Ex-Oilers and MSM Rip into Current Oilers


I would’ve hated to have been an Edmonton Oiler yesterday after that 5-0 loss to Buffalo. My goodness, if you listened to any Oilers talk radio yesterday you would’ve heard Craig Simpson, Ryan Smyth, and Ryan Rishaug give the team a kind of verbal thrashing we haven’t heard in a very long time.

I’d like to share what they said 🙂

Craig Simpson and Ryan Smyth were on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer and here are a few quotes from their segments.

First up Craig Simpson, former player and special teams coach.

All of the mainstays of good penalty killing, good active stick, stops and starts, don’t turn away from the puck, close off where passing lanes came from, take away cross-seam passes, sticks in lanes, bodies in lanes, are just non-existent.

The things Simpson lays out there that the Oilers aren’t doing don’t seem like skills only superstars can perform if you know what I’m saying.

There are a lot more at fault than just the goaltender. The fact that Al Montoya has been here for 7 games and he’s been in 3 of them replacing your starter is damning enough.

I’m sure the goalie would agree.

I don’t know whether it’s players not understanding the system they’re supposed to be in or getting confused on what the read is from it but If I’m on a powerplay and every time my defenseman gives me the puck on the half-wall, I have the option to give it to him back, I have the option to go down low to my low support, AND I have the option to go cross-seam, I mean you might as well be out against pylons.

Ouch! That has to go deep not only affecting the players but the coaches too.

I do think that it starts with Connor and Draisaitl, that you have to be in an aggressive attack the net mode. At least maybe once you do it 2 or 3 times with some success it’ll back off the pressure a little bit and allow you then to maybe open up where you fake the shot to get that passing lane to get that pass away. 

I don’t think this is an attack on the young players on the team but it’s something we’ve been saying since at least last year with regards to Connor’s actions on the PP or a 2v1 for example. SHOOT THE PUCK CONNOR!

There’s something off with the mental stability of the group.

You’re telling me Craig! Whose responsibility is it to rebuild the mental stability of the group though? The coaches?

We’re 48 games later and there’s definitely a disconnect and last night was probably the most damning of them.

That’s a former player and coach of the Oilers digging right into the team and he’s saying there are mental problems and disconnects throughout this roster. I wonder why that is? I wonder what caused it?

Next up is Captain Canada! Ryan Smyth!

Not everybody is going to have it on a nightly basis and that’s what makes a team go round. You rely on certain players at certain times but at some point everyone has to be a factor and contribute and it’s not firing right now for the Oilers. 

Another former player tells us how it is and you can’t really blame these guys for having an off night from time to time. I know these players are elite athletes and their bodies are fine-tuned to be able to perform many nights per week but hockey is a tough tough sport to play as much as these guys do. That being said, when the entire team shuts down like they did vs. Buffalo, concern is a given.

Honestly, I feel that the drive isn’t there. The Passion. Not like it was last year and honestly I don’t know what the disjointment is but I feel that there’s enough great skill and enough great hockey players on that team that it can prevail. 

Preach it Cap!

The work ethic. There’s one thing you can control on a nightly basis. 

Stauffer had asked the question, “Do you think something’s missing in that regard with this group?” The regard he was speaking to was having everyone on board to have a chance. #OUCH…

Instead of watching, just play. Just play the game. It’s a great game! 

Leave it to Ryan Smyth to warm your heart whilst criticizing his old team.

What I’ve noticed from both Simpson’s and Smyth’s quotes is they both mentioned a disconnect or a disjoint in the team and I’ve been getting that old decade of darkness feeling right before Eakins was fired. You know the one where you see players not playing for each other and not sticking up for one another. A lack of intensity… I hope I’m wrong because it took a major jolt to the roster to knock that out of them last time and I’m not sure they can afford to do that again. I mean with Calgary up tonight, I’m willing to be that we’re going to see a VERY good hockey game because if we don’t, somebody is gonna get a hurt… Real bad. 

Ryan Rishaug was on Gregor’s show last night and he was FIRED UP! Here are the quotes:

There’s something wrong. It’s something in the leadership group in that room, in the core players who are relied on the most. Something’s missing.

I love the answer the player’s and McLellan gives when a question predicated on the response above is asked.

“If we knew, we’d have fixed it by now.”

But they’re not wrong and either is Rishaug.

What they absolutely cannot let happen is for the rest of this season to mean nothing. 

I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve been told that since the season is lost, there’s nothing left to play for and that kind of attitude is how the Oilers wound up getting McDavid and Puljujarvi. So maybe they really should give up and maybe the Oilers would end up with Rasmus Dahlin?

Far too many years they were out of the playoffs, spent 3 months of meaningless hockey and terrible habits developed, terrible work ethic developed, and more problems crept into their game that showed up the next year and they need to learn from that mistake. 

I’ll just go out on a limb and say Rishaug is talking about the decade of darkness here. I mean even Hall was questioning whether there was a light at the end of the tunnel before he was moved out (a quote that bought his ticket out of town btw).

Let’s use Connor McDavid as the example, he’s far from the problem but he DEFINITELY holds the key to a solution. If you’re Connor McDavid, you’re a brilliant player, you’re 41% in the faceoff circle. It’s not good enough.

You have not yet developed a one-time threat from one of the most important positions on the powerplay. It’s not acceptable to just say I don’t have a good one-timer and oh well. 

So why not make it a goal from now to the end of the season to be working on your faceoffs non-stop, take it to a new level and to continue to try to develop a one-timer? Why not tap a couple of teammates on the shoulder and challenge them and drag them along as well. 

He’s going on a huge rant here. Almost Lowetide-esque. So there’s more to come. One thing you might think right away is that Rishaug is picking on the kids again. On the surface that’s how it looks but if you can look past the person in the example, you might see that he just wants the Oilers to do a bit extra so that next season they’re that much better.

Rant cont.

I’m telling you. I DO NOT LIKE THE WORK HABITS OF THE YOUNG PLAYERS ON THIS TEAM. I don’t like it. I don’t think it’s good enough. I don’t think that the young players on this team and some of the players on this team like working on things they’re not good at and I don’t see dog-on-a-bone effort to fix them. And that’s what it takes to be world class and elite on a whole new level. 

I’m not at the practices (or in the country let alone the city for that matter) but I can see where Rishaug is coming from. Last year we did see that intense never-give-up attitude that we’re not seeing this year. Why that is, I haven’t the foggiest. I mean nobody really enjoys working on things they’re bad at but that harkens back to Rishaug’s point and even to Simpson’s and Smyth’s to a degree. Work ethic, does it need to be improved?

We watched for years. It started with Ales Hemsky and it worked its way through Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov. Two generations of talented players come through the organization that never developed the proper practice habits to push their game to the next level. 

And I’m telling you, I’m seeing it happening again and I don’t think it’s okay. I think these players need to take the rest of this season and put new habits in place so that does not happen again and so that better habits are developed.

I’m telling you if Connor McDavid does this, players will follow. In other organizations, this happens. 

Leadership is a funny thing. If Lowe and MacTavish had supported their vets and coaching staff instead of giving their support (and keys to the city) to Hallsy and the kids, would we be sitting here looking at a different team? A more successful one.

Now I know you can’t be as hard on kids these days as generations past but you are allowed to put a foot down and feelings are actually allowed to be hurt because they heal and they heal even faster if you’re winning. I mean, I had some mean teachers in my day but if I was succeeding in their class, I didn’t mind the harshness of their ways and as I got older I found that the teachers and coaches I didn’t like as a kid, I respected more.

This team might be relying on Connor a bit too much this year and McDavid could use that to his advantage like Rishaug is saying here. I bet the coaches would love it. I bet the GM would love it and I bet ol’ Wayner would love it too.

Last one. Louie Debrusk during the 1st intermission of the Buffalo game.

It (the powerplay) absolutely sucked the life out of them (the Oilers) and gave life to the Buffalo Sabres. And you know what? We’ve seen this a little too often this season where this team has an opportunity on the powerplay to do something and these are the types of plays we see on the ice.

Not sharp. Not disciplined. Just not together. 

I don’t know what it is. I can’t put my finger on it but one thing I do know is stop trying to make the easy play, go to work, put pucks in behind, and create your opportunities from that. 

Hmmmm. Another hint from a former player suggesting a lack of togetherness.

That is what’s wrong with this powerplay right now is guys not willing to pay the price and they’re not willing to go out there and outwork the penalty kill which by the way is 30th in the National Hockey League. 

Yet another former player directing us to the issue or work ethic…

So, what do you think? Are these ex-Oilers and pundits way off base? Let us know in the comments below!

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Beer League Hero Written by:

I'm the Beer League Hero! I am from Camrose, Alberta but I make my home in Taipei City, Taiwan. I've been through the ups and downs and the highs and the Lowes, the Bonsignores and the McDavids, the Sathers and the Eakins but I'll never leave my Oilers, no matter what! They're with me until the end and then some. GO OILERS GO!

  • Bluenoser

    There is definitely something not jiving with the team this year, and we’ll probably never know why that is, but the last thing I want to see is a change in management or coaching. Expectations were set way to high for this year (those odds in Vegas to win?? Come on…). I want to see them bust their balls for the remainder of the year, get the worst draft pick of non playoff teams and ruin other teams chances of making it to the show. But how that happens is beyond me. Maybe Drai needs to be traded to fill in gaps elsewhere, pick up that D-man who anchors the PP or the winger who can skate with McDavid.