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Jordan Eberle says leaving Oilers helped rebuild his confidence

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“When you read articles every day about how much you suck, it’s tough.”

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

New York Islanders winger Jordan Eberle says he’s been working to rebuild his confidence with his current team after losing it as a member of the Edmonton Oilers. Speaking to Sportsnet’s Tim Panaccio after the Islanders’ 5-4 win over the Flyers on Friday, Eberle said getting away from the Oilers has been good for his mental game.

“The Edmonton media can be pretty brutal and your confidence goes and this is a game you can’t play if you don’t have confidence,” Eberle said. “It’s that simple. It’s the Edmonton Oilers and everything around it. When you read articles every day about how much you suck, it’s tough.”

When asked why he couldn’t simply ignore the negative coverage, Eberle responded, “You can’t.”

“It affects you and I lost my confidence,” he said. “The biggest thing for me since I got here with the Islanders, is trying to get that back.”

Eberle played seven years for the Oilers after being selected in the first round of the 2008 NHL Draft, but didn’t make the playoffs until last season. Over the summer, he was traded to the Islanders in exchange for Ryan Strome as Edmonton sought to change up its forward mix.

That move has worked out well for the Islanders, who have gotten 16 points in 22 games from Eberle so far. He’s on pace for his best offensive season in a couple years, and he’s been producing regardless of whether he’s on the same line as star center John Tavares.

Newfound confidence may be fueling that strong play after a tough start to his career in Edmonton. Eberle looked like a potential cornerstone for the team when he recorded 76 points in 78 games as a 21-year-old, but criticism of his play became more pointed as he failed to take the next leap and the Oilers struggled as a team.

And in a Canadian market like Edmonton where hockey is king, the media coverage can be relentless compared to American markets where other sports eat up lots of mind share. The external pressure for a Canadian preseason Cup contender like the Oilers versus a team like the Islanders is totally different.

Now Eberle is thriving in the quieter environment of New York, and the Oilers are flailing to find their footing before it’s too late despite having arguably the best player in the world. For one of those two, confidence isn’t a problem right now.

“We don’t get as much media coverage and don’t have to deal with that sort of element and maybe can play looser and freer and it helps our game,” Eberle said. “Doug lets us play. I feel I have lots to give them here.”