Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dan Barnes of the Edmonton Journal,
So the owner has said Craig MacTavish isn’t going anywhere.
That’s not exactly the way to quiet the growing Oilers crisis, it’s the underlying problem. He’s not likely going to the NHL playoffs. Neither is his team. Again. Many Oilers fans knew it even before their local heroes fought hard and lost 2-1 to the San Jose Sharks at Rexall Place on Thursday night, they don’t like it and they aren’t afraid to say as much during home games, on call-in radio shows and Internet message boards.
So far, they have not put their money where their mouths are rather than into Oilers tickets, and chances are the joint will be sold out again next year, with or without MacTavish behind the bench, with or without a playoff afterglow.
But the growing cacophony of discontent in fandom and the Edmonton media grew rather more hostile and centred on MacTavish Thursday afternoon and it prompted owner Daryl Katz to issue a cryptic, pre-game vote of confidence for his head coach, via text message to the team’s radio rights holder.
Update 2:46pm ET: From Mark Spector at Sportsnet.ca, more on Katz—
Well, the first full season under Katz is in the books in Oilerville, and some disturbing signs are beginning to emerge. Missing the playoffs is the least of the problems in Edmonton, as signs of a dysfunctional Oakland Raiders-like organization creep to the fore.
Moves like signing second-line centres to $7-million deals and backing coaches with cryptic text messages, all from a Howard Hughes-like owner who likes to manage his asset, but leaves others to speak to the fans who sell out his building every night.
The guy on the white horse is famously playing favourites, rumoured to be getting waaaay to close to a select few of his players, and has now left the impression that Craig MacTavish will continue as his head coach only because the two families like to spend time together.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Real or imagined, the belief this NHL season in the City of Champions was that Craig MacTavish’s future as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers depended upon his team making the playoffs.
The theory went something like this: The Oilers prize loyalty more than most organizations and MacTavish has, through thick and thin, been a loyal company man.
Bright, funny and schooled in the defensive aspects of hockey, he was the right man for most of his time on the job as the Oilers dealt with the challenges of operating in a financially-challenged small market. MacTavish’s tenure with the Oilers is one of the longest in the NHL, surpassed only by the Buffalo Sabres’ Lindy Ruff and the Nashville Predators’ Barry Trotz, two other NHL organizations that put stability first.
from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun,
Put tags on the Edmonton Oilers’ toes.
And put a noose around Craig MacTavish’s neck.
The 2008-09 Edmonton Oilers are deceased and MacTavish’s coaching career here likely ended at the same time he made a call in a stick measurement which will be remembered for years and years after all other details of last night’s 5-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks are long forgotten….
The measurement came after Dennis Grebeshkov and Zack Stortini had scored late third-period goals to get the Oilers back in it, MacTavish called for a stick measurement on Teemu Selanne. Instead of a power play, the Oilers ended up a man short when Teemu’s stick was judged legal.
“We had some what we thought was really good, reliable information,” said MacTavish, a stand-up guy right to what was probably his end in Edmonton.
“Visually it looked to be not even close. I was that sure, I made the call. Obviously it was a terrible mistake.
from JoAnne Ireland of the Edmonton Journal, “
We have to win tonight. That’s where we start,” said captain Ethan Moreau.
“The burden has to be shared by everybody,” coach Craig MacTavish said. “Everybody has to step up. A lot of times you go to great degrees trying to complicate it or explain it or rationalize it, but it’s very simple. We need everybody in here to play the game hard, play with intensity, and execute. Everybody has to add something.
“The canvas will be finished over these next six games. How is it going to frame us? We still have an opportunity to turn it around.”
more and watch the video as the Oilers ask for fan support…
from Dan Wood of Duck Blog,
The question now is whether the Ducks or the Edmonton Oilers have enough left in the tank to drive for the Stanley Cup playoffs over the season’s final seven games.
That task will be considerably more daunting for the Ducks in the wake of a wild Friday night rollercoaster ride that featured a franchise-record 54 shots on goal but resulted in a 5-3 loss to the Oilers at Honda Center….
“It’s a tough loss,” Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger said. “You’re going to feel it here for a little while, but when you leave the rink tonight you have to put it out of your mind and make sure we’re ready to come to the rink tomorrow to work and prepare for Colorado on Sunday.”
from Robet Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun,
You have to look far and wide to find a more damning loss than the one they pitched last night.
By the time the game was 30 minutes old you couldn’t tell which team was second last in the West and which team was fighting for its playoff life. The Desert Dogs looked like the playoff team and the Oilers looked like something a dog leaves behind on the neighbour’s lawn.
They’ve got eight games left and can’t afford to lose many more.
“We’re running out of defeats, that’s the problem,” said head coach Craig MacTavish, whose club lost for the third game in a row to fall into ninth place. “You don’t want to spend one here today.”
But they did.
from the CP via the Globe and Mail,
The Edmonton Oilers had the Detroit Red Wings on the ropes for two and a half periods, but their failure to deliver a knockout punch left them in a precarious position in the tight Western Conference playoff race….
“Those are the games that drive you to drink,” said Oilers forward Dustin Penner. “It doesn’t feel good. I’d say that feels worse than losing 10-2. Especially at this point of the season with the way we have been playing and who we were playing tonight. That one stings.”
Edmonton head coach Craig MacTavish admitted it was tough to take the loss when he felt his team had done so much right in the contest.
“A game like that leaves everybody with a heavy heart,” he said. “It’s an incredible sense of disappointment. But at the same time we played pretty well and in a lot of ways outstanding. The way we checked and killed penalties. It’s disappointing but we’ll take some solace in that.
“It’s going to be quite the nine-game stretch here down to the end.”
from Dan Barnes of the Edmonton Journal,
Ales Hemsky is a frustrated star struggling to reconcile the good of the team with what he sees as his diminished role in it….
“I’m just trying to do exactly what they want. I’m becoming a checker,” he said with obvious displeasure after Monday’s practice. “We’re just doing what we have to do to win games. I’m not complaining. It’s important to win the games. I just don’t feel as important as I did before when they were riding me. I don’t feel they use me as much as they did before. If they don’t give me the confidence or trust me, I will never be playing the way I was before, the way they want.
“I’m just saying I don’t care about points. I know I didn’t play my best hockey. I can be better and I know they will need me. But they have got to show me they need me. Ride me. It’s 10 games. I will feel important and I will get better every game.”
from David Staples of The Cult of Hockey,
The most excellent sources of Journal columnist Dan Barnes have told him the Oilers will make a go at Hossa this July, but we can only hope this effort is met with failure, or that it’s reconsidered. Even if Hossa wants top dollar, and even if did choose to sign in Edmonton, the Oilers would be committing salary cap suicide if they offered him $8 or $9 or $10 million a year.
Last summer, this pursuit of Hossa apparently took the focus off of the signing of Curtis Glencross, who could have been had for tens of thousands more, not hundreds of thousands, and certainly not millions. But Glencross was precisely the kind of small move the Oilers needed to make last summer. It wouldn’t have been a home-run signing, but it would have been a sharp double to right field.
There’s no quick fix in this modern NHL, no way for a bottom team to sign up that star player to a massive deal and challenge for the Cup, because the top player won’t make a salary sacrifice to play on a bottom or mid-level team. He will only do that, maybe, to play on the right Stanley Cup contender.
While on the Hossa subject, check out Eric Duhatschek’s story at the Globe and Mail on Marian and his time with Detroit.
from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune,
Their March swoon allowed the surging Vancouver Canucks to leap-frog the Hawks in the race for home-ice advantage. But with a game in hand, the Hawks had their chance to reclaim fourth Friday night with the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center, a team the Hawks had defeated three previous times this season.
But when things are going bad, it doesn’t matter who comes to town as the Hawks fell 5-4 in a shootout in a back-and-forth contest before a crowd of 22,151. The loss was the Hawks’ fifth consecutive and seventh out of their last eight games, but they did manage a point to pull even with the Canucks in the West with 12 games remaining.
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