Trouble (The Future Part 3)

Craig MacTavish has been coach of the Edmonton Oilers for a generation of players. The season he took over Shawn Horcoff was a rookie, and Horcoff will be 31 in the fall. Doug Weight was 31 when he left Dodge City.

By my count MacTavish ranks 2nd in terms of all-time Oiler regular season games coached (Sather is at 782, MacT will coach number 656 this weekend) and is certainly the most famous coach since the team stopped winning Stanleys.

All of the men who have coached the Oilers since they arrived in the NHL have had ties to the organization. They were either former players or assistant coaches or coached in the minors for a time.

There is a sense (as expressed in a post below by the best Oilers blogger in the business, Jonathan Willis) that new owner Daryl Katz will go outside the lines with the choice for head coach. Willis says “if the Oilers do the right thing (hire a coach from outside the org), we’re not going to note it as the start of a trend.We’ll note it as the continuation of a trend that saw Steve Tambellini, Rob Daum, Jeff Truitt and Rick Olczyk hired from elsewhere.”

These are good points made by Jonathan; after all, Tambellini is the de facto GM and media types are going to great lengths to mention that it was he who made the deadline deals that brought in O’Sullivan and Kotalik. Maybe I’d feel better if they didn’t feel a need to make the point, or maybe I’d feel better if anyone in the organization spent a moment talking about Rob Daum as a quality career coach, or if they weren’t always so eager to allow teams to talk to the Claude Juliens of the world.

I think this offseason is a wonderful test for the “new” Oilers of Daryl Katz. Will they accept MacT’s resignation? Will they make other front office moves? Will they hire one of the “Boys on the Bus” in a managerial role? Will they go after a “career coach” or a “Mark Messier?” Will they hire Pat Quinn? Don Lever? Kelly Buchberger?

Next up: How many wins is a new coach worth?

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55 Responses to "Trouble (The Future Part 3)"

  1. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    The more poignant question would be how many wins would a new GM be worth if Lowe wasn’t playing Geppetto.

  2. Lowetide says:

    FCM: Agreed, but that train has left the station.

  3. Coach pb9617 says:

    I would so knock over a bank for that.

  4. speeds says:

    Thanks LT, I think I’ll have to watch “The Graduate” again sometime soon.

  5. Lord Bob says:

    Am I the last Oilers fan alive who doesn’t think MacTavish is going anywhere?

  6. mjsh says:

    lord Bob. yes

  7. Bluedog says:

    Can we just get our poop grouped long enough to fuck over Calgary, please?

    Job one. Then we can call this whole season a success.

    Thanks.

  8. Jonathan Willis says:

    the best Oilers blogger in the business, Jonathan Willis

    That bit isn’t true, and that isn’t me being modest. I’d read you or Tyler over me any day of the week.

    Aside from that, though, this is bang on. This summer will show, one way or the other, what direction the Oilers are going to take under the ownership of Daryl Katz. And if the rumblings about shakeups in the front office are true, I think we can be comforted that no job is completely safe – not even Kevin Lowe’s.

  9. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Lowetide said…
    FCM: Agreed, but that train has left the station.

    And until it completes the return trip, we’re likely on the Toonerville Trolley.

  10. Garnet says:

    Lord Bob: who knows. People may have decided that Katz’s text-message was the 21st-century equivalent of the dreaded “show of support” for the coach. It usually precedes a firing, but the new boss has no track record, so …
    As regards someone playing Gepetto, I’d love that, if that meant that the top brass and coaches were working toward the same end, instead of the former sticking the latter with a forward he despises and backup goalie he flat refuses to play.

  11. boopronger says:

    Lord Bob, I used to think Mactavish wasnt going anywhere but then Katz reassured me with a text message.

  12. doritogrande says:

    the best Oilers blogger in the business, Jonathan Willis

    That bit isn’t true, and that isn’t me being modest. I’d read you or Tyler over me any day of the week.

    Black Dog?

  13. Lord Bob says:

    And hey, how about some love for Lord Bob? I’ve done a post in calendar 2009, c’mon!

  14. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Garnet said…

    “As regards someone playing Gepetto, I’d love that, if that meant that the top brass and coaches were working toward the same end, instead of the former sticking the latter with a forward he despises and backup goalie he flat refuses to play.”

    Changing the conductor on the 10:03 to Deadwood likely doesn’t mean much if the bridge ahead is already washed out.

  15. PDO says:

    Best way we could fuck over Calgary would be with two emotional 7-6 losses.

    CBJ would fuck them up something special. Especially with the losses of Regehr and Sarich.

  16. boopronger says:

    oops. Joke doesnt work if you botch it. I meant to say I thought Mactavish was gone by next season but Katz reassured me with a text.

  17. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    PDO said…
    Best way we could fuck over Calgary would be with two emotional 7-6 losses.

    CBJ would fuck them up something special. Especially with the losses of Regehr and Sarich.

    The Flames have already fucked over the Oilers and your need for some kind of twisted revenge is quite sad, actually.

    It’s over, again, be still Grasshopper.

  18. Jonathan Willis says:

    DG: I’m not going to offer the entire list ;)

  19. Lord Bob says:

    Anyway, best of luck to Craig MacTavish and Kevin Lowe in remaining gainfully employed with the Edmonton Oilers.

  20. Matt says:

    I would so knock over a bank for that.

    Perfectly conceived and said.

  21. PDO says:

    The Flames have already fucked over the Oilers and your need for some kind of twisted revenge is quite sad, actually.

    It’s over, again, be still Grasshopper.

    How dare an Oiler fan hope for his team to get a better draft pick after missing the playoffs while the Flames draw their worst possible opponent!

  22. hunter1909 says:

    Edmonton Oilers post 2006 finals checklist:

    miss playoffs – check.

    finish just under the playoff cut, no hope in hell of any better pick than 10th – check

    management/ ownership lecturing fans over the state of the perpetually bubble team Oilers – check

    Nightmare scanario, MacTavish gets his 9th NHL coaching season for 2009-10 – possible

  23. Black Dog says:

    Barnes says today that Lowe is going to step away further this summer and that macT will resign.

  24. Black Dog says:

    btw thanks DG, I’m glad you think so, even if its not true ;)

  25. Mr DeBakey says:

    Barnes also noted that

    “Tambellini wants a bigger and stronger top-six corps of forwards”

    He’s looking at
    O’Sullivan, Nilsson…

  26. Lord Bob says:

    Barnes says today that Lowe is going to step away further this summer and that macT will resign.

    What was Dennis’s lovely phrase, “Vice-President of Remembering the Eighties”?

  27. Phil says:

    The Oiler-Flamer back to back is a win-win situation. Beating Calgary is always nice, and losing hopefully means a better pick. Hey, if we lose out, Dallas wins out, and Ottawa goes 1-1, we could still get the 8th pick!

    But, Calgary will screw us out of that as well, lay two eggs in a row, and we’ll win. Those daft pricks.

    @Lord Bob: I thought it was vice-president of coaching operations? Or was that MacT?

  28. pboy says:

    Jeff Deslauriers will be playing the last two games of the season according to the Edmonton Journal.

  29. Bruce says:

    But, Calgary will screw us out of that as well, lay two eggs in a row, and we’ll win. Those daft pricks.

    So this weekend’s home and home is all about daft pricks and draft picks.

  30. CrazyCoach says:

    CBJ would fuck them up something special. Especially with the losses of Regehr and Sarich.

    JOE McGRATH VOICE- You can’t put a bounty on a man’s head!

  31. Jonathan Willis says:

    Here’s a link to the Barnes piece that BDHS referenced.

    It’s a must-read.

    Also, Dan Barnes is clearly the best media guy in Edmonton.

  32. Bruce says:

    JOE McGRATH VOICE- You can’t put a bounty on a man’s head!

    Did you see Mikhail Grabovski take out Andrei Markov last weekend? That may have been personal, or it may just be that Grabovski just hates anybody wearing a Montreal uniform. He was at the centre of what was at times a vicious renewal of the longstanding Leafs-Habs rivalry this season. Habs lost two defenders in that game, which will cripple them in the playoffs if they even make it that far. The Habs losing Markov is like us losing Visnovsky, and to lose him on a dirty check is reminscent of the way we lost Grebeshkov. Remembering what team put Grebs on the shelf one could conclude what goes around comes around.

    But that doesn’t make it right.

  33. CrazyCoach says:

    Bruce you are right. That just isn’t right. I know history and rivalries are fun sometimes, but we often take them a little too seriously and let our ethics slide.

    I grew up in a town in Northern BC that has put three players and one coach into the NHL, and there is a huge rivalry that exists with a neighboring town. At times it is fun, and other times borders on insanity.

    I’m outta here for the weekend and no computer access.

    Go Oilers.

  34. Smarmy Boss says:

    Yeah except it wasn’t a dirty hit.

  35. Phil says:

    @CrazyCoach:

    Fort St. John <> Dawson Creek?

  36. Dennis says:

    The O’Sullivan move could well work out for the next two years but it was an out-and-out dud in ’09. Kotalik had some flashes for sure but I think GA was a bigger problem than GF and when he made the deal giving up the 2nd rounder, we knew 71 wasn’t coming back and there was no help from within for the D.

    Plus, the Garon move came from the angle where A: it didn’t help us this year B: it doesn’t look to provide much help next year C: it showed that someone didn’t understand how our coach works and that if you leave him with Garon plus an unproven kid, Roli was gonna be worked like a caffeine addled 12 year old in a sweat shop.

    I mention this in a post talking about the future and allow me to add that Tambellini was passed over twice by his old org.

  37. Dennis says:

    In less depressing news – unless you’re a Flames fan – Reghier’s gone for at least the first round.

  38. Traktor says:

    You can build the best race car in the world but if the guy driving it doesn’t have a clue then it is all for not.

    Not that we have the best talent in the NHL but I think it is impossible to know exactly what we have until we have someone else in the drivers seat.

    Penner scored 29 in his first season, led Edmonton in scoring last year, was 12th in the NHL last year in PP goals and MacT started him on the 3rd line with Moreau and Pisani. Even though Penner was one of the most proficient PP scorers in the league last year and boasted a great PPGFON60 the brilliant MacT decided to cut his PP minutes. Horcoff and Hemsky have done remarkable well on a line with Penner this year (we’ve all seen CoachPB’s extensive work) and there’s no denying that line was doing major damage against other teams best. Even I (someone who’s complained all year that we need better top end talent) can admit that was a great PVP option.

    So why couldn’t MacT see it?

    There is only 2 options:

    1. MacTavish is stubborn and he bailed on a great line due to spite.

    2. MacTavish is too stupid to see what works and what doesn’t.

    Considering that MacT handed over his bread and butter (PK) to Bucky #2 is not unrealistic.

    Is it an issue with the players Lowe has put forth or does the problem lie with how they’re being used?

    Andrew Cogliano has more goals than Shawn Horcoff. He has more goals than Penner and more goals than Gagner.

    His shooting % tells us that he’s an opportunistic player that knows how to get in the right place at the right time.

    How did MacTavish maximize Cogliano’s chances of success?

    The only player that Cogliano played with all year that can actually pass the puck is Marc Pouliot who’s a fringe NHLer at this point.

    Common sense would be to give one of your best scorers a passer on his line but MacT for some unexplainable reason couldn’t figure this out.

    Instead MacT tried to jam a square peg through a round hole.

    Common sense tells us that either Pouliot or Brodziak should have received the 3C gig out of camp but here we are 80 games later and not one of them was ever given the chance?

    What the hell does MacT have against common sense?

    How is JDD good enough to start 3 games in a row at the start of the season yet he isn’t good enough to play in the last 40 games?

    What changed?

    One thing that’s for certain is MacT obviously thinks points in November aren’t worth the same as they’re in March.

  39. Bruce says:

    The O’Sullivan move could well work out for the next two years but it was an out-and-out dud in ’09.

    That’s the giraffe in the room that nobody noticed cuz all those fucking elephants are blocking our view. Here’s the line on POS as an Oiler in ’08-09:

    17 GP, 1-4-5, 0.29 PPG, -8

    … and we’re on the hook for two more years at $2.925 MM, which means the kid is under contract at least but isn’t what you’d call a bargain rate. Moreover, he’s somewhat redundant to Robert Nilsson who is similarly signed for 2 more years for what I believe is a cap hit of $2 MM (NHLnumbers.com has him at 1.833 bu I think it’s in error). Nilsson had an awful year, yet his produciton rate far outstripped POS:

    63 GP, 9-20-29, 0.46 PPG, even

    During the stretch drive collapse
    O’Sullivan has definitely been part of the problem, “producing” 0-2-2, -7 over the last 10 games. Very disappointing to put it mildly.

  40. Vic Ferrari says:

    Dennis:

    I don’t know if you caught it, but Maloney was on CHED the other week and he said that he and Tambellini had a lot of very serious talks about Jokinen.

    I guess it depends how you view Olli, a lot of us around here have been coloured by Riv’s views from when he lived in Atlanta and saw him a lot. And there are quite a few arrows pointing towards him being a guy that helps you win hockey pools more than he helps you win hockey games.

    I mean I think Calgary made a bad deal there, but at least there is the possibility of some short term gain. For the Oilers o be interested in Olli … damn?!

    I am exactly one twat hair away from becoming a Jackets fan, Dennis. Those are the kind of teams the Oilers used to have before the lockout. This summer CBJ lost it’s best defenceman and 2nd best forward … and they added a few good, useful forwards, guys that help you win actual hockey games (Williams, Torres, Gratton, Vermette), and Huselius and Commodore have done well too, in spite of my ex-Flames bias.

    So they are just as good as last year, and this time around they get the puck luck. And they are fun to watch and easy to cheer for.

    And the Oilers, while certainly not terrible, and probably a home ice playoff team if they were in the east … there are a lot of guys on that roster you would want to punch in the head if you’d been drinking rye, Dennis. And they, and their fans, think they are better than they are, inventing new, pathetic reasons by the hour all season to confirm that. Jesus, just gets on my tit.

    I think the owner is good. There is no single source of blame, overpays on almost all the contracts and it’s death by a thousand knives. And while everyone makes mistakes and loses good bets sometimes, and wins bad bets sometimes … I just can’t find any reasons to have any faith in this Oilers management group.

  41. Ribs says:

    I still say O’Sullivan is a Double Agent…or something.

    I can’t imagine how the play can die on his stick every gaddamn time without it being on purpose somehow. It’s more funny than anything I suppose. My girlfriend enjoys me saying “..and this is where he gives up the puck” or “and this is where he shoots it directly at the goalies chest” and watch as he follows suit.

    He looks like he needs more time to adapt. At least I hope that’s what it is.

  42. Dennis says:

    Bruce: 19′s an easy guy to root for but he was awful counting wise and his plus/minus was shit as well. I will say he had lots of chances from in-close areas but he never marked on them.

    Still, bottom line is he was awful down the stretch:

    Vic: Sometimes, I wonder if ’06 really fucking happened.

    I taped the games of that run and the other week I watched G4 vs SJ.

    It made me excited and sad all at the same time.

    What do you make of Sutter’s cap MGMT and the fact that the Flames are now forced to play games with less than the normal 18 skater compliment?

  43. hunter1909 says:

    There is no future.

    What future? Having a “core” of really crap overrated bums?

    Having that “core” augmented by a washed up superstar in Jagr, who basically floats around driving everyone nuts and never winning anything?

    Or is it being MAXED out to the cap, after “Mad Kevin” Lowe spent the extra money he promised to rebuild the team with, but instead we have to agrue whether a 50 point perennial Horcoff is good enough?

    Then there are the usual suspects.

  44. hunter1909 says:

    If Katz ever wants a Soviet style purge, Traktor makes a great commissar.

  45. hunter1909 says:

    What I find most hilarious is Staios, Moreau, Pisani, Horcoff, were considered to be nothing more than average, replaceable NHL players.

    They still are considered to be this, by everyone else in hockey outside Edmonton.

    My math skills are weak, but anyone who isn’t up to their neck in debt knows that’s not who you build a successful NHL team around. Yet, looking at the figures, and the letter wearing players(I want to puke writing this) this is the state of the Edmonton Oilers hockey club, 2008-09.

    Add the desperate, pathetic, and plainly stupid Penner contract, plus a middling bunch of young players(some will get better, some worse, none save Gagner will ever be a perennial all star), and there you have it.

    MacTavish’s three playoff-less seasons has led us nowhere.

  46. Bruce says:

    Dennis: That Game 4 against the Sharks was a good choice. I’ll never forget that sequence where the San Jose powerplay threw everything they had including the old Kitchen Sink Play at the Oiler net and somehow Roli and the (other) hockey gods conspired to keep the puck out of our net, and at the end of it the biscuit deflected off his blocker and up and over everybody’s heads and at that perfect moment Sergei Samsonov of all people emerged from the penalty box and Vesa Toskala emerged from his net around the same moment and good things ensued. One of the most breathtaking sequences of hockey action I have ever seen. And then Gator summoned Bobby Orr for the only three seconds of his life to score the winner on a flying deke.

    Games 3, 5, and 6 are worth the occasional rewind as well; that was a great series.

  47. shepso says:

    what’s even better than reading or rewatching that very sequence is the memory I have of actually being there for that moment. I was fortunate enough to have been at that game as well as the final game of the detroit series. The gods were smiling upon me that year, and I hate to say it but I haven’t been to a game at rexall since the magic of the ’06 run…however I did see a game at the Joe last season, the game where Pitkanen had that incredible breakaway goal on Hasek that briefly made me like him.

  48. geowal says:

    Yet, looking at the figures, and the letter wearing players(I want to puke writing this) this is the state of the Edmonton Oilers hockey club, 2008-09.

    You allude to, but don’t mention Hemsky or Souray here, so not sure if you mean to include them or not. Despite the recent fun all seem to have bashing Hemsky these days, I consider both those players worth building around. They are not perfect, and are best when surrounded with the right linemates, but that’s true of all your cornerstone players.

  49. Jonathan Willis says:

    @ Dennis, Bruce, Ribs: Sure, O’Sullivan’s counting numbers are ugly and he hasn’t performed as hoped for, but here’s some more fun numbers from Vic’s siie on him:

    Goals: +7/-15 = -8
    Shots: +134/-151 = -17
    Corsi: +246/-252 = -6
    On-Ice SV%: .901 (tm avg. .925)
    On-Ice SH%: 5.2% (tm avg. 8.8%)

    Those last two numbers are the most telling. I’m upset that his Corsi number is so close to break even; by my eye he’s been better than that, but then I haven’t seen every game. But there’s no doubt that his current stretch of ineffectiveness is largely a result of the shooting %/save % numbers.

  50. Jonathan Willis says:

    Incidentally, here are O’Sullivan’s numbers from L.A.:

    Goals: +35/-30 = +5
    Shots: +467/-373 = +94
    Corsi: +868/-723 = +145
    On-Ice SH%: 7.5%
    On-Ice SV%: .920

    He’s a good player. It was a good trade.

  51. geowal says:

    He’s a good player. It was a good trade.

    Agreed on pt I. What will prove pt II is whether he can find a way to fit in and establish himself here.
    Or more broadly: Should there have been an expectation he could quickly find his way here? What has his aquisition, which further reduced Nilsson’s playing time done to his trade value, if he really is now redundant and on the way out as many believe.

    At the end of the day, what makes it a good trade is a belief that Cole was certainly on the way out and would have been lost for nothing. O’Sullivan may not be the right player to have been brought in, but those are the cards the GM is dealt.

  52. PunjabiOil says:

    Flames signed Moss today at 1.3M for the next 3 years; he was set to become a UFA.

    How does Sutter do this?

    Moss (1.3M), Borque (1.5M), Glencross (1.3M) and Conroy (1.0M). Every single on of these players is an outperformer.

  53. Woodguy says:

    You can build the best race car in the world but if the guy driving it doesn’t have a clue then it is all for not.

    Not that we have the best talent in the NHL but I think it is impossible to know exactly what we have until we have someone else in the drivers seat.

    Penner scored 29 in his first season, led Edmonton in scoring last year, was 12th in the NHL last year in PP goals and MacT started him on the 3rd line with Moreau and Pisani. Even though Penner was one of the most proficient PP scorers in the league last year and boasted a great PPGFON60 the brilliant MacT decided to cut his PP minutes. Horcoff and Hemsky have done remarkable well on a line with Penner this year (we’ve all seen CoachPB’s extensive work) and there’s no denying that line was doing major damage against other teams best. Even I (someone who’s complained all year that we need better top end talent) can admit that was a great PVP option.

    So why couldn’t MacT see it?

    There is only 2 options:

    1. MacTavish is stubborn and he bailed on a great line due to spite.

    2. MacTavish is too stupid to see what works and what doesn’t.

    Considering that MacT handed over his bread and butter (PK) to Bucky #2 is not unrealistic.

    Is it an issue with the players Lowe has put forth or does the problem lie with how they’re being used?

    Andrew Cogliano has more goals than Shawn Horcoff. He has more goals than Penner and more goals than Gagner.

    His shooting % tells us that he’s an opportunistic player that knows how to get in the right place at the right time.

    How did MacTavish maximize Cogliano’s chances of success?

    The only player that Cogliano played with all year that can actually pass the puck is Marc Pouliot who’s a fringe NHLer at this point.

    Common sense would be to give one of your best scorers a passer on his line but MacT for some unexplainable reason couldn’t figure this out.

    Instead MacT tried to jam a square peg through a round hole.

    Common sense tells us that either Pouliot or Brodziak should have received the 3C gig out of camp but here we are 80 games later and not one of them was ever given the chance?

    What the hell does MacT have against common sense?

    How is JDD good enough to start 3 games in a row at the start of the season yet he isn’t good enough to play in the last 40 games?

    What changed?

    One thing that’s for certain is MacT obviously thinks points in November aren’t worth the same as they’re in March.

    I’m not a habitual MacTavish basher, but that’s a pretty good post.

  54. quain says:

    Flames signed Moss today at 1.3M for the next 3 years; he was set to become a UFA.

    He scored 20 goals, but was a -7, medium comp, great teammates, has zero past history of success. The only way this deal is particularly impressive is if you compare it to Lowe paying off every single member of the 05-06 Cup finals team not named Smyth.

  55. Dennis says:

    WG: It’s a good post for sure. macT wasn’t given enough, and I won’t debate that, but I don’t feel he did enough with what he had.

    Did the guy just burn out and say fuck it? Maybe so.

    Look, if we had a balanced roster for ’10, I”d rather bring back MacT and let him work out the final year. But chances are we’ll be off the level again so I’d like a guy who wouldn’t waste faceoffs on 13 when a guy like 78 was around and a fellow who’d try different approaches and players on the PK once it didn’t work for the first 50 games.

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