Pacific Division Notebook: How Do You Like Your Coffey?

Paul Coffey

Depending on how you look at things, the Edmonton Oilers could have just made a great move or the ‘Boys on The Bus’ are back at their old tricks in Northern Alberta. On Sunday morning, the Oilers officially named Hall of Fame defender Paul Coffey as a skills development coach for the organization.

The move, not surprisingly, was met with a lot of push-back from Oiler fans. On the face of it, this doesn’t seem like a big deal at all. When you look deeper, however, it is easy to see why Oiler fans would get worked up. Coffey was a 1980’s Edmonton Oiler and one of those boys on the bus. That group led the Oilers during their decade of darkness, where the team missed the NHL’s postseason ten straight times.

The failures of Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish in Edmonton, along with Wayne Gretzky’s failure in Arizona, has Oiler fans worried. When you factor in Coffey’s barren resume as a coach in hockey, it’s understandable. The last this the Oilers need to be doing is turning to the 80’s for answers.

All that being said, the Coffey hire really isn’t a big deal on the face of things. Coffey isn’t coming to Edmonton to make decisions, he’s not coming to town to even be on the bench. He’s going to be working with defenders all throughout the organization and help them develop into NHL players who can also help offensively. If that’s his role, I don’t see how it hurts the hockey club.

The interesting thing to me? This hire doesn’t add up for Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan. Regardless of what they say, this doesn’t seem like their hire. Is their an internal power struggle brewing in Edmonton? I’m starting to think there might just be.

George Parros Drops The Ball:

Have to say, I was very disappointed to see Dustin Brown get away with just a fine after his disgusting hit on Justin Schultz last Thursday night. The NHL can pretend they care about head shots all they want, but it is very tough to take them seriously when someone like Brown is allowed to get away with a hit like that.

It was a dangerous play that easily could have been avoidable, and a message should have been sent here. Brown isn’t someone with a clean record by any means, and I firmly believe he has lost the right to get the benefit of the doubt. If the NHL suspended Andrew Cogliano (rightfully), then Brown easily should have missed games.

The Kings got lucky keeping one of their beter forwards in the lineup, but it’s baffling how George Parros could let that slide. He’s taking a lot of heat, and rightfully so.

Duck Hunting:

Something has to give in Anaheim, no? The Ducks are finally healthy, but they still aren’t playing good hockey and are still on the outside of the playoff picture. Anaheim got absolutely crushed on Sunday night at home, losing 6-2 to the Sharks. As we approach the deadline, Bob Murray is going to face some very tough questions about what he should do with this group.

Here’s the thing with this Ducks group, they simply don’t have that ‘edge’ that makes them who they are. Sure, the Ducks are always a talented bunch, but this team is at its very best when they are a pain in the ass. They just haven’t been doing that, and teams are having a much easier time with them because of it.

If Bob Murray looks to add come the deadline, adding some veteran leadership that plays the Ducks style will help. I can’t help but see Patrick Maroon as the perfect fit.

The Rest Of The Group:

– On the other end of that 6-2 drubbing in Orange County were the Sharks, who simply keep on rolling. Thanks to LA’s slump, the Sharks are now second in the Pacific Division and appear to be cruising towards a playoff spot. If this group can find a way to replace Patrick Marleau’s goals, they’ll be a damn tough team to beat come playoff time.

The most interesting story here? Aaron Dell, for the time being, has taken charge in net. I still very much believe in Martin Jones, but this is an interesting thing to watch down the stretch.

– Vegas just keeps proving people wrong on the ice, but their toughest battle of the season is still yet to be fought. It’ll be the off-ice battle between pending UFA James Neal and the Golden Knights’ front office. They won’t be selling Neal for assets at the deadline, but can they get a contract done with him before the deadline? You have to think that would be ideal. At the very least, Vegas will need to see some progress in negotiations.

If not, would the Golden Knights actually be willing to deal Neal for assets knowing they are in a playoff push? For me, it is the most interesting deadline story that no one is talking about.

– The hot rumor over the last week has been Arizona being open for business with regards to their blueline. I think they’d be foolish to not deal pending UFA Luke Schenn, but after that I’d hold off on major plastic surgery. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is still a franchise defender, while James Demers is a solid veteran in his own right. Things haven’t gone well in the desert this season, but I think this roster is better than it’s playing. Look to Colorado from last season to this, things are never as bad as they seem.

– Jacob Markstrom is a guy who the Vancouver Canucks has invested in heavily, but it might be time to look towards the future in net. Bottom line is, Markstrom isn’t getting the job done and really never has at the NHL level. Youngster Thatcher Demko has been great in AHL Utica this season, and many in Utica believe he may be ready to take that next step. The Comets are pushing for a playoff spot this season, but why not give Demko a real shot in camp next year? It can’t hurt.

– A lot of talk, and rightfully so, about Calgary’s poor bottom-six forward group. While I do think adding a forward at the deadline can help, the Flames should be getting help from within soon. Winger Michael Frolik is skating with the team and making his way back from a broken jaw suffered almost a month ago. He’ll be out through the All-Star break, but he’s a nice piece that should help a Calgary team playing quite well right now.

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Photo Credit: By Horge (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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