The Edmonton Oil Kings are struggling. Their recent games have been plagued by a variety of indicators that the team, as a whole, has take a step backwards.
The Oil Kings game against the Regina Pats was filled with penalties. The Pats were able to capitalize on the opportunities presented multiple times, but the Oil Kings continued their parade to the penalty box. The inability of the players and coaching staff to either reassess their strategy or control their tempers is disappointing. If there is a player who takes a selfish penalty (such as tripping the opposition in front of the referee because that player was beat to the puck), it is up to the coach to make it clear that sort of behaviour is unacceptable. If the coaching staff isn’t willing to have a player sit for a shift or two to reinforce a point, then the team will continue to take penalties they can’t afford. There are no consequences for the player, just the team. As players get more frustrated with losing, selfish and avoidable penalties will have to be dealt with.
Another sign the Oil Kings are regressing is the startling lack of on-ice communication. The lack of communication has lead to wild passes and incomplete plays in the last two Oil Kings game. The Oil Kings had a week between these games to improve their communication and tailor some plays to the opponent they would be facing. It looked like none of that had happened.
There has also been an increase in attempting the same type of plays shift after shift. Normally, this type of persistence might show a team comfortable or dependent on the systems their coaching staff had given them, but in this case the plays seem to be more like each player trying to do everything on their own. Unfortunately, one player trying to get around two or three opposition players generally doesn’t end well. When that happens again and again, it start to look like no one on the ice is playing a structured game or relying on their teammates to make something happen.
The repetition of doomed plays is another indicator that something is not connecting for the team. They are repeating the same set of mistakes shift after shift and game after game. It’s not just one player or line either. It’s the majority of the players.
The Oil Kings have also been losing veteran players to pursue other hockey opportunities. Two players leaving in under a month is worrisome. Is there something wrong in the locker room? Are the players dissatisfied or unhappy with the team for some reason? Losing players is definitely a step backwards for the Oil Kings. They are now a younger team than before and having to trade players to fill holes in their roster.
There are variety of reasons the Oil Kings could be regressing as a team. One of the most obvious is the team and Head Coach Steve Hamilton aren’t connecting properly. Whatever Hamilton seems to want his team to execute, it hasn’t been successful. The team isn’t either capable of carrying out the plan or are choosing to do something else. Neither situation speaks highly of Hamilton’s coaching abilities or connection with his team.
It might be time for the Oil Kings to make some changes in their coaching staff. This is supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Oil Kings. A coaching change might further hurt the Oil Kings in the short term, but this is supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Oil Kings. However, a coaching change may mean some much needs positive momentum for the Oil Kings as well.