Tambellini: "I’m not concerned about next season at this point."

Jonathan Willis
November 30 2009 05:26PM

Steve Tambellini addressed the media earlier today; the video above comes from the Oilers' official website. The quote in the title doesn't come from that video, it comes from the longer audio version of his conference.

I've quoted out the portion of the audio segment that jumped out at me:

Reporter: Do you give it another month Steve, and if Khabibulin is long-term, and we know Ales is long-term, do you say ‘well, maybe we have an opportunity to build for the season next’, and see where this one goes with the kids and things might turn out better than expected…
Tambellini: Yeah, I’m not concerned about next season at this point. We’ve got two young goaltenders that are very skilled. I can’t see any reason why they couldn’t do the job.
Reporter: You like the young goalies? That seems daunting.
Tambellini: There’s a lot of teams that you take out a number one goaltender on an NHL roster, and you never can replace a legitimate number one goaltender, whether it’s Brodeur or Khabibulin, or Luongo or things like that. We have two people in there that have proven that they can play, and I feel no reason why they couldn’t do the job.
Reporter: So anyone out there thinking that they should start building for the future – as in next year – you say, (inaudible).
Tambellini: It’s November, and we’ve got a long ways to go here, we’ve got a long ways to go as far as improving our team, whether it’s Springfield or people that are here, we’ve got a long ways to go.
Stauffer: Steve, are you frustrated or pleased that some of the guys who have come up from Springfield have outplayed some of the guys that are here?
Tambellini: Overall, Bob, I’d say I’m pleased. I thought specifically O’Marra and McDonald that came up have played very well, I thought Chorney when he came up played well. I feel good about that, that players are coming up and able to jump in our system right away and produce, so it shows that they’re playing with confidence down there.
Reporter: You think your leadership group is going to keep this group together, keep them in a positive frame of mind?
Tambellini: I see no reason why not.

Is Tambellini spinning things here, or is he giving an honest appraisal of the situation?  Given how some of these remarks (particularly the one in the title) will play, I'd guess he's being honest; if I were spinning I'd say something to the effect of "we always have an eye to the future, but right now my focus is on winning this year".  Regardless, Tambellini's public comments are the best look we have into what he's thinking.

My personal take on his comments basically boils down to this:

  1. "I'm not concerned about next season" has to be a slip of the tongue.  Only a prize idiot could look at moves and not try and calculate the ramifications for the season after this one, and given how long Tambellini's been employed by NHL teams I have trouble believing he's a prize idiot.  A good G.M. is always concerned with next season.  Long-term planning is an obvious requirement of the job.  I'd suggest that he meant something more along the lines of what I wrote above; namely that the primary focus is on this year.
  2. Tambellini seems to contradict himself on the goaltenders; in one sentence he says that you can "never replace" a Khabibulin, and in the next he says he sees no reason why Dubnyk and Deslauriers can't do the job.  Presumably he thinks they'll be good enough to give this team a shot at the playoffs.  I'm not sure I buy that assessment; this strikes me as a team that needs above-average goaltending to win.
  3. Tambellini continues to refuse to say anything negative about the players on the team; a far cry from what he was doing in the off-season when he basically called everybody out.  I don't actually have a problem with this; if he wants to keep those things behind closed doors, power to him.
  4. Tambellini started the interview by discussing how difficult it is to make trades, and near the end he talked about "whether it’s Springfield or people that are here" as the answer, so whatever help is coming would seem to be coming from inside the organization.

In short, at this point I simply hope that what he says to the media doesn't mirror what he says behind closed doors.  This team may be a contender in the future but it isn't now; therefore all moves should be made with an eye to the future.  This team probably needs to be bailed out by the goaltenders; average won't get the job done.  There are definite problems on this team, and they need help from outside to get the job done.  All of those statements are at odds with what Tambellini said today.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 DonovanMD
November 30 2009, 05:46PM
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This has to be just media spin. I understand they don't want to say the team is considering folding up shop, but I really hope the GM of my team isn't playing season to season with no long term plan, whether it be to win now or rebuild or whatever.

Tambellini, not so good with the sound bytes at the pressers huh?

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#2 Jodes
November 30 2009, 05:47PM
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I'm concerned about two things: that he's doing a complete 180 of what he said in the spring, its more bait and switch from this organization.

Secondly, that he as GM did not have a "back up plan" if Heatley wouldn't have signed. They knew flat out they'd need help on the PK, faceoffs and at least 1 solid gritty dman, but they didn't lift a finger to try and help that. More "wait and see" garbage.

Signing Khabby is now looking questionable, and Comrie, well it doesn't really take much to play for 1.2 million dollars nowadays.. That is if he can stay healthy when he comes back.

I knew when they didn't address those needs in the off season we'd be in trouble in those areas, and go figure we're back to last years numbers.

Am I advocating for a blockbuster trade? no.. because those are literally impossible to pull of nowadays, but he needs to man up and start cutting some deadweight off this team.

Unfortunately I feel the season is going to have a very fimilar ending to it, not making the playoffs and everyone in management/operations not named Kevin Lowe will be given their walking papers. It will be the Maciocia situation all over again.

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#3 Travis Dakin
November 30 2009, 05:48PM
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Things are NOT ok Steve..... Dammit give me something to look forward to.

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#4 Skidplate
November 30 2009, 05:49PM
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What trades or moves would you suggest Jonathan? I think we all realize that big blockbusters are far a few between, but smaller moves for solid players may be a possiblity.

A lot of the talking heads on the tube say that Cogliano would be the guy to move, but I hope not. You have to love his speed, I think he has better hands and hockey sense than some give him credit for. I would move O'Sullivan before Cogliano.

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#6 Harlie
November 30 2009, 05:59PM
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@Jonathan Willis

lookin forward to the Tambo's chair article..

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#7 Eric Johnson
November 30 2009, 06:04PM
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It's like asking for a straight answer from a politician, you're never going to get one without some type of spin.

What happens behind closed doors in the war room will never truly be brought into the light. We may get a snippet here and there but for the most part the real story is never told.

I also imagine this has changed dramatically as has the business side of hockey in the past 20 years.

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#8 Oil Fan
November 30 2009, 06:17PM
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What do you want Tambo to say. If he is thinking about next season, that would mean he has wrote off this one. I hated to watch the Oilers lose to the Cannot's but we are not out yet. There is lots of Hockey left. Teams get hurt,play bad etc. I think that with Stone close to being back and Grebs getting better were not to bad. Yes we are missing our best player. But a minor deal to help balance the team could salvage the season. Gagne starts to play better and Brule keeps it up. Ijust hope Bulin comes back soon.

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#10 David S
November 30 2009, 06:31PM
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Eric Johnson wrote:

It's like asking for a straight answer from a politician, you're never going to get one without some type of spin.

What happens behind closed doors in the war room will never truly be brought into the light. We may get a snippet here and there but for the most part the real story is never told.

I also imagine this has changed dramatically as has the business side of hockey in the past 20 years.

Exactly. I really don't expect Tambellini to say anything unscripted and unapproved by senior management. You simply can't take anything a GM says at face value, and it would be wise not to attempt interpretations as a result.

Steve Tambellini said some stuff today. He looked like he had a new haircut and bought a new shirt. That's about all the insight you can get out of those pressers.

"MacT's not going anywhere!"

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#11 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
November 30 2009, 06:32PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I'm in next year territory, so I'm not sure that what I'd do would be popular. In any case, I have a post coming up tomorrow with everything I'd be doing in Tambellini's chair.

i know exactly what i would be doing if i was in tambos chair.

hint: it would not pass moderation with my mom reading over my shoulder

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#12 Oil Fan
November 30 2009, 06:37PM
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I'm not suggesting he should not think our season's down the road. He just can't write this one off. THE REASON THE OILERS ARE LOSING IT BECAUSE OF THOSE MUSTACHES.

Is it a possibility they make a trade or sign a player from Europe now that Hemsky is out ?

I loved how the Rider fans had signs that said "Montreal you didn't count on the 13th man".

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#13 Skidplate
November 30 2009, 06:49PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I'm in next year territory, so I'm not sure that what I'd do would be popular. In any case, I have a post coming up tomorrow with everything I'd be doing in Tambellini's chair.

Thanks Jonathan, I look forward to the article.

I wondering what we would be saying if the promise of the first 10 games or so continued. I know the team wasn't playing perfect hockey then, but they were winning games and playing entertaining hockey.

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#14 RossCreekNation
November 30 2009, 06:53PM
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I'm thinking one of Visnovsky/Souray should be moved. Purely an age/contract thing. By the time this team is ready to compete for a Cup, both players will be on the decline of their career, and on a new contract.

I've said it all along, I don't think the Visnovsky trade was the right trade for THIS team. It's not to say "Visnovsky sucks", but moreso that guy's like Stoll and Greene are exactly what this team needs. Not only the fact that their style of play, but their character and they're the age/experience group that is needed to take over the leadership role.

Stoll was pegged as the future captain of this team. He almost got the nod ahead of Moreau, but he wasn't ready for the responsibility yet. If he were here now, not only would he help Horcoff out on the ice, but he'd help the transition of leadership.

Greene is a glue-guy, a physical shut-down type this team lacks that has assumed a leadership role in LA. When this team lost character guys like Greene, Reasoner and Smith, they lost a whole lot more than their respective on-ice games. Those guys were important in the dressing room (from everything I've heard & read and everything that I know about hockey players inside the dressing room -- perhaps Gregor or Brownlee could verify that sentiment as they've actually been in that room).

Would I take a do-over on the Stoll/Greene deal... yes. I know its been debated many times before, but perhaps the picture is a little different now for those who've said they wouldn't change a thing?

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#15 sizzler
November 30 2009, 06:56PM
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"I am not concerned about next season at this point".....he is right, with the team we have should be planning to rebuild atleast couple years from now, thats when captain crunch, staios will be UFA's and horcoff might be trade able.

Couple yr of top five picks and some talent in eberle & mps coming up....2012/2013 it is.

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#16 BOBO
November 30 2009, 07:00PM
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He is obviously bluffing. By this time next week our roster will be a lot different, Staal and Dubinsky will be ours. Then I heard he is going to flip them to get Doug Weight and Schremp back!

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#17 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
November 30 2009, 07:01PM
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@RossCreekNation

it has been speculated, more than once, that stoll and greene were part of the group that were, shall we say, enjoying the life away from the rink a little to much.

obviously an internet message board is not the place to start speculating on exact events, but to take things at face value in this case, in my opinion, probably isnt the correct course of action.

on ice, stoll and greene would absolutely 110% be the type of players that this team needs right now, no question about it

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#18 RossCreekNation
November 30 2009, 07:05PM
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Guy's like Moreau, Staios and (a healthy) Pisani will likely be valuable commodities come deadline time. They may not have high return's, but they should be easy enough to get off the books IMO.

I think Cogliano could be moved... only if the player returning is young, inexpensive, and suits THIS team better.

Gilbert OR Grebeshkov. It doesn't necassarily HAVE to happen during the season, but before camp opens next season one of those two (at least) should be gone. Personally, I'd replace BOTH! One with another puck-mover and one with a 2-way, physical shut-down guy.

2 names I'll throw out - Brandon Dubinsky & Dan Hamhuis.

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#20 RossCreekNation
November 30 2009, 07:13PM
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@cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

Yes, and I think moving Torres was probably the solution to that problem. Perhaps Stoll needed a fresh start away from Edmonton's 'snow' or perhaps Raffi's departure could've been enough to get him back on the right track.

The rock-star lifestyle is something that I'm sure a lot of NHLers partake in at some point in their careers. Whether its booze, smoke or cola, it's readily available.

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#21 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
November 30 2009, 07:20PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

Yes, and I think moving Torres was probably the solution to that problem. Perhaps Stoll needed a fresh start away from Edmonton's 'snow' or perhaps Raffi's departure could've been enough to get him back on the right track.

The rock-star lifestyle is something that I'm sure a lot of NHLers partake in at some point in their careers. Whether its booze, smoke or cola, it's readily available.

i agree.

trying to minimize the influence in the room is really all a team can do. you can educate all you want, but throw millions at a young kid and you are asking for problems.

though, the oilers of the 80s did ok for themselves...hmmmm

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#22 Muller
November 30 2009, 07:21PM
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There's four months of hockey left. Injuries/sickness have played a part in where this team stands now. Tambo has been behind the eight ball because of this. Makin the right trade isn't easy guys.

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#23 BarryS
November 30 2009, 07:24PM
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Couple things I want to know.

1. Anybody know for sure when the other 29 teams are going to get off the pot and start to make meaningful trades? Myself I see nothing coming until after the Olympics when injuries there come into the came. Tambo can't make trades with himself, he needs someone else to trade with.

2. Anybody believe Tambo will say during the season when the plays are here which might offend them? After the season what he says can't cause out of joint noses to affect play. Politics is a part of everyday life in a team, so why is anybody surprised when a GM without trade options does not risk forcing trades on himself at even worse terms than are likely to be the case when trading season finally begins.

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#24 RossCreekNation
November 30 2009, 07:26PM
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@cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

though, the oilers of the 80s did ok for themselves...hmmmm

Ummm... remember that Sports Illustrated article... and Grant *sniff* Fuhr? (man that guy always had a lot of energy)

EDIT:Oh... and Mess. I mean, he partied with Madonna in the Big Apple. C'mon.

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#25 David S
November 30 2009, 07:27PM
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cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

i agree.

trying to minimize the influence in the room is really all a team can do. you can educate all you want, but throw millions at a young kid and you are asking for problems.

though, the oilers of the 80s did ok for themselves...hmmmm

You can't possibly be from Edmonton. The 80's Oilers were legendary partiers.

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#26 BarryS
November 30 2009, 07:27PM
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BOBO wrote:

He is obviously bluffing. By this time next week our roster will be a lot different, Staal and Dubinsky will be ours. Then I heard he is going to flip them to get Doug Weight and Schremp back!

You need to work more on your timing and your material but your comedic ability shows promice.

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#27 RossCreekNation
November 30 2009, 07:30PM
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@BarryS

I think we might see a few moves over the next couple of weeks, but probably nothing too significant.

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#28 BarryS
November 30 2009, 07:32PM
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David S wrote:

You can't possibly be from Edmonton. The 80's Oilers were legendary partiers.

Unfortunately its not the eighties anymore for more than one reason. Like the sixties, the myth is much more fum than the realities.

No twitter, cell cams, internet, blogs, politician police officers, females who do and then sell the story to TV before the sweat dries, etc. then.

Of course, notice I didn't say the players were any smarter, but maybe more careful maybe, or more into videogames than real action,

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#29 BarryS
November 30 2009, 07:40PM
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Anybody see the injuries to Ovechkin, and Volcoun tonight.

Least our star, I use the term somewhat loosely, didn't get five and a game for kneeing, and maybe injured, and likely to get a suspension of some sort.

Least our defenceman, in a childish fit of anger, didn't lay a good one on the side of the head of our goalie causing him to be carried out on a stretcher.

Things could be worse, Oiler Fans.

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#30 RossCreekNation
November 30 2009, 07:46PM
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@BarryS

~What was Volcoun ERRRRR Vokoun doing sticking his head in front of Ballard's stick?~

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#31 BarryS
November 30 2009, 07:50PM
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Actually, if you notice he was on his knees pretending to feel bad about the goal he just let in. Ballard did a spin, took a step towards the net and swung all thought looking. Man, we think we might have room problems, wonder what its like in there room tonight?

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#32 BarryS
November 30 2009, 07:54PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

~What was Volcoun ERRRRR Vokoun doing sticking his head in front of Ballard's stick?~

Good hit. Then again, being a foreigner, his name likely isn't spelt either way.

~Didn't you know, the quicker the mind, the poorer the spelling~

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#33 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
November 30 2009, 08:29PM
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David S wrote:

You can't possibly be from Edmonton. The 80's Oilers were legendary partiers.

durrrrrrr learn how to read

though, the oilers of the 80s did ok for themselves...hmmmm

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#34 Hemmertime
November 30 2009, 08:30PM
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Vokoun Thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMvneYMZiMQ

Wow.

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#35 Reagan
November 30 2009, 08:32PM
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Well part of Bob's new job is to be pumping the Oiler brand, not to say that he doesn't still speak his mind, but it seemed as if he gave Tambi a way out of this crap mess that the scrum was heading into. I sure Tambi is well aware that his franchise is falling a part week after week, and nothing but the rebuilding writing is on the wall for this hockey club. Sad but true, there is so much healing and patching that one can do from a farm club to try and make things work. This Oiler team may have cut it in the NHL 10 years ago, but not with today's highly skilled talent now available. In my mind there is ten levels of greatness in this league and the Oilers are at level 1 or 2. The preception of the team and market is in the tubes. The Fans are precieved as negative, and too opinionated (including myself). It too cold in Edmonton. The mismanagement of dollars has put the team in a tight spot.

Any which way you look at it this franchise is fubared right now! For me personally, I still blame Pronger ( for selling out ), and I blame Lowes ego (for trying to prove a point with Penner and two horrible contracts), and I blame the bitter fans of the Oilers that put us here in this spot (Comrie, Penner and now Healtey situations).

Yeah, give me the insults, could care less.

Have a Nice Day! :)

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#36 BarryS
November 30 2009, 08:38PM
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@Reagan

To whom it may concern, Reagan couldn't care less and wishes us all a nice day. Well, the second one is wrong, its night and the weather is terrible, does this mean the first is wrong as well? ;-]

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#37 Hemmertime
November 30 2009, 08:39PM
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From the desk of Ballard:

I claim no responsibility for the injury. If Vokoun knew what he was doing he wouldn't have let the goal in.

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#38 Dan the Man
November 30 2009, 08:40PM
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@RossCreekNation

I hate to agree with a fLames fan but I couldn't agree with you more on the Visnovsky trade. Everyone would say that we got the best player so we won the trade and I can't disagree that we got the best player but he wasn't what this team needed. I love watching the Vis, he has some mad skills. People would also say that guys like Greene and Stoll are easily replaced but then why has this team failed to replace them?

As far as the Ballard hit on Vokoun....possibly the dumbest, most careless thing I've ever seen in sports. Ballard should be ashamed, there is no excuse.

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#39 David S
November 30 2009, 08:40PM
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Oh man. Where's Jeanshorts when you need him.

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#40 BarryS
November 30 2009, 08:43PM
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Hemmertime wrote:

From the desk of Ballard:

I claim no responsibility for the injury. If Vokoun knew what he was doing he wouldn't have let the goal in.

From the desk of the GM

You are being sent so far down in the minors the sticks are still carved by hand and the skates attach to your street shoes with two leather straps.

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#41 Reagan
November 30 2009, 08:45PM
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Barry it is time to either A: start plucking the grays, or B: stop dipping into the whiskey.

:)

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#42 BarryS
November 30 2009, 08:47PM
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Reagan wrote:

Barry it is time to either A: start plucking the grays, or B: stop dipping into the whiskey.

:)

Well, don't waste time plucking what falls out by itself. Can't afford booze because I got teenagers.

confirmed part one was right, you do care. ;-]

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#43 SportsDad
November 30 2009, 08:47PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I'm in next year territory, so I'm not sure that what I'd do would be popular. In any case, I have a post coming up tomorrow with everything I'd be doing in Tambellini's chair.

I would look at packaging some of our high end talent and potential high-end talen into 2-3 trades and taking back 1st round draft picks and bad contracts in return.

for example, We could trade Souray to a "potential team"( a team with a chance of making the playoffs but not guaranteed) for a potential bad contract(perhaps a larger contract with a 1 or 2 years left that was equalavent to souray's contract) and a first round pick. If the team did not make the playoffs, we would have another top 16 pick. The contract we would take back would be off the books by the time the draft was ready for the NHL (in an optimum situation). I know it's hard to make trades in today's market but I would think Souray, Gilbert and Deslaurier should be of interest to some teams and no team isperfect with the contracts they have (aside from maybe Detroit).

Anyway, Just a thought on what I would try, no idea on the chances of success.

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#44 The Real Scuba Steve
November 30 2009, 08:55PM
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Does anybody know how next years draft is looking, This is the earliest I have EVER even thought about it.

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#45 BarryS
November 30 2009, 08:59PM
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@SportsDad

To me players for first rounder draft picks is a pipe dream now Burkie has traded away this years and next and only got a player that was not going to sign with Boston anyway. Something for nothing for Boston, in a manner of speaking.

Given we are in a position of weakness, I expect at the moment teams would gladly take Souray or another good player from us giving us four or five contracts of equal or greater value and term off their hands. Besides, we are in serious contention for 1,2 or three at the moment, and aren't like to get any to those we don't "earn" ourselves and draft picks after about 6 or 7 are bigger gambles than we need.

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#46 Ogden Brother
November 30 2009, 09:03PM
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Just like his last presser, I wouldn't put much stock in this. I'm sure he knows the collective ocnfiedence of the teams is basically zero. Last thing they need is the GM adding to that.

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#47 Ogden Brother
November 30 2009, 09:06PM
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@ sportsdad

I would think we could get more for Souray then just a mid range first (without even taking a salary dump.

We got a mid 1st + 2 prospects just selected in the mid 1st for 18 games of Ryan Smyth... and I even had to read 297,372,153 posts talking about how we didn't get enough for Smyth. 210 games of Sheldon Souray should bring back at least that.

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#48 BarryS
November 30 2009, 09:11PM
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@BarryS

Unless injuries pile up on contending teams near playoff time, I still can't see many serious trades being made. Given they are contending, their first rounders are not likely to be high nor able to play next year.

It seems more likely several players may be bought out/not offered contracts, before major trades will be made.

Then again, until teams get a real feel about next years cap, they are likely to be shy about giving away players they may be able to keep.

Anybody know how the league is really doing attendance wise? Sure Phoenix seems a dead loss at the moment, but they were last year as well and the cap didn't change. Are the bad teams in the south any worse off, and other than Detroit, how about the northern teams?

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#49 Chris.
November 30 2009, 09:16PM
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In June of 2007 Scott Howson left the Oilers and assumed the GM post with Columbus. The Oilers had just finished a disappointing campaign that saw the club utterly collapse down the stretch, and finish with only 32 wins and 71 points. Columbus, had been floundering for years and posted a very comparable 73 points with only 33 wins...

Fast forward a couple of seasons: Howson, by carefully signing proven vetrans to value contracts, has been able to steer his club into the post season. Every year there has been steady improvemet in Columbus. Meanwhile, the Oilers, under Lowe and Tambellini are still busy "evaluating" AHLers and various pint sized draftees... (That is, when they are not too busy throwing money at UFA's, RFA's, and disgruntled or aging superstars.)

One Organization is currently projected to finish near the bottom of the league with around 73 points and a $60M payroll. The other Organization is on pace for a 95 point season and a second consecutive playoff berth... Did I mention this second Organization still has nearly $10M in cap space? Can you guess which is which? The Oilers should have kept Scott Howson.

FL&TNF!

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#50 BarryS
November 30 2009, 09:21PM
Trash it!
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@Chris.

Any chance he might have wanted to leave before any of this stuck to him. After all, he negotiated the contracts, and being a smart guy, bailed on the team he helped build. Once in his own job, he used the experience gained at our expence there?

The cap space is because the owner has no money and needs all he can get from the team, they're capped out because Howson can't spend the money.

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