The Edmonton Oilers are on to their 4th coach in 5 years with Dallas Eakins. And with a 4th coach, a 4th system of play.
This shouldn't be a major news flash to anybody but the Oilers have not been a good team in any one of those seasons. So why are we still blaming still insistent on blaming the coach and the system for the failings of this team? Has Dallas Eakins been as good of a coach as Tom Renney? No, I don't think anyone can make that argument to date, but the fact is Steve Tambelini thought he knew better and fired him 2 years ago, replacing him with Ralph Kreuger. This was a big mistake and Ralph Kreuger was a poor choice to make the Head Coach at that stage. Kreuger was put in a bad situation from the beginning and never got the chance to succeed when Tambelini was fired as GM. I still have no problem with MacT making Dallas Eakins the coach.
Many people have criticized Eakins on twitter claiming his Swarm Defense to be flawed for this team. From where I stand this team has been through 4 different systems and has yet to succeed at any of them and it's because of that, that I simply cannot blame the system.
From what I have seen this season, you cannot properly evaluate the system when the system has yet to be properly executed, the players are not losing battles, they are avoiding battles. The system calls for the team to play a basic defense seen in every game of hockey, then once the play goes around the boards the opposition player needs to be pinned and held up long enough for an extra players to come down in support and retrieve the puck, thus stopping the cycle and regaining possession. If this was a matter of players failing to successfully pin the opposition and lose those initial 1 on 1 battles, then the argument of a flawed system would have merit, but that's not what I see happening. I don't see that initial contact even being made. Guys are flat out avoiding those battles and avoiding the contact all together and that's if the standard defensive play hasn't broken down first. Not only that but I have a very hard time believing that this team is too small to play this system since it is designed to out number the opposition on the puck as quickly as possible. The simple, harsh fact is very few players on this team seem to want to make that contact and that is simply unacceptable.
I don't care what system you are playing, you have to be able to play that standard defense properly and you HAVE to be willing to make contact with the opposition. Even teams with low hit totals such as the Detroit Red Wings or Chicago Blackhawks make contact with the opposition simply by getting between them and the puck.
When it boils right down to it the system has not failed, because it has not had a chance to fail, simply coming up with a new system will be no guarantee that the team will buy into that system and from a quick review of history they never bought into the 4 previous systems so we should have no reason to believe they'll buy into a 6th one. The important thing here will be for the Oilers to finally buck up and buy in. Until they do that it's useless to change to a new system until they finally give one a shot.
The players need to realize that the team system is not designed to best suit anyone player, it's about working best as a team and until this is realized it is exactly like Smid said the other day, things WILL get worse and guys WILL get traded, plain and simple.