Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Caggiula ‘more comfortable’ in Chicago after trade

Former Edmonton Oiler Drake Caggiula says he has found himself ‘more comfortable’ with the Chicago Blackhawks after a two and a half season stint with the Oilers.

Former Oilers website reporter Chris Westcott, now with the Blackhawks in a similar role, chatted with Caggiula following a practice Thursday.

“I feel a lot more comfortable right now than I did before,” Caggiula told Wescott.

“I think just the calmness of the organization and I feel like I have a comfortability with them just going back to my college days.”

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Caggiula, of course, was traded to Chicago on Dec. 29 after playing 156 games in an Oilers uniform in exchange for Brandon Manning. The North Dakota University player scored 49 points in his time in the blue and orange.

One thing is clear from the first set of quotes — there was a lack of comfort for him in Edmonton and not only that, but he begins to paint a picture of an organization that is chaotic.

He goes on to say that the Blackhawks were an organization that was coveting his services when he was a free agent. That was clear after a report from 670 The Score’s Jay Zawaki in 2016.

“The [Blackhawks] tried really hard to recruit me here and when they called me they reiterated over and over how they traded for me because of the player I am and they don’t want to change who I am as a player,” said Caggiula.

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“I think I was maybe walking on eggshells trying to please certain people and all that certain stuff. Now I’m forgetting all about that and just playing hockey again. I got a fresh start here in a new organization and I’m able to just come in with a clear mind and play hockey without having to think. That’s making it a lot easier for me.”

Caggiula saying he was looking to please certain persons in the OEG while feeling as if he was walking on eggshells are interesting comments and not necessarily a good look for the Edmonton Oilers. He could, too, be referring to the awkward time post-trade before he arrived in Chicago that forced him to practice with the Sherwood Park Crusaders.

The remainder of Wescott’s article talk about him joining the Blackhawks and how their head coach Jeremy Colliton likes Caggiula’s “energy and… really high compete level.”

Now, Caggiula was no darling in Edmonton. He certainly got the eye of analysts, fans and the team with his often streaky play.

Despite that, he began to come into his own in his third NHL season scoring seven goals and four assists in 29 games with Edmonton.

He reached a career-high in average time on ice, playing just over 14 minutes a game and posted some of his best analytic numbers of his career.

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Caggiula wasn’t a world burner in Edmonton, but as I wrote when the deal happened, I wasn’t (and still am not) a fan of the deal.

Beyond all of that, the comments made by Caggiula paint a bleak picture of the Edmonton Oilers organization — one that few seem to be high on anymore.

On Twitter: @zjlaing

  • vetinari

    Not only it is a bad deal for the Oilers, it is bad PR around the league. Caggiula now joins the legions of traded ex-Oilers (Souray, Horcoff, Gagner, etc.) who will describe the organization as chaotic and idiotic to potential UFAs and players on other teams… no wonder we overpay on contracts. I’m not saying the player’s comments are not justified– I’m saying that the organization needs to get its crap together and be a competent professional from Katz down.

    • Quoteright

      Your part of the problem too. Your smart but negative, pretty much sums up the whole fan base. I’m a forth tear fan. I can’t watch anymore. Hurts too much to see the unmotivated millionaires shrink under all the pressure in the rink provided by taxpayers. I still listen to all the games, and the atmosphere at every other rink is better then ours. It’s a game we pay too much for, and enjoy sooo little.
      As fans, we are part of the problem and the chaotic atmosphere. Read the other fan sites and our negative outlook is even easier to see.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    Um … so, Zach … I’ve read Westcott’s article like, four times now and I’m not sure I’m picking up on the level of criticism that you did. In fact, I might even go so far as to suggest you’re deliberately parsing Caggiula’s words.

    For example, you cite “Caggiula saying he was looking to please certain persons in the OEG while feeling as if he was walking on eggshells are interesting comments and not necessarily a good look for the Edmonton Oilers.”

    Um. OK. Where does he say that? Where does he mention the OEG, by name?

    Is this the statement that caused you to reach that conclusion: “I think I was maybe walking on eggshells trying to please certain people and all that certain stuff.”

    To your mind, are the “certain people and all that certain stuff” the OEG specifically? If so, I’d disagree. I read that as being the coaching staff, and quite likely the two head coaches he’s played for here this year.

    You’re obviously welcome to draw your own conclusion, of course. You’re the one writing for the blog site. But I’d suggest to you that it’s a reach. And I’d also suggest to you that if Caggiula got to a point where he was walking on eggshells around two coaches, including the current one, that might say more about the player than the coaches.

    Nor am I convinced that just because he had a level of discomfort on the team that you can necessarily say that the entire organization is “chaotic.” Caggiula is a nice guy and obviously an NHL player of some kind, but also one who struggled with consistency and really hadn’t found an identity yet. Secondary scorer? Energy guy? Agitator? What was he? I can imagine that things got “uncomfortable” for Caggiula because it probably took all of about two weeks worth of games for Hitch to reach that same conclusion himself.

    Players create their own discomfort with how they play … and how they don’t play. And like I said on the day he was brought on board, Hitch went to the Scotty Bowman School of Player Relations.

    Listen – I’m not saying I like the Caggiula trade more than anyone else. I didn’t. But I just don’t see enough quoted evidence from Westcott’s story that would lead me to believe your assertions. There ain’t enough there, there.

    Drake Caggiula is and was a fringe NHLer trying to find an identity and who struggled to do so in a market where he can’t exactly run and hide behind the Bulls, Bears, and 16 college teams in the sports section. The level of discomfort was of his own creation. I’m sorry to see him go, but his departure needn’t be evaluated and re-evaluated this much, or tied to some other alleged problems in the organization.

    • Rob...

      Do you think Petrovic wasn’t happy to move on to a new team and a fresh start. That doesn’t mean he hated his old organization. Welcome to the modern age of blurred lines between news, editorials, and each masquerading as the other.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Awesome Spaceman. We now live in an anonymous, sensational world. Where “likes” seem to mean more than integrity.
      Success in this industry is measured by the number of clicks, not anything at all to do with accurate, moral reporting. I guess we live with it & “read through the lines.”

    • Kool-Aid Man

      @ Spaceman Spiff

      Just so we’re on the same page, are you are justifying the Caggiula trade?

      I read the article and IMHO, the “certain things” Caggiula refers to is the culture in the locker room. The Oilers don’t exactly play like a team playing for one another.

      I understand your point that, Caggiula wasn’t doing what he needed to do to prove he was a valuable player. I’m not convinced that is solely on Caggiula. He was expected to perform beyond his ability, that’s on Charelli and management for not able to asses talent or nurture it. Manning and JP are perfect examples of both deficiencies.

      The narrative although negative on the Oilers behalf, it isn’t a hard one to follow. Plenty of reasons to back that up.

      • Spaceman Spiff

        Nope, in fact if you check the Hansard, you’ll see I mentioned that I didn’t particularly care for the trade. But now that a few days have passed, the best I can come up with is a “meh.” Caggiula was never going to move the needle for the Oilers and neither are the players they got for him (although I do wonder about that guy over in Europe).

        RE: “Culture in the locker room.” Hmm. That’s not a bad assertion. I’ve always been a big believer that the players themselves are the ones most responsible for a team’s fate – beyond the coaches and the executive. Generally speaking, when players under-achieve for fail to meet (reasonable) expectations, it’s their fault. Not the coaches. Not the GM. Not at this level, anyway.

        Caggiula was nurtured plenty. Oh was he ever nurtured. Never played in the AHL (or he did, it wasn’t much). Auditioned on the wing of two pretty darn good centres.

  • camdog

    The reason Drake came to Edmonton as a College Free Agent is the chaos in Edmonton allowed him to skip development in the AHL, because the Oilers have no depth. It worked for Justin Schultz as well. Tough for these kids to skip development and be promoted to big minutes so quickly.

  • Hemmercules

    Nothing new. If you aren’t McDavid, the media and fans will eat you alive in Edmonton any chance they get. Most players that leave have this immediate sense of relief it seems. Bad look for the team and Im sure every player on the team feels the same way Drake does, walking on eggshells.

  • Gary Chalmers

    This after Drake came out and said he was completely blind sided by the trade, this is just some pathetic bloggers attempt to throw shade at the Oilers, nice work Chris Wescott. The people, media in this city, guys like David Staples, hated Cagguila, mind you Staples also thought the Oilers played well last night, shows what the media knows. The only person that wanted the Manning trade was Chiarelli, I bet if Hitch was honest he would say he’d rather still have Cagguila.

    • Gary Chalmers

      And Zach Laing, why would you post this? So you can personally crap on the Oilers like everyone else does, you’re as bad as people like Staples, get a life or some new material.

      • jesse says yep

        This is the MO for oilersnation ever since the most of the writers left for different venues. The trolls have become the bloggers feeding the other trolls. This used to be a good site with quality info, not all being positive mind you, and now it is more about getting clicks by feeding negativity.

    • Kool-Aid Man

      Lol… and fans wonder why the Oilers cannot attract players or have to grossly overpay to entice them to sign. I wonder if Lucic is walking on eggshells all the time, too, I bet no.

  • Archie45

    This “Organization” is an easy University paper on how to implude a sports team at many levels…They are extremely fortunate to have such a large and passionate fan base.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Ironically “the large & passionate fanbase” is the whole problem…
      Why would any company change anything they are doing if they have such viable customers buying their product at above market value at all levels of the business? On the business side, if it works, don’t fix it. And the coffers are showing that what they are doing is working. Everyone is ecstatic, except the fans… Did anyone see McTavish on Hometown Hockey last week? His lack of concern for the “poor play & effort” from this team was disgusting. The full pockets of the franchise are masking the concerns of the fanbase. I hope it changes?

      • BobbyCanuck

        Preaching to the deaf, I have been saying this for years, but the Oiler faithful keep on selling out the barn. I call them the faithful, but my personal term for them is:
        1) Edmonton retards
        2) Retards with more money than brains
        3) Jock sniffer retards

  • Schmidt Head

    No doubt he is relieved to be outta here. Can you blame him? The Hawks are going through some tough times right now but I’ll bet they get back to respectability before we do.

  • JasonY

    Another stupid chia trade. Completely gutting this team of any depth. Thus forcing more players to play outside their roles. Example is Spooner. That guy is a minor leaguer. Gambardella should be in the minors. What a joke this whole organization is!

    • Schmidt Head

      And there’s definitely gotta be a reason why. One or two wouldn’t be worth considering but when it’s a consistent trend, you know there’s rot in an organization.

      • Gretzky and Ryan Smyth are about the only ones I recall that were sad to go, Gretzky gets hung on Peter Puck, the doorknob who let Ryan Smyth go still works for the Oilers , no wonder we cant attract good players. Would you come here if the 3 stooges are still employed?#FIRETHEMALL

  • Geez, you’d think he’d be thankful to the Oilers for his generous $1.5m two year contract despite his numbers and being allowed to play on the 1st line with McDavid for a stretch.

    That said, there is certainly a player here who hasn’t reached his potential and if the organization had any patience, we could have seen a more serviceable middle-six guy down the road. Instead we got Brandon Manning with more money, who doesn’t have the same potential.

    Here is Chiarelli’s work this season:

    Chiasson signed: BIG PASS but it was Gulutzan’s suggestion to bring him here
    Jerabek signed and waived: MEH
    Garrison signed: MEH
    Aberg waived: FAIL — could have got something for him
    Spooner for Strome: BIG FAIL
    2020 6th rd cond. for Wideman: PASS
    Petrovic for Wideman: PASS
    Manning + Norell for Caggiula + Garrison: BIG FAIL

  • Real Oiler Fan since 83

    There is nothing special about drake fricken Caggiula. He is a 15 point a year guy. His stats prove this. He has been a minus player his whole career and he is already -4 in Chicago with ZERO points. Drake you feel more comfortable in chi town because there isn’t 15 reporters in your face asking why you are still struggling with consistency. Chicago will also move on from you drake. I for one don’t miss him. He played fast and physical once every 5 games.

    • camdog

      He feels more comfortable playing in Chicago because they’ve given up on playoffs. They are in golf mode. If he was traded to Minnisota or Anaheim and he blew his coverage, he wouldn’t be comfortable.

  • Oilerup!

    Not sure what was said or how it was perceived by a reporters interpretation, in or out of context but….. We all know how scribes can and do twist things, or quote out of context!
    This franchise is in total disarray, and does require a mngmt level blow up if you will….. nothing changes until that changes….ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!!!

    • Soccer Steve

      Honestly, my first thought was a guy entering a calm US market from hotbed Canada, and not really the Oilers org, per se, having as much to do with it. But what do I know.

  • Is this even a shocker? Almost every ex-Oiler from Horcoff to Hemsky to Souray to Hejda to even Patty Maroon left the team with bad things to say. This franchise doesn’t understand anything about how to take care of players. Even when we made the playoffs 2 years ago top FAs and players still wouldn’t waive their NMC or sign here. These stories spread around the league fast, especially when you consider that many players have the same agent. It’s sad that this organization is soo unprofessional on and off the ice that players don’t even want touch us with a 5-foot pole even with the best player in the world.

  • Dark Knight Returns

    Any of you blame him?
    Chicago = awesome city, a true metropolis with all kinds of access to whatever is “your thing”.
    Blackhawks: not anymore but not too long ago, they were being touted as a dynasty…. well at least it’s more frequent lately that they make the playoffs than not.
    Toews, Kane , Debrincat, Keith, Seabrook, Crawford…. anybody thinks it’s not fun to play with that group?
    Original 6 team with a lot of history.

    Honestly…. who wouldn’t be thrilled to go there?
    Yeah, well. Edmonton has the mall, I get it. And the Oilers are bad but nobody cares.