Thursday, April 23, 2009


With no Oilers hockey to watch these days, I've been watching a bit of the playoffs. The game is on in the background, I couldn't care less about most of the teams. There are several things I want: Calgary, Montreal and Washington out in the first round. After that, I want everyone to lose. Yes, I am cheering against everyone.

Montreal got swept....I'm happy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Craig MacTavish is out!

Craig MacTavish has been relieved of his duties as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers. This was the right decision. It's time for a change for both sides and I wish MacT all the best. He couldn't get any more out of these players, was erratic all year long in his decision-making and did not have the respect of his team. Sure, the players are still just as culpable for the end result but you can't fire the entire team. Someone needs to be help accountable and today it is MacT. The team is better than their record this year and MacT just couldn't get them to play for him any longer.

You will be remembered for 2006!!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Fear and Loathing in Edmonton

Mactavish has two games left in the season and his Oilers coaching career comes to an end. He will find work elsewhere and that is fine. He is a good coach, not great, but good! His time in Edmonton is simply over, he made too many critical mistakes this year and did not handle his bench very well.

Back in October, MacT declared this team was good enough to compete for the division title. I think they were too but MacT put the pressure on this team and they were too scared all season long. The team was scared to make mistakes, scared from the drop of the puck and man did they grip their sticks tight all year long. This is on Craig's head.....he put too much pressure on this team. When a player had a bad game, he was in the pressbox (Nilsson and Penner in particular). When they played badly or maybe more accurately, when he perceived them to have played badly, he called them out publicly. The team was full of fear all year long.

It didn't help matters when it appeared certain players were off-limits to criticism. Moreau, Horcoff and Staios come to mind instantly. Other players were hammered for poor play, bad penalties, no intensity but MacT had his favorites and rarely, if ever, did he criticize their play. How do you explain to the rest of the team why Reddox or Moreau is playing with Hemsky? How is Strudwick on the ice in overtime or in the last minute of a game? You can't tell me this didn't cause a disconnect between some of the players and the coach. You can't treat the players with an uneven hand all year and have it not affect you. You can't coach a team that doesn't respect you!

The best example: MacT explains to the media several weeks ago that he has no explanation why the team won't shoot more. They go over it in practice all the time and in particular, they went over it that very morning. That night, they continue to not shoot when opportunities arise. A disconnect!

Another example is when Hemsky starts complaining about being made a checker, you know you're putting too much emphasis on the defensive side of the game. This is a player that never speaks out, so you know there are problems. During their last three games, MacT changed his game plan and started focusing more on the offensive part. Gagner, following the Vancouver game, gave a great interview to CBC where he explains the new system, how much he likes the new aggressive approach and how it's working better. It took MacT until game 78 to bring the system out. Oilers hockey has always been an aggressive, forechecking, skating hard type of system.....he forgot that this year.

MacT, you will always be remembered for 2006 but time is up! Good luck and good bye!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Coming to the end of the road....

Do the Oil still have a chance? The fan in me hopes they do, and they do if they run the table on their remaining 5 games. But....will they? Can they?

Maybe MacT should try ask for a measurement on Thorton's stick tonight?

Anyways, check out this interesting article by John Mackinnon at the Journal regarding Mactavish's future and why firing him is not in the best interests of the Oilers. My favorite part of it:

"MacTavish is a first-class coach; the list of his betters is a short one, indeed."

He has 299 wins in 651 games (299-249-47-56 record, w-l-t-otl). He's made the playoffs in 3 of 8 (soon 9?) years and the only playoff rounds that were won were in 2006.

First class indeed! Not that many have better winning percentages, right?

No mention of any of his missteps this year, no mention of playing players out of position, no mention of stubborn treatment of certain players, no mention of mismanaging his goalies, no mention of certain veteran players that MacT played ad nauseum even though they were ineffective, no mention of any of that yet he brings up Penner specifically.

Enough! Penner is not the problem. He is more the solution than the problem. Put him back on the top line. The top line gets results when he plays there!

While I do think MacT is a smart hockey coach, he is certainly not one of the best out there and you can say he didn't have the bodies this year all you want but he thought he did at the start of the year. MacT stated they would compete for the division title. He believed the team was good enough. Sure, we'd all prefer that Lowe/Tambellini had provided another face-off man, signed only 2 goalies and had found a better shut down defenseman rather than Strudwick. But MacT had his voice in the decision-making. He played a big part of the past two years; make no mistake!

Back to tonight's game: to stand a chance, they need to kill some penalties (they went 25% against Anaheim, ouch) and score on the powerplay. AND, try not to be the dead walking in the second period. A full 60 minutes please!!