MacT in a Box

I haven’t done this for awhile so it’s probably time. This is direct theft from Bill James, idea being to ask questions about an NHL coach and how he handles his players/roster and any tendencies he shows over one or more seasons.

  1. Does he roll 4 lines or sit people on the end of the bench? He has been going in the direction of 4 lines since the day he started as coach. In fact, the 00-01 team was far less democratic than 2007-08. The 00-01 roster had a big top line (Weight/Smyth/Guerin-Carter), a checking line (Marchant/Moreau/Grier) and a make shift 2 and 4 (Murray, Cleary, Riesen, Lacouture, Swanson, Kilger, Zholtok, Horcoff, Pittis). In 07-08, 13 forwards played over 10 minutes per game at even strength, which is 4 more than the Flames managed (9 forwards playing more than 10EV minutes per game in Calgary). Some of those players were injured, but it’s also true that only one Oiler regular received fewer than 10EV minutes a night this season (Stortini: 8:02). This compares with 6 Flame forwards played less than 10EV minutes a night during at least 40 games. Much of that has to do with roster makeup but then again the coach makes many of those decisions.
  2. Does he roll 3 D pairings or stick with his best 4 men on the blue? MacT appears to run some specialty (Souray, Staios shorthanded and Souray, Pitkanen with the man advantage) minutes but only 4 men played 15 or more minutes a night at EVs during this past season (Staios, Pitkanen, Gilbert, Smid) as did the injured Sheldon Souray. Defensemen who played less than 15EVs a night included Matt Greene and Denis Grebeshkov. I imagine the Russian would have been over 15 if not for a rather slow start. In the season the Oilers drove to the Stanley Cup finals, MacT gave over 15EV minutes per evening to Pronger, Staios and Smith (along with Spacek after he came over). He would appear to favor a group of three of four horses back there.
  3. How does he handle rookies? Before the lockout, Craig MacTavish used 22 rookies (or what I consider rookies) in his 4 seasons, or 5.5 per season. Each season the Oilers brought in at least one rookie of interest (00-01: Comrie, Horcoff; 01-02: Markkanen; 02-03: Hemsky, Chimera, Pisani, Semenov; 03-04: Torres, Bergeron, Stoll), and several took up fairly important positions rather quickly. Much of this was probably due to the finances but this isn’t a coach (as has long been held in some circles) who can’t develop players. Since summer 2005, MacT brought in defensemen Matt Greene, Jan Hejda, Ladislav Smid and Tom Gilbert (among others). Up front, the parade includes Zack Stortini, Marc Pouliot, Brad Winchester, Patrick Thoresen, Kyle Brodziak, Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner. I count 16 rookies in the three seasons, or a little over 5 a season. This is still a team reliant on the procurement department and although one is certain the scouts still remember Jani Rita and may stew over Pouliot or Schremp, there’s been a lot of cadets run through the academy successfully.
  4. What kind of rookie forwards develop well under MacTavish? Vic Ferrari always makes the point that MacT is “typical” of other NHL coaches in that he prefers players (rookies or otherwise) who cheat a little toward their own end of the ice. I understand that but do believe that this coach has shown a very specific and obvious tendency towards defense even in regard to rookie forwards. Fernando Pisani is a guy that may have been passed over (or taken longer to arrive) based on draft pedigree and both the 06-07 and 07-08 teams have had some young players hitting below the Mendoza line and still getting their at-bats. MacT loves forwards who can play solid postional games, and even when discussing kids like Gagner and Nilsson will make a point to mention that they have to ensure the offense they’re generating isn’t exceeded by what they’re giving up. A kid like Gagner is going to benefit heavily from this kind of coach, in a way someone like Rick Nash is only now getting around to in his career.
  5. What kind of rookie defensemen develop well under MacTavish? All kinds. MA Bergeron is the other side of the Pisani coin. This is a player whose size and chaos style would seem to run counter to a MacT team, but again he measures the player against his “offense created/goals against” ratio. Bergeron was eventually sent away but managed to establish himself in the NHL before doing so. MacT has shown exceptional patience with Matt Greene, Tom Gilbert, Ladislav Smid and for a time with Denis Grebeshkov (before the Russian found his way and moved up the depth chart). He has yet to develop a “complete” player back there but that may have as much to do with drafting as anything. There’s a large crop of kids on the way, I think Theo Peckham will be the one to respond under coach MacTavish.
  6. Is there an area of concern with regard to rookies? There was a time when people like me questioned his ability to get the most out of quality offensive talents. Mike Comrie scored goals but left Edmonton with some pretty nasty words (“communists”) and before the lockout season there was some talk about Hemsky possibly stalling as a player. However, since the lockout and more open offense Hemsky has blossomed and many of the best offensive players are the kids (Gagner, Cogliano and Nilsson last year alone). MacTavish has been very effective in using the usual powers of persuasion (press box, playing time, minors) to get the best out of most players and with this most recent season seems to have put to rest the concerns that grew out of the career development of Comrie.
  7. Does he have specialists for certain roles? How rigid is this? He likes veterans to play in specific roles like penalty killing. MacT has utilized men like Cory Cross, Igor Ulanov and Marty Reasoner in ways that revitalized their careers and sometimes to the point of distraction for fans and (maybe) management. Toby Peteresen became a lightning rod for this issue when he appeared on the PP a few times, and Reasoner not getting a contract this summer after MacT said he wanted him back might also be a sign of some disconnect between coach and GM in this area.
  8. What are his strengths? His teams are prepared. Probably his shining moment as a coach in Edmonton came spring 2006 in the Detroit series. The Red Wings were a better team, but not by as much as the standings implied. MacT used that and some interesting strategy to smother Detroit and get out of the first round for the first time in forever. MacTavish teams have a solid work ethic, and play a high tempo game. His teams are generally strong at penalty killing. MacTavish sometimes seems to put his roster together bass ackwards, getting good role players to score enough to stay in the lineup. I’d say it never works, but Fernando Pisani has been golden and can score goals and there weren’t too many people suggesting Zach Stortini could play a legit role this past season. MacTavish isn’t easily swayed by draft pedigree or prevailing wisdom which is clearly a strength. Under MacT the Oilers have been quite successful with under the radar defensemen, although I’m not certain how much credit should go to the coach.
  9. What are his weaknesses? His teams miss the playoffs too much, and his lack of imagination for the PP has been a sore spot forever. Some fans suggest no matter how many skill players this team acquires, MacT cannot manage two successful offensive lines at EVs. He can stay with some players too long, as witnessed the Salo and Oates situation awhile back and possibly Reasoner this past season (although I’d dispute that one).
  10. What is his future? I think there’s a chance he might quit if they miss the playoffs again in the spring. Even though Groundhog Day is a fun movie, living it must be hell. He’ll get another coaching job and my bet would be that Craig MacTavish wins a Stanley before the Oilers should they divorce in 2009.

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37 Responses to "MacT in a Box"

  1. Big T says:

    I’d hate to see MacTavish go and honestly have a tough time picturing him leaving with the new energy Katz has brought in with him.

    That said, a couple years from now he might be feeling that way. But it would take some major drama (Comrie type drama) for Mac to leave before the end of ’09-’10 methinks.

    T

  2. spOILer says:

    Goalies were not mentioned and that area has been a bit of a struggle..

  3. Lowetide says:

    spoiler: It has indeed. It’s difficult though to evaluate how much of Salo’s struggles were at the feet of the coach when alternatives weren’t readily available (imo).

    Also, we can say he should have gone to Garon sooner but Roloson was signed to the big contract and he’s the #1 guy. It isn’t so easy to dump a guy who took you to the Stanley Cup final in 2006 spring 18months later.

    The goaltending is an issue, but where is the line and how much of the issue is on the coach?

  4. transplantedjetfan says:

    so you don’t see him movin’ upstairs then, eh?

  5. Schitzo says:

    I would hesitate to say MacT has succeeded with under-the-radar defencemen, comsidering it took 40 goddamn games before he gave Hejda a look.

    I have to imagine Lowe feeling a little frustrated when he acquires a diamond in the rough and MacT won’t give him a chance.

  6. Jonathan says:

    He can stay with some players too long, as witnessed the Salo and Oates situation awhile back and possibly Reasoner this past season (although I’d dispute that one).

    The inverse is also true. MacTavish sometimes waits too long before testing players seriously in game situations- Jan Hejda jumps to mind as an example of this, but there are certainly others as well.

  7. Schitzo says:

    jonathan: I think it’s clear that the Hejda pressboxing is something that stuck in everybody’s craw a little bit, considering it’s the first thing that comes to mind two years later :)

  8. Jonathan says:

    I think it’s clear that the Hejda pressboxing is something that stuck in everybody’s craw a little bit, considering it’s the first thing that comes to mind two years later :) It didn’t bother me at all while it was happening, but then when we all saw what Hejda could do, I had to question MacT’s read on defensemen.

  9. achtungbaby says:

    Here’s a thought to be disregarded completely.

    Why does Mac T know what the other coaches are doing on the PP, but doesn’t know what to do with it himself when the bird has turned the other worm, so to speak?

    You said so yourself that you were confident that he could send out a bunch of vultures (my words) on the PK and you’d still get a decent penalty kill.

    I imagine that he has his top guns going after that PK group in the practices.

    So why don’t we have a killer powerplay?

    Lack of tools?

    James Gunner

  10. Paper Designer says:

    Lack of tools, maybe. He had a good powerplay after a while this year, and I don’t think “adjustment period” this year qualifies as an excuse, so this year will be very telling.

  11. PunjabiOil says:

    I’m not sure how much playing Hejda was MacT, and how much it was Lowe. I believe there was strong pressure from the upper management to start getting Smid some games, given who he was traded for.

    IIRC, Hejda played significant minutes when he was playing. He was lead the Oilers in TOI in the final pre-season games where most of the starters were playing (against Vancouver).

    Perhaps the organizational mindset was developing hockey players.

    The bigger mistake MacT should be called out for?

    Playing Matt Greene instead of Dick Tarnstrom in the SCF, when it was painfully obvious that Greene couldn’t stay out of the box.

    The powerplay has been poor, on surface. However, we must consider the personnel. In 2005-2006, it fared well with strong PP quarterback at the point (Pronger).
    The last 2 years? We’ve had Sykora, MAB, Tarnstrom, Pitkanen, Souray, among others who have tried out at the point. Didn’t work. I anticipate Visnovsky and Gagner (full time) changing the outlook, and the Oilers PP is among the right half in the NHL.

    I feel the legitimate criticism is Lowe doesn’t run his number one unit enough. At times, it appears he is more interested in having 2 balanced PP units, rather than 1 legitimate unit.

    The year will be telling story. I truly believe that Lowe has given MacT the talent this year to get the results (i.e. playoffs). If they aren’t achieved, perhaps it’s time to look elsewhere.

  12. Sean says:

    This is still a team reliant on the procurement department

    1) This is a good thing.
    2) This team is more reliant than it would have liked. I blame FCP.

  13. Jonathan says:

    The bigger mistake MacT should be called out for?

    Playing Matt Greene instead of Dick Tarnstrom in the SCF, when it was painfully obvious that Greene couldn’t stay out of the box.

    Maybe it’s just a problem MacTavish has with Tarnstrom. Through-out last season, there was no reason to be treating him like the seventh defenseman when he was a top-three option for the team on most nights.

    There were points early on when I didn’t expect MacTavish to finish the year.

  14. breakerdog says:

    mc79hockey did up a chart on his blog showing how coaches distributed TOI for all teams amongst their forwards.

    http://www.mc79hockey.com/?p=2856#more-2856

    MacTavish gives his first line guys 16th overall minutes in comparison with the rest of his peers. 2nd line is 10th overall. 3rd line is 5th overall. 4th line is 11th.

    I think that this is indicative of how much he likes to use a checking line and line match. My problem here is that I would like to see the Horcoff/ Hemsky/ LW line get more minutes and give a little less ice time to the foot soldiers.

    In another area MacT seems reluctant to over play Hemsky on the PP even when he is remarkably productive there.

  15. Bruce says:

    Playing Matt Greene instead of Dick Tarnstrom in the SCF, when it was painfully obvious that Greene couldn’t stay out of the box.

    PJO: Tarsntrom played the last 5 games of that SCF, but he took MAB’s spot instead of Greene’s. It was the right move IMO at the time, altho’ if we had a do-over it would have happened in Game 1 and Roli wouldn’t have got hurt and we would have won the Cup. But I wasn’t prescient and neither was MacT.

    Fact was we had won three series with Tarnstrom mostly in the PB while Greene and MAB mostly held their own as the third pairing. So to single out the SCF and say that’s the series Greene shouldn’t have played is cherry-picking.

    BTW, for all the Tarnstrom love, fact remains the guy was a powerplay specialist on a team that had Pronger and Spacek. As an even-strength player his record leaves a little to be desired:

    2001-02: 62 GP, -12
    2002-03: 61 GP, -11
    2003-04: 80 GP, -37
    2005-06: 55 GP, -15
    2007-08: 48 GP, -11
    ————————–
    Career: 306 GP, -86
    ————————–

    Minus double-digits every year, is it any wonder that MacT viewed him as bench strength? To his credit, Tarnstrom did play pretty well in those Finals; he and Greene were a pretty low-event pair as I recall. But it was only after MAB had a truly horrible first two games in Carolina that the switch was made.

  16. mike w says:

    …MacT cannot manage two successful offensive lines at EV

    The criticism is not unique: I think this is a challenge faced by all coaches in the league, really.

  17. IceDragoon says:

    Good day.

    I’ve been away basking in the glory of my grandbaby’s smiles. :-D
    And, I do hope to find the time I thought I had yesterday later today.
    ;-D
    For now… a drive-by.

    Huddy handles the D.

    L8r
    Louise

  18. Bruce says:

    Louise: Certainly that’s true when it comes to running the bench. How much input do you suppose Huddy has on which 6 defencemen dress, or what the pairings are? I’m sure his input has a lot of value, but isn’t that big picture personnel management sort of thing ultimately the head coach’s decision?

    I really don’t know, but I am curious.

  19. Alice says:

    Louise -
    Makes me smile. I love the disconnect between the Norse-martial sounding Icedragoon, and what follows, most genially introduced with “Good day, “

    Don’t ever change your handle to Sunny, tho.

  20. Jonathan says:

    How much input do you suppose Huddy has on which 6 defencemen dress, or what the pairings are? I’m sure his input has a lot of value, but isn’t that big picture personnel management sort of thing ultimately the head coach’s decision?

    MacTavish decides which defenseman dress and who plays with who. Charlie Huddy said so just the other day.

  21. Tyler says:

    Fact was we had won three series with Tarnstrom mostly in the PB while Greene and MAB mostly held their own as the third pairing. So to single out the SCF and say that’s the series Greene shouldn’t have played is cherry-picking.

    I think a lot of us were saying all along that Matt Greene should have been in the press box with Tarnstrom taking his minutes. I was complaining about it as early as G4 of the Detroit series. I specifically said during the Anaheim series that I didn’t understand why Greene was playing instead of Tarnstrom. Carolina probably had a deeper corps of forwards than anyone else the Oilers played in the playoffs, with the possible exception of Detroit.

    Throwing up Tarnstrom’s numbers is kind of misleading there – those were on a horrible team where, IIRC, he was playing as a #1. I’ll go to my grave thinking that he could have outplayed Matt Greene in the playoffs.

    You’re right that Bergeron played two shitty games in Carolina BUT two things: first, Greene fucked up on Ladd – Bergeron was in a terrible position trying to cover for him. Second, the guy had two bad games…Greene sucked for most of the playoffs and the coaches didn’t use him a ton in the SCF.

    Really, the whole thing might have come down to something as simple as handedness. Greene has some value in that he’s a right handed shot – as I recall, the only other right handed shot on that team was Staios. That may well be why they kept Greene in the lineup.

  22. Big T says:

    Gator was/is a RH shot as well.

    The Ladd hit was definately MAB trying to cover for Greene, though he clearly had a bad game in G1.

    T

  23. Bruce says:

    MacTavish decides which defenseman dress and who plays with who. Charlie Huddy said so just the other day.

    Egads! I have been found out, by none other than Jonathan, provider of the marvellous Copper & Blue site and, uh, related markets, that I start my hockey day visiting the also-marvellous and slightly-more-venerable Lowetide.

    However, if you keep answering my questions before I ask them, Jonathan — as you certainly did with today’s 7:07 AM post — I may have to rethink my priorities. :-D

    Thanks for the link, although I certainly would have made it there shortly. And thanks for the definitive answer.

    I’m not surprised by it; manpower deployment as basic as who plays with whom, and (preferably) against whom, is a Decision that rightly falls on the Head Coach. I’m absolutely cool with that. Besides, I would bet anything that Huddy has significant input in the process.

    PS: A trivia note for Huddy (and Oiler) fans that I just came across the other day in a random visit to the ever-improving Hockey-reference.com. Since we’re on the subject of Oiler defencemen anyways, it’s worth reprinting the Top 20 in this category, namely the Career Playoff Plus Leaders (maintained only since 1983, for context):

    Rank Player +/-
    ——————–
    1. Charlie Huddy 82
    2. Jari Kurri* 73
    3. Randy Gregg 71
    4. Wayne Gretzky* 67
    5. Glenn Anderson(*) 63
    6. Peter Forsberg 54
    Mark Howe 54
    8. Steve Smith 49
    9. Scott Stevens* 48
    Chris Chelios 48
    11. Paul Coffey* 42
    Claude Lemieux 42
    Mark Messier* 42
    14. Jaromir Jagr 38
    Kevin Lowe 38
    16. Sergei Fedorov 37
    17. Brian Skrudland 35
    Nicklas Lidstrom 35
    19. Chris Pronger 34
    20. Brendan Shanahan 32

    (* – HHoF)

    Not too hard to pick out the Dynasty team of the last quarter century, is it? 9 of the top 15, including the “Big Five” that are finally to be reunited in the Hall, plus four outstanding-if-underrated defencemen in Huddy, Gregg, Smith and Lowe. And only after all 9 of those guys show up on this list do we encounter our first Red Wing.

    I think I’ll keep that one in my back pocket for the next time I run into a fan from Motormouth City. :-D

  24. Bruce says:

    Tyler: I have no doubt that you and others were complaining about Greene from about, I dunno, the 3 minute mark of his first game against the Red Wings. And yet, the Oilers won three series against (the) three WC powerhouses, from the 8-hole using the line-up chosen by MacT.

    It seems to me he must have been making a lot more right decisions than wrong ones.

    Throwing up Tarnstrom’s numbers is kind of misleading there – those were on a horrible team where, IIRC, he was playing as a #1.

    That is true for the -37 season , when he played his only 80-game season, averaging 24:03. But he played on four different teams. Hell, he played on two very different teams in Edmonton, and he couldn’t make the top 6 on either of them.

    Listen, I like Dick Tarnstrom, he helped win me a pool with that 52-point season, but he is not my idea of a solid defensive defenceman. Whereas Matt Greene at least tends in that direction.

    I’ll go to my grave thinking that he could have outplayed Matt Greene in the playoffs.

    And when I think of a possible pairing of Tarnstrom and MAB against the Wings, Sharks, or Ducks, I wonder if I would be in my grave already. :D

  25. CM says:

    I don’t think you can blame mac T for playing Green…he tarnstrom is terrible defencivly

  26. Tyler says:

    Listen, I like Dick Tarnstrom, he helped win me a pool with that 52-point season, but he is not my idea of a solid defensive defenceman. Whereas Matt Greene at least tends in that direction.

    There’s a saying amongst the statzis in baseball that a catcher’s defensive reputation is inversely related to his offensive ability. I tend to think that the same holds true in hockey.

  27. Jonathan says:

    There’s a saying amongst the statzis in baseball that a catcher’s defensive reputation is inversely related to his offensive ability. I tend to think that the same holds true in hockey.

    Excellent, excellent point.

  28. Gord says:

    I think it’s clear that the Hejda pressboxing is something that stuck in everybody’s craw a little bit, considering it’s the first thing that comes to mind two years later :)

    There are three types of defensemen that I like.

    The first is the high visibility types creating offensive chances – everyone notices & loves them. They cost a lot of money.

    The second are the crushers putting opposing players on their butts – everyone notices them & loves them. They do not cost that much.

    The third are the invisible ones – the defenseman never seems to do anything but any opposing player near them "vanishes into a black hole of no opportunity". They cost almost nothing which is great when the salary cap is taken into consideration.

    I accept that most fans do not appreciate the invisible defensemen but I was positive that Lowe, MacT & Huddy know how important these players are to the team's success.

    Letting Hejda walk away still puzzles me…

  29. namflashback says:

    I think the criticism of the PP is obviously well deserved.

    Note how damn good it was in the last half of 07-08 though (4th in the league). Final stats on the PP look bad because it was so gawful in the first half.

    I’m not as concerned about the PP. Faceoffs are a traditional strength of this team — I’m more worried about posession off the draw and eating GA due to set plays off draws.

    10 was lower in his F/O % this past year, and it may have been the fancy new sticks he had made. Better for his SH% but worse for F/O.

  30. IceDragoon says:

    Bruce, I recall MacT commenting on Huddy being in charge of all things D related, including running the bench, sometime in fall ’06. I thought he reiterated the same during one of the interviews after Daum’s departure from the coaching ranks. Couldn’t find anything to substantiate
    that, tho.

    Alice: Don’t ever change your handle to Sunny, tho.

    LOL – There’s no need to worry about that ever happening.

    Jonathan: MacTavish decides which defenseman dress and who plays with who. Charlie Huddy said so just the other day.

    Thanx for that, Jonathan. I followed the links to the podcast.
    http://www.630
    ched.com/Channels/Reg/InsideSports/
    Story.aspx?ID=1017823
    (I added spaces)

    It’s always a pleasure to listen to Charlie Huddy. No one could ever accuse him of being too outspoken.
    ;-D

    About 12 minutes in, Tencer asks ~ “Is it a waste of time to talk about pairings…?”

    Huddy: “I think you’re always thinking about guys you want to… start with and see how they go. I think we all know what it’s like, you get into the start of the season going… this guy is going to be paired with this guy, and then you get going and maybe you need to change it around.

    “At the end of the day it’s MacT’s choice who’s going to end up being together, but…”

    He then goes into the pairings he sees at this point.

    ‘At the end of the day’ it’s always the head coach’s choice. That said, MacTavish’s coaches are part of his team; and he knows the need for being accountable to, and reliant on, his teammates. I don’t think he spends much time second-guessing Huddy about the D.

  31. pj50 says:

    Considering what MacT has been given to work with this year IMO he should be fired if the Oil don’t make the playoffs, never mind being allowed to quit. Too may ex-Oilers coaching this team for my liking, too much of the same old thinking going on and not enough new ideas.

  32. Jonathan says:

    ‘At the end of the day’ it’s always the head coach’s choice. That said, MacTavish’s coaches are part of his team; and he knows the need for being accountable to, and reliant on, his teammates. I don’t think he spends much time second-guessing Huddy about the D.

    Well, either way, Huddy has a ton of input and MacTavish makes the call, so I suppose it would be fairer to heap even amounts of blame on Huddy and MacTavish for their reluctance to play Hejda and their support of the Matt Greene penalty-watch, right?

  33. Lowetide says:

    I think you play Matt Greene in the hopes he develops into a stud back there (with part of it obviously being the experience gained in a deep playoff run).

    Greene’s education didn’t take, but that might be a reason to try running a rookie out there every night when a veteran option was available. And some of it might be as MC suggests, reputation possibly exceeding acutal ability (in the case of Tarnstrom who would have been a better bet than a couple of D in the Stanley run ’06).

  34. Doogie2K says:

    There’s a saying amongst the statzis in baseball that a catcher’s defensive reputation is inversely related to his offensive ability. I tend to think that the same holds true in hockey.

    The exceptions to this rule generally wind up in the Hall of Fame, so it’s a fair assessment on the whole.

  35. IceDragoon says:

    Jonathan, actually, we agree. I just think it wise to know the path the buck takes before it stops at MacT.
    ;-D

    Lowetide: Greene’s education didn’t take

    You think he’s done, Lain?

    A big, bruising, stay-at-home-defenceman, who has shown leaps in development in the past; is finished his NHL education at twenty-five years of age? I guess we’ll see.

    I should have added to my above:

    He then goes into the pairings he sees at this point.

    Staios and Souray as the shut-down duo.
    *shudder*

  36. Bruce says:

    //Lowetide: Greene’s education didn’t take//

    IceDragoon: You think he’s done, Lain?

    Took the words right out of my mouth, Louise. I’ve seen these slow-development-curve 25-year-old defensive defencemen come and go in the past, and I always wind up liking the inbound guy (e.g. Lee Fogolin, Craig Muni, Jason Smith) from the day he arrived and wondering how the fuck his former team let him get away so cheaply; and ruing the day we let the outbound guy (Dave Langevin, Jeff Beukeboom) get away, just as he was finally getting to be decent, and wondering why the fuck his former team (a.k.a. my team) let him go. Obviously for Matt Greene we don’t yet have the perspective of history (all the guys I named except Gator won Cups with their new team, whereas Greene’s future is an open book), but he easily could be that sort of player. Certainly the pre-history has the same feel.

    I have a friend far, far removed from the Oilogosphere who used to go to games with me throughout the 80s, whose opinion I respect just as much as I do Jonathan’s or Tyler’s. Two different times this summer we chatted about the Oilers’ recent arrivals and departures, and amongst higher-profile teammates Joni Pitkanen, Jarret Stoll, and Raffi Torres, my friend twice mentioned how sorry he was to see Matt Greene leave, that Oilers would miss his combative attitude and leadership skills. I didn’t disagree with him either time.

  37. Ribs says:

    What are his strengths? His teams are prepared.

    I think maybe “down the stretch and into the playoffs” needs to be added to this line. MacT’s seasons starts are chaotic at best. His inability to have at least a first line figured out by November is the reason they struggle every year to make it to the playoffs.

    Does it just take that long to see who gels? Who knows. I don’t really think it takes other teams as long to do it. You can blame it on not having the right players but the blender needs to be slowed down at some point earlier in the season. Those early losses against teams they should be beating are killers come spring time.

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