There's some competition out there to be sure, but I think that it might be safe to call the Edmonton Oilers the most dysfunctional organization in the entire National Hockey League. I do not mean just the players on the ice either, given the sheer amount of turnover within that organization both on and off the ice over the past several years this has to be a problem that stems from the very top of the organizational structure.
On Saturday night the Edmonton Oilers hosted the San Jose Sharks at Rogers Place and once again the Oilers delivered an extremely disappointing performance in front of their home town fans. The Oilers lack of success at home has been nothing short of laughable and you have to wonder when the breaking point may finally come for one of the most loyal fan bases in the entire National Hockey League. The Oilers fans may still be willing to shell out their hard earned dollars to support a team that arguably does not deserve their support, but it seems like someone may have finally given up on the Oilers themselves, their head coach.
Following the ugly 5 - 2 loss on home ice Edmonton Oilers head coach Ken Hitchcock thew his lock room right under the bus and then backed it over once more just for good measure. The comments for Hitchock were scathing, damning, and outright brutal and they come backed by the credibility of the third winnigest coach in the history of the National Hockey League.
“I don’t have the answers,” said Hitchcock as per Sportsnet. “But we can’t play this way and actually expect to win hockey games, not at this time of year. Quite frankly, not ever. Maybe in an exhibition game.”
Hitchcock was quick to blame his team for the disappointing performance and gave the Sharks very little credit actually. Instead Hitchcock focused on the fact that the Oilers are routinely beating themselves rather than being defeated by their opponents.
“At the end of the day we have to decide if we want to play the right way because it’s successful, or we just want to do our thing. Today was a game where we just wanted to do our thing,” he said. “To me, it’s priorities and what’s important. On the fifth goal: We just turned it over in the neutral zone and went dribbling to the bench. Just walked to the bench and changed. It can’t be acceptable.”
“When you put skill ahead of work you get burned, and there’s just too much of that going on,” he said. “We address it all the time, we think we’re moving in the right direction and we just stumble badly. It isn’t even what the other team is doing to us, we just shoot ourselves in the foot.”
One of the uglier moments in the game came when Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl made a brutal turn over that led to a goal for the Sharks. Hitchcock was asked about that turn over, and the lazy way in which Draisaitl responded to making the mistake, and was asked if that type of effort from one of the team's star players made things worse.
“That’s a good question,” said Hitchcock as he stalled for time trying to answer a question that had clearly hit the mark. “I think it’s a symptom of something much bigger. It’s priorities and what’s important. It just can’t be acceptable.”
Things are very ugly in Edmonton right now, and if one of the best coaches to ever play the game is out of answers who knows what it might take to turn this organization around.
Photo Credit: NHL.com