Identifying the Oilers

At his most recent media availability, Oilers general manager Ken Holland voiced, among other topics, his disappointment with the Oilers season and expressed his inability to determine if the Oilers were a good team or not.

To tell the honest truth, I believe we have a good team. I, obviously, built the team and whatever happens is on me. I’m not really sure where we’re at because the two extremes have been so far apart. In the 16-5, our special teams were a major factor. We were probably near the top and it was extremely good. 

“In the last 13 games, we’re 18 percent on the power play and 68 percent on the penalty kill…But again, I’m not sure where we’re at because they’re such extremes, the first 21 games versus the last 13, that I’m not sure where we’re at. It’s been hard for me to really get an understanding of where we’re at.” (Source: Edmonton Oilers)

There’s definitely been a drop off when comparing the results between the first 21 games of the season against the last 13 games. Prior to December 2nd, the Oilers were the top team in the league with a 0.762 points percentage, driven completely by their special teams. The Oilers powerplay scored 23 times in only 92 minutes – a scoring rate of 14.94 goals per hour, which ranked the best in the league. Their penalty kill allowed only 8 goals in 113 minutes – rate of 4.26 goals against, good for fourth best in the league. And the Oilers special teams had to be exceptional as the team struggled at even-strength (5v5), posting a -2 goal differential and some very mediocre shot-share numbers.

And because the Oilers special teams has struggled in the last 13 games – seeing their powerplay goal-scoring rate cut in half and their goals against rate on the penalty kill almost triple – they’ve fallen to fifth in the Pacific and are no longer holding on to a playoff spot. The good news is that the powerplay should eventually start producing again, considering they continue to lead the league in shots and scoring chances per hour and have most of their top contributors healthy. They might not score at the same rate as they did in the first 21 games, but we can reasonably expect them to score around the 10.0 goals-per- hour mark, which is what they’ve done in seasons past.

The concern should probably be around the penalty kill, which was allowing some of the highest rates of shots against earlier in the season and has allowed even more since early December. Part of that could probably be attributed to so many defencemen being in and out of the lineup. But we have to keep in mind too that Tippett has a history of running penalty kills that allow a higher-than-average rate of shots against. And he quite often relies on the goaltending to bail the team out (Source). In the last two seasons, the Oilers 89.90% penalty kill save percentage has been the best in the league, but it was probably unrealistic to expect two aging netminders, one of which can’t stay healthy this season, to replicate that success.

With the issues on special teams identified, let’s switch over to even-strength where for the third season in a row under Holland and Tippett, the Oilers are posting a negative goal-differential.

The good news, is that overall the Oilers have actually been consistent all season at even-strength (5v5). The bad news is that they’ve been consistently medicore. Their Corsi For%, which serves as a proxy for puck possession and Fenwick For% which serves as a proxy for scoring chances has been around league average all season – nothing great and not terrible either. Their expected goal-share has consistently been right around the break-even mark – again just good enough but nowhere near the levels posted by the true top teams in the league.

While goaltending has slipped slightly at even-strength, the real driver of the Oilers results over the last 13 games has been been the team’s on-ice shooting percentage, which has been 6.71%. And it’s actually been when McDavid has been on the ice that the team shooting percentage has really dropped. In the first 21 games with McDavid on the ice, the Oilers team shooting percentage was 9.78% – slightly below McDavid’s career on-ice shooting percentage of 10.6%. In the last 13 games, that on-ice shooting percentage has dropped to 4.96% – well below where we would expect McDavid to be and indicating that his on-ice numbers should bounce back over the remainder of the season.

But regardless of how McDavid does, it should be concerning to the Oilers management that yet again the team is not posting very good shot-share numbers at even-strength and are going to really need their special teams to bail them out. It’s not likely that the Oilers will shoot to the top of the standings and will instead be in that mushy-middle of teams that aren’t quite division leaders and aren’t quite basement dwellers either.

What Holland and his group need to realize is that the Edmonton Oilers as constructed today are a mediocre hockey club. They’re not quite an offensive juggernaut, they’re not sound defensively, they’re not hard to play against. Even with two superstars, they’re just another middle of the pack team. These results, over three seasons now, aren’t good enough considering how much Holland is getting paid, how much money and assets he’s spent and the damage he’s done to the Oilers cap situation.

And if Holland after these three years doesn’t know what he has right now and can’t put his finger on the problems currently ailing the team, he really shouldn’t be allowed to construct an NHL roster.

Data: Natural Stat Trick

Leaving the University of Alberta Alumni Council



It’s been a fantastic experience with the Alumni Council. Got to meet a lot of people and worked on some great projects over the two years.

In my first year, I was the faculty representative for Extension. In my second year, I was part of the executive team and appointed to the Senate. Got to learn about many different facets of the U of A community and the impact this campus has on the community.

If you’ve ever considered re-connecting with the U of A, I highly recommend getting involved with the Alumni Association. It’s a well run group that has many projects and initiatives underway. I can’t say enough about the volunteers and the supporting staff. The Council has grown over the past year, with a lot of new members coming in. Look forward to seeing what they do they can accomplish in the coming year.

There are also many, many ways to volunteer on campus. There’s a lot of programs and services across campus that are worth checking out and connecting with. Two groups that are doing outstanding work are University Wellness Services and the Office of Sustainability. Highly recommend learning more about what they do.

I’ve categorized all my posts pertaining to the Alumni Council here. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about it.

Green and Glow Winterfest, President’s Circle, Golden Bears Hockey, You Can Play Partnership

In case you missed it, full highlights from the Green and Glow Winterfest are posted online. Video below and a Storify link is up. The weekend had something for everyone. Pretty fantastic turnout for one of the key events to celebrate the Alumni Association’s centenary. Congrats to everyone involved in the planning!

Also part of the 100th anniversary will be the unveiling of the President’s Circle on campus. A sculpture of Alexander Rutherford and Henry Marshall Tory is slated for fall of 2015.

Congrats to the Golden Bears hockey team on winning (another) Canada west title. They’ll be the number one seed for the third year in a row at the University Cup finals.

And finally, the U of A has partnered with the You Can Play initiative. Our campus has always been welcoming to everyone, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. It’s great to see the U of A take the lead at the CIS level.

UAlberta Senate – Plenary Session – December 2014

E.A. Corbett Hall

E.A. Corbett Hall

Attended the second plenary session as a Senator at the U of A. It was held at Corbett Hall on North Campus, which is home to the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Corbett Hall is one of the oldest buildings on campus and was originally home to the Faculty of Extension. Thought this quote from E.A. Corbett (1884-1964) which is displayed in the building was worth sharing. More about Corbett can be found at the U of A’s Centenary website.

If I have a working philosophy of adult education, it is based on the conviction that the desire for knowledge is a normal human appetite. And that the capacity to acquire knowledge continues throughout life. I also know from long expertce that through study, discussion and planning together people can change their social and economic environment and in so doing change themselves.

E.A. Corbett (1884-1964)
Emeritus Director of Extension
University of Alberta

Couple things were discussed by the Senators that are worth noting here:

  • The U-School program continues to grow with more and more schools bringing students to campus for a unique experience. The Senate is committed to the program and is looking for volunteers to spend time with the kids. You can learn more about the program at the U-School website and sign-up for this important program.
  • With two deaths occurring on campus this semester, there were some questions about the kind of support available to students. University Wellness Services provides support to students and has created many programs that promote healthy living. They’ve done a tremendous job coming up with new and innovative ways to reach out to students and help those in need. Dean of Students Dr. Robin Everall and her team are committed to supporting students and are working hard to ensure the right programs and services are in place.

Below is a recap of the presentations:

  • Rod Loyola, President of the Non-Academic Staff Association, gave a presentation about this group and discussed some of the issues they’re dealing with. N.A.S.A. represents over 6,000 support staff employees on campus, which includes operating, trust, ESL instructors and casual employees.
  • Jennifer Chesney, Associate Vice President, University Digital Strategy, provided a very insightful presentation on MOOC’s and digital learning. The U of A has launched two MOOC’s so far, Dino 101 and Understanding Video Games, which have both been received well. Jennifer and her team have worked hard to ensure that not only  a quality course is developed, but that the right business model is in place to ensure the course’s sustainability. The courses offered by the U of A are unique in that they provide a higher level of engagement than other courses. Jennifer also shared some very insightful stats regarding the course enrollment and completion rate. Worth noting that the U of A has launched Onlea, a non-profit organization focussed on online learning experiences. More about the company can be found over at TEC Edmonton.
  • Dr. Bob Haennel, Dean of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, gave an overview of the programs available and the various projects the school is involved in. The school uses various communication technology to connect their five locations across Alberta and provide a unique experience for students. Also worth noting that the Glen Sather Clinic on campus will be expanding to better serve students and the general public.

David Turpin named University of Alberta’s next president

img003Some big news out of the University of Alberta as David Turpin has been named the next president. David will be replacing Indira Samarasekera, who held the post since 2005.


Worth noting are some of the remarks Indira made at our Alumni Council meeting back in March in regards to the state of the University and the future president:

  • Indira stressed that it doesn’t matter how great your natural resources, like oil, are. The most important thing is talent and brainpower.
  • She spoke about academic transformation, which included improving the graduate student experience and developing a stronger recruitment strategy.
  • Indira suggested that the President should be involved in the tenure and promotion process.
  • She also suggested that Faculty Dean’s should have strategic visions aligned with the University to ensure accountability.
  • The U of A needs to develop a sustainable funding model and rely less on Government, who rely to heavily on oil) according to Indira.
  • Indira continues to stress the importance of aspiring to be a top global university.
  • The next President must be a “connoisseur of excellence” and have the ability to select talent, drive change and manage performance.

All the best to David. Look forward to working with him.

Alumni Council Meeting – New members, Visit from Carl Amrhein and a Recap of Alumni Weekend

High Level Bridge in Edmonton

High Level Bridge in Edmonton

Had our first council meeting for the 2014-2015 school year last week. Lots to look forward to as the Alumni Association has plenty of events coming up, including its centenary.

Dr. Carl G. Amrhein, Provost and VP (Academic) came by and gave his take on the state of the University and the importance of education in Alberta. Karl talked about the growing global presence of the U of A as well as initiatives to reach different parts of the province.

Related: How Our Universities Can Compete in the World: A conversation with the Conference Board’s new executive-in-residence Carl Amrhein – University Affairs (2013, May 8)

We also received a recap of the Alumni Weekend held in September. Just an amazing amount of work by the coordinators and volunteers.

And of course, a big welcome to the newest members of the Council! Look forward to working with you all. Full bios for all members should be updated soon.

UAlberta Senate – Plenary Session – September 2014


Source: UAlberta Tumblr

Attended my first plenary session as part of the University of Alberta Senate last week. The main objective of these is to review the goals/mandates of the group and the different committees, and to hear presentations on the various programs and projects on campus.

Related: Joining the University of Alberta Senate (2014, July 18)

It was a nice time to be on campus. Lots of events welcoming new and returning students, plus there were several events for alumni. It was great meeting the other Senators and learning about their backgrounds and experiences. Look forward to working with this group.

Here’s a recap of some of the presentations.

  • My colleagues Sean Price and Glenn Stowkowy from the Alumni Association came by to give an overview of the group and share some of the events coming up in the next year. It’ll be the Alumni Association’s centenary in 2015, so there will be many events to look forward to including The Green and Glow Winterfest (January 29-31, 2015) and a Leadership Lecture (May 22, 2015) featuring former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark.
  • Dr. Naomi Krogman and Trina Innes from the UAlberta Campus Sustainability Initiative gave us a primer on what the group does and some of the projects planned and underway. Not only are they ensuring the social environment is taken care of on campus, but they’re also integrating with various degree programs to build awareness of this critical initiative. You can also check out their blog, suh-steyn, for more information. Highly recommend this article on bringing academics and sustainability together.
  • VP of University Relations Debra Pozega Osburn gave us an update on how the campus continues building relationships across Alberta. Debra and her team have travelled to various communities to promote the University and answer questions from the public.
  • VP of Facilities and Operations Don Hickey gave us an update on the Edmonton Galleria Project and the land development going on around campus. The campus is growing pretty quickly, but a lot of attention is being paid to the impact it has on the surrounding community. Details are all still being finalized for these projects, so our group had a chance to ask questions and provide feedback. Mack Male provided some excellent insight into the Universities role in the project on his blog.
  • Dean of the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health Kue Young provided information about his faculty and the various initiatives underway. The department is relatively small but have played a large role in the research happening in Alberta and abroad. More information about the School of Public Health is on their website.

Appreciate all the individuals who came in to present. They gave our group a lot to think about and discuss.

U School Program at the University of Alberta

USchool-COLOURHave to say the best part about being a University of Alberta student, or alumni, are the fantastic volunteer opportunities to learn and meet people on campus.

U School is one initiative that I’m really looking forward to getting involved with. Students from schools in Edmonton and the surrounding area get to spend a week a week on campus to learn about a number of topics including engineering, physical ed, drama and history, among others. There’s a lot of great resources on campus for the kids to access, making this a very interactive program.

Description from the U School website:

U School is a program initiated by the University of Alberta Senate that aims to introduce and connect grade 4 through 9 students to the University of Alberta.  Our target students would not necessarily have strong connections to the the U of A as they may come from socially vulnerable metro areas or are given a rural opportunity through the program.

We work with our classroom teachers to develop a week-long experience related to learning objectives and expose students to things unique to UAlberta.

The organizers have done a terrific job developing an amazing program. They’re looking for volunteers (students, staff, alumni) to help out as class mentors, interviewees and presenters. More details about the roles and the sign-up form are here.

Related Links

U School Blog (University of Alberta)

Joining the University of Alberta Senate


University of Alberta

Happy to announce that I’ve been appointed to the University of Alberta Senate by the Alumni Association. Starting this fall, I’ll be joining a group that represents the community and serves as an advisory board to the University of Alberta.

I’ll remain on the Alumni Council as part of the Executive team, but will have to vacate my position as the Faculty of Extension representative.

What does the Senate do? From the Senate’s website:

The Senate seeks to inquire, promote and connect, building bridges of understanding between the University and the public. The Senate role is based on the belief that an ongoing relationship with the community is fundamental to the effectiveness of the University. Through the Senate, the community can deliver an opinion or a point of view to the University; and through the Senate the University can reach the community.

There are a number of committees and working groups within the Senate, all with different roles and mandates. I’m not sure which groups I’ll be a part of, but I’ll share the details once I find out.

I’ll likely continue using this site to blog about volunteering with the U of A. It’ll all be under the Alumni Council category.