Oilers Coaching Shake Up Hockey

Oilers could make “dubious” tanking history


The biggest story from the St. Louis Blues’ 1-0 win against the Edmonton Oilers was the staggering run being produced by the Blues’ netminders, particularly Jaroslav Halak. Still, for every aggressor there’s a victim and the Oilers fit that bill with a weak 15-shot effort last night.

Low moments like those have become disturbingly common for Edmonton lately, as the Oilers have gone 4-15-1 since December began. Such rough times make Damien Cox wonder if the Oilers could make some rather “dubious” history by following the 1989-91 Quebec Nordiques in drawing the No.1 overall pick in three consecutive drafts.*

If that happens, Cox wonders if the Oilers’ front office will be around long enough to enjoy the benefits of gaining such high-end draft picks.

Surely Edmonton hockey fans have suffered enough. At some point, the pain has to translate into meaningful gain, and that was supposed to be this year.

source: Getty ImagesYou have to wonder if Tom Renney is going to be able to be around when the promise turns into reality. Some would argue the same applies to GM Steve Tambellini … “

(Cox goes on to say that Tambellini would be wise to trade down for one of the better defensive prospects, but that’s more of a matter for future discussions.)

The Nordiques example is interesting for the sheer rarity of the situation, but deep down, the Oilers aren’t comparing themselves to many franchises beyond the recent ones who rebuilt their teams through home run drafts. If you look at those teams based on the collection of high picks rather than top ones alone, the situation doesn’t look great for Edmonton’s top brass.

  • The Pittsburgh Penguins changed general managers and head coaches as they went from horrible to a gold standard franchise.
  • The Chicago Blackhawks did the same, although few would deny that GM Dale Tallon saw the team through most of their maturation process.
  • The Washington Capitals fired a couple head coaches, but GM George McPhee (second picture) is still in power. It’s pretty hard to really count “GMGM” as an example since he’s the Lindy Ruff of NHL general managers; he’s been running the team since 1997.

If the goal really is to follow the blueprint of those franchises, then someone else is likely to be wearing the suits when things come together for the likes of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and so on.

* – In case you were wondering, the Nordiques’ top picks were: Mats Sundin (1989), Owen Nolan (’90) and Eric Lindros (’91).

The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

Todd McLellan

Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

Some of the more choice quotes:

“I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

“When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

“We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”

Roy: Avs ‘need, expect more’ from Varlamov


The tough times continue for Semyon Varlamov.

After another unsuccessful outing on Monday — allowing four goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Islanders — Varlamov was subjected to a familiar refrain: Patrick Roy saying the Avs need more from their No. 1 netminder.


You can hear all of the head coach’s comments in the video above but, for brevity’s sake, here’s the Varlamov stuff:

“It’s not easy for him. Obviously we need that extra save and we didn’t get it on the road. It’s hard to win if you’re giving four goals on the road.

“We just need more from him. He’s our No. 1 guy and we’re behind him, but we need, we expect more from him.”

There has to be serious concern about Varlamov right now, if there wasn’t already.

His save percentage through seven games in November (.891) is marginally better than it was through seven games in October (.889), and that’s not the only alarming stat. Varlamov’s yet to record a shutout this year, yet to record back-to-back victories and has given up at least three goals in six of his last seven starts.

Not good.

Compounding things for Colorado are the standings. The Avs are now 9-14-1 and mired in the Central Division basement, meaning that — if they have any hope of going on a tear and getting back into playoff content — they’ll need to do it soon.

Which means they might not have the time, or the patience, for Varlamov to find his game.