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GDB Game Notes: Oilers @ Avs

Elmer Lach from Nokomis, Saskatchewan was the first Art Ross Trophy winner (NHL’s leading scorer) when he scored 61 points in 60 games in 1948. He’d scored 80 points in only 50 games three years earlier when he won the Hart Trophy as the league Most Valuable Player, but there was no Art Ross Trophy then. In the 70 NHL seasons where they’ve awarded the Art Ross only 28 different skaters have won the award. Twenty-two Canadians have won it, three from Sweden, two from Russia, one from the United States and one from Czechoslovakia. Jaromir Jagr, Patrick Kane, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Peter Forsberg, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin are the only non-Canadians to win it.

Mikko Rantanen is trying to become the first Finnish player to take home the hardware, and the 10th pick in the 2015 draft will not make it easy for Connor McDavid as he tries to win his third consecutive Art Ross.

1. Rantanen leads the NHL in assists, 36, and points with 48. He is on an eleven game point streak during which he’s scored 19 points. He has registered one point in 25 of the Avalanche’s 30 games thus far. He’s had two four-point games, picked up three points four times and nine times he’s picked up two points. Rantanen played nine games in the NHL at 18, but didn’t register a point and the Avalanche sent him to San Antonio in the American League. He ripped it up, producing 24 goals and 60 points in 52 games. Then he scored 20 goals and 38 points for the Avs at 19 years of age, and exploded for 29 goals and 84 points last season.

2. Rantanen is on pace for 131 points, which would be the third most among Finnish born players. It will be very difficult to maintain a 1.6 point-per-game pace, but if he manages to produce 52 points in his final 52 games he will join Jari Kurri (six times) and Teemu Selanne (four times) as the only Finnish born players to score 100 points. He has a very realistic chance to produce the most assists in a season by a Finn. He needs 33 assists to pass Selanne’s record of 68.

3. On December 12th last season McDavid had 35 points and he was six and seven points behind Tampa Bay linemates Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. But McDavid produced 73 points in his final 52 games to win the scoring title. Heading into tonight’s game McDavid is seven points behind Rantanen and four back of his linemate Nathan MacKinnon. The race is far from over, and with consecutive Art Ross trophies on his resume it would be foolish to count out McDavid. The race would become much easier for McDavid if the Oilers powerplay could get going.

4. Winning cures a lot of things, and despite the Oilers scoring seven goals against Minnesota on Friday, their lack of offence is still a concern. In the other nine games under Ken Hitchcock the Oilers have scored 17 goals. At this point, they will likely win most of their games by playing sound defensively with solid goaltending and having Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scoring. But at some point they need to rediscover their offence.

5. The powerplay hasn’t scored in five games, 0-for-17. McDavid hit a crossbar on Sunday, but the PP has once again become too predictable and stationary. McDavid’s speed scares opposing defenders, and when the Oilers PP has him standing still it plays into the hands of the penalty killers. The Oilers need quicker puck movement and more urgency on the man advantage. There is no doubt they have the skill, but over the past five games we’ve seen the same bad habits creep in. They haven’t had a lot of practice time recently, so they haven’t been working on it, but I won’t be surprised that on their next full practice there will be some time spent on refining the PP.

6. I sense many Oilers fans have become empathic towards Milan Lucic’s battle to score. In the 2018 calendar year he has 2-12-14 in 73 games. He has two goals on 103 shots. It has been a brutal stretch offensively for Lucic, but now I find some fans are rooting for him. Everyone knows the contract status, but his effort and physical presence has been noticeable most games this season. The past few games when Lucic touches the puck or goes in on the forecheck fans are chanting, “ Looooochh!”. It is at the point now where many just want to see him score a goal, somehow, some way. He is counting down the days until 2019 arrives. You have to think 2019 will be better for him offensively. It can’t be worse, can it?

7. Connor McDavid has 41 points. The Oilers have scored 81 goals, meaning he has been in on 50.6% of their offence. That is the highest percentage since Jaromir Jagr was in on 52.4% of the Pittsburgh Penguins offence in 1998/1999. He had 127 points and they scored 242 goals. Mario Lemieux had an amazing 199 points in 1989 and was in on 57.3% of the Penguins’ 347 goals. Even when, or maybe more accurately, if, the Oilers get some consistent secondary scoring in the future I expect McDavid to be involved in over 40% of the scoring. Great players do that.

8. Wayne Gretzky contributed to over 50% of the Oilers offence three times. In 1986 he was in on 50.4% (215 points) of their 426 goals. In 1982 he produced 212 points and was in on 50.8% of their 417 goals and in 1985 he was part of 51.8% (208 points) of the Oilers 401 goals. Over a five-year span between 1982-1986 Gretzky produced 1,036 points and was in on 49% of the Oilers 2,114 goals. They were a great team, with six future Hall of Fame players, and he was still in on almost 50% of their goals over a five-year span. Crazy.

9. Drake Caggiula and Tobias Rieder are on the road trip and will be practicing with the team. Both are hoping to play at some point on the road trip. For me, Valentin Zykov would be the first guy to come out of the lineup. I don’t think he skates well enough to be a factor right now. And then Ty Rattie would come out. I think he has played okay, but it is clear Hitchcock isn’t a big fan. When Caggiula and Rieder get back up to speed it will be interesting to see who plays with Nugent-Hopkins. I still think Chiasson is the best fit on his RW.

10. I read and listened to Andrew Ference’s interview on 31 thoughts. I agreed and disagreed with some things.

Agree:

  • Yes some people jump on the bandwagon to hammer on players, some of whom aren’t playing poorly, and often the vocal minority will rail on the wrong player.
  • The young Oilers didn’t know what it took to win. How would they? They came into a losing environment and never learned. Jason Strudwick said most players he’s seen don’t know how to be a pro their first few seasons. The smart ones eventually figure it out.
  • I have no doubt they partied. I’m sure they made some immature and wrong decisions. Most of them were 19-23 and still in the phase of life where you do dumb stuff. But I don’t buy that partying is why a team loses. Ask the 1980s Oilers or the Blackhawks between 2010-2015.
  • Oilers teams didn’t practice hard enough for years. I’ve seen it and wrote about it many times. I asked Eakins about his practices back then. I said I felt they weren’t intense. He replied they practised as hard as any team. Did the Captain express his frustration with practices then? If so, why did coach, when I gave him opportunity to address it say the practices were fine?
  • The organization still doesn’t do enough to protect their players publicly. This happened then and I believe it still does. Last year allowing the asinine Nurse/Draisaitl rumour to swirl for months, even though it didn’t happen, was ridiculous.

Disagree:

  • Fans and media are too hard on players. Sorry, not buying it. Fans have sold out the home rink every night, despite getting very little bang for their back for 12 years, and I think they showed great patience for most of it. One year the Oilers were in first place after 16 games. Fans were going crazy and loving it, but all their support didn’t stop the team from falling apart in the final 66 games. Fans have expected more from Lucic, but now are chanting his name in hopes of helping him score. Saying fans are reason for losing is deflecting away from real issues.
  • Eakins was a great coach and was scapegoated. I’m sorry, but he wasn’t ready to be an NHL coach. Some players didn’t know how to be a pro, and he didn’t know how to be an NHL coach. I suspect he knows more now, just like RNH, Hall and other young players are more mature now, and Eakins will be much different the next time he coaches in the NHL.
  • Ference’s comment about his coach illustrates to me he was closer to him than his teammates. As a captain, that isn’t how you create a winning environment. You have to find a way to connect with your players, and when he essentially tattled on them to the coach, about being out late, Eakins responded with 8 a.m. practices. Not the best way to build a winning culture. Did the captain communicate properly to the young players, or did he have a hard time adapting to young players after being a complementary player on a veteran-laden, Stanley Cup contending and winning team? I think every player, coach and management played a role in the losing.
  • I don’t discount the players partied at the inopportune time, but even if they had gone to bed regularly they might have won, what, five more games? That team simply wasn’t talented enough. They used 14 different D-men that season. Jeff Petry, Justin Schultz and Ference played 80, 74 and 71 games respectively. Nick Schultz (60), Anton Belov (57), Martin Marincin (44), Philip Larsen (30), Mark Fraser (23), Oscar Klefbom and Ladislav Smid (17), Corey Potter (16) while Denis Grebeshkov, Taylor Fedun and Brad Hunt played less than seven games each. A lack of talent, a lack of proven veterans, an inexperienced coach and a management team who built a flawed roster were the main reasons they finished with only 67 points.
  • Last season the Oilers, with the league’s most dynamic player, finished with 78 points. I’ve never heard anyone suggest McDavid isn’t professional in how he approaches the game, yet the team only had 78 points. Of course a winning mentality and professional attitude are keys to winning, but you need talent to compete. The 2010-2015 rosters were not good enough to win, and far too often they were filled with too many young players, who likely weren’t mature enough yet to play or act the right way all the time, and the rest of the roster was often filled by veterans whose best days were behind them. That is a losing combination. And like most teams who lose, when you keep losing it is very difficult to create a winning culture.

MONTH OF GIVING

Thank you to Curtis for his amazing bid of $19,500 on the amazing Full Acre package. Thanks to Ryan for donating it.

DAY SEVEN: Manny Viveiros coaches your child’s hockey team’s practice.

Todd McLellan started this a few years ago, and after he left Vivieros offered to keep it going. I love it.

  • Your son or daughter’s minor hockey team will have an hour practice at the community rink, or Rogers depending on availability, in January-March with Viveiros running the practice.
  • Viveiros will take the team on a tour of the Oilers coaches room and other facilities.
  • A signed Oilers jersey by every player on the team or a signed McDavid jersey.

You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today.

Thanks in advance. All proceeds will help out Santas Anonymous.

GAME NOTES BROUGHT TO YOU BY ATB FINANCIAL

From peewee to the pros, Albertans loves the atmosphere, energy, and life lessons that take place at rinks across the province. And where there’s an arena, you’ll find an ATB branch nearby—with our team members cheering and fundraising along with you. See more information at ATB.com.

Recently by Jason Gregor:


Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/11/2018 – 11:00 am MT



  • JudgeDredd

    short two holiday days and or i would have been there for the game tonight instead of getting there thursday 🙁

    need another solid effort from the boys tonight to keep the momentum going, should be an exciting game between these two teams with the players they have

  • 18% body fat

    Ference, another dinosaur of a Dman who’s style is not what you need in the NHL today. Another MacT D, just like Reinhart, Nikitin, Fraser, etc. Its funny most of them were acquired by overpaying in one form or the other.

    Boys club + Bad Management + lack of supporting skill + terrible asset management = star players having to go out drinking to keep from going crazy

  • Big Nuggets

    Fans have a right to be mad about the poor on ice product for so many years, but it can be misdirected at players which ends up being unfair to some of them. Even if the Hall clique partied too much management should have brought in some leaders to play meaningful minutes in games. There were multiple nught that the wagon line was our best line, which is sad, and it sprung from the fact they were the only real pro veterans on the team. I know sometimes intangibles like the ones Hendricks brings can be overstated in importance. The key is to reach a critical mass of guys ready to play hard every night. It’s especially important when you are bringing in young star players to play important roles. Hall came to town with a good attitude, I would gues the too much partying was largely due to being on a garbage team for so many years in a row. Often times getting straight up out muscled by the opposition. That was in fact the book on the Oilers at that time, just play them physically. Which resulted in giving up a roster spot to Steve McIntyre, but did little to stop the physicality in games. It was an obvious oversight at the time and possibly my biggest pet peave with management.

    • SSB1963

      Him being the Captain, he should have brought it to a head in a players only meeting or in practices. Never weasel out to the coaches, that is not how you bring leadership to a team.

  • Hemmercules

    Ference seemed to be pointing fingers at everyone else but its also hard to blame the guy for some of it. Maybe had he been there from the beginning it would have been different? Maybe not. I think those kids were too far gone by the time Eakins and Ference joined the Katz Circus.

    The blame for those bad teams should be spread around. Not a lot of good decisions going on from top to bottom during that time.

    I still think they wanted to get Hall away from McDavid as soon as possible. I wonder how Hall is doing these days? I heard he got healthy scratched the other night. Team is in last. I wonder if he’s pouting or leading that team right now?

      • Hemmercules

        Personally, If someone is dumb enough to hand me a few million dollars at the end of my career I’m all over that.

        Oilers management made retirement a lot nicer for quite a few players with their overpays to guys who likely would have been done in the NHL had the Oilers not picked up the phone.

        Ference should probably just keep his mouth shut. He was done as a leader and a player when he arrived in Edmonton. That said, who doesn’t like a little behind the scenes gossip now and then.

  • ed from edmonton

    Let me try that again.

    So Ferrence is basically saying the inmates were running the asylum. i.e. at least some of the untouchable young core knew their status and took full advantage of it. If they didn’t feel the need to practice that’s okay, if you play a game hungover, hey kids will be kids. Contrast this with Sather sending Messier (still just a young player trying to figure it out) to the minors when he missed a flight. It apparently took have taken Hall 6 losing years in Edmonton, one lost year in NJ and the embarrassment of his former team being better off without him to realize he needed to be better. Had he not been traded he may never had figured it out.
    The young stars of the Oil glory years all were quick to point out veteran players like Lee Fogolin were great role models for them to learn how to be professionals. Fogolin was a lot like Ferrance, a veteran Dman with less than average ability. But why did Fogolin seem to be able to have a positive influence whilst Ferrance could not? Was it the teacher or the students?
    One thing is certain, the Oil were better off in 16/17 without the still immature Hall. Until he got his head turned around he was a detriment to any team he was on, regardless of what his PPG looked like.
    PS. I don’t get Gregor’s rant about the Oil not having enough talent. Ferrance never discussed talent level or suggested the talent was there.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I understand being mad at the team and players for underperforming, but we do get pretty ridiculous with it. Draisaitl’s on pace for a career year, and multiple people here have slagged him for not smiling enough. McDavid rarely smiles either, but that’s fine?

    • Dark Knight Returns

      They’re pro athletes, performance shouldn’t be dictated by what fans say. Now we think we have an effect on Schultz schultzing around? On Eberle being the lazy bastard that he is?

      On Draisaitl, maybe he ran out of smiles as he was walking himself to the bank. If you don’t like being in the public eye don’t be a pro athlete: be an engineer, a lawyer, a doctor, an arquitect or an entrepreneur.

    • camdog

      Horcoff was our top centre on a Stanley Cup caliber team and a couple years later Mactavish traded him to get him away from the negativity among the fan base and star prima dona that thought he was above everybody in town. The Horcoff situation perfectly illustrates the problems of those years.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      It’s gotta be emotional exhausting to play here. I mean, McDavid’s been chirped by morons while out for dinner with his parents, but remember when the UFC came through Rogers, and the loudest cheer of the night came when they showed McDavid on the jumbotron? There was even an “MVP” chant to go along with it.

  • Ference was part of the problem, not part of the solution, and who better to negotiate with than I don’t have a clue Mac-T, Ference knew his ability to impact a game was over, but he took the money and term (and who would not?) because he negotiated with an idiot. Anyone who states “Eakins was a good coach” need his head examined. Eakins will not coach in the NHL again, and rightly so, but Katz made him a millionaire, pretty sure he wont starve.

  • ponokanocker

    Good on fans at the game for cheering for Lucic. Nice to see some positivity towards struggling players for a change. Lucic makes it easy for you to cheer for him too, going hard every shift and crushing guys when the opportunity presents itself.

  • Goaltender Interference

    Concerning the Art Ross race, McDavid has shown an incredible ability to find another gear in the last quarter of the season and put points on the board at a stunning pace. Anyone remember last year when Flames fans were bragging about how Johnny G was at the same totals as Connor right before McDavid hit the gas and left him in his dust? It was great.

    Rantanen better get a good lead-off on the points race. In the past two years nobody has shown the ability to keep up once Connor decides its time to run the board…

  • vetinari

    Ference did make some good points about age and maturity but I think it was a self-perpetuating cycle. Other teams over the last 10 years had quality veterans on reasonable contracts on the main roster with most of their kids sent to the AHL or CHL until about age 20-21 (Boston, Chicago, Anaheim, LA, Detroit)– this allowed the kids to learn the game and grow into men before giving them primary roles on the NHL team, and they also had to earn their way onto the roster. We, instead, slotted in every 1st rounder (Hall, RNH, Yakupov) or high profile signing (Schultz) onto the starting roster and expected them to act, practice and be men and professionals when they were not. McDavid is a big exception as he holds himself to a higher standard and carries himself as a professional at a young age. The organization is now only starting to develop draftees in a more appropriate manner and doing things like sending Bouchard back to the CHL and Yakamoto down to the AHL rather than hope they figure it out at the NHL level.

  • Still Hate the Flames

    2019 will not be better for Looch. Why would it be? What magical thing happens on Jan 1st that will change his performance? Is he going to make a resolution to score more goals? If he could do so, he would have already done so. This is Milan Lucic. Love him, leave him, chant his name or curse it, this is the player we have for the next few years.

  • GK1980

    When I hear fans want to jump ship and cheer for other teams I say good on them. As loyal as we all are to the Oilers it can get to the point where the losing starts to affect you actual love for the game and that’s a damn shame. 12 years of no postseason, (except for one fluke year) is hard for any die hard fan.

    Anyways, game tonight. Just win baby.

    • Still Hate the Flames

      I don’t know all the factors (there’s probably several) that lead to his relatively abrupt drop off. Players losing abilities and productivity over time, though, is the general trend as they advance in years, even if Looch is an outlier and more severe case (not as old as most, and a more rapid drop off than most), so him suddenly regaining those abilities, to me, seems very unlikely. He’s battling time/aging now, in addition to whatever other factors lead to the drop off. It’s no longer a “slump”. It’s not a nagging injury (that would have healed, or been operated on by now). For whatever reason he’s just not the offensive player he once was. After 74 games spanning 2 seasons, we’re no longer talking a small sample size, and expecting a turn around because the calendar says 2019 is folly, imo.

  • Big Cap

    Great article with alot of real good points. The PP has to get going and make a difference.

    However, I dont know if a blogger should tell an NHL player who’s the Captain of the team, with over 900+ games played and is a Stanley Cup winner how to create a winning culture in the dressing room.

  • Clyde Frog

    I have to say, being at the Wild game on Friday; the fans cheered the first few goals and it was fun, but the place went crazy when Kassian scored. There were high fives and a looong cheer, when Lucic hit the post the pre-emptive cheer was massive and the crowd around me was talking about how it’s coming and not what a garbage contract, etc…

    I think the fans genuinely want everyone to succeed and have a 100 point season and to a large extent get on players when they don’t see the winning OR effort. I think back to Penner and how he was ridden by the fans, but to a large extent it was related to his slow pace and lack of physicality that made it look like he was floating out there.

    So TLDR; if you aren’t producing but try hard and play a game where the fans can see it, I don’t feel we dump as hard on people. If you play a game that fans can’t appreciate the nuance to what you do, even if you try hard; you are at risk for their frustration.

  • Kepler62c

    Sorry, but I don’t think your rant about Ference was entirely necessary – it also highlights exactly what he was saying about the media jumping all over players with negativity here. Can’t you take a step back and realize that in part he’s talking about you (and many others)? Maybe you should have sat and thought on that for a couple days.

    Our fans are great, so is our media – but player after player has been scapegoated here and I don’t think any team in the league has more ex-players say negative things about their time here. That’s partly on management, coaches, and players — but also on the media and fans. I’d argue more on the media since they have the power to “stoke the fire” on negativity.

    • The voice of reason

      Spot on – the reaction actually almost sort of proves Ference‘s point, doesn‘t it. The media like to hold it against players if they commit the same mistake time and again; wouldn‘t harm to apply the same logic to your own activity.
      I am not saying that Jason Gregor is a bad writer, far from the truth, but some of the criticism of the Edmonton media is opportunistic at times and there is a noticeable difference with other places. Pretending it doesn‘t exist rather shows that it is likely to happen again. Oh well, let‘s do it again and enjoy the self-fulfilling prophecy unfolding as a result of it.
      Not cool.

      • Kepler62c

        I’d add that Jason’s example of the fans rooting for Looch is instead an example of the power of the media to “stoke the fire with fans” — while Jason said it was an example that Edmonton fans/media aren’t the problem, I’d say it shows what the media can do when it’s positive. Lately all of Oilers Nation and The Cult of Hockey have been giving Lucic glowing reviews (rightfully) for how he’s embraced his new role – that in turn leads to fans respecting and rooting for that player.

        Pat Maroon would be another example, fans loved him already, but the media jumped hard on the Maroon bandwagon and helped make him into this fan favourite that will be remembered (likely) for years.

  • hagar

    Those whatever they are doing statues look like they could use a pile of shiny balls to play with. Edmonton should prank colorado and send them ours as a gift.

    Go oilers!!

  • The Immortal

    Ference was a major part of the problem during his tenure here. On and off the ice apparently. Frankly his entitled veteran whining was a lot difficult to read. Glad he’s retired…now go away..

  • ed from edmonton

    Perhaps the most damning insight in the Ferrance pod cast is that the young stars not only didn’t think they needed to practice but mocked players who did. I wonder how many players, of border line NHL ability who knew the were a bad game away from going back to the AHL, career’s were set back because one of the “leaders” on the team mocked them for working too hard.

  • YFC Prez

    I havnt read the ferrence interview yet, I will soon. So I hope this isn’t out of context, but I wanted to respond to the parts about fans and media being too hard on players.

    Yes they make a lot of money to be in the public eye. Yes criticism is absolutely warranted when a consumer pays the kinds of prices that Rogers place currently charges. They are entitled to a voice. But…..

    Often times valid criticism turns into blanket negative stupidity. The current trend with Draisaitl here at the nation is a classic showing of history repeating itself. Some fans want to turn Draisaitl into a whipping boy, the cause of all the oilers scoring problems.

    That’s very present here at the nation. For ever comment I read like:
    “Draisaitl turns the puck over way too often, he needs to bail that down”- a valid comment on a players performance. I read 20 complaining about how slow he is, how he never smiles, how soft Draisaitl is, how the play dies on his stick, he pouts when he’s not playing with mcdavid.

    Most of the rederick on Draisaitl that I currently read on the nation is in all honestly a melting pot of absolute stupidity. Point out mistakes and problems, just don’t try and find negativity where in all honesty there is none.

    Last time I checked the man was on pace for over 90 points. He and mcdavid can be magic together. He can keep up with the play when mcdavid is on the ice, he can’t be as slow as some here like to say. And good grief the man isn’t soft.

    He definitely has elements to be improved on but when a part of a fan base turns a player like Draisaitl into a whipping boy it needs to be called out. We’re better than that.

    • Battman

      That’s one of the worst things. I don’t believe Draisaitl is slow. We’ve seen him for a few years now. The way he skates and how tall he is contributes to him looking slow by eye. Look at his breakaways. He may not be McDavid fast but he isn’t slow.

      With that being said, I think he is struggling a little bit. Perhaps he’s lost a little confidence since the start of the year, almost like he’s waiting for the oilers to fall like last year. Give it time and I expect that will change.

  • WHH

    Gregor thanks for this levelheaded analysis on Ferences 31 thought article. I feel it was well thought out and presented. A lot of hate on this site at times.

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    For purposes of focus, I’d prefer that the Ference part of this piece were not part of the GDB Game Day notes.
    Relevant or not (others can decide that), it’s got little to no bearing on what happens tonight and it’s already been addressed in the earlier post.
    One of the interesting thing about sports is that players are conditioned to “let things go” when it comes to a bad performance or game and they try to move on to focus on the now and the next. Fans, on the other hand, will often carry a decades old grudge to the grave. “Damn that Pocklington for Trading Gretz!” could be a Hallmark card that sells out every August in Edmonton.

      • Like why are we discussing irrelevant non contributors from years ago? If he had said the management group is a joke and they are the major part of the problem, he may have gained some sympathy. Him being buddies with Eakins (possibly the worst coach the NHL has ever seen) just lumps him in with the rest of the OBC, Full of hot air, arrogant, conceited , and unqualified for the job he was given. Just about fell off my chair when I read the term and money, but par for the course by then for the OBC, none of whom have yet been held accountable.

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Just for fun, Petry’s averaging over 20 mins a game; J. Schultz is at 20 mins a game (last two seasons, when not injured); and Marincin is at 17 mins/game over his career. Klefbom’s approaching 30 mins a game now. Clocking minutes like that suggests it’s not a talent issue but a development issue (and potentially an injury issue).
    I remember a few journos going on about how Russell was the worst D on the team a short few years ago and needed to be benched or traded immediately, I’d be hard pressed to find any of those articles written today. Does Russell have any more talent now than he did then?
    TL;DR it’s not the talent, it’s the management of the talent. However, Nurse might prove me wrong. Gord above, I hope that Hitch can sort him out.

  • nbandito

    This sounds like good material for some kind of 80’s style coming of age hockey movie. Maybe James Franco as Taylor Hall and Ben Affleck as Andrew Ference? Jack Black def in a cameo as Phil Kessel.
    You can reach me right here Mr. Katz.

  • btrain

    It’s kind of unique to get the perspective of a player in terms of what goes on behind the scenes etc. However, on the other hand, Ference’s willingness to throw others under the bus illustrate for me, that he was part of a larger leadership problem than I realized was present.
    Lets be honest, this team was simply not good enough to win and the vets wouldn’t have instilled a lot of confidence in the young guys who were gifted ice time ahead of them due to a global lack of depth. I can’t imagine many respectable leader in the NHL would provide such commentary, which is probably why its so unique to hear. I think a respectable leader is capable of leading and earning enough respect on and off the ice that the younger generation want to follow their example. When your captain is a player who has a good night when not impacting the game one way or the other, when he is anointed out of poor depth and being the teacher’s pet, and when he never genuinely questions his own contributions, you might have a leadership problem. As much as I respect the heart that Ference played with, the AHL is full of guys willing to work hard, fight, hit, get angry on the ice, call out their teammates, etc. His job as captain was to utilize his experience to lead the next generation and if he felt his teammates were the problem, he should look in the mirror instead of passing the buck.

    • ed from edmonton

      Maybe Ferrance wasn’t the right guy to lead the chosen ones. Sill doesn’t excuse their (the chosen ones) abhorrent attitude. I haven’t seen anyone supply any evidence that questions Ferrance’s assertion that the lack of professionalism was a problem.

  • Odanada

    Everybody has someone they’d like to get payback on.
    The thing is, most Canadians don’t publicly speak of it, We prefer a dignified silence followed by a satisfied smile when they get what’s coming to them.