Mailbag Monday – January 19th

Mail

As is tradition around these parts, it’s time for another edition of the Mailbag.  It’s time to find a chair, grab some coffee, learn a few things and waste as much company time as possible on a Monday.  This segment depends on you, so if you have a question you can email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Without further delay, the Mailbag. Enjoy.

Ramsay

1) Dean T. asks – I’ve been wondering why we haven’t heard from Ramsay?  I was intrigued when they brought him in as an NHL coach from outside the Oiler realm. Why hasn’t he received any criticism for the team’s lack of defensive play?  I thought that was his specialty?

Jonathan Willis:

As for why we haven’t heard from him, it’s not really all that common for assistant coaches to get a lot of time in the spotlight; we didn’t hear much from Steve Smith either. I think the difference between Ramsay and Smith is basically that Smith was a much easier target – Ramsay’s been a round a long time and there isn’t much question that he’s a good coach, whereas Smith didn’t have a long and sparkling record as a coach preceding his time in Edmonton. When things went bad, it was really easy to blame the inexperienced Smith rather than the players; it’s harder to do that with Ramsay.

Robin Brownlee:

Is your criticism directed at the defensive system the Oilers are playing? Do you believe Ramsay and the coaches are drawing up the knucklehead mistakes that have plagued the Oilers — bad pinches, giveaways, failure to support by the forwards etc etc? If your issue isn’t with the system but the mistakes, what criticism should be directed at Ramsay?

Jeanshorts:

I posed this exact same question on Twitter the other day. Most of the responses I got back were “look at who’s playing defence!” which didn’t answer my question at all. The forwards seem to always be out of position, and even when they are in the right spot a lot of the time they won’t be hard on their man and end up giving up a scoring chance/goal either way. They got rid of the swarm and yet the Oilers seem to be just as out of position in their own end as ever. And I’m just as confused as you as to why the Wheel Of Blame® has fallen on literally everyone but Ramsay so far. My only theory is that he’s 2000 years old so no one wants to upset him, lest he come back and haunt them at some point in the near future. 

Matt Henderson:

One of the reasons you won’t hear much criticism from me is because I have no idea what his actual role on the staff entails or did entail. The team’s defensive play improved this year on the whole too, so I don’t have an issue with that. Just like Eakins, Ramsay can’t make Ben Scrivens stop the puck. But, when I know EXACTLY what he’s responsible for I’ll be more able to criticize him. Otherwise it would feel like I’m yelling at Hanz Moleman. 

Lowetide:

I’m not sure how much criticism is warranted based on the performance level of veterans like Nikita Nikitin. The Oilers top minutes LHD at this point is Oscar Klefbom—who may not be shaving. When I’m done yelling at management, I’ll get to Ramsay. 

Jason Gregor:

Coaches can’t magically make players better. I’m sure Ramsay would love to inject consistency into Schultz and Nikitin, but it isn’t that easy. Oilers make head coach available daily, and unless you ask specifically for asst. coach they don’t seek out people to chat.

Jason Strudwick:

He is the assistant coach and it is not the usual way for an assistant to be front and center with the media. I don’t think blaming him is the right move.

Baggedmilk:

I assume that Craig Ramsay is like most birds of prey, and would simply fly away if approached too closely by humans?  I could be wrong though.

2) Rod Thompson asks – I don’t understand why Jeff Petry gets such a bad wrap with some fans?  Can you explain this to me?

Jonathan Willis:

Probably because, like a lot of guys leaned on to move the puck he’s a big mistake defenceman. He does a lot of things really well and the Oilers are better off when he’s on the ice but when he does make a mistake it tends to be the kind of high-profile giveaway that’s hard to forget.

Robin Brownlee:

Petry’s biggest problem is that he was forced into a role and playing more minutes than he was ready for by this team’s lack of depth in seasons past. I’ve liked his game a lot most of this season while playing tough minutes. Have no idea what fans are thinking or why they think it.

Jeanshorts:

My good friend @BookOfLoob and I have a working theory as to why some guys, despite all logic and reason, are universally despised in Edmonton/Calgary and it basically boils down to appearance. Jeff Petry has long, luxurious hair, is soft spoken, and looks perpetually 17. Nothing about him fits the “blue collar” trope Edmonton fans cling onto for dear life. 

Whereas a guy like, say, Luke Gazdic looks like he goes out and catches fish with his bare hands in his off time. Guys who have Truck Nutz® and pride themselves on drinking 20 beers in a night see a lot more of themselves in a player like Luke Gazdic than Jeff Petry. They also more than likely have a skill set much closer to Gazdic’s in their tier 11 beer league, so maybe it gives them a glimmer of hope that if only they hadn’t suffered that knee injury in midget and if that one coach hadn’t been all about politics instead hockey, they definitely could have made the show! 

TL;DR Jeff Petry is awesome and a lot of Oiler fans are morons. 

Matt Henderson:

I think early on he struggled with bringing the right mix of physicality, plus he has never been prolific at Offense. It takes time to become a solid NHL defender and without the offense it just seemed like he was a big bodied defender who didn’t use his body all that much. This is the best Petry has ever played, IMO. So people likely made up their minds on him while he was still learning at the NHL level. He’s the best defenseman on the team, hands down. If you don’t like Petry then you must hate the rest of the team. 

Lowetide:

I think Petry plays a coverage style and physical battles are not his forte. That means his ‘battle’ level is always going to be in question and I get that, he isn’t Chris Pronger. He IS a capable NHL defenseman who the Oilers have suffered through the growing pains with, and trading him now is borderline crazy. Jmo.

Jason Gregor:

Not every fan will like players equally, not sure why people expect all fans to like players equally. Petry was thrust into a position he wasn’t ready for. It isn’t his fault he was asked to be a top-pairing D-man 100 games into his career. So some fans incorrectly assume he is bad. Petry is now 27 and developing much more consistency in his game, not surprising since that coincides with him playing about 300 games, when most D-man start to truly understand their position.

Jason Strudwick:

He is an easy target. He has been asked to play heavy minutes from a young age, minutes that most would not be able to handle. The fans that give him a hard time will realize the error of their ways when he leaves.

Baggedmilk:

Most people need to recognize that Jeff Petry is fighting above his weight class, and has been for 2+ years.  It’s not Petry’s fault that the Oilers don’t have a competent defence, and therefore he’s been thrust into a position where he’s playing more minutes than he should be.  That’s on management, not Petry.  I really dig Jeff Petry, and I’ll be sad when he’s gone.

ReportCard

3) Darryl Greene asks – If you had to pick a midseason Oilers MVP who would it be and why?

Jonathan Willis:

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, because he’s been the best player on the team this season.

Robin Brownlee:

For me, it’s a toss-up between RNH and Boyd Gordon. Oilers would have nothing but a huge hole in the middle without them.

Jeanshorts:

I’d have to go with THE NUGE. He’s been quietly and consistently driving the play all season, is one of the top scorers on the team, has been great defensively and has been exceptionally average in the face-off circle. He’s about to go supernova any day now and I can’t wait!

However if we’re talking about the MVP in the annual Fall For First Overall® then I have to give it to the goalies. They’ve been exceptional in helping the cause! 

Matt Henderson:

MVP, I’m torn between the two best C’s on the team. Gordon is an incredible shutdown C, one of the best in the NHL. RNH is the team’s best overall player through the 1st half. I’m going to go with Gordon because his line has done its job night in and night out against tough competition and Hellish zone starts. He makes everybody’s life easier.

Lowetide:

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. WONDERFUL player coming into his own, playing monster minutes and posting offense. Jesus, Mary & Joseph he’s a terrific young player.

Jason Gregor:

RNH. He plays the most minutes, faces tough competition and plays the hardest forward position.

Jason Strudwick:

Good question. Boyd Gordon. He has met the expectations put on him heading into the season. What more can you ask of a player?

Baggedmilk:

Easy. Little Buttcheeks.  That nickname is one of the very few highlights from a miserable season.  Little Buttcheeks is your midseason MVP.

get-me-outta-here-o

4) Jason W. asks – How long are we supposed to expect guys like Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle to want to stick around if the Oilers keep losing like this?

Jonathan Willis:

I don’t really know how to answer that one; every individual is different and it’s impossible to know where the limit is until it’s reached. For what it’s worth, Rick Nash played all of four playoff games in nine season with Columbus before asking out. The critical thing for the Oilers is that both players are under contract for a long time, which means that if and when they ask out they won’t be walking away for nothing. Sometimes – as with Nash and the Blue Jackets – the divorce can end up working well for both parties.

Robin Brownlee:

Good question. Don’t know the answer for sure. Neither one of them is going to say anything but what you’d expect them to say publicly — “We like it here . . . etc.” I damn sure wouldn’t expect them to re-sign here once their deals are up if there isn’t significant improvement in results.

Jeanshorts:

I think it would be naive of us to think they wouldn’t want to go to a better situation. I mean look at Perron, I don’t think I ever saw him smile as wide as I did during his interview when he was traded to Pittsburgh. I don’t necessarily think that means they’re going to force a trade but I’m willing to bet that if an opportunity arose for them to get out of here they’d jump at it in a Hot Minute®. 

Matt Henderson:

The Oilers are a dysfunctional team. They are unquestionably the worst run organization in North American sports. I’m surprised Hall hasn’t asked for a trade already. This franchise has no desire to win and continually trades proven NHL bodies for draft picks. That has to wear thin after a while. Those two can’t continue looking around and seeing AHL players every year and still want to be a part of this. 

Lowetide:

I think athletes create a goal and work toward it, so would be surprised if either has asked for a trade. That said, I think Oilers management has one more summer to show they can do something before a complete overhaul may be required. 

Jason Gregor:

No offence, I hate this loser attitude question. Joe Sakic and Mario Lemieux had one playoff appearance in their first six seasons. Hall and Eberle need to be part of the solution, rather than look for a way out. They play the most minutes of any forwards on the team, except RNH, so they need to do more to help the team win. Losing sucks and I’m sure it is draining at times, but they don’t have NMC and if they ask for a trade they could end up in Buffalo or Carolina. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence and if they did ask for a trade, then deal with it then. I asked Hall last week if he had asked for a trade and he said no. Has no plans to right now.

Jason Strudwick:

At some point they will get frustrated with the lack of progress. I think the next 12 months are very important for this situation.

Baggedmilk:

What a depressing thought this is… I guess the rebuild won’t be complete until Taylor Hall wants out.

BadDate

5) Stephen Akins asks – My girlfriend doesn’t think that an Oilers game should count as “date night.” How can I convince her otherwise?

Jonathan Willis:

If you figure out an answer to this, let me know. I’m closing in on eight years of marriage and if I can get my wife to sit through five games a year with me I’m doing really well. It would be super convenient if you could figure this out for me. 

Robin Brownlee:

Cough up the dough for something other than standing room seats and let her have the large drink at the concession.

Jeanshorts:

Well first off if you really want to treat her what you do is you head down to The Pint downtown and ride in style to the game in the Nation Limo. It’s the classiest ride to and from the game you can get, there is free beer and every once in a while one of us will ride along to make the experience as uncomfortable for everyone else as we possibly can. Get her nice and greased with as many Rexall heroin beers as she can legally handle so by the time the game is over she’s up for anything. Once you have a few more post-game Nation Beers® at the Pint finish off the night with a box of Noodz and it’s back home for some hanky panky! I would put out if someone offered me just one of these things! 

Matt Henderson:

Find a new Girlfriend. Problem. Solved. 

Lowetide:

Well Stephen, may I suggest you compromise? Maybe you could take her to a nice restaurant before or after the game? Or, maybe another night you could do something she likes but you consider boring? Some people don’t like hockey. I don’t know them but have read about them.

Jason Gregor:

It can be if you do more than just take her to a game that you want to go to. Bring her flowers before you go out, or take her to your favourite restaurant before the game. Or tell her she gets to pick next date night and you will be happy regardless of what it is. Compromise is easy, especially if you like spending time with her.

Jason Strudwick:

Dump her and see if she still feels that way.

Baggedmilk:

You have a girlfriend? Like… a real one? That’s cool, man. Count your blessings. 

  • mesa

    Osmosis Oilers ! The entrenched losing culture perpetrated by management several years ago has transformed itself thru entire organization and players , unfortuneately thru Katz”s naïve blessing apparently , for almost a decade now . The players have been stiffed by lack of proper direction for better results by entire acceptance of losing by organization . Players and their performances are just a reflection of that . Organization needs an entire cleaning out before players might get over the losing culture running rampant throughout entire organization and filtered to the players . Even reasonable coaches can do little about those above them with their entrenched losing culture acceptance without them being accountable firstly .

  • Risto's Canon

    “He’s the best Defenseman on the team. Hands down.”

    Yes he is. That is the saddest part of the Oiler equation right now.

    “If you don’t like Petry then you must hate the rest of the team.”

    Nah, hate requires passion. That’s been all but drained from the fan base over the past few years.

  • Risto's Canon

    Jeanshorts: not sure why you have to take a swing at the hard working, blue collar fans that might like Gadzic over Petry. They spend their hard earned money on trucks and beers, so what. Does that make them any less knowledgeable about hockey? Petry is a decent player but far from being awesome. You seem like a guy who spent far too much time in university and hope that the Tragically Hip would just come out with one more good album.

  • Derian Hatcher

    Stephen Akins asks – My girlfriend doesn’t think that an Oilers game should count as “date night.” How can I convince her otherwise?

    There is hope. Been married for 15 years (I should be eligible for parole soon)…anyways, our first date was an oiler game followed by many nights watching the team on TV (she had never watched hockey much before). We have kids who play hockey and my wife is right into it…using phrases such at “half-wall, good first pass, too much gap, d-side” etc. When she is on the road with one of our boys, while I am with the other one, her update texts are detailed and insightful. So don’t give up Stephen, there is hope.

    Unfortunately, she is not as interested as I am in talking about “down low” and “active stick” away from the rink…

  • Ed Hod

    If Hall and Eberle are sick of losing, they should play smarter and act like they care. A change in their attitude and demeanor would help them and the team along the way.

  • Mac T said yesterday that the Oilers will have two third round picks this year. THat is not currently the case. Does this mean:

    A) He doesn’t remember that they traded their third to Anaheim for Fasth or

    B) He has a Petry trade worked out and expects to get a third in return?

    Either reason is terrible. WTF MacTavish!?