No Excuses: Coach Craig MacTavish Must Go

Jonathan Williams@@jonathanbwCorrespondent IApril 14, 2009

DENVER - JANUARY 16:  Head coach Craig MacTavish leads the Edmonton Oilers against the Colorado Avalanche during NHL action at the Pepsi Center on January 16, 2009 in Denver, Coloado. The Oilers defeated the Avalanche 3-2.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Often when a CEO or a manager of a unit gets only three successful years in eight, he is gone about as fast as his severance package will carry him. There are little excuses for a person in charge who fails over and over to get results.

Craig MacTavish, head coach of the Edmonton Oilers, has had the benefit of the doubt from management and in some respect from the fans over the years.

This year is different. The over-optimistic public relations at the beginning of the season poisoned the well for the fan base.

When MacTavish challenged his team by saying they would play for the division championship this year, he made a tactical error; it set the bar high.

Since November, he has, from time to time, accused his players of bad play, calling some out by name.

However, in eight years, only three players remain the same. Even from the Stanley Cup final, only a few players remain from that team. 

If it is not the players, it has to be the coaching. Or it could be the type of team wanted by management did not match the style of the coach.

MacTavish would, it seems, love a team who are muckers, who play a very physical style and the trap to perfection. In other words, he wanted to be Jacque Lemaire, the former head coach of the Minnesota Wild.

That is not Oilers hockey. The team President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe put together is much more fast and loose, which focuses on attacking and speed, not grabbing a one goal lead and sitting on it.

So if the coach and the management are at odds, then one or the other has to go. 

This is the time to clean house.

At his year end press conference, MacTavish sounded even more convinced of his defensive style. He seemed to suggest that the players were more at fault for not sticking to his system.  

The problem is, his system did not work. It angered at least two players. Ales Hemsky, the Oilers' leading scorer, went so far as to accuse the coach of turning him into a checker.

No one is happy when a team loses, especially when they seem to have gone out without heart, most nights. 

The Oilers combined that with a horrid home record, which did nothing to convince the faithful fans in the seats. Many nights, the Oilers were booed as much as cheered.

In a logical world, heads will role before this week is old. No stone, from coaching to scouting to player personnel, should be left unturned.  

It is now time to take the team and do a complete overhaul, not simply another dodgy tune up which leaves the chaise rattling on the edge of collapse.

For the good of the team, the city, and for MacTavish himself, he has to go, and go now.


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