Pressure falls on Oilers players as owner defends MacTavish

With a five-word text message, Edmonton Oilers’ owner Darryl Katz took the heat off embattled coach Craig MacTavish Thursday and put it directly on his players.

EDMONTON — With a five-word text message, Edmonton Oilers’ owner Darryl Katz took the heat off embattled coach Craig MacTavish Thursday and put it directly on his players.

Katz’s unequivocal vote of confidence for MacTavish was delivered by way of text message to Bob Stauffer, the team’s radio analyst and pre-game show co-host with 630 CHED, before a 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

It read: “MacT is not going anywhere.”

With six losses in the last seven games and their Western Conference playoff hopes fading fast with four games remaining, Katz’s message has resonated through the dressing room.

“The onus is always on us,” said captain Ethan Moreau. “We always put a lot of pressure on ourselves to perform.

“We don’t make any excuses. We don’t blame anything on coaching or injuries or media or the fans. If you’re professional, you’re accountable in the room and you take responsibility for all your team’s shortcomings.”

MacTavish discussed his future Wednesday, in the context of what missing the playoffs for a third straight year could mean to him, amid speculation he’ll be fired or step down at the end of the season. MacTavish said then he wasn’t afraid of losing his job.

The Oilers sat in seventh place two weeks ago, but their untimely slide has them at 36-33-9 for 81 points — four points behind the eighth-place St. Louis Blues.

“You’ve got to deal with the disappointment,” MacTavish said. “There’s plenty of heartache in this game, as we can see first-hand. You’ve got to dust yourself off and get yourself ready to play.

“I don’t know any other way. You just wake up and you get grinding and you try to do what you can to turn the result around.”

When the subject of MacTavish’s future was raised again on the team’s pre-game show Thursday, Katz felt compelled to send the text message, making it clear it was for public consumption.

“He said he was extremely disappointed and somewhat frustrated with the fact we’re in the middle of a playoff race and all the discussion and focus was on the future of our head coach,” said president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe.

“He found that somewhat odd. He just wanted to suppress that once and for all. It’s as simple as that.”

Players interviewed Thursday echoed the sentiment expressed by Moreau: the onus to produce and push for a playoff spot, however remote the likelihood of getting in is, falls on them.

“I don’t listen to a lot of what’s going on, but I heard about what happened last night,” said Kyle Brodziak. “I think everyone agrees, why is the talk about that (MacTavish)? Ultimately, it’s not the coach who is on the ice, it’s the players.

“We have a game plan to stick to. If we’re not sticking to that game plan, whose fault is that? We have a job to do out there and when we’re not executing the way we should, it should fall on the players. That’s the bottom line.”

MacTavish said in pre-season he expected the Oilers to be in contention for the Northwest Division title, but they’ve spent the entire season just above, or below, the playoff cutline.

Just Posted

Lee seeks UCP nomination in Red Deer

Eyes Red Deer-North constituency

Updated Red Deer smoke free bylaw to ban smoking cannabis in public

Smoke Free Bylaw returns to Red Deer city council Sept. 4

Red Deer city council considers new business licence bylaw

All businesses operating in the City of Red Deer will require a… Continue reading

Saskatchewan farmer’s death triggers emotional harvest of love and respect

MILESTONE, Sask. — Volunteers have rallied to harvest the large wheat crop… Continue reading

Councillors want to represent Red Deer at AUMA

City council approves endorsement

WATCH: Medicine River Wildlife Centre opens new playground

The grand opening of the playground was Saturday morning

Animal crackers break out of their cages

After more than a century behind bars, the beasts on boxes of… Continue reading

Alligator kills woman trying to protect her dog at resort

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — A woman who often walked her dog… Continue reading

Patients redirected as water leak shuts down Edmonton hospital’s emergency room

EDMONTON — Ambulances are being redirected to other hospitals after a water… Continue reading

Parks Canada moves second bison bull that wandered out of Banff National Park

BANFF — Parks Canada says a second bison bull that wandered out… Continue reading

Lottery for parent sponsorship to be replaced, more applications to be accepted

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is scrapping an unpopular lottery system for… Continue reading

Air Canada-led consortium signs deal to buy Aeroplan program from Aimia

TORONTO — A consortium led by Air Canada has reached a deal… Continue reading

Scheer going to India to ‘repair’ relationship after ‘disastrous’ Trudeau trip

OTTAWA — Six months after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy prowess… Continue reading

Police chiefs want new data-sharing treaty with U.S. as privacy questions linger

OTTAWA — Canada’s police chiefs are pressing the Trudeau government to sign… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month