We break down CEO Jeff Jackson’s interview with TSN, to find out more about the current state of the Edmonton Oilers and his plans for them moving forward.
Jeff Jackson has only been Oilers CEO of Hockey Operations for four months, but it’s fair to say it’s already been an eventful tenure for him. A poor start, early firing of the coach, injuries and key players underperforming, all contributed to what almost seemed like a soap opera in Edmonton.
Fortunately for Jackson and the team, things have started to turn around recently, with the Oilers currently on a season-high four game winning streak. Of course there’s still plenty of work to do, but at least they’re headed in the right direction.
TSN’s Gino Reda caught up with Jackson on Monday, ahead of the Board of Governors meeting. Here are our five main takeaways from the interview:
1) Preseason expectations
Jackson said the expectations going into the season were very high, both externally and internally. Perhaps most interestingly, he admitted the preseason hype might have gotten into the heads of the players a little bit.
However, the 58-year-old believes the team has now come back down to earth and realises the hard work which is needed, night in, night out. We won’t go as far as suggesting the poor start to the season was a good thing, but if it helped the team wake up and stop just expecting positive results, then at least it helped.
2) Unwavering faith
While Jackson said the Oilers’ 2-9-1 start to the season was rough, he claimed he remained calm throughout. He did also mention there were several factors which impacted the poor early results, but didn’t elaborate.
In fairness to the Chatham-Kent, Ontario native, his calm mindset was likely — at least in part — due to still having essentially the same group of players who had 50 wins last season and led the league in scoring. Regardless, he said the main reason for winning seven of their last 10 games, came down to playing excellent team defence.
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3) Sense of urgency
Jackson was asked about the sense of urgency in respect of getting Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl re-signed for the long-term. However, he was never going to get into the specifics of their respective contact negotiations, nor would you ever expect him to.
Instead, the 1985 World Junior Ice Hockey gold medallist pivoted to a sense of urgency in terms of being there competing for the Stanley Cup every season. In fairness though, this does allude to being part of what would persuade McDavid and Draisaitl to remain in Edmonton past their current deals.
4) Financial challenges
The Oilers’ tight salary cap situation this season is well-documented, with general manager Ken Holland receiving criticism for how he’s handled it. However, Jackson believes COVID-19 was a major factor, with teams previously assuming the cap would always just go up every season and planning ahead accordingly.
Whilst appreciating the former winger’s point, it still doesn’t entirely explain why the Oilers are one of the worst teams in the NHL, when it comes to available cap space. Regardless, as per Sportsnet, they will be happy with reports that the cap is set to increase by around $4.175 million for next season.
5) Transitioning to CEO
Jackson was asked about the difficulties of transitioning to his job with the Oilers. However, he said that he’d found it challenging rather than difficult, in large part due to the team’s slow start to this season.
The 1983 28th overall draft pick is confident in his plan, which includes thinking long-term and just making small positive steps every day to get to this point. In fairness it makes sense that he wouldn’t find the transition difficult when considering his experience, which includes a previous role as assistant general manager and director of hockey operations with the Leafs.
Overall, we know that words can only mean so much; it’s all about action, both on and off the ice. However — if nothing else — at least Jackson’s comments can give Oilers fans some reassurance, both in the short and long term future of the team.