NHL

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

GM preaches positiveness

MacTavish tells underachieving Oilers players to enjoy themselves

  • Print
Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish (left) told his players Thursday they're on the right track and ensured them he's committed to coach Dallas Eakins (right).

JASON FRANSON / THE CANADIAN PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish (left) told his players Thursday they're on the right track and ensured them he's committed to coach Dallas Eakins (right).

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish told his players he understands their frustration, is committed to head coach Dallas Eakins and is confident this rebuilding process in on the right track.

One night after his team was shut out for the third straight game at home, MacTavish met with his players on Thursday. His message to them was there are still positives to take out of the dismal start to the season.

"I've got my thumb out there feeling the divide in the room," he told the media after his meeting with players. "My basic message to them is that it's OK at this particular point to come in (the dressing room) and enjoy yourself. It was important they hear from me how I feel and what I see. The effort is fine, the improvement and coachability is better and I wanted to make sure they knew that."

Admitting he is a "bit surprised" by the team's poor performance thus far, MacTavish said he told the players the process "as painful as it is, is a necessary step for us to get to where we're going to be.

"My core message is we understand the level of frustration. Do we want to be paralyzed by the frustration going forward, to throw our hands in the air and stop playing because we're frustrated? Absolutely not. Do I see progress? Yes. Is there optimism? Absolutely."

Destined

The Oilers (4-14-2) are last in the Western Conference, are 1-8-1 in their last 10 games and have given up a league-worst 78 goals against. They haven't made the playoffs since 2006, and barring a sudden turnover appear destined to miss the post-season again.

Team captain Andrew Ference said part of MacTavish's message was the players have to remember there have been some positives this season.

"Communication solves a lot of issues and honesty solves a lot of issues and that was a dose today," Ference said. "It's not trying to bury our heads in the sand and say the record is OK. It's to pull some guys back from the one extreme that everything is wrong. It's tough to remember there are positives."

Forward Sam Gagner said the general manager's main message "was to focus on the right things and just stick with that. Today was an important day for us to take a step back and reassess what is going on."

The challenge now, MacTavish said, is not to do anything irrational that will hurt the team long-term.

"Are there things I could do to improve the team right now? Absolutely. Would it be the right thing? Doubtful. Would it penalize our ultimate objective of being a championship team? Probably."

MacTavish said he is convinced the team has a core of eight to 10 players who can make the Oilers competitive and now is the time for management and coaches to build trust in that group.

"That's why it's my responsibility to support these guys," he said. "They're going to be great players and they're going to be Oilers and it's important they feel that support from the coaching staff and from management."

He said his "self-satisfaction meter is not too high right now" because he didn't realize the core group would need more support than he has provided.

He said "it's debatable how good a job I've done" surrounding that core with adequate support players. With it likely the team will once again have a high draft pick next summer, he's prepared to use that to try to get the support players needed.

MacTavish said the team's primary need is a "big, stud defenceman" and he is prepared to trade draft picks to get that type of player.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 15, 2013 C6

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Gail Asper says museum honours her father’s vision

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker hangs out on a birch tree in St. Vital. The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is considered a keystone species. Other species take advantage of the holes that the birds make in trees. A group of sapsuckers are collectively known as a
  • Geese fly in the morning light over Selkirk Ave Wednesday morning- Day 22– June 13, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Which Jets prospect has the best chance of making NHL team this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google