Mattingly, I Told You to Shave Your Sideburns!

Pat Quinn’s media conferences are as enjoyable as MacT’s and that my friends is saying something. MacTavish has a rapier wit which allows him to respond in time to the question at hand (and often with hilarious results). Quinn is more tempered, measured, plodding and perhaps more prepared but no less pleasing because his humor is warm and absent (for the most part) the usual sports cliches.

I believe we’ve discovered our first Quinn “anomaly” and it has to do with a blind spot and young Sam Gagner. The disconnect between the two apparently has to do with dipsy-doodling and not using linemates, which based on two plus years of viewing doesn’t jive with fact. Gagner is a sublime passer (anyone remember the BH saucer tape to tape in the TBay game?) and although he’s had his share of coverage errors in the last 25 months it’s also true that he’s improved a lot from the starting point.

In a PC yesterday, Quinn stated “we’ve got some guys who are 19 or 20 years old who have played by themselves for a long time, they get 30 or 40 points and they’re thinking that’s pretty good. It’s not good. It’s not good enough.”

That must be a comment on Gagner and as with the line early in summer regarding a stickhandling center (we felt it was in regard to Hemsky but it may actually have been a Gagner comment) this is a comment made after a very small sample size. I think anyone who has seen the Oilers play over the last two seasons can agree there’s a lot of room for improvement from Mr. Gagner, but it’s also true there’s a tremendous amount of talent, try and acumen in this young man.

For his part Gagner once again says the right things and I expect he’ll play well enough to move up the depth chart this season and take a step forward again. Earlier in the pre-season, Quinn said “they want to see the development continue, they being management. The new kids have to eventually find some place where there is that improvement, or probably the selection process was wrong. We’re in that spot there.”

The nature of modern sports business is that Sam Gagner is a more valuable investment for the Oilers than Pat Quinn, and if 89′s development stalls this winter there is no doubt who will pay for it.

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54 Responses to "Mattingly, I Told You to Shave Your Sideburns!"

  1. Smarmy Boss says:

    I like Gagner but I don't know. There is something to the "London Effect" that a lot of players coming out of their seem to have.

  2. Smarmy Boss says:

    I meant there*

  3. bookie says:

    I am wondering how much of this is 'physiological gaming' the player to get more out of Sam.

    Quinn also made some kind of comment about "Some young players taking too much on themselves" and letting that get to them. “They need to relax and focus on their game” (paraphrased by memory) I was thinking Gagner at that point.

    I am betting that they see Gagner for what he is and that they are focusing on his development. It may actually be that they (as in Tambi) is upset about MacT's failure to develop him beyond just throwing him in with the Sharks.

    Its really hard to get an accurate sense of what all of the 'secret talk' is about.

    I agree fully with LT though, that if he seeks to bury Gagner… he is not going to last.

    I think part of the issue is we are hearing more about the Coach-Gm stuff than we normally do. In other words, normally this stuff does not come out in the press, but it is ussually there?

  4. bookie says:

    I can see it now…Gags is the new Robbie Schremp

  5. doritogrande says:

    Adam Oates hired by the Tampa Lightning as an assistant coach.

    We should have coaxed him out of retirement just to win some faceoffs.

  6. flamingpavelbure says:

    For God's sake be patient with him.

    A lot of superstars had way less points that Gagner did in his first 2 seasons.

    Lecavalier, Thornton and others.

    He also has 8 more points in his first 2 seasons than jarome Iginla, and despite the fact Gagner played 1 year earlier.

    I think Jarome's a pretty good hockey player heh?

  7. CrazyCoach says:

    Yeah I agree with Flamingbure. The coaching staff, GM, and fans all need to be patient with this kid and I mean kid in all sense of the word.

    Things all changed after the Napier ruling and the creation of the 18 year old draft. It used to be a lot easier to scout these kids for their 20th birthday rather than their 18th. Even with all the wonderful stats and numbers available to us today, scouting is not an exact science and 18 year olds are hard to speculate upon.

    Gagner will do fine.

  8. Lowetide says:

    CrazyCoach: I should mention this is me piecing things together, for all I know the organization has decided Gagner should be the focus instead of the captain Moreau taking a hit on the depth chart (which doesn't make a lot of sense but who knows?).

    Either way, I thought it was enough of an issue based on the coach's comments yesterday to mention in a post. We might never hear about it again.

  9. Woodguy says:

    The way the lines are setting up, the 3rd line looks to be the most sheltered, hope Sam impresses OTC enough to get back up there soon.

    The kid line used to be the 2nd line. Would love to watch me outscore getting easier comp.

    Quinn has mused aloud often about missing pieces (I.e. Defensive forwards), that must make Tambo squirm a bit.


    Sam obviously is young and has the goods. MacT gave him a ludicrously long leash, it will do him good to feel like he needs to impress.

  10. Woodguy says:

    Eriksson signs 6 year 25.5M extension in Dallas. Good signing.

  11. Woodguy says:

    "Watch them outscore"

    Edit button on new site please.

  12. CrazyCoach says:

    LT I guess Sammmy falling down the supposed depth chart can be translated in a variety of ways. One could be that Quinn is shortening the generous leash given Sammy by MacT and Quinn is using the old adage of "he's young he'll get over it". Another could be that Quinn is indeed using him as an example, but to me that makes no sense when Bobby Nilsson is an easier target. The other could be that maybe Quinn sees that Sammy needs to build his confidence 1 shift at a time and if that means 3-4 shifts a night so be it. Play 3-4 good shifts consistently and then we'll talk about 5-6 consistent good shifts a night, to hopefully a point where Sammy gives us 3-4 consistently great shifts a period.

    At least that's how I'm reading the situation. Worked with a lot of kids over the years who had incredible technical skills but were mental midgets. All they needed was a little coddling and ego stroking. This is what I'm hoping the MIghty Quinn is doing. Yeah I know you don't run an NHL bench the same way you run a PeeWee bench, but I'm hoping for the best for Sammy, Quinn, and of course, all of us maniacs.

  13. spOILer says:


    In Duhatschek's article that I linked in the prior thread, it was specifically stated that young Samwise has been "asked to work his way up the depth chart."

    To me the implication there is that they don't expect him to be playing on the 4th line all year.

    And I think I agree with Quinn that Gagner sometimes tries to do too much himself.

    How many times have we seen the play die with him along the boards, between centre and the opposing blue line? Quite a few, IIRC. And to be expected at his age. But it's a hump he has to get over at some point.

    I don't think Quinn feels Gagner is a bad passer. But if he can learn to make the short quick no-look pass a little more often, it will get that much easier to beat guys one-on one.

  14. Lowetide says:

    Agreed on several excellent thoughts in the last few posts above. I think the Oilers exposed Gagner to tougher opposition in spurts a year ago and this might be an attempt to get him into easier situations.

    I have no doubt he's capable of moving up the C depth chart as it is currently comprised and he certainly does have a history of slow starts.

  15. Hockey Noob says:

    Doritogrande, presumably we've already got the suitcase Sillinger to help with faceoffs…?

    The other day, I was thinking about why the Oilers are so weak at faceoffs and questioned how much impact practicing/coaching might actually have…

    Looking at the Oilers who took faceoffs last year, if you list the players by size (excluding the departed Brodziak), you see that it also corresponds to their faceoff %. Of course, this being a handful of players is nothing more than interesting.

    Before I get crucified, I took a cursory look deeper into this (limited by having to manually input data–so not an extensive analysis)… To no one's surprise, both height and more importantly player weight correlated at least with faceoff %.

    Bottom line: it's not surprising that with a litany of smurf faceoff men (everyone not named Horcoff), it might not be surprising that we're so bad at faceoffs…

    Oilers faceoffs

  16. Lowetide says:

    On the subject of "new site" and Bleacher report/ item that appeared here the other day, I have spoken to the gentleman and had a good conversation. Among other things, we established this blog would remain and the option is to contribute to their project as opposed to folding this blog into their network.

    So, I'll let you know. :-)

  17. CrazyCoach says:

    On Another note LT, have you been able to observe the dynamic between the coaching staff at all? I don't get the chance to see outside the press conferences and what I can glean, but for an associate coach, Renney is quiet. I expect Fleming to be the consumate professional assistant and not say much, but I'm surprised at the lack of press given to Renney.

    But then again, one spokeperson up front is a good indicator things are well in coachland.

  18. Lowetide says:

    CC: I haven't to be honest. Louise (who I spoke to today, the post today was inspired by our conversation) is an absolute killer in the "reading body language" and picking up signals department so maybe she'll pop in at some point and add her input.

  19. Steve says:

    Doritogrande, presumably we've already got the suitcase Sillinger to help with faceoffs…?

    I had the impression that he wasn't going to work much if at all with NHL players. Was I mistaken?

  20. speeds says:

    Where does this "slow starts" thing come from?

    I wasn't really a fan of the decision to keep him at 18, although I don't think it was completely unwarranted to keep him. I think he should have been sent back, at the time (with more certainty in retrospect). All that said, would the Oilers really have kept Gagner if he had a slow start at 18? I don't know, but I kind of doubt it with the 9 game limit.

    He had 7 points in his first 8 games, -1.

  21. Hockey Noob says:

    Steve, I don't honestly know one way or the other, perhaps it was just my being optimistic… :)

  22. Lowetide says:


    •07-08 1st 40: 3-13-16 (.400ppg) -11
    •07-08 2nd 39: 10-23-33 (.846ppg) -10
    •08-09 1st 36: 4-12-16 (.444ppg) +1
    •08-09 2nd 36: 12-13-25 (.694ppg) -2

  23. speeds says:

    Granted he had a very slow start last year, but he's only played two seasons.

    The first season his start was the opposite of slow, so much so that he cracked the Oilers at 18. Great super series, very good camp, solid start to the season for an 18 year old player.

  24. speeds says:

    LT: Fair enough, maybe we're simply quibbling about terminology and defnitions.

    There's no question he's produced better in the second half than the first, but IMO "start" is not the same as first half. Others may look at it differently.

  25. mjsh says:

    LT. I wish you well with all the interest in your writing. Did you ever talk with McCowan's people?

  26. Lowetide says:

    mjsh: No. I'm not really their style to be honest, McCown is an interesting personality and wonderful radio but it doesn't really fit what I do imo.

    speeds: I can see your point with regard to "quick start" versus "first half" and of course you're right he did have a blazing tc at 18 which was the reason he made the big club.

  27. Smarmy Boss says:

    London has pumped out a lot of first rounders that are all kind of the same.

    Kane and Nash being the best because they have immense talent.

    Gagner will likely succeed because he seems to have a good worth ethic and he has a dad that was a pretty good NHLer in his own right to help him out.

    But geez nobody will be accusing London of producing strong two way players any time soon.

  28. Black Dog says:

    Didn't Bolland come out of London?

  29. Lowetide says:

    Gagner played one season in London, I don't know how many bad habits he could pick up during that time. I think the important thing to remember is that we saw Shawn Horcoff for the first time when he was 22 years old.

    Gagner is 20.

  30. Smarmy Boss says:

    Another thing that baffles me is how Andrew Cogliano got all the way to the NHL and nobody showed him how to properly take a faceoff. The guy has lost them before even puts his stick down.

  31. Rube Foster says:

    Does anyone think this might be Quinn’s Mr. Miyagi play with young Samwise? You know the old “wax on, wax off” routine. Surely to God, Quinn knows that there have been stretches over the past two years where Gagner has been one of the Oil’s best forwards. Gagner hasn’t seen a lot tough love in his tenure as an Oiler maybe Quinn is using the old onion belt on Sammy for motivation?

    I’m with Woodyguy, if they really want to get Gagner going they should reunite the Kid Line and roll them on the soft parade.

  32. godot10 says:

    Gagner wasn't really put into a position to succeed in training camp. They played him with Hemsky in the first two exhibition games. At the best of times, that combination doesn't work. In the preseason, when Hemsky is disinterested, there is no way Gagner was going to look good.

    That said, I don't see anything wrong with moving Gagner down the "so-called" depth chart and playing him with big wingers in a softer minutes role. I think that will actually work a lot better than most people think, especially since the Oilers have a "skilled" defence.

  33. bookie says:

    Another thing that baffles me is how Andrew Cogliano got all the way to the NHL and nobody showed him how to properly take a faceoff. The guy has lost them before even puts his stick down.

    Hmm, I wonder how much of this is simply the challange of playing in the best league in the world?

  34. till_horcoff_is_coach says:

    If everyone came in on a clean slate and was only judged on preseason, then Gagner on the 4th is about right.

    Yes, we have seen the splits and can say he does well for himself, but every game counts and IMO Gagner deserves 4th line or the switch with Bobby for the PB. He hasn't done bad, but if you look at the merits of his play and ignore his age then I don't see any reason for him to take any other smurf's spot.

    As he is ready for more then I have no doubt he will be elevated (and I only imagine Quinn riding this out around a half a dozen games, top). If this has a chance of shaking him loose from his half season funk then I say go nuts.

  35. bookie says:

    I think part of it is to show him where his position is on this team. He can lead, but he is not expected to.

    I think it might be kind of a second chance to rise properly instead of having the fortune of the team dumped on his shoulders.

  36. dstaples says:

    Yeah, as hard as it is to believe to me, Quinn looks like he's been referring to Gagner all along as the guy who doesn't pass, as the Lone Ranger, and not referring to Hemsky.


    With all due respect to Quinn, he couldn't have it more wrong on this point.

    Gagner, a puckhog?

    Not way.

  37. bookie says:

    Look at this statement Staples made over the Cult of Hockey

    MPS is the Hockey Jesus

    Pretty Strong Stuff. I would like to begin the discussion that MPS has been mismanaged by the Oilers and that he should already be a superstar in the NHL.

    Note (no need to read this):The above quote is totally out of context and does not at all reflect what Staples was saying.

  38. flamingpavelbure says:

    Ovechkin is the Hockey Jesus.


    Only guy i have ever seen who can go 1 on 4 and outpower physically all the defenders, then deking the goalie will being shoved away.

  39. RiversQ says:

    Gagner played better to start last year than he did at the end of the year. Only the percentages hurt him.

    Can't say the same for Year One though. He sucked really bad as an 18 yr old. It was absolutely nuts that they kept him up.

    So basically, he struggled to start his NHL career and then had no puck luck in year two. The slow starts thing is total nonsense.

  40. doritogrande says:

    I know we haven't played a game yet, but that's not going to stop me from gushing about prospects.

    Check out the stat sheet on one Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ( No idea if it's sustainable or not, but this kid looks like he's going to take the 2011 draft by storm.

    Also, Eberle and Kytnar both with points tonight. Phillippe Cornet was apparently traded to Rouyn-Noranda this offseason and is maintaining a point-per-game average.

  41. RiversQ says:

    As for Quinn, I don't know how much of what he says is bluster. We won't know until he has actions to go with his words. These old time hockey men tend to be bullshitters. Heck, even MacT used to mix in some good stories with his truth and he's one of the straight shooters.

  42. anonymous says:

    It's more misdirection. All season long whenever Gagner makes a good pass it'll be thank God Quinn turned him around by starting him on the 4th line.

  43. Bruce says:

    So have both Gagner and Moreau been demoted to the fourth line or has Zack Stortini somehow got promoted to the third? Those lines are pretty balanced after #1. It'll be interesting to see how TOI is distributed.

    Putting the kid between a couple of thumpers isn't the worst possible thing. When Wayne Gretzky first got here Sather put him on a line with Ace Bailey and Dave Semenko, who beat the puck square but gave The Kid some room to manoeuvre. Of course Gretzky was 17 at the time and must have weighed 150 pounds, but the line was surprisingly more effective than I would have ever guessed given the absence of a real sniper or passer on the flanks (although this guy Unassisted seemed to be in on more than a few Gretzky markers).

    Gagner is different generation Kid, and of course he's no Gretzky, but on this trio he needs to get the puck into the dangerous places around the goal mouth where one of the big fellows might bash one in once in a while. Slick plays in tight is something Sam has proven quite adept at in the past. Unfortunately, he might have to be a bit of a puck hog in the process. :p

  44. uni says:

    The lines so far seem to sus out as a Quinn type team (well as much as he can make it). He likes balanced lines that he can just roll. The 4th sometimes has a variation of pure grinders that comes out every other rotation. Quinn also had a habit of starting out young players with two veteran grinders if I recall and then bumping them up fairly quickly as warranted.

    I seem to recall Antropov and Stajan getting the Gagner treatment so far this season. At least that's my memory of Quinn's Leaf teams.

  45. PunjabiOil says:

    How about that loser, Ricky Ray, Hbomb?

  46. PDO says:

    He'd look a fuckload better if his receivers could hold onto the ball.

  47. doritogrande says:

    Finally I can lord it over the Edmonton residents!

    You lost to the fucking Bombers!

  48. Lowetide says:

    That was a crap game from the Eskimos. The ONLY good thing about it is that it comes early enough in the second half that it should light a fire under someone's ass.

    I mean really.

  49. PunjabiOil says:

    He'd look a fuckload better if his receivers could hold onto the ball.

    The excuses are getting thinner every week.

    I only watched the first quarter, and that was the only time in the game the Esks scored a touchdown. All of that was due to Whitlocks 60 or so yard fun, and one short completion by Ray.

    Edmonton isn't the only receiving corps in the league that drops the football. The fact is that Ray has been piss poor in literally every loss of the season. He's the poster boy for inconsistency, and is one of the factors in the Esks having finished in the basement of the CFL Western division 3 times in a row.

  50. bookie says:

    I didn't watch the last half of the game (got busy), but generally there is a real reluctance to put in the backup quarterback it seems. When I followed the game much more closely (80's & 90's) it seemed that there was a much greater willingness to shake things up by changing QBs. Is the 'stick with the QB' through thick and thin the new way of the CFL or is it just the Esks?

  51. Psyche says:

    Go Bombers! Terrific defensive effort.

  52. Brett Gee 英 明 says:

    The Esks offense is plain boring. 3 yard pass to the outside or a delay up the gut for a few. What is with all the long outside passing for short yardage? They've been doing it for years. Just throw the ball down the field a little bit and the receivers won't fall asleep so much. Most of the team looks like they don't care about the score and that all seems to stem from the bored look on Ricky Ray's face every minute of the game. Get some emotion in there for the love of God!

  53. hunter1909 says:

    Quinn's right. Gagner does skate around with the puck, just like a junior player.

    Gagner's strength is in the fact that he has a first class hockey mind. I doubt if anyone can fuck up his development, ala Schremp.

    He belongs on the 4th line right now, however. Ironic isn't it? All summer we keep hearing from the Oiler fans how players need to be held accountable, then Gagner gets put where he belongs, and suddenly it's a problem.

  54. JRTriptych says:

    There is nothing wrong with Gagner receiving a little constructive feedback. It takes that kind of feedback, sometimes, to provoke change and improvement. At Gagner's age, there is surely much learning and developing still to occur; otherwise, he will ultimately be a very average hockey-player. What I like about Quinn is that, with him, "nothing is sacred". He is willing to ruffle a few feathers in an effort to get the Oilers out of their losing mentality. He's going to teach these guys how to be winners; anyone not willing to be a winner will be gone within a year.

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