GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 31: Head coach Dallas Eakins of the Edmonton Oilers during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena on December 31, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Oilers 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Eakins says Oilers need to add ‘some veteran leadership’


“We need to supplement this group with probably some veteran leadership, some guys that can make plays, and not so much a toughness aspect, but guys that are going to win battles in this conference.”

Edmonton Oilers fans have heard this sort of thing before. And they heard it again Wednesday from head coach Dallas Eakins (around the 7:00 mark of the video below):

Eakins may be right, but it’s not really what the Oilers were still supposed to be saying at this point in the rebuild, which has been going on for quite some time now.

Yesterday, PHT readers voted Edmonton as Canada’s most disappointing team. Which when you consider all the other strong candidates says a lot about how far below expectations the Oilers have fallen this season.

Ultimately, the personnel decisions will be up to general manager Craig MacTavish, who we always like to note promised to do “bold things” when he was hired in April.

Exactly what kind of “veteran leadership” MacTavish could go out and get (if he agrees with his coach on that need) is the big question. It’s not a particularly strong free-agent crop, and while a player like Ryan Callahan would seem to fit the description of what Eakins would like to add, convincing players — especially an American like Callahan who’s spent his entire NHL career in the East — to move to Edmonton isn’t always easy. (Not without overpaying.)

If it’s a trade that MacTavish needs to make in order to bolster the roster, well, certainly the Oilers have some interesting chips to play there. (And why we’d love to tap his phone for any calls he makes to Nashville this summer.)

GM says Blue Jackets are ‘off the rails’ right now

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On Monday, PHT discussed the Columbus Blue Jackets’ troubling start, even if it felt like it may be too early to raise concerns.

Apparently Blue Jackets management is a little shaken by the second 0-3-0 start in franchise history, however.

Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen shared his shock and dismay with the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline on Tuesday.

“I’m surprised how, in just five days, we’ve gone from a very confident group to something that’s the opposite of that,” Kekalainen told The Dispatch on Tuesday. “Our confidence, our game … it’s off the rails right now.

Maybe losing to the Buffalo Sabres stings a little bit extra?

Kekalainen said “there’s no excuse for how we played in Buffalo,” pointing out that every team in the NHL is a “good team.”

Indeed, just about every squad boasts some dangerous weapons if they catch an opponent sleeping.

Portzline goes deeper on Columbus’ recent history of stumbling out of the gate, but consider the foreboding stretch coming up.

Next four games: Three out of four at home
Eight games following that: Seven out of eight on the road.

As you can see, winter is coming for Columbus, so they best get things together. All things considered, this is the right time for a wake-up call.

For bonus chuckles, here’s a photo of Kekalainen on a railing.

via AP

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
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Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.