Dallas Eakins spoke with the media on Sunday, reflecting on the past season and the hard lessons that were learned after his rookie NHL campaign ended with a 29-44-9 record and 28th-place finish.
“You’re constantly learning. I don’t care if it’s your first year or you’ve been coaching for 20, it’s a nonstop process. It’s hard for me to pinpoint one thing. I underestimated the amount of time I was going to have to put into it personally,” Eakins began.
“I underestimated the sacrifice of my family. I already knew this coming from another market — and last night was a great reminder to me of how important my job is here. It’s so important to the city.
“You see what went on last night and you see how positive it can be and how alive the city can be. And there was no negativity last night. But here we sit where we’re at. We’re out of the playoffs. We’re in the 28th spot. We’ve got one of two things to do now: we can cower from it and hide or we can dig our heels in and come out of it.”
Eakins pointed to the latter option as one he sees his team fulfilling next season. From January 26 through to the end of the year, the team had a 14-12-3 record. Over the course of an entire season, that’s an 87-point pace which would put them only four points out of a playoff spot and in ninth in the conference.
“I think how we played over the last 30 games, I started to really see it. I think that was, if you want to pinpoint one thing, maybe it wasn’t a lesson but it was a reminder of how important the Edmonton Oilers success is to this great city. And it starts with me. And right behind me, our players.”
After having a day to reflect following Ryan Smyth’s final game and the atmosphere which surrounded what was a game to remember, Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins stressed the importance of having his players experience something like that.
“We spoke about it this morning. We had a team meeting at 10:30. We talked about a lot of things, but that opened up all of our eyes. What it can be like in a positive environment. It’s up to us to create that positive environment,” Eakins began.
“Ryan Smyth, because of his career and work habits and emulating what this city’s about, he created his own environment last night. For our players that will still be here next year, it’s important to know ‘if we create the environment, that’s what we’re going to get.’”
Eakins spoke a lot this season about how while being in a Canadian market can be a pressure environment, it can also have great rewards if things go the right way.
“You’re going to get it every night in a Canadian market. We have extremely supportive fans.”
The head coach was asked if he felt that the way Smyth exited would make the young Oilers players consider their future and their legacy. He said that they discussed exactly that this morning as a team.
“We all know what Ryan Smyth’s legacy was here, we saw it on display last night. What’s my legacy going to be? What’s Taylor Hall, Ebs, Ben Scrivens? It’s something to quietly reflect on over the next few weeks and then it’s time to get a plan in place, how we’re going to get better and leave the right legacy.”
The Oilers have confirmed four players who will be going to the upcoming World Hockey Championships in Belarus this May.
David Perron will be playing for Canada, Anton Belov for Russia, Martin Marincin for Slovakia and Jeff Petry for the USA.
#Oilers players confirmed for the upcoming World Championship are Perron (Canada), Belov (Russia), Marincin (Slovakia) and Petry (USA).— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) April 13, 2014
Ryan Smyth on Sunday reflected on his career and in particular his final game on Sunday. He was asked when he finally took off his equipment.
"1:38 a.m.," said Smyth, adding that a number of loyal fans waited outside Rexall Place for him to depart.
“There were still fans outside. That was pretty cool and overwhelming to see. I went out and signed for them. They waited that long, they deserve that. Then I just went home and soaked every moment of it in, again. It was quite amazing and a thrill, what those fans really did mean to me and family. I loved every moment of it."
Smyth equated the evening to his Gold Medal victory in 2002.
"That was the same in the Olympics, we sat in the room for hours and hours and just rehashed the tournament. It was the same last night," Smyth continued, adding, "What really was overwhelming, not only the fans but even in the locker room after, the guys stuck around. Their wives, girlfriends and families came in and just relished every moment."
The 38-year-old was asked about what made him decide to come to the decision to retire, and in particular why before the season was out.
"I thought of it as owing it to the fans and what they’ve done for me and how they’ve treated me over the years," he remarked. "Do I do it now, or do I do it later? I thought, I had good discussions with Mac about it and we came up with this scenario. It was fitting for an Edmonton Oiler and fitting for the fans."
Andrew Ference spoke to the media on the team's final day at Rexall Place before departing for the off-season. One of the questions he was asked surrounded giving Ryan Smyth the captaincy for his final game on Saturday.
“You’ve got to go back about a month, talking with Langer (Jeff Lang), our trainer there. Just trying to get a feed on where Smytty’s head was at. The two of us were pestering him about his intentions for the next few years. With him tying the power play record and stuff, we wanted to do a few special things.
"He’s been bugging Langer for a skate sharpener for about two years. We figured a good gift from the boys would be that. I talked to Langer at the same time about, if he is retiring, he’s wearing the C for sure. That was definitely in line for awhile."
Ference had the discussions with Jeff Langer, but also was approached by head coach Dallas Eakins.
"Dallas called me to his office a few days ago and you could tell he was uncomfortable. He wasn’t really spitting it out, he said ‘I’ve got an idea, I don’t know how to say this or approach this’ and so I stopped and got a feeling what he was thinking. I asked him if it was that and then he said ‘perfect, we’re on the same page.’
"It’s a no brainer. The guy is a legend. It’s about as easy a decision as you could ever have. To see a guy go out like that, it’s the first time in my career where I’ve seen a retirement that is like that. I was with Recchi and he knew he was going to retire but you’re in the playoffs, it’s different. The focus isn’t on you.
"For him to get a send-off like that at home, it was really special."
Pitlick and Larsen are the extra forwards.
The Oilers announced that they will hold a news conference at Rexall Place today at 2:00 p.m. MDT. You can watch it live in the Oilers Mobile App and at edmontonoilers.com.
|Brad Hunt (photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club)
In 62 games played this season, Hunt has 11 goals and 38 assists for 49 points. He is also +9. Nine of his goals have come on the power play.
Second-year pro Brad Hunt has 11 goals and 38 assists for 49 points in 62 games with Oklahoma City this season, notching more points in a Barons uniform than any other player in 2013-14. Hunt, who signed his first NHL contract with Edmonton last offseason, has picked up his play in the second half with 31 points and a plus-9 rating in his last 28 games, helping the Barons make a push towards the Calder Cup Playoffs. The 25-year-old native of Ridge Meadows, B.C., made his NHL debut with the Oilers on Jan. 3 and appeared in three contests.
Here's the entire list of AHL All Stars:
2013-14 AHL First All-Star Team
Goaltender - Jake Allen, Chicago Wolves (49gp, 30-16-3, 2.09gaa, .926sv%, 6so)
Defence - T.J. Brennan, Toronto Marlies (70gp, 22+44=66pts., 12 PPG, 4 GWG)
Defence - Adam Clendening, Rockford IceHogs (70gp, 12+44=56pts., +7, 19 PP pts.)
Left Wing - Mike Hoffman, Binghamton Senators (51gp, 30+37=67pts., +11, 12 PPG)
Centre - Travis Morin, Texas Stars (62gp, 31+50=81pts., +13, 10 PPG)
Right Wing - Colton Sceviour, Texas Stars (54gp, 32+31=63pts., +11, 13 PPG, 6 GWG)
2013-14 AHL Second All-Star Team
Goaltender - Petr Mrazek, Grand Rapids Griffins (30gp, 22-7-1, 2.03gaa, .927sv%, 3so)
Defence - Adam Almquist, Grand Rapids Griffins (69gp, 4+48=52pts., +9, 27 PP pts.)
Defence - Brad Hunt, Oklahoma City Barons (62gp, 11+38=49pts., +9, 9 PPG)
Left Wing - Zach Boychuk, Charlotte Checkers (65gp, 35+35=70pts., 17 PPG, 4 GWG)
Centre - Andy Miele, Portland Pirates (65gp, 27+42=69pts., 33 PP pts.)
Right Wing - Spencer Abbott, Toronto Marlies (64gp, 17+52=69pts., +10, 9 PPG)
The Oilers announced earlier today that Jujhar Khaira has been assigned to Oklahoma City. The Barons also announced that they have signed three other players to amateur tryout contracts (ATOs): Greg Chase, Mitch Holmberg and Josh Winquist.
Chase is an Oilers draft pick, while Holmberg and Winquist head to OKC on AHL-only deals.
Oilers assign Jujhar Khaira to OKC. Barons sign three others to ATOs. Read more: http://t.co/JQUO0Fc5A4— Oklahoma City Barons (@okcbarons) April 1, 2014
From the Barons Press Release:
Khaira was selected in the third round (63rd overall) by the Oilers in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and recently completed the WHL season with the Everett Silvertips. In one season with the Silvertips, he registered 44 points with 16 goals and 28 assists. In five playoff games, Khaira had four points, including three goals.
Prior to playing in Everett, the Surrey, B.C., native spent one season at Michigan Tech. He was the third leading scorer as a freshman with six goals and 19 assists.
The Sherwood Park, Alberta, native was selected in the seventh round (188th overall) by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He played in 204 career games for the Hitmen and registered 162 points with 58 goals and 104 assists. He played in 28 career playoff games for Calgary and had eight goals and 13 assists.
Chase joins the Barons after playing four years for the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen. He scored 85 points this past season with 35 goals and 50 assists in 70 games played. He had nine points (4-5-9) in Calgary’s six-game loss to the Kootenay Ice in the WHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
Chase was a member of the 2012 Canada Pacific U-17 team at the U-17 World Hockey Championship.
Holmberg recently finished his WHL career with the Spokane Chiefs. He played in 72 games for the Chiefs this season and had 118 points with 62 goals and 56 assists. The Chiefs alternate captain also had one assist for Spokane in the WHL Playoff series against Victoria. He earned the WHL’s Bob Clarke Trophy as the league’s top scorer and was a first team all-star. Holmberg leaves Spokane as the Chiefs top career goal scorer.
The Sherwood Park, Alberta, native has spent his entire WHL career with the Chiefs. In 314 career games, he has 296 points with 147 goals and 149 assists. He has played in 41 career postseason games with 20 goals and nine assists.
Holmberg was a member of the 2010 Canada Pacific U-17 team at the U-17 World Hockey Championship.
Winquist played with Khaira in Everett, where he was an alternate captain. Winquist appeared in 67 games for the Silvertips and had 93 points with 47 goals and 46 assists. He had four points in Everett’s playoff series this past season.
The St. Albert, Alberta, native has played in 301 career WHL games. He has 216 points (101-115-216) in five seasons with the Silvertips. He’s appeared in 21 career postseason games for Everett, registering 14 points with seven goals and seven assists.
Oilers head coach Todd Nelson mentioned on Oilers Now with Reid Wilkins on Monday that centre Will Acton was about to be recalled to the Oilers.
The Oilers have been playing short forwards of late and the season-ending shoulder injury to Luke Gazdic necessitated the recall.UPDATE: Read the official press release.