Monday Mailbag – September 28th

Can you believe the regular season starts next week? With the pre-season in full swing it seems like the days are flying past but it’s still not fast enough. I want regular season McDavid and I want him now. Despite my impatience there are no time machines on Amazon. We have to act like adults and wait. Luckily the Mailbag is here to kill some company time and get you a few minutes closer to McDavid. I always need questions so if you have something to ask you can email me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.comam or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk

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1) Alvin E. asks – Why do some head coaches seem to have a shorter shelf life than others? (John Tortorella as an example) 


Lots of reasons. If I had a really good team but couldn’t get over the top (winning Stanley) Tortorella might be a good fit because he’s driven and focused and short term could have a positive impact. Long term the team probably quits on you (see Mike Modano, Dallas Stars and Ken Hitchcock). Depends on expectations too, and a GM who knows what the hell he’s doing.

Matt Henderson:

Being a coach is all about winning. Period. The NHL is a results-driven business and if you can’t win then you’ll have a short shelf life. Alongside that, some people are just completely horrible people to be around, but if they’re winning then it’s ok. They stop winning and those funny quirks become a lot less tolerable.


I think there are a couple factors. First and foremost is personality. Torts is the perfect example of a coach who comes off as no-nonsense and super intense. I’m sure we’ve all worked with someone who never seems to have a good day, and those people are obviously less than ideal to work with. If the coach is constantly yelling at you for everything you do wrong the relationship between the coach and the players is going to wear thin very quickly (see Eakins, Dallas). 

Whereas a coach like Todd Nelson, who by all accounts endeared himself to the players immediately and tried to reenforce the positives rather than constantly harp on the negatives, and has a much more personal and friendly relationship with the players, a “players coach” as it were, is generally going to have a much longer shelf life, depending on the team’s success on the ice, obviously. 

I also think that sometimes coaches just aren’t the right fit for a team. Whether they try and force a roster to play a style of game they are not built for (Eakins again), or favour tactics and players that are outdated compared to the rest of the league (Randy Carlyle comes to mind), sometimes things just don’t mesh (this can also be said of every romantic relationship I’ve ever had). 

Jonathan Willis:

I think that narrative tends to be overblown. Tortorella, to use your example, spent 11 seasons between two teams; in the modern NHL that’s really not a bad track record. For the most part, I’d say if a coach has a really limited shelf life it’s probably because he’s not a good coach.

Robin Brownlee:

Very demanding coaches, those who seldom let up,  tend to wear thin with players in a shorter period of time. Mike Keenan. Marc Crawford. Tortorella.

Jason Gregor:

Tortorella is very demanding and often I was told by players his message and antics could get old quickly. Highly emotional coaches are the ones who seem to wear out their welcome quickly.

Jason Strudwick:

Some coaches grind so hard on the players that the players tune out. Coaches that last have the ability to mix it up by changing the way their message is delivered.


Imagine a guy yelling at you day in, day out. Wouldn’t you get tired of that? Of course you would. The same thing goes for NHL players. If you’re a guy like Torts and you’re known for being an angry dude it’s only natural that the players would get tired of it. Not getting yelled at > getting yelled at. 


2) Kerry asks – Do you think it was too harsh a penalty for the Islanders to send Josh Ho-Sang home for being late to camp on day one? Why or why not?


I don’t know the entire story so can’t really give an opinion but will guess this was one of many infractions. Suspect this is an attempted wake up call (sorry).

Matt Henderson:

No, I actually don’t think it was too harsh of a penalty. Ho-Sang has a history of behaviour that has been undesirable for his various teams. The head coach of his previous junior team basically said the team was better off without him than with him in the long run. The Islanders took a chance drafting this talented kid in the first round and they wanted the same level of investment shown going their way from Ho-Sang. It’s a wake up call to a teenager that needed one literally and figuratively.


I’m obviously not privy to any of the behind-the-scenes things that have happened throughout Josh Ho-Sang’s hockey career thus far, but by all accounts there have been plenty of “behavioural issue” type things that have followed him around his entire junior career. His own former junior coach Bob Boughner BURIED him in the press after he was traded last season, and I can’t see that just coming out of thin air. I definitely take a lot of these type of rumours and stories with a grain of salt, but where there’s smoke there’s fire, as they say. I’m 100% for players with swagger and big personalities, but Ho-Sang seems to have a knack for constantly shoving both feet in his mouth, and just generally coming off as more of a loudmouth than a guy with tons of confidence. So no, I don’t think it was too harsh to send him home. You’re trying to become a professional hockey player, and on your FIRST DAY OF PRO CAMP you can’t even wake yourself up on time? How does that even happen? As someone who seemingly always needs to learn things the hard way I think the Islanders were more than right to take somewhat extreme measures to try and correct this immediately. If I’m Ho-Sang I’m showing up to everything 40 minutes early for the rest of my life!

Jonathan Willis:

It’s hard to comment without having a full understanding of the history between the Islanders and Ho-Sang; it’s a safe bet that New York’s decision was based not just on a single incident but the entire track record leading up to it. Speaking generally, I’ve always found hockey’s obsessiveness about punctuality to be a bit silly, but that doesn’t means the Isles were wrong in this specific instance.

Robin Brownlee:

No. It’s the first day of training camp. Expecting  a player to show up on time is too much to ask? Not in my world.

Jason Gregor:

Not at all. He was an hour late for the first day of training camp. There has to be consequences for your actions, and being late is unprofessional. It sent a good message to him and the entire team.

Jason Strudwick:

It was the right move. They are actually doing him a favour by teaching him this hard lesson. As a pro you are expected to be on time and ready to go.


Josh Ho-Sang literally had one job to do. All he had to do was get up, get to think rink, and play some hockey. That’s it. He couldn’t set an alarm? Have the hotel call his room? Sleep at the rink? I think the Islanders sending him home is absolutely justified. He’s blowing an opportunity that most people would kill to have and I applaud the accountability.


3) Jesse asks – I think the Oilers need a mascot and am asking the mailbag panel to come up with the idea. What would you choose as a potential mascot for the Edmonton Oilers?


Probably something to do with Oil, maybe call him Drip. Hell if I know.

Matt Henderson:

I want the Burger Baron guy from Twitter to be the Mascot. Why not? There’s one close to Rexall Place. It works.


If you were to ask me this question any time during 2008 to this past spring I would have said something like this guy:

BUT NOW It would be a 200 foot tall, muscly Connor McDavid with the city of Edmonton on his shoulders, that breathes fire and shoots lasers out of his eyes. THE KIDS WOULD LOVE IT!

Jonathan Willis:

I think step one is to find somebody with crazy good credentials to design the mascot – someone like Stan Lee. Fortunately, he’s already done that, giving us the best possible answer to that question:

According to his official bio, the Oiler is “a modern day Cain constantly searching for the wisdom that he’s certain the frozen north has to offer” who spends his time “blasting bad guys with torrents of energized oil.” I don’t even want to live in a world where the mascot is anything other than a 10′-tall, brother-murdering, oil-shooting roughneck.

Robin Brownlee:

I think you’re wrong. No mascot ideas here.

Jason Gregor:

I don’t see the need for a mascot.

Jason Strudwick:

No mascot for this cat. I couldn’t disagree with you more!


There is only one mascot option and it’s obviously the moose. No, I’m not talking about an animal. I’m talking about a caricature of a pissed off Mark Messier. It would be the greatest mascot of all time. He could walk through the concourse throwing elbows at opposing fans. It would be beautiful.  


4) John K. asks – Who will finish higher in the overall standings this year – the Oilers or the Leafs? Why?


Hmmm. Damn, that’s a tough question. I’ll say Oilers but the Leafs play in the beer league conference so it’ll be closer than it should be.

Matt Henderson:

Good question! I’m going with the Oilers because I’m a hopeless romantic. I’m not sure Babcock knows how to lose very well though, plus the Leafs play in the East. Nope. Not backing down. Oilers finish higher.


The Oilers because they are the best and the Leafs are hot dog farts. 

Seriously though, I see a lot of people expecting the Leafs to be fine because they have god’s gift to hockey Mike Babcock as coach, and the crypt keeper himself as their GM. This is probably a good time to note that Babcock won one cup seven years ago, while Lamorellio hasn’t had someone help hoist the cup for him since 2003. Now that’s not to say that these aren’t great hockey minds, they are, but PLEASE take a look at what is being projected as the Leaf’s opening night lineup. If I’m a Leafs fan that DOES NOT inspire confidence. For the last few seasons we have “joked” that even in-his-prime Scotty Bowman couldn’t find success with those Oiler rosters, and as far as I’m concerned the same thing applies to Mike Babcock and this current instalment of the Leafs.

They couldn’t get rid of Phil Kessel, far and away their best player over the last six years, any faster than they did this summer. Nazem Kadri is still a question mark when it comes to being a top line centre, and if he fails they have to rely on Tyler “OH GOD WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITHOUT KESSEL” Bozak as their first line pivot! That is an amazing lack of depth! Their big acquisition this offseason was Michael Grabner, who hasn’t had a good season since 2010. And literally as I’m writing this stories are popping up saying Lou is interested in trading for Travis Zajac, who, once again, had his career best season in 2010. First off, someone PLEASE replace Lamorellio’s calendar with a 2015 one, and secondly have the Leafs not yet learned NOT to trade for New Jersey Devils that had one good year?? 

And in favour of the Oilers they have Connor McDavid. CASE CLOSED!

Jonathan Willis:

I’m going to say the Oilers, because I think there’s a commitment in Edmonton toward getting better immediately while in Toronto I’m not convinced that need is felt as strongly. Will the Leafs really be hurting long-term if they finish bottom five this season?

Robin Brownlee:

The Oilers. The addition of Connor McDavid and McLellan (and his coaching staff) closes what was already a very narrow gap. 

Jason Gregor:

The Oilers have added better players. McDavid > Roy. Talbot > Fasth. Letestu > Gordon. Korpikoski >  Klinkhammer. Lander > Arcobello. And the Oilers depth chart has improved. 

The Leafs moved their best forward, Phil Kessel, and replaced him with Grabner and Matthias. 

I don’t see either team making the playoffs, but the Oilers will finish with more points.

Jason Strudwick:

Good question. I think they will both improve from last year. The Oilers are further ahead so they will have more wins in April when the season wraps up.


Oilers. Easy. Next question. Mike Babcock can’t score goals and I don’t expect many players on the Leafs to be able to either. 


5) Darryl M. asks – A friend and I are having a disagreement about free agency. He says free agents will soon be flooding to the Oilers because of the new arena, the new management staff, and Connor McDavid. I say, free agents won’t come to Edmonton until they prove they can win. Who is right?


I think you’re both right. McDavid will help the winning and that will help the FA stream. Can’t have one without the other. We’ll know next summer. I’m looking at you, Seabrook.

Matt Henderson:

Free agents have already come to the Oilers because of McDavid. I don’t think they will be flocking here though until the Oilers prove they are on the cusp. They don’t have to already be winners, but they have to show they WILL be winners. Honestly, though, how many high end UFAs do the Oilers need? Maybe one more on defense?


I think it’s a combination of both your points, but I’d put more stock into your argument. Obviously the chance to play on a team with the soon-to-be best player on the planet would be very enticing to a lot of players, along with going to work at a brand new, world class facility. HOWEVER, none of that will matter if, by some cruel, horrible twist of fate, the Oilers continue to finish at the bottom of the league for the foreseeable future. I guarantee that if the Anaheim Ducks or the LA Kings were wallowing at the bottom of a dumpster like the last decade of Oiler teams have, that we wouldn’t be looking at them as premiere destinations for players, and all the year round surfing and beautiful actresses to have sex scandals with wouldn’t really change that. Look at Atlanta: warm weather year-round, the chance to do your job while still living in relative obscurity, and is classified as a “Global city” with a highly regarded cultural scene. I can’t remember ANY big free agents signing there when the Thrashers existed, because they were more like the TRASHERS AMIRIGHT?

I’ve been saying it since we were all arguing whether or not the city should be involved at all in building the arena district *checks Twitter, sees argument still raging on*; it’s not the weather, it’s not Tambellini or Lowe, and it’s not the fear of Mike Comrie sleeping with your wife or someone burning your child’s crib that is keeping free agents away. It’s the “only winning 25 games a year” thing that makes Edmonton a toxic environment to most free agents. If you build it (a winning team) they (free agents) will come (sign with the Oilers).

Jonathan Willis:

You both are. I know that’s a lousy answer, but it’s true. Free agents make their decisions based on a host of different items, and one of them obviously is there belief in which teams will be competitive over the term of their contracts. So, for instance, a free agent might look at Peter Chiarelli, Todd McLellan and Connor McDavid and say ‘this team is on its way up, I want to get in now.’ Another free agent might look at the club and say ‘I’ve seen this young talent routine before, I’m going to wait until they start winning before I bet on them.’ Some will be sold based on potential; others won’t be sold until that potential starts getting realized.

Robin Brownlee:

Winning is the most important factor in attracting free agents.

Jason Gregor:

I’d say your friend is right — consider that Sekera has already signed here. But good teams don’t build through free agency, and if the Oilers continue to develop young players like McDavid, Draisaitl, Nurse, Klefbom and Reinhart, I don’t see them grabbing multiple UFAs. You are also on point with needing to win. The Oilers will finally improve, because they have better players, and a more experienced GM and coach, and that will also make the team a more attractive landing spot for UFAs and likely fewer players with no trade clauses will have Edmonton on their list.

I think it is more realistic to say that in the future the Oilers will have a better chance of landing UFAs without having to grossly overpay them.

Jason Strudwick:

Lets cut to the chase — you are both right. The off season changes will improve the team so free agents will take a longer look at the Oilers. Why can’t you both be happy and enjoy a rebirth (although I don’t think they make the playoffs this year) of the Oilers?


Winning cures all and I think if the Oilers were annual contenders that UFAs would flock here. Connor McDavid is a huge piece of the puzzle of getting the Oilers back to the playoffs, so the two arguments go hand in hand 

  • Cain


    “I’ve always found hockey’s obsessiveness about punctuality to be a bit silly…”

    Ho-Sang demonstrated a lack of respect for a professional organization that was giving him a huge was the right call.

    • I do agree with the punctuality thing though. What does being on time have to do with hockey? If you were a professional and you were late on your first day of work, you would not be sent home. Also, we’re forgetting that Ho-Sang (and a lot of these players) are 18 and 19 years old. Were you the best professional at 18 or 19? Come on.


        If you are 19 years old and were a first round draft pick to an NHL team, or any pick for a team for that matter; you are expected to act as a professional. Showing up on time for a skate shouldn’t really be a hard thing to do. It shows a lack of responsibility and it shows that you don’t really care.

        If this was a first strike, I would let it slide. However, Ho-Sang has showed numerous times that he definitely needs to grow up.

      • If you can’t even show up on time you are showing disrespect to all the other coaches, trainers and players who did show up on time. If you aren’t early you are late.

        Absolutely this was the right move. To be a professional hockey player takes the highest level of disipline and commitment. Ho-sang failed to show this by his actions.

      • stonedtodeath61

        Well, I doubt it was just a matter of showing up late for your fist day of work. In the words of Garth Snow not mincing words about Josh Ho-Sang, telling Newsday: “Enough with the bull—-. It’s time to grow up.” Sounds like more than his alarm clock was unplugged by his dog.

      • Ryan14

        If you are an unproven professional on your first day of work in a industry with high competition for positions, you would probably be replaced quite quickly.

    • As I said, I was speaking generally.

      I don’t take issue with NYI’s decision to cut Ho-Sang immediately, because a non-NHL player not showing up to the first day of camp – particularly one with Ho-Sang’s reputation – is far outside the norm.

    • Canoe Ride 27.1

      Good for Seabrook but that deal will come back to haunt the Blackhawks.

      I agree with your thoughts on Nurse and Reinhart.

      YEG has to look more attractive. It will become even more attractive if we can keep down our goals against. 8 in 5 preseason games. Maybe defense can be coached.

    • stonedtodeath61

      Lets leave the Ference bashing for another day just not today. He is currently participating in allowing a kid to live out her dreams as a super hero.

      Pretty awesome thing Andrew is doing today. Outstanding citizen if you ask me!

      Go Spider Marble!


    So does this mean Lowetide will be forced to never drop another Seabrook to the Oilers reference??? Don’t get me wrong, I loved the idea but never honestly believed there was any chance of it happening.

  • ubermiguel

    Except that the Jets use a moose for a mascot that would have been perfect for the Oilers. How about Harvey the Hound’s tongue? Or Derek the Derrick? Actually that lat one might work. The BJs have a cannon for a mascot, why not a derrick for us?

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Klefbom, Reinhart and Nurse are a solid young D corps to build around. I think Nurse will be a regular on the big club before season’s end.

    No mascot, please. Principe does a good enough job already.

  • As for the Mascot Issue, which is the most paramount issue to be addressed, far and above all others. Lowe has been replaced and MacT is only brought out for special occasions. So we need a replacement, ASAP. Oilernation should be scouring the far reaches of the internet, for the beholder of the best idea.

    Frankly, I’ve been dreaming of the day Koolaid Man banging on Rexall glass, going Oh Yeah everytime the Oilers score…

  • Randaman

    Funny, All it took was winning the golden ticket, hiring new Management and hiring a new experienced coaching staff to loosen up the purse strings.

    I bought a power pack of tickets, a new Orange McDavid jersey and other items on my trip to YEG recently. My wife thinks I’m nuts.

    11 hours each way from the NWT for five games this season seems reasonable to me. LOL ?

  • Oilers already have a mascot: The Octane Girls. Otherwise known as the worst mascot in the league. I mean, here you have a city, full of good looking women who can skate. But, instead of having them showcase their skating talents and create an ice girls gang, you instead parade these lady’s out in Gatsby flapper dresses and gogo boots to dance during commercials. What a farce.

  • Johnnydapunk

    Maybe I’m a bit softy softy here, but I think with Ho-Sang there is something more to it than just being late and stuff, I mean maybe there is a mental health issue here that might need to be dealt with. I only say that as when people do things that don’t make a lot of sense, maybe something is hiding inside.

    I guess the thing to figure out was why he didn’t set alarms and stuff, was it absentmindedness? A feeling that he is untouchable and his natural skill is enough (in his mind), sleep issues, maybe a whacked out fear that he doesn’t have what it takes to take it to the next level?

    I just think there is more to it that what is being said, and it may not be what is being speculated that could be the reason.

    Just to also make clear, I know as much as what is out in the news about him, but just feel like there may be that mental health aspect that hasn’t been said too much. It’s becoming less “taboo” to talk about that stuff and from my view, his cockiness, inability to keep time, and general “behaviour” issues scream something just not right in his head.

  • ThinkingOutLoud

    How about a female mascot? I’m picturing a quintuple breasted Viking goddess /Valkyrie type, dual wielding stylized hockey stick swords, a hockey helmet with horns, and flames like those that burn at the top of refineries shooting out of her nostrils. It would be symbolic too – Nordic as in we’re the furthest north NHL team, and 5 breasted, because of course her bra would need 5 cups…