Time for a change: let the do-over begin

Robin Brownlee
December 29 2009 11:38AM

I'll admit to being stubborn when it comes to changing my mind on stances I've taken, like the need to tear down the Edmonton Oilers roster and start over with a full-scale rebuild, but the abomination that is the Oilers seven-game losing streak has made a believer out of me.

While the make-up and mix of the roster coach Pat Quinn has to work with has looked wrong to me since training camp broke, I have been of the mind, given injuries and illness, that GM Steve Tambellini should wait 50-60 games to start undoing this edition of the team.

Even then, I wasn't in for a full-scale Dive For Five, but after watching this mis-matched collection of players that's supposed to be a team fade into a nothingness that can only be described as an epic fail, 39 games has me convinced.

Consider me a card-carrying member of the DFF Faction, a convert to the belief that Tambellini, or somebody else if he doesn't have the stomach or wherewithal for the job, has to do whatever it takes to get to square one.

Dan Barnes pulled the trigger by calling for the same thing today in The Journal, so I'm not claiming to be staking new ground here, but I'd rather catch on to what many fans here at OilersNation and elsewhere have been saying sooner rather than later.

It's broke. Time to fix it.

The ugly details

I said a week or so ago my philosophy for the DFF is that landing a 2010 draft lottery pick should be considered an aside to a proper rebuild, not the focus of it. I'm sticking by that because I don't believe a Taylor Hall or a Tyler Seguin is the cure-all for the Oilers, even if it is a start.

The goal for me is freeing up cap space and creating options, rather than throwing the mess Kevin Lowe created on the shoulders of 18-year-old kids coming out of the draft, no matter how talented they might be, in the next couple of years.

  • If I'm Tambellini, I'm faxing the other 29 GMs in the league a list of roster players I'm willing to trade before the New Year. I'm informing them that I'm ready to deal between now and the deadline.
    The only players NOT on that list are Ales Hemsky, Ladislav Smid, Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Potulny, J.F. Jacques, Dustin Penner, Ryan Stone, Zack Stortini, Gilbert Brule and Sam Gagner.
    With the exception of Hemsky and Penner, these players don't put a significant dent in the salary cap now and likely won't in their next contracts. There is no windfall waiting for Cogliano or Gagner this summer, so they aren't going anywhere, at least not yet.
  • While it's unlikely there'll be calls for players at the top of the salary scale like Shawn Horcoff, Sheldon Souray or Lubomir Visnovsky, I'd make them as attractive as possible. Dump their salary for picks and prospects, if possible. Yes, these contracts are next-to-impossible to trade, but you take a shot and see what happens. If one or all of them are back, so be it.
  • I'm especially pushing Ethan Moreau, Steve Staios and Patrick O'Sullivan before the deadline. They could be decent pieces for the right team during the stretch drive, even with some term left.
  • My 2010-11 edition of the Oilers includes Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Theo Peckham and Taylor Chorney.
  • My first moves before hitting the fax machine are, as Barnes suggested, finding out if surgery is the answer for Horcoff's shoulder and Nikolai Khabibulin's back.
    Surgery takes them out of play in terms of trades in the unlikely case that anybody would be interested -- Mike Milbury isn't an option -- but it helps secure a lottery pick. 

At the top

  • If I'm owner Daryl Katz, I'm grading Tambellini on what he does between now and the trade deadline. If I don't see a significant shift in the right direction, he gets a pink slip when the season ends.
  • If Tambellini gets the sack, then Quinn moves from coach to GM, while associate Tom Renney and assistants Wayne Fleming and Kelly Buchberger run the bench. I also look at rescuing Rob Daum from the shit show that is Springfield and adding him to the staff here.
  • The entire hockey operations side gets re-evaluated at the end of the season, and that evaluation begins with the scouting staff, starting with Kevin Prendergast.
  • If I'm Katz, I take a long look at old pal Kevin Lowe, now the president of hockey operations, and ask some tough questions. Does he serve out the term of his extension or take the fall now for the mess he left Tambellini? Either way, Lowe's days are numbered.
  • If I'm Katz, I call Tambellini, Lowe and anybody who has a stake in the decision-making process and inform them in no uncertain terms the do-over starts now. Then, I call a news conference to tell fans exactly that.

— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and 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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#301 TigerUnderGlass
December 30 2009, 11:14AM
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Librarian Mike wrote:
I have never been able to understand why a professional athlete would be a smoker.

It's all tied into the "let's go out and get hammered after the game" bar culture. I don't imagine there are that many of those guys left however (at least as far as smoking goes...drinking to excess is another matter entirely). The game is just too fast nowadays for players to be screwing around like that on a consistent basis.

I had a friend who was from Toronto who told me about waiting outside Maple Leaf Gardens in the 80s when Al Iafrate would ride up on his Harley with a joint hanging out of his mouth.

Yeah the bar culture is obvious, but there is more to it than that I believe. The question to me is why hockey more than other sports?

That still leaves the most significant question...as an athlete why risk it? When minor differences in physical abilities can make or break a career why risk it?

Don't bother answering because I know the answer...people are stupid and nobody feels more indestructible than a young athlete.

I just don't understand it.

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#302 RossCreekNation
December 30 2009, 11:24AM
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So... did Yzerman & Co. get it right?

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#303 BarryS
December 30 2009, 11:25AM
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@Robin Brownlee

Since I have nothing but the ocassional emotion invested in the team, less all the time, Naieve is a nice place to be in this case.

I would be surprised if Mr. Katz was happy with the team, just would like to see some action showing that unhappiness.

All I know is I see no desperation in the players, as in jobs are at risk, the coaches or desperation in the management. The owner says nothing anybody reports as coming from him. No lamb, player with a contract, has yet been sacrificed from the big team to indicate change is coming.

I have not doubted your words or Barnes', as a fan, becoming more casual by the day, I have seen no actions indicating an inclination for change. Its fine if your sources tell you different, but I see no actions by the team to back up what they and your observations tell you.

I understand no major deal is likely to be made until trade deadline, but the farm team could use help and that should be do-able before trade deadline. Even that would send a message management is on it.

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#304 Broken One Piece
December 30 2009, 11:31AM
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@TigerUnderGlass

ya if he played on another teams second line, im sure he would do good, not great but good, even 5.5 seems much for this guy but if he produced...money well spent, but not in e-town, just don't see it happening here and i think people are starting to see that

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#305 JB
December 30 2009, 12:19PM
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@RossCreekNation

Somehow I suspect most if not all deals will happen near the deadline when management is done thoroughly "assessing" the team - whatever the hell that means at this point. The course of action will be the one that allows Oiler management to continue to pretend they have a plan in place.

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#306 quicksilver ballet
December 30 2009, 02:31PM
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Can we just rewind to the mid eighties please.....it has become obvious that the people entrusted to provide the hockey entertainment in this market have let us all down this year

Who was it that was telling Pat Quinn there's an abundance of skill/talent here? There has to be some conflict with the people involved when the coach knows these players are mostly threes dressed up as nines. I think Pat must've givin up on some of these guys.

Darn that musical group Journey for creating that song ...Don't stop believing, for it surely must be Tambellini, Lowe and Kevin Pendergassed it again...... favorite melody.

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#307 Jay
December 30 2009, 05:50PM
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Can we all agree that Deslauriers is not an NHL goalie and probably never will be? He sure lets in some weak goals.

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#308 Chaz
December 30 2009, 06:23PM
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Just got back to Oil Nation so I just read the article now Robin, and I think your suggestions are bang-on. The only thing I would disagree with is trying to lose Visnovsky's contract. To me he's too good to let go, and because he's such a great skater and minimizes the punishment he receives I believe he'll continue to play at an elite level through to the end of his contract. Don't you think that a young team needs a presence like Lubo's to succeed in this league? I think of Gonchar in Pittsburgh as a perfect example of this.

By the way, we're tied in the Nation draft, yet they list you first. Talk about Nepotism! Haha.

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#309 Helmerfied
December 30 2009, 06:35PM
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Are there people on this site honestly suggesting that the owner, management and/or the players don't have a concerted interest in winning? Are you kidding? Thank about it. Yes, back in the EIG days, the 2 playoff gates were extra important, but I find it hard to believe ownership, mgmt and players have much of anyhthing beyond winning as many games as possible in mind. Seriously. "Tambo, I only need 4 playoff home games to make a profit this year. I want you to put together a team that will max out at 2 playoff rounds. Winning is not important." Ya, I'm sure that's the plan.

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#310 Jokerr
December 30 2009, 06:46PM
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Brownlee it's about time you stopped hanging off the dairy cow. We need a new group of vetern's, we need to seperate the contender's from the pretender's and we need to start looking in the mirror (Old boy's club, you know who you are!). Let's stop riding on our laurel's of past and start a new regime in Edmonton, one that will lead by example and not perform on some sadistic form of entiltlement!!!

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#311 Robin Brownlee
December 30 2009, 07:00PM
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Jokerr wrote:

Brownlee it's about time you stopped hanging off the dairy cow. We need a new group of vetern's, we need to seperate the contender's from the pretender's and we need to start looking in the mirror (Old boy's club, you know who you are!). Let's stop riding on our laurel's of past and start a new regime in Edmonton, one that will lead by example and not perform on some sadistic form of entiltlement!!!

What does hanging off the dairy cow mean, exactly? And FFS, get a grasp of spelling, grammar and punctuation. Any point you're trying to make gets lost in the image of you picking a banjo on a porch in Arkansas with corn liquor spittle running down your chin.

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#312 Jokerr
December 30 2009, 07:26PM
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Thanks for the advice. Nice of you to make 2010 the year of taking a stand (even if it is against me.). I shouldn't use metaphor's for "sucking the hind tit". I love Lowe's emotion but I believe it got in the way of his decision making process as well. This column was a long time in the making. Great job! I would like to see a youth movement lead this team. Let's hope the solution comes sooner rather than later!

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#313 quicksilver ballet
December 31 2009, 05:08PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

What does hanging off the dairy cow mean, exactly? And FFS, get a grasp of spelling, grammar and punctuation. Any point you're trying to make gets lost in the image of you picking a banjo on a porch in Arkansas with corn liquor spittle running down your chin.

I wish you wouldn't beat aroung the bush so much Robin, just tell the man what you think.

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#314 michael clarke
January 01 2010, 10:04AM
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The bloodletting should begin soooner than later. We have to many disinterested veterans on this squad. You forgot to mention Pisani in your comments. No GM in his right mind should take him. He is damaged goods. Yeah I hear Gregors voice saying " Dineen played with it all hit career". Eat the rest of this years contract and its time to say chao to Pisani. I agree that Moreau and Staois need to go if the intent is a rebuild. Honestly Moreau is playing so tight that if a put a quarter up his butt it would drop out as a loonie at the end of the game. His game is not what it should be. Chicago could use Staois veteran prescence on the backend for the playoffs. L.A. could use a Souray, and Souray couls use L.A.. Its where his kids are and that seems to be huge anchor wieghing on his shoulders. He'd deny it, but that may be a trade that both sides could benefit from. Stoll and a first round pick would be enough for me. Horcoff is a dead issue. Hemsky for me is a guy I would trade on a team that is rebuilding. Great value in a trade for the right price. Would you trade him to Boston for Toronto's 2 first round picks. I would. Boston needs a sniper and at that price I think that would look pretty good to both teams. Plus the added bonus of putting the screws to Burke would be so nice. Savard with Lucic and Hemsky is not a bad line? If you were GM for a day what would be the one trade you would make if you could. And it has to be realistic not an outright fantasy trade. Player for player/s and salary cap included?

happy new year

teammate michael

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