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article imageOp-Ed: Oilers MacTavish press conference — 'Little ado about something'

By Marcus Hondro     Dec 5, 2014 in Sports
Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish is guiding a team that has not seen the playoffs since 2006, back when Justin Bieber was 12 and Justin Trudeau had yet to begin his political career. So Oilers fans were hoping today's press conference meant something.
Edmonton Oilers press conference
After all that's a long wait and it is almost certain it will not be over this season so surely MacTavish called the press conference to tell them something in the way of good news. Something is needed, given they have yet to beat a Western Conference team and are currently mired in an 11-game losing streak.
Fire the coach? A big trade? A little trade? None of the above.
In fact it's hard to understand why MacTavish called a press conference. The Edmonton Sun reported it was done to announce the team is in a "holding pattern" and that's as good a guess as any. Maybe he did it simply to tell the faithful in Edmonton that he was "pissed off." He said that much, but there was nothing in the way of substance. He talked about how the team was doing poorly — at 6-15-5 he has a firm grasp of the obvious there — but intended to do better.
"Visually we're a better hockey team, and I think our most ardent detractors would have to admit that we are a better hockey team visually," MacTavish said. "But there isn't any tangible evidence of any of that improvement, and that's what so difficult for everybody to swallow. In particular, the fans, the faithful fans that flock to Rexall (Place) night in and night out to see some material evidence of improvement. There just hasn't been that level of improvement."
That was the gist of it.
Oh right, coach Dallas Eakins, the entire coaching staff, are "certainly under scrutiny." He did say that. But then that's something we did not need to be told. How could they not be? The coaching staff took the team down a notch last season from where Ralph Krueger had them in 2012-13 before he was let go after that one shortened 48-game campaign. They've taken them down yet another notch this season.
MacTavish talked about how they've gone through lots of coaching changing and said another might not get them anywhere. Where'd the last one get them?
Dallas Eakins and Oilers defence
They finished Krueger's season improving defensively, winding up 18th in the league in team defense, close to a number of the teams immediately above them. They are now last in the NHL in defence (and the standings) and close to no one except Columbus, who've been riddled with injuries.
This kind of chronic losing is not helpful to the slew of young players they have. Rumors that Jordan Eberle might be going to Boston for help on the back-end obviously were just rumors. He's not going to pull off a deal it seems, and while the players are saying that they're accountable, it's not translating to their performance on the ice.
"There is some growth," he said. "I'm reasonably satisfied there is progress with those players. Did we underestimate the amount of time that it would take those players to develop into top-flight NHL players? Yes we did. But as long as there's progress, which I've seen in terms of physical growth, performance growth, and maybe more importantly accountability growth. The players are holding themselves accountable. You have to credit the current coaching staff for that and getting that messaging through."
McTavish said trades "in today's NHL are very difficult to consummate" and he's not going to make one if it isn't right for the team. So let's go over this all: he is scrutinizing the coach, he wants the player's to be accountable and he is not going to make a bad trade. Oh, yeah, he did say that he's "pissed off" that they're performing so poorly.
Those things Oiler fans surely knew before his press conference. Much ado about nothing, Shakespeare, might have said, but fans of the Edmonton Oiler hockey team might be saying 'little ado about something' as they realize that they'll be no changes and no Stanley Cup playoffs again this season.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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