|Thursday's loss to Minnesota was a heartbreaking one for the Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club). |
I was a bit shocked last night when I wandered into the Oilers dressing room a few minutes after it opened to the media following last night's loss to Minnesota. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn't what I ended up witnessing.
You see, I think most Oilers fans probably left last night's game pretty happy with what they had seen. The team was dominant for a great portion of the game, showed improvement on special teams and in face-off's and, probably most importantly, displayed a showcase of the youthful skill that will lead the team into the future. It was a loss, but a hopeful loss...a loss with promise.
That was my mentality walking into the room last night and, though I know every man in that room is as much aware of the "process" as anyone else, I can tell you that none of them were nearly as pleased with the loss as I was. I sensed it was more disappointment than anything else, knowing that a poor start had cost them and frustrated that the clock ran out on them after 55 minutes of tilted ice in their favour.
So, for all the talk amongst the public about being patient through losses, or even picking up another high draft pick, it’s evident that any acceptance of losing hasn’t crept its way inside that dressing room. THOUGHTS FROM THE PODIUM
|Head Coach Tom Renney |
As the year progressed last season, one of the intriguing things on a nightly basis was waiting to see what Pat Quinn would say after yet another loss. Whether it was referring to a defense pairing as “tweedle-dee and tweedle-dumb” or very directly saying that his team was “sucking the hind banana”, Quinn was always good for a quote.
In a year that started with a new coaching staff, a new goaltender, a chase at a high-priced scorer and on down the line, the group was expected to win. As we know, that didn’t happen, and the emotions following a loss always flowed freely from the head coach. This season, with Tom Renney, it’s a different situation and a different approach with the media.
I’m not sure I can recall Tom Renney calling out or otherwise being hard on one of his players yet this year. Granted, we’re only 5 games into the season, but it’s clear that the coaching is erring on the side of giving his players a break, at least publicly. Andrew Cogliano has zero points? His overall game is improved. Tom Gilbert isn’t physical enough? That’s ok, he engages in other ways. The power play only generated 7 shots in 13 minutes and went 2 for 10? That’s 2 pucks across the line, mates.
Any question asked by the media that implies a shortcoming is acknowledged, and promptly responded to with a turn of phrase that inspires confidence in the player or unit in under examination.
Instead of giving you yet another blurb from a media guy talking about how fantastic Taylor Hall
was last night (he was), the fact that it was a breakout game (it was) or something of the sort, allow me to instead pass a long a story involving the recent top pick.
Some of you may already know the story, but once upon a time, Taylor Hall
had a Twitter account. An honest to goodness, legitimate, straight from the fingers of #4 in 140 characters, Twitter account. That was, at least, until one night in Penticton during rookie camp when some loudmouth radio guy got ahold of the idea and ruined it for everyone.
I was at dinner one night after a game with a bunch of media types, including a couple of Oilers staffers. Over the course of the dinner conversation, it was mentioned that Taylor Hall
had a Twitter account that they had been given the go ahead to promote. One suggested that I throw it out to my Twitter following to kickstart the inevitable rush of "followers". Of course, always being quick to pull out the Blackberry and tweet, I put the word out. An hour or so later, the account was gone.
Fast forward to the next morning after the Oilers practice. Before going out to the beach to spend some time with Gene Principe (for a story...I think), Taylor walks up to me. "So, I guess you posted it, eh? My phone blew up." Not literally, of course. But close. You see, his account had been set to a setting that automatically delivered him a message every time he received a new follower. By my count, that would have been about 500 in about 60 minutes.
Anxious to actually sleep without being incessantly bothered by noises from his phone, Hall decided the fastest way to silence the noise was just to hit "delete" on his account. By the next day, he decided Tweeting probably wasn't for him anyway and opted not to renew an account, leaving interactive Oilers fans to curse the loudmouth radio guy who ruined the fun.