The Edmonton Oilers have a problem on their hands, we all know it, but it might be considerably worse than all of us on the outside had previously believed.
The relationship between the Oilers and former first round pick Jesse Puljujarvi hit an all time low this season when the young forward went public, through the use of his agent, with demands that he be traded from the Oilers organization to another team in the National Hockey League. Although some fans have sympathised with Puljujarvi, largely due to how the Oilers have handled other top young prospects in recent years, the fan sentiment towards the Finnish forward has been overwhelmingly negative, especially within the Oilers own fan base.
That being said though it may not just be the fans who have had all they can stomach from Puljujarvi, in fact it sounds like just about everyone within the Oilers organization has already had their fill of Puljujarvi if the rumors are to be believed. In a recent article for the Edmonton Journal Oilers reporter Kurt Leavins detailed a long list of frustrations that those with the organization had in regards to Puljujarvi, from management, to coaches, all the way down to the players themselves.
According to Leavins both former Oilers coach Todd McLellan and former Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock felt they could reach the young forward but both men also appear to have grossly underestimated just how stubborn Puljujarvi truly is. In fact it appears that this stubbornness does not only apply to refusing to cooperate with the coaching staff, it appears as though Puljujarvi has earned a reputation in the Oilers locker room as a player unwilling to cooperate with his very own teammates.
Meanwhile, through all of the above, his teammates struggled to connect with him on the ice. Often, especially on the power play. Puljujarvi would repeatedly head to the wrong spot. He would literally bump into them. And when they would try to explain it to him their words of advice seemed to fall flat. Was he not listening…not understanding…or not agreeing? Eventually, although none of these players would ever dream of saying it in public…I am made to understand that they quietly asked just not to play with him anymore. There’s no suggestion they disliked him as a guy. Just that he was just hard to play with.
There has been a lot made about a potential language barrier issue with Puljujarvi, but it sounds like that may be a load of baloney. Although Leavins would not name his source, for obvious reasons, he says he did speak with one member of the Oilers locker room last season who rejected that notion.
“No, he knows way more that he lets on,” said the source.
If even his own teammates want nothing to do with him, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which Puljujarvi returns to the Oilers.
Photo Credit: Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch