Tuesday, January 1, 2008

MacTavish: Master or Moron?

Lately there have been a lot of calls for MacT's head, and if you go on to Oilfans you'd think that he's just the Devil in a nice suit. However, in past I've heard nothing but good things about him, and I've always found him to be a good coach with both experience and grit.

Admittedly he is not a coach who can turn any team into a playoff contender, he is not a "great" coach. However, he is hardly a bad one. I've looked at his stats (which, for some reason, I had to find on Wikipedia because neither NHL.com nor Behind The Net had coach's stats), and he seems to be relatively solid.

In his first season (2000-01), the Oilers had 93 points for second in the NW, and sixth in the conference, which gave them a playoff spot, which ended in a defeat at the hands of the Dallas Stars. This season, while nothing spectacular, can hardly be called a failure. The team itself that year could hardly be called a great one either, and I'd say he did a good job.

The next year his team had 92 points, third in the NW and ninth in the conference. Again, his team was mediocre and it could be argued that he needed to do more to influence better management, but as a coach I think he had an average season.

In 02-03, the Oilers finished fourth in the NW and eighth in the conference to sneak a playoff spot, and lost to Dallas again in the first round. I would say that this was his worst performance so far as Head Coach, because even though his team did slightly better than the year before by making the playoffs, they had the same number of points while having what I would consider to be a better team. Still, I would call this season a draw, although after going three seasons without any real improvement (and slight worsening), it's getting harder to defend him.

The next year, 03-04, found Edmonton out of the playoffs again after finishing with 89 points, fourth in the division and ninth in the conference. The team was probably one that should have been in the playoffs, but a lot of the better players who are now team leaders (Horc, Hemsky) were young and still finding a place in the system. I'll give him a pass this season, but he really should have done better.

04-05 was a depressing year, lost to the lockout.

In 2005-06, MacT had what can be considered his greatest achievement as a coach, taking the team to the SCF, Game 7. Still, he had good players to work with the whole year long who should have finished FAR higher than 8th in the conference. They underperformed for most of the season, and for that I have trouble calling this a good season.

Last year, it goes without saying that he did a bad job as coach of the Oilers. Leading the team to last in the division and only barely avoiding a lottery draft (which meant us losing a chance at Kane), it's clear he should have done SOMETHING. The team gave up after losing Smyth, and as coach he should have done something inspiring to get them back in gear, but he did not.

Over the course of his coaching career (as of the end of last year), his team played 475 games, had 221 wins, 176 regulation losses, 47 ties and 32 overtime losses. The teams he had to coach tended to be average to good, and his records tended to be average to poor. While over one or two seasons, that may not be too bad, the Oilers have been treading water ever since he joined. I think it's time we gave someone else a shot.

He is hardly evil incarnate, as many would seem to believe, but he has done nothing to earn our continued trust. While Lowe has actively hurt the Edmonton Oilers, MacT has simply been dead weight for far too long.

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