Elephant in the Room 2

The men and women covering the Oilers get a lot of crap from blogs like this one for not uncovering pertinent stories around the club. With that as the backdrop, credit where due. John Short doesn’t write much anymore but when he does it packs a punch. The story is here. The money quote talks about former Oilers currently playing in Carolina:

A warm and welcoming dressing room climate can overcome a host of problems. That comfort didn’t exist here — not for these guys, anyway — and the record shows that it was non-existent for others, as well. Blame the coach? Sure. Blame the organization? Absolutely. But don’t delude yourself that the so-called veteran leaders of the Oilers were blameless, because they weren’t.

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38 Responses to "Elephant in the Room 2"

  1. Tyler says:

    I dunno LT. I’m not a kool-aid drinker by any means but the Oilers had no interest in bringing Samsonov back, IIRC, and Cole has said good things about Edmonton. Only guy who seems to fit the description is Pitkanen.

  2. quain says:

    If anything, I’m fairly positive Pitkanen’s beef was with MacTavish more than the player leadership, especially given that the player leadership was injured for a huge portion of the season.

    This isn’t really a reported story, this is more like a blog post where there’s an assumption and then some mediocre logic to get you to that point. He could’ve at least gotten some blind quotes from the towel boy.

    “Yeah, Cole hated it here,” admitted a locker room assistant, “Moreau and Staios used to pants him or give him swirlies after every practice. One time Horcoff covered all of his sticks in honey.”

  3. DBO says:

    i think Short is pretty tapped in to what happens in Oiler land, and the old “where there’s smoke there’s fire” adage comes to mind when discussing the Oilers dressing room situation. even Souray mentioned it was a tough year, and with the rumours, press comments and other things that happened this past year I think that maybe there will be more of a changeover then we think. i assume that our veteran leadership would include: moreau, Staios (best friends by all accounts), Horcoff and to some extent Souray (who i would assume took a larger role as the season progressed). Cole is a professional so i doubt he’d bash a place, but the way he played once he left for Carolina screams out how happy he was when he left.

    So as LT mentioned in his Quinn coach, I think our moves will be determined to the kind of coach we get.
    A Quinn type = Cogliano/O’Sullivan, Nilsson, Gilbert and other young guys are gone and a veteran team will be on the ice.
    A younger assistant (san Jose): younger team he can mold, and I think you’ll see Moreau, Staios and a few spare parts moved out for younger players who can grow with the coach. (I prefer this option)

  4. godot10 says:

    You can’t hang Samsonov on the Oilers. He left for more money (the Oilers made a competitivie offer), and Carolina is his third team since leaving the Oilers.

    His inclusion delegitimizes the comment a bit.

  5. Showerhead says:

    How many people are reading about a potential locker room rift for the first time?

    There is no uncovering to this story, just a statement of hypotheses and some loose suggestions in place of quotes or hard evidence.

  6. Lowetide says:

    Showerhead: There have been rumblings and then denials (earlier it was about a rift between the kids and veterans). Short brought the subject up, and one expects another round of denials.

    But there’s something going on, I think. The comments from a “veteran” mid-season about the coach, the Moreau comments that remain out there without proper investigation.

    It might just be that the Edmonton Oilers have been a revolving door since the trade deadline 2006. But it might be more, and if John Short is writing about it them I’m even more convinced of it.

  7. mjsh says:

    I have guessed all along that the lack of effort on the ice signalled a problem in the room. Maybe some one will write a book some day and we will know for sure.

  8. Showerhead says:

    Lowetide: that’s kind of my point. How then is he breaking this story?

    I am not suggesting that there’s no smoke or fire. I’m just saying we’ve been roasting marshmallows and fattening ourselves up on smores for a little while now. The only way this is a new story IMO is with a quote from one of those players or some other proof unique to John Short.

  9. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Please bear in mind that Rod Phillips indicated exactly this kind of rift in the dressing room at the conclusion of the season,

    I don’t recall the exact language he used but, if anyone is attuned to the chemistry on the team, it would be Rod since he spends a great deal of time with the team during the season.

  10. Lowetide says:

    Showerhead: I think it probably comes down to what you think of John Short. I’ve known John for over 25 years and honestly he doesn’t write anything without having very good information.

    PLUS he’s connected. Very connected. I’m not saying you should accept the article because of what I’m telling you, but trying to tell you why I believe it.

    John Short can bullshit with the best of them, but his track record (going WAY back) suggests he is one person who is willing to publish things the organization would prefer to keep underground.

  11. Showerhead says:

    Lowetide: That’s kind of what I was expecting as a response, to tell you the truth. I had a quick run by HF and there’s a post or two that basically say “if John Short says it, it must be true”. My own opinion is that there is something there based on the other sources that have already made Mr. Short’s suggestions and beyond that I am happy to take your word that he must have a real and veritable something or he wouldn’t have written what he did.

    Unfortunately for me, as a first time reader, he didn’t actually WRITE that something. For examples he uses a playoff rental, a documented introvert, and someone so consummately professional that even though you know he had an awful time in Edmonton he still said all the right things… and he doesn’t quote a single one of them. It’s a nothing article unless you didn’t believe the rumor the first hundred times you heard it.

  12. jdrevenge says:

    Not sure what you”re arguing here showerhead. That John Short didnt uncover the story… or that bloggers are first to the news?

    Short is as respected in this city as Matty as far as I’m concerned. That both have confirmed without confirming that this is going on is a pretty big deal and should warrant some talk.

    If Moreau leads like he plays he was prolly taking some pretty stupid liberties in the room…Hence the talk.

  13. Lowetide says:

    Showerhead: Yeah, I understand. I think most people don’t realize Short’s career included being an extreme inner circle person AND an extreme outer circle person.

    I wish he’d write a book. Short was there when 99 landed at the airport and he was there when Sather turned his back on him.

    Whether or not he’s a credible source at this time is probably in the eye of the beholder, as you say.

  14. Simon says:

    Wasn’t Hemsky’s public outburst the strongest evidence that there was something seriously wrong in the locker room? Say what you will about him, but he’s never had a reputation of being a whiner or a loud-mouth.

  15. DeeDee says:

    The alternative to this theory of a rift in the dressing room is what?

    Remember that they were being touted as potential division leaders, or contenders at least.

    So if there was no rift whats the theory?

    All I know is that watching the playoffs this year has been pretty depressing.

    It reminds me about what good hockey looks like and its been a looooong time since we’ve seen any here.

  16. quain says:

    The fun thing about the rotating door that is the Edmonton Oilers lately is that the guys who make it clear that they want to stay never get to. Smyth is the obvious guy, but I know Sykora said the same, and I think Glencross implied it but said they put him on the backburner.

    A lot of the guys we miss right now probably would still be Edmonton Oilers if Kevin Lowe had ever learned how to multitask. The list of guys leaving with vague hatred of the team are pretty well outnumbered by guys who basically said they were told to wait while we hunted Hossa, Nylander and RFAs.

    John Short should write that story. He could probably get some guy named Marty Reasoner to give him a quote.

  17. Ducey says:

    Chicken or the egg?

    Seems to me that coming into the season with high expectations and then failing to do well would result in issues in any dressing room or any organization. Did the failure on the ice result from or cause the problems in the room?

    Unless you can prove that the problems in the room caused the falure on the ice, you got a non story here.

    Pitkanen and Samsonov were not even in the room this year. How does the fact they are “happy” on a playoff team impact on the Oilers situation this year-which they were not even part of?? In fact, the room was in pretty good shape at the end of 2007-08. What changed? Mr Cole was brought in with high expectations which were not met – mirroring the whole team.

    Pretty weak stuff, Mr Short.

  18. kris says:


    Interesting stuff.

    However, I’m with Showerhead and Tyler on this one.

    I read the short passage -forgive the pun- you linked and it seems very clear that Short is giving an argument like this:

    ‘Cole, Pitkannen, and Samsonov were happier when they left, therefore there must have been a proble in the Oil dressing room that was making them unhappy while they were here.’

    Short even uses the phrase, “It’s reasonable to bet that…” which suggests he doesn’t have any information about what’s going on in the dressing room to present to us, but rather is saying given what we all know about Pitkannen et. al. we should conclude there was a problem.

    Now, I suspect there was a problem in the room, but Short’s argument isn’t very good, as Tyler suggests. Pitkanen might be happier down in Carolina, but that could be for any number of reasons: weather, winning, the fact that you can spell ‘Carolina’ all Finnish. Caaroliinaa. Caarollininenn. etc.

  19. kris says:

    That is, Short isn’t saying “Take my word for it, I heard there is a problem in the room.”

    Thus, citing his credibility seems beside the point.

    Or am I missing something?

  20. Jfry says:

    i love this comment section…it’s like logic 203.

    if some bears are white, but there exists one black bear, we can conclude all bears are not white.

    seems to me that we’re following the shadow and need to get out of the cave boys.

    it’d be so much easier if Horc lived next door to me, came over all the time to drink MGD, watch golden girls and dish on the locker room.

  21. Traktor says:

    Self-inflicted wound #237: Double standards and favoritism creates dissension.

    Funny thing is I said the exact same thing only a month into the season before the reports of a rift came out.

    It would almost be impossible for the dressing room not to have a rift with the way MacT ran his bench last year.

    “So as LT mentioned in his Quinn coach, I think our moves will be determined to the kind of coach we get.
    A Quinn type = Cogliano/O’Sullivan, Nilsson, Gilbert and other young guys are gone and a veteran team will be on the ice.”

    I think you’re way off the mark here. Any coach is going to ice his best players and any coach with a half brain should be able to conclude that most of Edmonton’s players are fairly young.

    Any coach that wouldn’t want Cogliano or Gilbert on his roster because of their age simply shouldn’t be coaching.

  22. Traktor says:

    That should read *any coach with a functioning brain should know that most of Edmonton’s BEST players are fairly young*

    S.T isn’t going to bring in a coach that wants to disassemble the roster, he’s going to bring in someone who he believes can most maximize the potential of the current roster makeup.

    1. Tambellini isn’t going to send out assets for 80 cents on the dollar to get more experienced players.

    2. Most of Edmonton’s players are going to need to reestablish their value on the market if Edmonton is going to get good return on their assets.

  23. oil dude says:

    This isn’t the first time John Short has said this either. I believe he was a guest on Gregors show near the end of the season and was saying that the “veteran leaders need to be held accountable”. Several people in the media have mentioned this now i suspect it was there from training camp. I remember that several oilers changed locker stalls mid-season and it seemed to be spear-headed by Gilbert who had to sit with the older guys (at there urging) but couldn’t fit into their conversations about “books and world events” so he moved back to kiddies korner. Stories like that can help clear up curious roster decsions down the road, I hope it’s Moreau/Staios in Tambellini’s crosshairs and not Gibby.

  24. Lowetide says:

    traktor: This team will have more established NHL players come the fall, I’m confident we can write that in ink.

    Who goes? I’d bet Nilsson who played 971 minutes, Reddox who had 481 and one of Pouliot (724) or Brodziak (1005).

    Plus the new coach could cut back on some of the EV minutes, including Gagner (13:24 a game–that’s a lot), Ladislav Smid (14:07 a game) and possibly eliminate the roster spot devoted to a goon.

    Plus they can bring in a veteran to spell Horcoff. Some of these minutes will be used up with better health from Visnovsky, Pisani and others, but my bet is that no matter the coach’s name one of the first conversations has to do with a veteran center who can win a faceoff.

  25. doritogrande says:

    I’m going to agree with Showerhead and suggest a slow news day. LT you may be a backer of this reporter, but he doesn’t say anything that hasn’t already been reported on. He may be a good reporter, but in this article he’s got all the journalist prowess of Steve Simmons.

  26. rickibear says:

    LT: Younger is cheaper: Usually!

    We need prime aged players: 28-32Yrs. or Pre prime players 18-27 yrs.

    32-40Yr old players while experienced decline in performance unless they are:
    1. fitness monsters,
    2. feaks of nature,
    3. given quarter because of reputation.

    Age start of season 09-10

    Do not know about disconnect.
    There are distinct ages to this team.

    22% are 1-3yrs from there prime.

    48% are 4-8 yrs from there prime. We should only retain one small player one each of the first three lines.

    17% are post prime and should be moved.
    For younger cheaper assets preferably in the 1-3yr pre prime age groupor start of prime.
    All of there skills are duplicated except for Sourays and Staios PK skills which were 1st & 2nd for +3min PKTOI Dmen 07/08.
    Vishnovsky Top 10 EVGA/60 for Dmen.

    The three players in there prime are top ten talents at there prime skill.
    Pisani: PK
    Horcoff: Tough comp outscoring center and Faceoffs.
    Macintyre: goon deterent!

    It was a major year of underachieving for all on the lists: There is your discontent!

  27. Traktor says:


    I can see us making a pitch for a Vinny type but I highly doubt management is going to ship Smid, Cogs and O’Sullivan for Gator and Weight types.

    That would be a disaster.

    I think we’ll upgrade the 3C position but more than a veteran that can win a draw I believe Tambellini will be looking for a mean bastard that will allow our skilled players to play a skilled game and not have to constantly look over their shoulder – something that Brodziak, Pouliot and Reasoner all failed to bring to that role.

    I think Brodziak and Pouliot are both gone for Eager/Burish/Rypien types.

  28. Lowetide says:

    Traktor: How on earth did you get that from what has been posted here? Seriously. Doug Weight?

  29. Shawn says:

    That happy man Erik Cole has 2 assists and is -4 with 16 minutes in penalties in 14 playoff games.

    The new and improved Sergei Samsonov has 4 goals and 2 assists in 13 games.

    Am I supposed to be blown away?

    Pitkanen’s numbers are pretty good (7 assists in 14 games) and he’s played well, but this isn’t the first nor will it be the last time Pitkanen has a good run. The problem is that they don’t last and that he’s moody.

    Sorry if I’m not moved by what those guys have done.

  30. Traktor says:


    I get the sense that many fans would happily trade in some of the kids for 2nd tier vets if it meant we’d be back in the 8th place next year.

    Maybe I’m confusing what people want with what they think will happen.

    Trades like Smid for 1 year of Aaron Ward or Cogliano for Marco Sturm are the moves I’m worried about.

  31. knighttown says:

    @ Mullin

    Agree on Cole being pretty crappy. Sami has been quite to very good as his points seem to have all come on game winners.

    Joni Pitkanen has not merely been pretty good. I’ve watched 80% of the ‘Canes games and he’s been as good as any defenseman still playing, Lidstrom included.

  32. Lowetide says:

    Traktor: I think you can sign a lot of what’s needed via free agency. Trading Smid or Cogliano doesn’t make sense to me. In a blog post earlier this spring I suggested moving a big salary on D (Souray) in order to acquire goaltending (Halak) and help at forward (Higgins).

    That’s the kind of deal that makes sense to me. Either that or deal Nilsson for a pick and then sign a mid-level free agent. They’re not terribly expensive.

  33. rickibear says:

    //It was a major year of underachieving for all on the lists: There is your discontent!//

    For those who may not understand the comment. An entire group of players under perform.

    They will all have a frustration.

    Many will display it.

    -Some will be frusted and blame themselves.
    -Some will blame the system.
    -Others will blame teamates.

    If you have an issue with a person in a room the problem can be anything.

    If you have a problem with 4 or more people in the room the problem is YOU.

    How many of you think the problem is gone?

    The better question is, how many players in the room think the problem is gone?

    Does mgmt:
    From the press conference we saw from Tambelini, that is not his answer.

  34. HBomb says:

    Lowetide: I’m with you. Minor tweaks to the roster, maybe ditch some salary if possible.

    I’d like to see what this group does with a new coach with one or two well placed changes. No need for a total overhaul at this point.

  35. bookie says:

    Lowetide: I’m with you. Minor tweaks to the roster, maybe ditch some salary if possible.

    I’d like to see what this group does with a new coach with one or two well placed changes. No need for a total overhaul at this point..

    I agree, I think that the wide path that the players have tread away from even hinting that MacT was not a lunitic this season suggests that MacT was a BIG problem in the room this year. Lets see what happens next year. I like this team and think that they are built around a very agressive style of play.

  36. JB-"jiggyman" says:

    How many of you think the problem is gone?
    The problem definitely isn’t gone, although it’s being worked on for the first time in years. This issue’s been growing for approximately 2-3 seasons now. You’d be mistaken if you believe this was an issue that randomly popped up due to underachieving this season.

    I guess could say the head of the beast has been removed with MacT’s firing. The problem still lies in our leadership core.

    As anti Moreau/Staios as I’ve been through the last few years, there’s been good reason for it. Reason that goes well beyond their declining play and obvious lack of ability to lead on the ice.

  37. Oilmaniac says:

    ouch… first impression, taken at face value… that one hurts…

  38. Oilmaniac says:

    Upon review of comments,

    I agree w Poor season = discontent.. but also..

    I think there could be more to be said from other malcontents that were not sited in this blurb by short… most obviously pronger and spacek… but Carolina is an easy team to look at right now and go ‘oh, oilers that are winning’ although it was mentioned here that only pitkanen is really going… anyways,..

    This team has seen lots of turn around, and disappointment in the last 3 years.. tough road for some.. especially vets.. nevermind the greene/stoll/torres punting of this last offseason, which murmers here thought could have been connected with beginning/ending locker room issues… ?? speculation, but to dismiss this blurb by short simply because ‘cole sucks and we never really wanted to keep sampsonov’ is really lame…

    Coaching being the only major change thus far, it can be seen that our hope is in ‘that’ change to begin turnning this around…

    Plus, could you imagine MacT giving your playing time to peterson, on the pp.. that would drive me nuts!…

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