January 07 2009 12:19PM
What's this I hear about GM Steve Tambellini letting his coaching staff know he was less than impressed with the Edmonton Oilers mistake-filled 3-2 win over the New York Islanders Monday?
I've got it from a reliable source that was indeed the case, as Tambellini met with head coach Craig MacTavish and the rest of his coaches in the dressing room area after the game. I'm led to believe it was not a happy bunch that emerged from the meeting of the minds.
Now, admittedly, I don't know what was discussed, but it definitely wasn't a session of high-fives after the Oilers needed a couple of lucky goals by Kyle Brodziak and Jason Strudwick to send the hapless Isles to their 13th straight defeat on the road.
What seems clear is that Tambellini, now 38 games into his tenure as GM, is starting to make his voice known after sitting back and assessing what's what since taking over from Kevin Lowe. Maybe Tambellini was unhappy with the Oilers fumbling and stumbling through the first 20 minutes against the worst team in the NHL. Given how the Oilers had already blown off points against the awful Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators, that would be understandable.
Maybe it was a broader discussion than that, given how wildly inconsistent the Oilers have been and that they've delivered far too many, shall we say, uneven performances this season. That would make sense, too.
Maybe it was a bit of both.
Now, I'm just speculating here, but I wonder if anything that was said by Tambellini Monday played into the fact that Gilbert Brule is finally getting a shot on the top line as a fill-in for Ales Hemsky?
Could it be Tambellini, like a lot of fans, was mystified by MacTavish's decision to put Liam Reddox on right wing on the top line with Shawn Horcoff and Dustin Penner while Hemsky recovers from a concussion?
I never did get it that MacTavish seemed to suggest that Brule didn't have the experience to take that role, despite having more than 150 games on his NHL resume, while Reddox, who now has 18 games, did.
Tonight, after, ahem, reconsidering that stance, MacTavish will give Brule his chance to shine when Mats Sundin and the Vancouver Canucks come calling. Hmm.I wonder -- and again, this is just speculation on my part -- if Tambellini has asked himself some of the same questions many fans and some of us on press row have about personnel choices by the head coach?
Time will tell. One thing's certain, at least I think it is -- Tambellini isn't just here as a puppet for Kevin Lowe, now the president of hockey operations. I get the sense Tambellini's done sitting back and that we'll see him start to make his imprint on this team before very long.
From where I sit, the sooner the better.
-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.