A Busy Morning

77-Belov-4

There aren’t a lot of busy news days for teams outside the playoff picture at this point, but for good and ill the Edmonton Oilers had one on Monday. Front office changes and a disgruntled player speaking out made for a very interesting morning in Oil country.

Bill Scott Promoted

Scott, Bill

Bill Scott, who has served as the general manager of the Oklahoma City Barons over the last four (very successful) seasons, has been promoted to the role of assistant general manager. The Oilers’ official release described his new duties this way:

As a member of the Oilers Hockey Management team, Scott’s responsibilities will include player and staff contract negotiations, scheduling, salary arbitration, salary cap management and all day to day administrative duties. He is also the club’s liaison to the NHL regarding matters pertaining to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

I had some interaction with Scott during my time in Oklahoma, and came away with the impression of an intelligent man who was diligent and professional. Talking to veteran players over the course of the season, one got the sense that from their perspective Oklahoma was a model NHL club; a lot of that certainly relates to the budget provided by ownership but it’s also hard to imagine it happening independent of a good general manager.

Just 33 years of age, Scott has climbed the organizational ladder in a hurry.

Ricky Olczyk Departs

In the same news release, the Oilers announced that former assistant general manager Ricky Olczyk had been offered another job within the organization, but had “respectfully declined.”

It’s extremely difficult for someone outside the organization to evaluate what Olczyk has done, and it would be foolish to try and suggest that any analysis from this vantage point is comprehensive. With that said, there have been some actions that suggest the Oilers have done a poor job under Olczyk of navigating the CBA and other key NHL agreements. From my spring 2012 profile of the man:

One of the interesting things to come out of the Dany Heatley boondoggle was the fact that apparently both the Oilers and Senators were confused about when Heatley’s bonus was payable, which reflects badly on Olczyk. Then there was the time the Oilers may have been confused by Gilbert Brule’s waiver eligibility. Then there was that time that someone high up in the organization didn’t know how long the team had to sign Teemu Hartikainen. Again, it needs to be emphasized that we’re constructing a picture based on glimpses, but those sorts of things look really bad. Also bad in glimpses? Olczyk’s player evaluation – he may have been toeing the company line, but calling Khabibulin the team’s MVP and talking about the “great job” done by J-F Jacques doesn’t inspire confidence.

Less than a month after that profile was written, the Oilers’ recall of Magnus Paajarvi was rejected by the NHL because Edmonton had already reached its maximum number of post-deadline recalls.

We don’t know what role Olczyk played in these blunders, and we don’t know how he performed in his other assignments. What we do know is that the team publicly designated him as their CBA expert and that over his time in Edmonton the Oilers repeatedly made embarrassing CBA-related gaffes.

A little more reading between the lines: It seems suggestive that the Oilers offered Olczyk another position within the organization. Edmonton’s management may not have wanted Olczyk to stay in his current job but obviously the team still saw value in him.

Anton Belov Speaks Out

Dallas Eakins 3

Russian reporter Pavel Lysenkov caught up with Anton Belov this week and asked him why he returned to the KHL. Via Puck Daddy, this was Belov’s explanation:

There is no one reason that made it an abrupt change. It all was building up during the season, especially more so after the Olympics. And the hire of coach Bykov (by SKA) was also an influence. The other point is that I could have re-signed with Edmonton, but I didn’t want to stay with that coach [Dallas Eakins].

A few points:

  • It seems the Oilers had interest in re-signing Belov, which is an encouraging sign.
  • It’s important not to read too much into one man’s comments on Dallas Eakins. Personalities differ, we don’t know the particulars of the situation, and so on. Plenty of great NHL coaches have run afoul of individual players.
  • With that said, this isn’t a good sign for Eakins. Belov’s not a franchise cornerstone, but he’s a player useful enough for the Oilers to seemingly want to bring back, and according to Belov his distaste for the coach was a primary reason the team won’t get that opportunity. Eakins had a line early on in his coaching tenure about the importance of coaching players on an individual level; by that metric this can only be regarded as one failure.

In short: it really isn’t a good sign, but it would be a mistake to read too much into it.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • TKB2677

    I agree with the comment that Belov is using the Eakins excuse to not wanting to play in NA anymore, he did not feel like playing another year in another NHL team to prove something, he just wanted to play were he knew he succeeded all his career with way more money involved, The KHL.

    He obliviously didn’t enjoy it here.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Oh, I think we can read ALOT into that comment by Belov. Eakins is anarrogant power freak, his assistant coaches are dolts, and his ‘star’ young players are arrogant overpaid little brats…Of course, their main boss is a guy in Vancouver and his second hand man takes no responsibility for anything just ‘ducks and covers’, puts up smokescreens, and blames the Oiler fans.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Bill Scott is a very bright young man. He has a good resume. Too many mistakes from Olczyk. This move of promoting from within is the best business model. It improves morale and hope throughout the organization. It is the way good companies operate. Good move by the Oilers.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Don’t forget Belov was a healthy scratch and playing less minutes towards the end of the year. That would fall on the coaches decision and perhaps didn’t sit well with Belov.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I don’t know much about the KHL, never having seen a full game played, but my impression is that there is a lot less structure than you get in the NHL.

    My question would be is it a personality issue between Eakins and Belov or are we talking about hockey players being forced to play the game a certain way in the NHL and having to sit out if they don’t.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Eakins’ comes across as a leader, but his tendency to re-invent the wheel, claiming it as his own and endlessly talking about it, even criticizing others for not “catching on” as fast as they should will always require authority beyond his own to confirm that leadership. Too bad MacTavish is so very invested, here, because there is no way Eakins SHOULD be an NHL Coach, much less one “leading” a young and impressionable team. While I don’t think comparisons are productive, his TWO predecessors were infinitely better, more genuine in their leadership.

  • Just a reminder, before we get into the ‘all the players want Dallas gone!’ portion of the discussion, here’s what Taylor Hall said about the coach:

    As long as I can remember, we’ve gone into off-seasons not knowing if the coach was going to be back or not. I think it’s pretty obvious Dallas will be back and that continuity for me is great and will be for a lot of guys in terms of just knowing what to expect. There’s not that awkward handshake when you come into camp. You know what expect, what he’s going to teach, and most of all, you know what he’s like. That’s important for all of us.

    Maybe he was toeing the part line, maybe he was making the best of a bad situation. But Hall’s positive public comments are just as much a data point in Eakins’ favour as Belov’s negative ones are a point against him.

    • Cold Hard Truth

      Not quite.

      I don’t think Hall’s positive statement can be weighed equally against Belov’s.

      You’ll often get a more honest answer from someone who no longer has a stake in the team.

      • Maggie the Monkey

        I don’t think you’ve given a basis to take Belov’s perspective rather than Hall’s, other than simply expressing your own bias.

        From my point of view (and please note that I’m clarifying it as such), Belov has no accountability to his comments at this point. Being away from the team, the continent, and the North American media does not add to his credibility in my mind. How does a lack of accountability contribute to honesty? But this is just my opinion, and doesn’t carry any more validity than yours.

        Despite what your moniker suggests, there are often many versions of “the truth”. Both Belov and Hall can have different opinions about Eakins that have relative validity; one can find him a strong communicator while the other does not, for example. Neither is wrong, it is entirely their own perspectives about similar experiences.

        With this in mind, how can their contradictory positions be taken as anything other than inconclusive data points?

    • TKB2677

      He’s endorsing continuity that comes with having the same coach one year to the next…..not the coach himself. None of the words speak to any positive thoughts on the coach himself that Hall may have.

      I am indifferent on Eakins…for now….roster first, coach later.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Can’t blame Hall for not wanting to rock the boat. He’s just extending the proverbial professional courtesy expected within this organization.

      Dallas Eakins isn’t stupid. He knows what Taylor means to this franchise. To single out Hall, would certainly draw the ire of management. He chose Nail Yakupov to wield his ego on.

      These idiots deserve each other.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    With Olczyk it concerns me a bit to hear they offered him a different role. Maybe I’m looking into it too much but it seems like another case of keeping the old boys club together and offering way too mich loyalty to management

  • Quicksilver ballet

    It’s unfortunate another season will be wasted before MacTavish realizes most of these players want Eakins gone. Talk about misreading what’s happening within your own organization. Just goes to show us how out of touch management really is with this team. The gong show will continue it appears. Maybe after Nail Yakupov walks it’ll get their attention.

    Best of luck to Rick Olczyk. He’ll soon land on his feet again. He wasn’t the first to get thrown under the bus, and he certainly won’t be the last.

    • BRHLBryce

      I agree 100 percent. Yakupov will probably leave after next year, if things don’t change with the coaching staff. Either Eakins starts working with Yakupov to develop him and play him in a position that is suitable for his talents, or Yakupov goes to the KHL, and the Oilers loose a very talented player and asset for nothing. Or the Oilers trade Yakupov for peanuts and then get the publicity wagon going and try selling the fan base how bad of a player and person Yakupov was. I also agree with you that the way this team is being run, that McDavid is a very good possibility.

  • Sorry, for the error.. re News Days item, wanted to ask if you are looking for areas or topics to dialogue about… why was there no write up on the
    issue of Hall, Eberle and Nuge, taking a pass on the WORLDS., just curious. Taught there was a story there.

    • To be honest, I haven’t written at length about it because it isn’t a subject I’m interested in.

      Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins are all adults, and under no obligation to represent Hockey Canada. It’s also a lot easier to enjoy nightlife with a nagging injury than it is to play in a competitive tournament, so I don’t see the various reports that have surfaced as proof of anything, really.

      Personally, I like seeing players go to the tournament, and the Oilers’ rich history of sending guys over is a mark in favour of the organization for me (all three of Hall, Eberle and RNH have done it before, Eberle on multiple occasions).

      So if I were to write a piece, it would be something along the lines of “Even rich young athletes are entitled to living their lives the way they like in the off-season if it doesn’t interfere with their NHL careers.”

      But like I said, it’s not a subject I’m all that interested in.

      • Spydyr

        There is a story there.It is a story about character,some have it like Captain Canada some don’t like the three players that cannot be bothered to play hockey in May or represent their country.

        The entire Oiler organization lacks character.

        It shows in the standings.

        • Hemmercules

          Willis is correct, there is no story.

          You’re conflating numerous factors into a non-sensical narrative.

          They’re wealthy, young, and have free choice to do as they please. If you perceive those facts to be flaws, that’s your problem. Not theirs.

          • Spydyr

            Hockey Canada played a big part in making them wealthy.Like Chimera said unless you have a broken leg you play for your country.Pay back some of what you received coming up.

            Why would they try to improve their games they are all guaranteed six million a year for the next half a decade.

            Might as well have a good time instead spend some of that scratch.Chase some babes.

            Lack of character.

          • Wax Man Riley

            Wow, are you ever clueless.

            Really. In the purest sense. You have absolutely no clue what is happening in those players’ heads or in the dressing room. You are just making things up for the sake of spreading hate.

            I can’t say I completely disagree with you, but maybe they are banged up a bit. Maybe the team asked them not to go, and they are thinking about the “front of the crest” first. Maybe they got together and decided they are better off training and preparing for the upcoming season.

            Am I wrong?

          • Dan 1919

            Exactly, I’m surprised more people don’t share that opinion. You don’t snub a heart guy with a work horse attitude who has finished top 10 in nhl scoring the last two seasons who is only 22 years old.

            Even though they won gold Hall should have been on that team before Duchene or Benn, and St. Louis should have been an original pick.

            Between Hall having to deal with this joke of a club called the Oilers and being disrespected by hockey Canada the guy still maintains a great attitude. The worst is when the clueless fans throw Hall (one of the best players in the NHL) under the bus with this lousy team. I just hope the guy does not ask for a trade but personally I don’t see this thing going much past next season’s tanking before the wheels fall off and the young guys start wanting out. After that happens I think Katz will actually bring in a new PHO, then we wait again…

          • Joy S. Lee

            I had this same thought. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Hall said F-U to Hockey Canada for giving up a month of his time off to play for his country, only to be treated like some kind of leper by an assh**e coach who didn’t like the mistakes he was making.

            Any coach worth his salt would, by my estimation, know that these players were sacrificing for team and country, and would treat them with the respect they deserve. A lack of respect for the same would personally drive me insane, if it had been me in Hall’s position.

            I watched a little of that tourney, and saw the game Hall kept turning the puck over in. Hall’s ice time was very limited, while Matt Duchesne was given the keys to the vault per lots of ice time, the best linemates, and the freedom to be the player he is. Hall was given very limited ice in a 4th line role, and screwed up in an unimportant, unemotional game, and was stapled to the bench for the most part thereafter.

            Oddly enough, the Avs picked 1st overall last year; and the Oilers and Hall torched Duchesne and the Avs whenever they met. Yet Duchesne got the plum job while Hall was treated like a dog. Lindy Ruff made it abundantly clear which player he liked better, and while it’s fine to have opinions and preferences, if you berate and punish someone after they’ve stepped up for the cause, you’re playing with fire. Hall will get his redemption. But I fully suspect that how he was treated, and his influence on the others was important in their rejection of the offer. Hockey Canada had best be careful. They haven’t had enough success lately to deem themselves the all-knowing, all-powerful organization they think they are. After Hall’s treatment last year, I’d have done the same thing, in fact, I’d have come right out and told the media that I was supremely choked about the way Hockey Canada treated me, the pathetic non-support, and that I wouldn’t be back until they got their s*#t together. I’d have probably made it clear that they could kiss my ass, in no uncertain terms. It’s not like Hall owes them anything, other than a good taste of their own medicine, so he should be able to get away with it. It’s my belief that he’s just worried about upsetting Canadians in general, and having it unfairly taint his name. But Hockey Canada, without Ken Holland and the Olympic brass, or super-coach Mike Babcock and his staff, is an organization that has failed repeatedly over the past number of years, and they’ve got more resources than just about anybody on the planet when it comes to hockey. They act like the Oilers used to: entitled. And that hurt our NHL team for many years (and still is), because it created a losing culture where improvement was hardly a concern.

          • Dan 1919

            So Hockey Canada has failed repeatedly and is at fault for the Oilers’ losing culture? Get real.

            I think that Taylor Hall is a mature professional and not a begrudging primadonna. Hall got benched by Ruff because of his individualistic play that led to turnovers, not because of favouritism as you suggest.

            What you are suggesting is a complete overreaction.

          • Joy S. Lee

            Not sure where you got that from, but in no way did I suggest Hockey Canada was at fault for the Oilers pathetic situation.

            And, again, if you actually read what I wrote, you’d notice that I acknowledged Hall’s turnovers and poor play in the WC’s. What I was saying, however, since you need me to repeat it and spell it out, is that he wasn’t given much of an opportunity to right the ship, and that IS on the coach.

            You want to punish a hugely-talented youngster by taking away ice time and giving him limited opportunities, okay, that’s fine for the team that signs his paycheque. But don’t be surprised if he balks when the next volunteer committee calls him back to come donate his time and body again.

            Interesting that you call my thoughts a complete overreaction, when you clearly didn’t take the time to consider the full scope of my post, but felt compelled to trash it. Get real yourself.

          • Joy S. Lee

            And furthermore, have you noticed Hockey Canada’s insane desire to leave one or two of the most talented players in the country off the WJC team every year, because they’re too young, too inexperienced, too soft, too whatever? They barely let Nathan MacKinnon on the team, then stuck him on the 4th line, and look what he’s doing a year later…in the NHL.

            Hockey Canada is a screwup organization, almost as much as the Oilers have been, and it largely comes back to that sense of entitlement. The entitled feel very little sense of ownership about doing what’s right; all that matters is that they get what they are entitled to. That virtually eliminates any chance for growth, and yet that is precisely what this organization is supposed to stand for. It’s become all about the $, for these guys, and they are entitled. That’s just my opinion, and from a limited perspective, I know, but it’s what I see. I suppose I could add that the Oilers situation is all their fault, too, but that would be utterly ridiculous.

          • Slapshot

            I take it your joking.

            World Championships after the Olympics is a bunch a C rated NHL’er and tier 2 proffesionals. Who cares, let them chase all the tail they want, and be ready for next season.

      • camdog

        Jonathan, thanks for your views on the subject.
        I agree people have the right to choose, I was more curious that the three Amigos have injuries at the same time.

        Lets hope they hit gym when they are back from the beach, and put some muscle on. They will need playing in the Pacific Div.

        PS. Lets not hear any crys down the road when they get passed up for Olympic duty.

      • Chainsawz

        Hall, Eberle, and Nugent-Hopkins. 3 hockey players that play on the same line (typically) taken in 3 consecutive drafts.

        All 3 have a productive last 3 weeks of the season.

        All 3 do not miss a single game in that 3 week span (2 man games lost due to injury between them in 2014, both belong to Eberle).

        All 3 get invites to the World Championship team.

        All 3 turn them down.

        All 3 cite lingering injuries.

        All 3 are spotted “rehabbing” in a Las Vegas club just under 3 weeks prior to the start of the of the World Championships.

        No story here, move along now. Just incredible coincidence but hardly worth discussion among Oiler fans.

  • Jonathan,

    Not to beat on this team more than already has been, but the one thing that has astounded me is how much the coaching & managment seems to be held with very little accountability regarding the demise of this team.

    So much so, that those within go to the extent of commending the ineptitude of these individuals.

    The first step is admitting there is a problem (beyond just the player personnel). The second step is to move towards fixing it (replacing Olcyk with Scott is hopefully a movement in that direction).

    • The head coach, the general manager and both assistant general managers have all held their positions for less than two years, so I’m not sure it’s fair to say that there isn’t accountability.

      Lowe hasn’t been accountable for the disaster that has transpired under his watch, and the assistant coaches appear to be bulletproof, and I think those areas get harped on a lot by fans for those reasons.

      I think it’s important to recognize there isn’t a general trend of no accountability that applies across all positions of the management/coaching structure (at least, not in my view).

      • OilClog

        Well obviously Lowe and the assisant coaches should be gone as well, This team is embarassing, how many years of being in the basement can fans continue to take. Why can tampa , colorado, columbus, make the playoffs, but we cant even come close. I think its time for the local media to demand answers , The oilers are the laughing stock of the NHL. Even Calgary was 10 points better than us and they have limited skill. How can anybody justify lowe, smith and buchburger keep there jobs. The hiring of Mactavish and Howson is a joke too, they are the same clowns that were fired before tambellini came in, and you say theres change here.

  • ralph_u

    Based on what I saw I was not interested in another year of Anton Belov his game doesn’t translate well on the smaller ice and if he wasn’t happy good to go separate ways.

  • ralph_u

    It’s not like Belov had to resign with the Oilers. He was an upcoming UFA. Giving up on the NHL all together because he didn’t want to play for that coach sounds like pretty big sour grapes to me.

    • Rick Stroppel

      SOUR GRAPES

      Souray says the Oilers management did not treat him fairly: sour grapes.

      Paajarvi says the Oilers don’t practice very hard: sour grapes.

      Trotz says Dubnyk did not get good coaching in Edmonton: sour grapes.

      Hemsky says the young “stars” in Edmonton do not provide good leadership: sour grapes.

      Isn’t this weird? Look at how many people who have left the Oilers organization have bad things to say. Do people make as many negative comments about other organizations? Isn’t this a really incredible coincidence that everyone wants to rip the Oilers?

    • Quicksilver ballet

      You can’t blame him for not wanting to be just another NHL systems drone. There are plenty of AHL’ers who can do that.

      Oilers hockey is dead under this coach.

  • hallsyoilerforever5

    Eakins is a huge problem. Say what you want, and even if he does get to stay for another year ; I guaranteed if the next season starts with a disaster, he’ll get canned. As a matter of fact, they should fire the whole coaching staff. Goodbye Smith, Chabot, and Bucky.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Can we keep him till they secure the services of Connor McDavid……please?

      What’s one more year if this if they get a shot at a MacKinnon type prospect.