Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Time's Up

With their latest losing streak having now reached the double digit mark and players inside the Edmonton Oilers dressing room starting to take shots at one another via the media, the time has come for Craig MacTavish to jettison his head coach. 

In his defence, Dallas Eakins hasn’t exactly been put in the greatest of situations by his general manager but sitting back and simply allowing this ship to sink further into the abyss is a road this organization simply cannot go down. Obviously the Oilers need to make major changes to their current roster but none of those moves are going to happen any time soon and in all likelihood, none of them will come to fruition until the off-season. 

With that being the case, there truly is no other choice but to fire their head coach. At this stage of the game, whether anyone believes Eakins is a good coach or not is frankly irrelevant. We are now just over 100 games into this coach’s time in Edmonton and this team is clearly worse than when he got here. 

As I have said on numerous occasions, this team is nowhere near good enough to compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference but it is certainly better than the one Eakins inherited from his predecessor…and yet they continue to regress under his watch. The off-season addition of Craig Ramsay to this coaching staff was supposed to be a “big get” for this organization but there has still been no improvement on the ice. 

While some will point to the Oilers’ improved “metrics” and suggest much of their undoing has come down to things such as “puck luck”, their recent history and continued struggles tell us a completely different story. Unfortunately for them, sport is not a mathematical problem that can be figured out by the use of numbers and little else. 

Anyone can find a number to try and suggest this team is showing signs of moving in the right direction but in the end it simply is not true. The point of playing the game is to win and the Edmonton Oilers are simply incapable of accomplishing that with any sort of regularity and their head coach has shown us nothing to suggest he has the necessary game plan or approach to turn this around. 

Upon his arrival in town, Eakins made a regular habit of taking jabs at previous coaching staff’s for their inabilities to teach these players “basic fundamentals” and yet here we sit nearly a year and a half into his tenure and it could easily be argued that as a collective unit, this group has never looked more lost and confused than they have during the last fifteen or so months. Part of that falls on the general manger for the guys he brought in but the vast majority of it falls on the coaches and players. 

Unless you have not been paying attention, the status quo is not working. Continually flipping third and fourth line wingers or bottom pairing defencemen in and out of the lineup is not what most people would refer to as coaching and that is all Eakins does. The makeup of his lines are essentially the same on a nightly basis and despite having watched the Oilers once potent power play erode during his tenure, he continues rolling out the same units time after time. 

Apparently one of his greatest strengths during his time behind the Toronto Marlies bench was his ability to make “in-game” adjustments and throw different looks at opponents on a period by period basis. Really? Has that even occurred once during any one of the 107 games that he has coached this team? Think about that because one does not come to mind. 

Would a coaching change automatically fix what is wrong with this team? Nope and replacing yet another head coach is far from an ideal situation. Having said that, in my mind, doing nothing is even worse and getting rid of a bunch of players in season is not an option. 

It is painfully obvious Dallas Eakins has absolutely no clue how to go about fixing what is going on here and if he cannot do that, why does he still have a job? Again, that is not all on him but that is what he signed up for when he took the job and the moment, he is failing miserably at it. 

Be it going out and bringing in guy like Marc Crawford on an interim basis or finding another veteran bench boss who would be willing to take on the job for the remainder of the season, much like Paul Maurice did with the Winnipeg Jets, something needs to be done and it needs to happen now. 

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