Once More to the Wood Shed

It looks as though Craig MacTavish has chosen his hill to die on. Dustin Penner. In a stunning article by Jim Matheson today we got word that #27 is in some serious trouble with the organization. The article is here.

This is the third time this season Craig MacTavish has taken verbal shots at his players in public. Each have been reported, and one imagines that they have some impact on the people involved. That’s a double edged razor. I think these are the end times for Craig MacTavish as a head coach for the Edmonton Oilers. You can only shit on people for so long, no matter how correct you are in saying it. After awhile, they quit on you and it’s impossible to fire the whole team. And it’s also impossible to trade Dustin Penner.

The chances of all of the players in this soap opera surviving the event are not great, and at the very least this probably weakens Kevin Lowe’s position within the organization. If Craig MacTavish’s words are an indictment of Penner, and they certainly are, what then do they tell us about Kevin Lowe?

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124 Responses to "Once More to the Wood Shed"

  1. Clarkenstein says:

    You are BANG on I hope LT… this HAS to be the beginning of the end for MacT!!! He is at the “I don’t give a shit anymore” stage right now. Strangely enough now that the end is in sight it becomes more apparent to me that he AND Lowe must go as a pair. Lowe engineered this deal for the Pussy Penner which the vast majority of fans were left shaking their heads when this happened. This deal made no sense then and it obviously makes no sense now!! Lowe is clearly responsible for this 3 goalie bullshit that he obviously didn’t learn from the last time he did this. We don’t have a reliable face off man and we have 14 forwards around that seem to be interchangeable in his mind. And finally, the prick that Brian Burke is… maybe he wasn’t that far off about Lowe was he? We can only hope that Katz is the impatient man we hear he is and let’s blow this mess up and move on… 7 or 8 years of watching games like last night (Col) is enough for me!!

  2. mc79hockey says:

    If Craig MacTavish’s words are an indictment of Penner, and they certainly are, what then do they tell us about Kevin Lowe?

    I listened to the audio. I don’t take it as an indictment of Lowe, because MacT says that “we” saw the contract as a starting point, Penner saw it as a finishing point.

    With that said, there’s a long list of teams who have signed second tier players from elite teams, expecting them to become elite players and pull their own teams to elite status, and it never fucking works. I can’t remember what the concerns were about him when he came over but I do recall reading that he was apparently Carlyle’s whipping boy in Anaheim.

    To me, the interesting question is whether MacT thinks that he’s regressed as a player since leaving Anaheim or is it that he’s failed to progress to the degree that they were hoping.

    In any event, I don’t ever remember him ripping a player like that. If the end days of Craig MacTavish involve telling a lot of hard truths, I’m ok with this.

  3. mc79hockey says:

    Lowe engineered this deal for the Pussy Penner which the vast majority of fans were left shaking their heads when this happened.

    Excuse me, but fuck that. The vast majority of fans spent August walking around Edmonton with tented pants, thinking that Lowe had somehow put one over on Burke and that Penner was going to keep getting better despite being through the age when players improve most.

  4. mc79hockey says:

    Sorry about the profanity LT. I’m trying, I really am.;)

  5. Lowetide says:

    I don’t know MC, a lot of people thought it was a terrible mistake.

    http://lowetide.blogspot.com/2007/07/can-penn-teller-make-this-disappear.html

  6. mc79hockey says:

    Looking through there LT, I put it about 60/40 against. And your readership isn’t exactly a representative sample.

  7. Paper Designer says:

    I’m not sure what he expects from a player that he’s putting in a totally different situation that the type that he’s typically succeeded in. To know exactly how to be Fernando Pisani?

  8. Clarkenstein says:

    Mc79… you’re excused, but you surely have selective memory!! It was more like “WTF?? $4.5 large for who??” Lowe had to do something, remember? After the Ryan Smyth fiasco he admitted it was a mistake… letting George go he admitted was mistake. He couldn’t f**cking get anybody to sign here so he started to flock shoot and this big goof fell out of the sky!! I stand by my comment… “..the vast majority of fans were left shaking their heads…”

  9. Lowetide says:

    Paper Designer: I honestly think it’s just frustration on MacT’s part and Penner is the whipping boy. In spite of what must be simply awful conditioning Penner isn’t -9 or anything.

    His Corsi isn’t horrible (+7, Fernando is -16) and although he isn’t created offense at EVs he sure isn’t alone in that regard.

    I honestly think the biggest difference between Penner this year and last is how MacT is using him, less (way less) on the PP and more on PK.

    Plus of course he hasn’t been with Horcoff and Hemsky much.

  10. Paulus says:

    Yeah, selective memory. Count me as someone who thought highly of Penner’s acquisition, rising cap and all that. Internet howlers tended to agree; no one was calling him a “pussy” or “fat” at the time, they celebrated stealing one of Burke’s finer assets.

  11. mc79hockey says:

    I honestly think the biggest difference between Penner this year and last is how MacT is using him, less (way less) on the PP and more on PK.

    The problem, of course, is that you can’t have someone at his scratch pulling that sort of duty, particularly when he’s not very good at it.

  12. till_horcoff_is_coach says:

    Mactavish has done the this little interchangeable forward idea way too many times to not figure out that it rarely works. I’m starting to think he does it on purpose to induce bad play from the player.

    Penner really started to click last year when Horc was healthy and yet every combination but that one has been tried this year. He led in PP goals yet hasn’t been given sufficient PP time this year. Jonathan just recently broke down what I thought was a very accurate snapshot of Penner so far (http://coppernblue.blogspot.com/2008/11/compare-contrast-steve-staios-and.html) and his EV/60 is slightly up. To my eye he is playing better this year than last but given every opportunity to fail instead of succeed.

    Poo is another example that comes to mind who was clearly more comfortable in C but bigmac refused to let him play in his natural position and it dragged his play down greatly.

    So if I’m following it correctly then, first Mactavish gets unhappy and sticks the player in a role he doesn’t succeed in. Then complains openly about said lack of success.

  13. PunjabiOil says:

    While Penner hasn’t been outright horrible (+6 leads the team), he’s not shooting the puck. He had I believe over 200 shots last year – hes around ~18-20 this year [too sick (migraine) to check].

    Of course the fact that he’s not playing in a position of strength (PP) should reflect poorly on MacT. I don’t understand why is hell bent on Cole infront of the net on the powerplay; the results are, and always have, indicated he’s not a powerplay performer. However, the guy who lead the team in PP goals last year (13) is not played to his strengths?

    Craig MacTavish sometimes doesn’t appear as smart as he sounds.

  14. mc79hockey says:

    For whatever reason, MacT doesn’t like to jumble his lines on the PP and he, IMO, sets his lines based on who he wants together for ES. I agree that Penner should probably be on the PP but a) MacT has a bit of the old school in him in that he sees PP time as a reward and b) Penner isn’t SO good on the PP that you’re going to go to the trouble of gameplanning around getting him PP minutes.

  15. Lowetide says:

    MC: According to nhl.com, Penner was pretty good on 5×4 per 60m: 4.07

  16. Coach pb9617 says:

    Plus of course he hasn’t been with Horcoff and Hemsky much.

    A thousand times over again.

    The guy started the season in the wrong place in an attempt to jam Cole into the first line. He was the best forward on the ice for at least three games, and he’s been bounced everywhere. He’s also playing on the PK, fer crissakes!

    Leave well enough alone and consider Penner shotgun to Hemsky and Horcoff and let them produce.

    I’m not ready to give up on him yet and think this is recoverable.

  17. mc79hockey says:

    LT – that’s like 50th percentile for forwards. Like I say, I’m not going to complain if he’s a useful player in other ways but it’s not something where I’d worry about making sure that he was on the ice for the PP.

  18. PunjabiOil says:

    MC: According to nhl.com, Penner was pretty good on 5×4 per 60m: 4.07

    On a qualitative basis, his big body was instrumental on those goalie screens that lead to powerplay goals. He didn’t always get a point doing such, either.

    He is an effective powerplay performer; too bad MacT hasn’t acknowledged this so far.

  19. Lowetide says:

    MC: But it’s better than Cole’s number, right? And Cole is a better player in all other areas. So why not use Penner there?

    Another thing, has Gagner helped the PP? I don’t think he has.

    No, I think this piss-on-Penner thing is more about the coach trying to find oxygen than anything.

  20. mc79hockey says:

    On a qualitative basis, his big body was instrumental on those goalie screens that lead to powerplay goals. He didn’t always get a point doing such, either.

    Sure but who’s to say Cole can’t or doesn’t fill that role? Again, if he’s not good enough to play in your top 6 at ES – he clearly isn’t IMO – then he needs to be a clear winner on the PP to justify the hassle you’re creating by jumbling the lines. That needs to be the measuring stick.

  21. PunjabiOil says:

    LT – that’s like 50th percentile for forwards. Like I say,

    A more meaningful comparison would be comparing his numbers to players that play in the same position on the PP (infront of the net/slot).

  22. PunjabiOil says:

    Sure but who’s to say Cole can’t or doesn’t fill that role?

    Historical numbers. Both the PP/60 and the GFON 5 vs 4 /60

  23. mc79hockey says:

    A more meaningful comparison would be comparing his numbers to players that play in the same position on the PP (infront of the net/slot).

    Fair point (seriously). Do you have a list of those guys?

  24. PunjabiOil says:

    Do you have a list of those guys?

    Not really. I’ll acknowledge while I keep in touch of what’s happening around the league, I’m more of an Oilers fan than an NHL fan – don’t really watch too many non-Oilers games to provide informed analysis.

    This question would be better answered by Lowetide, Vic Ferrari, Bruce, Jonathan, PDO among others.

  25. Jonathan says:

    Wow. I'm a MacTavish guy, but unless there's a bunch of stuff going on in the background (could be, but there isn't much evidence of it), this problem is more on him than on Penner.

    Penner's played fewer minutes against tougher opposition and with worse linemates (Pisani's great, but his play this year hasn't been good, for whatever reason) and his PTS/60 has actually gone up at evens. It's progress, even if it doesn't justify the contract (which, IMO, it doesn't).

    The big counting numbers drop is from the lack of powerplay use, and I think MacT has demonstrated that he really can't run a top-tier powerplay, so I'm not inclined to give him to much slack when it comes to how he uses guys. The simple fact is that historically, Penner > Cole with the man advantage, and not using Penner in the role where he's most effective is a waste of materials.

    It goes beyond if the Penner contract is good or not – that isn't MacTavish's problem. MacTavish's problem is to use players where they'll be effective (and I think for the most part he does), and in Penner's case, that's on the PP, both for his own sake and the sake of the team. He can run him on the third line at evens, and he hasn't been bad there, but when he's putting up better numbers than last year at evens and MacT isn't using him on the powerplay, it's a little rich to dump on the guy like that.

  26. Asiaoil says:

    I’m somewhat disappointed in Penner’s season – but probably less so than in MacT and Lowe’s performance. As Clarkstein said – MacT is doing a bunch simply bizarre things with lines, goalies and matchups this year and Lowe has done nothing about obvious holes which is typical. But throwing both Garon and Penner under the bus when neither guy has been that bad and both have not been used properly IMHO is way odd.

    I agree….MacT seeing the end may be the only thing that makes sense – and it clearly will be as soon as he gets the infamous vote of confidence from the GM(s) or owner.

  27. Asiaoil says:

    Forgot to mention one thing. It may be the best thing to let MacT go – but I’ll always remember his wonderful work during the 06 cup run – choice of backup in G1 of the SCF excepted ;)

  28. Bruce says:

    Reading this thread with great interest. Just thinking Western Conference, here’s a few comparables for Penner’s PP role (all stats from 2007-08):

    Dustin Penner:
    3.59 PPTOI/GP
    2.44 PPG/60
    1.63 PPA/60
    4.07 PPP/60
    +7.13/-1.22 = +5.91/60

    Tomas Holmstrom:
    3.85 PPTOI/GP
    2.11 PPG/60
    1.32 PPA/60
    3.43 PPP/60
    +7.65/-1.06 = +6.60/60

    Ryan Smyth:
    3.75 PPTOI/GP
    0.58 PPG/60 (!)
    1.45 PPA/60
    2.04 PPP/60
    +4.36/-0 = +4.36/60

    Brenden Morrow:
    3.84 PPTOI/GP
    2.10 PPG/60
    2.66 PPA/60
    4.77 PPP/60
    +7.25/-0.76 = +6.48/60

    Keith Tkachuk:
    3.45 TOI/GP
    2.20 PPG/60
    1.54 PPA/60
    3.74 PPP/60
    +5.28/-1.32 = +3.96/60

    … and one from the East:

    Erik Cole
    3.93 PPTOI/GP
    2.30 PPG/60
    0.84 PPA/60
    3.13 PPP/60
    +6.90/-1.04 = +5.85/60

    Most of these crease crowders score more than they assist, and do a lot of screening with no assists. Morrow is the best playmaker of the bunch, while Smytty had an uncharacteristicly bad year finding twine on the PP. Some play on better powerplays than Penner did and some worse. All in all, I’d say Dustin fits pretty comfortably within this peer group.

  29. Jonathan says:

    I think these are the end times for Craig MacTavish as a head coach for the Edmonton Oilers. You can only shit on people for so long, no matter how correct you are in saying it.

    Thinking about it some more, you’ve probably hit the nail on the head, LT.

    I know there are people out there who will say – “look at MacT ripping Penner when Penner doesn’t really deserve it” and make the argument that as a result, MacTavish is a bad coach. I’ll refer those people to NHL-coaching-flavour-of-the-month Ron Wilson, who did the exact same thing to Jason Blake and recieved virtually nothing but praise for it. (Blake, btw, has the third best Corsi number on the Leafs, at +13.2)

    The difference? Wilson’s in his first year with the team, and he can get away with it. The message may be right, but it’s entriely possible that the voice saying it may lose the room. We’ll have a good idea if that’s happened in the next ten games or so.

  30. Tyler says:

    All in all, I’d say Dustin fits pretty comfortably within this peer group.

    Right, and I appreciate that you’re not the one advancing the argument but in order for Penner to “deserve” the PP TOI, he has to make the hassle of getting him PP time worth it. If he’s the same as Cole on the PP, or only ever so marginally better, why would any coach go through the pain with his lines that would entail would Cole is the clearly better ES player?

    MacTavish’s problem is to use players where they’ll be effective (and I think for the most part he does), and in Penner’s case, that’s on the PP, both for his own sake and the sake of the team.

    MacT’s job is to get the best results from his team. Period. I don’t see the statistical argument that he’s wrong in thinking that it’s not worth the trouble of getting Penner PP minutes, particularly when Penner has some other problems.

    Say what you will about this being end days and MacT choosing to rage against the dying of the light but, for the love of God, he’s not wrong. The reasons are whatever they are, but he’s had to, as a coach, put up with all sorts of nonsense being foisted on him by the front office over the years. If this is a reaction to four years of various bizarre maneouvers, I can’t judge him too harshly.

    (Sure would be nice if he fixed the PP though.)

    I’m completely puzzled that people are so critical right now. They come off a road trip that has to be seen as successful, Gagner’s underlying numbers have taken a step forward (I assume we all think that the other ones will come)…I look at this team right now and I’m pleasantly surprised. I think that they’re further along than they had any reasonable right to be. Shit like last night happens. MacT is frustrated, no doubt, but he doesn’t seem to be drawing the usual cadre of supporters.

  31. Bill Needle says:

    Why doesn’t Clueless Craig just blame Saturday’s shootout loss on Penner. I’m sure he could have scored into the empty net from the press box.

  32. spOILer says:

    Re: gm 1 SCF 06.

    That play was as much Smith’s fault. His confidence wasn’t the same the next year, and I’d contend he was traded because of it.

    Re: Penner

    So Dustin joins a long list of Oiler players who have been called out by MacT. He’s usually good for at least one every November, and at least one every late winter.

    So I’m not so sure what the hullabaloo is over this particular calling out. If you go back over the years and read/listen to MacT’s comments when he’s been frustrated with his team’s play and he has sounded the same as this year, if not worse. Where does all this talk that he’s different this year come from? Is there any actual evidence for it,or are you all going on your gut feelings?

    Penner isn’t the first player he’s benched, and when there’s other coaches benching guys without qualm this season, all of this MacT spec to me seems like HF knee jerk reaction.

    MacT gave Penner an out, calling him a quality player, but that he has to shape up and start to bring it. Truly throwing a player under the bus is when you start using terms like “no hope” and “never”.

    MacT’s expectations are obviously higher this year and he’s calling players and his team out earlier — as he should. Apparently he’s sick and tired of having to make mad dashes for the playoffs, as we all should be.

  33. Lowetide says:

    This is the third time. Three times, and we’re not at game 20. The beatings will continue until morale improves.

  34. RiversQ says:

    Penner has 18 shots.

    For the minutes he has had that is terrible. Yes he looks out of shape again (recall the locker room clean out exchange those two had last year – it was far from agreement.) but he’s just not a very good player. Right now he’s about as effective as Big Georges – he rags the puck which keeps the GA down but he doesn’t make anything happen.

    I’d trade him. Even just to dump the salary. Big guys always get more chances than they deserve. If you Lowe’s the only dummy that would pay Penner you’re nuts. How about straight up for Kubina?.

  35. Doogie2K says:

    I have to wonder if Penner’s instant demotion to the third line and off the PP wasn’t at least part of what started this. He was just fine on the first line and first PP last year, once he got his shit together, then came back to camp this year in good shape (allegedly) and promptly had the rug yanked out from under him. I can see why the competitiveness might not entirely be there, if there’s no discernable way to receive a reward. Hell, his spot on the 89-83 line lasted all of two shifts.

    Makes you wonder what’s going on behind the scenes. Penner hasn’t played up to snuff, no, but he hasn’t exactly been put in a position to succeed, either.

    Re: what we thought at the time, I believe at the time I was cautiously optimistic about the player but horrified by the contract.

    @Bruce: Looking at those numbers, Smytty was hurt most of the year, Tkachuk was on a bad team with few offensive weapons, and Holmstrom’s disproportionate PPP/GAON would have to be attributable to the presence of #5. Seems to fit.

    MacTavish’s problem is to use players where they’ll be effective

    MacT’s job is to get the best results from his team. Period.

    I don’t see how these two things are inherently incompatible. If each player is used to his strengths, doesn’t that generally lead to better results for the team?

  36. Jonathan says:

    MacT’s job is to get the best results from his team. Period. I don’t see the statistical argument that he’s wrong in thinking that it’s not worth the trouble of getting Penner PP minutes, particularly when Penner has some other problems.

    The trouble? It's about using pieces where they can be useful. Penner > Cole on the powerplay, and Cole > Penner at evens, so it makes sense to give Cole a heavy workload at EV and a lighter load on the PP; and vice versa for Penner.

    The reasons are whatever they are, but he's had to, as a coach, put up with all sorts of nonsense being foisted on him by the front office over the years. If this is a reaction to four years of various bizarre maneouvers, I can't judge him too harshly.

    (Sure would be nice if he fixed the PP though.)

    I’m completely puzzled that people are so critical right now. They come off a road trip that has to be seen as successful, Gagner’s underlying numbers have taken a step forward (I assume we all think that the other ones will come)…I look at this team right now and I’m pleasantly surprised. I think that they’re further along than they had any reasonable right to be.

    Agreed and agreed. I don’t think MacT should be shown the door, but I think that’s a real possibility coming down from Katz, and MacT is reacting by being far less patient than he has been in previous years, which is a bad thing.

    MacT is frustrated, no doubt, but he doesn’t seem to be drawing the usual cadre of supporters.

    Bergeron and Comrie are two examples of flawed players with good talent in certain areas of the game. MacTavish used them in a certain way, because those areas where they had talent were under-represented on the team.

    Penner brings a talent (big bodied LW on the powerplay with some hands) that is unique. Cole is inferior in this aspect, and none of the other options are close.

  37. Bruce says:

    I’m completely puzzled that people are so critical right now.

    Me too. The whole point of the first six weeks was to keep our head above water, and in the immortal words of GWB, “Mission Accomplished”. This is the first time all year the team has played two in a row at home for goodness sake, and some fallout from that horrendous trip was to be expected. Oilers were a pubic hair away from winning last night, and you have to admit you don’t see a 3-on-6 scenario very often. Shit happens (esp. when Colorado is involved, but whatever)

    MacT has traditionally used the opening quarter of the season to experiment a little, take guys out of their comfort zone, see who can handle what and who can’t. Even the epic fails generally emerge from such experiments as better, more well-rounded players.

    Even with last night’s crushing disappointment, the Oilers splits are pretty interesting:

    1* goal games: 8-2-2
    2 or more goals: 0-5

    (* discounting ENG)

    Now I suppose you can say that’s bad coaching, he hasn’t coached a team that has kicked butt even once all year. I guess if you want to hang that on the coach — or more to the point, just hang the coach — that’s your opinion. Mine is that we’ve wrung about as many points as we could hope for from the team’s performance to date.

    Realistically, the team would have to tank for quite awhile before the trigger fingers which actually carry live ammunition get itchy. But it’s clear the natives are getting restless.

  38. Lowetide says:

    I don’t think reasonable people are being critical of MacTavish, we’re just shocked to our shoes about what’s coming out of his mouth.

    The man has been here since fall 2000 and his verbal this fall is completely out of character. I’m no expert on this issue, but Craig MacTavish is not reacting to these things as he has in the past.

    Something is wrong.

  39. Jonathan says:

    Penner has 18 shots.

    I’d be curious to know the situational breakdown of those shots – do you know where that information is available?

    Pisani, who’s played a similar role, has 25, while Cole has 39. I’m just wondering to what extent powerplay shooting is exaggerating the gap.

  40. spOILer says:

    LT: MacT called the Oil out, including the vets, twice in October last year. Had already benched guys prior to November. Gave them a blistering 20 minute talking-to on November 7, and then benched Torres and Stoll on December 7.

    This year is a different MacT how?

  41. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    lowetide said…
    I don’t think reasonable people are being critical of MacTavish, we’re just shocked to our shoes about what’s coming out of his mouth.

    The man has been here since fall 2000 and his verbal this fall is completely out of character. I’m no expert on this issue, but Craig MacTavish is not reacting to these things as he has in the past.

    Something is wrong.

    Agree completely LT.

    And the most obvious difference is Katz.

    He’s not a stupid man IMO and he can likely project another team finishing just like most of the last 18.

    I just finished watching CHI/SJ on CI.

    Those guys are playing at a level the Oilers could only dream about.

  42. spOILer says:

    FCM,

    What is different coming out of his mouth? He’s said some pretty tough things about his team in the past, so I’m curious what you got that’s worse.

    The Katz stuff is sheer transference on the part of fans.

    And as for other teams, we’ve seen the Oil play like world-beaters at times this year too, with a brutal sched and still some very young players.

    MacT has simply raised the bar for his team. Is he not right in doing so?

  43. Lowetide says:

    spOILer: There’s just no way. This isn’t Jarret Stoll and Raffi Torres thumbing their fingers at the thought of playing the toughs with Stortini and this isn’t the wordgame that was Jani Rita.

    This is something different altogether. James Stewart in It’s A Wonderful Life different altogether. We’ve lived in Bedford Falls for years and today it’s turned into Pottersville.

  44. danny says:

    Wow.

    The frustration level of MacT has been very evident this season. He has been very uncharacteristic in his comments towards the players/team to say the least.

    It doesn’t make a lot of sense to villify Penner as he did, as the gap between his performers and underperformers haven’t been enough to distance 27 from that pack that significantly IMO.

    I really get the feeling that MacT is fed up with the front office. I can’t blame him really as Lowe/EIG have sent him to the gunfight with watermelons year in and year out. It has always been something seemingly simple to procure, such as a Mark Eaton, or a Marty Reasoner, yet every year he has to roll Smid/Greene out 15+ mins a night, watch Pisani crash and burn as a pivot… the list goes on.

    It is really starting to sound like Wilsons final days in San Jose. Toxic amounts of piss + vinegar. Best before date approaching quickly.

  45. spOILer says:

    He ripped his entire team for 20 minutes in an open practice “losing his cool” and “blowing his mind” according to players and eyewitnesses just one year ago. And Torres was benched for inconsistency and lack of effort, almost exactly the same reason as Penner.

    Where is the evidence that it is MacT in Pottersville and not us?

  46. PunjabiOil says:

    LOL – great picture for this thread. It illustrates Penner showing no emotion even when engaging in a scuffle

  47. PunjabiOil says:

    Where is the evidence that it is MacT in Pottersville and not us?

    I suppose the difference is MacT going public of his player criticisms.

  48. spOILer says:

    But he has done so before, and more than once, so what actually is different?

  49. mc79hockey says:

    Spoiler – I found the criticism of Penner different because he basically said that he’s been a piece of shit since he signed the contract. He was kind enough to say that he has the skills but that he’s been inconsistent. That’s unusual for MacT – he’ll say that a guy has played like garbage, he won’t say that a guy has sucked for a year and a half. If you haven’t, listen to the audio at Lowetide’s competitor, oilers.nhl.com.

    (An aside: I always think that inconsistent means “isn’t good enough.” Nobody has static levels of performance and they certainly don’t have static levels of results. It seems to me that the problem with Penner is that his average level isn’t good enough.)

  50. Lowetide says:

    MC: That’s a good point. Penner is like the old Reds’ 1b Hal Morris who had a career despite not hitting for power at a power position.

    I remember the Reds had some good teams then and they may have won while he was there but it had a lot more to do with the SS than Hal Morris.

    The Reds were bleeding offense at first base for quite awhile when Hal Morris played for them.

  51. danny says:

    MC: I think MacTs frustration with Penner boils down to effort level moreso than thinking of him as an overpaid plugger.

    I can’t fault MacT for thinking that 27 playing with even an average NHLers intensity would make him a significantly more effective NHLer.

    Calling him out like this might very well be the answer… we’re just not used to seeing it happen.

  52. mc79hockey says:

    LT – that was my whole problem with signing him. He wasn’t good enough to be a top 2 line guy on a really good team and yet, with his ticket, a really good team can’t afford to have him be anyhting else.

  53. Dennis says:

    If MacT has been somehow given “permission” and or has the confidence to say the things that’s on his mind, then I can’t waiting wait until he address the Pronger package or the Smyth situation;)

    I think I’m a little ahead of the curve on this one because I said last night that with MacT sitting guys it’s basically now an ongoing referundum on whether MacT still holds the room to the point of being able to motivate them. Now I also thought that MAcT’s comments on 27 Yesterday were all about throwing down but he went a step further today and now it certainly gets a little more intriguing.

    I can see what Ty’s saying about how we should be a little more patient given we’re 8-7-2 after an early road slate and perhaps I’ve been more impatient than usual; but to me I’m getting a little poisoned with things being moved around for Gagner and it’s never far from my mind that playoff hockey seems to be something for fans other than the ones supporting the Oilers to enjoy.

    One reason why I’ll be in mac’s corner regarding 27 though is that he’s never looked useful unless he’s playing with our best players OR unless he’s on the PP. It’s almost like you have to plan your strategy around him and right now that seems to be a luxary only afforded 89.

    All things being equal I’ll never think that Lowe’s job’s in jeporady. he’s out shaking hands now and eating breakfast 8 days a week stumping for the new building. Fans will always slam MacT first for not knowing how to use Penner than they would look to lowe for picking him up and paying him handsomely in the first place.

    And the other thing to consider is that Mac’s said the expectations are different this year so maybe this is how he’s going to roll: no more country club atmosphere and missing the playoffs is old hat and everyone should be on notice.

    or maybe he’s just ron wilson in SJ in ’08 minus the years of being in the playoffs.

    The only thing that looks to be a given is he might have the same DNA but somehow there’s a new sheriff in town.

  54. Black Dog says:

    I think what drives MacT crazy is that he probably remembers his first exposure to Penner in ’06. Huge guy who dominated down low. Remember? He made things very difficult for Dmen, including the Oilers, in those playoffs. Impossible to handle.

    And then 29 goals, sure against soft opp, but 29 goals is still 29 goals.

    Penner just looks like he does not care. And that is a big big problem. He is the highest paid forward on this club. To expect more is reasonable.

  55. kinger says:

    Spoiler – I found the criticism of Penner different because he basically said that he’s been a piece of shit since he signed the contract.

    This pretty much sums it up. His criticism of 14 had a lot to do with recent play, and was more along the lines of “we need him to be better, like before”.

    Penner on the other hand, well, MacT basically said that the guy’s been collecting an unearned paycheck since he arrived in Edmonton.

    “He’s never been fit enough to help us”

    “When we signed him to be a top 2 line player, that’s kind of where it ended.”

  56. Lowetide says:

    BDHS: All of which is completely reasonable. However, the Penner quotes from Matheson are the third time he’s gone this route and it’s damn early.

    Last night’s postgame quotes aside, the MacT PC has been the most interesting thing about game night for quite some time.

  57. Black Dog says:

    The thing is that expectations are higher and we keep talking about Katz but fact is this is a 53M team that has fewer flaws then either of the last two versions. Expectations should be higher. I think players are coasting a bit on last year’s finish.

    Hey, I’m with Ty and Bruce – the start has been very good considering but fact is this club has given up a lot of points already. I would bet that MacT looks around the division, sees it for the taking and looks in the room and sees another March/April drive for eight and he does not like it.

    Anyone want to argue that last night, despite the loss, was not the most complete effort of the season? Right after two guys get yanked hard. No coincidence that.

  58. mc79hockey says:

    LT – did you think that they played poorly last night? I genuinely thought that they played pretty well. Budaj had a good night, Horc can’t buy one at the moment and that’s life.

  59. mc79hockey says:

    Pat – clearly the TO wing is on the same page re: last night here.

  60. Lowetide says:

    I felt they played quite well last night, and in fact was feeling pretty good about the good ship Oiler after listening to the MacT postgame podcast.

    But this Matheson article means we’re careening again and the voice of reason (MacT) seems to have grabbed the microphone and gone Jimmy Swaggart on us.

    Something is driving him to this kind of public display and I honestly don’t recall anything like it, even and including the Comrie rumors.

  61. Bruce says:

    @Bruce: Looking at those numbers, Smytty was hurt most of the year, Tkachuk was on a bad team with few offensive weapons, and Holmstrom’s disproportionate PPP/GAON would have to be attributable to the presence of #5. Seems to fit.

    Doogie: Sure does. All comparables are imperfect to say the least. Per/60 numbers should factor out injuries like those to Holmstrom or Smyth, and Tkachuk was clearly on a worse PP unit and Holmstrom on a better one. All I’m saying is those guys are pretty accomplished crease crashers and Penner’s numbers — and performance in my view — measured up pretty darn well for a second-year player.

    This year Penner has been deployed very differently on special teams. He has 0 points on the PP in reduced time, but leads all forwards with a +8.82/60 (Hemsky is next at +6.54). Heavy shade is a serious weapon. On the PK he’s been less successful to put it mildly in an equally small sample size, but he’s not the worst on the club either.

    Looking at ES numbers for the current year, Penner ranks second on the club in both GF ON/60 (+3.31, just behind Moreau of all people +3.34) and GA ON/60 (-1.33, just behind Brodziak -1.27). [Curious decision to PB both of our leading ES defensive players by the admittedly imperfect metric of GA ON/60.]

    Add them together of course, and Penner leads the club with +6, with no other forward better than +2. He’s bounced around from checking line to scoring line, from LW to RW, and taken a few faceoffs (a team leading 57.1%). if anything Penner hasn’t appeared enough out of his comfort zone, he’s an unflappable son-of-a-gun, and perhaps MacT is pushing him further in this direction to try to encourage him to be more proactive.

    Would I like to see Penner take more shots? Land more hits? Set up more goals? Yes, yes and yes, of course I would, but looking at all of his numbers, esp. team numbers, his play in ’08-09 hasn’t been a disaster by any means. Do I think he can play better? Yes, absolutely, and I hope MacT’s gamble to rattle his cage pays off.

  62. mc79hockey says:

    Penner’s numbers — and performance in my view — measured up pretty darn well for a second-year player.

    I can actually feel my blood pressure spike every time you refer to him as a second year player. We argued about this last year but calling him a second year player, with the expected improvement that that implies, ignores his age. It’s not like he’s 21 here, no matter how many times you call him a second year player.

  63. spOILer says:

    MC, I just think a mountain is beng made here out of something that is likely nothing more than upping the ante on a budding vet much in the same way he has done with others.

    His words may be a little more harsh, but past softer words have fallen on deaf ears. What does it take to make this gentle giant angry?

    Are we to believe MacT wasn’t in control of his emotions in a planned interview?

    I think he’s making it clear that expectations are higher this year.

    He hasn’t gone all that far beyond any of his previous zingers on other players.

    And he was being nice… he didn’t have to call him “not fit”. He could’ve called him slow.” Or was “fit” a deliberate double entendre?

  64. mc79hockey says:

    For those who care, the on-ice ES save percentage for Penner is .954, the on-ice ES shooting percentage is 10.5%.

  65. HBomb says:

    I’m going to put something out there. Nothing specific, just what I know from a friend.

    Penner was pretty tight buddies with Stoll, Torres and Greene, based on his friendship with Lupul from their time in Anaheim.

    After this summer, all his friends are elsewhere. Might his nose be a bit out of joint behind the scenes?

    Just throwing it into the discussion. It might mean nothing, or it could be a major part about what’s happening that we don’t know about.

  66. Kyle says:

    The heat’s on MacT, this is uncharacteristic of him. Sad to see.

  67. MikeP says:

    I don’t think this is the end for MacTavish, but I won’t go into my reasons here – this has my opinion on the matter, as well as a funny picture.

    mc, not sure why you let your blood pressure spike over something somebody else says, but that’s between you and your doctor. :)

    Are we to believe MacT wasn’t in control of his emotions in a planned interview?

    Despite what I said to mc, I’ve sometimes found myself getting worked up the more I talk about something, especially if it’s been frustrating me for a while. Could be some of it just… slipped out. Not to say it wasn’t deliberate.

    I’ve watched some Penner clips from when he was a Duck, and I’ve watched a lot of him as an Oiler. I think we know what it takes to make him angry. It takes being cheapshotted, being in an already physical game, or being taken advantage of. Maybe that’s what MacT intended to accomplish; piss him off, make him say “stick it up your ass, coach.”

    We’ll see. If he’s benched next game, I’m wrong. If he draws in for Boulerice (who was nearly useless last night), we’ll see what happens.

  68. Bruce says:

    I can actually feel my blood pressure spike every time you refer to him as a second year player. We argued about this last year but calling him a second year player, with the expected improvement that that implies, ignores his age.

    MC: Calm down! It’s not worth it. :) In this particular case I was referring more to Penner’s lack of experience than any “expected improvement” … you’re just reading that into my words.

    Emotions aside, his cold hard stats compared favourably with way more experienced, way older guys — Holmstrom, Smyth, Tkachuk, Morrow, Cole. Expected improvement be damned, those are proven power forwards in this league and Penner’s PP numbers were right on par.

    It’s not like he’s 21 here, no matter how many times you call him a second year player.

    Nope … now he’s a third year player. :D

  69. mjsh says:

    The question I would like answered would be did Penner respond to similar treatment with the Ducks? Their coach is no softy either. I do think that Mac T is just trying to light a fire under Penner. Didn’t some one just post a picture of the big M. They were always trying to light a fire under him.

    Anyhow, at the beginning of the year, everyone said they would be happy with a .500 record at the end of terrible travel schedule and the Oilers are there. Yes, there is frustration because we seem them being better than they have been playing. I sell cars for a living and you have to break through comfort levels to get to the top of the mountain. Same thing in hockey, comfort levels have to be broken and they are not always done in a gentle manner.

    Last nights game was the most complete game of the year for the Oilers and only a bad break kept it from being a win. I still pick them to end up first in the divison. It used to be that they could not beat Calgary, now they beat them twice in a row. That is a barrier broken…

  70. Kish says:

    yeah, I’m having trouble reconciling some decision’s mact has made this year (pp plan and personnel), but thise fume at 27 seems… exactly right.

    Look, I definitely see the value in stats to back up what you see (corsi, etc.), but when what you see is one of your more expensive forwards display varying levels of indifference (facial expressions, body language, play) maybe at some point you should call a spade a spade (y’know, since they’re adults and this is pro sports and all). The level of indifference trumps nearly every other observation or metric. You would need to be a generational talent to overcome the malaise penner shows, and penner is… penner.

  71. Lowetide says:

    Mike: MacT behind the wheel made me spit. Classic.

  72. rickibear says:

    Mc79′s comeent
    “With Penner now seemingly without a top 9 spot…fuck does Lowe ever look bad.”

    Got me so ******* mad last night I could hardly wait to post on how I tought MacT had screwed up his recognition of Penners ability.

    Bruce you posted my thoughts before I got home sunday night.

    Penner has been a .9EVg/60 for the last two years except the first 20 of last year. Hes .99 this year.
    If you give him 12min/game over the year he is going to get you 15 EV goals. he is a 2.3PPG/60 guy. Give him 3.5 min/gm PP thats 11-12 goals. he is a consistant 25-30 goal scorer who is allways plus at evens.

    So he doesn’t play him on the PP and thinks our best plus guy is a liability. I turned to two guys in section 233 on saturday ( after I heard penner and Brodziak were sitting)and said, “someone should go to the cop shop and say I think MacT is trying to fix NHL games.”

    MacT after your treatment of Penner, I have another great idea for you. Why don’t you play hemsky as a RD on the PK. Makes just as much sense.

  73. Coach pb9617 says:

    Look, I definitely see the value in stats to back up what you see (corsi, etc.), but when what you see is one of your more expensive forwards display varying levels of indifference (facial expressions, body language, play)

    So the stats back up the fact that the level of play is fine.

    Basically, you’re saying you want Penner to make mean faces and gesture wildly.

  74. RiversQ says:

    Jonathan said…
    Penner has 18 shots.

    I’d be curious to know the situational breakdown of those shots – do you know where that information is available?

    Sure just ask Vic… er, better ask his site because he doesn’t do requests.

    Penner has 3 goals and 13 saved shots at ES, which means he has generated 16 ES shots and just 2 shots on ST.

    Cole is 2 goals and 31 saved shots = 33 ES shots.

    Pisani’s got 2 goals and 22 saves = 24 ES shots.

    I think we’re done here.

    The whole PP argument is a lark because the fact remains Penner’s putting up about 1 ES shot per game. And he’s been full measure for those kind of results.

    Penner’s not a write-off – he’s still a plus player in terms of Corsi – but the expectations should be higher given the opportunities he receives and the cheques he gets to cash. I’m not sure this can be saved. Personally I’d deal him straight up for Kubina. Big forwards always get more chances than they deserve and Penner’s not alone – some other team would take a crack.

    Lowe blacked out for about 2 yrs there after the ’06 run and woke up with a major mess on his hands. Just an astounding run of stupidity and Penner’s just one part of that. Incidentally, after year 1 of the shit show he got a four year extension and after year 2, he got a promotion. The good news is twofold: we aren’t complaining about Nylander too despite Lowe’s best efforts and second, Lowe doesn’t appear to have anywhere else to go but down.

  75. RiversQ says:

    rickibear said…
    he is a consistant 25-30 goal scorer who is allways plus at evens.

    You do know he’s never been plus for a full season right? Even with just middling competition (and that’s really charitable for his Anaheim ice) he’s never been a plus player.

    Penner was -12 last year and -2 for Anaheim the year before.

  76. St George says:

    So if I’m following it correctly then, first Mactavish gets unhappy and sticks the player in a role he doesn’t succeed in. Then complains openly about said lack of success.

    I dunno folks – you can approach this all with numbers, as many have, and that’s fine, but when you watch Penner play, he has been playing very lazy hockey all season. Slow, soft on the puck, unwilling to hit, and uncompetitive. Hearing he was benched Saturday before the game was music to my ears, and hearing MacT call him out today is just fine too … ignoring how much he makes, he was contributing nothing of substance to this team.

    Penner spent half his time withe Ducks benched for lack of effort; I am suprised people are up in arms about this now that he is an Oiler.

    Anyone want to argue that last night, despite the loss, was not the most complete effort of the season? Right after two guys get yanked hard. No coincidence that.

    Exactly. Play the guys that are eager to make an impact. Even if we lose, it is a lot more fun to watch.

    The heat’s on MacT, this is uncharacteristic of him. Sad to see.

    I disagree – this is great to see. I have spent much of the MacT/Lowe era thinking that they players were given way too much rope. Do people not remember how hard Sather used to ride the Oilers when they were not playing well in the early 80s? Public call outs and public bag skates were not uncommon back in the day.

  77. Coach pb9617 says:


    Penner has 3 goals and 13 saved shots at ES, which means he has generated 16 ES shots and just 2 shots on ST.

    Cole is 2 goals and 31 saved shots = 33 ES shots.

    I don’t think anyone is done here?

    Why are you ignoring the comps from prior years?

  78. RiversQ says:

    Coach pb9617 said…

    So the stats back up the fact that the level of play is fine.

    One shot per game at ES is “fine” with you?

    Those are some low low low expectations.

    Basically, you’re saying you want Penner to make mean faces and gesture wildly.

    Let’s start with 2 ES shots per game and move up to his best lion growl.

    Penner’s an interesting cat as a player. He’s a beast down low with the puck and in that respect he’s very much a Laraque type that drives possession, which will make for some good numbers. With the right ES linemates and the right opposition, he should be able to produce. However lately he’s been a little too much like Laraque and that doesn’t give results overall.

    He’ll probably never earn that contract given his significant limitations as a player in two out of three zones, but he’ll have some value when he gets back to actually taking the puck hard to the net instead of snowshoeing it over to the goal judge’s lap.

  79. rickibear says:

    “Penner was -12 last year and -2 for Anaheim the year before.”

    True Last year watching him play with Gagner, Hemsky, and Stoll. The turn over the puck at the blue line club. I watched Penner hold the puck and control it down low. Time after time I thought, ” boy he sure is the reason were -ve on this line.”

  80. RiversQ says:

    Coach pb9617 said…

    Why are you ignoring the comps from prior years?

    I was responding to Jonathan and that’s what he threw out there as examples from this year.

    As for the others – Bruce’s comparisons look reasonable based on just one year which was a down year for several of those guys.

    If you put Penner’s results in the context of linemates, opposition, and truly decent ES results (or PP for that matter) he’s a pretty average guy.

    His career ES and PP results are nothing to write home about – Smyth kills him frankly. Which any reasonable person would expect.

  81. Uncle Joe says:

    Just a few observations re: #27 and then re: MacT.
    #27 has never played junior hockey at any level. Three years running he tried out for the Winkler Junior Flyers…3 times he failed to make the team and was thus relegated to playing high school hockey, a much ‘gentler’ form of hockey than junior and a lot fewer games per season.
    His first 2 years of college hockey were at something called Minot-Botteneau(sp) State, a college of some 3 to 400 students total, so small it did not have a league to play in, only exhibition games against small town teams in Manitoba and Minnesota. His first year there he broke a leg after 1 or 2 months and was out for the season. After these 2 years he entered a 2 wk try-out camp in Saskatoon ( not sure which org. sponsored it). He was noticed by the one scout who bothered to attend the camp, a guy from an eastern college who offered him a spot in their system but he was red-shirted the first year because of some regulation having to do with transferring to another college. So, by the time he starts playing some ‘real’ hockey he is already 3 years post high school. Hence the contention you often hear expressed that he is still in a much earlier developmental stage than you would expect for a player his age.
    With regard to his intensity or lack there-of this is a real or perceived fault that has dogged him since his Anaheim days at least, where Randy Carlyle once asked how he motivated him replied “with an electric cattle prod.” I think the ‘not trying’ accusation is partly due to his size. When smaller players buzz around on the ice they look very energetic and when they don’t buzz it seems reasonable to suspect they are not giving it the proverbial 110%. Big players can’t buzz but it is less likely, though hardly impossible, that they are floating. What makes #27 more suspect than other big men is the absence of aggression in his play. By temperament as well as family and cultural socialization the injunction to not harm your fellow man is deeply embedded in his psyche. To illustrate this have a look at the “fights’ he’s been in. He’s a big man, he knows he can hurt people and that scares him so you will never see him throw a punch that could injure nor throw a body check that could. This drives me and many other fans to distraction although I probably have less of an excuse than most because I know, or think I know, why this is so. Had #27 followed the usual route towards professional hockey it is quite likely they would have parted.
    As to MacT. here’s my, completely unsupported by evidence of any sort, theory of what is happening.
    The new owner has known both KL and MacT for many years as friends or at least on a friendly basis. He is also aware of the longstanding friendship betw. them. KL was given a 5 yr extension by the previous ownership and there is no way he’s waiting 5 years to fire MacT. He is aware that for KL to do the deed would be highly traumatic for both. Solution, kick KL upstairs get a new gm. KL is made aware that MacT. must go and accepts the promotion knowing that is the case. MacT. is not a stupid man, he sees what is happening and retaliates against his now ‘traitorous’ friend by making it clear that he thinks the signing of DP was a very dumb move: “When ‘we’ signed him to the contract ‘we’ thought that was the start. DP thought it was the finish line.” i.e. this signing was a dumb thing from the get go. The use of the pronoun ‘we’ serves to throw a very minimal fig leaf over KL’s castrated private parts and make a bit of a show of hiding MacT’s wielding of the knife from public view.
    The benching of Brodziak…?.. thats just part of camouflaging his motive. The evidence for this…. sorry haven’t been able to find it yet. I suspect its hidden somewhere in Eye-rack along with the WMDs.

  82. RiversQ says:

    Interesting stuff uncle joe.

    This one part resonated with me:

    uncle joe said…

    MacT. is not a stupid man, he sees what is happening and retaliates against his now ‘traitorous’ friend by making it clear that he thinks the signing of DP was a very dumb move: “When ‘we’ signed him to the contract ‘we’ thought that was the start. DP thought it was the finish line.”

    I’m not sure if your theory is bang on about all the motivations, but the fact that Lowe’s promotion was going to make it hard on MacT was the very first thing that crossed my mind when it happened.

    Rightly or wrongly, Lowe will be slightly absolved from this team while MacT will be around for the bullet if they miss the playoffs.

    If they do miss the playoffs this year the whole Lowe/MacT era looks mighty grim despite the ’06 run. I’m not sure how you couldn’t tie the can to MacT based on their record of making the playoffs over his tenure.

    The same would go for Lowe but he turned state’s evidence and is now in the witness protection program known as “hockey operations.”

  83. Bruce says:

    Bruce’s comparisons look reasonable based on just one year which was a down year for several of those guys.

    Looking at BtN’s data from 2006-07, it is presented in much different format with just +/-/60 shown for PP. Here’s the same guys:

    Penner, ANA +7.35
    Smyth, EDM +6.76
    Morrow, DAL +6.37
    Holmstrom, DET +5.57
    Tkachuk, ATL +5.30
    Cole, CAR +3.39

    That’s pretty interesting but inconclusive, so I calculated goals and points per 60 from NHL.com:

    Penner 2.26 / 4.02
    Smyth 2.78 / 4.07
    Morrow 3.16 / 4.74
    Holmstrom 2.45 / 3.58
    Tkachuk 1.94 / 3.68
    Cole 1.75 / 3.50

    … and even as a rookie (sorry, MC!) Penner was holding his own with the selected “peer group”. This is a guy tailor made for PP duty IMO, and the Oilers will be better off once he’s re-established himself on the first unit. A couple of bumps in the road to be overcome first, and a little bit of a Catch 22 when it comes to “earning” his PP time, but that’s an area where Penner will help the team given the opportunity.

  84. Bruce says:

    Uncle Joe: Thanks for that.

    Hence the contention you often hear expressed that he is still in a much earlier developmental stage than you would expect for a player his age.

    That’s been my contention throughout, which apparently causes blood to boil in some quarters. I have never once said that because of those lost years he is the equivalent of a 23-year-old, just that he has more upside than some 26-year-olds cuz he’s still learning. The hard way, this week.

    Trouble with Penner is that his development curve is so unusual that it’s difficult to find good comparables at a similar career stage. But the above attempt to compare him to established NHLers confirms that he brings some valuable skills to the table.

  85. Slipper says:

    I think Bruce has made a great argument in favour of Penner seeing more powerplay time. Based solely on the production numbers alone at 5v4 (I think he was right behind Hemsky in most categories for 2007-08) he probably should be ahead of Cole and Cogliano for powerplay time, at the very least.

    Penner has still been pretty ugly at 5v5. He’s never been a true plus player in his career. His production numbers are pedestrian- like 1.30pts/60 over the past 100 games or, or whatever. The only thing going for him, statistically speaking, is that his underlying shot numbers are alright for when he’s been on the ice, but then one could argue that it’s strictly because he was carried by 10-83.

    He was sometnhig like the 11th most productive forward at even strength last season while earning top 3-5 money. He has to be better.

  86. Master Lok says:

    I agree with LT, that this seems uncharacteristic of MacT – he really is tossing Penner under the bus. But may I bring up another reason for why?

    I think some of the frustration must be due to the lineup that MacT has to juggle every night. The three goalie thing is stressful when not one of the goalies has proven to be consistent starter quality. AND, it reduces the press box options by one. With fewer healthy scratch options, it’s tougher for him to bench someone to send a message, especially with the amount of day-to-day injuries he’s had.

    It’s only because Smid has been put on IR, that he can call up Reddox, and bench Brodziak/Penner. When your healthy scratches were Stortini and now Boulerice, these guys aren’t exactly top six options, or even defensive options.

  87. hunter1909 says:

    But what about Kevin Lowe paying unreal money out for “potential”?

    Does this mean that Horcoff and Gilbert are going to blow too?

    lol

  88. hunter1909 says:

    I get the impression that this season MacT has lost his buddy Lowe, who he has come to depend on for job security. And now, all on his lonesome, the team blows, just like always since he started coaching the Oilers.

    And like any coach of a losing pro team, he’s isolated and under more pressure than he’s ever felt before.

    clarkenstein is bang on. MacT looks like he doesn’t give a shit about this out of control situation.

  89. Black Dog says:

    rickibear – Penner was a minus on an Anaheim team where pretty well nobody else was, playing against soft opposition

    and last year he played with Horcoff and Hemsky until Hemsky before Horcoff was hurt – he was the reason that line was above water? really?

    even considering Stoll’s struggles he is a better two way player then Penner

    you either have severe tunnel vision regarding Penner’s performance in reference to his teammates or very low expectations

    a lot of guys have underperformed this season including a couple of my favourites, Horcoff and Pisani

    Penner’s performance has been sub zero since the first game or so

    I’m not sure if I agree with LT’s premise; I think MacT may be just cracking the whip here

    But Penner had better get his ass in gear. If they dump MacT and he still doesn’t get it going that will be two coaches unable to get him going – after that people will be blaming him first and foremost

    Many already are.

  90. Black Dog says:

    Ty – I was late to the conversation and early out of it but yeah, I thought the Oilers played fine Saturday night, probably their best all round game all year. Results weren’t there but a game like that would have beaten the Leafs, the BJs, Nashville – a lot of points left out there due to inconsistency.

    And we can throw numbers supporting or opposing Penner all we want but this guy is one that one only has to eyeball to see that he is playing like he doesn’t give a shit.

    Everyone saw Alex Steen push him off the puck the other night, right? I mean, come on.

  91. Matt says:

    I’m no expert on this issue, but Craig MacTavish is not reacting to these things as he has in the past.

    HAHAHAHAHA I understand you’re a humble man LT, but try to keep it real, would you?

  92. Doogie2K says:

    Per/60 numbers should factor out injuries like those to Holmstrom or Smyth

    It’ll filter out the missed games/ice, sure, but if Smyth was playing hurt or trying to get his groove back after coming back, that’ll kill his numbers. That’s what I was getting at.

    I think some of the frustration must be due to the lineup that MacT has to juggle every night.

    In addition to the things you bring up, Master Lok, don’t forget that MacT wanted desperately to bring back Marty Sakic, but Lowe/Tambo wanted nothing to do with it. A good PK C who can be a bit of a sacrificial lamb at ES would probably make this team look a bit better right now.

    Everyone saw Alex Steen push him off the puck the other night, right? I mean, come on.

    I think that says it all, really. Steen gives up five inches and something like 40 or 50 pounds on Penner. That should never happen.

  93. Jonathan says:

    Personally I’d deal him straight up for Kubina.

    Well, that’s not exactly a curse, RiversQ. Personally, I really like Pavel Kubina.

    Thanks for those numbers; it’s illuminating to compare him to his linemates, and the difference is ugly.

    What I’m getting from the numbers with Penner is a player who a) isn’t generating offense but b) is doing a lot territorially. Given what Penner is, if he can generate a territorial advantage in a checking role at evens and provide an effective scoring presence on the powerplay, he’s doing fairly well for himself.

    He’s done one, and he hasn’t had an opportunity to do the other. Maybe he needs a bit of a motivator, and some of the quotes RE:Carlyle are illuminating there, since I hope we haven’t seen him top out as an offensive producer at even strength.

  94. Ribs says:

    Truly some odd stuff from MacT. He’s been putting Penner in more defensive situations and he’s expecting the same output in scoring as he had last year? That’s pretty loony.

    All things considered, the guy has even been playing pretty well in his new role. He’s been hitting more often and harder than in the past, he hasn’t gone underground in +/-, and he’s almost got as many points as Erik Cole, who has been given the cherry minutes. Cole has 1 more assist than Penner and is -3. Penner leads the team with +6.

    It just doesn’t make too much sense for MacT to criticize Penner so broadly. He had a horrible game against Toronto, that’s for certain, but why bring up his contract and his long-term future?

    I guess if MacT really needed to call out someone, Penner would be a safe bet to not dwell over it. He’s been criticized before and has bounced back. Maybe this was a more of a shot to all of his players who are underperforming moreso than the singling out that it appears to be?

    It will be interesting to see how the players respond anyway.

  95. Vic Ferrari says:

    LT

    The thing that really got me was the post game comments after the game in Nashville. The Oilers were the better team on the night, and MacTavish was wigging. That’s uncharacteristic for him. That’s uncharacteristic for any NHL coach really.

    Tambellini was on that road trip, did you catch Tencer’s interview with him on the Oilers site, Lowetide? I think it was recorded before the game in Philly. He seems like a complete hardass, and I’m sure he’s under a lot of pressure as well. He also was asked about the coaching staff and endorsed MacTavish, and I doubt that even Dan’s mom believes that Tencer comes up with the list of questions on his own.

    If Katz wants to appeal to big name UFAs next summer the Oilers had better damn well look like a team that’s going to be a contender. Right now that’s not the case.

    I’m sure that Tambellini is under a bunch of pressure and we all know which direction that shit flows.

    When BFF Kevin Lowe was the undisputed decision maker, and the EIG were signing the checks … well we all knew damn well that MacTavish would never be fired mid season. Possibly let go after his contract had expired, but never fired mid season.

    The Edmonton Oilers are a different beast now, though. Interesting days.

  96. toqueboy says:

    i know that you all love to bang numbers and shit, but it seems to me that everyone is looking at the macT quotes the wrong way.

    this has nothing to do with last year's counting numbers or this year's.

    From the comments, i'm guessing that penner is a huge problem off the ice. earlier in the year souray said it was nice to get rid of some of the players they got rid of because all the joking was immature and frustrating…i think that was a direct hit at greener (whom i never once found funny, even though he appeared to be the resident seinfeld — it's amazing how we'll flock to a player that says more than "just playng the system.")

    anyhow…to start the pre season, guess who's at the practical jokes again…greener's old roommate, penner. honestly, that mask thing was his biggest ink of the year.

    at any rate, i get the feeling that penner is the guy who sleeps in until 20 minutes before practice, stops at timmy ho's for a double double and a box of tim bits for the boys and then when practice is done, is the first off the ice and is thinking about buffet and bowling.

    this is macT saying, "look, you weren't even that good last year, so i sure as heck (PG) ain't gonna give you first line minutes when you do NOTHING on or off the ice to deserve them.

    macT has the dreaded complex of a guy who never scored any really insane hot pussy. he's attracted to potential and has decided that we have enough depth for once to actually make a point with a petulant pro.

    has penner been as bad as some others? no. has penner been what he was supposed to be? no. numbers wise, he's not the problem, but it seems to me he's probably the problem in a bunch of other ways we're not privy to, which matheson is hinting at.

    if this were Y&R, next episode would read something like like spezza & (vermette) for horc & penner & grebs. Oil get a third line center somehow and then look for us to make a play for emery in the off season.

  97. Coach pb9617 says:

    A couple of bumps in the road to be overcome first, and a little bit of a Catch 22 when it comes to “earning” his PP time, but that’s an area where Penner will help the team given the opportunity.

    That really drives me nuts in this case. Earn what? He’s proven that he’s the second best power play player on the team – he doesn’t have to earn shit, I don’t care if instead of going to practice, he’s amorous with MacT’s wife and using Katz’s tie to clean up. He belongs on the power play.

    His big ass in front of the net might be the one thing that can save Edmonton’s bass ackwards get everything to the point powerplay.

  98. CM says:

    I think the question here is do you think the oilers could have gotten Luke Schenn if we wouldn’t have made the penner deal…would shremp be on the current roster sans penner?

    Would we still have gotten Eberle? or would ANA have done better…

  99. Coach pb9617 says:

    Truly some odd stuff from MacT. He’s been putting Penner in more defensive situations and he’s expecting the same output in scoring as he had last year? That’s pretty loony.

    Exactly.

  100. CrazyCoach says:

    Something is just not right in that locker room. The players are not learning basic defensive or defensive tactics and forget even remotely learning a system. This team is so far away from playing a sound system right now.

    When players are not learning basic team tactics or even basic individual tactics, there is a problem with the teacher. In this case, that would be the coaching team, whose only merit for the job so far is that they know the President and lifted a mug or two with him.

    Scotty Bowman became the best coach in hockey because a) he loved the game b) he knew the game inside out over three decades of change and c) he knew his players and knew how to make them work. I see the current Oilers coaches as having criteria (a) on the Bowman scale and that simply is not enough.

    Steve Shutt once remarked that you absolutely hated Bowman throughout the entire season, but when you got that big playoff bonus check, you absolutely loved him. I don’t see that level of respect/hate from the Oilers players right now. That is a fine line to walk in terms of respect/hate, but you have to walk it in order to be effective as a coach.

    Attention, Ted Nolan, keep your cell phone charged. MInd you, his reputation as a GM killer overrides his best ability as a coach.

  101. Slipper says:

    This idea put forward by Ribs and some others that Penner has been entrusted with a more defensive role is not supported by facts.

    37 defensive zone draws (tied for the least on the team).

    63 attack zone draws.

    -26 differential.

    It would be pretty inexcusable to NOT be a plus player at the moment.

  102. Slipper says:

    Scotty Bowman became the best coach in hockey because a) he loved the game b) he knew the game inside out over three decades of change and c) he knew his players and knew how to make them work. I see the current Oilers coaches as having criteria (a) on the Bowman scale and that simply is not enough.

    Having super awesome teams doesn’t even qualify for a footnote amongst this list of criteria?

    Jeepers.

  103. CrazyCoach says:

    Slipper, do you honestly think those teams Bowman had would have made it to the mountaintop in spite of his coaching? They may have been blessed with great players, but a great player without great direction does not live to their full potential (See-Eric Lindros).

  104. mc79hockey says:

    Slipper, do you honestly think those teams Bowman had would have made it to the mountaintop in spite of his coaching? They may have been blessed with great players, but a great player without great direction does not live to their full potential (See-Eric Lindros).

    What should Lindros’ coaches have told him that would have made him live up to his full potential? “Try not to get hit in the head so fucking often?” It seems to me that that was his biggest problem.

    Re: Bowman’s teams – I’m not sure I agree with how you phrased it but the question really should be whether his teams would have done as well with any of (at that time) 5-10 other guys coaching them. I say yes. My sense is that the coaching pool is now dramatically deeper than it once was too.

  105. Black Dog says:

    I have to agree with cc.

    A lot of talented teams do fuckall. Now having a ton of talent doesn’t hurt ;) but you still need someone who can get the most out of that crew.

    I like MacT a lot but I look at Saturday night and say ‘Where has that effort been all year and why did it take a benching to get everyone scared and in line?’

    I also say ‘Fucking Darcy Tucker’ but that’s my own stupid fault.

    Speculating on what is going on in the room is a difficult thing to do but I would say something is not right.

  106. Slipper says:

    He didn’t inspire lesser teams in St.Louis or Buffalo to greater things.

    Gifted a pretty effing good team in Pittsburgh for 2 years, so you can’t credit him for much of the development. Put a better way, they could have won a cup with another coach, but they wouldn’t have been even close without Mario Lemieux.

    Larry Robinson, Guy Lafleur, Jauques Lemaire, Steve Shutt, and others would have won a Cup either way. Montreal was an All-Star team in the 1970′s. It was a .622% team the season before Bowman took over with most of it’s future already in place.

    That said, great coach.

  107. CrazyCoach says:

    Slipper, well all he did in St. Luois was guide them to the finals for three straight seasons. Sure it was Expansion Vs. Original 6 in those days, but that’s two more finals than MacT has done with more talent than an expansion club.

  108. Slipper says:

    Atleast you admit how disingenuous that argument against MacTavish is in the same breath as you made it.

  109. R-Gib says:

    Jeez, some serious blue-in-the-face typing going on here!

    Just a few comments:

    1. The size of Mr. Penner’s paycheck should not reflect how he is judged for performance from the coaching staff. Is he a $4M/yr player? NO. Is this his fault? No, that should rest on Mr. Lowe’s shoulders. His overinflated salary is a direct result of Kevin sitting down and trying to calculate how high he had to push the salary in order for Burke to balk at it. I do not follow the argument that because he is our highest paid forward that he should receive similar ice time or that his play should somehow reflect his dollars. In a perfect world this would be nice, but not in Kevin’s world.

    2. The comments seem to be reaching for MacTavish and the situation as we know it. It certainly makes one question the context and what he is trying to achieve. We could speculate all day, but at the end it would seem that the performance of Penner hasn’t warranted said attack, and that something else triggered it (attitude, pressure from above, team conflict, etc). It is troubling to say the least. I am very interested to see if Penner will draw in tonight against Detroit, and what situations he is put in to start the game with.

  110. CrazyCoach says:

    Slipper it’s a valid argument, and while I don’t necessarily bow down to the holy trinity of Gabe Desjardins, Moneyball, and whatever stat is in vogue right now, I do know a thing or two about coaching.

    MacT is not a good coach. He is getting to Marc Crawford levels right now with the petty benchings and public tirades against players. When you see him start yelling at players from the bench, then you will know, it is over. Trust me on this one.

    I only bring Bowman into this discussion as a reference point of what I feel is the best coach to ever coach this game. Many may point to others such as Toe Blake or Punch Imlach, but I choose Bowman.

    What is your reference point for a coach?

  111. Dennis says:

    One of the dailies, I believe it was the Sun, had some what-look-like reactionary quotes from Penner and he seems to have taken it well.

    He said something like consistency is always something he’s had to battle with so we know he knows there’s a problem.

    There looked to be trouble ahead in terms of roles just as soon as the Oilers picked up Cole; someone wasn’t going to get the soft time and someone was going to have to play with the best guys and it looks like 27 isn’t all that useful if you don’t cater to him.

    The thing that strikes me about it all is I have Zero patience for guys who aren’t in shape in today’s day and age. There are specific diet plans to follow and personal trainers to utilize and ample money to pay for both.

    For as much as I don’t like some of the things that Mac’s doing, things like not playing 10-83 together VS toughs and giving the keys to a young Gagner, I really can’t get all over him for signaling out a fellow who isn’t in shape and isn’t showing a whole lot of try.

    I just about lost it the other night when a good shift was wrecked by Steen checking Penner off the puck and it looks like Mac DID lose it.

    I’ve got no problem with it whatsoever. If it comes that we lose Penner mentally over this then really what was the alternative?

  112. mc79hockey says:

    I only bring Bowman into this discussion as a reference point of what I feel is the best coach to ever coach this game. Many may point to others such as Toe Blake or Punch Imlach, but I choose Bowman.

    Why do you think he’s the best coach ever? Doesn’t it strike you as an astounding coincidence that the greatest coach of all time would somehow end up coaching what was likely the greatest team of all time? Is there any other coach in history who has taken over the reins of two defending Stanley Cup champions? He’s become the head coach of four teams, all of whom were .550 or better in the preceding season. I mean, that, in and of itself, is astounding.

  113. hunter1909 says:

    How about Glen Sather? he took a bunch of kids and fashioned them into the best club team in decades. While they were under 25 years old.

    of course he had Gretzky, but since Wayne-o never won anything more after 88, it kind of helps my argument that Sather deserves to be listed with the all time greats.

    Sather thought outside the box. Encouraged his players to develop as human beings, and in general mentored them.

  114. Bruce says:

    One reason why I’ll be in mac’s corner regarding 27 though is that he’s never looked useful unless he’s playing with our best players OR unless he’s on the PP.

    I’ll get my head chewed off for this, but what the hey, it’s just a virtual head, I got more :) … You could write the previous sentence about Ales Hemsky and not be wrong.

    I only bring Bowman into this discussion as a reference point of what I feel is the best coach to ever coach this game.

    MC beat me to it, but I’ll echo the question: what is it about Bowman that stands out to you, CrazyCoach? To me it was his skill in match-ups, where he was way ahead of the curve, but the argument could be made that when you have a deck full of aces you’re always going to match up well.

    Besides, when it comes to dynasties there’s great and then there’s great. How many coaches could have driven those ’76-77 Habs to just 8 losses in an 80-game campaign? 387 GF, 171 GA? That’s just sick. For that kind of domination you need not just the best players, but the best coach. And the best GM, eh, LT?

    That was no one-off either, they lost all of 11 games the year before and 10 the year after. 240 GP, 177-29-34. 36-6 in the playoffs. Bowman’s teams came to play every night.

  115. mc79hockey says:

    I’ll get my head chewed off for this, but what the hey, it’s just a virtual head, I got more :) … You could write the previous sentence about Ales Hemsky and not be wrong.

    No you couldn’t. Hell, you saw Hemsky with Gagner and Moreau the other night and he still made some chances. Not to mention, there’s a pretty big difference between what Ales brings to the PP and what Penner brings.

  116. CrazyCoach says:

    Bowman is the greatest because a) He was able to coach through 5 decades and find success in each one. That speaks to me as a person who was able to adapt to the changing game. In St. Louis, he had a lineup comprised of 90% Canadian players, while in 2002 he had a mixture of players from different countries.

    b) He knew the game better than most. Sure he inherited great teams and had loaded teams, but the Rangers for years on paper had the best team money could buy, but did that translate into wins? Lots of teams have loads of talent and yet they don’t win.

    c) As Bruce has said, Bowman’s teams came to play each night. How many coaches are able to do that consistently these days?

    d) Statistically speaking (which should give some of you a chub) no one has more wins.

    e) Any guy that can handle a roomful of big egos and build dynasties, must be doing something right. The only other guy I have ever seen do that was Slats.

    f) He knew who to throw on the ice in every situation. When the Flyers threw HOund Dog Kelly, the Hammer, and whatever goons Shero had on the team, Bowman countered with Lupien, Green, Bouchard, Robinson, etc. MacT sees the Boogyman out there and decides to counter with Gagner, Cogliano, and for good measure, Hemsky.

    Now that I’ve made my case for best coach ever, I’d like to hear who people think was better than Bowman?

  117. dave says:

    MacT has to take responsibility for how his team has played. I’m sure the last place we expected to see Penner was on the pk. I don’t mind the experimentation but I don’t like the blame. Seriously, if I’m Penner and I get my first PK duty since pee-wee and the coach is ripping me in the paper? I just clicked my mind off to wait for the inevitable.

  118. Black Dog says:

    oh bruce, re: Hemsky, you surely didn’t see him on that roadtrip did you? I think you did because I seem to recall you commenting on Gilbert getting a couple of cheap assists on a pair of goals he scored

    The better the linemates the better for whomever, even Gretzky couldn’t have made hay with Boulerice and MacIntyre, but Hemsky makes things happen out there. Penner, not so much.

  119. Dennis says:

    I think Bruce is TRYING to be off-the-wall.

    Ty beat me to it with his PP point so the argument’s over based just on ST alone.

  120. Curb84 says:

    You’d be stupid to believe that the Penner signing would weaken Lowe’s position with the club. He is in there for life

  121. Bruce says:

    Growing a new head to respond to the expected chewing out — much obliged, MC and BDHS.

    First things first: Hemsky >>>>> Penner. Forget about $$$$, the two contracts were signed under entirely different circumstances. As I wrote at least once last season, Hemsky is Oilers' best player, as such I compare him to the star players of other teams. Which is harsh, it's not Ales's fault that Oilers haven't exactly surrounded him with stars; but in an important respect in my personal evaluation system, you don't measure a guy against his peers on his own team but on the other team. Is our best player better than their best player? Cuz if he is, I like our chances.

    “he’s never looked useful unless he’s playing with our best players OR unless he’s on the PP”

    Not to compare 27 to 83, I was just taking literally what Dennis was saying and applying it to Hemsky. He’s been effective when playing with Horcoff, not so much when playing with Stoll. He and Smyth were linemates for the most part. Ales plays a game that’s kind of outside the box, and he needs at least one high-hockey-intellect guy to play on his line. As a general rule, MacT doesn’t elevate guys to Hemsky’s line to break them out of a slump, a proven tactic on many teams and with many great players.

    The latest experiment with 89 and 18 is interesting, and if Ales responds well it’s a very good sign that he’s still growing as a player. Results so far seem pretty mixed, I have Ales at -1 in the new combo (but I haven’t seen all the games, so others could make fairer comment on the quality of his play and how well he’s clicked with his new mates). Whereas in the previous run of games, once MacT brought up Penner to play with Horc and Hemmer beginning in Carolina was when 83 started to score, and his line started to outscore. Ales seemed to have a little more room out there, and he took full advantage of it.

    As for the PP, it seems to me Ales has been getting disproportionate percentage of his points on that unit for years, which is both good and bad. You need a guy to run your PP, that’s for sure, and since Pronger left that’s been Hemsky. It would be more “good” if our PP unit was consistently in the top half of the league, which to me is a special teams equivalent of an “outscorer”. Which it was the last 60 games of last year, when both Hemsky and Penner were on the first unit. That still isn’t saying Penner = Hemsky, far from it, but maybe it’s a clue he’s a real nice complementary player. So maybe the best solution to Dennis’s comment as it applies to both players is just to put them together and leave them together.

    The better the linemates the better for whomever, even Gretzky couldn’t have made hay with Boulerice and MacIntyre,

    In his 17-year-old season Sather had Gretzky on a line with Dave Semenko and Garnet (Ace) Bailey, and the Kid still made a little hay. Be careful with any statement beginning with “even Gretzky couldn’t”. :)

    Hemsky makes things happen out there. Penner, not so much.

    Certainly not in a flashy way. Hemsky >>>>>> Penner, after all.

    I think Bruce is TRYING to be off-the-wall.

    Ya think?

  122. Oilmaniac says:

    This quote off the TSN power ratings sums it up perfectly…

    “Undoubtedly, Dustin Penner has not lived up to expectations, but what right do the Oilers have to expect offence out of him when he gets no power play time and starts the season on a line with grinders Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani? “

    Thank you for Sanity.. hopefully it makes its way back into the organisation…

  123. Oilmaniac says:

    And the quote that made my day,..


    Coach pb9617 said…

    That really drives me nuts in this case. Earn what? He’s proven that he’s the second best power play player on the team – he doesn’t have to earn shit, I don’t care if instead of going to practice, he’s amorous with MacT’s wife and using Katz’s tie to clean up. He belongs on the power play.

  124. Scott says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m pretty sure MacTavish has burned his bridges with the players, and he could (should/deserves) to be on his way out.

    I fail to see why people are surprised by Penner’s struggles. He had all of one good season c/o Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry… I’m surprised he had such a competent year last year (I ramble about this on my blog… http://scotttougas.blogspot.com/2008/11/soon-to-be-dustin-penner-debacle.html).

    I thought Oilers fans were generally happy about the signing. Every off-season, there’s one of those “upcoming power forwards” that catches everyone’s eye (this year, it was Ryan Malone). Kevin Lowe made a massive blunder here, and the Oilers are just going to have to live with it.

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