The Edmonton Oilers are hoping to utilize the young talent they’ve got on their roster to end a playoff drought that’s lasted since 2006. With that, they’ve also added an experienced Assistant Coach in Craig Ramssay.
Ramsay commented on coming to Edmonton and helping the team become competitive again in a phone interview shortly following the announcement.
“We all know there’s been tough times. But they’ve developed some nice hockey players and some good kids. They had a great feeling about where they were as an organization and they believed that there’s a good, strong future. I’ve had to rebuild a few places and it’s a challenge, it’s hard and you’ve got to keep a strong mental attitude, you’ve got to stay positive, you’ve got to keep convincing the kids that they’re going to be successful and that it might not happen tomorrow. It doesn’t happen because you just suddenly want it. It happens because you’re committed to it.
“I know Dallas (Eakins) is committed. He was a committed player, he’s a committed coach and Kevin (Lowe) and Craig MacTavish are good, solid people and that’s the thing that really turned me on to this position.”
At the close of a difficult season for the Edmonton Oilers, Head Coach Dallas Eakins spoke to the players and made a promise to do everything in his power to improve the team. That includes a challenge to the players, while Eakins looks to improve himself and the staff around him.
The Oilers announced the hiring of the experienced Craig Ramsay as Assistant Coach on Tuesday.
“I really felt it was a necessity,” Eakins said on Oilers Now. “The one thing that I spoke to the players at the end of the season was I challenged them to find a way to come into this season to be better. How could they improve, how could they make the people next to them better, how could they make our organization better and I stood in front of them and told them that I will not leave any stone unturned this summer improving myself. If I thought there could be improvements to the staff or the way we would do things, I would do that. I’m upholding my end of the bargain. I think this will help our group.”
Craig Ramsay has been around the NHL block. After a long playing career with the Buffalo Sabres, Ramsay broke into the coaching ranks following retirement. He has made stops in seven cities in either an assistant, associate or head coaching capacity.
His next stop is Edmonton, where he was named as the team’s new assistant coach on Tuesday.
Even after a long career, Ramsay still brings a new-age approach to the game. It is one of the many reasons the Oilers wanted to bring him in.
“I think that’s why he’s so well-respected,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “He’s up-to-date, he’s a sought after coach and when we got into the talks, the thing that really struck me with him was how aggressive he likes to see the game played. That is something that we want to take another step at. It fits right in with my philosophy and the way we’re going. A lot of times when you pick up a much older coach, it’s that same-old defensive way of playing and that’s not the case with Craig. Craig wants to play an extremely aggressive game, an exciting game and if you’re watching the NHL playoffs that’s what is going on now.”
In addition to his up-to-date philosophies, it is also his teaching abilities that are expected to make an impact in Edmonton.
“His teaching abilities are incredible,” Eakins said. “That’s something that with our group that we greatly need. His dealings with the players are very personal, a lot of one-on-one interaction which I think is extremely important. It turned into an easy decision with the other candidates that were out there.”
With the Edmonton Oilers announcing the hiring of Craig Ramsay as Assistant Coach on Tuesday, there will also be some shuffling of the previous staff. Kelly Buchberger’s transition into player personnel was announced along with the press release.
Head Coach Dallas Eakins was on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer shortly following the announcement and provided an update on where the staff stands with Ramsay on board.
“Those are tough decisions,” Eakins said. “Not only for myself in trying to improve our team by adding somebody experienced like Craig Ramsay but it’s decisions too by Craig (MacTavish) and by Kelly. I believe I’m not speaking out of turn, that this is something that Kelly had been looking at before. It’s never an easy thing but when changes are made it turns into opportunity with new jobs and I believe that’s how Kelly is looking at this.”
Eakins also said that Steve Smith is someone who may be shifting roles.
"Steve is an excellent coach and he is somebody that we’re in discussions with now with a new role and it's something that he’s going to have to consider.”
The Edmonton #Oilers have hired Craig Ramsay as an Assistant Coach; Kelly Buchberger transitions into new role in Player Personnel.— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) June 10, 2014
Ramsay is a former player, drafted in the second round in 1971 by the Buffalo Sabres. He played 14 seasons in the NHL (1971-1985), all with the Sabres. He appeared in 776 consecutive games (1973-1983), which is the fourth longest consecutive games streak in NHL history.
He won the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 1985.
In 1987, Ramsay became an assistant on the Sabres staff and later served as interim head coach. He also served in a role as the team’s director of player personnel and assistant general manager.
After breaking into coaching with Buffalo, Ramsay moved on to stops with the Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, Atlanta Thrashers and back to the Florida Panthers.
He has been a head coach with the Sabres (interim), the Flyers, and most recently with the Thrashers in 2010-11.
Ramsay has nearly 40 years of NHL experience as a player and coach.
Captain Andrew Ference will make history on Saturday as he becomes the first Oiler to participate in the city’s pride parade.
Ference will be marching in the parade alongside Camp fYerfly (Canada’s only national leadership retreat for sexual and gender minority youth), representing the ‘You Can Play’ team. The purpose of ‘You Can Play’ is to eradicate homophobia in sports. Ference has been a major advocate for the YCP campaign, which lainched in March of 2012 and officially partnered with the NHL and NHLPA in April of 2013.
“You Can Play has fundamentally changed the way the NHL players think and act,” Ference told Global News.
“We understand the important role we can play in ending discrimination within sports and society…When we work, play and live together without discrimination it makes our entire community stronger and more productive.”
The parade begins at noon, follows 102nd Ave and marches past City Hall. More celebrations will be held at Winston Churchill Square.
Since his return to his hometown team last summer, Ference has been very active in the community, from his green initiatives teaming up with Mayor Don Iveson, to his own personal composting, to spearheading a local drop-in fitness initiative called November Project, which he brought with him from Boston.
Jenny Scrivens, wife of Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens, will also be participating in the parade.
There were not many changes to TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button’s ‘Craig’s List’ this week. Button posts his rankings of the top draft-eligible players.
Once again, Kootenay centre Sam Reinhart tops the rankings for the seventh time. Barrie Colts defenceman Aaron Ekblad takes second while Kingston centre Sam Bennett and Prince Albert centre Leon Draisaitl round out the top four. The top four have remained the same from Button’s previous list.
Button had a couple of players shoot up his list from the previous rankings as Calgary Hitmen defenceman Travis Sanheim moved from 23 to eighth overall. Russian centre Vladislav Kamenev moved from 25 to 12.
The Oilers currently hold the third overall pick in the first round.
Click here to see Button's full list
The Oklahoma City Barons have agreed to terms with forward Matthew Ford on a one-year American Hockey League contract for the 2014-15 season, the team announced today.
“I loved everything about Oklahoma City, starting with the organization,” Ford said of his time with the team during the 2013-14 season. “It’s really a first-class operation from the coaches, players, and a big part of that, is the fan support.”
Ford, 29, played in 73 games for the Barons last season and registered 47 points with 25 goals and 22 assists. He was fourth on the team in total points and led Oklahoma City in goals (25), games played (73) and power-play goals (12). Ford also tied for the team lead in multi-goal games with three two-goal outings on the year.
“We’re going to have a lot of second-year guys that will help us get back to how we were playing in the second half of this past season,” Ford said. “We started peaking around playoff time last year, and we’ll have some pieces to put together down the road, but I like the group we have. This organization likes to win, and we want to make the playoffs.”
Ford has spent the time in the AHL in each of his six professional seasons with Oklahoma City, Hartford, Lake Erie, Hershey, Adirondack and Springfield. He was drafted in the eighth round (256th overall) by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. Ford played four years (2005-08) at the University of Wisconsin, where the Badgers won the 2006 NCAA Championship.
That doesn’t mean he has forgotten where he’s come from. Draisaitl is hoping to one day be the type of German player who inspires younger children in his home country to take up hockey.
“German players don’t come along very often,” he said. “We just don’t have the best development. I don’t like saying it. I’m proud to be German but I think it’s important for German hockey to have (good German players) so kids have guys to look up to. I want to be that same type of guy that maybe makes younger guys in Germany play hockey because I’m proud to be German and I want to make the country proud and make as many kids play hockey as possible.”
Draisaitl skated for Germany at the 2014 IIHF World Championships earlier this month in Minsk, Belarus.
The media and public has made a lot about the group known as the ‘Fantastic Four’ which heads into the draft as the so-called top tier players. That list includes defenceman Aaron Ekblad, along with centres Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart and Leon Draisaitl. However, Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr says some of that has to do with media hype and things could change depending on team needs.
“There’s a lot of hype there,” Marr said. “The NHL scouts and teams aren’t going to tell you what they really think. But that’s why they play the games and that’s why we see what happens there. There’s nothing to say that one of the Europeans couldn’t slide up in there or Michael Dal Colle couldn’t slide up in there. But I know to try and predict the order is an exercise in futility. At the top end there they’re going to get good players, it’ll just be what that team is looking for in a player.”