RE 14-15 DALLAS EAKINS: NOT MY CROSS TO BEAR

by Lowetide

Dallas Eakins came in hot, proceeded as he saw fit based on the plan given and was fired 10 days before the twelve tide—and the fire has finally faded many months after his exit. The record has been written into hockey’s ledger, the story of Eakins’ time in Edmonton has been chronicled for all-time. Question: Did the scribes get it right?

  1. Are you sure you want to do this? Yes. We’ve waited long enough and the conversation needs to be had eventually.
  2. What did he do well? On the day he was fired, Dallas Eakins’ Edmonton Oilers had a 5×5 Corsi for % of 50.9. History teaches us that, over time, good possession teams win more than they lose. There are always (famous) outliers but that’s a fact.
  3. Why didn’t Eakins 50% possession team win 50% of the games? Goaltending and curious moves made at the start of each season. I’ll include healthy scratches of Nail Yakupov and Jeff Petry, along with slowness in arriving at a final roster. I also have issues with roster construction, don’t know if that is tied to the GM, coach, or both men. The main issue for me with Dallas Eakins came because the balance problem was further irritated by a troubling lack of urgency on the part of the team management and coaches. Rookies in the front office, rookies behind the bench, rookies on the ice. Who knew?
  4. And? There are shots across the bow suggesting Eakins devoted so much to getting that possession number in the black it ceased to have meaning in the traditional sense of the word. I don’t believe that to be true but it’s out there so we should include it here. Have proof? Please post in comments section.
  5. You have issues with his firing?  I think we can absolutely cobble together a premise where Dallas Eakins was told by ownership and management that he had five years to build it. That was a commitment the Katz ownership abandoned at the end of 2014, as they gave up the project when the fan base became increasingly disenchanted and threatened to storm the palace gates.
  6. You have issues with his firing? I would like people to acknowledge that the Oilers, as coached by Dallas Eakins, had 50% possession while also employing exactly two NHL centers, a wobbly defense and the world’s craziest goaltending. Holy Christ, they were going in from the moon.
  7. Everyone agrees with that. I’m calling BS. I don’t believe that to be true and in my opinion we should be fair, open and lay blame where it belongs. Eakins? Yes. There’s more story here.
  8. Eakins had his issues. You bet, and I’m sure he’ll handle things differently when the next opportunity arises. I’m saying this: If you’re going to call out Dallas Eakins, and based on the record that’s fair, don’t stop there. The roster had no balance, the team was in no hurry and that was the case right up until they fired Eakins. It might have been an idea to grab a center and new goalie and give him the rest of the season.
  9. What were Eakins biggest errors? I think he was slow to get started in each training camp, cost him twice. I also think he had a longer view—again, supported by management—that impacted how he handled the roster. I think there’s evidence that he was too loyal in some cases—Fasth was the better goalie out of the gate fall 2014 and Andrew Ference was not helping in a difficult role but imo Eakins kept going to the well far too long.
  10. He lost the room. Can you point me to the quotes that tell us that?
  11. Everyone knows. Everyone knows, how? How does everyone know? Where is the evidence?
  12. Jordan Eberle! He said “I think maybe on the start of the year we were really focused on shooting the puck and Corsi numbers. When that starts creeping in your head, you’re just shooting the puck just to shoot it and you’re not trying to create the best opportunity you can.” Source
  13. Yeah, that’s pretty damning. Well, I think Eberle may have forgotten that he couldn’t lift the puck until Christmas. Hockey players, God love them, are trained from youth to adjust and Eberle’s recollection is likely genuine. I would suggest it also forgets his own health issues, among other things.
  14. The whole roster got better as soon as Eakins left. Not so, but there were players who were better, and of course they finally got a 2C when Eakins was flushed.
  15. Every player performed better under Nelson. Sunil Agnihotri had a good long look here, and found that Nail Yakupov and Eberle (now healthy) increased their 5×5 totals but the rest was a southbound train. Quoting Sunil: What’s surprising is the decrease in productivity for players like RNH, Pouliot, Gordon, Purcell and even Schultz. What’s troubling is the decrease in the possession numbers (Corsi For %) across the board. We are seeing that the team does struggle with possession in all score situations (whether they’re trailing, leading or the game is tied) under Nelson, while Eakins had something figured out when it comes to 5-on-5 play.”
  16. Eberle flourished because of Nelson. Eberle was absolutely dealing with injury when Eakins was coach, go back and look at the video. He couldn’t lift the puck for love nor money. The day before Todd Nelson went solo, Eberle’s boxcars were 35GP, 6-14-20. After that? 46GP, 18-25-43. It is absolutely impossible to ignore, unless you choose to do so.
  17. Eberle endorsed Nelson! Eberle: “The biggest thing I’m noticing is, we’re playing better as a team. We’re playing better as a five-man unit systematically. We’ve upped our tempo in practice a little bit and we’re playing more like that in games. Those two things – and we’re starting to enjoy coming into the locker room a bit more. A lot of that goes with winning, but it’s really a catalyst in helping you play better too.” Source
  18. See! All I see is a guy who is performing better and putting two things (Nelson’s arrival, scoring success) together, while forgetting he couldn’t lift the puck and missed a hundred chances earlier in the season because of it. The team itself—as shown by Sunil—folded like a cheap suit in terms of possession.
  19. You’re a mule. Go back and look at the video.
  20. Everybody says the Oilers were better in every area under Nelson!! Oh well, Sunil and I will chat amongst ourselves then.
  21. Nobody liked Eakins. I’m sure there were people who didn’t like him but that’s not really important. Seriously. I don’t care if people like the coach and you shouldn’t either. If you wish, I’ll get you a list of Hall-of-Fame coaches who were not loved by their players. It’s not a buddy relationship.
  22. What did the media say about Eakins at the end? Mark Spector: “Eakins was never ready for this job, and like his predecessors, has let the young players run amok, with leashes so long that the rank and file players simmer every time they suffer another minus on yet another egregious Taylor Hall giveaway.” Source
  23. And that offends you? Not at all. Mark Spector is closer to the team than I am, suspect that was the prevailing wisdom in at least some circles. I know Mark Spector well enough to say he didn’t make it up and I didn’t see a retraction.
  24. But you’re mad Spector didn’t mention MacT’s failings? Actually, if you read like article linked Spector does in fact point out the failings of the GM, specifically in regard to the goaltending.
  25. You can’t find anyone associated with Eakins’ Oilers who can say one nice thing about him. What about this?
  26. The media hated him. I think he was very blunt and that’s going to give media an opportunity to create stories around personality. Dallas Eakins, in many ways, became the story. That’s good if you’re winning, bad if you’re losing. Suspect we’ll see a more reserved coach in his next NHL city.
  27. So it’s everyone else’s fault. Never said that, not once. My point is that the Eakins firing came during a period where the expectation was a long rebuild and the script changed mid-stream. No one is going to die from this but let’s acknowledge the sequence of events and lay blame in all the places. And while we’re at it, let’s not make sweeping statements about this individual. It didn’t work out, he was relieved of his duties. He’s moved on, as have we, but let’s make sure we’re getting the story right for history. And if I may linger again, may I further point out that—incredibly—the men who paid with their jobs for sins real were not part of the inner circle of Oilers management. A bloodless coup, you might say, with some non-Oiler shrapnel the only issue. A quick note on the six o’clock news, enjoy your weekend folks!
  28. State your case again. Rookie GM hires rookie coach, tells him it’s a several year plan. Rookie coach, who is a straightforward, blunt type, starts as he means to go. He institutes plans and policies and structure based on both his own convictions and the input of management in regard to weaknesses on the team (one suspects there was a giant “get these damn kids to listen” portion of the “Oilers and You” booklet Eakins received upon his hiring).
  29. And then? Since there’s no real urgency, both training camps involve plodding decision making at the beginning and both teams leave the station badly lacking balance. I talk about this all the time because it’s a big deal. For instance, there’s a RH D problem in Edmonton right now and I think maybe a PK personnel problem and possibly a backup goalie problem. These are issues that Peter Chiarelli will have to address for Todd McLellan if the season starts and things are looking grim. Dammit man, since the earth began GMs have been getting help for the coach and Craig MacTavish didn’t do it at all in year two, just let the barge float out to sea. And then, and this is me writing the story, ownership comes over the top with a Bob Nicholson haymaker and says oust Eakins. MacT probably balks, saying ‘wait a minute here’ and the owner plays the game of ‘you show me your business card, I’ll show you mine’ and that’s all she wrote.
  30. What do you want? I want an acknowledgement that this organization remains flawed as it stands, and I offer you the current defense as evidence. There’s no way to sugar-coat this, none. Cody Franson signed his contract today, that snaps the rope and pierces the silence. No buy out, no Franson, no acknowledgement that wasting Connor McDavid’s rookie contract (and one-third of his entry level deal) on deals made for Nikita Nikitin and others go unpunished. How silly we can be, how old is thimblerig again?
  31. Why are you defending him? I waited all summer, man. I waited and I read and I didn’t see a thing. This is a conversation worth having, so I wrote about it.
  32. Maybe you’re just wrong about this. I invite the conversation, promise to be open and do value other opinions. Remember, I’m not saying Dallas Eakins’ firing was a mistake or ill-advised—the results were the results and that’s the business. I am troubled by the lack of accountability at higher levels after the forensics and the overall framing of the issue. Are we to believe it was all Dallas Eakins? I can’t believe we all feel this way. Or perhaps there’s more to come and I’m being impatient in this matter.
  33. Why this song? I hear it’s nice in San Diego this time of year.
  34. Will he coach in the NHL again? Probably. I’ll say yes. Eakins will have to post successful seasons and regain his reputation but the nature of sports suggests the reasons he was an attractive option for Edmonton will one day allow him another chance. John Muckler coached in the 1960’s. Things happen, people develop more skills and perhaps a different approach to some things.
  35. When will he coach again? Maybe he gets an expansion job.
  36. And Ben Scrivens! Sure. I bet Scrivens would play his heart out for the Las Vegas Roughriders. Maybe he gets them in the playoffs, final game of the year on a 65-save shutout.
  37. Against Edmonton! Man. That would kill a lot of people. Eyes would roll back and all the way around.
  38. Is this it for the 14-15 RE or are you gonna do a bloody Rocky Thompson post? Hmmm.
  39. It’s over, now. Yes. Rookie owner hires rookie GM who hires rookie coach. Who knew?
  40. Will MacT be a GM again? Yeah, pretty sure he has the long view. Otherwise he wouldn’t be at his current post.
  41. You were pretty hard on him and on Howson above. I suspect MacT had some tough nights last winter, Lowe too. It’s a credit to all of them I think, the depth of their friendship and their belief in the Oilers. In some ways, it’s inspiring. I just don’t think they were right for the role they coveted, or at the very least didn’t do the real work of preparation for the role. It cost a decade.
  42. How do you want to end this year’s RE? Maybe a quote from a movie.
  43. What movie? The Outlaw Josey Wales.
  44. Quote? I guess we all died a little in that damn war.
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[…] Lowetide interviews himself about former Oilers coach Dallas Eakins. […]

bucknuck

I am so tired of the “two centres” argument. It’s an error, and a bad one because it involves counting to three. Arcobello was (and still is) an NHL centre.

That is not to say that the team was strong up the middle, because they were not… and yes it was a HUGE area of weakness.

But to say there were two centres when there were three is hyperbole.

peteroiler

“It was all written in Stars”

What we all have experienced in that long year and a half under MacT-Eakins era was pure torture to many of us to say the least. To forget that time I’d rather think it was all meant to be. Their inability to win games week after week, eventually led to total overhaul of front staff-coach and ultimately landed us to grand prize McDavid himself.
I will leave that dark past behind and focus on the bright new day ahead instead.

Kevin McCartney

Woodguy,

Woodguy:
For everyone mentioning “gaming corsi” etc. just stop.

Its demonstrably false.

The fact that you are ignoring the evidence that its false doesn’t make it true.

Also,

For all the “gaming corsi” people, chew on this for a while:

5v5 Corsi – all scoring situations:

14/15 – Under Eakins
Oilers with Ference on the ice – 48.45%
Oilers without Ference on the ice – 51.13%

14/15 – Under Nelson Only (Dec 30 +)
Oilers with Ference on the ice – 41.98%
Oilers without Ference on the ice – 48.79%

Hmmmmmmmmm

It’s only demonstrably false in the absence of corroborating data. What was the zone time? What were the scoring chances from in-zone play? We don’t have those numbers (when not derived from shot attempts) so all we can say is that the things that are related to corsi or that we think might be involved and have data on (distance measures, mostly) do not indicate a false positive. And that only holds if we are liberal in our acceptance of variance in wins. A 50% corsi club shouldn’t have 7 wins in 31 games goes the logic.

The High Danger Scoring Area data is super interesting, but mostly it seems to show that the Oilers gave up more chances when behind under Nelson than Eakins. Someone mentioned that occurred less often under Nelson and I think it’s reasonable to expect we might have some sample size issues. Moreover, I would entertain psychological arguments, personnel arguments or schedule difficulty arguments before systems ones in this case. We should keep in mind that Nelson had a long stretch without Petry and Perron and had a lot of AHL talent in the lineup, too. (I mean, not by choice, in contrast to Eakins).

As well, before December 30th, Ference played a lot of minutes with Petry, if I remember correctly. And the post by GCW_69 shows Petry’s role in those numbers fairly definitively.

I think this is why Eakins is important and interesting. He doesn’t show the limits of corsi, he shows the limits of our analysis of corsi. There’s a mystery here and I think saying ‘the corsi is the corsi is the corsi’ is just not that interesting (even if it’s true beyond what I can reconcile).

GCW_69

BTW, I looked again at the numbers, after the Petry trade, the comparison looks like this

Situation. Eakins. Nelson without Petry

Down 2. 53.6. vs 55.3

Down 1. 53.6. vs 53.0

Tied. 51.2. vs 50.3

Up 1. 39.9. vs 43.2

Up 2. 36.3 vs 46.1

If you look at those slices, despite having a significantly weaker team, Nelson closed out the year with as good a numbers as Eakins trailing, close when tied, and better when leading.

As I said before, I think the argument that Eakins drove better possesion is not accurate. Nelson’s numbers after the Petry trade certainly seem to indicate that.

GCW_69

I posted the numbers here numerous times, but your conclusion that possession cratered under Nelson is only partially true.

The Oilers , not surprisingly had much better poession numbers trailing vs leading, but were likely to be trailing 46% of the time with Eakins, and only 33% of the time with Nelson.

Down two or more Eakins was 54.7 vs Nelson 52.7

Down one they were virtually identical, 53.6 vs 53.5.

Up one Eakins was 39.9 vs 45.4 for Nelson

Up two or more Eakins was 36.3 vs 43.8

It was only tied that Nelson’s team was worse, and that was 51.2 vs 45.4.

Why Nelson’s team performed materially better with the lead and materially worse tied is a bit of a mystery to me. Some of it likely is due to the Petry trade and injuries driving all the AHL call ups, but likely not all.

But to focus on Eakins overall poession number is to focus on a lie because it was being propped up by the HUGE amount of time trailing. As soon as his team got the wif of a lead all that poession mastery disappeared into vapours. Like, bottom of the league vapours.

AsiaOil

G Money,

G M – Kruger is smarter than you and I put together – and the fact that his team over-performed given the support and he has gone on to be very successful running an English football club is strangely amazing. Slagging him as a bad coach given the circumstances and pulling out the luck card when it suits your need is just weak. I don’t deny the utility of corsi but it’s not perfect or even valid if use standard measures of performance. Multiple cases of it failing to produce expected results occur each year – and given that – it’s promoters should be expected to think a bit harder than just repeating luck luck luck to cover this up. All else being equal corsi is very useful – but it’s the all else being equal part that you are ignoring when you slam Kruger’s abilities based on half a season of data. It’s also the part that is way more interesting IMHO than slavishly counting “events”

stephen sheps

G Money,

Hard to say, G. It’s a one year gig but they’ve been given a tenure track line and have strongly encouraged me to apply. I must admit I want to come back to Canada though, for the reasons you describe as well as some other more personal reasons.

I actually threw my hat in the ring for a return to the U of A and there’s other opportunities Canada wide. It’s a better market this year, but if UTC offers me the golden handcuffs, who am I to turn it down?!

And believe me, when that book is done (hoping for fall 2018 – I have a chapter and a prospectus for publishers mostly finished), I’ll make sure a signed hardcover is allocated for you and anyone else from around here that might want to read it. I’m honestly more excited about this project than anything else I’ve ever done. It’ll be easier to get access to interview players (and funding for research) back in Canada, which is another reason I am trying to find my way home.

G Money

stephen sheps: a idea incubator for the book on citizenship, nationalism and racialization in hockey that I just started working on.

Make sure you shamelessly plug that when it becomes available, I will be first in line for a (n autographed?) copy!

I was going to ask you how things were going with your new gig. Sounds like a busy start. Is this going to be a long-term venture do you think? (Just curious on that last one. Dad was a prof at the U of A, and I watch aghast at the increasing prevalence of hugely overpaid administrators playing off against ever more poorly-paid adjuncts and minimum-wage lecturers in the University system, esp. in the US. Though Canada is not innocent by any means).

G Money

Kevin McCartney,

Excellent and fair points. I will try to pay attention this year, regardless of who the D personnel are, to whether or not players are being put in situations that either play to their strengths or don’t, and whether it appears those appear numerically different from previous year(s). Not sure I have the system chops to actually glean anything useful for the effort, but you don’t know if you don’t try!

TheGreatMutato

Woodguy,

Tru dat.

After posting, I ended up wasting my morning (at work, shrug) pulling the data for each game last season and looking for consistency and ended up finding less and less as the data grew. Nothing reliable. There were maybe a few more ‘strange fortunes’ games under Eakins but nothing to demonstrate a strong trend, like you said.

I may play around with it a bit more to see if anything shows up, but only because I wasted so much damned time putting it together 😉

G Money

/slowclap

stephen sheps

Kevin McCartney,

Hahaha, yes the internet is bizarre. Maybe we’ve run across each other at a conference, or if you were at the U of A in the late 90s/early aughts we might have taken some classes together. I never google myself – it freaks me out!

RE: the new job… Thanks! The move to the U.S was public knowledge – the regulars around here knew about it anyway, but since classes started so early down here I haven’t been around as often as I would like.

I take a similar approach to you, and my (underused) blog used to features myself and couple of other Edmonton ex-pats using marxist, anarchist and occasionally post-structural theory to discuss the Oilers ineptitude. (Shameless plug alert) Lately it’s been a teaching tool for me, and will soon become an idea incubator for the book on citizenship, nationalism and racialization in hockey that I just started working on.

If you and Lambert do have a frank discussion about Derrida and Corsi, please let me know – I would love to get in on that!

Mannificent

Mannificent:
Long long time reader and 1st time compelled to comment, as I cannot take defense of Eakins silently.
Most of you have already covered many good and accurate points:
His handling of lineups
icetime(playing Nuge 30min in 1st game back from injury was nuts)
schemes
etc. etc.
So I will mention 2 issues that if they were covered, forgive me, as I do skim through the comments quickly – and the 1st is the suggestion that Nelson had a better lineup, McT finally helped out??
Unbelievable!!
Going from what I remember – Perron was traded
Petry was traded for next to nothing (was our best defenceman at the time and make us look like an AHL development team for the league)
Hall got injured (this was huge and now you lost your best forward and defenceman)
Arcobello was not that bad and the improvement of Yaks line was under Nelson – not a coincidence
Got a bunch of injuries on D – so now you are mostly playing AHL players and the defence still looker better than under Eakins

The 2nd issue is Eberle’s comment being dismissed because he was injured – Please!
He was talking for the team.
I repeatedly saw them playing for corsi stats with Eakins – crossing the blueline and shooting a floater at the net – like that will work. This alone make stats like corsi useless for comparison (and I love stats)
What I SAW under Nelson was much better team play, much less fire-drills on defence, in most games competitively (despite still bad goaltending)
In my opinion Eakins cost this team 2 yrs of development and the Oilers deserved winning the lottery and am thankful that happened.

Woodguy

TheGreatMcMutato,

In many/most games where the Eakins Oilers won the Corsi battle, they lost the scoring chance battle significantly. This trend is not reversed when they lose the Corsi battle (they still don’t register many chances).

I looked at all the Eakins games last year and in the 32 games he coached, their HDSC% was greater than their CF% 12 times.

I looked at a few other teams (good and bad) and they are up and down as well.

Didn’t see anything to indicate a trend.

Kevin McCartney

stephen sheps:
Kevin McCartney,

while we use very different theoretical approaches, it’s nice to know there’s another sociologist on this blog

The internet is so weird, Stephen. Your name sounded familiar, so I just googled you. Congrats on the new job (/ sorry that I know about it?). What’s your major research area?

I’m actually a constructivist in terms of philosophy of science, and more specifically a marxian anarchist. But I use realist approaches in my policy work and it seemed more appropriate for hockey stats than a discussion of the normative role of positivist counting numbers and the ultimate re-location of hierarchy from the subjectivity of hockey men to the formalized ritual of imposed observation. Although, I’m interested to hear what Ryan Lambert has to say about corsi being the formalized ritual of imposed observation. Maybe we’ll get into some Derrida, logocentrism and axiological hierarchy of meaning! Or he’ll just be sarcastic at me… I can never guess.

(Sorry, Lowetide. I feel like I’ve highjacked the thread for something really weird now.)

Kevin McCartney

G Money,

I totally agree with all of that analysis. I don’t think there is a system in the world that makes the collection of Nikitin, Ference, Schultz and Scrivens better than horrendous. And it speaks to LT’s point that a lot of people share in the blame. I like Scrivens well enough, but his puck handling especially is well below professional level (any professional level) and the soft ones at the start of the year turned into glaring ones at the end. I have burned into my brain the image of his blocker on the ice, with his shoulders sagged forward while an opposing attacker was skating straight at him, delightedly shooting it into the top two-feet of net. No system says, ‘take up as little of the net as any human has imagined.’

And you’re right about Klefbom and Petry (IMO), too. They had multiple tools to get the puck out and that was a major difference. But not unrelated, they were also the best skaters.

I guess my point is this: is Ference being made to go in the corner more often than is strictly necessary? Is Nikitin getting turned more often than we might expect given his stats profile from Columbus precisely because the coach is asking him to give skaters more room to generate speed? Is Schultz being put into a contact area more frequently because there’s no pressure point higher in the zone? I think to something like a 1-3-1 Boucher used, or the 1-1-3 overload that Detroit uses. Maybe this team is a bit better if Justin Schultz is just picking up dumped pucks 10% more often with 20% more time? To be honest, Schutlz didn’t hurry to puck all year, so maybe he would have burned any time he was afforded.

I honestly think the coach tried to develop a system that fit a less physical defence group. Keith Aulie and Mark Fraser aside, the team generally employed mobile defenders. The swarm is designed to avoid one-on-one contests, and I think he stuck with the principle of trying to give his smaller group some leverage in their puck battles. But as the Phillip Larsons and Brad Hunts showed, the whole thing was a mess and clearly didn’t work for the cast they had. Maybe that’s buy-in as you suggest. Maybe that’s the unorthodoxy of it all. Maybe that was just bad personnel. At least Phillip Larsson could skate AND pass at the same time. That’s more than JSchultz can do. But I think it was sort of all of it at once.

Moreover, I think Eakins maybe got into a feedback loop in which he was helping to juke the corsi numbers, then using the corsi numbers to evaluate his success and preach patience with something that wasn’t working (whether that was his fault or his GM’s).

G Money

AsiaOil,

LOL, Asia, you’re a funny guy.

People keep waving the ‘no training camp’ nonsense as a defense of Krueger. As if every other team had one, and only Krueger was disadvantaged.

In fact, Krueger’s top 2 lines (Hall, Eb, RNH, Yak, Gagner, Hemsky) ALL played during the lockout.

The lack of training camp was an advantage for Krueger, not a disadvantage.

All the other issues you mention as a defense of Krueger have been consistent issues with every Oiler team the last six years.

The Krueger team was terrible. Just awful. Terrible unmotivated hockey, night after night. Except for the goalies. THEY came to play, even as the team gave up an enormous number of five bell chances every night. That wasn’t an Eakins-only thing.

The Oilers, like the Flames, results-wise outperformed their terribleness for about a quarter of a season. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, about the length of time that Krueger’s training camp advantage could have been expected to last. Then, completely unsurprisingly, they went back in the toilet, consistent with their underlying numbers. Jarred Smithson is not the reason the Oilers went in the toilet. The Oilers (and their coach) are the reason the Oilers went in the toilet.

The fact that Eakins was an awful coach does not take away from the fact that Krueger was a terrible coach. Anecdotally, a nicer man and better liked by his players – but a terrible coach.

If Eakins and Krueger are your ‘proof’ about the ineffectiveness of Corsi, you aren’t just barking up the wrong tree, you’re in the wrong forest.

G Money

Bank Shot: Eakins had no such respect and came in waving his dick around like he was the solution to all problems with the Oilers.

So what you’re saying is that the fundamental problem is that Eakins wasn’t chopping wood so much as waving it?

TheGreatMutato

commonfan14:
I would like people to acknowledge that the Oilers, as coached by Dallas Eakins, had 50% possession while also employing exactly two NHL centers, a wobbly defense and the world’s craziest goaltending.

I’ve yet to hear an explanation from anyone as to how this was accomplished, given the circumstances mentioned above.

Pulling up some event charts at WarOnIce shows a weird trend[*]:

In many/most games where the Eakins Oilers won the Corsi battle, they lost the scoring chance battle significantly. This trend is not reversed when they lose the Corsi battle (they still don’t register many chances).

I’m tempted to look at the rest of the charts to see if the trend holds out but it’s almost [**] as if the system employed prioritized generating Corsi with complete disregard to what was being sacrificed. We saw massively diminishing returns. It’s like looking busy even though you aren’t actually getting any work done. The Costanza Oilers.

[*] only looked at like 20 games.
[**] almost, looool.

I’d argue that good teams generate Corsi by trying to score goals. The Oilers were generating Corsi by trying to generate Corsi.

godot10

Kevin Lowe and gang were burning down the house for 10 years.

Krueger and Nelson poured water on the fire. Eakins poured gasoline. Quinn noticed the house was on fire, but was too old to handle the firehose. Renney unforturnately only had a water pistol.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpdHMaccjw4

TheGreatMutato

The “Eakins isn’t the only one to blame” card shouldn’t really be used as a defense of the man though, should it?

It’s like saying “it doesn’t matter that your house is burning down because there are starving children in Africa!” Just because something worse exists doesn’t make anything else less bad.

Yeah, Oilers management was brutal. Yeah, Eakins never got to play with a full deck. Butt hell, Eakins was also terrible in his own right. Even when given half a deck, he’d still throw away any of the good cards before playing. He made himself the story through his relentless and completely unearned stubbornness and arrogance. Those are two of the worst qualities you can have in a leader and he did about as much to help his own case as he did to help the Oilers win hockey games.

PhrankLee

LT mentioned the remaining flaws and I can’t help but agree. I cannot shake the feeling that with PC contract he agreed to housekeeping issues that MacT set in motion.

It was awkward to take JS to arbitration, open a buyout, and poof…nothing.

Nothing. Happened.

Keeping MacT in any form was a mistake, imo. And I’m a wears glasses fan.

Woodguy

But getting back to Corsi. i do believe the other teams didn’t go to the hard areas to score after taking a lead in games against us early. So does the real Corsi or close corsi account for this ?

You can account for this by looking at High Danger Scoring Chances Against/60, then filter for score.

Here’s some:

Oilers trailing by 1:
Eakins – 10.0
Nelson – 11.4

Oilers trailing by 2:
Eakins- 8.1
Nelson- 12.4

Oilers trailing by 3+:
Eakins- 10.3
Nelson- 9.3

I would be better if we had TOI of these game states to show their impact on the shot attempt differential.

Woodguy

Ryan: So what you’re saying is that Ference was gaming the Corgis for Eakins?

A conspiracy by Big Bicycle

Woodguy

The “hard areas” are also know as High Danger Scoring Chance areas.

Here’s Eakins and Nelson’s splits from last year:

Eakins
HDSC For/60 10.1 – 23rd in NHL
HDSC Against/60 10.9 – 19th in NHL

Nelson
HDSCF/60- 10.0 – 22nd in NHL
HDSCA/60- 13.6 – 30th in NHL

That really take the air out of “Oilers played better team defence under Nelson”

russ99

JD¡™ David O’Connor’s Reel,

“Bristling ego” doesn’t count? LOL.

JD_Wry

Only three instances of ‘arrogant’ in the REakins comments?

russ99

Great article, LT.

I won’t look back to spew negativity in light of our new golden age starting in Penticton tonight.

However, I expect McLellan to employ some similar strategies to focus on possession, yet without the bristling ego and “we’re doing it this way, it’s going to work” mentality, and actually working with the players to explain why. That few weeks with Hall and Eberle seem to have confirmed this.

This will help get the players on the same page with the coach and to a lesser extent the GM’s philosophy, and I expect McLellan to adapt things based on the talent on the ice, much as he did in San Jose, when Hertl broke out.

Ryan

Woodguy:
For everyone mentioning “gaming corsi” etc. just stop.

Its demonstrably false.

The fact that you are ignoring the evidence that its false doesn’t make it true.

Also,

For all the “gaming corsi” people, chew on this for a while:

5v5 Corsi – all scoring situations:

14/15 – Under Eakins
Oilers with Ference on the ice – 48.45%
Oilers without Ference on the ice – 51.13%

14/15 – Under Nelson Only (Dec 30 +)
Oilers with Ference on the ice – 41.98%
Oilers without Ference on the ice – 48.79%

Hmmmmmmmmm

So what you’re saying is that Ference was gaming the Corgis for Eakins? 🙂

Bank Shot

So the problem was Mact in addition to Eakins?

Duh.

A lot of people were questioning the Mact hire from day one. Being an eloquent speaker is independent of being a good decision maker.

Mact failed to address team needs at every turn.

Eakins had the Oilers playing well in stretches for sure.

His problem was arogance and hubris. He was basically a douché.

There are lots of hardass coaches in history that were successful. There aren’t many left in the league now. The Tortorellas and Keenan are all gone.

Guys like Babcock, Hitchcock, Sutter are hard but fair and have great amounts of respect coming into the job from their players so they could have weathered a losing season with a new team.

Eakins had no such respect and came in waving his dick around like he was the solution to all problems with the Oilers. He needed instant success for that angle to work and when he didn’t get it, he was pretty much doomed.

Respect is earned. Everyone hates the superior that comes in and demands respect without having anything to back it up.

Eakins was that guy.

Pouzar

G Money: It’s not.It started (by my understanding of history of exercise physiology, which is heavily biased by Noakes’ encyclopedic Lore) with soccer.Turns out long distance running is a terrible way to train for soccer, which is actually a sprint sport.

Not to say you don’t include it, because you do have to have a fantastic cardio base to play high level, let alone pro, soccer.

But at the highest levels, it turns out to be a bad way of training for soccer.

Ditto hockey, which is why when you see modern day training protocols for hockey, it’s all speed and power based.Hockey is a series of 30 to 60 second all-out sprints, repeated about 15 to 25 times over a three hour span.

Turns out running or bicycling for four hours is a really bad way to train for it.

And if that’s the key component of Ference’s program (based on his occasional tweets, that’s sure what it looks like), he might be in fantastic shape, but it would be detrimental when he has to go up against athletes that have actually trained for the demands of pro hockey.

http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/article/a-few-30-second-sprints-as-beneficial-as-hour-long-jog/

threeputtdouble

The “bill of goods” line makes no sense as an excuse.

Even if we accept the (incredible) premise that MacT told Eakins up front that the team was targeting 5 years until winning, that doesn’t mean Eakins has a free ride with no accountability for five years. Even in Cloud-Oilers-Land, any long-term plan has milestones, deliverables, etc. Eakins was in charge for a year and a half. Is there any evidence at all that he was achieving what might be plausible milestones on a 5-year plan? By eye and by math the team was regressing, not moving forward. That was not the plan.

He failed to do the job for which he was hired. Fin.

Kmart99

The Oilers seemed good under Eakins for like 10 games to me. I know the CF% was decent, and the sv% was historically bad.
I know the SV% from low Danger outside shots was particularly bad. What I don’t know, is why the sv% was half decent under Nelson.
Maybe the slight uptick in sv% combined with Nelly’s superior PP was the difference.

Or maybe Hall, Nuge, Ebs, Yak, Lander, Poo, Oscar, and Jultz were all legitimately better under Nelson.

I wonder, is a low SH% over a long stretch always bad luck? Is it never anything else? Can a low SH% not possibly be due to a poor system or lack of confidence? How much of last year’s failures can really be put on the goalies? 100%? Or maybe 75%? Less?

I know our Corsiclose was slightly worse because we were almost always playing from behind. If my memory serves me correctly, the Oilers fell behind early and often, and the opposition just coasted to an easy win often. Just play the trap, allow the Oilers to fire shots on net, but collapse to the house and block their high% scoring chances. When the eyeball test says Eakins’ Oilers were awful, Nelson’s were better, and the record matches the prediction, I can’t help but think Nelson is truly a better coach than Eakins. Even if Nelson’s Oilers were playing worse based on Shot Diff. They looked better, and their record proceeded to match up with what I was seeing.

I blame Eakins for much of last year’s failures. Equal to the goaltending. It was the goaltending and the coaching, stupid.

flyfish1168

G Money: 1 – Ralph had goaltending, and an AHL-tuned top line. Justin Schultz looked like a Norris candidate.I find the canonization of St. Ralph bizarre.His teams looked lazy and demoralized in many games (go back and check the game threads). Particularly galling since his shtick was that he was supposed to be a great motivator.He wasn’t a good coach.

2 – If true, yes, shameful.But it’s based on one flippant comment, which may or may not be accurate.An entire religion has been created around that comment.

3 – Agreed.This to my mind was one of Eakins’ great failings.He had favourites and he had scapegoats, independent of results on the ice, and that’s a great way to lose a team (in anything, not just hockey).

4 – False.His Corsi Close is not that different from his Corsi.

5 – Yes, but I’d say that was more in his roster selections, another great failing.But most of the blame for talent selection lies with MacT, does it not?Hence, LT’s point about roster.

6 – But it was true.The team, and many key players, did not know how to play defense.Sam Gagner lost the thread under Krueger (he fell off a Corsi Cliff very shortly into Ralph’s tenure, after playing basically 50% hockey under Renney, and never recovered).Ralph’s approach seemed to be just “go out and play” – which helps you win a few run and gun games, but is a little detrimental (to put it mildly) to the development of young players in the long run.Ralph’s tenure here was not a good thing.I think it also was part of the setup – fix it, you have time! – for what became Eakins’ complaint about ‘a bill of goods’.

7 – Agreed.Like with point #5, this was another great Eakins failing, and justifies some (not all) of the vitriol fired his way.

8 – These sorts of blanket statements are meaningless.

9 – Probably true.

10 – Mostly true.Most of LT’s contextual arguments are correct – unbalanced roster, the goalering, etc.I doubt if TMc can get this year’s Oilers into the playoffs, and it’s a significantly better roster.But Eakins’ teams still underperformed for all that.And he, rightly, took the blame.MacT, unrightly, did not.

Hi G Money. good points. I know for myself I’m anti-eakins and would be biased against him.
But getting back to Corsi. i do believe the other teams didn’t go to the hard areas to score after taking a lead in games against us early. So does the real Corsi or close corsi account for this ?

Last point I do believe eakins also sold us a bill of goods or at least MacT.I felt he came in here to win games and not try to develop players. good example is Yak. So if he had a five year window as he says then you have time to teach. So start from the beginning which would be basic defense. School your players on team play. Develop a proper culture by treating every player equally. Playing RNH, and schlutz as much as he did proves he was trying to win and didn’t care about development. eakins lost the room so early in his tenure. The break it down and rebuild the player is not a way to develop anyone. You lose the person and it over. MacT too was sold a bill of goods. That line of his cuts both ways. Arrogant and taking the simple way out. That is how I will remember him.

jake70

Maybe offensive but best line here i’ve read was by Hunter and “he would have been fragged in Nam”….still laugh at that , visulize Eakins playing Tom Berenger’s character in Platoon.

Woodguy

For everyone mentioning “gaming corsi” etc. just stop.

Its demonstrably false.

The fact that you are ignoring the evidence that its false doesn’t make it true.

Also,

For all the “gaming corsi” people, chew on this for a while:

5v5 Corsi – all scoring situations:

14/15 – Under Eakins
Oilers with Ference on the ice – 48.45%
Oilers without Ference on the ice – 51.13%

14/15 – Under Nelson Only (Dec 30 +)
Oilers with Ference on the ice – 41.98%
Oilers without Ference on the ice – 48.79%

Hmmmmmmmmm

Woodguy

No one has mentioned the singles largest issue with the Eakins era.

Sports reporters in Toronto started mentioning that maybe Hall was the problem and he might be available via trade and then MacT not quashing those rumours.

That would have been a disaster.

threeputtdouble

And regarding the 5-year bill of goods: does anyone, ANYONE think that the 5-year plan was on track? Could Eakins have possibly thought so?

threeputtdouble

December 7, 2014. Nail Yakupov breaks a month-long scoring drought and puts the Oilers up 1-0 against the Sharks, leading eventually to a 2-1 win that broke an 11-game losing streak.

Cut to Eakins: not a glimmer of a smile, relief, “nice play guys,” “way to go Nail, that’s the idea, I told you they’d start going in” — nothing.

I had tended toward giving a smart guy benefit of the doubt, including for lots of reasons LT cites, but from that moment I really wanted him gone. He simply was not part of the team. The refusal or inability to share a moment of happiness with his players, after all they’d been through. Either he was by then a broken man or he’s just not a good guy. EIther way, it was time to go.

AsiaOil

G Money,

Said I would refrain but G Money’s post is too rich by half…..

Hey I know Kruger-Eakins ruins your narrative – but crapping on a guy for having a poorly organized system when he took over the team in the middle of a strike, didn’t have a training camp to install his system, had no centers that were not held together with duct tape, an atrocious defense, Bucky and Smith as assistants, an all western schedule, and a front office that was determined not to patch any holes is weak sauce indeed. Frankly it’s just plain bullshit and beneath you. Kruger pulled that team out of the ditch about 4 time that season when mgmt refused to do anything – and had them in a playoff race – something that corsi boy could only dream of. Kruger’s squad only gave up after the trade deadline when mgmt’s answer to their prayers was Jerred fucking Smithson. Sorry your corsi boy shat the bed so hard – but like I said – you should use that as motivation to improve the tool rather than just making excuses for it’s failure to fulfill your predictions.

G Money

flyfish1168: 1) Ralph had a inferior and unbalance line up. yet his teams win and against a stronger western conference team
2) comes into the season with all this hype and yet not prepared by watching and knowing his players. Shameful for a professional
3) No intestinal fortitude to punish every player equally. (Chicken $hit he was)
4) His corsi looked good because the game was over after the 1st period. (Opposition has friends playing on our team and felt merciful)
5) Inability to recognize talent, How many ex marlies came over to play for us and was junk. Yet the phlegms got the best player and for a 4th round pick.
6) Opps didn’t realize the team didn’t know simple defense. So he blames the previous coaches for not teaching simple defense. eakins was not watching Switzerland coached by Ralph.
7) throwing players under the bus. Yet the game was over before the play in question happened. I’ll remember eakins on that display of blame.
8) Will eakins ever recognize he sucked and his system play was just as bad as him as coach.
9) Toronto and eastern media hyped and MacT fell head over heels for a wannabe
10) In reality eakins failed because of himself and that is the bottom line. Other coaches has won with less of a team. how many players have come out and said I don’t want to play for him. That is the tail of the tape when players don’t want to play for you. eakins created his own mess so no excuses.

1 – Ralph had goaltending, and an AHL-tuned top line. Justin Schultz looked like a Norris candidate. I find the canonization of St. Ralph bizarre. His teams looked lazy and demoralized in many games (go back and check the game threads). Particularly galling since his shtick was that he was supposed to be a great motivator. He wasn’t a good coach.

2 – If true, yes, shameful. But it’s based on one flippant comment, which may or may not be accurate. An entire religion has been created around that comment.

3 – Agreed. This to my mind was one of Eakins’ great failings. He had favourites and he had scapegoats, independent of results on the ice, and that’s a great way to lose a team (in anything, not just hockey).

4 – False. His Corsi Close is not that different from his Corsi.

5 – Yes, but I’d say that was more in his roster selections, another great failing. But most of the blame for talent selection lies with MacT, does it not? Hence, LT’s point about roster.

6 – But it was true. The team, and many key players, did not know how to play defense. Sam Gagner lost the thread under Krueger (he fell off a Corsi Cliff very shortly into Ralph’s tenure, after playing basically 50% hockey under Renney, and never recovered). Ralph’s approach seemed to be just “go out and play” – which helps you win a few run and gun games, but is a little detrimental (to put it mildly) to the development of young players in the long run. Ralph’s tenure here was not a good thing. I think it also was part of the setup – fix it, you have time! – for what became Eakins’ complaint about ‘a bill of goods’.

7 – Agreed. Like with point #5, this was another great Eakins failing, and justifies some (not all) of the vitriol fired his way.

8 – These sorts of blanket statements are meaningless.

9 – Probably true.

10 – Mostly true. Most of LT’s contextual arguments are correct – unbalanced roster, the goalering, etc. I doubt if TMc can get this year’s Oilers into the playoffs, and it’s a significantly better roster. But Eakins’ teams still underperformed for all that. And he, rightly, took the blame. MacT, unrightly, did not.

G Money

Kraz: If I remember correctly that Gordon line played out of their minds to start the season. They were taking almost all defensive zone draws and were close to breaking even. I think that played a huge role on the Oilers having a 50% Corsi under Eakins last year. He had a hell of a line with them and ran with it.

The Gordon line was money the entire year until he got hurt towards the end.

I ran the SF% for all Oiler line combos last season, and the Gordon lines are pretty amazing:

THOR GAZDIC GORDON 53.6% (28 events – events = sf+sa)
PINS JIMI GORDON 51.7% (29 events)
JOENSUU JIMI GORDON 50.9% (106 events) – this is the line you’re thinking about
THOR JIMI GORDON 50.0% (166 events)

I mean, look at those numbers. To put that in perspective, here’s a line that had Thor (Klinkhammer) and Gazdic, but centred by Hendricks:

THOR GAZDIC JIMI 32.0% (25 events)

Again, these end up being fairly small samples for some combos, and I also filtered combos with fewer than 20 total events, so take all this with at least a few grains of salt.

But still impressive.

I’m guessing at least part of the effect is his high FO%.

Letestu’s got some big shoes to fill.

G Money

hunter1909: It’s like trying to sucker punch a martial arts teacher, in the hope that you get more shots in before he/she pulls him/herself together and flattens you.

Well …

I have been a martial arts teacher at times (black belt in Karate, brown belt in Muay Thai, and currently working on a black belt in Constantly Injured Fu) … and I’m not sure it’s anything like that at all!

G Money

Bag of Pucks: I think this specificity argument is more relevant to strength training than cardio.

It’s not. It started (by my understanding of history of exercise physiology, which is heavily biased by Noakes’ encyclopedic Lore) with soccer. Turns out long distance running is a terrible way to train for soccer, which is actually a sprint sport.

Not to say you don’t include it, because you do have to have a fantastic cardio base to play high level, let alone pro, soccer.

But at the highest levels, it turns out to be a bad way of training for soccer.

Ditto hockey, which is why when you see modern day training protocols for hockey, it’s all speed and power based. Hockey is a series of 30 to 60 second all-out sprints, repeated about 15 to 25 times over a three hour span.

Turns out running or bicycling for four hours is a really bad way to train for it.

And if that’s the key component of Ference’s program (based on his occasional tweets, that’s sure what it looks like), he might be in fantastic shape, but it would be detrimental when he has to go up against athletes that have actually trained for the demands of pro hockey.

G Money

Lowetide: Just want to recognize this as being outstanding.

It was extremely well ‘play’ed.

Wolfie

Honestly the 50% number means jack squat. This team was unwilling to go to the hard areas to score and unable to defend the danger zones.

It wasn’t just the goaltending. The Oilers were awful in their own end under Eakins. The swarm was an unmitigated disaster. Too many times the opposition was allowed to buzz the tower in the slot uncontested.

The kept firing from the perimeter while allowing primo opportunities against. Not a recipe for success.

Eakins didn’t have the horses but his game plan was flawed and he never found a formula that worked. I’m glad those days are past.

Kraz

Eakins went 0-12-4 against the West to start the year. Eakins was given a bad roster but it wasn’t that bad to justify that record.

hunter1909

Eakins Corsi fixation puts my hard working(I’m lying) mind to the ultimate test:

It’s like trying to sucker punch a martial arts teacher, in the hope that you get more shots in before he/she pulls him/herself together and flattens you.

hunter1909

Brad: One last note on the Eakins/Corsi debate, I feel like I once saw the leading/trailing/tied corsi numbers and Eakins’ were being buoyed a fair bit by virtue of trailing for a significantly larger period of time than Nelson’s game.

Which I would argue is a function of the opposition sitting back with the lead and allowing perimeter shots.

Way to go. Look at the big brain on Flock of Seagulls!

bendelson

Would this then be the final installment of the 14-15 RE series LT? The one started back on April 13th with Eberle and Blue Sky?

From your conversation with your doppelganger that day:

“If Pouliot-Nuge-Eberle can punish opponents, then maybe Hall-?-Yakupov/someone can form a second significant line. The key though is that you’d need a faster center than Derek Roy. I’m hoping Soderberg but maybe they’ll aim very high and the Oilers will come home with something splendid from the draft.”

Something splendid indeed!
That is some grade “A’ wild speculation there LT.
Very nicely done.

One more thing: Could you remind me who you matched with Statesboro Blues? Love that song.