Friday, November 15, 2013

MacT sends mixed messages


Watching Craig MacTavish during his "State of the Franchise" press conference on Thursday afternoon, one couldn't help but notice his frustration level. In his defence, he looked exactly how most Edmonton Oilers fans currently feel about this hockey team. In all honesty, it seemed to take everything in his power to remain as positive as he sounded about his team's immediate and long term future.

MacT was pretty transparent in his view of what is currently wrong with this team and was more than willing to take much of that on himself. He came out and admitted to obviously not doing a good enough job of insulating his young core with better players...something which has become painfully obvious to anyone who watches this team on even a semi-regular basis.

The rookie GM also went on to say that his current blueline isn't good enough to compete at this level and that he is still trying to upgrade the backend. Again a no-brainer of a comment but an odd one considering he just gave away a twenty-seven year old NHL defenceman in Ladislav Smid, to "apparently" solidify the organization's goaltending depth.

He may still be looking to improve this roster but is still unwilling to move anything of real significance, outside of what looks to potentially be a pretty high first round pick at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. MacTavish remains sold on his so-called core pieces and has no appetite for moving any of those guys. Meaning no Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Justin Schultz and probably no Sam Gagner or Nail Yakupov. If that is actually the case and not just window dressing for the public, I am not exactly sure how he plans on upgrading this mess.

In a sense, you have to feel a bit for MacTavish, as he inherited most of this mess and made it quite clear he planned on fixing it sooner rather than later. Unfortunately for him, that's far easier to say than it is to go out and get done. Call it a stiff dose of reality or whatever you would like but this is going to take time to sort through, which is something which likely won't sit well with this fan base and clearly doesn't set well with the general manager.

With that said, the situation is what it is and it looks as though a little more "patience" will be necessary with this group. It certainly sounds like more of the same old same old but at this point, there really is no other choice. Craig MacTavish said he was "pissed-off" with how things have gone this season but also said he still believes in his players and has been happy with the job done by rookie bench boss Dallas Eakins and his coaching staff.

That is all well and good but at what point does this turn into nothing but another batch of excuses? Yes the core of this team is extremely young and badly need help with the day-to-day grinds of playing key roles in the National Hockey League but this nothing new. These are issues that have been apparent for some time but have continually gone unaddressed.

Has the time not finally come to try and actually address these issues? One would think the obvious answer to that question is yes but I am starting to get the feeling that some within the organization honestly believe they need more tweaking, rather than a partial transplant. Should that be the case, this endless carousel of losing could continue for years to come.

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