SUN Hockey Pool

A change of style

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

All he needed was the big cigar, the cane and the hat and Pat Quinn could have been credited with an acceptable impersonation of Winston Churchill.

"We shall fight on the seas and the oceans. We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our Island whatever the cost may be.

"We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender ..."

That was Churchill's famous speech.

Last night Quinn made one to the fans before the game and another slightly more colorful one to his team after the first period.

A pre-taped message from Quinn to Oilers fans was shown on the scoreboard before the first home pre-season game of the season last night with Quinn taking his position behind the bench at Rexall Place for the first time seconds after it concluded.

MOUND OF MICROPHONES

The video featured Quinn behind a mound of microphones.

"We will play tough. We will show grit. We will highlight the skill on this team. Even on nights when we're tired and it's cold out, I will promise you that this team will compete. And when we do this everything else will fall into place. We will be taking on the world starting Oct. 1."

Quinn, it has been well publicized, intends to let the thoroughbred run as long as they stop turning over the puck like they did last year and failing to get it back on the many occasions they did.

Well, in the first period of the first home pre-season game with the great white- haired leader behind the bench, the Edmonton Oilers turned it over more than they did on some of their worst nights last year. And they failed miserably at getting it back.

Maybe they were trying to test the next coach.

If they were, they found out that he's not just throwing out the quotes to try help us sell papers.

"He's a little more intense," said Andrew Cogliano of the new man behind the bench, replacing Craig MacTavish who on most nights, at least when he wasn't pulling the tongue out of a mascot's mouth, usually assumed a statue-like pose of The Thinker behind the bench.

"When things go wrong, he's obviously going to give it to us like he did tonight after the first period," said Cogliano.

It was the first pre-season game for the players wearing the Oilers sweaters, a different lineup having dressed the pervious night in Calgary And the coach was all over them.

Did he go so far as to even use a few four-letter friend getters?

"A couple," confessed Cogliano.

"He obviously keeps everybody on their toes," said Sam Gagner of the totally different styles behind the bench of Quinn and the man who preceded him.

"When the coach is pumped up and excited, it gets you pumped up. He's an animated guy on the bench. It's uplifting. It's a good thing. And he'll use words you can't use on TV."

Sheldon Souray said it's definitely a chance of styles.

"He's a strong personality. He's a character. Right off the go he's not letting us take short cuts. That was one of the biggest things for me tonight. He allows us to do what we want to do but he won't allow us to do whatever we want to do.

"He's more a drill sergeant than we've seen in the past. I say that in a positive way."

Quinn said the Oilers fell into last year's habits early.

"We lost it on the rush and it took over and set the tone for the next 10 minutes. We got away early from the team work and started guessing with the puck.

"We're trying to introduce some new things here. And we went back to the same style. We were making the same mistakes and chasing it around."

COACH HAS TO BE CAREFUL

Quinn said a coach has to be careful in the pre-season.

"It's early. You tend to want to get perfection early. We've only had a few practices. And five games in six days doesn't help that.

"But early on is when you nip bad habits. Habits are tough to break. You have to practice it and practice it and repeat it and repeat it."

And if Pat Quinn has to stand in the middle of the dressing room and turn into his old Edmonton Oil Kings' junior coach Buster Brayshaw to deliver the message after the first period of the first home pre-season game, well, keep that dressing room door closed.

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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