s play might have been the best thing to happen to the Oilers this season. It finally exposed them bare skinned for what they are and what they need to to to succeed. Eakins is not part of the solution, picking up fights with everyone, from the media early on to fans.

  • **

    This is why I hope the Oilers don’t plan on entering next season with any rookies on D except for Marincin. Marincin has shown he can play. Klefbom has looked alright but more seasoning would do him well. A veteran left D for the top pairing, a veteran right D and at least one veteran top-6 forward would be a pretty good haul in the off-season. The hard part will be finding those players without creating too many holes elsewhere. Mactavish has shored up the goaltending but there is still lots of work to do elsewhere.

    • **

      Markov, Orpick, Legwand/Stasny, and I would say Downie for 3rd line LW. All it will cost is money. Bring up Lander and Pitlick:

      Markov, Petry

      Ferrence, J Schultz

      Orpick, Marincin

      Klefbomb

      Hall, Nuge, Yak

      Perron, Legwand/Stasny, Ebs

      Hendricks, Gordon, Downie

      Pitlick, Länder, Gazdic

      Scrivens, Fasth

      I could live with that. Trade Gagner for…. Cap space?, no Jones or Smyth. Fedune first call up on D. Horack first call up at forward.

      • **

        If Marincin ends up the season on a strong note, I would jettison Petry and replace him with a stop gap veteran. Petry will be asking for a raise, imo that money should be used on a veteran with more games and better track record.

        This way when Marincin’s entry level contract expires next season, he can get a raise without crunching the cap too much, and the following year that veteran will be gone, allowing for more money for Klefbom when his entry level is up.

        Hopefully bu then the Oilers will be a playoff team.

  • Anton CP

    “I’m not saying Eakins gets a free pass, but I’m pointing out it is foolish to believe he is the only reason this team is losing. If you want him fired, fine, but then you better want many of the important players traded, because they are failing in their roles just as much as he is. If your excuse for the players is that they are young and inexperienced, then wouldn’t the same theory apply to Eakins? Both the coaching and the players need to be better. Not one or the other.”

    I sure hope Eakins is not getting a free pass….I would hope the oilers fire him and and make some trades to get a better mixture in there top six and dfence. That would be the safest route as it addresses both issues. I don’t really understand your young and experienced comment as it is usually the less experienced athlete that needs more and better coaching and thusly the more experienced coach. Ultimately you said Eakins needs to be better…I think that comment itself says he should be fired.

  • **

    Boy Jason the way you are beating this horse, the SPCA is going to come after you(lol).
    The high draft picks are regressing under Eakins but is it more to do with them not wanting to change rather than being poorly coached.
    There has been many growing pains all the way around this year, I think they are trying to get buy in on everyone in the 200ft game and once that is being done then the offensive players will have more confidence and will be gripping the stick less. It looks like they are doing a better job as of late but they are going to have to change out one of the top six with a bigger grittier player that still has skill,a minimum of one preferably two veteran upgrades to the defense and one with a bomb from the point, two changes to the bottom six that I think can be filled from the farm.
    I think they have to at least make a change or two with the assistant coaches but not holding my breath.

  • mesa

    Ok its not Eakins fault, the team is playing lousy
    hockey. Its up to the players. Ok, lets fast forward to Sept 2014, the boys show up for training camp.. You expect through summer there will be some magical inducement and they all show up for camp bigger and better players… not likely. The team has not changed or improved in 70 games, why expect something to change over a few months of summer.

    If its not on the coach but on the players, then you got a bigger problem… .. when the core is not that good or good enough to take you into the play offs you would have to start your rebuild over again. Maybe the core is not really that good.

    In the meantime check out the Colorado rebuild, rookie coach, limited defense and a bunch of youngster getting it done. They live by what they do on the ice and not stories spun by managment, owner and the coach.

      • I think Colorado has some veterans…… I think Edmonton had some veterans …Smyth, Hemsky,Gordon, Ference, Gagner, Schultz Nick, Jones. I know a couple have changed here in the last week or so.

        Also; Colorado didnt let McKenzie and Button pick there drafts… they had a plan.Edmonton would have taken Seth Jones. Not that it would have been bad, but the point is Colorado are marching to their own band.

  • **

    The argument about whether the star talent has regressed under Eakins is irrelevant.

    There is no denying that THE TEAM as regressed this year under Eakins with a better roster.

    Fasth and Scrivens are now simply masking the terrible defensive mistakes that plagued the team earlier in the season. Nothing has changed.

    Waiting until they go 2 – 10 to start the year and THEN firing Eakins?? That’s ridiculous. You don’t come back from a start like that and then a new coach has to come in mid-season, etc…

    Fire him now and start training camp with a proven NHL coach.

  • **

    ***Ference has helped Schultz a lot in this way, especially when they were paired together. He spoke to Schultz after every shift, but who is helping the skilled forwards, and are they listening? I wonder if having a veteran in the top-six would help them, but they need to be willing to take the advice and implement it into their game.***

    In my opinion this is the oilers Achilles heal. Tambo just assumed a bunch of 18 year olds could lead an NHL team. He never got the proper players to mentor these kids to play in a top six role in the nhl. The kids should never have been put in that position. It has temporarily if not permanently damaged their progress.

  • **

    Eakins owns some very strange line combinations.

    It feels like you are either a top 6 forward OR a bottom 6 forward.

    Why not play Hendrick with Gagner and Yak … To add toughness and some defensive responsibility?

    Why not play Lander with Hall and Eberle? Then you have a responsibile centre.

    Put Gazdyk on the Wing with RNH and Perron to create some space.

    Would Gagner help a third or fourth line.

    You get the idea, to me this coach seem to tie the idea of top and bottom six?

    • dougtheslug

      Some interesting thoughts from the “Armchair”

      Put Gazdyk on the Wing with RNH and Perron to create some space.

      Really? You are stuck in the 80’s when Semenko and the instigator rule was not a rule as it is today. People have no fear now there is “no retribution” so your plan is flawed. You need a big body who can score eg Todd Bertuzzi or Lucic.

      • If the plan is flaw why dress Gazdyk? Since we don’t have a big body that can score kicking around, should we not dress 20?

        BTW Semenko played very little on the left wing of 99. Tikkanen and before that Callighen and Messier were the main wingers.

  • CMG30

    I truly don’t believe that the Oilers are as bad as their record states. I believe that their low standing is a product of a terrible start largely caused by goal tending (or lack thereof) and luck so bad for so long there was open talk of a curse.

    I believe a secondary problem then occurred with the entire team changing their playing style to compensate for the suspect goal tending. Now that we seem to have reasonable tending it’s time to climb back on the horse and start playing Oilers hockey again.

    Having said that, I do think that management has work to do. We need to fix the defense and we cannot rely on rookies to fill the gaps. Leave Nurse down next year to let him develop properly. Let Klefbom play a few in the NHL but unless he proves to be a superstar, let him season more in the minors. What we really need is to sign some veteran top D men this off season.

    I don’t think Eakins bears all the responsibility for the low standing, although his inexperience can’t have helped. I do think that we need to support him with some assistants that can take over the PP. If we had not gone through 4 coaches in as many years I would not be upset if Eakins was handed walking papers this summer but you cannot discount the history of coaching turnover here. Firing Eakins this summer will do damage to this team.

  • Anton CP

    Jespatient.t people, lay off Eakins it’s his first year he’s coaching one of the youngest teams in the league. Why so much hate it’s ridiculous. You sound like canuck fans it’s embarrising just shut your stupid mouths and Be patient.Sooner or later the bastard hockey gods have to have mercy.

  • Tikkanese

    I’ll be the first one to point out how bad the young players are and how they lack effort, consistency, willingness to stick up for teammates, grit, commitment to backcheck or even a basic understanding of how to play a team game, and I’m certainly tired of how many posters here still judge them by what they could be rather than what they are (selfish, albeit very talented, junior-level players).

    But you can’t blame the kids for this mess and expect them to take charge when they’ve been set up to fail from the very beginning. We’ve seen a revolving door of mediocre coaches, lazy veterans (the kids probably followed a highly skilled veteran like Hemsky more than anyone else) and talentless role players, coupled with a losing atmosphere that has made every practice, game and workout session after December 1 a meaningless exercise.

    The broader framework to develop a young core has failed and that falls on management and the coaching staff. Until this team stops handing out assistant captaincies and $6M paycheques to every young gun for simply going through the motions, and until this team starts handing out more benchings and scratches for lackadaisical play, then I have no confidence in the clowns running this gong show.

    The players suck because the coaches suck.

  • From the Button article this is exactly it!

    “This is a group of strong attacking players who grew up with the puck on their stick, but who lack knowledge and awareness of what to do when they don’t have the puck. They’re constantly failing to shoulder check, failing to backcheck hard enough, getting caught too low in the offensive zone, over-aggressively over committing to the d-zone corners and not protecting the slot, making lazy turns instead of stops and starts in the defensive zone, failing to stay on the right side of the man in the d-zone, and being slow to cover their man on defence because they’re puck-watching.”

    This is your Edmonton Oilers from 2006 to present. Period.

    If you can change this with better coaching then yes do it. I think you can do this with Eakins and Nelson. Is it a veteran who can lead by example yes -you can’t do this with Ryan Smyth sorry – and this is only a part of the solution as Gregor states. Is it from within – agreed yes it is.

    It is all of these. So make the changes/tweaks to get it done and if you are not committed no matter what your pay grade then please let’s move on.

  • Slapshot

    Eakins road into town on his high horse before even coaching one game in the NHL,the way he was talking you would think he was the second coming of Scotty Bowman,Mactavish made a big mistake,Kruger should have been given an opportunity to coach this team and he should of been able to hire his own assistant coaches,instead Lowe and Mactavish back stabbed Kruger and the team regressed under Eakins.Karma always has a way of working things out.

  • Chainsawz

    Lots of animosity, @Oilerlamp, I have noticed that the Oilers have played better in close games by not giving up a couple quick goals except for the St.Louis game, I just call this sticking to the game plan, playing with structure and getting a lot better goal tending.
    @Doug the Slug- Your posts are easily the ones I enjoy the best on this site,I agree that playing this style has stymied the offense of the more skilled players and has not been at all exciting to watch, my hopes are that between the maturation of the young d-men and the addition of a few players this could be a team that will be a lot closer to the play-offs next year.It would be great if the style of play and game would be more like Anaheim or Chicago than LA or Nashville but more than anything I just want them to have each others back, put in a complete effort and look like a team having some fun, then they will win more than they lose.

  • Derian Hatcher

    So for the sake of argument…let’s say that an experienced assistant coach is brought in to help with Eakins workload and add another persepective, to help the special teams, etc. Does Dallas seem like the type of guy to say, “what do you think”. Unless his public persona is a put-on, with hubris and arrogance mixed with ego and cleverness, I am not sure that Dallas would be open to another coach saying “you know why don’t we try something else, cause what we are doing is not working, and most of the players certainly are not working hard (when compared to the players say….in Calgary)” Like another poster said, what happened to “players will compete or they wont play” Ummm…no. It’s dangerous when the boss doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. It is more than obvious that Eakins is not a fit for this team….but lets keep him because we’ve fired too many coaches. “players will compete or they wont play” OK thanks.