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INSIDE THE OILERS
POSTED ON Monday, 15.12.2014 / 5:04 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish addressed his decision to make a change at head coach this morning. In doing so, MacTavish said the blame for the team’s lack of wins does not stop only at the head coaching position.

“There’s blood all over my hands in this as well because I put the lineup together and the roster,” MacTavish said. “I’m not here to absolve myself of accountability in the situation that we’re in, nor am I here to solely blame Dallas (Eakins) for the job that he did because in my mind he did a lot of really good things for our group. This group had a long way to go, I think he brought them a significant distance as the bulk and core of this group matures and gets their game to a level of maturity that would allow us to have more success than we’ve had now. It’s just the compounding of the losses that led me to this decision.”

MacTavish says the internal review of the organization will continue past this staff change. Every aspect of the organization is still under evaluation including his own position, the general manager said.

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POSTED ON Monday, 15.12.2014 / 5:04 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

With the Oilers entering the week 30th in the league standings with 19 points, the organization decided to make a change at head coach. The Oilers announced that they have relieved Dallas Eakins of his duties and General Manager Craig MacTavish will take over temporarily before handing the reins to Interim Coach Todd Nelson.

The decision to make the change was strictly based on team performance and the lack of wins, according to MacTavish.

“I really feel the same way now as I did when I hired him,” MacTavish said. “He’s an excellent coach. I was happy with a lot of things. I had no real good reason to do this, outside of performance and that’s really the bottom line that we’re all judged by — the performance level of the hockey club and certainly the record. I would point to those things solely as the reason for this change.”

The Oilers, 7-19-5, have lost four-straight games and the growing number of losses sparked the decision.

“It’s just the compounding of the losses and the losses have an emotional toll on everybody in the organization, at least they should and in particular the coaching staff,” MacTavish said. “I think that the fact that we weren’t able to get any traction at all after that just led me to believe that the timing was right for a coaching change now.”

MacTavish also says that this decision to make the change was his, after careful consultation with senior management.

“I have complete autonomy with the hockey club. Obviously, there have been internal discussions between Bob (Nicholson) and myself, but the decision was solely mine. I made the decision based on what I thought was appropriate for the team.”

After the transition, Nelson will coach the team on an interim basis until the end of the season.

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POSTED ON Monday, 15.12.2014 / 5:03 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

As General Manager Craig MacTavish assumes coaching responsibilities on a short-term basis, he will focus on very straightforward messaging with the players. MacTavish and Interim Coach Todd Nelson will continue to hammer home the message that the Oilers need a strong work ethic and accountability in order to be successful.

“For me, as a coach, the core principles have always been execution, competitiveness and hard work,” MacTavish said. “I mentioned those three core pillars of performance 10 days ago. It’s not going to be a complicated message from Todd or I about what the execution is for this group. We’ve got to attend to those three core principles, and they’ve really been the foundation of the great teams here that we’ve had here, certainly not in recent history but in past history. There’s always been a level of accountability, hard work and competitiveness that we really want to see improved.”

MacTavish coached the Oilers from 2000-2009.

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POSTED ON Monday, 15.12.2014 / 2:49 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish announced today that he has relieved Dallas Eakins of his head coaching duties and would be taking over behind the bench on a short-term basis. Todd Nelson will be joining the staff and the team will eventually transition to him as he becomes the Oilers interim head coach.

“(Nelson) will join me as I transition the team and the responsibilities of the team over to Todd,” MacTavish said. “I know the personnel well, so I want to help Todd with that transition. I want to be clear in my messaging to the players. I want to get in and get into the trenches. I think I have a very good idea and understanding of what the dynamic is there, but I want to get my hands on it for a short period of time and then I will transition it back over to Todd. Todd will remain as interim coach for the remainder of the year.”

Nelson had three 40-win seasons to start his career in Oklahoma City. He’s made the playoffs in each of his four seasons with the Barons, heading into this year. In 2012 and 2013, he led the Barons to the Western Conference Final. Nelson has the Barons off to an impressive start this season, with a 15-6-2-2 record. They had won eight-straight games at one point and were unbeaten in regulation in 10 straight.

“He’s done a terrific job with our minor league team in the American Hockey League,” MacTavish said. “He’s deserving of this opportunity, I want to help him transition this group and… give myself a chance to get my hands on it.”

MacTavish did not give a timeline for the transition process.

“I will leave at a reasonable time, when I think Todd is completely familiar with the group and with the players,” he said.

Gerry Fleming will take over as head coach in Oklahoma City. There are no other changes to the staffs as of now. MacTavish said the team has made no decisions on coaching staff for next season, but Nelson will have the rest of this year to be evaluated.

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POSTED ON Monday, 15.12.2014 / 1:55 PM
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POSTED ON Monday, 15.12.2014 / 12:31 PM

The press conference will be streamed live on 630 CHED.

It will be streamed live on the Oilers mobile app. Click the "radio" button in the top right corner of the main page of the app.

In his press conference, GM MacTavish announced that Todd Nelson will be joining the team from Oklahoma City and will be transitioning into the head coaching role in the "near future."

For now, MacTavish will be behind the bench as he helps Nelson with the transition.

More info to follow...

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POSTED ON Sunday, 14.12.2014 / 1:24 PM

The Edmonton Oilers announced today they have recalled defenceman Brad Hunt from the American Hockey League's Oklahoma City Barons.

Hunt, 26, has appeared in six games with the Oilers this season, posting his first National Hockey League goal on October 11th against the Vancouver Canucks.

The 5'9", 187-pound defenceman has registered 22 points (7G, 15A), six penalty minutes and a plus seven rating in 17 games with Oklahoma City this season.

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POSTED ON Saturday, 13.12.2014 / 2:12 PM
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers
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POSTED ON Saturday, 13.12.2014 / 2:08 PM
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Oilers are trying some new looks down the middle on their power play with Matt Hendricks setting up in front of the net on one unit and Tyler Pitlick on the other.

Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins talked about continuing to find the right mix.

“We continue to search for goals (on the power play) and we’ll keep changing it, adjusting it, hammering on it,” he began.

“Hendy (Matt Hendricks) will not leave the front of that net when the puck’s up on the point. He’s good on retrievals. He’s heavy on pucks, we’ve got to have that. What happens on your power play usually is when a guy like that goes on it, there’s usually someone with skill who moves off or moves to another unit. It’s where we’re at now. We have to have somebody in front of the net.”

The head coach added that he felt that losing Boyd Gordon's faceoff ability -- he remains out with a back injury -- puts the team in a tough position.

“When you get into these situations, boy do you miss Boyd Gordon and the value that he brings our team in the faceoff circle.”

With Pitlick in front of the net on the other unit, Eakins is taking a page out of the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons.

“Pitter is going to be our bumper up there. He was doing it in Oklahoma City. We were chatting with (Barons head coach Todd Nelson) down there and he was real efficient there.”

While Pitlick has not been a centre for most of his pro career, Eakins does like his faceoff ability.

“He has centre in his background and can win face-offs as well. We’ll put him in that role on that unit.”

Pitlick played centre for a good number of shifts on Friday against Anaheim.

“I only moved him there for a shift or two and he did so well that I just let it run, I kept going with him. I thought he looked really good there. Is that a long-term approach for him? Probably not, at this level. But he was one of the guys for me last night that was going. He was playing and he was being physical. He’s in the mindset right now, whatever we ask him to do he just nods his head. You end up having a lot of time for players like that.”

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POSTED ON Saturday, 13.12.2014 / 2:00 PM
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Like last Sunday, the Oilers are not skating tomorrow morning. With the team coming off four games in six days and the Rangers playing tonight (and also not skating tomorrow), Coach Eakins felt that fresh legs were important for the club.

"You see that first period last night, we're pooched. Fourth game in six nights. With a win last night and better execution you wouldn't have seen us today. I would have liked to keep them right away from the rink to get them some rest but we needed touches. We had to go back on that power play again. We got that done today and now we need them to rest," Eakins stated.

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INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG