Sunday, November 30, 2008


Die, cast


I'm not quite up on the latest consensus on Peter Laviolette's job security, but the Hurricanes are presently sitting in a playoff spot, so... it would appear that the list headed "Coaches Who Will Be Fired If They Lose Their Next Two (2) Games" has one name on it. Potential replacements:

Good Ol' Oiler Boy Network: Charlie Huddy, Kelly Buchberger, Mark Messier

Recently Available & Experienced: Bob Hartley, John Tortorella, Marc Crawford, Paul Maurice, Ted Nolan

Resurrected: Brian Sutter, Robbie Ftorek, Pat Quinn, Pat Burns

Employed Elsewhere (AC/Minors): Larry Robinson, Mike Sullivan, Brad McCrimmon, Trent Yawney, Kevin Constantine

Of course you can scratch off a whole lot of those names as 'unrealistic', i.e. less than a 1% chance. I'm not sure what the deal is with the guys who are ACs for other teams; I know most of them have an "out clause" in their contracts if they get a HC opportunity, but it may only apply in the offseason. Ted Nolan is too independent. Paul Maurice's failure is too fresh. Marc Crawford's shortcomings were regularly witnessed up close, in opposition, for the past 10+ years. Mark Messier wants to be a GM, not a coach.

Thinking it through a bit further... I think you can scratch off the "legends" (Quinn/Burns), as well. Lowe and T-Bone will want someone a little more... I'm searching for a better word than 'pliable', because that's not quite what I'm getting at, but I can't think of one. We also know that Lowe and the org have a serious boner for Stanley Cups (as distinct from general overall success), so that's points against Sutter and Ftorek and even more against Maurice. I have a hard time imagining Bob Hartley fitting it with the management team, but maybe I just have the wrong impression of the guy.

I think that means the answer is Huddy/Bucky or Tortorella. Your mileage may vary, although I think it's gonna happen, whoever the replacement is. Even if the Oil is a "2nd NW/6th WC" quality team, they're not good enough to avoid the kind of short & ugly slump that will get MacT fired.

And while I'm on the Oilers, I think you can draw a broad conclusion looking at their Shots/Corsi data for the season to-date. Notable is the simply awful numbers for Staios and Strudwick, and I think the meaning of this is the same-but-opposite meaning you can draw from Giordano and Aucoin having the best numbers on the Flames (up until the pairings were mixed up a few games ago).

The 3rd D-pair -- regardless of line-blending -- almost always gets sent out against the opposition's 3rd and 4th lines. So notwithstanding the relative merits of Staios, Strudwick, Giordano, and Aucoin, which will have some impact, the Oilers are getting reamed by the opponent's forward depth. Which of course in turn says something about their own. Best of luck turning that into a team strength, Coach Buchberger.


Buchberger? *shudders*

Strudwick had probably his best game of the season last night. Maybe that "simplification" stragey is finaly sinking in.



Even if the Oil is a "2nd NW/6th WC" quality team, they're not good enough to avoid the kind of short & ugly slump that will get MacT fired.

That's the problem at this point. This was a pretty good weekend - two respectable games - and people are screaming about the loss. Considering that, as of Friday, the consensus was that the team had quit on the coach, I'm not really sure how people can still claim to speak credibly on the target but I think Lowe et al. will respond to the majority at some point.

I've said before it's going to be Bucky, and I still say it's going to be Bucky.

I was beginning to wonder if the Oilers even lived here, in the Battle of Alberta, anymore. Regardless Matt, it was kind of you to bring out the Oil's dirty laundry for general consumption.

With the Ryan Smyth trade as an example, the modus operandi would to be to wait until the least opportune moment to make the switch. Give it another couple weeks and a pre-Christmas coaching change might just happen. And not just the HC, but the ACs too. Could they be so mean?

What's Marc Habscheid doing nowadays?

David S. Strudwick? Did you see him on the second goal, where he lost his man behind the net?

MacT's job is safe, at least now that he's figured out the same line combos that the vast majority of fans had pencilled in on Day One.

Why it took him so long is a mystery . . . Maybe he wanted to provide some motivation and hunger to Penner and Brodziak before giving them the jobs they had already earned.

Now if MacT plays Garon and Smid -- again, things that most fans have long been wanting -- we can expect this Oil team to really get going.

But, really, his job is safe. This is the honeymoon period in Oilers management. It's the players who are to blame, don't you know.

If they play worse on Wednesday than yesterday and lose again -- not unthinkable whatsoever -- the shit's gonna hit the fan, Staples.

While it's tough to undersell just how long Lowe et al can smugly say, "We have the players and we have the coaching", patience is *finite*.

At a certain point when the team is sitting at the bottom of the conference (and on pace to miss the playoffs for the 4th time in 5 seasons), the realization sets in that (at least) one of these things is true:
- the players are poorly motivated
- the players are not being deployed in the optimal manner
- the players aren't good enough

Two of those things are addressed by a coaching change, while the other means the GM has failed. My bet is that the GM prefers to avoid people from coming to Conclusion #3 (for as long as possible, at least).

Oh, I'm not saying the people won't be upset if the team continues to struggle. People already are steamed. And I'm none too please myself, Mr. Fenwick.

But the coach has -- at the very least -- two or three months to get things in order, I'd estimate, and I really expect he will get the full season.

MacT looks like a dead man walking to me.

It wouldn't surprise me at all to see T-bone import Torts.

It's Lowe's call, and Katz's call, not Tambo's call, though he would have input, of course.

I thought 'hiring a coach' was the GM's job.
Hiring the GM is the President's and Owner's job. If

K-Lowe is really doing everything, how long can we expect Tambo to stay? If K-Lowe is calling the shots, then he should have to take the blame, having Tambo around for the fall (with the GM title) isn't helping.

If one of the Ol' Boys gets hired, then K-Lowe is still doing everything. If we get more new blood, then I will be of the opinion that Tambo is the real GM.

All fine, except that Tambo supports MacT as much as KLowe. Right now anyways.

An advantage Oilers management (read Kevin Lowe) gained by removing Lowe an extra step away from the traditional GM post: MacT (and other cronies) can be fired without Kevin Lowe's fingerprints on the gun. At least directly. Tambellini can do the dirty work.

I maintain that the most important concept to keep in mind here is:

Patience is a finite commodity

I'm still of the opinion that the players aren't good enough. At least not yet. (I hate saying this but there is a lot of upside in the roster.)

It's definitely a depth issue. The 4th line has been absurd and they can't make up their minds about the middle six forwards to get two appropriate lines either. Add in a mediocre third pairing and there's not a lot MacT can do.

He's not helping himself either.

In other NW news, the Avs are up 4-3 and outshooting Min 20-6. That's right - 6 shots and 3 GA.

RQ, I'm kinda half-watching that game in the background... Wild don't seem too scary.

This is no doubt heavily influenced by my low opinion of the Avs: did you know that in 4 games vs. COL this season (3H 1R), CGY's Corsi number is something like +100? Not a typo, that's two zeros behind that 1.

River Q: I agree, I think it is the players (whom K-Lowe assembled) that are the problem: not MacT system. I was just speculating on whom the next coach 'might' be.

Fourth Line = a joke
3rd line: better last night, but still lacking shut down ability
In general: too many young, inconsistent offensive players, too many top two right-wingers, not enough leftwingers, too many undiciplined vets on the downside of their careers, and not enough depth at center.

MacT stratagy: PK used to work then we traded/released all the veterans and centers that did the heavy lifting. The PP never worked but then we got Vish/Souray who could man the point (the point game/ off the left wall has been MacT's strategy for years) and it Starting clicking.

Matt that's interesting. I looked at their numbers last week and I was shocked the Avs were so bad. Removing those games probably gets them near respectability.

Still they're a peculiar club - I had them pegged as the 05/06 Oilers all over again (solid group of skaters done in by atrocious goaltending) but that really hasn't played out at all.

Yeah, they don't have any of the depth that the D-Vo Oilers had.

Matt continues to edge closer to officially becoming an Oilers blogger. Will he come out of the closet?

Reminds me of this:

If Buchberger is promoted again I will have to seriously consider pawning off my Oilers merchandise for Springfield Falcons attire - at least they haven't been influenced by the touch of the old boys club yet...

A minor point but Trent Yawney is currently an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks.

The thing I keep coming back to is that the Oilers have this history of hiring first-time coaches. If they cull from the OBC, Huddy seems like the most palatable choice, though I might be more inclined to go with Daum myself. But if the Hat's right, and MacT has the year, then in the summer we may be looking at a successful guy from the juniors making the next step (or, more likely, that winner going to the "A" to replace Jeff Truitt, who was that guy a couple of years ago).

It also bears pointing out here that whatever shortcomings management has (and they are many) you really think they're going to fall on their own swords? Of course not. MacTavish has made just enough of a mess of this on his own that he can be safely scapegoated without the masses asking too many questions, and that seems far more likely to happen, whether it's by Lowe's hand, Tambo's hand, or MacT's own.

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