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Time for a “One-Way in Nature” conversation?

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Brownlee
7 months ago
I remember having a conversation that was “one-way in nature” with my mom after I broke a window in our house playing street hockey in the driveway with a puck instead of the tennis ball she insisted I use. I was 12. I still haven’t forgotten that conversation. I’m guessing that many of you can relate.
So, I couldn’t help but smile when, after watching his team get outscored 20-3 in back-to-back games on the way to 11 straight losses and a 0-10-1 record, San Jose Sharks GM Mike Grier had a conversation with his players that he characterized as “one-way in nature.” The Sharks ended their skid with a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday. Coincidence?
The Edmonton Oilers are next up for the Sharks when they visit the SAP Center tonight after getting spanked 6-2 by the Canucks Monday — a loss that has them sitting at 2-8-1 and with a fan base that’s rightfully pissed off. When coach Jay Woodcroft was asked what response he wanted from his team after a skate at UBC, he characterized what he and his coaching staff expected as “well-meaning and forward-leaning.” 
Pardon? You’ve got to listen to the full interview for context, but what does “well-meaning and forward-leaning” even mean? I can understand that carving your players a new one isn’t a tactic a coach like Woodcroft or a general manager like Grier can use on a whim because players will tune it out if it’s done too often.
That said, the timing of Grier’s “one-way in nature” conversation behind closed doors played into the win over Philadelphia – I’m betting he didn’t even use the term “grounded forever.” We’ll see how the Oilers respond to Woodcroft’s softer sell tonight.

WHAT HE SAID

Nov 6, 2023; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) collides with Vancouver Canucks forward Pius Suter (24) in the third period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
“I just felt they needed to hear from me what I’m seeing and what I expect from them,” Grier told the San Jose Mercury News. “To let them know what’s happening was not acceptable from my end. There are certain things I won’t tolerate and some of that stuff has been happening, and I kind of let them know that. We’ll kind of go from there,
“If I don’t see what I want to see, we’ll be evaluating everything and looking at everything. I mean, this can’t go on for much longer. The fans deserve more. The owner has been supportive and backing me and the team forever . . . if the response isn’t there and I’m not seeing what I need to see, everything will be evaluated and I’m sure there’ll be some changes made.”
My sense is many Oilers’ fans feel Woodcroft doesn’t hold his players accountable often enough. I don’t know if that’s true or not because I don’t know what’s said behind closed doors. I don’t know how many one-way conversations take place and neither do you. What’s obvious is frustration grows as the losses mount.
“I think there is accountability within the room,” Connor McDavid told Mark Spector of Sportsnet in Vancouver. “Obviously, we’re not lighting guys up in front of fans or media, but within the group there’s lots of talk going on. All I can speak to is the players’ side of things. We’re having lots of conversations.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

Lots of talk. Lots of conversations. OK. We’ll see if that plays out any better against the Sharks tonight than it has through this 2-8-1 start to the season. 

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