Drinking From a Firehose



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.

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:


That was not the press conference of a leader. He did not deliver messages that anyone could rally around. Not the players. Not the coaches. Not the staff. Not the fans.

He didn’t own is mistakes. You can turn over as many players as he did and not take at least some responsibility for the current state of the franchise. He didn’t articulate what the organization was going to do differently in the future. He didn’t define a timeline for improvement to measure his success by.

What a leader might have said could have been:

When I took this job, I asked you all to measure me on our results, not on my words. To date, I cannot sit here and expect you to give me and my management team a passing grade. The results are not there, plain and simple.

I am not here to make excuses. I am not here to look for scapegoats. I am here to tell you three things:

1) My vision for the team

2) How we will get there from here

3) When we will get there.

The NHL is evolving, and it has changed a lot since I was behind the bench. I have learned now that the type of team we need to build to be successful needs to include [list of what he thinks it takes to win, such as]
a) Strength down the middle complemented with wingers that can finish
b) A mobile defence capable of strong two way play
c) A strong system of team defence

This is my vision for the team. This is what all members of the organization will be working towards.

In the management office, we will be re-evaluating our decision making processes and criteria. We have made some very strong moves, such as acquiring Gordon, Fayne and Pouliot. But we have had our share of misses as well and that can’t be acceptable. So, we will be evaluating the process by which we made those decisions and challenging ourselves to change those criteria so we have more hits and less misses. This will focus on how we procure players at the professional level, but will not exclude the amateur side and development aspects of the business as well.

I will also be assessing every opportunity to improve this team via trade. Let’s be frank. No other NHL franchise is looking to help us out. So, it will not be easy to make trades. But the needs of the other 29 NHL franchises change all the time and I will be in regular contact with all my counterparts to see if there are trades out there that will help improve the team.

When it comes to our current players and coaches, we will change our expectations. Our coaches will be expected to ice the team that best gives the franchise a chance to win each and every night. This will be done regardless of tenure or contract status,. My expectations will be for Dallas to use his allocation of ice time to hold players accountable. This will apply to all players on the team. If that means a veteran or a star player needs to sit to learn to play the game the right way, Dallas will have my full support in making it happen [This acknowledges what the whole world has seen, but says it stops now. It provides a platform for changing the culture in the room. It gives Eakins permission to hold players equally accountable, regardless of whatever MacT has asked Dallas or Dallas has done in the past. It also provides the standard by which to measure Eakins going forward in case MacT needs to let Eakins go].

We expect to have this vision fully implemented, which includes a return to the playoffs, by [year]. That is my commitment to our owner, our team and our fans. The first steps start with our next game.


11 thoughts on “Drinking From a Firehose

  1. I was stunned by MacT’s spin on Draisaitl and Nikitin, as well as his attempt to distance himself from prior management.. Like a delusional fan, he is seeing reality through a filter of wishful thinking.

    Mactavish was on the offensive to try and defend his record, trying to win hearts and minds with spin. One of the reporters listed the failed Grebeshkov, and Belov experiments so MacTavish had no choice but to try and spin Nikitin as a success.


  2. All sorts of misdirection in his news conference but I don’t think anyone bought it.

    Trying to distance himself from his record (18 months) when he has had an executive position with the Oilers for almost 3 years was just an outright lie.

    He has turned over 70% of the roster and it’s still shit.

    He has to wear that.


    1. Even if what he was saying (18-20 months) were true (we know it’s not), how much time does one need to make a bit of forward progress? That is TWO FULL offseasons to get things done!! There are numerous examples of managers completely overhauling a losing franchise in one summer and having immediate success.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yep.

    Having two offseasons to go from 28th to 30th is enough rope.

    All of Calgary, Vancouver, Florida, the Islanders and Nashville have taken major steps forward without having 3 1st overall picks in their lineups.


  4. I can’t get over the arrogance & culpability MacTavish shown, he owned nothing in this presser.

    How do you get to the bottom of things when your at the bottom? Isn’t it all roten?

    The way he talked and the verbage we heard toady I have no doubt this team actually gets worse.

    The coach can’t get his players to play his own system, the “core” players MacTavish raves about obviously don’t give a shit about the coach or captain.

    MacTavish cries about not making deals yet changed over 14 players?!? But can’t all of a sudden trade for centre? How did Seguin get traded?

    It’s all a bunch of complete bullshit.

    Hopefully the building goes cold & Nicholson makes the choices Katz can’t.


    1. Unfortunately, I think Nicholson is nothing more than another layer of insulation for Kevin Lowe.

      He’s already said he supports Lowe and MacT even before conducting his “forensic audit” (a ridiculous notion from the outset).

      When the building goes cold…and it will…perhaps Katz will take some action.

      Probably 1-2 seasons away.


  5. There are six players left from the twenty three man roster that MacTavish inherited. His roster moves have actually left the team weaker up the middle (as unbelievable as it sounds), there is less accountability in the dressing room and there is virtually no cap space. Nikitin is a waste of nine million and Marincin could be making the same mistakes, but actually learning. Pouliot was a good sign, but too much term and money, what was the point of Purcell? Why sign Fayne if Norris is going to get all the ice time? Major mistakes, and other G.M.s have lost their jobs for less.


    1. Agreed, I’d like to add that the mismanagement of this team will end up costing the Oilers two players Paajarvi – Barbashev & a wasted contract in Perron, as bad as Gagner was, MacTavish should have kept him instead of Arcobello or Draisaitl playing…….Brutal.


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