After a little break, we’re back taking your questions. Thanks to those who sent one (or more) in.
Adam, what players do you think the Oilers must acquire or trade to become a playoff team again?
Kyle Pazi, Edmonton
I don’t think you can point to one or two players and say they are the only thing Edmonton needs to break their current cycle and wind up in the playoffs. For the Oilers, turning the corner is about their young stars continuing to mature and surrounding them with the right type of veterans. Craig MacTavish has tried to do that to a degree this summer with the acquisitions of Andrew Ference, Boyd Gordon, David Perron and Jason LaBarbera and I think that’s a good start.
More than anything, the Oilers need a strong campaign from goalie Devan Dubnyk, improvement from sophomore NHL defenseman Justin Schultz and their slew of talented forwards. To that end, the hiring of new coach Dallas Eakins will be a big plus, but again, the main onus is on the players who already are there. No outside influence other than Sidney Crosby is going to take this team to the post-season.
Is Mike Babcock the best coach in the NHL? I can't wait for HBO 24/7.
Joe Willson, Coral Springs, Fla.
As far as I’m concerned – and this isn’t a cop-out – there is no single NHL bench boss who stands out above the rest. That’s not to slag Babcock or anyone else. It’s a recognition that (a) a coach often is only as good as the players he’s been given; (b) expectations of success differ for each coach; and (c) Scotty Bowman retired in 2002.
For proof, look at last season’s winner of the Jack Adams Award. I’m not suggesting Sens coach Paul MacLean was undeserving; indeed, he was my first choice. But you definitely could have made a case for any number of other candidates, including Babcock, Chicago’s Joel Quenneville, Anaheim’s Bruce Boudreau and Montreal’s Michel Therrien. All of those men faced different challenges and delivered positive results.
And really, while Babcock – who will pass Pat Burns for all-time playoff wins by a coach if the Wings make it to the second round of the post-season – has yet to win the award, I think that says all that needs to be said about the imperfections of the coaching recognition system.
With Daniel Alfredsson leaving Ottawa after a long-term career with the team it got me thinking of how rare it is for players to play with one team their whole career. Besides team success, what makes Detroit able to keep so many players for their whole career and snatch away other players from playing their entire career with the same team?
Joseph Ierfino, Newmarket, Ont.
No offense, but you can’t ask a question like that and then say “besides team success” because team success absolutely is the chief driver of players gravitating to the Wings. Yes, the organization treats them very well on and off the ice, but a number of NHL teams do the same. Players want to put themselves in the best position to win a Stanley Cup and when you look at win records and playoff games played for the past two decades, it’s clear which team provides the best opportunity to do so.
That said, there are natural advantages the Wings can lean on in recruiting. Detroit is a hockey market, but doesn’t have the same media contingent that, say, a Canadian market does. It’s easier to fade into the background in Michigan and that matters to a fair percentage of publicity-averse NHLers. And their ownership always is willing to spend to the salary cap ceiling, which is part of the reason Alfredsson came to the organization.
But you shouldn’t fool yourself into thinking Wings management has some secret mind-bending influence on players. They don’t. It has everything to do with Ws and Ls – and Detroit has far more of one of those letters than the other.
Ask Adam appears Fridays on THN.com. Ask your question on our submission page. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Adam on Twitter at @ProteauType.