Pride and Prejudice

Interesting item from tsn this afternoon: Coach Craig Mactavish singled out forwards Dustin Penner, Kyle Brodziak and Marc Pouliot at practice on Monday and then made them bag skate after pratice. General Manager Steve Tambellini was asked if a coaching change is needed, and he said no.

I think the Edmonton Oilers have lost their way. They have somehow managed to forget the things that made the Boys on the Bus a team, the things that spawned a new generation of Oilers fans who were ignited by the Marchant OT goal. They have managed to become what the WHA Oilers were–porridge. A prairie team with a following but no real chance to fly above the rest.

The Oilers are no longer a world class organization, as they seem more concerned with radio station sendups than addressing on-ice issues. Their absolute devotion to “the product” and their belief that the FOG can do no wrong has given them a false sense of reality.

You can go too far, you can lose the room, you can in fact do things that sour even the most rabid fan. The Edmonton Oilers management group look like tired old men today, with their pride misplaced, their prejudice in clear view, and the legacy secure: they’re not the good guys anymore.

The wand is broken.

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78 Responses to "Pride and Prejudice"

  1. DBO says:

    clap..clap..clap..
    The old thoughts that this is a great place to play, that we are a world class organization that rewards players. A place where guys wanted to play, but back when we couldn’t pay them they made the decision to take the money while still raving about our city. It has definitely gotten faded and clouded the last few years. I guess i ask what the common denominator is? Are KLowe and MacT the culprits? Is it the demanding fans and media? All of the above? i know that pretty much every player that has come here via trade or free agency in the last 5 years have soured on the city, played below previous levels and left rather abrubtly. Doesa nayone really think Eric Cole takes a discount to stay? Other then Souray, who has come here and raved about it? Changes have to start and fast. I still think that when your locker room is sour, that players under perform and that the coach plays favorites while sending too many individual messages that you must change the culture. it starts with the coach. Time for a change. eventually the coach has to shoulder some of the blame.

  2. Bruce says:

    Coach Craig Mactavish singled out forwards Dustin Penner, Kyle Brodziak and Marc Pouliot at practice on Monday and then made them bag skate after pratice.

    One reporter’s bag skate is another’s detention. The Team reports the three staying after practice for a 5-10 minute talk with the Coach, and another 5-10 minutes of drills, with pucks. Doesn’t sound like anybody had to skate their bag off. (Which is where the expression came from, isn’t it?)

    Sounds more like a tempest in a teapot, like Terry F. Jones “thirteen reporters waiting out Dustin Penner” garbage. Anything to stir up the masses, and if there’s 10% truth in it, so much the better.

    Fuck, it’s like Montreal or Toronto around here.

  3. Lowetide says:

    Spin, Bruce. Spin. The beatings will continue until morale improves.

  4. MDOilFan says:

    Samwise is back tommorow! clap clap

    LT-Great Blog! Been reading a long time…first time posting

  5. matt says:

    Listened to the Nashville game on the radio driving home – sounded like Brodziak was playing well. What gives?

  6. Bryanbryoil says:

    Agreed LT, this team is much closer to a gong show than a class act. Somebody needs to tell the guys running the team that the 80′s are over and that Mess, Gretz, Kurri, Coffey, Anderson, and Fuhr have all hung up their skates.

    What worked then won’t always necessarily work now. A lot of the kids stepping into the league now are too young to have remembered our glory years.

    All that they think of is the cold/long winters, coaches that rip you in the media, and a former GM trying to ask for a signing bonus back before trading a player.

    From the creme of the crop to the bottom of the barrel, the story of the Edmonton Oilers.

  7. doritogrande says:

    Do you and Jonathan mean to time your posts so that they play off each other?

    He’s got a great one up at ON that really seems to strengthen your argument.

  8. Hanson#4 says:

    Thanks LT for the great post both past and present. I have been visiting your blog regularly and enjoy your take on state of our Oilers.

    I have not posted a comment here but I must say I share your view. MacT should not be singling out guys and playing favorites.

    What we have is a generation gap. MacT cannot identify with his young players. He is not the father figure that Sather was he is more the principal and really who ever wanted to make the principal proud.

  9. Brett Gee says:

    Tambi’s comments sounded like he was really trying hard to dig up some reasoning. “We were in 5th a few days ago”. It is true, but really, we should be beating the nashvilles and contending in a game against Buffalo. I’d say at least 60 points and within a sniff of the flames. 5th should be our fall back. 5th is not the goal.

    As for MacT and Penner, this is the last time I ever want to hear about this cat fight.

    As for Cole, I think that he needs to stay. Will he? Who knows.

  10. Coach pb9617 says:

    The beatings will continue until morale improves.

    This should be the new title of the blog.

  11. RiversQ says:

    LT: Climb down off the ledge.

  12. oilerdago says:

    LT – thanks for a great post. As someone who became a fan because of the Marchant goal this year has been a big dissapointment so far.

    While the record could be better, the dissapointment this season is the lack of heart and character from this group.

    The last three games have epitomized the season. Blowout, tight victory and listless loss.

    My sense is that the next 3 games are the season for this team and Coach and whether management chooses to ignore the message or not, the fans will have heard it loud and clear.

    Of course, another blow out tomorrow nite against Chicago and I’d say that you have your answer right then.

  13. Asiaoil says:

    Agree completely LT – this management group and a number of the core vets are very tough to cheer for. Kinda like a rich man’s version of Chicago before Wirtz went to the happy hunting ground. If Wirtz was nicknamed “Dollar Bill” then maybe Kevin is “Lowe Ball” or “Lowe Blow”.

    Lowe and MacT are not as incompetent and cheap as Wirtz’s crew was – but they’re far far from being rocket scientists and are getting more “old school” every year. Mediocre and arrogant is a bad combination and not something that you want to be known for – but it fits the bill for this management group.

  14. Ol' Jase says:

    matt:Myself and the regulars who attend the games together were singling Brodziak out as having a strong game. Our only complaint was that he was inserted into random spots all game long. (The shift chart bears this out.)

  15. boopronger says:

    LT, so where do you start? Does it start all the way up at the top with Katz? Or is it just a management thing? Clean the whole house? Get rid of Laforge, Nichols, Tambellini, Lowe and Mactavish?

    Just wondering where you would go from here.

  16. rickibear says:

    AH! UMH! He was just warming up our third line for the next game.
    YEH!
    Nilsson-Horc-Hemmer
    Cogs-Gagner-Cole
    Penner-Brodziak-Pouliot
    Moreau-Reddox-Storitini

  17. Lowetide says:

    boopronger: I think it's a matter of the management group not having fresh viewpoint. Katz has really just arrived so I don't think we can give him much of a report card, but Lowe & MacTavish and the rest seem to be coming up with the same solutions to their current problems.

    I mean, how many times can you kick the crap out of Penner? Seriously. He's not even a bad player for crying out loud. And I did read Jonathan's post before writing mine and to be honest he nailed it.

    Robin Brownlee is a solid reporter and a credible source but so is Ryan Rishaug (no doubt the tsn author). Rishaug wrote those words today and he must have seen something.

    The Oilers have a lot of problems and in this season Penner has been the whipping boy. That's fine, perhaps the first couple of times were attempts to motivate.

    But at this point it's beyond motivation, beyound cruel, beyond reason.

    If Dustin Penner is such a bad person and player they should release him. This public and private humiliation is a sure sign that the management group have no solutions and have long since run out of ideas.

    If there was even one new voice in the room perhaps a new wrinkle would emerge, but we are left with one man talking and four more nodding in a knowing fashion.

    This isn't sport. It is farce.

  18. IceDragoon says:

    Good day.

    and…

    Good grief!

    Coach has ONE veteran centre. He’s trying to cobble together wins and needs everyone hauling ass to have a chance game in and game out.

    These boys are getting paid big bucks to play the game they love and that means… suck it up, buttercup. Work harder during the game or work harder during practice. It’s that simple.

    That only these three had a chat with the coach and then ‘worked up a good sweat’ with a few drills, suggests that coach is probably cool with the overall effort of the rest of his team.
    silver lining

    MacT’s comments are at justagame.com.

    All in all, a very balanced read on the situation, imho. Tho, I didn’t hear anything about a woodshed. Perhaps media is playing to their audiences. *gasp*

    OT: Because I have no interest in commenting in a thread full of disgusting belly button lint.

    I love your ‘prospect evaluator’. Wish you’d haul it out more often.

    Oh, and…
    Listen to RiversQ.
    ;-D

    L8r
    Louise

  19. Oilman says:

    I honestly thought that Katz, being the extremely successful business man he is, would not let his prime outlet to be run in this manner.

  20. Ribs says:

    From the comments I’ve read it sounds like MacT was addressing inconsistency in players hustle (or jam). The three players that were taken aside have all been inconsistent at times and I don’t see how a talking to or a bag skate is going to any damage to anyone here. These are young guys that probably need to be pushed every once in awhile. Penner has already responded well to this treatment once this season. Poo seems like a guy that maybe needs some confidence driven into him. Brodziak is taking the hard road to the NHL and doesn’t seem like a natural at anything. Special care is needed for all of these guys and I for one am glad that it’s happening.

    It’s not all happiness and joy parties in the hockey world. There is some tough work that goes into it. These guys are learning from a guy who knows.

  21. boopronger says:

    LT, Yes Katz is fresh on the scene and i think it is too early to give him a full report but isnt he just one of the gang as well? I mean he grew up watching the Oilers with season tickets for row 1 and eventually hanging with the players after the games. Kinda seems like hes in the same boat.

    We’ll see what happens i guess.

    As far as Penner goes, it seems like it would be impossible to motivate this guy for a full 82 games. Do you think another coach/system could do it, or is just the kind of player you get with Penner?

  22. Coach pb9617 says:

    As for MacT and Penner, this is the last time I ever want to hear about this cat fight.

    It likely will be. It’s a rare situation that a non-star player can exist on a team where the coach clearly hates the player.

    If the new face of the dark side says that there is no reason to change coaches, then the player is gone. And it’s a damned shame too, because the player has performed for this team when placed in the right situations. That’s also presumably why the coach hates him or his game. He needs specific circumstances to be successful, and this sort of coach sees that as preferential treatment. The player has been one of the better players on the team in those situations, which must drive the coach insane, so the coach resorts to seventy year old psychological tactics that used to work in the era of one-year, non-guaranteed contracts.

    The coach should go, but he’s got cronies, so the player is gone and LT’s right about the beatings thing.

  23. wuzzles says:

    I just called my dad to make sure he reads this post. We’re both life-long, dyed in the wool Oilers fans, and this is the most accurate post I’ve read on the home team this season. Keep up the good work… and keep the faith

  24. boopronger says:

    Does anyone think Hartsburg would be a good fit for the Oilers?

  25. mattm says:

    Boopronger: I recall reading a few articles which Randy Carlyle had trouble motivating Penner as well. I think that’s the kind of player he is.

  26. Coach pb9617 says:

    As far as Penner goes, it seems like it would be impossible to motivate this guy for a full 82 games. Do you think another coach/system could do it, or is just the kind of player you get with Penner?

    Who in the hell cares? At the time of his benching, he was the team’s best player at evens and he was unable to play in his most effective role – the PP – because the coach decided against it. If that was unmotivated Penner, I’ll take it every damn time and give him the business in practice and in the pregame for the entire year. I’m not going to measure manhoods in the media to show someone up and hurt the team.

    Jonathan, that was an excellent post at ON, but you neglected one major faux-pas: failing to ice Horpensky for the first 19 games of the season because you’re pissed at Penner.

    There are some at ON that claim that there is no better option and I see at least three or four that could guide this team into the playoffs and maybe even develop a kid or two, but the one that looks the best is Peter Laviolette.

    Boopronger: I recall reading a few articles which Randy Carlyle had trouble motivating Penner as well. I think that’s the kind of player he is.

    And yet he produced for Carlyle. These are the situations when the coach places pride and ego before team. Al Arbour and Scotty Bowman can get away with it, a guy that has lived on “motivating overachievers” for his entire career cannot.

  27. St George says:

    Boopronger: I recall reading a few articles which Randy Carlyle had trouble motivating Penner as well. I think that’s the kind of player he is.

    It went beyond that. He was benched repeatedly in Anaheim too (even in their playoff run) for the same reasons he is being called out here … repeatedly putting in less than he had to give. He never made it off the third line, either. It was one of the (several) reasons that I was so upset when we signed him.

  28. Satisfied_to_Ignore says:

    Penner needs to look angry and skate around aimlessly but flailing wildly…he will be more like moreau and MacT will be his bff

  29. Dennis says:

    Here’s the way I saw the game:

    http://www.mc79hockey.com/?p=3053

  30. St George says:

    On one hand, compare the Oilers against the other team of the day – the Steelers. Family run team, storied franchise successful over a lot of years, and full of players that are happy to settle in Pit and play football. (And for those of you that have spent time in Pittsburgh, you know that it holds nothing over Edmonton.)

    Personally, I am hoping that the Oilers go on a 15-game skid so that we have the circumstance that forces some major decisions one way or another. (And so we get another top-6 draft pick, because I believe that’s the way to rebuild, and I think this team needs to properly rebuild.) That said, I am surprised that this incident provoked the fury that it did today from the unofficial press … none of this behaviour from MacT (or Lowe) is new, really, in the last few seasons. Remember how Pecca was the odd man out much of the Cup Run Season?

    PS He isn’t the only coach using the Call Out Tool this weekend … check out Guy Carbonneau calling out Kovalev yesterday.

    PSS “justagame.com” doesn’t resolve, for me at least.

  31. Bill Needle says:

    The three Oilers were probably the only guys in the dressing room who bet the Cardinals, and this is how they pay off the bet.

  32. quain says:

    I took my shot at MacT under the impression that this was reported correctly. If it was ten minutes of puck drills, fuck TSN, and I revert to my original status on MacT: Equivocating between defense of his moves and wondering if he’s losing his mind.

  33. Dennis says:

    I said this today in the postgame thread but I don’t see much of a difference in the way the club played yesterday as opposed to Fri.

    The win over the Wild probably looked flashier because 24 had the open ice hit and then the good middleweight tilt but Backstrom did us a huge favour by giving up that shit goal to Moreau and if we’d had one of them allowed us by Rinne yesterday – or we’d have a nice bounce like the 83 goal from Fri night – then we would’ve been fine in that game as well.

    Rinne stopped all of 12 and 51 on goalmouth scrambles and he made a dandy save off 27 as well;not to mention the shots he stopped from the slot, two from 83 alone. We got outplayed from the goalie slot but MacT will never say that after a 2-1 game and I’d imagine most coaches wouldn’t either.

    But the sky’s the exact same height as it was on Sat morning. This is the club we have and we’re good enough to be in the middle but not good enough to rise above it.

  34. RiversQ says:

    Jonathan, that was an excellent post at ON, but you neglected one major faux-pas: failing to ice Horpensky for the first 19 games of the season because you’re pissed at Penner.

    Coach: I would say that’s more like a 10-15 game experiment to see if Penner could do more than ride shotgun with the two best forwards on the club and then unquestionably 4-5 games of being pissed off.

    I realize that doesn’t fit the collective narrative around here for this season, but that’s way closer to reality IMO.

    At the time of his benching, he was the team’s best player at evens…

    This is a silly statement.

    First off, Penner has never been the best player at evens on this team for any significant stretch. Not with 10 and 83 on the team.

    Secondly, Penner’s EV numbers were not all that impressive at the time of the benching considering the opposition, the nearly 2:1 off/def starting EV faceoff ratio, and the shooting percentages he had at the time. The production was middling at best – we are talking about a guy that mustered just 15 shots in his first 15 games despite the advantageous position to start his EV shifts.

    Having said all that, I do agree with you that ultimately Penner has to play on the first line with this roster. It would be nice if he could do more and justify the massive outlay the Oilers laid out to acquire him, but it just won’t happen so MacT and Lowe just need to let it go and squeeze as much out of him as possible.

    However, judging by the TOI for the past 25 games, it seems to me that MacTavish has been largely convinced of that fact anyway, no?

  35. quain says:

    Here’s a mostly off-topic question: Does anyone else have an issue posting in Dennis’s scoring chance threads? No matter what thread I try to post on, I get an error telling me I’ve tried to post too many times. I’ve cleared my private data, tried using different names, and had it happen on three different computers. I can’t figure out why it’s happening.

  36. Ribs says:

    Your computer would work if Horcoff was a first line centre, Quain.

  37. Unleaded says:

    As usual these days, I’m quite torn about the team. I’m not going to take shots at management right now. I’m not all that unhappy with them. I’m also not unhappy with the coaching. I have questions, and different opinions, but I seem to have different thoughts from most of you too. Would you tar and feather me as well?

    I was really happy with the game the Oilers played on Sunday. he outcome wasn’t what I wanted, but the game itself was really entertaining, and the Oilers looked to be drving he play more often than not. They didn’t get the goals, and especially Brodziak’s chances really could have changed the game. I’m not unhappy with MacT taking extra time with him. I hope it helps.

    Penner… I really like him, and beleive that the coach sees what he brings to the team. They want more from him, and he wants more too – he’s struggling to become our Todd Bertuzzi, and I understand that. MacT wants him mad. So he’s trying to fire him up. Is it nice? no. If it works, will we care? Will we give him credit?

    It’s hard losing a close game like Sundays, and it’s hard watching players we care about see rough patches, and maybe even getting some tough love. Is it the right thing to do? I don’t know. But I am learning to be okay with that.

    It’s either that or ranting on HF, and I don’t want to b that person… not that there’s anything wrong with that… :P

  38. Ribs says:

    …And I didn’t have any problem posting. Not sure what the deal is there.

  39. doritogrande says:

    Off-topic, but a good read to off-set the doom and gloom of the Oilers management: http://www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/10887/oilers200809_ncaa_prospects_update/

    NCAA prospect update couldn’t have come at a better time. Petry is getting a lot of rave reviews despite the team’s showings. Nash a key PKer for the Big Red. VandeVelde a team leader for a rebuilding Sioux squad. Other dudes named Dee and Glasser do minor things.

  40. Traktor says:

    “Your computer would work if Horcoff was a first line centre, Quain.”

    Comparing Horcoff with the 3 players that were singled out by the coach:

    Horcoff = 5 points in last 12 games
    Penner = 4 points in last 12 games
    Brodziak = 4 points in last 12 games
    Pouliot = 4 points in last 12 games

  41. Doogie2K says:

    What worked then won’t always necessarily work now. A lot of the kids stepping into the league now are too young to have remembered our glory years.

    With what little modern coaching theory I know, one of the first things they say is never to use exercise as a punishment. Maybe with professional athletes, it’s different than a junior team, but it’s still something I’m kind of averse to; it’s not like running laps helped my shape at all in elementary school. ;)

    Of course, if it really was just a few extra minutes of drills, well, I didn’t see the last game, so I can’t judge one way or the other.

    As for “too young to remember,” Young Samwise was born after the Second Gretzky Sale. He missed the glory years altogether.

    He needs specific circumstances to be successful, and this sort of coach sees that as preferential treatment.

    And playing the captain above his station isn’t?

  42. Ribs says:

    You’re rihgt Traktor. If there’s one guy who needs to be bag skated for not working hard enough, it’s Shawn Horcoff.

  43. CrazyCoach says:

    Wow! I thought I was hard on MacT’s methods. While I can never and never comment on media’s perception, my only questions around MacT are on a technical level. Why for example have his wingers not learned such a basic concept of chipping the puck out of the defensive zone and also why do they not seem to play from the defensive side of their check?

    The media need to be treated like Bobby Knight treated them. The media hated him and he hated them for good reason to. Bob Knight had a better graduation record than Coach K and many other bigtime college coaches. What do we know Bob Knight for? Throwing a chair across a court.

    Believe me, if there was a garbage can at centre ice or MacT left the ice and returned at 9 mimnutes and 45 seconds, then I’d say it was a bag skate. Drills with pucks and extra ice time can be interpreted so many ways.

    However, having said all that, I am in agreement with many when I say the Oilers are no longer the class organization they once were. They have difficulty obtaining/retaining world class players, and it seems when a player (Nylander) uses his wife to make an excuse to turn down a deal, then perhaps the writing is really on the wall.

    I can’t even bring myself to watch the Oilers this season. Maybe its because in my pursuit of my masters in sports management, I’ve read many examples of marketing/management/PR wizardry by leagues and players throughout the world. The Oilers seem to be content to sit on their laurels from 19 years ago and haven’t tried anything creative in their management methods.

    That’s just my take on this matter.

  44. Lowetide says:

    quain: I’ve posted many times over at MC’s site and it won’t go through. Long, long posts all gone in an instant! I don’t know what it is, but sometimes it works like a charm and other times zippo.

  45. Traktor says:

    Brodziak works just as hard as Horcoff.

  46. Oilmaniac says:

    Wow… LT snapped… I must admit that I’ve saved myself a boat load of frustration by packing in my rabid obsession w this (version 08-09) team… Others who commited to keep writing on this team, post (probably the easiest stretch of games this season) winning streak, were not so lucky…

    Im looking forward to reading the comments now, but just had to first exclaim my surprise/awareness of the breaking point of my personal oil barometer…

    As a side note; Kris made an excellent assessment of how Oil management have wieghed down springfield w dead in the water prospects (prob a brutal paraphrase) and now I just cant see how the brass escape full scale criticism of the product, both in minor and pro leagues…

    Its too bad this team hasnt build a foundation of working from their positives and only seem to get the fire (under their asses) stoked with negative situations that the coach feels compelled to respond negatively… and the pk still stinks, and they still dont hit, and the brass still doesnt do shit… and its all because of poo, brodz, and penner?!.. c’mon…

  47. mc79hockey says:

    I just want to second what Rivers said and add a little. First of all, I think MacT got a respectable amount of Penner last year, considering that Penner wasn’t running against the toughs in ANA and he was in EDM. It seems to me that the coach’s frustration lies in the fact that, for possibly the first time in his tenure, he has a front line guy who seems to have effort problems.

    Now, say what you will about how MacT should handle it differently, but this isn’t like having Mario Lemieux or Jaromir Jagr giving inconsistent efforts. The line for Dustin Penner between “good enough to be on the first line” and “not good enough to be on the first line” is a hell of a lot thinner than it is for fellows like that. MacT’s in something of an odd spot with him, one that he hasn’t spent much time in during his EDM years.

    The thing is, and I don’t think any of you will deny it, with MacT, it’s all about effort. That’s what his critics throw at him, that he cares more about that than results. If that’s true, and I think it is, then I don’t know why guys like Staios and, much as I hate to admit it because I’m just sick of the guy, Moreau, would be getting bag skated after a shitty effort. Those guys generally show up for work.

    BTW, you guys should google Carlye and Penner and words like criticism. I get the strong impression that Carlyle had the exact same problems (I came across one where he talked about Penner just standing around when he didn’t have the puck) but he’s not nearly the quote that MacT is. MacT’s probably too good at expressing himself verbally for his own good.

    (Thanks for the heads up on the commenting problem fellows – I’ll look into it.)

  48. quain says:

    MC: Thanks for taking a look at the commenting.

    I agree with everything written there. MacT’s cowbell is clearly effort, that’s why he loves guys like Reddox. That’s why Gagner gets off free from extended criticism and Nilsson gets nailed. Gagner puts in a pound of flesh for every half pound Nilsson puts in (on most game nights), the results might not be much different between the two, but that’s just what it is.

    And I can respect that, because he’s a smart guy and I’m not going to begrudge him for wanting his players to skate their asses off every night.

    As long as yesterday’s extra skate was an extra bit of practice and not a bagskate I’m not going to begrudge him it, even if Brodziak and Pouliot seem like odd fellows to be involved.

  49. Jonathan Willis says:

    Well, I probably overreacted here, given that what TSN called a bag skate was likely less than that.

    Still, watching Craig MacTavish rip Dustin Penner another whole in the media had me teetering on the edge anyway.

    For the anti-Penner crowd, one fun question: what had Cole done, historically, to indicate that he’d be a better fit than Penner on the LW of the first powerplay unit?

    Yes, Penner needs to be played in certain places to be effective. Big deal. Bergeron, Comrie, Carter, Niinimaa and others needed similar treatment, and MacTavish gave it to them. He did it for Penner last season, when he was far less effective offensively than he’s been this season.

    Am I the only one seeing Penner taking steps forward? It just doesn’t seem right to hack the guy down again when there’s been positive (albeit inconsistent) progress.

    Tie it in with the Pouliot quote from the last couple of days. Tie it in with the unabashed love for Staios and Strudwick. The needless (albeit accurate) attack on Schremp. Everytime MacTavish talks to the media these days I feel like he’s indulging in selfish emotion rather than doing the best thing for the team.

    And I know it doesn’t sound like it right now, but I say all this as a guy who has had a ton of respect for MacTavish over the years.

  50. Coach pb9617 says:

    Coach: I would say that’s more like a 10-15 game experiment to see if Penner could do more than ride shotgun with the two best forwards on the club and then unquestionably 4-5 games of being pissed off.

    I realize that doesn’t fit the collective narrative around here for this season, but that’s way closer to reality IMO.

    If that was the case, then why do a double experiment and move Cole out of position, especially when you’ve moved your another outscoring RW in Pisani out of position as well? He had four of his top nine playing out of position to begin the year. That’s Pittsburgh Pirates stupid right there. It’s either that or Billy Martin spiting Steinbrenner, take your pick.

    You can’t waive your hands at this one and make a smarmy remark that I’m making my own narrative out of what MacTavish is doing. MacTavish is writing the narrative. I detailed the issues in the last thread, but he’s gone round the bend on this team and his time should be just about up.

    No, this isn’t a great team. It might not even be a playoff team with the current roster build. But the coach is solely responsible for leaving ~8 points on the ice this year for a combination of spite, personal spats and piss-poor coaching tactics.

  51. mc79hockey says:

    I don’t actually think that MacT cares more about effort than results, in the long run. I do think that, in the short run, he’ll reward effort to try and instill that effort in his more talented players. I can’t blame that for him.

    As for as LT’s premise with all this, insofar as it relates to the Oil not being the good guys anymore…amen. This team has been all about the image and the marketing for a while and that really starts to wear thin. While I don’t know that I think that they’re the bad guys, there are some changes that need to be made.

  52. mc79hockey says:

    But the coach is solely responsible for leaving ~8 points on the ice this year for a combination of spite, personal spats and piss-poor coaching tactics.

    This always strikes me as an extremely tenuous argument but I’ll bite. Which 8 points? And have you factored in the points he’s gained the team because Penner doesn’t weigh 300 lbs at the moment?

  53. Jonathan Willis says:

    Further on Penner, from the last two seasons (number is the rank among regular forwards):

    2007-08/2008-09

    QC: 4th/3rd
    QT: 2nd/3rd
    PTS/60: 1.34/2.00
    Corsi/60: 1.4/9.8

    Now, granted, I haven’t checked if Penner was getting the same favourable faceoff situation last season as he is this year, but it seems highly likely.

    By the numbers, Penner is playing (marginally) better opponents with (marginally) inferior linemates and scoring (dramatically) more for his level of ice-time while also improving the direction the puck is moving in.

    Positive movement, yes?

  54. quain says:

    For the anti-Penner crowd, one fun question: what had Cole done, historically, to indicate that he’d be a better fit than Penner on the LW of the first powerplay unit?

    That’s an odd nitpick to make. I think Penner’s major piece of value is on the powerplay. If you take that away from him, he’s a slow guy who isn’t particularly good defensively. Seriously: is Dustin Penner better than Robert Nilsson if he’s not large? Are they the same player?

    That’s my problem with Penner, right there. And one of my problems with MacT is his misuse of him on the powerplay. Throw the guy on the fourth line if need be, but park his ass in front of the net on the powerplay.

    I don’t actually think that MacT cares more about effort than results, in the long run.

    Absolutely, or we’d see Toby Petersen, Liam Reddox, and Zack Stortini as our second line. But, he’s clearly a guy who isn’t blinded by G-A-P when it comes to evaluating players.

    Obviously, he’s a bit blinded by Moreau-type players, but on the whole he’s got a pretty good sense for this thing… this season the whip just seems a little heavy-handed compared to the past.

  55. Coach pb9617 says:

    Penner… I really like him, and beleive that the coach sees what he brings to the team. They want more from him, and he wants more too – he’s struggling to become our Todd Bertuzzi, and I understand that. MacT wants him mad. So he’s trying to fire him up. Is it nice? no. If it works, will we care? Will we give him credit?

    It didn’t work the first or second time. The only reason he started getting credit after being run over by the motorcoach the first time was that the coach finally reunited the Horpensky line. Everyone kind of glosses over that when they talk about Penner “catching fire”. No, chubs just went back to last year’s production levels when he played on the…Horpensky line.

    And playing the captain above his station isn’t?

    It’s pretty clear to everyone that three players on this team get ACTUAL preferential treatment by the coach.

    Wow! I thought I was hard on MacT’s methods. While I can never and never comment on media’s perception, my only questions around MacT are on a technical level.

    I find that he’s tactically lacking this year. I’ve lost count of the number of times that the 4th line has ended up on the ice against a 1st or 2nd line with the coach holding the home match. I’ve lost count of the number of times that Staios has ended up on the ice against a 1st or 2nd line with the coach holding the home match. The penalty kill fell apart for 30 games and the coach is a supposed expert in the matter. It literally fell apart – losing all form and technique, looking like a kindergarten soccer match. Gagner and Cogs struggle against big players with long reaches, yet before the Gagner Cole line was put together, both Cogs and Gagner ended up against big forwards with the coach holding the home match.

    quain – I’ve lost probably a half-dozen posts at MC’s joint. I stopped posting anything of length because I’d forget the quick CTRL-A, CTRL-C in the text box and lose the whole post.

  56. Oilmaniac says:

    Well, after the reading more, the tempered response of some stating that this ‘exercise/bagskate’ could simply be an overly hyped media report is somewhat avoiding the issue. Like JW states, (paraphrasing again) where was the bag skate following the abismal loss to buffalo (or chicago!)… where is the commitment to icing a team that is going to compete with consistancy? whether its lack of coaching or a deeply rooted roster problem, there is something wrong with this team.. seriously wrong…

    I just hope they can come together as a team (coaching staff AND players) to build on some positives that THEY can bring out in THEIR game.. until then its just going to continue to be this negative spiral of bullshit, like this LATEST specticle…

    btw, my vote is for a coaching change but OH GAWD… WTF is buckey going to do with this team that Mac couldnt… i dont think the pain is going to stop for a while,.. so thats why i choose metaphorical morphine of disconnection to ease the growing, lingering, pain…

  57. RiversQ says:

    quain said…
    MC: Thanks for taking a look at the commenting.

    I agree with everything written there. MacT’s cowbell is clearly effort, that’s why he loves guys like Reddox. That’s why Gagner gets off free from extended criticism and Nilsson gets nailed.

    Actually, I don’t think it’s like that at all. Gagner’s underlying numbers have been awfully good this year. Meanwhile, Nilsson’s treading water at GF/GA and in the red in everything else.

    That’s pretty much just the results talking there, at least at ES.

    BTW, I was about to totally disagree with Tyler’s original position on MacT, but his clarification solved it. I think it boils down to this – if you don’t have the results, you better be putting in the effort. (In fact, I think that was almost verbatim from his quote in the papers this morning.) In the long run (say 5-10 games), he sure seems to go with the results.

  58. quain says:

    2007-08/2008-09

    QC: 4th/3rd
    QT: 2nd/3rd
    PTS/60: 1.34/2.00
    Corsi/60: 1.4/9.8

    Seriously: is Dustin Penner better than Robert Nilsson if he’s not large? Are they the same player?

    That probably answers my question.

    But, I’m still not particularly enamoured by Penner. It just seems like he should be so much more than he is right now, and maybe that’s MacT’s problem: he looks at a guy who is huge, has the hands, and clearly has a decent head on his shoulders… but he shows zero physical play and can be lazy. If you put any sort of ‘jam’ into him, you could see shades of Ryan Smyth.

  59. Jonathan Willis says:

    It just seems like he should be so much more than he is right now, and maybe that’s MacT’s problem: he looks at a guy who is huge, has the hands, and clearly has a decent head on his shoulders… but he shows zero physical play and can be lazy.

    Absolutely. And that’s partially why I’m confused that so many stats guys are down on Penner (again, with the faceoff-zone caveat). Isn’t he what they look for? A player who probably isn’t playing to full potential, looks slow and lazy, but gets results?

    I see the same style things as everyone else – Penner looks slow and unmotivated, and I very much believe that he’s sometimes both. In the grand scheme of things, though, he gets results.

  60. RiversQ says:

    By the numbers, Penner is playing (marginally) better opponents with (marginally) inferior linemates and scoring (dramatically) more for his level of ice-time while also improving the direction the puck is moving in.

    JW: Huh? You got all that there?

    I would say his comp and linemates have been virtually identical year over year. He has produced more at ES, but I don’t see where you have referenced any data that suggests he has been moving the puck in the right direction more consistently.

  61. Coach pb9617 says:

    This always strikes me as an extremely tenuous argument but I’ll bite. Which 8 points? And have you factored in the points he’s gained the team because Penner doesn’t weigh 300 lbs at the moment?

    Firstly, the larger Dustin Penner gets, the more effective he is on the boards and in front. Dustin Penner should be a beautifully svelte 427 pounds.

    Secondly, I said ~8 points. It would be a combination of playing six guys out of position, including four of his top nine; refusing to ice Horpensky and losing winnable games early; horrid line matching at home that gets Stortini on the ice against toughs and Gagliano against ogres; leaving Gagner on the ice in the final minutes; and some might say the way the goaltending situation was handled, though I still blame the new lesser-qualified GM for that.

    Thirdly, I don’t care if Penner works hard or not and yes, there may be a thin line between 1st line player and 4th line hanger on, but there is only one LW in the organization that can score thirty in a season right now. That’s Dustin Penner. Until the organization finds another legit LW, Dustin Penner should never come off of the 1st line, even if he makes a pass at Lowe’s dog and gets drunk at the hotel nightclub and runs over a bellhop on the way back to his hotel room, fatally injuring the bellhop.

  62. RiversQ says:

    Coach pb9617 said…

    If that was the case, then why do a double experiment and move Cole out of position, especially when you’ve moved your another outscoring RW in Pisani out of position as well? He had four of his top nine playing out of position to begin the year.

    Come on coach, this is just silly as well. If I’m running two experiments with Pisani at centre and asking Penner to anchor a line, then obviously two other guys will have to fill the holes they vacated – there’s your four players in the top nine.

    (Aside: people act as if Cole on the 1st line was a total embarrassment and that’s just pure hyperbole.)

    You can’t waive your hands at this one and make a smarmy remark that I’m making my own narrative out of what MacTavish is doing.

    You really didn’t refute my earlier point about the motivations behind Penner’s first 20 games. So yes, I do think you’re making your own narrative here.

    You aren’t on your own here though, because LT’s a stubborn SOB and since he’s been taking MacT’s neck on and off the chopping block all season long, he’s not about to stop now.

    Most of the crew here is just along for the topsy-turvy ride.

  63. Coach pb9617 says:

    Come on coach, this is just silly as well. If I’m running two experiments with Pisani at centre and asking Penner to anchor a line, then obviously two other guys will have to fill the holes they vacated – there’s your four players in the top nine.

    Let’s review, so we can be sure we’re drawing out the madness.

    He had a guy that has played second line RW for most of the last four years playing 1st line left wing.

    He had the previous 1st line left wing playing 3rd line right wing.

    He had the previous 3rd line right wing playing 3rd line center.

    He had the three candidates for 3rd line center playing 2nd line left wing, 4th line center and 4th line left wing when he wasn’t in the pressbox.

    He had a defenseman with no previous forward experience playing forward.

    He put Cole, Penner, Pisani, Gagner, Pouliot and Smid all out of position and you defend this.

  64. RiversQ says:

    Jonathan Willis said…

    Absolutely. And that’s partially why I’m confused that so many stats guys are down on Penner (again, with the faceoff-zone caveat). Isn’t he what they look for?

    No, personally I’m pretty much satisfied with Penner’s performance. He’s an awfully valuable EV specialist and he may be a PP difference maker (although I’d like to see a little more TOI along with everyone else to prove that out). From the results side, I do have trouble with the notion that he’s a difference maker at EV – I just don’t see the evidence on the ice or on my computer screen.

    I would say the stats guys are looking for players who get meaningful results and are undervalued in the market – the basic Beane principle. Penner has the first half of that on his side because he has legitimate results. The context of the situations in which he has achieved them might be a little favourable, but not outrageously so. However, the Oilers gave up a lot to get him and his salary is nontrivial as well, so the undervalued part of the equation is a tough proposition.

  65. RiversQ says:

    Coach pb9617 said…

    Let’s review, so we can be sure we’re drawing out the madness.

    -snip-

    How many games did Smid play at forward? Three? Four? Did they even coincide with Penner on the true EV 2nd line? I don’t like that particular move, but it’s hard for me to get too worked up over it given the depth on this team. Last I checked the Oilers were forced to ice 43-46-33 for some shifts this year, so anything’s on the table for the bottom six as far as I’m concerned. Whether it’s Smid on the wing, or asking Anderson to suit up again, it’s clear to me that they’re through the looking glass with that kind of forward depth.

    Are Gagner and Pouliot slam dunk choices as NHL centres right now? I’m not so sure they aren’t both wingers in this league anyway. Calling them “out of position” is a stretch.

    Regardless, we’re still just talking about two experiments here and the potential reward would have been substantial if Pisani and Penner could do the jobs. They couldn’t.

    We can talk about Cole too – 26 has played just 85 minutes with Hemsky at ES this year. That’s maybe five full games worth so they hardly even evaluated that combination as a result of the other moves.

    It’s just not a very good team, coach. They badly needed a second tough minutes line from the first game and frankly MacT has tried the unconventional (the above, which we have beaten to death) and the conventional (most of the things the posters here trumpet on about – Pouliot at centre, Brodziak pushed up, Cogs between two vets, etc, etc) and the answer has still not been found.

    That goes to the roster IMO. MacT sure hasn’t hit the ball out of the park, but it’s hard for me to say this team has a tenuous hold on a playoff spot solely due to decisions you have characterized as wholly irrational.

  66. Phil says:

    Maybe I’m alone in this, but I think MacT is being too nice to Penner. He has the tools to be one of the best power forwards in the league, if all he would do was apply himself a bit. Penner is one of the biggest players in the league, but his opponents would never know it.

    How frustrating would it be for a coach who know’s his feet are to the fire, to have a team that is dying for people to step up, and you look down the bench and see this mammoth guy with scoring touch, and you can’t remember the last time he threw a body check? I’d shit all over him too.

    That may be the longest sentence I’ve ever written.

  67. Rod says:

    @RiversQ:
    Sure seemed like Cole was with Hemsky a lot longer than five games to start the season…but I’ll take the bait. If it was only five, then why wasn’t Horpensky re-united for game 6? It’s not like there was another credible answer for the first LW slot. Nor did Pisani require the continued presence of Penner to his right. It’s just that MacT didn’t want to reunite Horpensky. Even though it’s a proven line. Staying away from Horpensky for so long was inexcusable.

    Fair enough that some think all of MacT’s experiments were reasonable and had a decent chance of success. Throw enough paint at the wall something is bound to stick…eventually. To me though, those were mostly doomed experiments. What reason was there to think Pisani could handle become the checking C? Or win an occasional draw? What reason was there to think Penner could be a checking forward? Or effective on the PK?

    Brodziak was easily a better bet for checking C. Even Pouliot. At least they had played the position within the last decade.

    Then there’s the crap MacTavish has spewed in the paper. Benching a guy is one thing. HS/PB is fair game too. Using the media to repeated berate a player? Dumb. Even MacTavish said it after the first drive-by on Penner (said he generally doesn’t believe in those things). Funny how that didn’t stop him from repeating the gesture. To top it off, upon reconstituting the Horpensky line, Penner’s numbers improved. MacTavish’s rant got all the media credit of course.

    (BTW, I’m not saying Penner has been perfect or anything. He has played well for the most part though, and hasn’t come close to deserving the derisive treatment from MacTavish)

    Obviously I’m in the camp that figures MacT has contributed to the mess this year with his erratic personnel decisions. It’s like MacT put an ice cube on the kitchen counter, expecting to find it there the next day…only to be shocked upon finding a puddle…whereupon he then proceeded to take the counter-top out behind the woodshed. OK, bad analogy. No worse than MacT’s experiments though.

    As I see it, it’s quite reasonable to find a) fault in MacTavish’s tactics, and b) that ~8 points have been squandered by said decisions (wholly irrational or not).

  68. Rod says:

    @Phil:
    Thing is, Penner *is* producing results. The numbers show it. How the public beatings help anything is beyond me. The first rant was particularly ridiculous because Penner was placed/mis-placed in a checking role…and then crapped on for not putting up enough points. There’s no question MacTavish has made Penner his whipping boy. And yet you think he’s being too nice? Wow.

  69. Rod says:

    Lowetide said:
    “The beatings will continue until morale improves”
    —–
    Agreed, even if the bag-skate was a TSN invention. A look at the upcoming schedule, and the Oilers will be lucky to escape with .500 record for the 14 games in Feb. Surpassing five wins might even be a stretch. The way they Oil are playing, they could easily lose:
    - in St.Louis
    - in Dallas
    - vs. Columbus
    Not to mention:
    - vs. Chicago
    - in Detroit
    - in Minnesota
    - vs. Montreal
    - in San Jose
    - vs. Calgary
    - vs. Minnesota

    That leaves:
    - in LA (afternoon)
    - in Phoenix
    - vs. Tampa

    Um, yeah. It could get ugly real fast.

  70. hunter1909 says:

    MacT reminds me of a cubmaster I once had. His fat son was a senior sixer(basically impossible for a fat kid unless you’re the cubmaster’s son), who loved to throw his weight(sic) around to the rest of us kids.

    The cubmaster himself was aloof, imperious, and radiated a sense of ‘well, since I’m in charge, you all had better do anything I demand’. It was sickening.

    Cub scouts being possibly one of the last places you would expect this kind of behaviour, it sure as hell soured me for the next time I was smilingly asked by anyone to join something “good for me”.

  71. Jonathan Willis says:

    RiversQ:

    It’s a good point about Cole. Before the season started, I remembered a bunch of people arguing that he had to be with Hemsky. That disappeared early on.

    I’ll also say this – MacTavish has done some funny stuff with the lines this year, lots of it the result of having a weak port side and three strong two-way guys on RW. Still, many of his decisions look pretty questionable, especially considering that these moves generally don’t seem to wrok well for him (i.e. Ryan Smyth at centre).

  72. oilerdago says:

    Rod – good point about the schedule. All that we’ve discussed could be academic between now and the end of the month because the schedule is not going to do them any favors.

    Will be interesting to see how they fit in JDD to spell Roli.

    The “real” fun begins tonite and I submit once again that the next 3 games (all of which they are capable of losing) will determine the course of the season.

  73. Doogie2K says:

    I’ve lost probably a half-dozen posts at MC’s joint. I stopped posting anything of length because I’d forget the quick CTRL-A, CTRL-C in the text box and lose the whole post.

    I write all my posts and comments in Notepad first, then copy and paste them, so I don’t lose them.

    I don’t see where you have referenced any data that suggests he has been moving the puck in the right direction more consistently.

    I thought everyone had decided that that’s what Corsi meant. I think that’s a dangerous interpretation to take without considering some context, but that seems to be the general consensus nonetheless.

  74. Coach pb9617 says:

    Regardless, we’re still just talking about two experiments here and the potential reward would have been substantial if Pisani and Penner could do the jobs. They couldn’t.

    We’re not talking about two experiments here. We’re talking about almost half of the forwards out of position on any given night. If playing out of position is the easiest thing, why not move Hemsky to LW and allow Cole to play RW. Run Hemsky-Horcoff-Cole, Penner-Gagner-Nilsson, Pouliot-Cogliano-Pisani, Moreau-Brodziak-Brule/Stortini/MacIntyre out there. I mean, Hemsky has had the least years at RW of the RWs so he’s obviously best-suited to learn a new position. The counter of course is that he’s so great at RW, you can’t move him. If he’s so great, it should be simple for him to pick up a new position and continue to produce at high levels, like the expectations of Pisani and Penner.

    Even the best teams in the league would struggle with five guys out of position on any night.

    Back to this one:

    This is a silly statement.

    First off, Penner has never been the best player at evens on this team for any significant stretch. Not with 10 and 83 on the team.

    He was playing out of position with an out-of-position center and they were both toting Ethan freaking Moreau around the ice. If he wasn’t doing that, he was out of position at center with the struggling lollipop guild, both of whom were playing out of position. Considering the numbers he was putting up under such circumstances, he was their best player at evens.

    Sure seemed like Cole was with Hemsky a lot longer than five games to start the season…but I’ll take the bait. If it was only five, then why wasn’t Horpensky re-united for game 6?

    The sixth game of the year was at Colorado and Eric Cole started the game on the LW with Horcoff and Hemsky. It was more than five.


    It’s a good point about Cole. Before the season started, I remembered a bunch of people arguing that he had to be with Hemsky. That disappeared early on.

    Those bunch of people had not watched Cole or looked at his numbers for the last five years. There were a bunch of people here than knew better.

  75. Phil says:

    @Rod:

    Thing is, Penner *is* producing results.

    Agreed. They just aren’t that good. IMO, it’s one thing to have a bad season. It’s another thing altogether to have a bad season while not trying to do anything about it. It’s evident that there are a lot of passengers on this team this year, but Penner’s gifts, potential, and payscale combine with his uninspired play to make him stand out a bit more than the rest. Obvious choice for a whipping boy.

  76. Master Lok says:

    So was it a bag skate where the coach forced the three to skate until they puked – or wasn’t it a bag skate?

  77. Oilmaniac says:

    btw,Coach-

    It was the eighth game, or after it, that cole was taken off the first line…

    and if your going to lead off by saying that macT skrewed everything up by playing half is team out of position, why did you next lead into reasons for playing hemsky out of position…

    People need to remember that the cole experiment only lasted ~8 games, whereas the penner and pisani are far less forgivable given the lengths of each… (cole was even the least attrocious of these three, while playing out of position)…

    Just to ramble,.. I kinda liked the penner experiment because it seemed like macT could have been adding that hustle dimension to his game… but did it really need to happen, the demotion that is,.. its too bad the third line was so abominably bad (pisani exp. plus moreau shaking rust) that there was no way for a guy that doesnt ‘individually create offense’ to succeed… (also, playing him on the PK was infuriating)

  78. Bruce says:

    Coach: What makes you confident Hemsky could make the shift to LW any better than Cole did? Cole’s game suits the off-wing, but Ales is very heavily dependent on his forehand, to the point that when he passes from the left side he will almost always do a spinnarama rather than a backhand feed. Sometimes it even works, but it is not a play I’d like to see him forced to make on a regular basis.

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