Jordan Eberle says he ‘stepped out of my character’ during 2017 playoff run with the Oilers

Photo credit:Perry Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
Michael Mazzei
29 days ago
When you reach a big milestone in your career, it’s hard not to reflect on all of the previous accomplishments that got you to that point.
That is the exact scenario Jordan Eberle finds himself in as he is less than a month removed from playing in his 1000th career NHL game. Although rumours were suggesting Edmonton was interested in a reunion with the former 22nd overall pick of the 2008 NHL Draft, it never materialized as he ultimately inked an extension with the Kraken. So instead of reaching that milestone in the Blue and Orange, he did so with the Blue and Teal.
Although the second stint never materialized, it hasn’t stopped Eberle from thinking about his time with the Oilers as he spoke with Frank Seravalli earlier this week on an episode of Frankly Speaking.
Given that he is part of a Kraken team that is beginning to write its own history, Eberle was asked by Seravalli about which team he cheered for while growing up in Regina.
“My squad growing up was actually the Oilers, and I was lucky enough to play there obviously my first seven years,” he said. “I would say I know a lot of Oiler fans, I know a lot of Leafs fans. I mean there’s probably multiple, with those two for me are the biggest ones.”
Eberle was a fan favourite during his time in Edmonton because of his skillset, poised demeanour, and knack for coming up big in key moments. It’s safe to say that Oilers fans finding out that he was also a big fan of the team growing up is bound to make some more of them love him even more and long for his return up to northern Alberta.
Although Eberle was far from the reason why the Oilers struggled to get into the playoffs throughout the majority of his tenure with the team, they only managed to make the postseason once during his time in Edmonton which came during the 2016-17 season. Despite being one of the team’s highest scorers during the regular season, he struggled during that run with only two points in 13 games before the Ducks ousted them in the second round.
There was certainly some disappointment from fans that he was not able to provide a ton of offence in the postseason, especially given he proved he could elevate his game when the situation called for it. But few could have predicted that Eberle would soon be dealt over to the Islanders for Ryan Strome and would never again get a chance to redeem himself.
He was able to do exactly that during his next four playoff appearances with New York and Seattle, where he scored 45 points (19 goals and 26 assists) in 65 postseason games since that infamous trade. So when asked if he heard the narrative of him not being a playoff performer after his 2017 run, Eberle admitted that he did and that it bothered him.
I mean, it took me six years or seven years to get to the playoffs. I had been around obviously when the Oilers went through there run I believe it was in 2006. And I remember seeing the city of Edmonton and how it was and I played with a lot of guys who were on the team and that was like my biggest goal was just to get to the playoffs and experience that. We finally did and then I almost was overexcited I think I maybe stepped out of my character a little bit in the way that I was playing and running around trying to hit and  my game is all about thinking and skill and being poised.
I think it just took me a little bit of time to figure out how to play in the playoffs and then I knew when I got the opportunity in a Long Island I wasn’t gonna you know, take it for granted and I definitely wanted to prove some of that wrong. I mean playoffs is the best time to play, it’s all the chips are down. It’s a blast, that’s why you play.
Eberle went on to say that part of what helped him better adjust to playoff hockey was understanding the need to increase his competition level while staying true to his skill set. This helped him achieve more consistency in his offensive output in subsequent playoff runs and why his numbers post-Oilers are vastly better.
He recorded 16 hits during that 2017 run, which equates to 1.23 hits per game. By comparison, he has registered 65 in the four subsequent postseason runs which averages out to exactly a hit per game. While that slight decrease may not mean much at first glance, it is certainly telling that his offensive output saw improvements when focused less on being something he isn’t and stayed true to his game.
So perhaps that better explains why he only could muster up two assists in his debut playoff birth; he was trying to adjust to the style of the game given his lengthy wait to get a legitimate shot at the Cup and was too caught up in the moment. By no means does this excuse his lacklustre performance that year, but it provides some additional context into what was going through Eberle’s mind at the time and why it never quite worked out for him.
We’ll never truly know how he would have done in the time since his departure had the Oilers never traded him to Long Island, but it’s fair to wonder what could have been for Eberle in Edmonton had he been given another shot at a postseason run wearing the Blue and Orange.
You can listen to the full interaction between Seravalli and Eberle down below:

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