• Hockey Players Say The Darndest Things

    by  • February 19, 2013 • Hockey • 6 Comments

    I sometimes imagine that coaching an NHL team requires a certain ability to keep a straight face while players, managers and scouts say crazy things to you. “Why aren’t I on the power play?” “Why aren’t you playing the 21 year old defenceman I traded a HOFer for?” “Why aren’t you making Rob Schremp into an NHL star?”

    Every so often though, that must work for you. Take Ben Eager’s comments after the Oilers-Colorado game:

    “It definitely helps when you’re playing,” said Eager. “Last year, they only rolled two, two-and-a-half, three lines but now guys are more accountable. If you’re playing well, you’ll play more; if you’re not, you’ll play less.

    “So far, this year, it’s been more of a team game for sure.”

    Eager has so far played between six and seven minutes three times, 8:34 against Dallas and 9:36 against Colorado. His TOI against Colorado was juiced by the absence of Teemu Hartikainen in the third period – MPS and VandeVelde barely played. Last year, he averaged a minute more per game and only fell below seven minutes 16 times in 63 games. He did fall below six minutes in a game eight times, something that has yet to happen this year, but three of those were big PIM games for him, rendering him unavailable for part of the game. Its’ hard to see how, exactly, he can realistically figure that his situation has changed for the better this year but I suppose if you’re the coach, you’re happy to have him labouring under this misconception.

    “It’s nice to get in on the forecheck and wear their ‘D’ down. I think that does a lot. The last game we all stuck with it. We got down by a few goals, but we were all chipping the puck in and finishing our checks and it paid off. By the third period I think their ‘D’ were gassed and we took over with our skill.”

    I must have watched a different game than the one Eager played in. The game that I watched, the Oilers were outshooting Colorado 38-19 after two periods, including 34-16 at ES. The stats say that the Oilers managed to hit defencemen eight or nine times in the first two periods but it wasn’t like Colorado fell apart – they were hanging on from the moment that the puck was dropped. It’s probably noteworthy that four of those hits were delivered by one Ben Eager.

    Still though, you have to kind of admire Krueger. One gets the sense that he wants Eager to hit and now he’s got him telling the media how much better things are this year, when he’s playing less, and feeling as if his contribution helped the team turn a corner against Colorado, when the Oilers were killing the Avalanche for basically the entire game. It’s awfully impressive mind control, if nothing else.

    Email Tyler Dellow at tyler@mc79hockey.com

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    6 Responses to Hockey Players Say The Darndest Things

    1. v
      February 19, 2013 at

      i think it’s a willing delusion by someone who doesn’t really want to think any harder about the issue. it’s easier if he just trusts the coach and does what he’s told because, realistically, he’s making a lot of money to do the job and he’s got to be old enough to realize he’s not magically putting in 20 a year at any time soon

      even if he was confronted or realized this, im sure the “well, the org is happy with it so…” would kick in, and it’s probably good that it does. the plugs who got unhappy probably naturally selected themselves out in junior

    2. Woodguy
      February 19, 2013 at

      One of the most important things I have learned in business and in life is that perception is reality.

    3. gogliano
      February 19, 2013 at

      I suspect Eager’s impressions are colored by the benchings of Smyth and Whitney, no? He might be wrong that he is playing more but having Barbaro play less might be helping that false impression.

    4. King
      February 19, 2013 at

      Tyler, regarding your comments to the first quote, nowhere does Eager specify he’s referring directly to himself; indeed, he’s referring to the team as a whole being held accountable, which is an impression he likely derives from the fact that Smyth and Whitney were bench two games ago.

      Eager’s TOI/game this season compared to last are completely irrelevant and have nothing to do with what he was quoted as saying.

      Why are you taking them out of context?

      • Tyler
        February 19, 2013 at

        King: try reading the entire quote and not taking a piece of it out of context.

    5. René
      February 20, 2013 at

      It must be that persuasive motivational speaker in Krueger. His “overall, it was an excellent game” trick last night doesn’t work, though.

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