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Photo Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

Eberle reflects on his time in Edmonton

Jordan Eberle played seven seasons for the Edmonton Oilers.
He had whopping 125 teammates.
He laced up his skates with 45 different defencemen, 15 goalies and 65 forwards.
He had four head coaches, Tom Renney, Ralph Krueger and Dallas Eakins.
He had one interim head coach, Todd Nelson, and also Craig MacTavish for three games.
He had 10 assistant head coaches.

Eberle scored 165 goals and 382 points in 507 regular season games. He led the Oilers in EV goals, PP goals and was tied in game-winning goals, 22, with Taylor Hall over the last seven seasons.

He was traded to the New York Islanders on June 22nd, and Jason Strudwick and I caught up with Eberle to discuss his time in Edmonton and looked ahead to New York.

Jason Gregor: You’ve either read or heard your name in trade talks for a while. Did that make being traded less surprising or easier to accept?

Jordan Eberle: Um, you know what, it seems like the last three years for sure my name has come up in the mix. It’s been difficult to talk about it in the last year for sure. It’s been a hot topic when you talk to people in the streets. You never expect to get traded, you know that stuff is going on, but you’re never sure. You get the call, you’re obviously surprised, but once it settles in, it’s almost a relief that all of the talk is over and you can go back to your day-to-day life because no one is talking about it (laughs). When I say it’s a relief, I mean more about the rumour, not leaving Edmonton. But it settles in and I’m very excited.

Jason Strudwick: When you heard all of the rumours did it get inside your head or were you able to push it out and not worry about it?

Eberle: Playing in a Canadian market like Edmonton obviously there is a lot of media, social media has taken off over the last number of years, you try and push it out but ultimately it’s going to come back to you when you have to do media and what not. Someone is going to talk about it.

You think about it and you try to do the best that you can to not let it bother you, especially in the summer when you’re trying to enjoy your summer and you see all of the rumours. You try to maybe get away from the game a little bit, but it always comes back. It was hard to completely ignore it.

Gregor: Since you came into the NHL you’ve scored the 24th most goals in the entire league. Pretty productive. You talked about how this past season was a little bit of a down year for you offensively; twenty goals, fifty-one points which isn’t terrible for most players, but for a guy who’s averaged 26 goals per year, that’s considered a bit of a down year. When you look back on your season, you improved your play away from the puck and defensively, but struggled to score. Did that impact your offense? Was there a connection?

Eberle: I think you focus more about making the right decisions and you’re not cheating as much. That definitely is going to maybe take away a chance or two, but even at the start of the year I felt like I had a ton of chances. I just wasn’t capitalizing on them. A lot of posts had a little bit of bad puck luck. I don’t think it (better defensively) was why my totals were down. At points, I was overthinking things.

So, there’s always factors that key into all of it and for me, I still like to think I’m a finisher and I have a lot of good years ahead of me. Getting the chance for a new opportunity, new scenery and kind of a new chapter, I’m excited for that.

Gregor: You’ve been in the league seven years. You finally got your first taste of the playoffs. I know you were disappointed in how it went personally. The team winning is what matters most, but you wanted to produce more points. What do you feel you learned about your play in the postseason that you would like to improve on the next time your team gets in?

Well, the first thing was just getting that experience, understanding what type of game it is and just being there. I think more than anything you don’t have to answer those questions anymore about playing in a postseason game. I think that was a big thing coming into our run last year with the Oilers was how inexperienced we were. They don’t have to answer that question anymore.

So that first off is big. I think that obviously for me personally, obviously the goals didn’t go in and productivity wasn’t there, but I thought that we had a great first round and being able to play a defensive role, but I need to find ways to score more. As a guy, and being an Oiler fan growing up, and playing there for a long time it would have been very disappointing if I didn’t even get to play in the postseason as an Oiler. So it’s nice to have that.

GOING TO LONG ISLAND

Mar 5, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders head coach Doug Weight on his bench against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Strudwick: Have you had a chance to talk to new head coach Dougie Weight?

Eberle: I have yeah, and obviously being an Oilers fan I watched him a lot. I think you look at how the team did under him when he took over last year, they did very well. I know quite a few guys on the team. I’ve played with them whether it’s World Championships, World Juniors, whatever, even when I was a young kid. I know quite a few of the guys on the team. I’m excited for the travel for sure in the East, as you know Struds, it’s a little bit easier in the East than in the West. So that will be a bonus.

Strudwick: Oh, it’s so much easier. I mean you think about it, the Islanders are going to drive to MSG and you’re going to drive to New Jersey. That’s six road games that you don’t even have to get on a plane for. It’s going to be so much different for you.

Eberle: Obviously trades are part of the business and inevitable in hockey. It’s very rare that someone plays their whole career [on one team]. In Edmonton I think I was the last guy left from my first season. I’ve gone through a lot of teammates and talking to a lot of guys, a lot of guys come from the East. They talk about the travel and the benefits, you learn things like that. I hope I can take advantage of it.

Strudwick: Have you had a chance to reach out and talk to [John] Tavares?

Eberle: Yeah, you know what, the team has been great. As soon as the trade went in a lot of guys were shooting me texts and Johnny called me. Obviously knowing Johnny from, man, we played together probably when we were fifteen years old, to World Juniors, and a few World Championships together. Obviously he’s a leader of that team and a great player. So, to have him excited that I’m coming there, it means a lot. Not only that but they have a lot of good players and I’m excited to be a part of it.

Gregor: You mentioned you talked to Weight, I don’t know if he said, ‘I’m expecting to at least give you a shot on Tavares’ wing.’ Are you expecting to get a look there when the season begins?

Eberle: (Laughs) You know what, there’s definitely speculation, but for me right now my mindset is to have the best summer I can as far as trying to get my body ready for an 82-game schedule plus playoffs. I’d like to give a good team over there a good push, but my main focus will be to get my mindset and my body right to be ready for next season.

Gregor: When you say “get your body right”, what do you mean? Do you need to get faster, do you need to get stronger?

Eberle: There is no question on both, and I’m sure everyone is doing the same thing. You’re trying to get faster, trying to get stronger. The game is what it is, it’s grown as far as speed wise but you still have to play the right way and play smart. I like to think I’m reaching my prime right now and that I have a few years in there. I think the biggest thing is you have to look at how people are training now too. You want to train smart as far as keeping your body healthy so it’s going to be able to maintain an 82-game schedule and more. You obviously have to keep that in mind, but I think that there is always one thing you want to focus on specifically each summer. Speed is one thing for sure that I want to focus on this summer. I’m going to do a lot of skating and try to get myself ready.

TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE

Strudwick: Ebby let’s go back to your first year in the NHL, that was my last year in the NHL and I don’t blame you at all, my time to leave had come.

Eberle: (Laughs)

Strudwick: When you finally eclipsed me for the number of multi-goal seasons in the NHL, I believe I had four and I think you’re at seven, was that a significant milestone for you?

Eberle: (Laughs) Ah, you know what, it’s funny you say that because on my resume that’s one of the things that I wanted to get done right away as soon as you retired. I wanted to make sure that I surpassed you. I was very proud to do that. (Laughs)

Strudwick: Well congratulations buddy. Not everyone can do that in the NHL. You could almost double it this year if things go well.

Eberle: I definitely want to continue to build on your multi-goal season success.

Gregor: Well you’re still tied in playoff goals, so you’re going to have to try to beat Struds in that category next year.

Strudwick: I won’t be able to pass him. I wasn’t used properly.

Eberle: I think I’ve got the upper hand. (laughs) I don’t think Struddy is coming back.

Gregor: Now going back to your rookie season. Is it true Struddy had to buy your and Taylor Hall’s suits, and then you guys had to reimburse him because your Visa’s only had a $500 limit?

Eberle: It is funny how that story gets bigger every time he tells it. He builds something on it, but the true story is it was Taylor. Taylor’s card didn’t work or something like that. Mine worked. I was twenty years old. I knew how the world worked a little bit, (laughs) not as much as Struddy, but I definitely could pay for my own suits. (Laughs)

Strudwick: Well buddy, ok I didn’t want to bring it up, but you’re the one who brought it up. It was awkward and you asked the teller ‘do you accept some club cards? And you brought out a stack of Subway cards and were like ‘I had these in Regina, these are good in Saskatchewan.’ And unfortunately the guy didn’t get it. Now Ebby, you’re getting married this summer, congratulations. You’ve got a great fiancé, very lucky guy. As far as dancing? Is there protocol? I have some sweet moves.

Gregor: Please don’t let Struds pick the songs.

Eberle: I mean I don’t know if Studdy will know any of the music after 2000. Dancing, yeah, to be honest I haven’t’ seen your moves. You know what, that will be something I’m definitely going to look forward to; and your suit. Playing with you for a year, your style is not up to par that’s for sure. Your suit will be a talking piece I’m sure.

Gregor: In 2010/11, what was your first impression as you got to know Mr. Jason Strudwick?

Eberle: (Laughs) Well anyone who knows Struds, knows he’s a pretty big guy, so you’re intimidated right off of the bat but you get on the ice, you start skating with him and you’re not so much intimated anymore (laughs) because…

Strudwick: Do you want to know what’s funny, I don’t know if you remember this, but on the first day of training camp everyone was talking about Eberle and Hall. We’re doing this one-on-one drill. I start at the red line and go touch the blue line and take it back. I think the forwards had to go down and touch the top of the circle and go back, and I’m like ‘Ebby, I got you.’ I don’t even think I touched the blue line, he was already scoring on the other end. I was like ‘yeah, I think that this is the end.’ (Laughs)

Eberle: (Laughs)

Strudwick: I was like ‘I hope no one saw that.’

Eberle: You know what, from day one Struds has been awesome. He’s one of those teammates, and I think that a lot of guys can attest to it, he’s a character guy and a fun guy in the locker room. He made everyone feel involved and made the room great.

Gregor: You had a great start to your career. In your first game you score, what turned out to be the goal of the year on TSN, against the Calgary Flames and Oilers fans loved it. You had many highlight reel goals over your career and this past spring you finally made the playoffs. Is leaving a little easier now that you were able to experience the playoffs in Edmonton?

Eberle: Yeah, absolutely. Coming in my first year playing with guys like [Shawn] Horcoff, [Ales] Hemsky, and Ryan Smyth later on that’s the biggest thing they talked about; the ’06 playoffs. And me being an Oilers fan watching it you understood how passionate Oiler fans are and how great it was. Definitely awesome that I got a chance to experience that, and obviously with MacDavid at the helm, they’ve got a great team and the expectations have gone up for sure and I’m sure they’ll be able to meet them.

WRAP UP

I got the sense Eberle knew a trade was coming. As he said a player is never completely prepared for it, but it wasn’t a complete shock. For many years Eberle was one of the few bright lights in an otherwise dark time in Oilersnation. He was a damn good goal scorer, and while he had some weaknesses in his game, I’d much rather have a goal scorer with flaws than a checker with flaws.

The timing of his trade makes sense as the Oilers will be signing Connor McDavid (later today) and Leon Draisaitl to massive contracts. I won’t be surprised to see him score 25 goals, or more, in New York and over seven seasons I thought he was a pretty solid Edmonton Oilers on and off the ice.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

    • the reasonable person

      Lol, why trash this person for telling the truth? Ebs is a monumental disappointment unfortunately, based on raw talent/past success/reasonable expectations vs what he actually delivers. Good luck turning it around Lazy Ebs, though frankly why would he really care?

  • Dr. Merkwurdigliebe

    My favourite Eberle memory is that goal he scored against Calgary in his first game, I think? It was a thing of beauty.
    Eberle, like Hall before him, became expendable when he didn’t “click” with McDavid. He blew it. Sad!

  • Rob...

    It’s a shame that over the last couple of days Struds mentioned Yakupov and how often the play died on his stick, yet ignores Eberle having the same problem. Eberle’s numbers were inflated this season due to empty net goals and a hat trick against a bottom feeder. Take those away and his season wasn’t just below average, it was abysmal. Combined with Eberle’s ‘pre-trade’ quotes where he attributed some blame for his lower scoring on the request that he contribute defensively more, and I couldn’t be happier that he has been moved out for Strome and feel lucky we got that much for him.

    • Jason Gregor

      Eberle (2) had 10% of his goals into empty nets. So did McDavid (3).
      Eberle had 10 points against bottom feeders, Ari, Van, Col, and McDavid had 17.

      Are McDavid’s numbers inflated due to empty nets and weak teams? I don’t think so.

      Nothing wrong with disliking a player, but stating EN and scoring vs. weak teams inflates a player’s stats is often misleading. 19% of Eberle’s points were against those teams, while 17% of McDavid’s were. No one rips on McDavid for that, because they shouldn’t. Points are points over the course of an 82-game season.

      Eberle’s career numbers in Edmonton do not reflect a player who scored mainly against weak teams. Of his top-seven teams he scored most against includes Calgary, Chicago, Minnesota, San Jose and Nashville.

      • ConAir NicCagevid

        You get right out of here with your “stats” and “logic” “Jason Gregor” (if that’s your real name). Let the guy have his arbitrary hate on Eberle for those inflated stats against the bottom feeders. Are you trying to convince him McDavid is a bust, too? *sarcasm*

        Good interview though. Too bad he couldn’t keep up with the times in Edmonton, hopefully he can find success in Brooklyn, and I for one will not be spiteful if he does. We will be having our own success here in coming years that we won’t (shouldn’t) care if Ebs does well.

      • Randaman

        The fact that he played on a sh!t team that teams didn’t get up for inflated his and Halls numbers for years! FACT!! He was a good Oiler, not great by any means but good. I wish him well

        • btrain

          You can’t throw out some ridiculous theory and call it FACT!! This is your opinion which is based on horrible logic. If your logic was correct it would be more easy for players on bottom feeding teams to put up points and therefore we should regularly see players from crap teams sitting atop the NHL leader board for points. Justin Schultz should be worse as a Penguin according to your logic as he regularly faces other teams best effort as opposed to the B or C effort he faced as an Oiler. I would argue the opposite is true, that being on a better team makes it easier to put up points, but hey what do I know…….

          15 of the top 20 scorers this past season were on playoff teams. The 5 that were not were Shiefele, Kucherov, Wheeler, Seguin, and Hedman. Hard to argue that the teams they represent are not at least average, so no bottom dwellers here. Looking at the worst team in the league, we find their highest producing player (MacKinnon) falls to 81st place across the league. FYI MacKinnon had 2 more points than Eberle, while Eberle predominately played on the 2nd line and 2nd unit PP with the lowest minutes/game of his career.

      • Rob...

        McDavid had 6 game winning goals. Eberle had 0. Not that +/- is a great stat but +27 vs +3 on a winning team. Eberle had one more PP goal than McDavid, so that didn’t warp the +/- numbers. Comparing Eberle to McDavid would never permit Eberle, or most other players, from coming out looking good. It’s a straw man argument that doesn’t work.

        What I disliked this season is Eberle’s effort. His lack of goal hunger. This isn’t a question of talent, Eberle chose not to do the things that brought him success in the offensive zone and took the easy way out by blaming it on his coach asking him to back-check.

        I mentioned giving up the puck. Taylor Hall gave up the puck a lot, but he did it while trying to will his team to victory by driving the play. Eberle last season was giving up the puck because he didn’t want to go to the net and opposition knew it.

        • MrBung

          What I found curious is Drew Remenda’s comments on him recently given they specifically called him out on practice/effort. However, of more interest has been Ray Ferraro’s criticism of Eberle over the years. Other players from around the league commented on how Edmonton played different over the past couple years and the players were not “cheating” as much to get offence.

      • justDOit

        Let’s not forget that McDavid continued to score against the good teams and the mediocre teams. It might be easier to track the teams he didn’t score against, and then try to categorize them. Maybe he doesn’t score well against teams whose name begins with a vowel?

        And for the record, I don’t hate Ebs (not the least) – just cherry picked stats.

    • He did not contribute defensively either. Only NHL player I have ever seen that gave up possession because he saw a helmet. If Tavares gets in a scrum, he will be outnumbered as his right winger will be back at the bench tying his skate laces or outright hiding. Any defence of this player is laughable.

  • DarknessMyOldFriend

    Pretty cool that these ex-teammates have this strong bond between them. I forget sometimes (easy to when they make $$$) that they are just playing a game they love with a lot of their friends.

  • Explicit

    I hope ebs likes it on the island. He was a great pick for us and is a great player. Didn’t work out here, hope it works out for him with Tavares. Blame management this team sucked for so long. They’re still hiring their buddies and giving contracts to their kids and everyone’s still complaining about eberle.

  • tileguy

    I would of thought this had to be a harder interview then the Hall goodbye one. Taylor was the traded for a need, Eberle was traded under the guise of addition by subtraction, lots of softball questions.

  • smiliegirl15

    I am so sad Eberle is no longer an Oiler. He was still a big asset to the team; one bad year doesn’t mean the end of a career. He will do well under Weight – once an Oiler, always an Oiler. He will be in good company there. I wish him all the best and will still wear my Eberle Oilers jersey proudly.

  • Pugnasty

    Its now coming clear that ANY player that does not bring value to the team will be gonzo. Eberly, Pouilot and who’s next? I like that Chia will not tolerate a complete effort….this has been missing from the Oilers for a long time and if anything else, you can call this a complete culture change that has crept in over the last year and was not noticed by all.

  • Pouzar99

    Jordan Eberle had his limitations and he wasn’t going to the tough areas near the blue paint near enough this year, but I am not one of the haters, who do everything in their power to single out individual Oilers and try and drive them out of the city. We have lost an awful lot of good players that way, from Jason Arnott to Shawn Horcoff to Justin Schultz, etc. There is a recognizable line between rational criticism and crazed raving that too many people on this site who consider themselves hockey geniuses keep crossing. Eberle’s salary and the cap pressure we are facing made the trade for Strome inevitable but could the wild posters please turn the volume on their outrage meter down a long way. You are not helping the team and your criticism is usually way over the top. I expect to be slammed for saying this but somebody has to say it.

    • FISTO Siltanen

      Agreed.

      I look at sun belt teams that manage without any pressure from the fanbase and then look at Canadian teams where everyone has an opinion and see such a disparity in performance.

    • camdog

      I’m an outlier in that I always supported Arnott, Horcoff and Schultz and that I wanted to keep them on the Oilers. Eberle on the other hand, yes he was no longer going to the tough areas, he never did. But in his earlier days he didn’t need too because he could pick the corner. This season he just didn’t look like the same guy. As to cap considerations that’s not why they tried to move him last season, that’s just an excuse, they really didn’t want him on this team anymore. Reality is one of Eberle’s biggest haters was the coach. Drew Remenda’s comments about him not buying into the system were connected, they weren’t just some random thoughts.

  • Boom76

    Like Ebs the person. Screamed (at TV) at Eberle during playoffs. I even prophecized on here that he’d have a breakthrough night, but it never came. RNH the last of rebuild 2.0. I hope he has a breakthrough