There’s a hallway in the bowels of
Rexall Place, just up a slight ramp from the Edmonton Oil King dressing room,
that leads to a dimly lit room on your right hand side. Sportswriters gather
for post-game interviews from head coaches.
After a win, coaches strut in the
room with an extra stride in their step. After a loss, the long hallway can be
almost endless for a coach, each footstep echoing off the wall at almost a deafening
Oil King coach Derek Laxdal knows
the feeling. After every game in
Edmonton of the Western Hockey League championship series, he has walked down
that hallway to answer questions from reporters.
The coach will probably walk down
the hallway very soon — perhaps
this week, even — just past the interview room for a meeting in the office of
Bob Green, Oil Kings general manager.
There will be a lot for Laxdal and
Green to discuss following a 5-1
loss to the Portland Winterhawks in Game 6 of the WHL championship series. The
Winterhawks won the best-of-seven series 4-2, ending the Oil King’s rein of
Green will have questions:
wrong with the Oil King’s powerplay which could not be ignited, and didn’t
score a single goal in 31 chances over the series — and, perhaps most
importantly, surrendered two short-handed goals on a four-minute powerplay in
Sunday’s first period;
•where was the intensity Sunday,
after that terrific Game 5 Friday in Portland — a hockey fan’s dream to watch —
that saw the Oil Kings give it all they had, and pull a 3-2 overtime win out of
the fire to force Game 6? Sure, the Oil Kings outshot Portland 27-24 Sunday,
but the Edmonton just didn’t seem to have it. Was the tank empty … and, why?
took an undisciplined slashing penalty in the last 90 seconds of Game 4, which
didn’t allow Edmonton a chance to pull their goalie for an extra attacker in a
2-1 hockey game. Was Samuelsson’s penalty or an isolated instance? Or was that
exchange Laxdal and Samuelsson had after the game a sign of a bigger issue?
•captain Griffin Reinhart and
veteran Trevor Cheek were injured. What did that take away from the team?
And others will probably be asked,
including why the Oil Kings are not making a repeat performance in the MasterCard
Memorial Cup later this week in Saskatoon.
Laxdal will have to answer to the GM and also address questions about the
future, namely his. (Here's the information I had wrong) My sources say Laxdal is at the end of his three-year deal
so his answers to The Boss will no doubt hinge on whether or not he wants to
return to the Oil Kings.
He has had success in Edmonton: two
appearances to the WHL championship final in three seasons and one
But could there be a pro job
calling Laxdal’s name, perhaps even with the Edmonton Oilers as an assistant?
And let’s not forget Laxdal’s
assistant Steve Hamilton, also at the end of a three-year deal. Hamilton is
head coach material, absolutely.
Derek Laxdal has walked down that
long, narrow — sometimes haunting — countless times. Only time if he will
continue to do so.