THE TEAM TODAY: 'Accountability'
Oilers players talk about the appointment of Craig MacTavish as GM after practice
'ACCOUNTABILITY'EDMONTON - The Edmonton Oilers practiced at Rexall Place in preparation for Tuesday's game against the Minnesota Wild but all the focus in the dressing room after practice was on the management changes made by the organization.
"We just caught it before we went out on the ice so we didn't really have a ton of time to take it in. But I've had success with MacT on a personal live as a coach. We've had success as a team also with him and I've got a lot of respect for him," began Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff.
"Obviously when you come out as a team like we are and the record that we've had in the past few years, there's always going to be some sort of changes. Tamby was good to all of us and did his best but like I said, when you have the record that you have a lot of times it's inevitable."
Horcoff added that there needs to be a shared responsibility on the players' behalf for what occurred today with Tambellini.
"Tamby did a lot of good things here. As players, we have a lot of respect for him. It's unfortunate when you have the record you do that there's always going to be fallout, whether it's players. The responsibility will trickle down not just from his position but down onto the players where it belongs."
With seven games left, Horcoff felt that it's now an opportunity for the players to show that they do belong on this team as the club heads into the offseason.
"Obviously there's some areas in this club that need to be addressed but as players you have to go out there every night and try to prove that wrong. That's our responsibility. We can't control what's going on above us."
Ryan Smyth echoed Horcoff's comments but also added that he was looking forward to seeing the organization move forward with MacTavish as GM.
"I've had him as a coach and the guy is a very knowledgeable man. He's a guy that really thinks things through and I think he'll be great for this organization going forward," said Smyth. "I know he knows what this is all about right now with the youth and everything that's gone on. I'm really happy for him."
Oilers head coach Ralph Krueger had some thoughts on the organizational moves as well.
"I enjoyed my time with Steve Tambellini. In the last three seasons, he was somebody who taught me a lot of things about the NHL," he said. "My job here is to coach the team and get them ready for Minnesota tomorrow and continue on. A day like today is part of the business but I'm grateful for that time period I had with him and back to work."
"You can't have passion if you don't see a clear goal. We had a clear goal here to be in the playoff race to the end and try to make the playoffs. It's something we spoke about very, very clearly since the middle of January," said Krueger. "When that goal slips away you lose your motivation and temporarily we were caught in a vacuum there without being able to find the buttons to push. We're working on that really hard right now."
"I'm not looking for any excuses here but I'm just saying that we strived very, very hard. We asked ourselves multiple times during the season whether we wanted to be a playoff contender. We answered it with yes and we stopped being able to do that after the five-game winning streak. I think the disappointment in that is deflating and it is human to be deflated when something you've reached hard for is falling away."
LANDER AND HARTIKAINEN CALLED UP
The Oilers also announced today that they have called up Anton Lander and Teemu Hartikainen. Both players played yesterday for the Barons in a 4-0 win over Hamilton and arrived at Rexall Place this morning but did not skate with the team.
"I'll be going over all of that after this. It's been a tumultuous morning here. We're going to look over it," said Krueger. "We want to have very honest, competitive pressure in this lineup right to the end, whenever the season does end. We think that they deserve to be here in the mix right now and we want to bring them into the game tomorrow."
Hartikainen has picked up 10 points in his last eight games with the Barons with a +7 rating. Lander was only recently reassigned to OKC and has a goal in those two games.
Coach Krueger said that he would decide in the morning who would sit in favour of the two Barons forwards.
"We'll bring clarity tomorrow," he said. "There's a lot of changes that have happened around right now that I can't really speak about."
Lander has 20 points on the season with the Barons in 47 games but nine of those points have come in his last five contests.
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com