Hitchcock searching for commitment to style of play that suits Edmonton Oilers

It was a harsh criticism after another lopsided loss.

It sounded like the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers was saying that his players weren’t that interested in winning games.

“At this time of year, the coaches can’t want it more than the players,” Ken Hitchcock said after Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

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But after practice on Monday, Hitchcock said that’s not what he meant.

“No, I didn’t say that,” he said. “I meant the coaches can’t want it — and I meant style of play — more than the players. The players have to want that style of play.

“The way we have to play to win is a very difficult game. We have to play that way to do it. It’s very challenging. It’s physically demanding. It’s not fun, but it’s the way we’re built right now. We have to play this way.”

Either way, Hitchcock said the players aren’t doing things they are capable of doing. The team was gritty and determined Thursday night in Minnesota, but sleepy and negligent Saturday against the Sharks.

Hitchcock has repeatedly mentioned that the Oilers know the formula for success but aren’t consistently executing it.

“It’s a roll-up-your-sleeves, get-your-hands-dirty message. You’re gonna make mistakes along the way,” Hitchcock said. “We’re built a certain way, and when we play outside of that, we don’t have success.

“I know the players are frustrated, and we’re frustrated at times with it.”

“We’re upset, too,” said forward Alex Chiasson. “Our play has to be better. We’re the ones that have put ourselves in this situation.”

Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of the Edmonton Oilers’ 2018-19 season.

Ty Rattie and Matt Benning didn’t practise on Monday. Hitchcock said they’ll skate Tuesday to see how they’re doing with their injuries.

Defenceman Andrej Sekera will continue his conditioning assignment with his third game with the Bakersfield Condors on Wednesday.



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