Courtesy of John Boruk of Comcast Sportsent, the Edmonton Oilers have the worst head coach/GM combo in the NHL. Boruk ranks Dallas Eakins and Craig MacTavish dead last in his list of combinations from around the league, a worse ranking than in 2012 that had Steve Tambellini and Ralph Krueger at 22nd.
Think about it. Last season they finished 24th overall and 12th in the Western Conference, a modest improvement from the previous three seasons that saw them either dead last or second to that. Expectations from having the first overall pick three straight years is that you eventually get better and make a run at the playoffs. That hasn’t happened in seven years and now with a fresh voice behind the bench and a GM that isn’t afraid to make ‘bold’ moves, starting from scratch is essentially what the Oilers are doing. Their ranking should and does reflect that.
What did this club accomplish during the Tambellini era? Let me rephrase that. What positives did this club accomplish when Tambellini and a combination of Kreuger and Renney were in charge? There were a few that included taking Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov with the first overall pick. Granted a monkey in a suit could have made those selections.
Ok, so nothing jumps out at you when you think of the last three to four seasons in Edmonton as major accomplishments, draft picks aside. Suddenly a ranking of 30th is reflective.
There is also the fact that both Eakins and Mac-T are rookies in their new positions with the Oilers and respect in this league is earned, not appointed.
Boruk had this to say on the Oilers combination of coach/GM:
They lack toughness and grit and the result has been seven straight years without a playoff appearance. Former GM Steve Tambellini was fired in the offseason and replaced by MacTavish, who needs to give this franchise a much-needed identity. Eakins has the daunting task of trying to mesh a lot of young, unproven talent.
It’s the last part of Boruk’s points that really stand out. “MacTavish who needs to give this franchise a much-needed identity and Eakins has the daunting task of trying to mesh a lot of young, unproven talent.” Harsh, yet fair points from Boruk, who listed the Chicago Blackhawks as number one followed by the Boston Bruins.
The Oilers have a lot to prove this season and anything short of a playoff berth, or falling just shy of eighth place will be deemed a failure. It’s been too long or a rebuilding process and with the natives getting restless, it’s now up to MacTavish and Eakins to guide this team back to respectability. If they can accomplish that then look for their ranking to sky rocket in next year’s list.
For what it’s worth, the Calgary Flames combo of Bob Hartley and Jay Feaster fared one better than the Oilers, coming in at number 29.