Well, he had to say something I suppose.
Craig MacTavish called a news conference for Friday morning to reveal…nothing.
If you missed the live event, Bruce McCurdy of the Edmonton Journal has an excellent summary here.
MacT spent the better part of half an hour defending himself and letting the fan base know that pretty much nothing will change this season although, inexplicably, the entire organization is “under review”.
Based on his comments about scouting and development, I expect the next shoe to drop will be a house cleaning in the scouting department and there is an argument to be made they’ve been below average but, to any fan hoping their team might win more than they lose over the next 3-5 years, that doesn’t help much.
I found MacT to be less than forthcoming about the need for the Oilers to have 2 NHL centres going in to the season
9:10 On having “only two NHL centres: I wouldn’t say it’s a mistake. I’m left with alternatives. It would have been foolish not to look for another centre to come in. But based on the asking price we can’t meet the positional ask of every player out there. If we solve one problem we create another. I haven’t been in position to brig in a centre. There are no quick positional fixes. There are lots of open boxes, less than there were, but there’s no quick or easy fix to bring in a second line centre.
I have no idea why a member of the media didn’t pursue this with a follow-up question asking how teams like, for example, Nashville, were able to recruit multiple NHL centres without giving up ANY assets but he was left standing at the altar. IMO, he didn’t try very hard, instead firmly believing that a 19-year-old rookie was up to the job.
MacT indicated owner Daryl Katz is angry but you have to wonder how that anger will manifest itself when the General Manager of the team goes on live television to announce that’s he seeing a “progression in accountability” in the organization and not much else.
Perhaps most disturbing to me was MacTavish’s denial that he had been involved in any player personnel decisions over his tenure as coach or VP. Puck Daddy perhaps expresses it best.
6. Is it MacTavish’s fault? His intense forensic investigation has discovered that ….
No, this is totally not his fault, according to no less an authority as Craig MacTavish.
When grouped in with Kevin Lowe and Scott Howson as part of the Oilers’ braintrust, MacTavish bristled.
“I’ve been on the job for 18 months. So you want to lop me in … I coached the team for a long time, but I have nothing to do with management. So don’t lop me into a situation of power and influence in the management level of this organization,” he said.
MacTavish coached the Oilers for eight seasons. The idea that he didn’t have input on player personnel decisions is, frankly, nonsensical. So essentially here he’s passed the buck for the poor construction of this roster over the years to former GM Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe, who is MacTavish’s boss and currently being helped from under a bus.
But MacTavish has attempted to position himself not as another example of the franchise’s addiction to nostalgia and cronyism, but as an “outsider” that is coming in to fix this mess. And claiming this isn’t his mess – and he lack of restructuring in both the roster and the team’s maligned scouting department says it is, at least partially – helps establish that persona.
“I’m pissed off. No one lives it more than me. And our fans are pissed off,” said the Rebel GM.
“We’re going to continue making rational, responsible decisions based on the situation that we’re in.”
No panic buttons. Stay the course. Patience with the young players.
More of the same. Another year in the basement.
So, since the organization seems prepared to do nothing but follow a plan that clearly isn’t working, the next move is up to the fans I suppose.
Will be fascinating to see how long before the Oiler brand is ruined beyond repair.
***A late edit here. Lowetide poster GCW-69 posted this and it’s precisely what MacT should have said: