RE 14-15 DALLAS EAKINS: NOT MY CROSS TO BEAR

Dallas Eakins came in hot, proceeded as he saw fit based on the plan given and was fired 10 days before the twelve tide—and the fire has finally faded many months after his exit. The record has been written into hockey’s ledger, the story of Eakins’ time in Edmonton has been chronicled for all-time. Question: Did the scribes get it right?

  1. Are you sure you want to do this? Yes. We’ve waited long enough and the conversation needs to be had eventually.
  2. What did he do well? On the day he was fired, Dallas Eakins’ Edmonton Oilers had a 5×5 Corsi for % of 50.9. History teaches us that, over time, good possession teams win more than they lose. There are always (famous) outliers but that’s a fact.
  3. Why didn’t Eakins 50% possession team win 50% of the games? Goaltending and curious moves made at the start of each season. I’ll include healthy scratches of Nail Yakupov and Jeff Petry, along with slowness in arriving at a final roster. I also have issues with roster construction, don’t know if that is tied to the GM, coach, or both men. The main issue for me with Dallas Eakins came because the balance problem was further irritated by a troubling lack of urgency on the part of the team management and coaches. Rookies in the front office, rookies behind the bench, rookies on the ice. Who knew?
  4. And? There are shots across the bow suggesting Eakins devoted so much to getting that possession number in the black it ceased to have meaning in the traditional sense of the word. I don’t believe that to be true but it’s out there so we should include it here. Have proof? Please post in comments section.
  5. You have issues with his firing?  I think we can absolutely cobble together a premise where Dallas Eakins was told by ownership and management that he had five years to build it. That was a commitment the Katz ownership abandoned at the end of 2014, as they gave up the project when the fan base became increasingly disenchanted and threatened to storm the palace gates.
  6. You have issues with his firing? I would like people to acknowledge that the Oilers, as coached by Dallas Eakins, had 50% possession while also employing exactly two NHL centers, a wobbly defense and the world’s craziest goaltending. Holy Christ, they were going in from the moon.
  7. Everyone agrees with that. I’m calling BS. I don’t believe that to be true and in my opinion we should be fair, open and lay blame where it belongs. Eakins? Yes. There’s more story here.
  8. Eakins had his issues. You bet, and I’m sure he’ll handle things differently when the next opportunity arises. I’m saying this: If you’re going to call out Dallas Eakins, and based on the record that’s fair, don’t stop there. The roster had no balance, the team was in no hurry and that was the case right up until they fired Eakins. It might have been an idea to grab a center and new goalie and give him the rest of the season.
  9. What were Eakins biggest errors? I think he was slow to get started in each training camp, cost him twice. I also think he had a longer view—again, supported by management—that impacted how he handled the roster. I think there’s evidence that he was too loyal in some cases—Fasth was the better goalie out of the gate fall 2014 and Andrew Ference was not helping in a difficult role but imo Eakins kept going to the well far too long.
  10. He lost the room. Can you point me to the quotes that tell us that?
  11. Everyone knows. Everyone knows, how? How does everyone know? Where is the evidence?
  12. Jordan Eberle! He said “I think maybe on the start of the year we were really focused on shooting the puck and Corsi numbers. When that starts creeping in your head, you’re just shooting the puck just to shoot it and you’re not trying to create the best opportunity you can.” Source
  13. Yeah, that’s pretty damning. Well, I think Eberle may have forgotten that he couldn’t lift the puck until Christmas. Hockey players, God love them, are trained from youth to adjust and Eberle’s recollection is likely genuine. I would suggest it also forgets his own health issues, among other things.
  14. The whole roster got better as soon as Eakins left. Not so, but there were players who were better, and of course they finally got a 2C when Eakins was flushed.
  15. Every player performed better under Nelson. Sunil Agnihotri had a good long look here, and found that Nail Yakupov and Eberle (now healthy) increased their 5×5 totals but the rest was a southbound train. Quoting Sunil: What’s surprising is the decrease in productivity for players like RNH, Pouliot, Gordon, Purcell and even Schultz. What’s troubling is the decrease in the possession numbers (Corsi For %) across the board. We are seeing that the team does struggle with possession in all score situations (whether they’re trailing, leading or the game is tied) under Nelson, while Eakins had something figured out when it comes to 5-on-5 play.”
  16. Eberle flourished because of Nelson. Eberle was absolutely dealing with injury when Eakins was coach, go back and look at the video. He couldn’t lift the puck for love nor money. The day before Todd Nelson went solo, Eberle’s boxcars were 35GP, 6-14-20. After that? 46GP, 18-25-43. It is absolutely impossible to ignore, unless you choose to do so.
  17. Eberle endorsed Nelson! Eberle: “The biggest thing I’m noticing is, we’re playing better as a team. We’re playing better as a five-man unit systematically. We’ve upped our tempo in practice a little bit and we’re playing more like that in games. Those two things – and we’re starting to enjoy coming into the locker room a bit more. A lot of that goes with winning, but it’s really a catalyst in helping you play better too.” Source
  18. See! All I see is a guy who is performing better and putting two things (Nelson’s arrival, scoring success) together, while forgetting he couldn’t lift the puck and missed a hundred chances earlier in the season because of it. The team itself—as shown by Sunil—folded like a cheap suit in terms of possession.
  19. You’re a mule. Go back and look at the video.
  20. Everybody says the Oilers were better in every area under Nelson!! Oh well, Sunil and I will chat amongst ourselves then.
  21. Nobody liked Eakins. I’m sure there were people who didn’t like him but that’s not really important. Seriously. I don’t care if people like the coach and you shouldn’t either. If you wish, I’ll get you a list of Hall-of-Fame coaches who were not loved by their players. It’s not a buddy relationship.
  22. What did the media say about Eakins at the end? Mark Spector: “Eakins was never ready for this job, and like his predecessors, has let the young players run amok, with leashes so long that the rank and file players simmer every time they suffer another minus on yet another egregious Taylor Hall giveaway.” Source
  23. And that offends you? Not at all. Mark Spector is closer to the team than I am, suspect that was the prevailing wisdom in at least some circles. I know Mark Spector well enough to say he didn’t make it up and I didn’t see a retraction.
  24. But you’re mad Spector didn’t mention MacT’s failings? Actually, if you read like article linked Spector does in fact point out the failings of the GM, specifically in regard to the goaltending.
  25. You can’t find anyone associated with Eakins’ Oilers who can say one nice thing about him. What about this?
  26. The media hated him. I think he was very blunt and that’s going to give media an opportunity to create stories around personality. Dallas Eakins, in many ways, became the story. That’s good if you’re winning, bad if you’re losing. Suspect we’ll see a more reserved coach in his next NHL city.
  27. So it’s everyone else’s fault. Never said that, not once. My point is that the Eakins firing came during a period where the expectation was a long rebuild and the script changed mid-stream. No one is going to die from this but let’s acknowledge the sequence of events and lay blame in all the places. And while we’re at it, let’s not make sweeping statements about this individual. It didn’t work out, he was relieved of his duties. He’s moved on, as have we, but let’s make sure we’re getting the story right for history. And if I may linger again, may I further point out that—incredibly—the men who paid with their jobs for sins real were not part of the inner circle of Oilers management. A bloodless coup, you might say, with some non-Oiler shrapnel the only issue. A quick note on the six o’clock news, enjoy your weekend folks!
  28. State your case again. Rookie GM hires rookie coach, tells him it’s a several year plan. Rookie coach, who is a straightforward, blunt type, starts as he means to go. He institutes plans and policies and structure based on both his own convictions and the input of management in regard to weaknesses on the team (one suspects there was a giant “get these damn kids to listen” portion of the “Oilers and You” booklet Eakins received upon his hiring).
  29. And then? Since there’s no real urgency, both training camps involve plodding decision making at the beginning and both teams leave the station badly lacking balance. I talk about this all the time because it’s a big deal. For instance, there’s a RH D problem in Edmonton right now and I think maybe a PK personnel problem and possibly a backup goalie problem. These are issues that Peter Chiarelli will have to address for Todd McLellan if the season starts and things are looking grim. Dammit man, since the earth began GMs have been getting help for the coach and Craig MacTavish didn’t do it at all in year two, just let the barge float out to sea. And then, and this is me writing the story, ownership comes over the top with a Bob Nicholson haymaker and says oust Eakins. MacT probably balks, saying ‘wait a minute here’ and the owner plays the game of ‘you show me your business card, I’ll show you mine’ and that’s all she wrote.
  30. What do you want? I want an acknowledgement that this organization remains flawed as it stands, and I offer you the current defense as evidence. There’s no way to sugar-coat this, none. Cody Franson signed his contract today, that snaps the rope and pierces the silence. No buy out, no Franson, no acknowledgement that wasting Connor McDavid’s rookie contract (and one-third of his entry level deal) on deals made for Nikita Nikitin and others go unpunished. How silly we can be, how old is thimblerig again?
  31. Why are you defending him? I waited all summer, man. I waited and I read and I didn’t see a thing. This is a conversation worth having, so I wrote about it.
  32. Maybe you’re just wrong about this. I invite the conversation, promise to be open and do value other opinions. Remember, I’m not saying Dallas Eakins’ firing was a mistake or ill-advised—the results were the results and that’s the business. I am troubled by the lack of accountability at higher levels after the forensics and the overall framing of the issue. Are we to believe it was all Dallas Eakins? I can’t believe we all feel this way. Or perhaps there’s more to come and I’m being impatient in this matter.
  33. Why this song? I hear it’s nice in San Diego this time of year.
  34. Will he coach in the NHL again? Probably. I’ll say yes. Eakins will have to post successful seasons and regain his reputation but the nature of sports suggests the reasons he was an attractive option for Edmonton will one day allow him another chance. John Muckler coached in the 1960’s. Things happen, people develop more skills and perhaps a different approach to some things.
  35. When will he coach again? Maybe he gets an expansion job.
  36. And Ben Scrivens! Sure. I bet Scrivens would play his heart out for the Las Vegas Roughriders. Maybe he gets them in the playoffs, final game of the year on a 65-save shutout.
  37. Against Edmonton! Man. That would kill a lot of people. Eyes would roll back and all the way around.
  38. Is this it for the 14-15 RE or are you gonna do a bloody Rocky Thompson post? Hmmm.
  39. It’s over, now. Yes. Rookie owner hires rookie GM who hires rookie coach. Who knew?
  40. Will MacT be a GM again? Yeah, pretty sure he has the long view. Otherwise he wouldn’t be at his current post.
  41. You were pretty hard on him and on Howson above. I suspect MacT had some tough nights last winter, Lowe too. It’s a credit to all of them I think, the depth of their friendship and their belief in the Oilers. In some ways, it’s inspiring. I just don’t think they were right for the role they coveted, or at the very least didn’t do the real work of preparation for the role. It cost a decade.
  42. How do you want to end this year’s RE? Maybe a quote from a movie.
  43. What movie? The Outlaw Josey Wales.
  44. Quote? I guess we all died a little in that damn war.

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123 Responses to "RE 14-15 DALLAS EAKINS: NOT MY CROSS TO BEAR"

  1. mujidog says:

    The teams that Dallas Eakins coached were incomplete. Those incomplete teams had an inexperienced and horrible head coach. I liked him when he was hired (I also liked Krueger..) but was also glad when he was fired.

  2. steveb12344 says:

    I havn’t even read this blog yet, and I’m already getting some popcorn ready for this thread.

  3. stephen sheps says:

    approx. 9 days ago during one of the AM threads, the idea of whether or not you should post this RE was hotly debated. I got into a poorly thought out pissing contest with Spoiler (I was being an ass and was rightly called out). That morning I suggested that I wanted to read this post, knowing that the conversation needed to be had and that you, LT, would be able to write the 14/15 Eakins RE post mortem with equal measures of decency, sanity and reason. Maybe the wounds still feel too fresh, and you’re quite right in suggesting that much more needs to be done (The Franson non-deal is a great example, though we certainly don’t know if the new boss tried to get it done during the 2nd buyout window – maybe he did), but this post reads almost exactly as I had hoped.

    Thank you LT, not for defending Dallas, but for trying to help the healing process of this wounded, sensitive and very weary community of fans. Summer is turning to fall up there I hear and with that season change brings on another year of hope (of course it’s still too hot down here in Chattanooga, but I’ve also been teaching for 4 weeks already so I haven’t been able to enjoy it). Thank you for keeping us all sane and giving us a place to talk about this team and game we love, even as the mistakes the team and the people who run it make turn us all into crazy people.

  4. FTO says:

    I have a buddy who’s bouncing from the AHL to NHL and back right now and due to my curiosity about the Eakins’ Oilers I asked him how much a coach actually matters for a teams success, I mean how much more important is it than roster makeup? Is it overhyped?

    He thought that having a good coach was huge just in the fact that everyone buys in to the system and plays harder for a guy they all like and believe in, I could see it being hard for a coach trying to come in for his first NHL gig and trying all this new stuff and getting on people’s nerves by being a little bit of a hard-ass maybe. That would suck playing for a guy you had no faith in.

    Maybe Eakins eventually gets it and can bring a room together in the future, watching games under his tenure was really strange, in a really painful sense. He’s a fantastic interview though.

    Side note I asked this at the end of the last post but anyone else heading down to Penticton? I’m flying out early tomorrow and I’m so damn pumped to see McDavid live!

  5. vangolf says:

    LT, a little sucking and blowing with the “have proof? post it in comment section attitude” and then going on to further the anecdotal narratives of extent of Eberle’s hand injury and management telling DE he had a 5 year plan. The question that the RE fails to tackle is: do you think DE over or under achieved with the roster given to him? Maybe this one should be called Relative Expectations.

  6. Магия 10 says:

    +1.

    “Rookie owner hires rookie GM who hires rookie coach. Who knew”

    TMac was mentioning the other day how unusual it was to come in at the same time as a new GM. That’s why, TMac.

    I take the view that Lowe’s shadow is gone from hockey ops and that Lowe offered that up before they brought Nicholson in. No idea whether MacT or Howson goes first, but the turnover in pro scouting, amateur scouting, and player development is going to claim one of them still. I’m OK with the delay on that given the new GM and new coach and new scouting.

  7. Bar_Qu says:

    The Oilers of the last decade have been able to magnify the flaws in any coach or player, ruining career paths of both. I didn’t like Eakins as a coach, but the fault for the last two years was not on him alone.

    And I like how you put it LT. The guys responsible got moved sideways into different jobs, rather than being shown the door. Not acceptable.

  8. Магия 10 says:

    Bar_Qu: And I like how you put it LT. The guys responsible got moved sideways into different jobs, rather than being shown the door. Not acceptable

    “Realizing the importance of the case, my men are rounding up twice the usual number of suspects”

  9. stevezie says:

    Well said.

    There are ample grounds for legitimate criticism but the commentary around Eakins and the ascent if Nelson were absurd.

  10. JD¡™ David O'Connor's Reel says:

    How many years does Dellow have to wait before he can write the best behind-the-scenes hockey book ever?

  11. mujidog says:

    JD¡™ David O’Connor’s Reel:
    How many years does Dellow have to wait before he can write the best behind-the-scenes hockey book ever?

    YES please.

  12. JD¡™ David O'Connor's Reel says:

    This will probably get lost in the coming waves of comments for the REakins piece, but here is Gzowski and Beddoes debating over-inflated player salaries, and who is the best hockey player in the world:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-0rHnnS7U8

  13. John Chambers says:

    stevezie:
    Well said.

    There are ample grounds for legitimate criticism but the commentary around Eakins and the ascent if Nelson were absurd.

    True, but when they strung together a few wins at the beginning of the new year and started enjoying the fresh set of rope under the new coach a lot of the angst from December started to wash away.

    It was all probably coincidental but Eakins had to leave in order for the team to psychologically bury the horror show leading up to the coaching change.

  14. kinger_OIL says:

    – The 50.1% Corsi as a defense of his record is like a Market Neutral Hedge Fund manager saying: “Hey, the market was down 10%, and I was only down 5. The unit holder doesn’t care: he hired the hedge fund to preserve his capital. Dallas didn’t coach his team to enough wins.

    – Great, great post for sure LT: I recall being one of the few posters on this blog right from the get go who didn’t like DE as a hire, questioning whether a coach viewed by players I knew as an “arrogant prick” was right for this team. I got killed for that is my recollection

    – I do concur with your findings: in his own words Dallas was sold a “bag of goods”: shortcomings as a rookie head coach notwithstanding.

  15. oliveoilers says:

    Hang on a sec. Eakins claimed he was ‘sold a bill of goods’.

    But what did he say to MacT in that interview for the assistant’s position for MacT to say “screw it, you’re our head coach”?

    Why are we doing a RE on a guy that was fired last year? Does Nelly get one?

    Godot, over to you….

  16. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Deftly handled, LT. Eakins deserves his share of the blame for sure, but so do a boatload of other folks / departments. To blame it all on any one factor — be it the coach, or GM, or the scouting staff, or the goaltending, or the defence, or the young bucks, or the vets, or the powerplay, or whatever — as some folks seem inclined, is to let the others off the hook to a degree. This team has 9 years of suck on its résumé for a multitude of reasons, Eakins being one of them but only one.

    He made plenty of rookie mistakes to be sure, but so did all the other rookies in coaching and management we’ve seen since forever. He was dealt a bad hand, played it poorly, and the stack disappeared quicker than expected. So it goes.

    Thanks for the history lesson, Now, onwards & upwards.

  17. RexLibris says:

    More than a dozen responses in and Hunter1909 hasn’t registered a shot yet?

    I hope he’s okay.

    Man, an Eakins RE/post-mortem…that’s, um, bold.

    For those of us (all of us?) excited about McLellan coming in this season let’s stop for a moment and remember how excited we were with Quinn and Renney, then the excitement about Renney taking over, the hype about Kruger when he was hired (Renney said he was ready to be a head coach), and the hoopla about Eakins becoming an innovative young coach with great ideas and a sharp mind.

    McLellan has a strong record and I have high expectations, but as the saying goes: fourteen times bitten, fifteenth time shy.

  18. Johnny says:

    RexLibris:
    More than a dozen responses in and Hunter1909 hasn’t registered a shot yet?

    I hope he’s okay.

    Man, an Eakins RE/post-mortem…that’s, um, bold.

    For those of us (all of us?) excited about McLellan coming in this season let’s stop for a moment and remember how excited we were with Quinn and Renney, then the excitement about Renney taking over, the hype about Kruger when he was hired (Renney said he was ready to be a head coach), and the hoopla about Eakins becoming an innovative young coach with great ideas and a sharp mind.

    McLellan has a strong record and I have high expectations, but as the saying goes: fourteen times bitten, fifteenth time shy.

    It hasn’t been the coaching… EXCEPT when it comes to Eakins

  19. book¡je says:

    The civility of the comments thus far is unnerving. It’s like a dam full of crazy is about to burst any second!

  20. sliderule says:

    If the justification for not firing Eakins is Corsi then Corsi is horseshit .

    In all the time i have watched hockey he was the most incompetent coach I have seen..

    He came into his first camp totally unprepared and proceeded to do what he did best talk without thinking and say he had a new wonder defence called the swarm.When assistant coaches like Smith said they had tried the wonder defence and it hadn’t worked , he had no answer.After a few games and the wonder defence wasn’t working he announced that the problem was that oiler players didn’t know defence and that this was a total surprise to him.Video must have been a new concept to him.

    He aligned himself with the workout nut Ference by naming him captain and proceeded to throw most of the young players under the bus.This was particularly true of Yakupov who he called out many times and culminated with his giving him the goats horns when he was run from behind and concussed ..This was too much for most fans an media and the criticism forced him to ease up.

    The Hall water bottle issue showed how little communication he had with the young guns .It was obvious that he had lost control of dressing room and the Twitter network erupted with former oiler employees pleading for something to be done.

    I am sorry Lt there is no defence for this incompetent.

  21. "Steve Smith" says:

    sliderule: In all the time i have watchedhockey he was the most incompetent coach I have seen..

    I suppose I can hardly blame you forgetting George Burnett – who among us wouldn’t choose to if we could?

  22. JD¡™ David O'Connor's Reel says:

    book¡je: It’s like a dam full of crazy is about to burst any second!

    Sounds like a good excuse to open a bottle of red.

  23. Kevin McCartney says:

    I find the ‘juked the stats’ argument endlessly interesting to ponder. I think I’m effectively alone in the blogosphere in thinking that systems can create specific, intended results that don’t follow regression logic. For the sociology nerds, you might consider me a critical realist in the face of a deeply positivist movement in ‘advanced stats’ development. I think eventually we’ll all start finding ways to move the conversation from the observed events to the mechanism(s) of the observable events. I think Eakins will be a case study in that.

    For now, I can only offer a humble opinion that a coach can and does choose how his/her team will appear when examined quantitatively. At the most basic level, they even talk about it with the press – some coaches emphasize scoring chances, others zone time, others possession in certain areas (“I thought we had the puck down low a lot”) and so forth. I think we often see the teeter-totter relationship of some of the stats we can easily access. The classic example is Toronto (bad possession, great shooting percentage until late in the season). Many people want to call that regression. But there are actors inside the system we’re measuring. It’s alive. So, in fact, we have to ponder the effect of scouting from the coaches and pro scouts (learning the system) and pattern recognition from the players (familiarity). Is it possible that the Toronto system (based, as it was, on a series of set play breakouts) is simply something that can be scouted, learned and counter-acted? I think that’s a much more compelling argument than unexplained variance in our models being re-named ‘luck’ for lack of a better statistical model.

    In the case of Eakins, I honestly think the SV% was at the other end of his possession experiment. Scrivens was bad, Fasth was bad. Accepted. But from the swarm through the centre-low overload set and into the second season with all its dumbfounding roster decisions, that team bled 5-alarm chances. Nikitin’s spinning lamp post impersonation, the Ference Trench of a defensive gap and Justin ‘Yips’ Schultz all contributed. But that’s what I mean about mechanisms – it’s a complex event and sometimes there are unintended consequences that are hard to trace.

    My personal belief (and I’m not a professional) is that the plan to get the puck back (in the words of Eakins) was actually to invite the puck into contestable areas. That is, the corners and behind the net. I’m suggesting that the team played an intentionally soft gap once the puck crossed the red line, with a pull toward the centre lane to encourage other teams to use the outside lanes to attack. Klefbom was the best defender because he’s the best transition skater and so could meet forwards in the planned areas. Fayne did okay because he’s good in those areas. Marincin, Petry, Schultz and Ference are not meant for that system. Eg. we know they asked MM to bulk up for better board play even though he has tremendous success controlling entries with a tighter gap because of his reach and skating. The intended consequences of that system are to isolate the attacker away from the net but give him a lane, making him less likely to shoot, less likely to ‘just put it on net’ even. Invite him into the corner to take it away without a shot on net. If you can win the puck on the first contest, other teams can’t set up the ‘heavy’ possession system so many are using in the western conference (which is designed to beat pressure points higher in the zone through a multi-player chip-and-chase puck support system). Of course, the unintended consequences are severe. If there isn’t back-pressure through the middle, the opponents have free-reign to cross at the top of the zone. If you lose the race to the corner or the battle that ensues, they have possession down low and have control low in the zone (which Jonathan Quick confirmed on Players Tribune are the ‘tough minutes’ as a goaltender because your legs get tired). In Scriven’s first full season as starter, he played with teams moving back and forth in front and behind him.

    I know the focus of the ‘juking’ investigation has been examining Oilers shot location to see if players were just ‘chucking it’. Some of the players stated in the aftermath that they were encouraged to get more shots on net and to shoot as a last resort instead of cycle or dump. But my argument is that the juking partly happened by not challenging other teams’ skaters. They could carry around the zone and develop higher quality scoring chances before releasing the puck.

    Given that the team is simply not good, they necessarily have to play a lot of defence. Under Eakins, I believe the Oilers didn’t force corsi events as under previous coaches, hoping to close out plays on the first engagement (which was deeper in the zone than typical for pro hockey). The unintended consequence of that were more goals against, exposing the gap in expectations and comfort/capability within the system and an artificially high share of the corsi events without the attendant zone time and set-zone scoring chances.

    In effect, I think Eakins shows us the important gap (that we all acknowledge but can’t yet resolve) present in a correlative relationship. Corsi is correlated with zone time and scoring chances and wins. But all are actually outcomes of planned and executed mechanisms. Thus, the correlation is present only so long as the mechanisms are aligned to create all four and not just one.

    There’s some realist quantitative reasoning along with some half-brained hockey analysis. Who says you can’t have fun on a Thursday night!?

  24. "Steve Smith" says:

    Things I learned while reading George Burnett’s Wikipedia article just now:

    1. There is an OHL team called the “Hamilton Bulldogs”.
    2. Fredericton (where I lived for three years) used to have an AHL team.

  25. sliderule says:

    "Steve Smith",

    George was not around long enough for me to judge but I don’t remember him putting the blame on individual players in front of media like Eakins did..

  26. stephen sheps says:

    "Steve Smith",

    well played. 1994-95 was a very bad year. Wasn’t there a veteran captain appointed by a rookie coach on that team too?

  27. "Steve Smith" says:

    sliderule:
    “Steve Smith”,

    George was not around long enough for me to judge but Idon’t remember him putting the blame on individual players in front of media like Eakins did..

    I don’t remember Shayne Corson publicly blaming the special team that he was not on like Ethan Moreau did, either – doesn’t make Corson the better captain.

  28. pts2pndr says:

    Dallas Eakins failed miserably as a leader which this team desperately needed. He threw his assistant coaches under the bus when his swarm defense didn’t, work. He parachuted Ference in as team captain. He never once took the blame for his mistakes. He put lLander on wavers to keep his assistants kid! We got a number of Ex Marlies that could not play in the NhL and I would assume that MacT did that on Eakins recommendation. The list of errors is long. I am not sure wth his skills he should ever get another NHL coaching position!

  29. Centre of attention says:

    I agree with LT that Eakins was given a flawed roster, and that impeded his ability to coach the team to more wins. I can also buy into the “myth” that the Hall cluster despised Eakins. It was pretty obvious Eberle was injured early if you want to single out players, but the entire team actually “tried” under Nelson more often then not. They also lost a lot of games where they “tried” because of a still-flawed roster. A couple observations, though;

    1. They had an extra gear in those close games under Nelson. Yes, they mailed it in for some games with Nelson, but they were fewer and further between. The “compete level” was at an all-season high.

    2.They lost possession more because Nelson was telling the players to play the “safe dump-in” card far more often. You can go watch the video, the team iced the puck A LOT more with Nelson, and that had to affect their possession stats negatively. The team did “buy-in” though because this system was easier. Things get hairy in the neutral zone? Just dump it in. This of coarse caused problems once other teams caught on, but for awhile the team looked “visually better”.

    To re-iterate, I DO NOT think Eakins was fully to blame for the shiza-show these last 2 years. I also think that the blame has to fall squarely on all parties, including some players, Eakins, as well as management.

    Nobody should be playing the “its all eakins fault” card. Thats cheap and petty and really annoying. I also don’t think the “all the players and coaches are innocent” shtick can fly either. Again, its just cheap and petty.

    Thanks for doing this LT, somebody had to open that can o’ worms. I think we will all be better for it, after the taste is washed out of our mouths with copious amounts of alcohol, that is.

  30. "Steve Smith" says:

    pts2pndr:
    Dallas Eakins failed miserably as a leader…

    Like Stéphane Dion!

  31. "Steve Smith" says:

    Centre of attention: Thanks for doing this LT, somebody had to open that can o’ worms. I think we will all be better for it…

    I intend to do my part to ensure otherwise.

  32. stephen sheps says:

    Kevin McCartney,

    while we use very different theoretical approaches, it’s nice to know there’s another sociologist on this blog 🙂

  33. Centre of attention says:

    Let it be known, that the fact that the Hall cluster didn’t jive with Eakins was not entirely Eakins fault. I’m sure the guy who hired Eakins knew that when he brought him in, there would be conflict. MacT just thought Eakins would win them over eventually. He was wrong.

    I totally agree with LT that the “you need to get these damn kids to listen” was a major hiccup and not entirely Eakins fault. Eakins was simply doing what the boss said.

    I will also say, that the “Nicholson Hay-maker” was a long time coming, thank Christ they won the lottery. Seriously. Can you imagine if we didn’t? The mind boggles.

  34. G Money says:

    An Eakins thread, eh?

    I’m waiting for Godot.

    (Sorry, had to be said)

  35. "Steve Smith" says:

    G Money,

    I don’t know if we can expect him this evening, but surely tomorrow.

  36. Cameron says:

    As someone outside of Oiler fandom, I can say that when I watched Eakins’ Oilers play I thought;

    – the goaltending was (way) overrated
    – the defense was a mess (and I believe that is still the case)
    – MacT not having a vet C instead of Draisaitl was a legit firing offence (especially with decent cheap vets available)
    – lots of skill on the wings, weak everywhere else
    – that Hall’s water bottle incident showed either a lack of maturity, or that he was actually trying to get Eakins fired. Either way, it didn’t look good.

    I never liked Eakins (he was an Oiler), but thought he was a smart guy gifted a turd apple of a roster and ordered to bake an edible pie.

    I hoped MacT would be your GM forever.

  37. "Steve Smith" says:

    Cameron: – the goaltending was (way) overrated

    Because it was rated as “very possibly the worst goaltending in league history”, when it should have been rated as “clearly the worst goaltending in league history”?

  38. Cameron says:

    “Steve Smith”: Because it was rated as “very possibly the worst goaltending in league history”, when it should have been rated as “clearly the worst goaltending in league history”?

    I recall a lot of Scrivens love round here, with a smattering of ‘Fasth is the real deal’.

  39. frjohnk says:

    A RE on Eakins?

    I think LT only did this tonight as he knows that Godot is nowhere near a computer.

    Or possibly has him locked in the basement

  40. Bag of Pucks says:

    Well let’s see.

    He overplayed Nuge to the edge of exhaustion
    He over played Ference past the edge of reason
    Turned Yak from Calder candidate to trade bait
    He received Perron as a potential leader and turned him into a malcontent
    Hall, Eberle, Schultz and Petry regressed under him
    He lobbied for ex Marlies who did nothing
    He killed the confidence of his goalies
    He admitted to not watching video of his personnel prior to his first training camp
    He thought millenials would respond to “carry water and chop wood”
    His PK and PP units consistently under performed
    The swarm was a thing
    Corsi gains are meaningless when its largely the result of additional shots from the periphery at the expense of going to the paint
    He denies hardworking Canadians free donuts
    He’s short with stupid hair
    If he’s not the MOST arrogant HC, he’s certainly in the conversation
    36W-63L-14OTL

    And most importantly, he got the job by willingly stabbing a professional peer in the back.

    For the last reason alone, I see no reason to defend him or try to more accurately parse blame/ accountability.

    History is written by the winners. Eakins didn’t win. World keeps spinning.

  41. "Steve Smith" says:

    Bag of Pucks: Corsi gains are meaningless when it equates to shooting from the periphery and avoiding the paint

    Except it demonstrably did not mean that.

  42. jonrmcleod says:

    “Steve Smith”,

    Fredericton (my hometown) actually had two AHL teams: the Fredericton Express (Quebec, Vancouver) and the Fredericton Canadians.

  43. steveb12344 says:

    “Steve Smith”: Because it was rated as “very possibly the worst goaltending in league history”, when it should have been rated as “clearly the worst goaltending in league history”?

    Bingo!

    Also The Fredericton Express was the farm team for both the Canucks, and the Canadiens simultaneously in the early 80’s. A lot of pretty good players blew through there at the tail ends of their careers. I saw them live a few times at The Aitken Centre. Good times!

  44. G Money says:

    Kevin McCartney,

    I defer to your knowledge of systems, and always enjoy your posts (post more often!), but I do have some quibbles with your narrative:

    1 – The popular ‘blame Eakins’ narrative for the bad goalering has been the abundance of dangerous chances given up. But the harsher reality is that the Oiler goalies were giving up absolutely killer softies, from day 1. And it didn’t change meaningfully when Nelson came on board.

    I think its stretching the logic pretty far to suggest that a system that gives up dangerous chances is the reason for goalies giving up soft goals, sometimes on the first shot. (I bet the Oiler goalies led the league in giving up a soft goal in the first five shots).

    In the Oilers painful first loss of the season, Scrivens gave up three soft goals (out of five, on 26 shots, vs the 2 the Oilers got in 40). Two were giveaways by Scrivens retrieving the puck and then passing to a Flame player in the slot. The third was on a zone entry by the Flames with a single player carrying the puck covered (well) by a single defenseman, forcing a shot from just inside the blueline. Which went in. That was the goahead goal, and the third straight softie, an absolute dagger to the heart of a team that had absolutely dominated to that point.

    So when you put your ‘sociology and adaptation’ hat on, I think you have to ask the question: what would have happened to this team, and their buy-in and ability to execute the system, if the goalies had played well from the get go instead of like shit from the get go?

    I suspect the results, our opinion of Eakins, and this RE would be fundamentally different.

    2 – Petry looked like the best defender from Day 1 to Day last, whether under Eakins or Nelson. Klefbom joined a bit later in the season, and didn’t look that good under Eakins (though that could certainly be “new to the NHL” jitters). He was one of the players that looked a lot better under Nelson. And unlike a lot of others, his stats were right in line (e.g. he put up 0.1 pts/g with Eakins and 0.4 with Nelson).

    3 – The many problems with the defense – and they were myriad, without a doubt – I also struggle to assign that to “system”.

    If Ference is battling for the puck in the corner, loses the battle because he’s too small, then gets walked out of the corner and can’t keep up because he’s too slow – is that system or is that player?

    Ditto Nikitin, who actually played OK a lot of the time – and then had gigantic brain cramps on a regular basis. Passes to the opposition, skating past the puck, just weird stuff. Player or system?

    Ditto Schultz, who wins a race to the puck on a dump-in, but gives it up because he shys away from the contact necessary to retrieve it and move. Then fails to stay with the player who just took the puck away from him.

    That’s a fundamental defensive maneuver you have to be able to execute against the dump and chase, regardless of system. Some Oilers couldn’t do that because of speed, Jultz refused to do it because (by appearance) wuss. Player or system?

    4 – And last point on the defense is that the most common and frustrating dysfunction for the team was the inability to get the puck out of the zone after possession had been gained. Just the sheer number of times they had ownership of the puck and clear possession (no opposition player within a dozen feet) and still managed to turn it over before clearing the zone was just mind boggling.

    It was a root cause of the endless cycles they gave up (though I thought the team was actually much better at breaking the cycle this year than the previous year).

    At least that one I can blame on system. But not coverage, but breakout system (a topic that rarely gets mentioned by the Eakins-is-evil crowd).

    That was one of the things that stood out about Klefbom for me. Once he had the puck, he was able to exit the zone far more often than the others. If he couldn’t pass it, he’d get on his horse and carry it out. Ditto Petry.

    So I’m not sure I can reconcile the idea that the defensive dysfunctions – especially for Ference and Nikitin – were systemic. They were most often (to my rheumy old eyes) failures to execute basic individual defensive coverages.

    On the defense, I blame Eakins for his teams inability to break out, but most of all I blame him for his horrendous roster decisions. Petry as your third pairing D? Brad Hunt (BRAD HUNT FFS) as your top pairing D to start the season?

    I buy your analysis that there were certainly unanticipated (bad) outcomes from the type of defensive coverage being practiced.

    But that roster. And those roster choices.

    Man.

  45. steveb12344 says:

    “Steve Smith”: Except it demonstrably did not mean that.

    How about this…

    Corsi gains are meaningless when you can go a full quarter season, with only one freakin win!

  46. Snowman says:

    I need to get this off my chest. It’s been driving me crazy. I’d like to preface this by saying I don’t think Ference is a useful everyday NHL D man.

    Ference being a fitness nut is not a bad thing… Its just not. I don’t understand why people use that against him. It actually doesn’t make sense.he was an undersized D who was picked 208th overall and played 900 NHL games. He obviously trains just fine off the ice. Hockey players need to be conditioned. Ference prefers to ride a bike in the summer instead of running on a treadmill or bag skating himself. Who cares? He’s physically strong and durable. He obviously attends to the strength part of his program very well. He’s old and lost a step. That has nothing to do with him being a fitness nut, In fact, his fitness probably delayed his decline.

    Get over it people. He’s a fit guy who likes fitnessy type things. That is not a bad thing.

    His hockey playing last year. Bad. His political/societal veiws? To each their own. His dedication to fitness? Good, Very good.

  47. "Steve Smith" says:

    jonrmcleod:
    “Steve Smith”,

    Fredericton (my hometown) actually had two AHL teams: the Fredericton Express (Quebec, Vancouver) and the Fredericton Canadians.

    And now they have a heck of a varsity team. Or at least they did last time I checked, which was admittedly a few years ago.

    Do you still live there? I was back in May for the first time since graduating – really nice town, though it was fashionable among my classmates to look down on it. I missed Alberta’s climate some days, granted, but since moving back here I miss Picaroons. Nowhere’s perfect.

  48. Магия 10 says:

    frjohnk:
    A RE on Eakins?

    I think LT only did this tonight as he knows that Godot is nowhere near a computer.

    Or possibly has him locked in the basement

    Hunter and. Godot no shows at the Eakopalypse?

  49. Bag of Pucks says:

    Магия 10: Hunter and. Godot no shows at the Eakopalypse?

    LT has challenged for “proof.” Takes all the fun out of character assassination.

  50. jonrmcleod says:

    "Steve Smith",

    No, I’m in Halifax now. Still get back there lots.

  51. Bag of Pucks says:

    Snowman:
    I need to get this off my chest. It’s been driving me crazy. I’d like to preface this by saying I don’t think Ference is a useful everyday NHL D man.

    Ference being a fitness nut is not a bad thing… Its just not. I don’t understand why people use that against him. It actually doesn’t make sense.he was an undersized D who was picked 208th overall and played 900 NHL games. He obviously trains just fine off the ice.Hockey players need to be conditioned. Ference prefers to ride a bike in the summer instead of running on a treadmill or bag skating himself. Who cares? He’s physically strong and durable. He obviously attends to the strength part of his program very well. He’s old and lost a step. That has nothing to do with him being a fitness nut, In fact, his fitness probably delayed his decline.

    Get over it people. He’s a fit guy who likes fitnessy type things. That is not a bad thing.

    His hockey playing last year. Bad. His political/societal veiws? To each their own. His dedication to fitness? Good, Very good.

    Where are you seeing it as an issue. Here? On Twitter?

    I haven’t seen a lot of criticism of his fitness lifestyle?

    Saw him speak at Ignite today and was struck by how small he is. Looked more like a CFL safety than an NHL Dman.

    Seems like a nice guy FWIW.

  52. G Money says:

    I’m converting my comment on the D this year vs last year from this mornings thread into a NerdAlert. Funny how some of the comments here on this thread are also echoing.

  53. G Money says:

    Snowman,

    I have no problem with Ference’s commitment to fitness. It is admirable, and part of why he’s able to play at this age.

    I do think his (and Eakins’) type of fitness might problematic, though.

    It has been well accepted in exercise physiology for a long time now that there is something called ‘specificity of training’.

    Long distance cycling does not have much carryover to the explosive sprint-based full-body demands of hockey.

    In fact, it might even be counterproductive.

    It’s a minor concern, but (based on what I saw on the ice when I first floated it halfway through Eakins’ first season, who is also a long-distance biking fanatic), might be a real one.

  54. Lowetide says:

    “Steve Smith”:
    G Money,

    I don’t know if we can expect him this evening, but surely tomorrow.

    Just want to recognize this as being outstanding.

  55. Bag of Pucks says:

    G Money:
    Snowman,

    I have no problem with Ference’s commitment to fitness.It is admirable, and part of why he’s able to play at this age.

    I do think his (and Eakins’) type of fitness might problematic, though.

    It has been well accepted in exercise physiology for a long time now that there is something called ‘specificity of training’.

    Long distance cycling does not have much carryover to the explosive sprint-based full-body demands of hockey.

    In fact, it might even be counterproductive.

    It’s a minor concern, but (based on what I saw on the ice when I first floated it halfway through Eakins’ first season, who is also a long-distance biking fanatic), might be a real one.

    I think this specificity argument is more relevant to strength training than cardio.

    Yes, if your training is not focused enough on quick twitch muscle response, that is sub-optimal training for hockey.

    But the absolute lynchpin of fitness training is the speed and capacity at which your body recovers oxygen following exertion. Ference’s dead leg training would definitely put him on the right path to an elite percentile for oxygen recovery.

    The guy is 36 years old, undersized and plays the most physically demanding position on the ice. He’s a freakin’ specimen, whether you like his game or not.

  56. John Chambers says:

    Kevin McCartney,

    Good insight, man.

    I agree that the Oilers would seem to concede the Territory Battle as you might call it in football. Caused them to play on their heels in the defensive zone and leave them tired for the ensuing counter-attacks.

    Compared to Rennie’s and Kruger’s Oilers they seemed to fail to execute on offensive attacks, and the powerplay was ineffective and tended to surrender plenty of short handed chances (and goals!).

    The most damning part of Eakins’ tenure IMO was simply the lack of confidence and stomach-churning apathy that seemed to engulf the team’s young core. Calling out a just-turned-20 Yak on the reg was upsetting, and it looked as if Hall and Eberle would’ve gladly accepted trades had MacT given in to pressure to make bold personnel moves. The coach wasn’t cool enough to alleviate the pressure and make them feel relaxed when things didn’t break their way.

    He’s not The Great Satan nor is he a magician and was fired at an appropriate time.

    I’m grateful for his tenure and MacT’s blunders because they have gifted us a great player, excellent coach, and deep meaningful change.

  57. Bootstrap Effexor says:

    I paged through What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite on my flight to the dog-eared, canyon-confluence campsite. DiSalvo digests with elan and pastiche, but doesn’t add much of himself to the conversation. I couldn’t even bring myself to page through the remainder on the flight home. Nevertheless, it’s actually quite informative and hardly a bad book.

    Your Brain: Capable of Greatness, Hard-wired for Survival

    Research con­ducted by a joint Amer­i­can and Ital­ian team of psy­chol­o­gists found that peo­ple with less need for “cog­ni­tive clo­sure” were typ­i­cally more cre­ative prob­lem solvers than their coun­ter­parts. In other words, those who are able to work past their brain’s appetite for certainty—its need to shut the clo­sure door to pre­serve stability—are more likely to engage chal­lenges from a broader vari­ety of van­tage points and take risks to over­come them.

    He also has this to say about our craving for agency:

    Seeking “agency” … refers to our desire for a responsible party for the good and bad events we and others experience. If something horrible happens and there is no apparent agent behind it, our brain will search for one regardless.

    Of course, if the author was cogitating instead of collecting, he might have commented on the implied cost of a false negative—failing to spot the mischief-maker behind the curtain when there really isa gremlin in the gaslight. We become so busy protecting our reputation as turnip-truck stalwarts that we’re precipitate to arraign a shifty breeze.

    I think what Eakins failed to appreciate coming into this job is that you can’t achieve much margin in the NHL by sheer force of will. Force of will is too uniformly exploited at the elite level of any profession.

    On the one hand he assumed that every player was fully leveled up on the basic X’s and O’s, on the other hand it seemed like he presumed that every player on the team could find another gear (or portion of a gear) in the off season simply by working harder.

    Boy did he have that the wrong way around.

    As for the rest, I thought he did a lot right. By the time he began correcting his initial mistakes, the snowball of sticky yellow suck was rolling, rolling, rolling.

    I think someday another NHL organization will come along and sell him a bill of goods. Maybe by then he’ll be mature enough to realize that a bill of goods is as good as it gets, and conduct himself accordingly.

    Otherwise I foresee more tumbling down.

  58. dustrock says:

    What would have happened if the Oilers won game 1 against the Flames? They had about 1.5 periods of completely dominant play and looked like a team I hadn’t seen in 10 years.

  59. Pouzar says:

    There is a common misconception that strength training doesn’t train the cardiovascular system. Weight lifting in slow controlled movements (to failure)does it in spades.

  60. godot10 says:

    Ding dong, the witch is dead!

    The only way to endure the dark night of the Oilers’ soul was to call it, call it pretty much first.

    The Anaheim Ducks were a potential Western Conference dynasty because they developed players better than anyone else. They are now effed.

    Dementors dement.

  61. Snowman says:

    G Money,

    I didn’t say anything about Eakins fitness. Ference clearly does the right things. If you don’t like Eakins program, fair enough. Ference obviously does what he has to be successful. I really don’t understand why anyone questions how he trains or uses his bike riding as an argument against him.

    I don’t agree with Eakins fitness regime necessarily but I don’t necessarily disagree with it either. I don’t know how hockey players train. So i can’t say he was right or wrong in his approach, I don’t know the program, I don’t know how hockey players ideally train.

    I do know that I ran cross country in university. My coach told me to put on weight and get stronger while running 15-25kms 6 days a week. I put on 15 pounds one offseason and got faster and more explosive. (I could dunk a basketball at 6’1”). So the idea that cardio and strength/weight and power gains are mutually exclusive is BS. I can say that because I lived it. There is literally not a more cardio intensive sport than running long distance and I put on significant weight and strength and increased my explosive power while running 125 kms a week over a three and a half month offseason. If you train properly you can have massive gains in all aspects of fitness at the same time. If you don’t train properly you can’t. Simple as that.

    Again, I don’t know Eakins program. I’m not an expert in hockey training. So I don’t know that Eakins was right or wrong in his fitness program (Hall didn’t like it so that probably means something) but to say he was asking them to do something impossible or detrimental by increasing cardio and getting stronger is simply a false narrative based on assumptions.

  62. JD¡™ David O'Connor's Reel says:

    godot10,

    Swarm 2.0 aka The Flock!

  63. AsiaOil says:

    I am on record – too many time to count – about how badly the whole MacT/Eakins experiment was going to turn out. Not going to go over that again except to say:

    I told you so and so did many others

    Eakins was a fool, his hiring was one of the most classless episodes in a recent team history full of debacles, and seeing both Eakins and MacT out the door came none too soon for the survival of the franchise. The fact that you can pull a number out of the hat to provide a contrary narrative says more about the the reliability of the number than about Eakins skill as a coach.

    I’m done on this topic as I’ve finally been given a reason (multiple in fact) to like this team again and don’t want to revisit the worst 2 years in Oiler history. Good riddance and MacT can follow him out the door as soon as possible.

  64. flyfish1168 says:

    I’m going to apology 1st for my rant. I say BS to to all the excuses why egg$hit (eakins) failed.

    1) Ralph had a inferior and unbalance line up. yet his teams win and against a stronger western conference team
    2) comes into the season with all this hype and yet not prepared by watching and knowing his players. Shameful for a professional
    3) No intestinal fortitude to punish every player equally. (Chicken $hit he was)
    4) His corsi looked good because the game was over after the 1st period. (Opposition has friends playing on our team and felt merciful)
    5) Inability to recognize talent, How many ex marlies came over to play for us and was junk. Yet the phlegms got the best player and for a 4th round pick.
    6) Opps didn’t realize the team didn’t know simple defense. So he blames the previous coaches for not teaching simple defense. eakins was not watching Switzerland coached by Ralph.
    7) throwing players under the bus. Yet the game was over before the play in question happened. I’ll remember eakins on that display of blame.
    8) Will eakins ever recognize he sucked and his system play was just as bad as him as coach.
    9) Toronto and eastern media hyped and MacT fell head over heels for a wannabe
    10) In reality eakins failed because of himself and that is the bottom line. Other coaches has won with less of a team. how many players have come out and said I don’t want to play for him. That is the tail of the tape when players don’t want to play for you. eakins created his own mess so no excuses.

    JMHO

  65. Bootstrap Effexor says:

    I was really looking for an image from South Parka, but Kenny’s orange parka seems to have mysterious protective powers at warding off avalanche and hypothermia. His parka doesn’t take it on the chin nearly as much as I expected.

    ———

    Today’s Google challenge: actually find a picture of a Dead Kennedy deceased.

    Difficulty rating: three Marylins.

  66. Kris11 says:

    Best thing about Eakins is you could say to him: “You, flock of seagulls” and he would answer.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sO-HB13DOUU

  67. commonfan14 says:

    I would like people to acknowledge that the Oilers, as coached by Dallas Eakins, had 50% possession while also employing exactly two NHL centers, a wobbly defense and the world’s craziest goaltending.

    I’ve yet to hear an explanation from anyone as to how this was accomplished, given the circumstances mentioned above.

    It seems reasonable that either (a) he was an amazing coach who somehow turned a terribly-constructed roster into a good team undone by bad goaltending, or (b) something weird was going on that nobody has quite figured out yet and they weren’t actually playing that well.

  68. Kmart99 says:

    As decent as the shot diff was at times, and as bad as the goalering was all the time…. It’s still hard to not think something else was wrong with that team.

    I know ..’It’s the goalie stupid’. My gut tells me :’It was MOSTLY the goalie, stupid.’

  69. JD¡™ David O'Connor's Reel says:

    Kmart99: My gut tells me :’It was MOSTLY the goalie, stupid.’

    Interesting. The only thing my gut says is, “Are you sure you want to eat that?”

  70. Frank the dog says:

    I hope you never waste another blog on that man again.

  71. Brad says:

    LT, not sure it’s fair for you to say both “Have proof? Please post in comments section” as well as “we were really focused on shooting the puck and Corsi numbers”.

    Is the second quote that you provide not the proof you ask for in the first? Surely Jordan Eberle (an actual player on the hockey team) saying so is just as valid (if not more valid) than the opinions of observers such as ourselves on items like Eberle’s never-mentioned-publicly hand injury. Either consider anecdotes or do not, but it is unreasonable to state the hand injury as fact while also brushing off Eberle’s comments about playing for corsi.

    That being said, I think you hit the nail on the head in regards to what the root problem was and always has been (and still is), the roster. MacT gave him two centres and mud (Eakins sure was a good quote) last year, as well as two reliable, experienced, competent defenders, one of whom Eakins inexplicably refused to use properly. The last coach to receive a full and balanced roster was probably WearsGlasses himself, back in 2005 fall. Sad, really, and shocking that MacT as a former coach would leave his own hand picked coach at the mercy of such a porous roster.

    One last note on the Eakins/Corsi debate, I feel like I once saw the leading/trailing/tied corsi numbers and Eakins’ were being buoyed a fair bit by virtue of trailing for a significantly larger period of time than Nelson’s game. I recall his close numbers still being a step up from Nelson, but I believe it was not as large as a gap as the raw numbers would have you believe.

  72. Kraz says:

    If I remember correctly that Gordon line played out of their minds to start the season. They were taking almost all defensive zone draws and were close to breaking even. I think that played a huge role on the Oilers having a 50% Corsi under Eakins last year. He had a hell of a line with them and ran with it.

  73. hunter1909 says:

    Flock of Seagulls(Eakins) was MacT’s creation: a giant shit sandwich everyone took a bite from.

    Wearing glasses(MacT) was Lowe’s creation: a brittle and incompetent persona who fooled many – by wearing glasses.

    Leprechaun Lowe is everyone’s fault. A more bitter, twisted, and sick individual is hard to find. Even Blowhard Brian Burke comes out ahead of that prick.

  74. bendelson says:

    Would this then be the final installment of the 14-15 RE series LT? The one started back on April 13th with Eberle and Blue Sky?

    From your conversation with your doppelganger that day:

    “If Pouliot-Nuge-Eberle can punish opponents, then maybe Hall-?-Yakupov/someone can form a second significant line. The key though is that you’d need a faster center than Derek Roy. I’m hoping Soderberg but maybe they’ll aim very high and the Oilers will come home with something splendid from the draft.”

    Something splendid indeed!
    That is some grade “A’ wild speculation there LT.
    Very nicely done.

    One more thing: Could you remind me who you matched with Statesboro Blues? Love that song.

  75. hunter1909 says:

    Brad: One last note on the Eakins/Corsi debate, I feel like I once saw the leading/trailing/tied corsi numbers and Eakins’ were being buoyed a fair bit by virtue of trailing for a significantly larger period of time than Nelson’s game.

    Which I would argue is a function of the opposition sitting back with the lead and allowing perimeter shots.

    Way to go. Look at the big brain on Flock of Seagulls!

  76. hunter1909 says:

    Eakins Corsi fixation puts my hard working(I’m lying) mind to the ultimate test:

    It’s like trying to sucker punch a martial arts teacher, in the hope that you get more shots in before he/she pulls him/herself together and flattens you.

  77. Kraz says:

    Eakins went 0-12-4 against the West to start the year. Eakins was given a bad roster but it wasn’t that bad to justify that record.

  78. Wolfie says:

    Honestly the 50% number means jack squat. This team was unwilling to go to the hard areas to score and unable to defend the danger zones.

    It wasn’t just the goaltending. The Oilers were awful in their own end under Eakins. The swarm was an unmitigated disaster. Too many times the opposition was allowed to buzz the tower in the slot uncontested.

    The kept firing from the perimeter while allowing primo opportunities against. Not a recipe for success.

    Eakins didn’t have the horses but his game plan was flawed and he never found a formula that worked. I’m glad those days are past.

  79. G Money says:

    Lowetide: Just want to recognize this as being outstanding.

    It was extremely well ‘play’ed.

  80. G Money says:

    Bag of Pucks: I think this specificity argument is more relevant to strength training than cardio.

    It’s not. It started (by my understanding of history of exercise physiology, which is heavily biased by Noakes’ encyclopedic Lore) with soccer. Turns out long distance running is a terrible way to train for soccer, which is actually a sprint sport.

    Not to say you don’t include it, because you do have to have a fantastic cardio base to play high level, let alone pro, soccer.

    But at the highest levels, it turns out to be a bad way of training for soccer.

    Ditto hockey, which is why when you see modern day training protocols for hockey, it’s all speed and power based. Hockey is a series of 30 to 60 second all-out sprints, repeated about 15 to 25 times over a three hour span.

    Turns out running or bicycling for four hours is a really bad way to train for it.

    And if that’s the key component of Ference’s program (based on his occasional tweets, that’s sure what it looks like), he might be in fantastic shape, but it would be detrimental when he has to go up against athletes that have actually trained for the demands of pro hockey.

  81. G Money says:

    hunter1909: It’s like trying to sucker punch a martial arts teacher, in the hope that you get more shots in before he/she pulls him/herself together and flattens you.

    Well …

    I have been a martial arts teacher at times (black belt in Karate, brown belt in Muay Thai, and currently working on a black belt in Constantly Injured Fu) … and I’m not sure it’s anything like that at all!

  82. G Money says:

    Kraz: If I remember correctly that Gordon line played out of their minds to start the season. They were taking almost all defensive zone draws and were close to breaking even. I think that played a huge role on the Oilers having a 50% Corsi under Eakins last year. He had a hell of a line with them and ran with it.

    The Gordon line was money the entire year until he got hurt towards the end.

    I ran the SF% for all Oiler line combos last season, and the Gordon lines are pretty amazing:

    THOR GAZDIC GORDON 53.6% (28 events – events = sf+sa)
    PINS JIMI GORDON 51.7% (29 events)
    JOENSUU JIMI GORDON 50.9% (106 events) – this is the line you’re thinking about
    THOR JIMI GORDON 50.0% (166 events)

    I mean, look at those numbers. To put that in perspective, here’s a line that had Thor (Klinkhammer) and Gazdic, but centred by Hendricks:

    THOR GAZDIC JIMI 32.0% (25 events)

    Again, these end up being fairly small samples for some combos, and I also filtered combos with fewer than 20 total events, so take all this with at least a few grains of salt.

    But still impressive.

    I’m guessing at least part of the effect is his high FO%.

    Letestu’s got some big shoes to fill.

  83. G Money says:

    flyfish1168: 1) Ralph had a inferior and unbalance line up. yet his teams win and against a stronger western conference team
    2) comes into the season with all this hype and yet not prepared by watching and knowing his players. Shameful for a professional
    3) No intestinal fortitude to punish every player equally. (Chicken $hit he was)
    4) His corsi looked good because the game was over after the 1st period. (Opposition has friends playing on our team and felt merciful)
    5) Inability to recognize talent, How many ex marlies came over to play for us and was junk. Yet the phlegms got the best player and for a 4th round pick.
    6) Opps didn’t realize the team didn’t know simple defense. So he blames the previous coaches for not teaching simple defense. eakins was not watching Switzerland coached by Ralph.
    7) throwing players under the bus. Yet the game was over before the play in question happened. I’ll remember eakins on that display of blame.
    8) Will eakins ever recognize he sucked and his system play was just as bad as him as coach.
    9) Toronto and eastern media hyped and MacT fell head over heels for a wannabe
    10) In reality eakins failed because of himself and that is the bottom line. Other coaches has won with less of a team. how many players have come out and said I don’t want to play for him. That is the tail of the tape when players don’t want to play for you. eakins created his own mess so no excuses.

    1 – Ralph had goaltending, and an AHL-tuned top line. Justin Schultz looked like a Norris candidate. I find the canonization of St. Ralph bizarre. His teams looked lazy and demoralized in many games (go back and check the game threads). Particularly galling since his shtick was that he was supposed to be a great motivator. He wasn’t a good coach.

    2 – If true, yes, shameful. But it’s based on one flippant comment, which may or may not be accurate. An entire religion has been created around that comment.

    3 – Agreed. This to my mind was one of Eakins’ great failings. He had favourites and he had scapegoats, independent of results on the ice, and that’s a great way to lose a team (in anything, not just hockey).

    4 – False. His Corsi Close is not that different from his Corsi.

    5 – Yes, but I’d say that was more in his roster selections, another great failing. But most of the blame for talent selection lies with MacT, does it not? Hence, LT’s point about roster.

    6 – But it was true. The team, and many key players, did not know how to play defense. Sam Gagner lost the thread under Krueger (he fell off a Corsi Cliff very shortly into Ralph’s tenure, after playing basically 50% hockey under Renney, and never recovered). Ralph’s approach seemed to be just “go out and play” – which helps you win a few run and gun games, but is a little detrimental (to put it mildly) to the development of young players in the long run. Ralph’s tenure here was not a good thing. I think it also was part of the setup – fix it, you have time! – for what became Eakins’ complaint about ‘a bill of goods’.

    7 – Agreed. Like with point #5, this was another great Eakins failing, and justifies some (not all) of the vitriol fired his way.

    8 – These sorts of blanket statements are meaningless.

    9 – Probably true.

    10 – Mostly true. Most of LT’s contextual arguments are correct – unbalanced roster, the goalering, etc. I doubt if TMc can get this year’s Oilers into the playoffs, and it’s a significantly better roster. But Eakins’ teams still underperformed for all that. And he, rightly, took the blame. MacT, unrightly, did not.

  84. AsiaOil says:

    G Money,

    Said I would refrain but G Money’s post is too rich by half…..

    Hey I know Kruger-Eakins ruins your narrative – but crapping on a guy for having a poorly organized system when he took over the team in the middle of a strike, didn’t have a training camp to install his system, had no centers that were not held together with duct tape, an atrocious defense, Bucky and Smith as assistants, an all western schedule, and a front office that was determined not to patch any holes is weak sauce indeed. Frankly it’s just plain bullshit and beneath you. Kruger pulled that team out of the ditch about 4 time that season when mgmt refused to do anything – and had them in a playoff race – something that corsi boy could only dream of. Kruger’s squad only gave up after the trade deadline when mgmt’s answer to their prayers was Jerred fucking Smithson. Sorry your corsi boy shat the bed so hard – but like I said – you should use that as motivation to improve the tool rather than just making excuses for it’s failure to fulfill your predictions.

  85. threeputtdouble says:

    December 7, 2014. Nail Yakupov breaks a month-long scoring drought and puts the Oilers up 1-0 against the Sharks, leading eventually to a 2-1 win that broke an 11-game losing streak.

    Cut to Eakins: not a glimmer of a smile, relief, “nice play guys,” “way to go Nail, that’s the idea, I told you they’d start going in” — nothing.

    I had tended toward giving a smart guy benefit of the doubt, including for lots of reasons LT cites, but from that moment I really wanted him gone. He simply was not part of the team. The refusal or inability to share a moment of happiness with his players, after all they’d been through. Either he was by then a broken man or he’s just not a good guy. EIther way, it was time to go.

  86. threeputtdouble says:

    And regarding the 5-year bill of goods: does anyone, ANYONE think that the 5-year plan was on track? Could Eakins have possibly thought so?

  87. Woodguy says:

    No one has mentioned the singles largest issue with the Eakins era.

    Sports reporters in Toronto started mentioning that maybe Hall was the problem and he might be available via trade and then MacT not quashing those rumours.

    That would have been a disaster.

  88. Woodguy says:

    For everyone mentioning “gaming corsi” etc. just stop.

    Its demonstrably false.

    The fact that you are ignoring the evidence that its false doesn’t make it true.

    Also,

    For all the “gaming corsi” people, chew on this for a while:

    5v5 Corsi – all scoring situations:

    14/15 – Under Eakins
    Oilers with Ference on the ice – 48.45%
    Oilers without Ference on the ice – 51.13%

    14/15 – Under Nelson Only (Dec 30 +)
    Oilers with Ference on the ice – 41.98%
    Oilers without Ference on the ice – 48.79%

    Hmmmmmmmmm

  89. jake70 says:

    Maybe offensive but best line here i’ve read was by Hunter and “he would have been fragged in Nam”….still laugh at that , visulize Eakins playing Tom Berenger’s character in Platoon.

  90. flyfish1168 says:

    G Money: 1 – Ralph had goaltending, and an AHL-tuned top line. Justin Schultz looked like a Norris candidate.I find the canonization of St. Ralph bizarre.His teams looked lazy and demoralized in many games (go back and check the game threads). Particularly galling since his shtick was that he was supposed to be a great motivator.He wasn’t a good coach.

    2 – If true, yes, shameful.But it’s based on one flippant comment, which may or may not be accurate.An entire religion has been created around that comment.

    3 – Agreed.This to my mind was one of Eakins’ great failings.He had favourites and he had scapegoats, independent of results on the ice, and that’s a great way to lose a team (in anything, not just hockey).

    4 – False.His Corsi Close is not that different from his Corsi.

    5 – Yes, but I’d say that was more in his roster selections, another great failing.But most of the blame for talent selection lies with MacT, does it not?Hence, LT’s point about roster.

    6 – But it was true.The team, and many key players, did not know how to play defense.Sam Gagner lost the thread under Krueger (he fell off a Corsi Cliff very shortly into Ralph’s tenure, after playing basically 50% hockey under Renney, and never recovered).Ralph’s approach seemed to be just “go out and play” – which helps you win a few run and gun games, but is a little detrimental (to put it mildly) to the development of young players in the long run.Ralph’s tenure here was not a good thing.I think it also was part of the setup – fix it, you have time! – for what became Eakins’ complaint about ‘a bill of goods’.

    7 – Agreed.Like with point #5, this was another great Eakins failing, and justifies some (not all) of the vitriol fired his way.

    8 – These sorts of blanket statements are meaningless.

    9 – Probably true.

    10 – Mostly true.Most of LT’s contextual arguments are correct – unbalanced roster, the goalering, etc.I doubt if TMc can get this year’s Oilers into the playoffs, and it’s a significantly better roster.But Eakins’ teams still underperformed for all that.And he, rightly, took the blame.MacT, unrightly, did not.

    Hi G Money. good points. I know for myself I’m anti-eakins and would be biased against him.
    But getting back to Corsi. i do believe the other teams didn’t go to the hard areas to score after taking a lead in games against us early. So does the real Corsi or close corsi account for this ?

    Last point I do believe eakins also sold us a bill of goods or at least MacT.I felt he came in here to win games and not try to develop players. good example is Yak. So if he had a five year window as he says then you have time to teach. So start from the beginning which would be basic defense. School your players on team play. Develop a proper culture by treating every player equally. Playing RNH, and schlutz as much as he did proves he was trying to win and didn’t care about development. eakins lost the room so early in his tenure. The break it down and rebuild the player is not a way to develop anyone. You lose the person and it over. MacT too was sold a bill of goods. That line of his cuts both ways. Arrogant and taking the simple way out. That is how I will remember him.

  91. Kmart99 says:

    The Oilers seemed good under Eakins for like 10 games to me. I know the CF% was decent, and the sv% was historically bad.
    I know the SV% from low Danger outside shots was particularly bad. What I don’t know, is why the sv% was half decent under Nelson.
    Maybe the slight uptick in sv% combined with Nelly’s superior PP was the difference.

    Or maybe Hall, Nuge, Ebs, Yak, Lander, Poo, Oscar, and Jultz were all legitimately better under Nelson.

    I wonder, is a low SH% over a long stretch always bad luck? Is it never anything else? Can a low SH% not possibly be due to a poor system or lack of confidence? How much of last year’s failures can really be put on the goalies? 100%? Or maybe 75%? Less?

    I know our Corsiclose was slightly worse because we were almost always playing from behind. If my memory serves me correctly, the Oilers fell behind early and often, and the opposition just coasted to an easy win often. Just play the trap, allow the Oilers to fire shots on net, but collapse to the house and block their high% scoring chances. When the eyeball test says Eakins’ Oilers were awful, Nelson’s were better, and the record matches the prediction, I can’t help but think Nelson is truly a better coach than Eakins. Even if Nelson’s Oilers were playing worse based on Shot Diff. They looked better, and their record proceeded to match up with what I was seeing.

    I blame Eakins for much of last year’s failures. Equal to the goaltending. It was the goaltending and the coaching, stupid.

  92. threeputtdouble says:

    The “bill of goods” line makes no sense as an excuse.

    Even if we accept the (incredible) premise that MacT told Eakins up front that the team was targeting 5 years until winning, that doesn’t mean Eakins has a free ride with no accountability for five years. Even in Cloud-Oilers-Land, any long-term plan has milestones, deliverables, etc. Eakins was in charge for a year and a half. Is there any evidence at all that he was achieving what might be plausible milestones on a 5-year plan? By eye and by math the team was regressing, not moving forward. That was not the plan.

    He failed to do the job for which he was hired. Fin.

  93. Pouzar says:

    G Money: It’s not.It started (by my understanding of history of exercise physiology, which is heavily biased by Noakes’ encyclopedic Lore) with soccer.Turns out long distance running is a terrible way to train for soccer, which is actually a sprint sport.

    Not to say you don’t include it, because you do have to have a fantastic cardio base to play high level, let alone pro, soccer.

    But at the highest levels, it turns out to be a bad way of training for soccer.

    Ditto hockey, which is why when you see modern day training protocols for hockey, it’s all speed and power based.Hockey is a series of 30 to 60 second all-out sprints, repeated about 15 to 25 times over a three hour span.

    Turns out running or bicycling for four hours is a really bad way to train for it.

    And if that’s the key component of Ference’s program (based on his occasional tweets, that’s sure what it looks like), he might be in fantastic shape, but it would be detrimental when he has to go up against athletes that have actually trained for the demands of pro hockey.

    http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/article/a-few-30-second-sprints-as-beneficial-as-hour-long-jog/

  94. Bank Shot says:

    So the problem was Mact in addition to Eakins?

    Duh.

    A lot of people were questioning the Mact hire from day one. Being an eloquent speaker is independent of being a good decision maker.

    Mact failed to address team needs at every turn.

    Eakins had the Oilers playing well in stretches for sure.

    His problem was arogance and hubris. He was basically a douché.

    There are lots of hardass coaches in history that were successful. There aren’t many left in the league now. The Tortorellas and Keenan are all gone.

    Guys like Babcock, Hitchcock, Sutter are hard but fair and have great amounts of respect coming into the job from their players so they could have weathered a losing season with a new team.

    Eakins had no such respect and came in waving his dick around like he was the solution to all problems with the Oilers. He needed instant success for that angle to work and when he didn’t get it, he was pretty much doomed.

    Respect is earned. Everyone hates the superior that comes in and demands respect without having anything to back it up.

    Eakins was that guy.

  95. Ryan says:

    Woodguy:
    For everyone mentioning “gaming corsi” etc. just stop.

    Its demonstrably false.

    The fact that you are ignoring the evidence that its false doesn’t make it true.

    Also,

    For all the “gaming corsi” people, chew on this for a while:

    5v5 Corsi – all scoring situations:

    14/15 – Under Eakins
    Oilers with Ference on the ice – 48.45%
    Oilers without Ference on the ice – 51.13%

    14/15 – Under Nelson Only (Dec 30 +)
    Oilers with Ference on the ice – 41.98%
    Oilers without Ference on the ice – 48.79%

    Hmmmmmmmmm

    So what you’re saying is that Ference was gaming the Corgis for Eakins? 🙂

  96. russ99 says:

    Great article, LT.

    I won’t look back to spew negativity in light of our new golden age starting in Penticton tonight.

    However, I expect McLellan to employ some similar strategies to focus on possession, yet without the bristling ego and “we’re doing it this way, it’s going to work” mentality, and actually working with the players to explain why. That few weeks with Hall and Eberle seem to have confirmed this.

    This will help get the players on the same page with the coach and to a lesser extent the GM’s philosophy, and I expect McLellan to adapt things based on the talent on the ice, much as he did in San Jose, when Hertl broke out.

  97. JD¡™ David O'Connor's Reel says:

    Only three instances of ‘arrogant’ in the REakins comments?

  98. russ99 says:

    JD¡™ David O’Connor’s Reel,

    “Bristling ego” doesn’t count? LOL.

  99. Woodguy says:

    The “hard areas” are also know as High Danger Scoring Chance areas.

    Here’s Eakins and Nelson’s splits from last year:

    Eakins
    HDSC For/60 10.1 – 23rd in NHL
    HDSC Against/60 10.9 – 19th in NHL

    Nelson
    HDSCF/60- 10.0 – 22nd in NHL
    HDSCA/60- 13.6 – 30th in NHL

    That really take the air out of “Oilers played better team defence under Nelson”

  100. Woodguy says:

    Ryan: So what you’re saying is that Ference was gaming the Corgis for Eakins?

    A conspiracy by Big Bicycle

  101. Woodguy says:

    But getting back to Corsi. i do believe the other teams didn’t go to the hard areas to score after taking a lead in games against us early. So does the real Corsi or close corsi account for this ?

    You can account for this by looking at High Danger Scoring Chances Against/60, then filter for score.

    Here’s some:

    Oilers trailing by 1:
    Eakins – 10.0
    Nelson – 11.4

    Oilers trailing by 2:
    Eakins- 8.1
    Nelson- 12.4

    Oilers trailing by 3+:
    Eakins- 10.3
    Nelson- 9.3

    I would be better if we had TOI of these game states to show their impact on the shot attempt differential.

  102. PhrankLee says:

    LT mentioned the remaining flaws and I can’t help but agree. I cannot shake the feeling that with PC contract he agreed to housekeeping issues that MacT set in motion.

    It was awkward to take JS to arbitration, open a buyout, and poof…nothing.

    Nothing. Happened.

    Keeping MacT in any form was a mistake, imo. And I’m a wears glasses fan.

  103. TheGreatMcMutato says:

    The “Eakins isn’t the only one to blame” card shouldn’t really be used as a defense of the man though, should it?

    It’s like saying “it doesn’t matter that your house is burning down because there are starving children in Africa!” Just because something worse exists doesn’t make anything else less bad.

    Yeah, Oilers management was brutal. Yeah, Eakins never got to play with a full deck. Butt hell, Eakins was also terrible in his own right. Even when given half a deck, he’d still throw away any of the good cards before playing. He made himself the story through his relentless and completely unearned stubbornness and arrogance. Those are two of the worst qualities you can have in a leader and he did about as much to help his own case as he did to help the Oilers win hockey games.

  104. godot10 says:

    Kevin Lowe and gang were burning down the house for 10 years.

    Krueger and Nelson poured water on the fire. Eakins poured gasoline. Quinn noticed the house was on fire, but was too old to handle the firehose. Renney unforturnately only had a water pistol.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpdHMaccjw4

  105. TheGreatMcMutato says:

    commonfan14:
    I would like people to acknowledge that the Oilers, as coached by Dallas Eakins, had 50% possession while also employing exactly two NHL centers, a wobbly defense and the world’s craziest goaltending.

    I’ve yet to hear an explanation from anyone as to how this was accomplished, given the circumstances mentioned above.

    Pulling up some event charts at WarOnIce shows a weird trend[*]:

    In many/most games where the Eakins Oilers won the Corsi battle, they lost the scoring chance battle significantly. This trend is not reversed when they lose the Corsi battle (they still don’t register many chances).

    I’m tempted to look at the rest of the charts to see if the trend holds out but it’s almost [**] as if the system employed prioritized generating Corsi with complete disregard to what was being sacrificed. We saw massively diminishing returns. It’s like looking busy even though you aren’t actually getting any work done. The Costanza Oilers.

    [*] only looked at like 20 games.
    [**] almost, looool.

    I’d argue that good teams generate Corsi by trying to score goals. The Oilers were generating Corsi by trying to generate Corsi.

  106. G Money says:

    Bank Shot: Eakins had no such respect and came in waving his dick around like he was the solution to all problems with the Oilers.

    So what you’re saying is that the fundamental problem is that Eakins wasn’t chopping wood so much as waving it?

  107. G Money says:

    AsiaOil,

    LOL, Asia, you’re a funny guy.

    People keep waving the ‘no training camp’ nonsense as a defense of Krueger. As if every other team had one, and only Krueger was disadvantaged.

    In fact, Krueger’s top 2 lines (Hall, Eb, RNH, Yak, Gagner, Hemsky) ALL played during the lockout.

    The lack of training camp was an advantage for Krueger, not a disadvantage.

    All the other issues you mention as a defense of Krueger have been consistent issues with every Oiler team the last six years.

    The Krueger team was terrible. Just awful. Terrible unmotivated hockey, night after night. Except for the goalies. THEY came to play, even as the team gave up an enormous number of five bell chances every night. That wasn’t an Eakins-only thing.

    The Oilers, like the Flames, results-wise outperformed their terribleness for about a quarter of a season. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, about the length of time that Krueger’s training camp advantage could have been expected to last. Then, completely unsurprisingly, they went back in the toilet, consistent with their underlying numbers. Jarred Smithson is not the reason the Oilers went in the toilet. The Oilers (and their coach) are the reason the Oilers went in the toilet.

    The fact that Eakins was an awful coach does not take away from the fact that Krueger was a terrible coach. Anecdotally, a nicer man and better liked by his players – but a terrible coach.

    If Eakins and Krueger are your ‘proof’ about the ineffectiveness of Corsi, you aren’t just barking up the wrong tree, you’re in the wrong forest.

  108. Kevin McCartney says:

    G Money,

    I totally agree with all of that analysis. I don’t think there is a system in the world that makes the collection of Nikitin, Ference, Schultz and Scrivens better than horrendous. And it speaks to LT’s point that a lot of people share in the blame. I like Scrivens well enough, but his puck handling especially is well below professional level (any professional level) and the soft ones at the start of the year turned into glaring ones at the end. I have burned into my brain the image of his blocker on the ice, with his shoulders sagged forward while an opposing attacker was skating straight at him, delightedly shooting it into the top two-feet of net. No system says, ‘take up as little of the net as any human has imagined.’

    And you’re right about Klefbom and Petry (IMO), too. They had multiple tools to get the puck out and that was a major difference. But not unrelated, they were also the best skaters.

    I guess my point is this: is Ference being made to go in the corner more often than is strictly necessary? Is Nikitin getting turned more often than we might expect given his stats profile from Columbus precisely because the coach is asking him to give skaters more room to generate speed? Is Schultz being put into a contact area more frequently because there’s no pressure point higher in the zone? I think to something like a 1-3-1 Boucher used, or the 1-1-3 overload that Detroit uses. Maybe this team is a bit better if Justin Schultz is just picking up dumped pucks 10% more often with 20% more time? To be honest, Schutlz didn’t hurry to puck all year, so maybe he would have burned any time he was afforded.

    I honestly think the coach tried to develop a system that fit a less physical defence group. Keith Aulie and Mark Fraser aside, the team generally employed mobile defenders. The swarm is designed to avoid one-on-one contests, and I think he stuck with the principle of trying to give his smaller group some leverage in their puck battles. But as the Phillip Larsons and Brad Hunts showed, the whole thing was a mess and clearly didn’t work for the cast they had. Maybe that’s buy-in as you suggest. Maybe that’s the unorthodoxy of it all. Maybe that was just bad personnel. At least Phillip Larsson could skate AND pass at the same time. That’s more than JSchultz can do. But I think it was sort of all of it at once.

    Moreover, I think Eakins maybe got into a feedback loop in which he was helping to juke the corsi numbers, then using the corsi numbers to evaluate his success and preach patience with something that wasn’t working (whether that was his fault or his GM’s).

  109. Kevin McCartney says:

    stephen sheps:
    Kevin McCartney,

    while we use very different theoretical approaches, it’s nice to know there’s another sociologist on this blog

    The internet is so weird, Stephen. Your name sounded familiar, so I just googled you. Congrats on the new job (/ sorry that I know about it?). What’s your major research area?

    I’m actually a constructivist in terms of philosophy of science, and more specifically a marxian anarchist. But I use realist approaches in my policy work and it seemed more appropriate for hockey stats than a discussion of the normative role of positivist counting numbers and the ultimate re-location of hierarchy from the subjectivity of hockey men to the formalized ritual of imposed observation. Although, I’m interested to hear what Ryan Lambert has to say about corsi being the formalized ritual of imposed observation. Maybe we’ll get into some Derrida, logocentrism and axiological hierarchy of meaning! Or he’ll just be sarcastic at me… I can never guess.

    (Sorry, Lowetide. I feel like I’ve highjacked the thread for something really weird now.)

  110. Woodguy says:

    TheGreatMcMutato,

    In many/most games where the Eakins Oilers won the Corsi battle, they lost the scoring chance battle significantly. This trend is not reversed when they lose the Corsi battle (they still don’t register many chances).

    I looked at all the Eakins games last year and in the 32 games he coached, their HDSC% was greater than their CF% 12 times.

    I looked at a few other teams (good and bad) and they are up and down as well.

    Didn’t see anything to indicate a trend.

  111. Mannificent says:

    Mannificent:
    Long long time reader and 1st time compelled to comment, as I cannot take defense of Eakins silently.
    Most of you have already covered many good and accurate points:
    His handling of lineups
    icetime(playing Nuge 30min in 1st game back from injury was nuts)
    schemes
    etc. etc.
    So I will mention 2 issues that if they were covered, forgive me, as I do skim through the comments quickly – and the 1st is the suggestion that Nelson had a better lineup, McT finally helped out??
    Unbelievable!!
    Going from what I remember – Perron was traded
    Petry was traded for next to nothing (was our best defenceman at the time and make us look like an AHL development team for the league)
    Hall got injured (this was huge and now you lost your best forward and defenceman)
    Arcobello was not that bad and the improvement of Yaks line was under Nelson – not a coincidence
    Got a bunch of injuries on D – so now you are mostly playing AHL players and the defence still looker better than under Eakins

    The 2nd issue is Eberle’s comment being dismissed because he was injured – Please!
    He was talking for the team.
    I repeatedly saw them playing for corsi stats with Eakins – crossing the blueline and shooting a floater at the net – like that will work. This alone make stats like corsi useless for comparison (and I love stats)
    What I SAW under Nelson was much better team play, much less fire-drills on defence, in most games competitively (despite still bad goaltending)
    In my opinion Eakins cost this team 2 yrs of development and the Oilers deserved winning the lottery and am thankful that happened.

  112. stephen sheps says:

    Kevin McCartney,

    Hahaha, yes the internet is bizarre. Maybe we’ve run across each other at a conference, or if you were at the U of A in the late 90s/early aughts we might have taken some classes together. I never google myself – it freaks me out!

    RE: the new job… Thanks! The move to the U.S was public knowledge – the regulars around here knew about it anyway, but since classes started so early down here I haven’t been around as often as I would like.

    I take a similar approach to you, and my (underused) blog used to features myself and couple of other Edmonton ex-pats using marxist, anarchist and occasionally post-structural theory to discuss the Oilers ineptitude. (Shameless plug alert) Lately it’s been a teaching tool for me, and will soon become an idea incubator for the book on citizenship, nationalism and racialization in hockey that I just started working on.

    If you and Lambert do have a frank discussion about Derrida and Corsi, please let me know – I would love to get in on that!

  113. TheGreatMcMutato says:

    Woodguy,

    Tru dat.

    After posting, I ended up wasting my morning (at work, shrug) pulling the data for each game last season and looking for consistency and ended up finding less and less as the data grew. Nothing reliable. There were maybe a few more ‘strange fortunes’ games under Eakins but nothing to demonstrate a strong trend, like you said.

    I may play around with it a bit more to see if anything shows up, but only because I wasted so much damned time putting it together 😉

    G Money

    /slowclap

  114. G Money says:

    Kevin McCartney,

    Excellent and fair points. I will try to pay attention this year, regardless of who the D personnel are, to whether or not players are being put in situations that either play to their strengths or don’t, and whether it appears those appear numerically different from previous year(s). Not sure I have the system chops to actually glean anything useful for the effort, but you don’t know if you don’t try!

  115. G Money says:

    stephen sheps: a idea incubator for the book on citizenship, nationalism and racialization in hockey that I just started working on.

    Make sure you shamelessly plug that when it becomes available, I will be first in line for a (n autographed?) copy!

    I was going to ask you how things were going with your new gig. Sounds like a busy start. Is this going to be a long-term venture do you think? (Just curious on that last one. Dad was a prof at the U of A, and I watch aghast at the increasing prevalence of hugely overpaid administrators playing off against ever more poorly-paid adjuncts and minimum-wage lecturers in the University system, esp. in the US. Though Canada is not innocent by any means).

  116. stephen sheps says:

    G Money,

    Hard to say, G. It’s a one year gig but they’ve been given a tenure track line and have strongly encouraged me to apply. I must admit I want to come back to Canada though, for the reasons you describe as well as some other more personal reasons.

    I actually threw my hat in the ring for a return to the U of A and there’s other opportunities Canada wide. It’s a better market this year, but if UTC offers me the golden handcuffs, who am I to turn it down?!

    And believe me, when that book is done (hoping for fall 2018 – I have a chapter and a prospectus for publishers mostly finished), I’ll make sure a signed hardcover is allocated for you and anyone else from around here that might want to read it. I’m honestly more excited about this project than anything else I’ve ever done. It’ll be easier to get access to interview players (and funding for research) back in Canada, which is another reason I am trying to find my way home.

  117. AsiaOil says:

    G Money,

    G M – Kruger is smarter than you and I put together – and the fact that his team over-performed given the support and he has gone on to be very successful running an English football club is strangely amazing. Slagging him as a bad coach given the circumstances and pulling out the luck card when it suits your need is just weak. I don’t deny the utility of corsi but it’s not perfect or even valid if use standard measures of performance. Multiple cases of it failing to produce expected results occur each year – and given that – it’s promoters should be expected to think a bit harder than just repeating luck luck luck to cover this up. All else being equal corsi is very useful – but it’s the all else being equal part that you are ignoring when you slam Kruger’s abilities based on half a season of data. It’s also the part that is way more interesting IMHO than slavishly counting “events”

  118. GCW_69 says:

    I posted the numbers here numerous times, but your conclusion that possession cratered under Nelson is only partially true.

    The Oilers , not surprisingly had much better poession numbers trailing vs leading, but were likely to be trailing 46% of the time with Eakins, and only 33% of the time with Nelson.

    Down two or more Eakins was 54.7 vs Nelson 52.7

    Down one they were virtually identical, 53.6 vs 53.5.

    Up one Eakins was 39.9 vs 45.4 for Nelson

    Up two or more Eakins was 36.3 vs 43.8

    It was only tied that Nelson’s team was worse, and that was 51.2 vs 45.4.

    Why Nelson’s team performed materially better with the lead and materially worse tied is a bit of a mystery to me. Some of it likely is due to the Petry trade and injuries driving all the AHL call ups, but likely not all.

    But to focus on Eakins overall poession number is to focus on a lie because it was being propped up by the HUGE amount of time trailing. As soon as his team got the wif of a lead all that poession mastery disappeared into vapours. Like, bottom of the league vapours.

  119. GCW_69 says:

    BTW, I looked again at the numbers, after the Petry trade, the comparison looks like this

    Situation. Eakins. Nelson without Petry

    Down 2. 53.6. vs 55.3

    Down 1. 53.6. vs 53.0

    Tied. 51.2. vs 50.3

    Up 1. 39.9. vs 43.2

    Up 2. 36.3 vs 46.1

    If you look at those slices, despite having a significantly weaker team, Nelson closed out the year with as good a numbers as Eakins trailing, close when tied, and better when leading.

    As I said before, I think the argument that Eakins drove better possesion is not accurate. Nelson’s numbers after the Petry trade certainly seem to indicate that.

  120. Kevin McCartney says:

    Woodguy,

    Woodguy:
    For everyone mentioning “gaming corsi” etc. just stop.

    Its demonstrably false.

    The fact that you are ignoring the evidence that its false doesn’t make it true.

    Also,

    For all the “gaming corsi” people, chew on this for a while:

    5v5 Corsi – all scoring situations:

    14/15 – Under Eakins
    Oilers with Ference on the ice – 48.45%
    Oilers without Ference on the ice – 51.13%

    14/15 – Under Nelson Only (Dec 30 +)
    Oilers with Ference on the ice – 41.98%
    Oilers without Ference on the ice – 48.79%

    Hmmmmmmmmm

    It’s only demonstrably false in the absence of corroborating data. What was the zone time? What were the scoring chances from in-zone play? We don’t have those numbers (when not derived from shot attempts) so all we can say is that the things that are related to corsi or that we think might be involved and have data on (distance measures, mostly) do not indicate a false positive. And that only holds if we are liberal in our acceptance of variance in wins. A 50% corsi club shouldn’t have 7 wins in 31 games goes the logic.

    The High Danger Scoring Area data is super interesting, but mostly it seems to show that the Oilers gave up more chances when behind under Nelson than Eakins. Someone mentioned that occurred less often under Nelson and I think it’s reasonable to expect we might have some sample size issues. Moreover, I would entertain psychological arguments, personnel arguments or schedule difficulty arguments before systems ones in this case. We should keep in mind that Nelson had a long stretch without Petry and Perron and had a lot of AHL talent in the lineup, too. (I mean, not by choice, in contrast to Eakins).

    As well, before December 30th, Ference played a lot of minutes with Petry, if I remember correctly. And the post by GCW_69 shows Petry’s role in those numbers fairly definitively.

    I think this is why Eakins is important and interesting. He doesn’t show the limits of corsi, he shows the limits of our analysis of corsi. There’s a mystery here and I think saying ‘the corsi is the corsi is the corsi’ is just not that interesting (even if it’s true beyond what I can reconcile).

  121. peteroiler says:

    “It was all written in Stars”

    What we all have experienced in that long year and a half under MacT-Eakins era was pure torture to many of us to say the least. To forget that time I’d rather think it was all meant to be. Their inability to win games week after week, eventually led to total overhaul of front staff-coach and ultimately landed us to grand prize McDavid himself.
    I will leave that dark past behind and focus on the bright new day ahead instead.

  122. bucknuck says:

    I am so tired of the “two centres” argument. It’s an error, and a bad one because it involves counting to three. Arcobello was (and still is) an NHL centre.

    That is not to say that the team was strong up the middle, because they were not… and yes it was a HUGE area of weakness.

    But to say there were two centres when there were three is hyperbole.

  123. Edmonton blog roundup: Sept. 14, 2015 | Seen and Heard in Edmonton says:

    […] Lowetide interviews himself about former Oilers coach Dallas Eakins. […]

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