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!

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