May 29 2009 09:34AM
There is a lot going on right now. The coaching carousel in the NW division is picking up speed, the rumour mill will be spitting out suggestions hourly leading into the draft and the LA Kings are going to be a player this summer.
Talking with the new Coach
Steve Tambellini's first hire was a safe one, but also the right one for him and the team. He couldn't afford to bring in someone lacking NHL head coaching experience and the heat is on the Oilers to get in the playoffs next year.
Quinn's game-planning has been questioned, but he suggests he has been given that title erroneously:
"The key to me has always been having a group of coaches that compliment one another. As far as the tactical side, I have delivered that on any team Ive ever had. I was the preparer of how we played. I decide what system we will play, but with contributions from Tom. He will have an integral part in helping how we play. We will have duties for all of our coaches to carry out and hopefully it makes us successful."
I also asked him about motivation and how he plans to get guys emotionally ready to play, because that was lacking last season in Edmonton:
"That is part of your team building. Motivation is one of those things that is within the heart of each individual. You can provide an environment that challenges people, and thats what we hope to do here. We want to set some high standard for our guys, and we will make it known what the expectations are. We are going to be a team that has real defined practices, that leads to good work ethic, knowledge about we are trying to do systematically and understanding what the standards are. You have to become a team to win and if anyone is not willing to become part of that process then we will weed them out."
For Jonathan Willis, I asked Quinn his thoughts on matching lines:
"At the start I want to find out the kind of depth we have. I'd be interested in playing all of our players. I'm more of a guy that thinks about handling a checking responsibility in terms of a defense pair, or maybe a defense pair and a given centre. As for matching a whole line, I think you can get confused some times. I think you can get caught up too much in the changing and sometimes I think you are telling players you are just a specialty player who can't play in this circumstance.
I want to have a team that believes in themselves and can play in all circumstances. I know there are some nights you do pay attention to who is on the ice at certain times, but line matching is not as critical, especially during the regular season, as some of the other things we will want to do with our hockey team. Hopefully well have good balance so we can be a strong and up tempo four line, six defense team."
Whats the most important thing you need to learn about your team early on?
"I really want to find out where is the leadership on this team. It can't just come from the coaching staff. We have to find out where it is within our group. I know that leadership is interchangeable; there is not just one leader. You have a number of leaders and it is situational so that occasionally someone else steps up and does something in a situation that is considered 'leadership.' We have to find lots of things about this team that they haven't shown a lot of in the past three years with not making the playoffs."
Options for players
The deadline to sign 2007 draft picks who aren't playing in Europe or college is midnight on May 31st. Milan Kytnar, who played for the Saskatoon Blades this year, will be signed before then. The Oilers are close to inking him to an entry-level deal.
Right now Rob Schremp does not want to sign in Europe. There has been some speculation that he might consider that option, but with the new coaching staff in place he feels he will have a clean slate and wants to stay with the organization for now. He's hoping for a new start. He will get a clean slate with Quinn and Renney, but I can't see how he makes the opening day roster and I wouldnt be surprised if he is a spare part in a deal.
Kings looking to make moves
This won't shock anyone but the LA Kings will be a big player via trade or free agency. The Kings have $34.9 million committed to 19 players next year, and only $27 million in 2010 to 12 guys. They want a marquee name and will make a splash.
If a team signs Mike Cammalleri would you consider that a big move? I can easily see Cammalleri turning into the next Danny Briere, Scott Gomez or Chris Drury; a UFA who wont live up to his big fat contract. If the Leafs don't sign the Sedin Sisters and settle for Cammalleri - their streak of 42 years without a Cup will remain as long as he is in Toronto.
I actually feel sorry for Tony Granato right now, and I couldnt stand him as a player. The Avs offered his job to Patrick Roy, and now that Roy has said no, Granato continues to sit twisting in the wind. Why doesnt he ask to get fired and at least save some face?
I wonder if Chuck Fletcher follows Tambellini's lead and goes with a veteran coach as his first hire, or if he'll go with a younger guy? I suspect Fletcher will add a coach with a proven track record, but not exclusive to the NHL. Lemaire was old, they will want a young, fresh voice in Minnesota.
Call it Karma for Hossa. The Pens will win in six.
Malkin and Crosby have combined for 26 of the Pens 65 goals in this years playoffs. Guerin has seven, while Fedetenko has six giving their top four shooters 39 goals. Which is exactly 60% of their teams total. Meanwhile the Wings top four guys: Franzen (10), Zetterberg (9), Cleary (8) and Hossa (6) have combined for 33 of the Wings 59 goals roughly 56% of them. The Pens have 16 different players with at least a goal, while 15 Red Wings have tallied at least once. So why does everyone think the Pens are a two-man show?
The biggest surprise in this years playoffs has to be the sudden goal production from Pens defenceman, Mark Eaton. He already has four goals in 17 games. Prior to these playoffs, hed never scored a goal in 23 playoff games and his career high in a season was four.
You might not need to watch the 3rd period in any game during the Cup final. The Penguins are 8-0 when leading after 40 minutes, while the Wings are 9-0. Lets hope they are tied heading into the final frame.
A big reason why the Pens and Wings are in the finals is that they draw way more penalties than they take. The Pens have had 83 PPs but have only been on the PK 61 times. They are +22. The Wings are +17 having drawn 74 and taken 57 penalties.
The third round of the NHL playoffs had no drama. The Wings and Pens dominated their respective series, and hopefully the final wont be so lopsided. The NBA playoffs on the other hand have had exceptional conference finals. I just want to know why the Cavaliers and Lebron James cant hold a 20 point lead? They have blown a 20+ point lead three different times, yet luckily they have recovered to win two of those games. I still think LBJ and the Cavs will come back and win their series.
More on Sutter
So who are these three mysterious coaches that Darryl Sutter thinks might be more qualified than him to coach the Flames? He said they are all current NHL coaches and all are under contract. They have to be coaches he thinks would consider leaving their current post. Im guessing Brent Sutter is one. Coaches who wouldnt leave are Babcock, Hitchcock, Julien, Bylsma, Andy Murray, Quennville, Boudreau, Vigneault, Mclellan, Maurice and Stevens.
Coaches he wouldnt consider better options include: Deboer, Tocchet, Tortorella, Anderson, Wilson, Clouston, Gordon, Granato, Terry Murray, Gretzky, Quinn and Trotz. That leaves Carlyle, Tippett and Ruff from the head coaching ranks.
The list of assistants that would interest him isnt that long. Some guys that could pique his interest include: Brent Peterson in Nashville, Joe Mullen in Pittsburgh, Dean Evason from the Capitals and James Patrick in Buffalo. Remember that MacTavish is still under contract, and so is Peter Laviolette so they too could be in the mix based on Sutters wording.
Oilers contract thoughts
Interesting that Alex Plante has the exact same base as Sam Gagner and Jordon Eberle, $875,000. Gagner was the 7th pick, Plante 15th and Eberle 22nd.
Dwayne Roloson is still hoping to get a two-year deal, but it wont happen from the Oilers, unless it is for one million per season. I suspect hell test the UFA waters and see if another team will pony up a second season. If not, hell have to decide if coming back to Edmonton gives him the best opportunity to play. The Oilers would love to have him back for another year.