It’s a great interview, and I took several things out of it. One, and to no surprise, MacTavish is a very humble guy and doesn’t take any of the criticism thrown his way to heart. I’ve always considered him to be a smart man, and hell of a funny guy. The end of his coaching tenure with the Oilers.. I think Tencer summed it up best with the word “stale”. It was definitely time to go.. not because he was a bad coach, but because the messages just weren’t getting through anymore and a new guy was needed to give it a go. MacTavish definitely doesn’t hold back in expressing that it was the toughest time in his life to be cut loose, however… but he’s tickled to be back with all the energy and excitement this team’s youth brings.
The 2nd interview had some more interesting quotes, such as “It’s such an extremely difficult job that you have to have the support of the management and it’s virtually an impossibility to perform the job if you don’t. I’ll be extremely supportive of whoever the candidate is that eventually lands here behind the bench.” I made a comment recently elsewhere on this blog that I’ll restate here: MacTavish definitely wasn’t dealt all the cards he needed post-2005/06. I recall him stating how this team really needed a faceoff guy with good skills on the penalty kill, and I remember Tambellini saying that he’s going to have to look for that within the organization. I think it’s always good to use whats in the system first, so I don’t have problems with that idea. However, I think with the team being as young as it is, it’s a horrible idea to bring in more youth to fill roles that are easy to fill in free agency, especially if that youth is struggling. Great teams like Detroit really take their time bringing new, young players into the system, generally. They’re also not afraid to fill the gaps with free agents while their youth develops, properly, in the farm. So I’m hoping that the Oilers are learning a lesson.
The second quote I liked was “There are a few guys that have been here for a pretty good period of time that have not put together as good a stretch of hockey as they’re capable of. I really believe that the players that were the cornerstone of the team that we took to the Stanley Cup Final realize that they’ve got to perform at that level again. They’ve performed under that level.” This obviously is directed at Shawn Horcoff, Ryan Smyth and Ales Hemsky. These three have each shown flashes of what they were in 2005/06, however each of those 3 have also been offensive vacuums on many a night. Ales Hemsky had an awful season in 2011/12. I thought Shawn Horcoff had a decent year last year, but much of the other seasons he has not looked very good (save for one other year in which he ended up getting injured midway through the season). Ryan Smyth seemed to show potential, especially early in the season. However, he petered out not too long into the season. All three of these guys who were the cornerstone of a cup contending team are now the support crew of a team that is trying to get back into the playoffs. It’s high time they stop feeling sorry for themselves and make a difference on this team any way they can (I hesitate to say Horcoff feels sorry for himself though.. I think he’s trying his hardest to set an example, but it’s still not good enough).
Continuing on with that quote: “There’s the perception out there that the youth is going to carry this team to the next level and back to an era of incredible success. But, I think that when you really look at it, the youth was good last year. The youth was the strength of the team last year. The veterans have to re-establish themselves as really good, solid, dominant players as well to augment what the youth means to the team.” Exactly bang on. We all know it. The youth was fantastic. Even some of the non-star players like Teemu Hartikainen (especially in his return back here) looked to be outperforming the veterans. I’ll also throw some shots at Ben Eager (don’t tell him!). Some nights he looked completely out of it. Say what you will about Darcy Hordichuk’s inability to play hockey, but he made every second of his shifts count. Unfortunately, you lump him in that Horcoff category where the effort level just isn’t enough to compensate for a lack of skills.
I’ll say it again, I’m glad that MacTavish isn’t back as coach of this team (we need fresh ideas and need to stop trying the same thing and expecting different results), but I’m sure glad he’s back in the organization.