Craig MacTavish.

MacTavish tries to explain Oilers’ nightmare start


The day after his free-falling Oilers dropped to 4-14-2 with a 3-0 loss to Dallas — a defeat that set a rather ignominious franchise record — a “frustrated” and “pissed off” Craig MacTavish met with the media Thursday (audio).

Among the things Edmonton’s embattled general manager communicated, per the club’s Twitter account:

— New head coach Dallas Eakins isn’t going anywhere. “What this team needs is continuity in coaching, and they’re going to get it.”

— The Oilers “self-destructed” and made “junior mistakes” in their first five or six games. (Ahem: remember what Lars Eller said?)

— The blue line needs improvement. “Do we need a big stud defenseman? It would help immensely.”

It sure would. Of course, if a team’s lucky enough to have one of those “stud defenseman,” it usually likes to keep him. Hence, the challenge in fixing the Oilers.

MacTavish was named GM in April. At the time, he called himself an “impatient guy” prepared to do “bold things” in order to “move the team forward in a rapid fashion.” So you can imagine his exasperation. After just 18 games, the Oilers’ chances of making the playoffs are close to zero.

Not surprisingly, MacTavish is willing to trade future draft picks for help today.

“I don’t view another first-round draft choice as what we need,” he said, per Jason Gregor of TSN 1260. “Whether I can get suitable value for that remains to be seen.”

Frankly, there was nothing all that surprising about MacTavish’s comments. It’s no secret the team is off to a nightmare start, and it’s no secret the GM is willing to make moves to fix things.

Mostly today was an exercise in public relations. The Oilers haven’t made the playoffs since 2006. The rebuild was supposed to be over by now. The fans’ patience has run out.

“It’s painful,” said MacTavish, “but we’re going to get through this and eventually be a much improved team.”

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.

Flames release Ryan Wilson from PTO

Ryan Wilson, Sidney Crosby
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The Calgary Flames have released Ryan Wilson from his professional tryout.

The 28-year-old was trying to make a comeback after missing 79 games with a shoulder injury last season.

Even with T.J. Brodie sidelined because of a broken hand, Wilson still faced long odds to make the final roster.

The veteran will be hard-pressed to find NHL work with another team.

He hasn’t suited up in more than 12 regular season games since 2011-12.

The Stockton Heat, Calgary’s AHL affiliate, also made some news on Sunday.

The club announced that they’ve signed Colton Orr to an AHL contract.

The 33-year-old tough guy suited up in just one game for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. He has 12 seasons of NHL experience under his belt.