The overwhelming theme for the Oilers this season has been to ride it out, play their way out of these funks they’ve been engaged in since the beginning of the year and now it seems that all hopes for the playoffs have been lost. Mine are still intact but I’m less a realist and more an optimist. I feel like realism is the fastest way to mediocrity when it comes to being a fan.
After back-to-back afternoon disasters this weekend, things got VERY quiet around the Oilers. I got word that there was a meeting taking place to determine the future direction of the franchise and who’d be moving forth, Todd McLellan or Peter Chiarelli… I was getting quite worried because I’ve felt that removing either would be more detrimental to the future of the team than helpful, a feeling I’ve had since this season’s debacle began.
But that being said, Peter Chiarelli came out of hiding after the Chicago game and did a quick hit with Mark Spector to tell us he’s not firing the coach. That my friends is what is called the “vote of confidence” and it’s the last thing you want if you’re the coach because it means you’re on thin ice and you’d better get your act together right quick.
The other thing that happens IF the coach is fired is that it uses up that stay out of jail card for the GM and if the team still fails to turn things around, he gets his pink slip as well.
Peter Chiarelli was also on Oilers Now this morning and here are some quotes from his interview with Bob Stauffer:
“The organization is currently in a period of evaluation but one of the things they won’t be doing at this time is making a coaching change. Chiarelli says he has full confidence in Todd McLellan.”
“We may not have been as good as we thought we were or that people thought we were. We did have performances in the playoffs that would indicate otherwise too.”
“It seems that when one area is fixed another becomes delinquent. It’s tough and we’re in a period of evaluation.”
“There’s nothing we could have done to change expectations but we’ve been trying to manage them. We haven’t done well enough.”
“I have full confidence in our coach. He’s in sync with us on the overall plan going forward.”
“There have been a number of examples where teams that have had those successes in their growth period don’t make it. It’s like a stock that is going up and down but still trending up.”
“We’re looking at a lot of different things but this is part of a grander plan. We’re not going to do anything rash, but I see what everyone else sees.”
“It’s important to keep the groundwork the way it is but, let me stress, that doesn’t mean that change won’t happen. But I believe in Todd and I believe what he stands for.”
That is a mouthful and it’s pretty bland. We don’t learn anything new and of course he wasn’t going to tell you something you wanted to hear. Peter Chiarelli is quite calculated in what he says, right? But he’s also quite blunt and straightforward. I like that. I also like that he’s willing to put his own neck on the chopping block and stick with the plan.
Chiarelli also did an interview with Ryan Rishaug that you can head over to tsn.ca to check out right now or I’ll probably have something up about it later today.
I do not believe that this team is as bad as the record tells us. It’s a young team and we all know that with young players the highs are stupid high and the lows are ridiculously low. We need patience there.
Nobody put the Stanley Cup expectations on the
Oilers but the media, so that’s on them but the problem with that is those same young players have to deal with the consequences of said expectations.
Have we really missed the offense from Eberle and Hall? Well, when they are scoring at the pace that they are, it seems that way but if you look at the GF/GA from last year (10/04-01/09) to this year in the same timeframe, it looks like this:
How about powerplay goals against?
Fack! That’s brutal!
The Oilers powerplay opportunities have gone down from 132 to 118…
Special teams is a problem obviously but I do believe that even with a mediocre PP that the Oilers would be a playoff team IF the PK at home was the same on the road.
Now I’ve asked this question over and over and over and nobody can give me an answer.
HOW CAN CHIARELLI FIX THE HOME PENALTY KILL?
The reason nobody can give me an answer to that specific question is because Chiarelli cannot fix it. He’s given Todd McLellan a roster that has a top 5 road penalty kill. How is it that those same players under the same coaches can have the worst home PK in NHL history and that be Chiarelli’s fault?
The players have to held accountable, as do the coaches, as does the GM, as does Nicholson and Gretzky and sacrifices will have to be made at some point, most likely being the special teams coaches.
Sure the stink of losing makes Bobby Nick look bad but word is he’s looking at other opportunities anyhow… But that’s just hearsay, whatever happens, he’s teflon and he shouldn’t be. He was the one that hired both Chiarelli and McLellan and if you believe that the GM and coach are underperforming, then you should be looking directly at Bob Nicholson. You don’t hear those cries, do you?
But if you can be a bit more patient, there are a lot of good things happening and the talent coming up. Peter Chiarelli’s draft history since joining the Oilers is looking great compared to what previous regimes drafted. He’s rebuilding this franchise from the bottom up but a lot of people, I feel, refuse to see that.
We’ve got Puljujarvi, McDavid, Draisaitl, Nurse, Larsson, Klefbom, and RNH on the parent club already. There’s Yamamoto, Maksimov, Safin, Benson, Bear, Jones, Ellis, Samorukov, Rasanen, Lagesson, Skinner, Wells, etc. coming up through the junior ranks and the minors.
Good times are ahead! The added bonus to having some great prospects coming up is that they could be used to kick start the roster too!
WIN NOW OR ELSE!
Just to add to the WIN NOW attitude, there’s a line of thought out there that the Oilers HAD to win during McDavid’s ELC years and I don’t buy that. Sure it would’ve made things easier because Chiarelli could’ve spread out the money a bit more but eventually he would’ve had to move those players that were on more expensive contracts. You could argue that he would’ve gotten better value from trading those players or you could argue that he would’ve been behind the 8-ball in the same manner that he was when he traded Hall and Eberle. Meaning he wouldn’t have had any leverage in the deals.
Not every generational talent’s career arcs in the same fashion. I think a lot of people look at Crosby’s and say that’s how it’s supposed to be done!
- yr 1 – no playoffs
- yr 2 – lose rd 1
- yr 3 – lose finals (ELC expires)
- yr 4 – Stanley Cup (New contract kicks in)
But what about players like Eric Lindros/Mario Lemieux?
- yr 1 – no playoffs/no playoffs
- yr 2 – no playoffs/no playoffs
- yr 3 – lose rd 3/no playoffs
- yr 4 – lose rd 2/no playoffs
- yr 5 – lose finals/lose rd 2
- yr 6 – lose rd 1/no playoffs
- yr 7 – lose rd 1/Stanley Cup
- yr 8 – lose rd 3/Stanley Cup
So basically what I’m saying is, things rarely go according to plan and if you’re unhappy about the direction of the Oilers right now, relax. It’s out of your control. This is entertainment and you have the most entertaining player to come along in a very long time playing (and under contract for the next 9 seasons) on YOUR TEAM!
Lastly, if you feel that you “deserve” something (playoffs or certain players) for being a faithful fan through the hard years, your heart is in the wrong place. That’s an entitled attitude and your compass needs recalibrating.