THOUGHTS ON THE COACHING STAFF:
It amazes me how many media types in Edmonton WENT TO BAT for TMac. Clearly, he was well liked among the MSM. Several of these guys who are on the radio in Edmonton were downright PISSED at callers/texters and are still upset he’s gone. They all had no problems pointing the finger at the GM but refused to lay any blame on the coach. So much for Journalistic integrity and impartiality….
That being said, it was 100% the right move. I’ve been adamant about a switch for months. Intentionally or not, the team was not responding well enough to McLellan anymore and you have to see what a different coach could do with this group. The structure and discipline in this system was shaky at best.
I love how Hitch is a good communicator. Guys will now know their roles and there will be no more guess work as to why they are not in the lineup.
That being said, there will be a doghouse and my guess is Ryan Spooner might end up being the first one to visit it. Never much for playing defense in the past, it’s only a matter of time before Hitch reminds gets on him about it.
Always known as a great tactician, it will be interesting to see how much input Hitch has on the Powerplay and how much he lets Manny Viveiros do his own thing. Having Looch in front again sounds like it might be in the cards. Will a RH shot on the left half wall also be in play?
Jason Garrison does not strike me as a Hitchcock type player. Wonder if he is replaced soon.
RANDOM OILERS THOUGHTS:
Matt Benning continues to struggle and could be on his way out soon. If Caleb Jones continues to play well and Ethan Bear gets back up to speed, I would not be shocked at all if one or both end up on the big club eventually.
Kevin Gravel, who continues to show some real skill and competitiveness, might be given even more ice time under Hitch as he gets more comfortable.
This team appears to have a hole at #3C again and I could totally see Edmonton going after a guy like C/LW Mattias Janmark who has bounced around the lineup all year in Dallas, but had a real nice year under Hitch last season and could bring some versatility and speed to EDM. Spooner & Benning for Janmark & Johns?
Regardless of how this season turns out (I still think EDM is a playoff team), I fully expect Peter Chiarelli to relinquish his GM title in the offseason but retain his President of Hockey Operations role as he is active with the Oil Kings, and has built up a nice foundation in Bakersfield. Keith Gretzky will take over and hire his own coach.
The Pacific division is the worst in the NHL overall in terms of talent. Vancouver was 3rd place despite losing 5 in a row but just lost to Anaheim who can’t score. The Oilers, when playing up to their capabilities are easily Top 3 best in their division and I still think are the best. San Jose is also concerned with their goaltending.
AROUND THE LEAGUES:
The Niagara Ice Dogs acquired one of the best players in the OHL in Jason Robertson. Robertson, had 23 goals and 38 points in 24 games for Kingston. You add him to Kirill Maksimov, Akil Thomas and the rest of that lineup and Niagara looks like a formidable force that could go all the way this year. My prediction of a London-Niagara final still looks good.
I watched the Carolina-Toronto game last night and Andrei Svechnikov looks like he’s about ready to explode. He had a ENG but also had 8 shots & was a physical force all night. With Carolina publicly stating they want to give him more opportunities now, watch out for Svech.
How about those Red Wings? Left for dead earlier in the season, Detroit is now 9-3 with Mike Green in their lineup. Jimmy Howard has been fantastic during that same stretch and Anthony Mantha has really picked up his game. I thought for sure, Jeff Blashill would be the first NHL coach fired but he’s shown his team has more fight than we originally thought.
Congrats to my boy and former London Knight Robert Thomas on his first NHL goal last night:
— VENUE KINGS (@VKingsStlouis) November 22, 2018
It’s NFL Thursday with some afternoon Thanksgiving games. Happy Turkey day to all our friends south of the Border!
While I’m no longer on Twitter, I still have plenty of thoughts on the Oilers. Feel free to share via Twitter anytime if you like.