Sticking Up For Holland in Edmonton

Holland doing a fine job in Edmonton. Red Dutton Book. Coyotes Arena Update. The latest on Eichel.

It's easy for critics -- including The Athletic -- to stick verbal bayonets into Ken Holland and his orchestration of the Oilers.

After all, Edmonton is top-heavy with talent once you look at what Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have accomplished in the past couple of years.

Some critics would say that the McD and D double-dip is the best of its kind in the universe whether the Maple Leafs want to admit it or not.

But once you get past The Gold Dust Twins, the Oilers roster lacks the substance that would get Alberta's darling team past the first round. 

Holland has done that -- build a playoff team -- but The Athletic doesn't think he's done a good enough job. Even the acquisition of Zach Hyman has not totally impressed them.

Well, there's at least one fella out there who does care. 

There's an old buddy of mine on the Edmonton Journal named David Staple. Man, oh, man, can he ever write and you'd love his column.

It's appropriately called The Cult of Hockey. He features some of the most brilliant prose that you'll find anywhere on the continent.

Staple read the Holland rip in The Athletic and responded with a very solid collection of insights. 

One of them is that players and their agents have amassed tremendous power -- call it leverage, if you will -- and can determine where a player can be placed. 

Or, not placed, such as Edmonton.

David points out that there are cities which -- agents and players -- figure to be avoided; Edmonton and Calgary among them in Canada and Buffalo and Detroit in the States.

Exhibit A would be defenseman Adam Larsson. He's now a member of the Seattle Kraken and some would say he was happy to view Edmonton -- very cold in winter -- via his rearview mirror.

Which means that for Holland to keep a valued player such as veteran Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Holland has to pay way more than the player is worth. That's the lure to retain him in Edmonton.

It also explains why Zach Hyman is getting way more than he's worth but, then again, the Oilers desperately need such a grit guy so now he's filthy rich.

According to The Athletic, the acquisition and deal given Hyman is beyond ridiculous but, again, Kenny was cornered by the dwindling market and even more dwindling attractiveness of Edmonton as a landing pad.

The one issue that ex-goalie Holland has not satisfactorily solved -- at least not yet -- is the one where neither McDavid nor Draisaitl can help since the Skating Scoring Machines can't play goal.

Neither Mikko Koskinen nor Mike Smith are what you'd call Vezina Trophy candidates although Smitty has done well for a senior citizen. Mikko, on the whole, is mediocre.

Perhaps, Hyman will play to his worth and the Oilers offense will compensate for the goals against. 

Holland has to hope as well as praying that McDavid and Draisaitl enjoy an injury-free season. 

Otherwise; it could be the Flames who turn out to be the only Alberta team to make the playoffs.

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Stan’s Java Jive

HEADLINES: A HOPEFUL ARENA MOVE BY THE COYOTES

THE JIVE: One way or another the Coyotes stay in Glendale is a lost cause and whether the club can remain in Gila River Arena beyond the upcoming season is a moot question. No question, the club wants to remain in Arizona and has targeted Tempe as the best burg in which to build an ice palace. 

With that in mind, the club has submitted a proposal to Tempe to build an arena on 46 acres. And that's fine plus the club reports that it's "excited" about the opportunity. So am I. But the trick is finding a place to play in Arizona while the new building is constructed. Perhaps Glendale will give the Yotes an extra year before giving them the boot. If not, a search will be on to find a Plan C. This much is certain, Commissioner Bettman is on record that he does not want the Coyotes to leave Arizona. Neither do I for that matter. (And I assume, neither does the state's pride and joy, Auston Matthews.)


HEADLINE: THE OBLIGATORY JACK EICHEL STORY

THE JIVE: As you know by now, there just has to be a a chapter in the Eichel Soap Opera on the average of every other day. And I'm happy to report that the Buffalo News has delivered. Now it's Eichel's teammate -- and my pal from Islanders days -- Kyle Okposo stepping up with a comment. 

"Everybody wants closure and answers on this," Okposo said, echoing what most of the civilized hockey world believes as well. The hook here is that Okposo is represented by Pat Brisson, Lord of the Hockey Agents. And so is Eichel. So, you'd have to think that Brisson, who recently replaced Eichel's previous reps, is working all angles to get a resolution and maybe he can.

Buffalo News' crack columnist Mike Harrington believes that Brisson "can do a lot" to unravel the Eichel-Sabres knot. Hey when you're the reigning rep -- with connections that no doubt extend to the Cocos Islands -- strings otherwise unavailable to ordinary agents can be pulled. 

Meanwhile, Eichel is rusting, not resting. Surgery for his herniated neck disk still has not been performed and who knows when that will happen. And nobody knows how long it will take to heal. 

One thing we will find out soon enough is what Brisson can accomplish that others haven't to resolves this mess. If Patty can do it, nobody can; unless it's a Matt Keator or a Mark Gandler or yet another reputable rep. (Figure: Chapter 52 in The Life And Hard Times of Jack Eichel will be ready in two days.)


HEADLINE: INTERESTING RED DUTTON BOOK IN THE WORKS

THE JIVE: Canadian author and military historian Susan Raby Dunne is writing a book about Hall of Fame defenseman Red Dutton. Dunne will be researching Dutton's experience in World War I (alias The Great War) as well as his hockey career and construction dynasty in Western Canada. 

Susan would welcome any hockey stories about the former Montreal Maroon and New York Americans defenseman and later coach and manager of the legendary Amerks. "I'm especially looking for little known vignettes," Dunne tells me.

Target date for publication is September 2022.  Sue can be reached at bonfire@xplornet.com. Or, P.O. Box 237, Longview, Alberta, Canada,

T0L 1H0. Being a longtime admirer of Dutton -- NHL President during World War II -- I can't wait to see Dunne's finished manuscript.