• The Edmonton Emo-ilers

    by  • September 23, 2010 • Uncategorized • 28 Comments

    Well, I’m officially an old man. Dan Barnes has all sorts of quotes from the future of this team as to how much better things are going to be now:

    Sam Gagner:

    With how young we are as a group, everyone needs to feel comfortable for us to be successful. There can’t be a case where a guy feels like he’s over-stepping his boundary because guys will think it’s the wrong thing to do. He needs to be able to have his voice heard and feel comfortable in the room, to play the way he wants to play and say what he wants to say.

    Andrew Cogliano:

    We just found last year, with the amount of older guys and guys who have been here for a long time, it was tough for guys like me, even though three years is quite a bit of time, to step up and say something and have a guy who has been here for 10 years to really listen…

    It feels like there is an even playing field. There aren’t guys that you maybe want to be quiet around or you’re shy or not comfortable around because they’re older or you just have nothing in common with them.

    I will agree with anyone that Ethan Moreau has a blind spot that’s exactly his size when it comes to breaking down hockey games. With that said, he was right about a lot of stuff. I listened to him after an Oilers-Sens game that I went to talk about how they needed to stop shooting from the corners, something I’d spent the whole game going on about (so obviously he’s right). I don’t know that the Oilers necessarily want Gagner and Cogliano comfortable to play the way that they want to play – Cogliano seems to want to lose faceoffs and puck battles along the boards, for example.

    For what it’s worth, this is an email I got from someone in March of 2009 who had spoken with Moreau:

    Moreau’s quite fed up actually and has been for most of the year. Says the locker room is full of players that are extremely difficult to motivate and that basically just don’t give a shit. It’s not MacTavish as much as it is a group of them that just don’t give a shit about winning or the much ballyhooed Oiler tradition.

    I didn’t ask for specific names but if I had to assign some I’d have Penner, Gilbert, Nilsson, and probably Gagner, Cogliano, blah blah in the hat. Hell it could be Hemsky. I’d have a tough time believing the likes of Staios (his best buddy), Pisani, Horcoff, Strudwick, etc would be guilty. The vets usually get it.

    Moreau would have had no problem with a trade either. Says he’s sick and tired of trying to get this bunch going. I think you and I can agree that despite the guys foibles and propensity for inopportune penalties, he is a good leader type and a blood and guts sort that every team would love to have one of.

    He likes Edmonton enough. Enjoys having Staios and family close, but you really get the idea that he’d like to choke a few of the younger guys. I guess long and short he’s trying to lead but his audience isn’t tuned in. Take it for what it’s worth.

    My email correspondent likes Moreau, I think it’s safe to say but it’s probably worth pointing out that Moreau didn’t think MacT was the problem, a conclusion that I think is now shared by all. Say what you will about Moreau, and I’ve probably said most of it, but the Oilers didn’t suck last year because of him. He’s over the hill, costs too much and seems to have a lousy attitude but nobody thought he was going to score twenty goals. He was a convenient whipping boy, both for his taste for stupid penalties and his habit of saying asinine things to the media.

    He’s gone though now. It’ll be awfully interesting to see how Gagner and Cogliano do now that they aren’t in perpetual fear of having their feelings hurt if they open their mouths in the room.

    About

    28 Responses to The Edmonton Emo-ilers

    1. Hawerchuk
      September 23, 2010 at

      your link is very broken

    2. September 23, 2010 at

      Moreau’s quite fed up actually and has been for most of the year. Says the locker room is full of players that are extremely difficult to motivate and that basically just don’t give a shit.

      Perhaps a change of tactics in motivation was required? If he was such a tremendous leader and motivator, shouldn’t he have multiple ways of connecting to people rather than old blood and guts and Hall and Oates?

      Of course, as someone that doesn’t buy into the mystique of a captain, it doesn’t really matter, unless he’s making a spectacle of himself in the press, which he was.

      Also, I like that your e-mailer included Penner. Would he still include Penner after last season, or was that confirmation bias?

    3. Tyler Dellow
      September 23, 2010 at

      I agree with you that the mystique of a captain is largely bullshit Derek. With that said, I don’t think anyone can bitch about Moreau’s work ethic. If he says guys don’t work hard enough, I’m inclined to believe him.

      Penner might not have deserved to be the whipping boy that he was but complaints about his work ethic in terms of conditioning, again, don’t seem unfair.

    4. September 23, 2010 at

      With that said, I don’t think anyone can bitch about Moreau’s work ethic. If he says guys don’t work hard enough, I’m inclined to believe him.

      I never mentioned his work ethic. I’m talking about his leadership abilities. If he’s such a vaunted leader, but he’s not getting through to people, perhaps his approach sucked?

      The reports about the room being a mess began pretty much as soon as Smith was traded. They got louder over the course of three years.

      Your e-mailer named every non-veteran on the club at the time except Smid. You’re telling me that every non-veteran didn’t give a shit and didn’t work? You’re going to have to do a lot more convincing than an e-mail from a friend of Moreau. Even if it was the case, we’re back to – perhaps old blood and guts didn’t have the requisite leadership approach, or perhaps he lacked the skills altogether to connect to younger, skilled players that needed motivation.

      The whole e-mail kind of sounds like Moreau blaming the power play after the Oilers penalty kill gave up two with him in the box.

    5. shep
      September 24, 2010 at

      “– Had a good chat with left winger Ethan Moreau about his expectations heading into this season. He’ll play on a line with center Sammy Pahlsson vs. Pittsburgh on Friday in Nationwide Arena, but he’s intent on not being simply a checking line. Moreau expects 15-20 goals, he said. We’ll have that story in Friday’s editions of The Dispatch, too.”

      From the Columbus dispatch blog “puck-rakers”

    6. mclea
      September 24, 2010 at

      Hockey does have that twisted reality where a 21 year old who has been there 3 years can be far better at his job than somebody who has been there 5 times longer.

      I think it’s pretty hard for any of us to relate to the power structure within a professional sports locker room because it is so different to what any of us would experience at our own jobs.

    7. Tyler Dellow
      September 24, 2010 at

      I agree mclea – I’m just not sure that this is that case. Gagner and Cogliano have had halting starts, at best.

    8. NewAlgier
      September 24, 2010 at

      I can imagine not listening to a guy who takes stupid penalties that costs games. A necessary condition for leadership is competence.

      If the manager of BP’s offshore division tries to tell me how to drill a well safely, I’m probably turning my ears off. The Oilers last year may or may not have had hard-to-motivate kids, but they certainly had incompetent veterans.

    9. September 24, 2010 at

      First of all, great title to this post.

      I would guess that the truth, as always, lies in between. I’m sure for guys like Moreau and Staios, it would surely grate to see dogfuckers like Nilsson get paid after six weeks of decent hockey when they busted their humps for a decade or more to get similar pay.

      My wife is a nurse and she says most of their newbies really have a sense of entitlement. Now she is only 35 so its not like she’s an oldster like me, with an onion on his belt. But she says there are plenty of these kids who come in, fuck the dog, expect everything handed to them, react poorly to even the least constructive criticsm.

      Its the new generation I tells ya! ;)

    10. September 24, 2010 at

      If that’s the case Pat, why wasn’t this rampant when the Oilers were shuffling kid after kid through the locker room when Doug Weight or Jason Smith was there? Are we to believe that these 8-10 kids and these kids only are such shitheads that they drove Ethan Moreau to madness?

      Moreau might be the hardest worker. He might be a great fried to some. He might be a great community presence. He might leave it all on the ice. But by all accounts and measurables, he was a miserable “leader”.

    11. Gerald
      September 24, 2010 at

      Nice title.

      That being said, it seems strange for that person to suggest that “the older guys get it”. If anything, I would expect veterans on a bad club to be the most jaded sorts around and thus the most difficult attitude cases. That is almost a truism, isn’t it?

    12. marconiusE
      September 24, 2010 at

      Tyler,
      I get what you’re saying when you say if MOrerau questioned the players work ethic, they probably weren’t working hard enough.

      I’ve played sports with similar guys over the years and I find that the blood & guts guys suffer from a bit of tunnel vision when the team is losing. According to these types of players (and I’m admittedly generalizing here), all problems can be solved with more sacrifice, more hustle and more desire.

      I don’t think is always the case though. Skill guys need a different mindset to bust out of slumps. They need to think about their shot selection, the way they’re seeing the ice, etc. For an old warrior like Moreau, I can see why this would confound him

    13. September 24, 2010 at

      Naw Derek, as I said it lies in between. I don’t believe that Moreau was a great leader – the boneheaded penalties themselves would be enough to make the younger guys shake their heads – two sets of rules and all that.

      But the league has changed. Look at that 2006 club – you had a bunch of guys who had been around for quite a while – Moreau, Staios, Pisani, Horcoff plus young guys like Hemsky, Torres, none of these guys were making much dough, all under a million iirc. Even the bigger names, Smyth and Smith, were making, what 3.5 and 2.1 despite being in their late 20s and being established players, years of results behind them.

      And now you have Gilbert, Gagner, Brule, Nilsson, Grebeskov, O’Sullivan, Penner all of these guys making pretty good coin based on not a lot in terms of a career.

      It is what it is, that’s how it works now and there’s not much you can do about it.

      All I am saying is that that probably pissed off some vets. And it probably made some of these kids a little less than motivated. Nilsson had, what, thirty decent games? And he got 6 million bucks. And he fucks the dog like no tomorrow.

      Wass Moreau a dick? Sure, I think he probably was.

      But some of these young guys, not all of them mind you, had a lot handed to them pretty quickly and then did very little to justify that faith in them.

      All I’m saying.

    14. September 24, 2010 at

      When it comes to stuff like this, I find cause and effect can be muddled and reversed, particularly by those closest.

      By that I mean bad results can themselves divide a locker room because people hate to suck at things. And in looking for an explanation (over and above “we suck”) it can lead to a guy like Moreau concluding “the kids don’t care enough” or some such thing, further adding to a toxic environment (regardless of it’s truth) and on you go. I mean, the Oilers as they were constructed were never going to be a winning outfit regardless of attitudes or work ethics, so…

    15. YKOil
      September 24, 2010 at

      Going with Pat’s take on this one. What we can reasonably infer:

      1. Moreau ain’t all that as far as being a leader goes, he isn’t even in the same class as Buchy really

      2. Buchy wasn’t all that as a player, same as Moreau, but Buchy had Weight, Smyth and others coming in – Moreau didn’t have that

      3. Moreau came through an all-for-one-one-for-all kind of team build – the new CBA/economic realities kind of take that away*

      4. The Lowe/MacT paradigm probably did help AT ALL (MacT giving Moreau special treatment, Lowe giving ‘his’ guys special treatment)*

      * think about it, Nilsson gets the big payday (numbers which took years for Moreau to reach) while Lowe ignores Hejda (a guy MacT wanted to keep) – those kind of forces are NOT good for a dressing room and Moreau wasn’t a good enough leader or player to make it work. Wrong guy or wrong team – take your pick… same result.

    16. YKOil
      September 24, 2010 at

      Should read:

      4. The Lowe/MacT paradigm probably did NOT help AT ALL (MacT giving Moreau special treatment, Lowe giving ‘his’ guys special treatment)*

    17. September 24, 2010 at

      I don’t think anyone can bitch about Moreau’s work ethic.

      Work ethic has two components: effort to work harder and knowing when you you need to change what you’re doing. (Intensity and humility.)

      I think we can agree that Moreau may have had the first part, especially regarding fitness, but he didn’t have the second part. (His comments about the PP and PK and his own positive statements about his own play show that he doesn’t understand his own flaws and the Oilers’ flaws.) I’d have tuned out his advice about the game too. He sucks and thinks he’s great. I’ll listen to someone who sucks if they understand they suck, but not if they don’t.

      Finally, I always think it’s a little stupid to think a guy like Gagner doesn’t have a good work ethic. To get that good at hockey you have to practice to your hands bleed. I’ll admit that some kids want to float, cherry pick, and play a game that requires less work. I’ll agree that some kids in the NHL could work on fitness more. But almost all of them practice and compete about as hard as they can. They wouldn’t have made the NHL if they didn’t.

    18. Adam D
      September 24, 2010 at

      I find it hugely ironic that you mention that “nobody expected him to score 20 goals”, and then Moreau goes out and predicts that in CBJ.

      Nobody expected that except Moreau, I guess.

    19. NewAlgier
      September 24, 2010 at

      Work ethic has two components: effort to work harder and knowing when you you need to change what you’re doing. (Intensity and humility.)

      That’s awesome.

    20. MilttheStilt
      September 25, 2010 at

      Seems like Mc79′s the place to come when you want some negative speculation.

      And maybe it is just the antidote to all of Lowetide’s euphoric predictions?

      I do like your site 79 but I often wonder if you’re actually capable writing a post that isn’t somehow insulting to somebody on / with the Oilers. Your pontificating often seems sardonic, hypercritical yet, to your credit they’re often accurate enough. But how about, every once in a while, you give, cheery, hopeful and accurate a try?

      Maybe I am being hypercritical (hypocritical)?

      OK, Keep up the good work…

    21. Woodguy
      September 25, 2010 at

      A key component to leadership is having authority.

      As others alluded to Moreau killed any authority he had with him massive blind spot to his own play (remember when the Oilers lost by one goal and Moreau called out the 1-3 PP while ignoring the 1-2 PK? That’s an authority killer)

      Also,

      You said:

      “I’ve probably said most of it, but the Oilers didn’t suck last year because of him.”

      While you cannot pin last year’s results entirely on Moreau, his 2nd worst Relative Corsi on the team (ahead of only JFJ) disagrees with your statement.

    22. Quain
      September 25, 2010 at

      Can you please occasionally sprinkle some honey on the shit sandwich that is the Oilers, Tyler? Please?

    23. Tyler Dellow
      September 25, 2010 at

      I often wonder if you’re actually capable writing a post that isn’t somehow insulting to somebody on / with the Oilers. Your pontificating often seems sardonic, hypercritical yet, to your credit they’re often accurate enough. But how about, every once in a while, you give, cheery, hopeful and accurate a try?

      I checked and found this bit of optimism from April of 2006. I was actually pretty bullish on that team, more so than a lot of other observers.

      Other than that, I don’t know what to say. There haven’t been a lot of positives the last four years.

    24. Vic Ferrari
      September 26, 2010 at

      Pat Mc

      Yeah, I think that’s fair. I remember hearing John Kruk on the radio a few years ago, talking about a stint he had as a minor league manager. He expressed the same sentiment.

      I guess when he was coming up the minor league manager could help or hurt your career. You knew it and you kept your head down. When he managed they had a some kids already sitting on a pile of cash just based on being a high pick. Money, women, cars, barely out of school, and they still haven’t proven a damn thing. Never had to deal with criticism before either. That would probably make most people behave like pricks.

      Seemed like the thing that would really burn his ass was when players would dismiss him while reminding him of his salary and their salary.

      Kruk is just generally a really good interview. Funny guy.

      Anyhow, I suspect that Renney could spend a few hours a day in front of the players with the whiteboard. It won’t matter much if each of the highly touted young guys ‘play the way he wants to play’.

      How long before the majority of talk radio callers agree that Renney’s systems play is stifling the young guns? “He’s trying to turn them into checkers!” If there’s a pool going, put me down for December 12th. Thing is, I don’t know how you beat it out of a group of good-but-not-great youngsters, when they’ve got each other as a support group. Cheating for offense is a problem that’s probably going to stay with this team for a while. I hope not, but it seems likely.

      Who knows, maybe Hall and Paajaarvi-Svensson (I’m just going to call him Smitty from now on btw) will play an honest game … to the benefit of their team but to the detriment of their counting numbers. And maybe that will begin to establish a new culture on the Oilers. We can always hope.

    25. Lee
      September 26, 2010 at

      The interesting thing about this post for me is it gets to the heart of why individuals, teams or companies for that matter are successful and why the unsuccessful ones ignore personality attributes at their own peril. Whether it’s Google or the New England Patriots, some orgs just innately understand that supposedly intangibles qualities such as drive, willingness to sacrifice, etc. are the essential elements that separate champions/top achievers from those blessed with extraordinary talent and shite attitudes. Their recruitment process focus as much on attitude and team dynamics as they do on skills and the results speak for themselves.

      A good example of a polar opposite is the New York Islanders, a poor organization that has the hubris to believe they’re outsmarting the rest of the league when they draft known problem children like Kabanov and Petrov.

      In the formative years of the boys on the bus, I think the Oilers had the good fortune of drafting young men of superlative talent AND dedication. Unfortunately, the org seemingly never realized how valuable the attitude part of that equation was which is why they’ve wandered in the draft woods for years, wasting picks or developmental energies on entitlement head cases. Hopefully the worm is now turning with this new crop.

    26. September 27, 2010 at

      I listened to him after an Oilers-Sens game that I went to talk about how they needed to stop shooting from the corners, something I’d spent the whole game going on about (so obviously he’s right).

      Hahaha, of all the people to complain about too many shots from the corners it’s thecaptainethanmoreau, who wasted more shots from said corners than any other Oiler I can remember since (maybe) Cowboy Flett. It was always the sheer hypocrisy of Moreau’s statements that pissed me (and no doubt many of his teammates) off, but this one just about takes the cake. Did he also whine about too many dumb penalties?

    27. September 27, 2010 at

      Vic – yeah I’ve read/listened to a number of Kruk interviews. Funny guy. Clever.

      I remember when I lived in Florida, this was at the turn of the century (ah I love saying that). At the time the States was flying high, this was the tech driven boom and essentially it was full employment down there and the talk was that the US had finally ended the boom/bust cycle that had characterized the world economy for centuries.

      Seriously. The hubris was amazing. This is two crashes ago, mind you.

      Anyhow the newspapers talked to employers who lamented that the kids ocming in for interviews would come in sloppily dressed, ill mannered, contempuous of the process, unwilling to start at any reasonable salary.

      Totally entitled. Now of course things have changed down there, Florida really crashed hard this last recession, but it was interesting at the time and not really that surprising.

      My kids wrapped up their soccer over th elast two weeks, my oldest won her first playoff game and got knocked out next round. They were getting thier medals, because everyone does, which is fine, and the convenor gave a little speech in which he said not to be discouraged, they had a good year but there had to be a winner and a loser and a couple of parents pipe up that they are all winners.

      Even though they lost.

      Its weird. When we grew up you won and you lost, mostly you lost because there is only one winner. And some guys got As and some got Bs and some got Cs and some flunked out.

      And on and on. That’s the way life is.

      Nice old guy rant, eh? But really I do think there is a weird generational thing going on. Since the last world war the wealth in this country has surpassed anything seen in history and most people have a part of it. My wife and I are strict and tough parents but our kids have everything they could ever want, what we don’t give them they get from grandparents, birthdays etc etc.

      Crazy.

    28. PunjabiOil
      September 27, 2010 at

      Ethan Moreau was a terrible leader. He threw guys under the bus, and blamed everyone but himself. He legitimately overrated himself (“Any team that gets me will be getting a bonus as I’m under contract next year too”) His excuse for taking 2 offensive penalties a game included, ”Aggressive penalties are more easier to kill”

      He came across as a dick in all his interviews, and by all accounts wasn’t widely respected as a leader across the room. Erik Cole alluded to the fact there was friction between the vets and the younger players. This friction comes back to leadership, and Ethan Moreau did not create a proper working environment.

      I have a feeling Shawn Horcoff will do a much better job.

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