Scrivens Goes Offside in Criticism of Oilers

When it comes to the 2015-16 NHL season, not much has gone according to plan for either the Edmonton Oilers or current Montreal Canadiens netminder Ben Scrivens. While the Oilers continue to spin their wheels when it comes to moving up the Western Conference standings, the 29-year old has watched his career continue to spiral out of control following what was a rather forgettable 2014-15 campaign. With that said, the comments Scrivens made about his former organization following his first win of the season in the Canadiens 5-1 victory over the Oilers on Saturday afternoon were not only surprising but frankly laughable.

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When asked during the post-game scrum if he took any pleasure in beating his old team, this was the answer Scrivens decided to give to the media which gathered in front of his dressing room stall.

“I’m not bitter about getting traded… if there’s any bitterness it’s about how I perceived myself getting buried. To get sent down without a visa, spin your tires for three weeks and then get spot duty. I played 57 games in the league last year than to kind of have that go against you …

“It’s a new management group, and at the end of the day,  it’s a business and I’ve been traded before. There’s no bitterness based off of being traded. I’m still friends with guys on the team…some of them. Bitterness comes with how I was treated on the way out, which leaves a sour taste in your mouth, but what can you do…right.”

Scrivens Was His Own Worst Enemy

With all due respect to the Cornell University graduate, he left the organization no choice but to deal with his situation in the manner it did. Considering he was a coming off a season in which he posted a 3.16 GAA and .890 SV%, in those aforementioned 57 appearances, should Peter Chiarelli have come to training and simply handed him the starter’s role just as his predecessor had? Unfortunately for Scrivens, his biggest cheerleader was Dallas Eakins and with him no longer being part of the equation, the Oilers new management team decided to try and fix Craig MacTavish’s previous blunder instead of staying the course…and thank god they did.

The fact Scrivens was able to parlay a decent 21-game stretch to close out the 2013-14 season, which included a record-setting 59-save shutout  performance against the San Jose Sharks in just his fourth start as an Oiler, into a two-year deal that would pay him $2.3 million for the next two seasons was frankly comical. Instead of recognizing Scrivens’ game for what it was, which did and still does include the bad habits of spilling rebounds all over the ice and being regularly caught out of position, MacT and company were sucked in by a small sample size…just like much of the Oilers fan base.

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Let’s not forget that heading into last season, in the eyes of many fans, he could do almost no wrong. After watching Devan Dubnyk self-implode to start the year and Scrivens come in and deliver a performance for the ages shortly after his arrival, he instantly became a fan favourite and the volunteer work both he and his wife did in the community only strengthened that bond. After being nothing more than a solid backup with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Kings, the Spruce Grove native was handed the opportunity of a lifetime but simply wasn’t good enough to run with it. End of story.

Edmonton Held Up Their End of the Deal

Which meant Chiarelli had no choice but to go out and address his netminding and to his credit, he did exactly that. By acquiring both Cam Talbot and Anders Nilsson, the organization was telling Scrivens he was going to have to win a job at training camp to stay in Edmonton. While I have little doubt that didn’t sit well with him, it did not change the reality of the situation. Unfortunately for him, Nilsson won the backup’s job fair and square, which made Scrivens’ demotion to the AHL nothing more than a foregone conclusion.

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Obviously, it was far from an ideal situation for either the player or the organization but there was frankly no choice to be made. While one can sympathize with Scrivens apparent visa issues upon his arrival in Bakersfield, this idea of him  “getting buried” is beyond ridiculous. From an organizational standpoint, the plan was always to give Laurent Brossoit the lion’s share of work with the Condors to help further his development, with Scrivens being nothing more than his caddy. Again, not an ideal setup for the player but he had 2.3 million reasons to find a way to deal with it and make it work.

Despite putting up similar numbers in the AHL to the ones he posted in Edmonton in 2014-15, the Oilers still managed to ship Scrivens to the Canadiens just after Christmas in a deal that saw them acquire the much-maligned Zack Kassian. So my question then becomes, where exactly does the “bitterness with how I was treated on the way out” come from? Chiarelli had him in a different organization within three months and in today’s NHL…that is no small feat. And yet, there is apparently still a ‘sour taste” with the whole ordeal.

Focusing On the Here and Now

At the end of the day, whether he wants to accept it or not, Ben Scrivens lost his job to a pair of guys who were playing better and that is something he needs to come to grips with. Does the fact the Edmonton Oilers were and still are a complete train wreck in their own end of the rink play a part in it? You bet it does but that same rule applies to Cam Talbot and Anders Nilsson and both have delivered better results than what we saw from Scrivens in 2014-15.

So again I ask the question, where’s the issue? Perhaps instead of taking pot shots at the organization that handed him the chance at being a No. 1 goalie when his play never warranted it, he should maybe focus on stopping more pucks because his performance with the Montreal Canadiens looks eerily similar to what we saw during his tenure in Orange and Blue.