The Boss wades in

Robin Brownlee
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.

JUST WONDERING

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.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 Hoss81
January 07 2009, 07:09PM
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It would certainly be interesting to watch the next few weeks.

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#52 Illya Biakin
January 07 2009, 07:16PM
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I thought I was part of the most skilled team that MacT coached

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#53 James
January 07 2009, 11:31PM
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I think our players would have better results with a better coach and system.

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#54 humantorch
January 07 2009, 11:44PM
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I'd love to think that Tambellini is finally going to start fixing the complete blundering incompetence Kevin Lowe has shown since about 12 seconds after the Oilers lost Game 7 to Carolina, but to be frank, I'll believe it when I see it.

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#55 humantorch
January 07 2009, 11:45PM
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Chris wrote:

I don’t trust Lowe to hire the best possible replacement candidate.

I don't trust Kevin Lowe to put his pants on in the morning without falling over, let alone build a hockey team.

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#56 Dolemite
January 08 2009, 12:20AM
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Ax the assistants and bring in more experienced assistants. Problem solved.

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#57 3HeadedG-Unit
January 08 2009, 12:52AM
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@ Wanye Gretz: hahahahahahahahahahahahaa

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#58 me
January 08 2009, 06:42AM
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Thanks Robin.

It's time to move forward.

It's nice to see that he does have a pulse. Let's see if something comes off it.

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#59 Clarkenstein
January 08 2009, 09:21AM
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Looks like the Tambo pep talk didn't spur the coaches to motivate the players last night. The first 30 minutes were just crap... again... in our barn... again!!! But I bet this schizophrenic bunch will now come out and beat San Jose 3-1!!! Never fails...

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#60 paul from the union
January 08 2009, 09:40AM
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@ Wanye Gretz: It is now time, ....after the 40 game mark, ...to make a move on bringing this team to the next level of competition. The last 7-8 years of constantly trying to stumble into 8th spot, ....the time allotment for developing chemistry this season, the tinkering of lines and personnel,....and we are still at square 1 !!! This repetition "groundhog day movie" must end ! Although I can understand all of the following cannot be done simultaneously, ...but here goes: (1) fix the 3 goaltender system and add a small pinch toward commencing stability and resolve. If you have to cut your losses while fixing it,..then so be it ! (2) weed out the problematic personnel, ..even if it's an initial move or two. Doesn't have to be a blockbuster deal (3) assess and evaluate the coaching staff (ie" brownie's comments on Steve Tambellini's visit to the room on Sat.

It is time the hockey faithful here are better rewarded after years of sub-par teams and mediocrity. The current state of affairs and willingness to "wait and see" and accept things, is simply Unacceptable !!

paul from the union (the goaltenders union that is !)

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#61 oilerdago
January 08 2009, 09:41AM
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All this talk about changes, trades, guys being told efforts are not acceptable blah, blah, blah. I'll believe it when I finally see something.

Admittedly, it's much harder with Hemsky and Pisani out but the excuses from Moreau after the game were lame. I smell a blow out loss tomorrow to San Jose.

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#62 J-Bird
January 08 2009, 10:45AM
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My take on the Oilers is pretty simple:

1) Does the team have the horses to be a good team in the NHL?

2) Or does the team lack the horses to be a good team in the NHL?

There's only one way to answer that question, and that's to bring in a new coaching staff and see. If they still suck, then it is a player problem and that hangs on management.

But there's only one way to answer that question, and that's getting rid of MacT.

Bucky has entirely too much sway with the coach as evidenced by Reddox getting all his play. He can't hit, can't score, can't fight. Why is he in the NHL? Let alone on the top line here? Mind boggling, it really is. That isn't Reddox's fault though, who wouldn't accept the opportunity?

We've had many players of this ilk under the MacT regime. Players that are "safe", and that really bring nothing to the game. They take up ice time and don't cost him goals. Skill players be damned. I honestly believe that MacT would rather lose 2-1 than win 6-5 because he'd have less mistakes to chew through the next day, I really do.

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#63 Dannyboy
January 08 2009, 12:03PM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

jeanshorts wrote: . . .does it seem a little odd to anyone else that Tambo started kicking chairs around the same day the Kevin Lowe was in Ottawa for the WJC? Remember the first time dad left you the keys to his car? ANYBODY???? Maybe Tambo is spreading his wings a little bit, but I don’t think we’re going to see him going off in any kind of direction that Kevin wouldn’t have. Someone who takes this kind of time to generate even this small notice on a site as rigorous as ON isn’t the type of GM to distinguish himself from his predecessor. Tambo is essentially the grafted genetic thumbprint of Lowe, but with the convenience of being in a separate body if the blame needs to shift to a different tangible target. Prove me wrong, Tambo, but to me you’re still just a Klowne.

When you consider the only way Tambo could get out of his Vancouver assistant GM contract was with a promotion (which he got as GM here), I'm not yet convinced Tambo isn't KLowe's puppet. I like the idea of group input and decisions, but I do hope Tambo has enough clout as GM as he deserves.

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#64 CurtisS
January 08 2009, 12:11PM
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Well

Im just waiting for your next report Robin

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#65 shakey
January 08 2009, 01:16PM
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Imagine this...they 'promote' MacT to the front office and put Bucky or Huddy in charge of the bench. There's a case of be careful what you wish for.

Let's try another couple years of trying to find the right players for 'our system'. I've said it before, we could fill a section at RX1 with all of the guys that have been through this team in MacT's time here. Really, no one has been good enough to play and comprehend what is being preached? Not good enough...move on...get a new tire. Tire worked before, not working now, move on, get a new one. No problem with the ones driving though...

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