Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Practice? I Guess We’re Talkin’ About Practice

Everyone’s favourite colour commentator, Drew Remenda, appeared on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer yesterday and for the second year in a row, he was talkin’ practice. This time, the practice talk had to do with Jordan Eberle and it set the Internet on fire – to the point where Todd McLellan had to step in. 

For the 1000th time this offseason, Jordan Eberle took shrapnel for his play and this time his practice habits also took a knock. Many words have been written about what Ebs lacks on the ice, but we haven’t seen a whole lot about what he’s not doing at practice.

“The one I’d sell would be Jordan Eberle for a couple reasons: objectively you look at Jordan Eberle and he just doesn’t do enough for me. He stays on the outside too much.”

Not sure how that’s objective nor were the reasons all that great, but go on…

“(Eberle) doesn’t, and Bob you know my thing about practice, if you want to get better you have to work on your game. You have to invest in your career. I don’t see that from Jordan.”

Practice, man… We’re talkin’ about practice. Alright, but Drew hasn’t really given me any examples of what Eberle is doing or NOT doing that’s bothering him. If he’s bad in practice, then I want to know why. I don’t want you to tell me that ice cream sucks and leave it at that. From where I blog, it sounds more like Drew isn’t an Eberle fan and used practice as an excuse for voicing that opinion.

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“If you want to win in the playoffs, you’ve got to play inside. You can’t drive on the outside, delay, turn up and throw the puck away. You’ve got to be able to play out of your comfort zone.”

I agree with you on some of this, Drew, but I’m still not seeing anything about practice. You’re talking games. I thought we were talkin’ practice. What else?

“Again, it’s just being objective. People can say what they want about me, but I’ll be honest with you in what I think about hockey. To me, I don’t think Jordan Eberle gave you enough or showed enough to deserve another chance.”

I’m still not sure that Drew is being objective here, and I’m still not seeing anything about practice, but we’ll roll with it anyway. I guess what Remenda is getting at is that Jordan Eberle plays how he practices (I’m reaching here) and that’s not good enough. Agreed. Where I find this odd is Drew calling out Eberle’s practice habits and not really saying anything about what he is or isn’t doing. It just seemed like, here’s a thing I think and I’m going to use it as a safety net because there aren’t many people that can prove me wrong.

“Chiarelli said that guys like me were judging Jordan too harshly, but I think, in this situation, I would judge Jordan based on what I saw in the playoffs.”

Wait… in the playoffs? So why didn’t you say that, Drew? Why didn’t you say that Eberle’s compete level, or whatever you want to call it, in the post-season wasn’t enough for you? Why is this practice thing just coming up now when the season is long gone? Where were you to call out his practice habits in November, Drew?

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Apr 16, 2017; San Jose, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Todd McLellan watches the game against the San Jose Sharks in the second period of game three in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Right as I was about to hit publish on this post, Todd McLellan appeared on Oilers Now to talk an array of topics, including defending Jordan Eberle. In regards to Eberle’s practice habits that were questioned by Drew Remenda only a day ago, McLellan said:

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“I don’t agree with those comments. I’m on the ice with Jordan every day. I see his practice habits. I see what he does before practice in the gym. I see how he reviews his video. I know the questions that he asks. I know how much he cares. When it comes to that, I’ve been around a lot of players in my 12 or 13 years and their care factor is nowhere near what Jordan’s is.”

Firstly, I’m sure Todd McLellan was thrilled about having to appear on radio and shovel the pile of Eberdung that Drew piled up the day before. Secondly, it’s not at all surprising that Todd McLellan came to Eberle’s defence. What else was he really going to say in a public forum? Eberle sucks? Never going to happen.

“What ends up happening is there’s a focus put on a player or two, or a coach, or a manager, or a goaltender at the end of the year. You have to have something to talk about. You have to have somewhere to go, and not necessarily a place blame, but point fingers and I think that’s very dangerous. Rightly or wrongly, it seems to be Jordan more than anybody.”

I think we can all agree that no one is taking the heat that Eberle has so far in this offseason. He’s like the red headed step child right now and that’s not a good spot to be in. What else?

“People are entitled to their opinions but unless they’re in the tent with us and they’re in the meetings and they see how young men prepare and what they give the organization, I think it’s really unfair to throw an individual under the bus.”

Shots fired at Drew’s practice take! Barn fight? C’mon, Todd, let’s do it!

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At this point, piling on Jordan Eberle just seems gross to me. I’m not saying that it’s unfair to critique a guy that makes $6 million to play hockey for a living, but I’m not sure that I understand turning over every stone to dump on a guy either. At the end of the day, Jordan Eberle has scored at a rate of 60 points per year (give or take) and those type of players aren’t easy to find, as Jason Gregor wrote just last week. Is a tough year really all it takes to get the boot? I don’t think that trading Jordan Eberle is going to magically make the Oilers better, especially when the return is likely to be disappointing.

David Staples also wrote about this practice thing over at the Journal this morning, and I think he was right when he said that it seems like the end is near when the MSM start taking shots at specific players. Unfortunately for Oilers fans, that end would likely mean another trade return that comes up short and another former cornerstone of the rebuild that could be set to start packing his bags. Then again, you never know. Todd McLellan said that Jordan Eberle is a big part of their club and that they’re still considering the group as a growth team. To put it another way, I never would have expected Taylor Hall to get moved last summer, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if the speculation actually matches up to reality. Until then, I guess there are a few more stones that need to get turned over.

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  • Harry2

    Ill say this for the one millionth time cause writers around here cant seem to figure it out. The problem with Eberle is that when he isnt scoring at his mediocre rate he is a 100% burden to the team.

    Yes he is an above average scorer but when hes not doing that he is literally doing nothing. If your getting 70 -80 points a season I can see looking past that but 50-60? NOPE

    • dsanchez1973

      Why do other non one dimensional players receive similar treatment? eg, Russell or Larsson have a bad game – where’s the article “he provides nothing in terms of scoring, so if he isn’t providing elite defense, he is a 100% burden”? There are a lot of relatively easily replaceable skills (defensive play for example – Russell was acquired for absolutely nothing on an extremely team friendly contract) – top level goal scoring ability is not one of them. You make scoring 60 points in the NHL sound pretty meh – only 42 players in the league scored 60 points this year. 60 points is absolutely clear first line level play and if Eberle produces that, he is easily worth his contract and should never be moved.

  • madjam

    Todd was right to defend Eberle’s work habits . of which I find refreshing he is that committed (Eberle) . Even though Eberle easily outscored Hopkins and Pouliot during regular season and was the only one with a plus minus of + 3 , he could do little in playoffs playing mostly with anchors like Pouliot and Hopkins were . Eberle had only 2 assists , Pouliot zip, and Hopkins a lack luster 4 assists . Eberle has never been the main driver on any line during his many years here . However , he has been productive most of time other than this years playoffs , but also in international tourneys . Eberle will likely do better next season clawing back to his normal 13.9 % accuracy rather than his worst season this year at barely 9.3% . Eberle is not really a major problem on team like some others are .

    • Herschel

      First time poster, long time reader here. I like Eberle but agree with the obvious that this past season wasn’t great for him. The thing I find weird about his shooting % this past year is that I remember reading a quote from him coming into last season saying that he spent most of his offseason with a shooting coach working on his shot. I thought at the time “Why are you spending time working on your shot when it’s already pretty decent? You should have been in the weight room putting on some muscle and working on your defensive game.”

      Whoever that shooting coach was should give Ebs his money back.

  • Mel Kozun

    If anyone gave two sh*ts about what Drew Remenda has to say:
    1./ He’d still be in San Jose employed by the Sharks, or;
    2./ He’d be on the national broadcast team and Louie DeBrusk would still be in Edmonton with Kevin Quinn.

    Drew, please crawl back under the rock you came out from and rot …..

  • smiliegirl15

    The fact that Drew Remenda piled on the “Eberle sucks” train goes to show Eberle doesn’t suck. Remenda seems to know nothing about hockey and his evaluation is completely meaningless. He’d probably think this site sucks too. Shows what he know! NOTHING!!!
    I’ve really enjoyed Jason Gregor’s articles pointing out what the rock throwers have forgotten. There are a lot of other players who we all think are really awesome who didn’t score in the playoffs. When they trade Jordan Eberle, they’re going to be looking hard for a player like … Jordan Eberle.

  • btrain

    Great response article to what Drew has stirred up in the media with his comments. Remenda is a coward and waited for the Eberle bashing trend to be well set in motion before he threw this cheap shot in. This guy is as biased and non-objective as they come. He doesn’t even have a playing career to speak of himself yet he feels he can comment on how an NHL player who scores 60pts a year approaches practice. He used his former coach status and role covering this team to add fuel to the fire despite not giving any concrete examples to back up his statements. Anyway, I think its ridiculous that this guy will be back to call Oilers games when he is willing to throw the players he covers night in night out under the bus. You expect a level of professionalism in that role and if you are going to be critical, you should at least give examples rather than emotionally driven and biased opinions.