Edmonton Oilers, and just all around, great Wayne Gretzky was on hand during the game tonight. Gretzky spoke to the media at Rexall Place during the Oilers game against the Islanders.
Gretzky was asked about General Manager Craig MacTavish and what he thought about the team this season and where they are headed. 99 had some very positive remarks on MacTavish.
“In this day and age like every other era, winning is hard,” Gretzky said. “It’s not an easy formula. You can’t just throw the best young players together and say, okay now we’re going to win a championship. From my experience with being in hockey over the years that I’ve been involved… when you get a guy like Craig who I played with, I watched coach, I watched him scout and now he’s the general manager… He has a lot of integrity and he knows the game and he understands what it takes to bring a team together.
“If you’re looking at it from that point of view, this is really his first year. I just have nothing but the upmost respect for him as a person, as a teammate, as a friend and I hope nothing but the best for him. Nobody likes to lose. People ask me all the time, what do you think is wrong with the Oilers? And I always say the same thing. I can’t give you an honest opinion because I’ve seen five games and it’s not fair for me to sit here and say okay, they should do this or they should do that. They’re in good hands. Craig is a wonderful man and he cares and he wants this team to be successful and I think he’ll make this team successful.”
The Edmonton Oilers are in last place in the Western Conference and the fans have shared in the organization’s frustrations this season.
Wayne Gretzky was in attendance for tonight’s game against the Islanders and the ex-Oiler talked about the fan frustrations and acknowledged that he isn’t surprised by the reactions in Edmonton.
“Not at all,” Gretzky said. “People want to win… From my point of view, as a friend, it hurts me too. I have nothing but good things to say about everyone who’s still involved in this organization. But we all understand as players and as athletes and as ex-players, what the fans are feeling. They want to win. This is a very proud city, it’s a storied franchise. Although it’s relatively young, it’s still a great franchise with a lot of history and people want to see it be successful.
“This was sort of their coming out year, after all the first picks, that this was the year that the sort of 7th or 8th spot… And after the start that they got off, it was like okay, where are we going here? But listen, Kevin (Lowe) and Craig (MacTavish), the people here.. They care and hurt as much as the fans hurt. They want to win and I think Craig is going to be a tremendous general manager, I really do.”
Newcomer Viktor Fasth is expected to come in and provide not only goalie depth for the Edmonton Oilers but also some fiery competition for Ben Scrivens. Fasth was acquired in a trade with Anaheim on Tuesday for a 5th round pick in 2014 and a 3rd round pick in 2015. This trade came one day after Scrivens signed his two-year contract with the team. The Oilers feel their goalie tandem his solidified for the immediate future with two good options.
Fasth is very familiar with Scrivens, who is a former Los Angeles Kings netminder. The two each played for NHL teams based in California, making them rivals at one point.
“We were enemies when he played with the Kings,” Fasth joked today. “No, I know he’s a good goalie and he’s a great guy so I’m glad to meet him here and hopefully we can push each other to create big things.”
Fasth is eager to begin pushing Scrivens and provide competition to the Oilers roster.
“As a goalie, that’s what you want to give the team. That’s what you play for every day. You want to help out the team and play as solid as possible. But it’s a team sport. I mean, as a goalie, you rely on the players as well as the players rely on you. We all have to stick together and play for each other.”
Head Coach Dallas Eakins said that he told Fasth to prepare for his first start to be on Sunday, against the Kings. However, that is not set in stone.
Ryan Smyth is still a member of the Edmonton Oilers. But yesterday, prior to the NHL trade deadline, Smyth’s situation was in doubt. Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish said that the Oilers explored trading Smyth to a cup contender so that he may have the opportunity at playing in the playoffs and making a run at a championship.
However, any possible trade did not occur and Smyth will lace up the skates tonight for the Oilers. That’s not a bad thing for Smyth, who says he loves the city and wants to eventually make Edmonton his family’s home after hockey.
“Emotional,” Smyth said of yesterday’s experience. “Obviously, I’m still wearing an Oilers uniform so that’s a good thing. Mac and I had a discussion, as you guys have known from his report. He was going to try and get me to a contender and I appreciated that but it didn’t work out. I came back here for a reason. Obviously, it was to be in the playoffs and in the hunt but that hasn’t happened in the last three years. As a player, you want to have that opportunity and Mac gave me that opportunity, or tried to, but it didn’t succeed.”
The Oilers newest goaltender Viktor Fasth has arrived in Edmonton and is on the ice for his first morning skate with the team.
- The Panel discusses the Trade Deadline (Watch an archive of the extended-length live version)
- Craig MacTavish Press Conference
- TRADE DEADLINE | Nick Schultz
- PRACTICE RAW | Shannon Szabados
- TRADE DEADLINE | Ales Hemsky
- PRACTICE RAW | Sam Gagner
- PRACTICE RAW | Jordan Eberle
- MacTavish: Tuesday's performance helped Hemsky
- Oilers set to recall Larsen, more to come?
- Nick Schultz traded to Columbus
- Szabados feels at home with Oilers
- Hemsky reflects on trade and Edmonton
- Hemsky traded to Ottawa
- Three absent at the start of practice
- Bruins claim Potter
- Fasth's number
- Szabados to practice with the Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers announced they have recalled defenceman Philip Larsen from the American Hockey League’s Oklahoma City Barons.
Larsen, 24, has registered six points (1G, 6A) in 17 games with the Oilers this season.
The Edmonton Oilers and Ales Hemsky made no secret, after the fact, that the team was looking to trade the veteran winger. General Manager Craig MacTavish said after the trade deadline that he was surprised that Hemsky didn’t fetch a second round pick on the market.
The Oilers got a 3rd and a 5th round pick for Hemsky instead and MacTavish said that it was how the ‘soft’ rental market shaped up. However, the Oilers were happy to get a return rather than let Hemsky, an unrestricted free agent, walk without gaining assets.
Hemsky’s two-goal performance last night against the Ottawa Senators not only boosted his stock for Ottawa, who would trade for him, but also among other teams.
“We had made a lot of phone calls to other of my colleagues, about Ales over the last numbers to see,” MacTavish said. “We all kind of felt we were going to move him. I spoke with Ales about that too. There were a lot more calls today. After the game that he played last night, he really backed up most of the things I was saying to my colleagues.
“It was that, at some point, Ales has been devalued far below what my expectation is of him. I told many of my colleagues that my expectation is, whoever gets him is going to get a real good player and that’s what I would recall of Ales’ game. He gets the puck on the fly in the neutral zone… he’s very dangerous, one-on-one on the fly through the neutral zone. That was really backing up what I was saying. Obviously, he hadn’t scored much up until that point but the potential of getting a player that could do those types of things, opened up the market.”
The Edmonton Oilers traded Nick Schultz to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the trade deadline today. By doing so, and with the loss of Corey Potter to Boston on waivers this morning, the Oilers have just five healthy defencemen on their roster.
Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish said today they have explored the potential of calling up some young players from the American Hockey League, but will start with Philip Larsen who was placed on waivers on Monday morning.
“We’ll announce that a little later but we’re going to need one for tomorrow,” MacTavish said. “We’ll, in all likelihood, call up Philip Larsen before he gets on a plane. We talked about Oscar and giving Oscar an opportunity, Brandon Davidson’s played pretty well lately but Oscar came down with a bit of an injury today. That would preclude us from calling him up. They’re in a playoff race now, they’ve played very well the last little while so it really is a discussion on how long we’re going to let them try and keep themselves in the race or maybe get themselves in the playoffs and then the benefit of getting them ultimately up here and have a look and give them some experience.”
The little injury to Klefbom that MacTavish is likely referring to is Klefbom’s shoulder. The Oilers defensive prospect left the ice and sat out one shift in the Oklahoma City Barons game on Sunday. He returned and finished the game.
Craig MacTavish will be speaking live to the media at 2:00 p.m. MST. You can watch it online at edmontonoilers.com and in the Oilers Mobile App.
UPDATE: The Press Conference is over. You can watch the archive here: