Maciocia should get more credit

JOHN SHORT

, Last Updated: 7:26 AM ET

I'm sure you've noticed the discouraging sameness in Edmonton sports.

Every year about this time, between the start of the school year and the arrival of serious winter, both the Eskimos and the Oilers make their fans angry because they can't win anything important.

Through all the yapping, the Eskimos have improved. So far, the Oilers haven't.

The Esks are in the playoffs after looking through the fence for a couple of seasons. They're capable of reaching the Grey Cup semifinals.

All they have to do is beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who sometimes show great talent for beating themselves.

Come to think of it, the Esks have similar ability.

Whatever the reason, a loud fraternity wants Danny Maciocia fired. As far as I can tell, his only sin is that he's not Hugh Campbell and some longtime Esks-watchers, including me, think Campbell's time was well past before he stepped away from the big-boss desk.

Listen to almost any beer-fueled football talk and you'll hear that Danny Kepley should be the next head coach of the Eskimos.

Why? Because he's so intense.

But it's fair to assume the competitive fire that made him a remarkable linebacker -- perhaps the best in Canadian history -- might get in the way of sideline decision-making.

Maciocia takes all of the heat and gets none of the credit.

Don Matthews is available. God forbid.

FLAWED LOGIC

Much of the same flawed logic is involved in the common view of Craig MacTavish behind the Oilers bench.

He's supposed to be fired, if you listen to the wailing hordes, but I've never heard anybody name a viable replacement.

Brian Sutter's name comes up regularly. One day he'll be a head coach again, and the NHL will benefit when he does, but it's questionable that he'd be a good fit here.

I suspect his blend of fire and Kevin Lowe's hatred of defeat would create a blaze so hot that nobody could control it -- not fans, not new owner Daryl Katz and certainly not the players.

If you talk off the record with many hockey insiders, they'll level with you about who does a good job and who doesn't.

They'll also tell you about the level of talent on one club or the other.

The word I get is that MacTavish does a good job and the players, taken in total, aren't yet good enough to win a large majority of their games -- especially on the road and especially early in the season.

Some are too young. Others are headed to the downside of their careers. Some are new here and don't yet fit.

After so few games, how can we blame the coach -- any coach -- for that?

DON'T BET THE FARM

I noticed the other day that The Score has an afternoon show dedicated almost exclusively to sports betting. I asked Richard Wallington, manager of the problem gambling unit of the Alberta Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission, how a bettor can tell if he's gone too far.

He made several solid suggestions.

"If you've set aside an affordable amount to bet on weekend sports, that's reasonable," he said. "But after a losing weekend, don't go to the ATM and bet heavily on Monday to try to get it all back."


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