SUN Hockey Pool

Players defend chastised coach

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 6:13 AM ET

EDMONTON -- As much as the Edmonton Oilers try to insulate themselves from off-ice distractions and civic discontent, they are acutely aware that the shotgun of wrath is being pointed directly at Craig MacTavish.

"It's really difficult (to hear) at a time like this," Oilers centre Andrew Cogliano said of the recent wave of criticism. "This is a tough time for the whole team. Everyone has a responsibility in here. It's not one guy, it's not the coaching staff, it's everyone.

"But I don't pay too much attention to that. It's people saying what they want to say, what they want or they think should happen. We know the job he does and what kind of coach he is. He's been very good for us. It's about everyone realizing this is a team thing and it's not just about one person."

Many of them watched MacTavish take lots of heat the last 48 hours for the brutal March and the botched stick measurement call against the Anaheim Ducks, and it hasn't been pretty.

"It's tough not to see it. We saw it all last night, about Edmonton needs changes," said defenceman Tom Gilbert. "Obviously, a lot of pressure has been put on him. He wants us to win more than anybody. The bottom line is that it comes down to how we perform. All the coaches can do is help us win games, show us what (other) teams do. It comes down to us to go out there and perform.

"Obviously, you'd like fewer distractions, especially in this kind of stretch, but it's part of the game, you can't avoid it."

The only way to avoid it was to play a lot better.

"We're all part of a team here and we all deserve to take part of the responsibility," said defenceman Steve Staios. "You can't just pin-point one person or one incident. When you're part of a team, everybody in here is part of winning and losing and you have to take responsibility for that."


Videos

Photos