Don’t Let Go The Coat

If Craig MacTavish were a songwriter he’d be Pete Townshend. Clearly smarter than the other brains of his generation (Lennon, for one), with a mind that enjoys the questions as much as the answers. Some of his seasons have been massive highs and terrible lows (Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy), 2005-06 was clearly “Who’s Next” and this past season was probably “The Who By Numbers.” One of the songs from that album is called “Slip Kid” and includes the line “Slip kid, slip kid, second generation, You’re slidin down the hill like me, No easy way to be free.”

Which is where I think Craig MacTavish is right now. The things he knows to be true appear to have failed him this season, to the point where he (according to the Journal today) will resign on Sunday.

I’ll be interested to see where he lands. His main strengths (even strength hockey, with his best teams also PK demons) will no doubt get the desired results in his new town. The new GM should make sure there are enough veterans, that there is balance on the roster and that development doesn’t become the main goal of a season.

I think that’s the lesson for Craig MacTavish post-2006: there is a point when juggling kids becomes impossible because there aren’t enough actual NHL players to bail them out while they learn on the job.

Balance. Veterans. It’s been awhile since Craig MacTavish had those things. And if clarity is a strength of Craig MacTavish (and it most certainly is), then is it also a strength of this organization?

We’ll see. Should MacT resign on Sunday the Oilers need to find a replacement in the next 8 weeks or so. One would hope they have a list of requirements and perhaps an early draft of the people they’d like to talk to in the next couple of weeks.

Do we think that’s the case? Based on how quickly this thing fell apart and the verbal from management and ownership the preceeded it, I’m beginning to worry if the Edmonton Oilers even have a plan. Part of me suspects Katz puts full stop on the resignation before Sunday.

And worry has been a consistent part of being an Edmonton Oiler fan this decade. Craig MacTavish was one of the things we could hold on to, as an intelligent, rational individual who had a plan. Stubborn? You bet. Perfect? Not a chance.

When he walks away Craig MacTavish will have no problem telling people what he stands for, the things that he values, the mission statement for his coaching philosophy and the tools needed for the long road ahead. What can we say about the Edmonton Oilers without him? The strongest personality in the organization is walking toward the exit and there’s a chance those he leaves behind haven’t a clue about how to go about the business of replacing him.

This team has been porridge since summer 2006. Kevin Lowe traded Chris Pronger for kids and then neglected to use the saved money on experienced hands who could pick up the slack for the Pronger loss (and that of Spacek and Tarnstrom).

I can’t help feeling the nadir of this franchise is on the other side of Sunday.

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