The reason Ryan Smyth watched Monday’s game from the press box is because Dallas Eakins didn’t think it wise to bring up five players from the AHL to replace all the guys he wanted to shelve.

The Oilers head coach said there were “four or five” forwards who could have been yanked from the lineup and still might be if their habits don’t change.

“I could have had my pick of any one of them” said Eakins who made good on his promise to start rattling cages if he didn’t like what he saw and he most certainly didn’t in Edmonton’s 6-2 loss in Vancouver.

“I’ve challenged those players to be better.”

This includes everyone regardless of where a player might think he belongs on the depth chart. Another one of Eakins’s promises is there will be no favourites.

“I’ve already warned the players about this it doesn’t matter to me what the fan base thinks of you if they hold you in high esteem you have to have results” said Eakins. “If not you’re going to be held accountable. Smytty’s out (Monday) we’ll see how the rest of the week goes.”

The press box is just one of the weapons at Eakins’s disposal as he attempts to change the culture of a loser franchise.

“You use everything you can” he said. “There’s the employment of having different voices go at them maybe a teammate or the assistant coaches. There’s a firm kick in the butt. There’s a pulling back of ice time. There’s embarrassing them in a video session. It’s whatever it takes.

“That’s where you have to get to know the guys and figure out what works best with them.”

In the meantime Smyth will take the first bullet from a coach whose loaded pistol will be trained on players who aren’t delivering 100% effort this season.

“The reason it’s Ryan is I knew he would handle it professionally. I knew that he wouldn’t have a lip or go into a dark place with it because he’s such a good leader and teammate” said Eakins. “Sometimes being a good leader and a teammate goes against you and that’s what’s happened in this instance.

“But if we don’t have some other players pick up their game and do it quickly they’ll be out of the lineup.”