A Dozen Thoughts on the State of The Oilers

1. The fact that Andrew Ference was named captain by Dallas Eakins wasn't necessarily a bad choice, but I'm curious what message it sends to the players on the team to bring in a new guy and name him captain a few weeks later. Taking nothing away from Ference, what it tells me is that no one else on the team was ready to lead.

2. While on the topic of captaincy, I wonder what would have happened if the players had been allowed to make a democratic decision in choosing their locker room leaders.

3. Still on captaincy; did Taylor Hall get his jock-strap in a bunch over not being awarded the ‘C'. More importantly, is it still in a bunch? I hope five years from now he'll look back, with more maturity, on being passed over as a good thing.

4. Are Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov "system" players, or should they be allowed the freedom to play outside of a solid micro-system that is employed by three or four other players whose sole focus is to "back-up" and support the higher level of talent in Hall and Yakupov?

5. Dallas Eakins has done some curious things in the "team building" department. The military jacket is certainly one. Described by its first recipient, David Perron, this way, "It's just Dallas handed it to me . . . I guess hard worker of the night or whatever it is". WOW, so much passion and meaning behind Perron's words.

6. It seems that the military jacket (player of the game award) has special meaning to Eakins, but may not translate to the players on the team. Eakins said "I was looking for something for our team, something that meant something. You know every team's got something for their player of the game and I really wanted ours to mean something." Does it mean anything to the players?

7. Maybe I misinterpreted, but the player of the game jacket will only be awarded after victories. I'm curious what message that sends to the players. I get that players should be rewarded for wins, but winning is a reward on its own. I don't get not recognizing valuable contributions even when you lose.

8. Another curious "team building" tactic -- the secret thing that all players must carry and be able to present when challenged to do so by a team mate. What happens if no one "buys" the whole premise and no one does any challenging?

9. What is the role of a coach in terms of team building? Is it counterintuitive to impose activities on the players and expect them to buy-in - or punish them if they don't?

10. Should a coach lean on the players who are natural leaders to do their bidding for them in creating a positive and healthy environment in the locker room?

11. Should team building be player-driven? Perhaps tell the players they need to come up with a meaningful award and let them come up with it on their own. Seems to me that the more the players are told what to do and have structure created for them, the less they feel like it's their team.

12. If the little team-building things that Eakins has implemented seem contrived and kind of silly to me, do the players feel the same way? Does it matter? I think it does.

Somewhere in Europe, Ralph Krueger is watching this unfold with morbid curiosity and a ton of inside knowledge. I'd love to interview him right now.

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