Oilers GM: Painful process of rebuilding 'necessary to get to next level'
Craig MacTavish tried to grab a hold on a snowballing state of affairs surrounding his Edmonton Oilers on Friday.
The club's general manager held court in front of reporters for 30 minutes, addressing the state of a club that finds itself in the midst of an 11-game losing streak and once again at the bottom of the NHL standings.
MacTavish began the proceedings by saying no one in Edmonton is satisfied with how the season has gone so far, but qualified that by adding he does see some measure of improvement from the team on the ice, despite what the standings might suggest.
He confirmed that a coaching change is not forthcoming, putting the onus on the players to execute on the ice at critical moments.
While the overall frustration surround the team stems from years of rebuilding with seemingly little forward progress, MacTavish maintained there's no easy answers or quick fixes to be found.
"As painful as this process is, we feel that it's a necessary step to get us to the next level," he said. "We're behind in our timeline. We understand the frustration of our fans. We understand the frustration of everyone surrounding the team ... but the plan has not changed for us."
While rumors abound in terms of possible trade scenarios, MacTavish acknowledged some measure of change is necessary. However, he appears unwilling to break up a young core made up of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle, and admitted to not being satisfied with offers being received from GM's around the league.
"I know we're all getting close to reaching our choke point, but that doesn't mean we're going to punt out our three best players," he said. "What I think I have now is a group capable of growth. They're still developing and it's taking time for them to become dominant."
As such, MacTavish contends he's not willing to make a stop-gap or short-sighted move to prop the team up this season.
He also pointed to Edmonton's failure to draft impact players outside the first round of the NHL Draft in recent years – while also citing the fact he's only been on the job for 20 months – stating those swings and misses have undermined what the club is attempting to accomplish in terms of building a balanced, deep roster.
Near the end of the press conference, MacTavish allowed his emotions to bubble to the surface.
"We're all frustrated," he said. "I'm pissed off. Nobody lives it more than me. And our fans are pissed off."
Finally, MacTavish reiterated the reality that every aspect of the organization – management, coaching, personnel – is under scrutiny. At the end of the day, however, his hands are relatively tied as the club waits for the core players to bloom into bona fide NHL stars while exhibiting the kind of competitiveness that the situation requires in an atmosphere of increased accountability.
Edmonton's next game is Sunday at home against the San Jose Sharks.
Your move, players.