Monday, August 23, 2010

Q&A with Tulsa Oilers Head Coach Bruce Ramsay

In this edition of "They Said It", the Tulsa Oilers are looking to turn around what's been several disappointing seasons in a row as the team have been out of the playoffs every since the 2005-2006 season as the Oilers have been near the bottom of the Conference and have been struggling to not just be competitive but getting fans and media attention in the Tulsa Area as battling for one of the last playoff spots would be a huge deal.

Currently Bruce Ramsay took over last year as he hopes to turn around what's been a culture of losing and playing in front of an empty BOK arena in Tulsa. One of the big pluses for Oilers fans was the play of Rob Hisey where he called up to the Springfield Falcons and that lead to him signing a two way contract with the New York Islanders org earlier in the offseason. Where he will start the year next year with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) but with some strong play and a touch of good fortune, he could find himself playing in Long Island for the New York Islanders.

He will be looking to get the team back to the playoffs as the Oilers are now heading to the Berry Conference (South) as they will play the 5 Texas Teams along with the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, Arizona Sundogs and the Mississippi Riverkings who are also switching from the North to the South this upcoming year.

Here's a look at how the Tulsa Oilers have done in the last 3 seasons.

2007-2008 Season

Regular Season: 25-35-4 54 PTS, 4th Place in Northeast DIV, 8th Place in Northern Conf.

Playoffs: Out of Playoffs

2008-2009 Season

Regular Season: 18-38-8 44 PTS, Last in Northeast DIV, 7th in Northern Conf.

Playoffs: Out of Playoffs

2009-2010 Season

Regular Season: 28-29-7 63 PTS, 6th Place in Northern Conference

Playoffs: Out of Playoffs

Here's the Other "They Said It" Features on the Central Hockey League Website.

Chris Brooks: RGV Killer Bees

Laredo Bucks: Terry Ruskowski

Quad City Mallards: Frank Anzalone

Rapid City Rush: Joe Ferras

Dayton Gems: Brian Gratz

Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs: Scott Muscutt

Here's the Q&A from the Central Hockey League Website

Give us a snapshot of how your first season with the Oilers went?

My first season with the Oilers was like hiking through the Rocky Mountains. At certain points we were on a summit then at other times we were in the valley. We did not develop the consistency needed in order to be a playoff contender. Missing the playoffs for the first time as a head coach was very disappointing. All in all there were many positives introduced last season that we are going to exercise to propel the Oilers Organization back to the summit of the mountain.

Your team got off to a great start and had arguably the MVP of the first half of the season with Rob Hissey (later called to the Springfield Falcons, AHL), how tough was his departure on the team?

Our first indication of Rob Hissey's value to our club prior to his call-up when he was injured. During his injury we lost 5 games in a row. When you lose your #1 powerplay, penalty kill and forward player, it is going to affect the team in a negative fashion and as an organization, we certainly felt the effect.

There is a fine line with the development of players and trying to win hockey games, does losing a player to the AHL seem more like a good thing or is it more of a disappointment?

Losing players to the AHL should never be considered as a disappointment. One of the main focuses of a coach is to push and motivate their players to strive to be their best and that includes playing at the highest possible level. It is nearly impossible to replace a player of Rob's caliber during the season so you hope that his ability at the next level motivates and inspires his teammates to follow suit.

Rob recently signed a two way contract with the NHL/AHL and he called me and told me that I was a big part of his signing and that in and itself worth its weight in gold as a coach for the Oilers Organization. Also, having more players move up to the AHL is a positive recruiting tool for high caliber player to sign with Tulsa as they there are opportunities to get noticed and advance in their hockey career.

Your signings this off season show you are putting together a competitive, young and fast team. Is that the game plan you want to put together?

Our goal and philosophy as an organization this season has changed from a team stocked with veteran players to a team of younger players whose goals are to play at the next level.

Your defensive signings has been very solid, is this a team you see being defense first?

Our defensive signings to the point have been very solid. As the old saying goes "Championships are won on the defensive side of the ice." It comes down to the fact that if you can't get the puck out of the net, it's going to be tough to create offense. In the game as its played today, coaches look for mobility in the d-corps and with our signings so far, we definitely have added significantly to this theory.

Who do you look up to for their coaching staff, who is one of your coaching mentors/hero's?

I have worked under some great coaches that have had a positive influence on my coaching philosophy. Dave Allison and Danton Cole are two coaches that have helped me out along the way. When it comes to style of coaching I would have to say that Todd Nelson, the new head coach of the Oklahoma City Barons, and one of greatest friends, would be someone that I resemble the most.

The Oilers are one of the teams that moved conferences heading to what is essentially the South, do you see this as more of an advantage or disadvantage?

I believe it's too early to tell which conference will be stronger. The only real disadvantage I can relate to is that the new teams from the IHL had a late start recruiting due to the merger thus inhibiting them from early recruitment. Either way, to accomplish our team goal, you have to beat everyone and there will be some very strong teams in both conferences.

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