“It’s a change," said Nugent-Hopkins. "I’m used to seeing Dallas back there for the past year and a half, it’s a little bit different, but I think as the game went on we got used to it. He’s a vocal guy so that really helped.”
Ference talked about his perception of the collective thoughts of his teammates as the transition occurs.
“I think everyone is trying to put solid games under their belts," Ference remarked. "Not missing their assignments, making sure that we are still concentrating on cleaning up our defensive zone and opportunities against. I think that’s still the focus whether it was last week, this week or whatever week it is. I think that’s always going to be a key for our team is to make sure we are selling our own end.”
Oilers coach Todd Nelson talked about having General Manager Craig MacTavish behind the bench with him as he coached the Oilers.
“It was nice having a guy with that much experience behind the bench with me, being able to consult with each other on different match-ups, line match-ups and strategies. It was a great experience for me.”
Overall, Nelson found a lot of positives as he started to get to know the Oilers a little better throughout the game.
“I saw a lot of positive things tonight. We have to focus on that and move forward. In overtime, they didn’t have a whole lot of quality chances until that last opportunity and I thought we did a good job in overtime just staying on top of the puck. I think we just have to focus on the good things, correct the things we have to get better at and just keep a positive outlook.”
Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Purcell
Yakupov - Draisaitl - Eberle
Perron - Arcobello - Pitlick
Gazdic - Hendricks - Pinizzotto
Defence Pairings have changed:
Forward lines the same so Gordon still very much a question mark, D-pairs Ference-Petry, Davidson-Fayne, Hunt-Schultz.— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) December 16, 2014
- RAW | Taylor Hall on coaching changes
- RAW | Jordan Eberle on coaching changes
- RAW | Andrew Ference on coaching changes
- RAW | Craig MacTavish Press Conference
- THE PANEL | Reaction to today's news
Oilers captain Andrew Ference spoke Monday about the news of the day -- head coach Dallas Eakins being relieved of his duties.
“It’s an awful day, I’m sure, for (MacTavish) to have to do that to a good man,” said Ference. “It’s the human side of the business without a doubt. He’s somebody that I think is an extremely good role model for the guys on this team, getting to know him the last little while.
“He’s a good coach that deserved a better fate here.”
Ference was asked whether he felt that a new voice would help change things and he put the onus on the players to buy into what any coach is trying to implement.
“The responsibility is on us. The Xs and Os can change, you can adjust those and move those around but the general philosophy of how you win at this level, it’s not that different from one successful team to the other. They might approach the game from a systems standpoint differently but from the way they play for each and with each other as a collective group, buying into whatever the coach says and tells you to do is an important thing.
“No matter what it is, the most important thing is buying in and doing what you’re told. I think that if you can do that as an individual and contribute your part to the team you’ll collectively have good success.
“It takes everybody to do it, to be part of the machine.”
Oilers winger Taylor Hall spoke to the media shortly after the team arrived in Glendale, Arizona for Tuesday's game against the Coyotes.
“It’s a tough day for everyone. It makes everyone look in the mirror. Everyone shares responsibility. We wouldn’t be doing this interview right now if we were winning and doing our jobs the best that we could,” Hall began.
“We haven’t been putting wins on the board, that’s fairly obvious. When that happens someone inevitably is going to take the fall and unfortunately that had to be Dallas today.”
The left winger was asked how much things change now that Craig MacTavish -- the team's general manager -- steps behind the bench to start.
“I think everyone is going to be on watch for sure. It’s going to be very interesting to see how well we play. I have a feeling we’re going to come out real hard and everyone is going to be trying to impress the brass.”
Hall talked about feeling like the team let down Coach Eakins.
“I feel a lot of pain for him because I know how much he cared about the group and I know how much we cared about him. We didn’t get it done for him and now with Craig — and eventually Todd — being here. Everyone’s gotta play better. Myself included. I haven’t been nearly as good as I can be.”
Oilers forward and alternate captain Jordan Eberle talked about the team's new interim head coach Todd Nelson and his history with him.
“Todd is a very smart guy. I know he watches all our games in OKC and having him in training camp and having him in the American League for half a season, he knows how to get the most out of players. He’s smart, he’s a very friendly guy off the ice and knows when to get on guys too,” Eberle stated.
“Having a new face and MacT back there will change things a bit but at the end of the day it comes down to us. They can only put the guys out there and we have to perform.”
Eberle echoed Taylor Hall's thoughts that the team feels responsible for Eakins' job loss.
“It’s tough. I think any time you lose your head coach you feel responsible as a team and as a player. It’s obviously not his fault, it’s deeper than that. It goes towards our team and our performance.
“We take a lot of responsibility as individuals in this locker room and we definitely feel like we let him down.”
Eberle was asked whether it was time to break up the core or even if he felt it would be good to move on. He was very quick to say how much loved being an Oiler and playing in Edmonton.
“I love playing in Edmonton. I would never want to leave here. Performance wise, I haven’t played my best and I know everyone in that locker room feels the same way,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve even touched the surface of where we can get to.
“The only thing we can do moving forward is play as hard as we can, and improve.”
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.
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.
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.