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Photo Credit: © Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Ference talks Oilers on the 31 Thoughts podcast

Former Oilers captain, Andrew Ference, appeared on the latest episode of the 31 Thoughts podcast and spent a little bit of time talking about his time in Edmonton. As you can expect based on how bad the team was while he was here, some of what he said wasn’t overly complimentary but it was still interesting to listen to his perspective on what went wrong in his tenure with the team. Let’s break it down.

WHAT HAPPENED IN EDMONTON

I’m sure anyone reading this can remember how bad things were during Ference’s tenure in Edmonton and when asked about what went wrong, he pointed to the environment as a major cause of the problem.

I think there’s a combination of elements that go into it. I think that, like I said, that aspect of feeling more scared to make a mistake and be the whipping boy rather than being bold and taking your chances and having that confidence to try the play. I think some guys might get into that role of just being scared to be the whipping boy. I don’t know if that makes sense.

Ah, yes, we love a whipping boy in Edmonton, don’t we? Why is that? I don’t know, but it’s definitely something that we should look at. Anyway, please continue.

Your urge to win and be bold is less than your urge to not be the whipping boy or stand out, right. So I think that is one aspect. I think that the quickness that radio or newspaper or fans jump and attack their own guys is horrible. I think that the quickness to defend players within the organization… I remember Jeff Petry or Schultz getting raked over the coals and nobody coming to defend them, and then just trading them when their value – after they’ve beaten them down for months – then trading them. It’s like, ‘God.’

Man, trading guys at their worst value level is a real problem that hasn’t seemed to get any better since you left and it’s a real issue. And yeah, I definitely remember how salty people were with Justin Schultz but they were also sold lines of goods by the GM that inflated expectations well beyond what the media or fans did. Remember the Norris potential interview? I do. I also think it’s important to remember how the vibe changed around here in 2016-17 when the boys finally made it back to the playoffs. I don’t remember a whole lot of negativity going around then, was there? Andrew, I think you’d know just as well as anyone that winning erases all of that negative chatter, but when your favourite team has missed the playoffs for 10 straight years then I think it’s more than fair for the fans that continue buying tickets and merch to be pissed off.

We lost a lot of games and got scored on a ton but there is a narrative where it’s just easy to write about something and stick to it whether it’s a player or a concept or whatever it is. You stick to it and it’s fun to write negative things on it and I’m sure that people that call into the show have lots to talk about. It makes it easy. It’s an easy way to talk about a crappy situation.

Again, I agree that the coverage of the team has been harsh at times, I’m as guilty as anyone of doing that, but I also wonder what we’re supposed to do in those times? Are we supposed to let you piss in our ear and tell us it’s raining? I don’t know, man. That’s a tough one. Eventually, it’s hard to put lipstick on a pig and convince people we’re looking at Miranda Kerr.

THE PROBLEM

As any Oilers fan knows, there have been a lot of years where the team has been so bad that it’s tough to even wrap your head around it. When asked about the issues in Edmonton during his time here, he started pointing fingers at guys that were allegedly more interested in partying than playing.

I think the most frustrating part for me as a player, like I said, when I went in there straight from Boston where talk is cheap. Dallas Eakins is a fantastic coach that there’s another whipping boy that got dragged over the coals. He was a fantastic coach that was dealt just a pure crap hand in a team that would actually listen. You had a group of players that talked about how they wanted to make the playoffs and talked about how sick they were of losing; and then by game three, after losing 6-1, they’re straight out to the bar until 3 in the morning lighting up the nightlife scene in Edmonton. Like, come on – give me a break. It was to the point where it was ridiculous.

Yeah, but have you been clubbing in Edmonton? Straight fire, bro. Straight fire.

The lifestyle was way more important than playing the game and making the playoffs. But like I said, talk is cheap.

To me, this is a problem of handing over the franchise to a bunch of kids that weren’t ready for it, which points to management not having a proper plan in place. Yes, the guys you’re hinting at should have been more professional in their approach to being in the NHL but it was also up to the organization to have the pieces in place to show them how to do that, no? Where were the skilled vets? Where were the life coaches to teach 18 year olds how to handle what was happening to them?

Even in practice, you came from a group where you’re practicing against guys like Bergeron or Chara and you’re going at each other with in-game intensity. And that’s how you get better. That’s how you be a playoff contender. That’s how you be a champion. And you try to instill some of those values. We had other guys that had been on playoff teams, and they had the same frustrations. They’d come and practice hard and there’s a group of guys there that had ‘Too cool to try hard.’ They had derogatory terms for trying too hard in practice. That’s the culture, right.

I have a question, though. If you’re the captain and Dallas Eakins was such a great coach then why didn’t you guys step up and do something? I’m not talking about saying something, but actually doing something about it. I mean, if the boys aren’t practicing hard and making fun of those that do then what’s to stop the coach from benching them for a game or so? That’s a thing that happens sometimes, ya know? The coach is their boss after all. And I also know you said that the younger guys didn’t respect the role players as much so then why didn’t you, as the team’s captain, grab someone and shake em up a little bit? Where’s the intervention? I saw two Blues players fighting at practice today and maybe that’s what some of these youngsters needed.

You could’ve had any kind of defence or any kind of system but if you go out on a western swing and your guys are out every single night until five in the morning, you’re not going to win too many games.

Well, I can’t argue with that but I still think that those late nights should have been stopped before they turned into being acceptable. I mean, how many times did it happen and why wasn’t anyone healthy scratched because of it? To put it another way, if I let my dog Frank continuously piss in the house without teaching him to go outside then he’s going to keep doing it.

THE CULTURE

One thing we love to talk about in Edmonton is the culture of the hockey team and Ference dove into those waters head first.

I think over the years there have been attempts to disrupt the culture whether it was Eakins or me or Pronger — whoever it was — different people came in to disrupt.

Wait… you’re not going to start this off by comparing yourself to Pronger, are you? Sorry, that was rude of me. Go on.

But I know personally, it was really hard for me. You come in as an older guy, but far from being one of the better players on the team. So you can be a leader with experience, but I’m not a game changer. I’m like a number four or five defenceman. So your voice only goes so far with people that only respect how good your toe drag is and whether or not you’re out partying. So your voice doesn’t carry much weight with people that don’t put value on those aspects that I was bringing from Boston, or that Dallas was trying to instill in the team.

Again, you don’t seem to be accepting any responsibility for what happened and it seems more like you and Dallas were buddies more so than two guys with a player/coach relationship. There has to be more accountability than that. Earlier on, you talked about guys thinking it was dumb to practice hard and how they even had names for the nerds that did, but I highly doubt we’ll hear anything like that with Ken Hitchcock around. You think Hitch will let guys mail it in at practice without holding them accountable? No chance.

It wasn’t only frustrating but it pissed me off because it was a waste of years of your NHL career. You never get those back and you see a coach like Dallas get treated really unfairly. Was he perfect, no? He’d be the first to admit that he’d do some of those things differently but taking the blame for (everything)? What are you supposed to do with a culture like that?

Listen, I’m not going to doubt that there were problems in the room if you say there were but I also have questions. If Dallas Eakins was treated so unfairly in Edmonton then why hasn’t he been given another head coaching job in the NHL? Are the other 30 teams also unfair? I’m just asking.

ON LUCIC

Around these parts, Milan Lucic has been the topic of conversation for the better part of two seasons now and, being someone that knows him, Ference was asked about what he’s going through right now.

Well, he’s got as much pride as anybody. He absolutely loves being in the NHL. He loves playing an important role on a team. I see the same frustrations that I had too going to Edmonton about certain aspects of going there, especially coming from… when you’ve seen a dialled-in culture and team and how it’s operating and you go to something different, it can be extremely frustrating.

Yes, Andrew, but like you, Milan was brought in to help bring a winning mentality to a group that desperately needed it. When he signed, Looch talked about bringing some swagger back to the City of Champions and we all ate it up. Last season, there was no such thing as swagger. For me personally, I would be completely fine with the decline in his goal scoring so long as he’s out there destroying worlds and making the opposition poo themselves like he did last night against Calgary.

Being from Edmonton, and I grew up in Sherwood Park, I’ve seen it a million times. There’s always a sacrificial lamb on the team that just gets roasted by the radio guys and newspaper guys and then the fans just continue that on. I think he’s obviously taken that a bit, and you’ve always got the target on your back with the big contract. And he’d be the first to admit that he should be getting more points and scoring more goals. You get all of that. But it’s tough. It’s really tough to play there and to be the centre of so much negativity. I don’t care who you are. Negativity gets to you, and it usually doesn’t help you at all.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been harsh on Lucic over these past two seasons, mostly last year now that I’m thinking about it, but I don’t think things are all that bad for him with the media or fans right now. I was at the game last night and heard the crowd chanting his name after he got into that scrap with Peluso and after every big hit he threw. If you don’t get it, fans in Edmonton will get behind you if you’re playing like you care and that’s the difference from this season over last. This season, Lucic is going out and banging and crashing and doing the things he’s still able to do that help the team win even though he’s not scoring and that’s what needs to happen. That’s all we want. We want to watch a winning hockey team so do what you can to help them get there. In Lucic’s case, he’s doing that right now.

So it’s tough for him. I think it’s tough for any player transitioning from a really super-important role on a team to a secondary role on the ice. I think he’s still incredibly important in the room, and I think that’s probably – whenever I’ve talked to him – it’s goals and assists and sometimes your play can dip and change and sometimes it’s luck and sometimes you’re just kind of not playing so good. But you can always do the stuff in the room and create that culture and lead off the ice. You always have pretty much full control of that. That shouldn’t dip and ebb and fall off the map.

And this, right here, is exactly what I’m talking about. Even without the goal scoring, Lucic still can go out and create space for his teammates and patrol the ice like some kind of war machine. When he does that, everyone will have his back. It’s playing like you don’t care that Oilers fans have a problem with, and I don’t see that at all with Lucic this year.

It’s just that when you’ve had really successful seasons like he has (it can be hard). I don’t know what his top-line numbers are in his best years, but you’re not hitting those same numbers that you used to hit. You’re not getting the same playing time. You’re not scoring as many goals. Does that mean that you’re horrible? No. I guess people will automatically look at your contract and have expectations where you should be, and so they should, but I think it’s just some people might adjust their own personal expectations a little quicker than others, and just accept the fact that ‘I’m not going to be that 40-goal guy, 22-minute a night guy, so what can I do.

Getting older is a mother trucker, ya know? Unfortunately, sports can be a cruel business. Regardless of his cap hit, the bright side is that Milan Lucic is playing in a way that is helping his team win right now and that’s all anyone in Edmonton really cares about at this point. Play as hard as you can to help your team win hockey games and the noise goes away. Lucic is doing that right now with his new linemates and you’d be hardpressed to find too many people that have a problem with it. Yes, I’ve complained about the cap hit too but nothing is going to change it at this juncture so the best we can do is play the cards we have.

THE WRAP…

My first reaction to this interview is that nothing Ference said was all that surprising to me. I mean, the guy was here during the Eakins era and we all know how bad the Oilers were at that time, so I wasn’t exactly expecting him to throw out a ringing endorsement. That said, Ference definitely threw some heat at some of his former teammates and the way this organization was run at the time. Without naming names, Ference dropped all kinds of hints about who he thought was the issue in his time here *cough* toe drag *cough* and I always think it’s interesting to get a look behind the curtain and see what’s going on. Even so, I do think it’s a little bit weird to be firing poisonous arrows at your former team years after you leave without taking even an ounce of responsibility for anything that happened.

The reality is that playing in Edmonton is no harder than it is in any other Canadian market, but the very obvious difference is that this team has lost more than any of them. That’s why it bothers me when former players take shots at the media or fans for being negative when all they want is a winning hockey team to watch instead of one that gets dummied on the regular. Do you really think it’s fun to write about bad games and complain about how things are going for 10 years of my life? It’s not. If anything, Oilers fans deserve all kinds of credit for sticking with an organization that gave them nothing to cheer about outside of the draft lottery. Rather than looking at how the team is covered, maybe we should look a little harder at how it was put together in the first place because if you think Habs fans or Leafs fans would quietly watch 10 years of brutal hockey without complaining then you’ve lost your mind. Then again, what the hell do I know?

What do you guys think? Do you care?



  • Mangiant

    This article is a piece of garbage, and clearly demonstrates both the problem Ference is referring to, and a lack of awareness of what ‘being on a team’ really means.

    Poor work ethic like Hall isn’t just a choice – it’s who he is. The only reason he’s now ‘got it’ in NJ is that he’s now the one under pressure from the rest of the team. In general, people are scared of being called out, especially in a group where you’re the minority. Ever been bullied? If you have, you know this well. Maybe us bullied folks should have just stood up for ourselves and it’d all go away? Gimme a break.

    You constantly call out oilers mgmt baggedmilk – what sort of consequences do you propose would have turned Hall around here? Bench him unless he shows up ready? I can’t even imagine the nuclear levels of backlash people like you would have heaped onto everyone involved or even close to that decision. Heck, you’re still defending the prick. You and most of the media not only refused to believe anything negative about Hall that was said by the hundreds of people with first-hand knowledge of his behavior, but also downplay and fail to grasp the importance of having good team/locker room dynamics. Now you’ve changed your story because you’re forced to, but still blame everyone else. Guess what? Ference just called you out, maybe you should look in the mirror long and hard before you post this stuff.

    • dawgbone98

      I’d just like to point out that even with Hall “not getting it” and having a poor work ethic, the Oilers were a damn good team with him on the ice and a complete garbage fire when he wasn’t.

      So is that on him? Personally, I don’t care if he went out every night and didn’t come home until the sun rose… on the ice he did damn near everything he could to drag a terrible team along. If Ference can’t separate the stuff away from the rink from the stuff on the ice, he’s as dumb as a lot of the Oiler fans who put the blame on Hall.

      • Hakuna Mcdavid

        Hall wasn’t to blame, but he didn’t help. It’s a team sport, and you have to work as a team. If you don’t practice right, if you don’t set a good example for new players, if you don’t respect leadership or coaches, you effect the on ice product. Otherwise just scrap practice and see what happens, send everyone out partying. Or, maybe the guy getting paid millions of dollars to do his job not just 3 hours a night 4 nights a week should be a bit more professional. Especially when the team is constantly losing. Here’s some fun stats, in halls best year as an Oiler he was a -15. Take that as you will. But get this, he had 1 game winning goal. 1. 27 goals, 1 game winner. There is a difference between putting up points and competing. I’m doing your job for the team and the fans. Just get your head around that stat. 1 game winning goal

    • Gravis82

      Do you have any idea how bad this team would have been without Hall those years? And we were bad already. Why do we care about players personality and apparent work ethic etc etc. Produce on the ice, that what I want to see. Oh, so you are mean to other adults? Thats life.

      • Hakuna Mcdavid

        Ever played a team sport? It matters. Again, you’re payed for more that 3 hours a night of effort. Other stuff matters too. Without Hall? They would have had Seguin so who knows

      • Dr

        Did you just suggest we shouldn’t care about apparent work ethic? If the core of the team is making fun of their teammates for working hard in practice, that’s a huge issue. Practice is where good habits are formed and perpetuated.
        Being mean to other people may be your life, but it’s not everyone’s. Treating people, and teammates, with respect is a sign of a good, strong, character, not an immature bully.
        How can they play as a team when they make derogatory comments because someone is working hard? That boggles the mind.

        • fasteddy

          Taylor Hall is a fantastic a hockey player, but the first sign about his character for me was when he took Lowe’s #…..whether Lowe was public enemy number one or not at that point I just thought was classless move, especially given the guy was the GM or whichever title he had at that time.

  • MrOiler

    Anyone who pays attention knows what Ference said is true and all Soy Nation does is defend the harshness of the fans and deflects for the Party Boys because “hey man, we didn’t make the playoffs for so long”. This article is one long “yeah, but …”. The comments are ridiculous. Don’t you dare say anything bad about Hall or Ebs. It was Eakins and Ference … like they had any real pull over the first round wonder kids that Edmonton had pinned its hopes on. They weren’t committed. Hall said so himself last year now that he’s finally listening to the coaches.

    • Jon123

      You’re misrepresenting Hall’s words. Here’s the real quote:

      “Since coming here, John Hynes, he’s probably given me the most accountability than any coach I had in Edmonton,” Hall added on Tuesday. “That’s been really good for me personally. In Edmonton, I didn’t really want to talk to coaches. I didn’t want to go and have dialogue with coaches. I just wanted to play and a lot of guys are like that. I think, here, Hynsie, we talk about a lot of stuff. He listens to what I say. He’s been a good sounding board on a lot of things. I think he’s been a big reason why I’ve been able to have some success.”

      That tells me, it’s not black or white, Eakins’ fault alone, or Hall’s fault alone. The coach has a role in trying to get the player to buy in, and the player has a role in buying in. Debating who to blame is silly, there’s always two sides at fault in any disconnect.

      • Hakuna Mcdavid

        Just to muddy the waters a bit, Hall is actually on the record saying he thought Eakins was a good coach too. “He definitely has the room” Do you think he was being genuine or trying to insinuate the issue wasn’t his fault but that Eakins just wasn’t good at his job?

  • Etsypants

    Everyone blaming the organization for trading hall and ebs for magic beans so happens. So the useless turd collecting 300k a year in some p r job to throw his ex co workers under the bus to gain some brownie points with management and owner so he can keep collecting the pay check. You see this typical move in large companies all the time to save face

  • polsy

    “but they were also sold lines of goods by the GM that inflated expectations well beyond what the media or fans did. Remember the Norris potential interview?” So you had no choice but to attack the player for comments he didn’t make?

    “I’m as guilty as anyone of doing that, but I also wonder what we’re supposed to do in those times?” Act professionally, or failing that if you aren’t a professional – act with a sense of responsibility that your words have a large audience?

    “but I don’t think things are all that bad for him with the media or fans right now.” Noticing a pattern of “buts” immediately after a brief acknowledgement? That’s defensiveness, not accountability. Own your mistakes and improve, and definitely don’t act like you are in a position to tell someone to be accountable.

    “There has to be more accountability than that.” “without taking even an ounce of responsibility for anything that happened.” YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. I don’t know if this is best described as gutless, thoughtless, or completely tone deaf. Be better.

  • tkfisher

    Hall and Ebs acting like frat boys is their fault. ALLOWING THEM TO DO IT IS THE TEAMS FAULT. Management gutted the leadership of the this team before those two got here. Smyth should have been the captain but he was dealt because of poor relationships and poor contract negotiations. With a proper leadership group in place, (not that excuse for a captain). Any good captain would not have allowed that garbage to happen on his team. Talent be damned, it sounds like FERENCE, threw in the towel and didn’t step up to his role as a leader just as much Hall and Ebs didn’t step up. If you as a management and coaching staff allow young players to act that way, and gift them the team, that’s on you.

    • Hemmercules

      Well said. The team essentially owns these players once they sign those contracts, you have to control your assets a bit. Management handed them the keys and figured the cup was on its way. Management did little to guide them in their careers it seems.

      To Ference’s defence though, did anyone really expect these young millionaires too bow down to Ference and Eakins when they came it? The kids were already too far gone by then. Hall even said he didn’t care and didn’t listen at that point.

      Hall was a healthy scratch the other night in NJ. They are in last place. Hall is a great individual player but he will never be a team guy.

    • Dr

      Really? If the guys refuse to listen, what would you do? Be honest. What specific leadership tactics would you use to get through to stubborn underachievers? Does Ference control the actions of the other players? Does he have any control over their buy in, focus, or work ethic? What could he have done? What would you do? Old school days of threatening your teammate to conform are over. That’s not an answer.

    • Anton CP

      Ference was a bad choice for captain because of so many reasons:
      1) he was parachute in.
      2) he did not actually earn the job.
      3) he is not the best player that can lead by example.
      4) cares more about off-ice facade than on-ice performance.

      Here is the thing, even if Hall and Ebs are acted like couple of millionaire frat boys that wasn’t Ference the captain to correcting it?
      I’m just repeating the same thing I’ve said since the arrival of both Ference and Eakins. It has been almost 6 years ago but I still remember that time when Eakins was cowardly throwing Yakupov under the bus because he was unable to make everyone else buying into his scheme.

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    The comments about what a “good captain would do” (and achieve) appear naïve to me.

    The Blackhawks have one of the most respected captains in modern hockey history in Toews (Captain Serious), yet for 6 years he wasn’t able to get Patrick Kane to grow up and get in line with the club’s culture–some may remember the taxi cab incident (2009). There were many others. Not until Kane faced the rather humiliating and potentially life-changing event of rape and sexual assault allegations did he start to figure things out–in 2015. Facing years in jail can do that to a person. On their own, captains rarely can.

    Kane was contributing in big ways during the season and in the playoffs but he was a cancer for the culture of the team and there was next to nothing that the captain or the coach could do to change that. Was Toews or Q somehow responsible for not being able to “lead” Kane to a better outcome? I seriously doubt it. And Captain Serious was pretty much of equal billing and weight on the team, unlike Ference with Hall, et al.
    Good captains can do a lot, but they can’t change the minds and hearts of players who don’t want to be changed and who are successful according to the metrics that they’ve told matter most since they were 14 yr olds: points and wins and personal recognition. A similar post could be written about scores of young players in the league (and a lot of our favourites from the Oilers of the past), but I’d be really careful about putting it on the captain to turn a young man who lacks something in the moral compass department into a decent human being. That’s gotta come from within or through an existential threat–often both in combination. Patrick Kane faced that and in a different way so has Hall, Seguin and Evander Kane with their trades.
    Looking back, I’m sure Ference and the organization could probably have done more, but that doesn’t make them responsible for what happened.

  • Oil9744

    I do like how Ference says it how it was when he was here and how he points out obvious points about teammates going out all the time and not committing to effort and winning. It’s also true that as captain of the team he should have done more in the main leadership role, himself and Eakins, He does say that he tried to send a message across to the young guys but they didn’t care and I can totally see that with Hall, Ebs, Yakupov etc. Goes to show you why they got traded. I’m not saying they got the value back for them in the trades at all though cause they totally didn’t. That falls on the current managment we have now. How long will the Oilers players and fans have to be stuck with the same managment that has been failing for so many years? Lowe and Mac T still have a voice in that room just saying.

    • FISTO Siltanen

      I agree the optics around this team having Lowe, MacT and Howson in any management capacity absolutely stinks. If any of them had success elsewhere and wanted to finish out their careers in Edmonton fine. But they have never proven to be much of anything anywhere else they’ve been.

      Get rid of them.

    • Dr

      I would guess that the value of those players was limited. In the hockey world, word gets around. If those kids were partying too much, and didn’t have a good, team focused attitude, than would another GM being doing his job by paying a high price for them?

  • Towers-of-dub

    I don’t get the Pronger reference. The team he joined was solid enough with Smith, Smyth, Horc, Staios, Pisani. That doesn’t exactly scream out a team in need of a culture change.

    • AtlanticOil

      Solid point and really my only gripe with Ference’s comments.

      The Oilers had made the playoffs in 6 of 8 seasons prior to Pronger joining the team. That’s pretty far from a losing culture. The Decade of Darkness didn’t start until the year after and Ference came right in the middle of it. Not accurate at all to hang this on those teams.

  • hagar

    I always thought Hall and ebs werent the right kind of players. Sounds like it was common knowledge they had bad attitudes towards work ethic.

    That being said, why then was the best talent drafted in years, roomed up with Hall on arrival?

    If you are a coach or Gm, and you know Hall has a pisspoor attitude, why would you move the best thing you have going into that enviroment?

  • madjam

    Always felt it was a negative move to bring in a new captain , rather than passing it on to one of incumbents already on team . Results basically bore that out . Ference and Eakins were much alike and close , but it seemed to make a wedge between incumbent team members .

  • Rob...

    Amazing how the Canucks team banned video games on the road because their young, up and coming stars weren’t focused on hockey the way that they should have been. It’s almost as if good room leadership can have an impact on the youngsters and force better habits when necessary. I’d never want Eakins or Ference anywhere near a team that I wanted to succeed.

  • CMG30

    It’s always good to examine the past. If you fail to learn then you’re just going to repeat your mistakes. While I do take what Ference has to say with a grain of salt, I have seen too many games with the players mentally checked out. Hopefully Hitch can crack the whip.

    • Mangiant

      Right? What’s hilarious to me is that these writers just don’t get it: they’re the problem. They’re the negative site players talk about, they’re the site that creates whipping boys and influences the negative behaviour of many of the outspoken fans.

      Hell, they’ve even started calling out players in the article _headlines_, you don’t even need to read the article to feel the negative attitude.

  • AtlanticOil

    Solid point and really my only gripe with Ference’s comments.

    The Oilers had made the playoffs in 6 of 8 seasons prior to Pronger joining the team. That’s pretty far from a losing culture. The Decade of Darkness didn’t start until the year after and Ference came right in the middle of it. Not accurate at all to hang this on those teams.

    • IRONman

      Piss poor management. Collect 1st over all pick. Losing culture sours players. Hitchcock brings in positive mindset. Play for each other. Play as a team. Help each other up. 7 2 and 1 win record with the same players. Coaching counts. The Oilers are looking like a playoff team. Imagine 2 more seasons of this. Can’t wait for the playoffs !!!

  • puckle-head

    Some of this is a stretch. I don’t doubt there was a problematic party culture in Edmonton, and this certainly provides some context to the Hall trade. But it’s a huge stretch to blame the lack of intensity among the better players for all the losing as opposed to the lack of talent surrounding them. I don’t care how hard Taylor Hall practiced, he was never going to drag a roster with Anton Belov or Corey Potter playing prime roles into the playoffs.

    Where he is bang on, is how horrible the Edmonton fan base is about finding whipping boys. Horcoff, Gilbert, Petry, Shultz, Hall, Eberle, Eakins, Lucic, ect… It’s actually ridiculous and makes me ashamed of our fan base. They’re never right either. Every time the riled-up knuckle-draggers identify the “problem player,” the guy who will improve the team simply by virtue of leaving, the team NEVER improves after said player is driven out of town… with the one exception being after Hall was traded. And that proved to be a mirage driven by exceptional goal tending that Talbot has never been able to replicate. What’s worse, is the moron brigade is out for blood again, and I believe this time they will be targeting Leon Draisitl. It’s already happening with people phoning into radio stations calling him the “most overpayed player on the Oilers.” As though a 23 year old center with two 70 pt seasons and currently at 33 pts in 29 games is the problem with this team.

    • Dr

      Good points. That team didn’t have enough talent or skill, especially on the blue line. But, the players still have to buy in and be committed to professionalism. I know they were young, but no one was asking them to perform brain surgery or be mayor. They were asked to play hockey. They could’ve been more focused.
      I very much agree with your second point. This town has had scapegoats and whipping boys for as long as I can remember. People used to get on Coffey’s case because he lacked defensive focus. His nickname was Paul Cough-Up. Messier was criticized for being inconsistent. They’re both in the Hall of Fame, and deservedly so. I am also embarrassed by the vocal minority that beats up on the players. What drives me crazy is when someone criticizes the player over Twitter, then @’s the player, ensuring that the player reads the vitriol. It’s terrible.

  • cbk780

    Thankful that I got myself a subscription to The Athletic.

    If fellow Nation users are as sick of Baggedmilk’s schtick as I am, I suggest you do the same.

  • Johnny Utah

    Hall was the alpha in that dressing room and there are countless stories of him always being at the bars in Edm and acting like a jerk. Definitely could see how he’d spread a culture like that and can’t help but feel like that’s a partial reason we didn’t get more when he was traded.

    Players clearly didn’t respect Ference, and I put that on the organization as BM says for not bringing in more respected vets who were good influences. Love Whitney on the Spittin Chiclets podcast… he’s a hilarious guy, and seems like a great dude to hang out with, but that’s not the type of veteran leadership you need either. Chiarelli’s made a bunch of terrible moves as we all know, but I would give him credit here as I feel like he’s slowly been trying to address the culture and from all accounts, the team’s in a better state in that front.

    • hagar

      You cant just introduce someone to a group as someone to respect. Respect comes from the point he says hello in person, and on, not from what people say before you get there.

      You can set people up for respect, but it takes such a small amount of time to make your own feelings.

  • btrain

    Some decent points made but no respectable leader would spew such things, especially without eating a significant amount of the blame himself. I dont buy a lot of it. I cant imagine Ference and Eakins would have known much of what was going on cause nobody would have wanted them around or include them in the first place. Had they had the knowledge that guys were out until 5am etc, consequences would have been implemented.
    If he let lose a little himself and got to know the young guns on a more personal level instead of whining about them then and now, maybe things would have been a little different.

  • R U Kidding Me!

    -Eakins was a bad coach
    -Ference was a bad leader.
    -MacT was a bad GM
    -The wonder kids set a bad example

    Add all those together and you have a recipe for 30th place.

  • Coach Rick

    Andrew Ference loses me completely with his comments on Dallas E. come on pal dont trash the team that you couldnt play on. He made you captain and you were a terrible captain. You then trash every young oiler by not naming names. You then say Dallas was a great coach, wrong, but we now see he was your buddy. You’re a coward Ference name names or shut up. The Edmonton team, fans and management paid you 13 mil for nothing. So shut up you low life coward!

    Coach Rick

  • Director772

    What a BS article you cherry picked everything he said!!! You got the real dope from a former captain!!
    Make it fair, let him respond to what YOU said….see how that work out for you.