Oilers coach focusing on mental game

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers began training camp with physicals Thursday, but head coach Todd McLellan said it’s the mental part of the game that is going to be key this season. “We are going to have to get mentally stronger,” McLellan told reporters at Rexall Place. “Our point where we succumb to the score or (to) the opposition has to get pushed a lot further, a lot longer. “There’s going to be some tough times. There will be some days where it’s not going real well. And I’ll be really interested to see the group during those moments.”

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers began training camp with physicals Thursday, but head coach Todd McLellan said it’s the mental part of the game that is going to be key this season.

“We are going to have to get mentally stronger,” McLellan told reporters at Rexall Place. “Our point where we succumb to the score or (to) the opposition has to get pushed a lot further, a lot longer.

“There’s going to be some tough times. There will be some days where it’s not going real well. And I’ll be really interested to see the group during those moments.”

McLellan, in his first year behind the Edmonton bench, inherits a team that has not made the playoffs for nine consecutive seasons, consistently finishing so deep in the NHL standings it has landed the top draft pick four of the last six years.

The Oilers’ core group of forwards — Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle — has known nothing but failure at the pro level.

McLellan said the issue is not about failing, but bouncing back from the inevitable failure.

“Mentally strong teams have poor patches during the season. It’s an automatic thing. But they come out of it quick, they come out of it confident. They go back to their foundation and basics.

“The weaker teams tend to stay in it a little bit longer.

“The pushback thing is a big thing for me, the mental strength to keep going. Get through the crap, if you will, when it’s not going well.”

The Oilers won 24 games for 62 points last season, good for 28th place, which then led to a successful lottery leap to draft teen phenom Connor McDavid with the first pick.

Edmonton goaltender Ben Scrivens, who will battle newcomer Cam Talbot for the top job in camp, said the losing can knock players off their game.

“There were tough lessons that I learned last year … trying to do a little bit too much, which comes when you care about the results,” said Scrivens.

“Sometimes it leads you down the wrong path where now you’re worrying (about) things that are out of your control.”

This spring the Oilers overhauled their organization. There’s a new general manager (Peter Chiarelli), new coaching staff, and a new scouting staff along with a number of new players like defencemen Andrej Sekera, Griffin Reinhart and Eric Gryba.

But McLellan said there’s no magic wand.

“We still have 75 to 80 per cent of the players from last year’s group that were not capable of getting it done. There’s some big changes play-wise and commitment-wise that (have) to happen.”

The X-factor is McDavid and how quickly the young centre with the otherworldly offensive skills can begin bending the league to his will.

Scrivens urged fans to temper expectations.

“He’s obviously going to be a phenomenal player for a long time in this league, but you can’t expect him to do everything overnight,” said Scrivens.

McLellan said McDavid’s outsized fan following is just a fact of life with the new Oilers.

“If you could put some truth serum in (McDavid) he probably just wants to be an 18-year-old and fit in like the rest of them, and doesn’t want to be treated special,” said McLellan.

“But when you have that skill set and you’ve had it that long, that environment is created.”

Just Posted

Cannabis legalization won’t impact one Red Deer pot dispensary

Nothing changes for Compass Cannabis Clinic in Red Deer despite legalization

Cannabis retail store will open later in October in Red Deer

Two cannabis stores coming to downtown Red Deer

Neighbours drop opposition to Red Deer County communications tower

Communication tower to be located in Balmoral Heights

Legal cannabis comes with many unknowns: Red Deer County councillors

Councillors question how rural municipalities will be able to enforce cannabis regulations

Kitten season puts pressure on Red Deer shelter

More public education needed to control cat population

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

‘Start low, go slow’: Experts walk bud beginners through cannabis 101

With the countdown to cannabis legalization Wednesday ticking towards 4-20, some novice… Continue reading

NHL stays with status quo as Canada pot legalization looms

As Riley Cote took and delivered countless punches over more than a… Continue reading

Paul Stanley: Kiss farewell tour could include ex-members

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — It won’t be all night, but former members… Continue reading

Judge tosses Stormy Daniels’ defamation suit against Trump

WASHINGTON — A federal judge dismissed Stormy Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against President… Continue reading

Canada open to growing trade with China now that USMCA is a done deal: PM

TORONTO — Canada is open to doing more business with China now… Continue reading

Pot shop raids “highly unlikely” on Wednesday: head of police chiefs

VANCOUVER — Police departments across Canada are fully prepared for marijuana legalization… Continue reading

Campers will be able to smoke cannabis at campsites in Canada’s national parks

Parks Canada says visitors should do their research on cannabis before going… Continue reading

U.S. pot firms urge Trump to deny Canadian producers’ ‘competitive advantage’

WASHINGTON — An American cannabis producer is warning President Donald Trump that… Continue reading

Most Read