Oh snap! Coach McLellan went off last night in his post game press conference. If you haven’t already watched the highlights and jumped up and down clapping your hands with glee, it can be found above. I was double excited because it was OilersNation’s own hero Jason Gregor asking the questions that McLellan was smashing out of the park, pitch after pitch, after pitch.
Finally someone in the media asked the questions on all our mind and finally the coach of the Oilers stood up and showed us all just how the balance of power has swung down the hall and right into the coach’s office in this new age of Oilers Hockey.
It’s time for quality analysis Nation. Reading between the lines, focusing on what he didn’t say as opposed to what he did say. Making up things he meant to say and putting words directly in his mouth.
Let’s get to it shall we?
Quote 1: “Right now I’m really disappointed obviously.“
I’m thinking that this means the new head coach is disappointed in the team. He came here realizing that the Oilers were resting comfortably on the floor of the NHL’s ocean and it was going to take some heavy lifting to get this big SOB back to a respectable depth. 61 games into his first season of the bench, coach McLellan has seen enough.
The fact that the coach is mad at the team really does nothing for anyone. But I can’t help but feel that — finally — someone with a working cerebral cortex and an expectation of winning is in charge of the bench. We Oilers fans have been ‘disappointed obviously’ since G6SCF06 ended and although all roads lead to Connor McDavid, this season is an extra helping of Poo Pie when it is needed the least.
We have seen all too many lame duck head coaches lose their minds at this team with absolutely no effect. A real deal coach having enough and talking like McLellan was last night is a leap forward at long last.
It is strangely thrilling to hear the coach echo the feelings and thoughts of all us Oilers fans. It’s even more refreshing that he is sounding off while employed by the very same organization that has been content to mess the bed year after year and raise our ticket prices as a reward. Coach is on our side now, Nation.
Quote: “I’m concerned about the spirit of our team.“
Normally talk about spirits is left to Oprah, Ghostbusters or touchy feely commenters that are run off into the night with a trillion trashes. This is an incredibly revealing comment and after years of blaming the Oilers woes on role players and #4 and 5 D-men, we are starting to get to the heart of the matter.
The spirit of the Edmonton Oilers was snuffed out years ago, replaced with an expectation of losing and a culture of entitlement that extends up to the highest offices. This rotten spiritual core has led to almost a decade of individuals performing well below expectations with zero accountability. Heart matters. Pride matters. The difference between the talent of this roster on paper and the performance on the ice shows you just how much of a role it plays in success.
With the exception of Ryan Smyth (platinum grade hero), there hasn’t been a true Oilers leader in years. Honourable mention to UNESCO Heritage Site Andrew Ference — but when your captain is at the end of his career and has a Bruins tattoo on his bicep, you know his heart is elsewhere. I also love Jason Strudwick and think he is a beast for the historical record. Connor McDavid is going to be a top five Oiler of all time when all the dust settles, but as the coach said later in the presser, you need 10 prideful guys in the room dragging everyone else along.
Every season that the Oilers failed to bring in leadership for the Big Four led to the bad attitudes doubling down. Every year that the Oilers brass saw fit to bring in another rookie NHL head coach to mold the spirits and minds of this team, things have gotten worse. It is entirely possible that the Oilers have ruined a handful of top NHL prospects due to their prolonged disconnect from reality.
And now that a real coach has walked in and assessed things the verdict has come back — a whack of guys are gonna have to go. This flies in the face of everything a well intending MacT would tell us at this time of the season annually. There are no untouchables here anymore, except for 97, who should be stuffed and placed on the end of the Oilers bench when he eventually passes on in 2205.
Back to the presser. Gregor then asked the coach what they need to do in order to stop giving up the crushing goal that breaks the teams’ back on oh so many nights. THEN coach McLellan bombed out the line that will ring in the ears of Oilers fans throughout the offseason: “Maybe we need to get rid of some players.” Not ‘we need to play smarter’, or ‘we are working on things in practice to improve’, but ‘we need to boot some asses clean out the door.’
One of the myriad of issues that has affected our beloved Oilers has been a parade of rookie NHL coaches who were on some level intimidated by the room filled with high draft picks. Todd McLellan ain’t intimidated, at any point, by any man. This guy is clearly doing something bigger than coaching the components currently assembled in the room. He doesn’t work for his lineup — they work for him.
And some of his workers are about to get fiiiiiiired, son!
Gregor (paraphrased): “Should you staple a guy to the bench for all eternity if he is playing crappy?”
McLellan: “Well we are probably talking about two or three guys in particular.”
OOOOHHH, ain’t that some stank? Anytime someone refers mysteriously to two or three nameless guys who should be ashamed of themselves, it us up to us as an organized set of internet trolls to break this down.
I suspect the three players McLellan is calling out are as follows:
1. Justin Schultz: At this point we need say nothing more. Schultz is softer than properly conditioned kitten fur and though I have a bottle of Champagne chilling for his eventual Norris win, I am starting to think it is going to come in a different NHL jersey.
2. Nail Yakupov: Oh Nail. I enjoy you as a human but you are one quirky guy and unfortunately proper management of your skills and screwing your head on straight was left to incompetents, and it may now be too late. We are trending into dangerous Doug Wickenheiser territory here my friend.
3. ????: Who else could McLellan be talking about here? There are so many deserving candidates. Maybe my first two are wrong. Let me know in the comments, because for heavens sakes, these are exciting times.
Oilers management have been paralyzed with terror that they trade one of the hot shot kids to another team and he goes on to have a great career leaving the Oilers organization and fans to wonder what could have been. On some level they have been afraid of the room and have sent in rookie coach after rookie coach to try and corral the horses. The 30th year of 30th place we are currently watching shows how well this has worked out.
There is a new Sheriff in town, a new Silver Fox behind the bench. The GM is a Harvard Man with a penchant for sending poor attitude high draft picks packing. Trade whoever you see fit, fellas. If they go on to another team and improve their attitudes and results around, so be it. We will be calmly watching them from our spaceship going to Pluto piloted by Connor McDavid and congratulating them on their success elsewhere.
Final quote: “There has to be 10 guys in (the room) that have so much pride they pull the rest of the guys along. Its gotta get better or we gotta make huge, huge changes”
We look forward to meeting those 10 players, coach. I think you have like five right now, tops. Who do you think they are? Let me know in the comments.
Here’s to a great offseason and trades that make the Nation melt and begin to rebuild the spirit and pride of the most important team on Earth.