February 03 2009 11:24PM
“You have to get better from the inside. We have to get better as a group (and) individually. That’s the only way you’ll be able to sustain something… it’s difficult. Teams are looking for energy players. Teams are looking for defencemen. They’re looking for top-six forwards." -- GM Steve Tambellini, Feb. 2, 2009
Tambellini doesn't need advice from me, but having watched yet another emotionless, flat stinker by the Edmonton Oilers that wasn't nearly as close on the ice as it was on score board in a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, he's going to get some.
With 50 games in the books, getting better from the inside isn't working. It's time to go outside. It's time to get on the telephone. It's time to make a trade to shake up a team clearly incapable of generating the emotion and intensity it's going to take to secure a playoff spot in the next 32 games.
What? Rob Schremp is going to make a difference? Tim Sestito? How about the players in the dressing room now? Ethan Moreau? Shawn Horcoff? Tom Gilbert? Dustin Penner? Liam Reddox? Uh,no.
How much more of what the people who pay to get into Rexall Place have seen in recent days does Tambellini have to contemplate before he realizes this team isn't good enough to make the playoffs?
It doesn't need to be a blockbuster because that's probably pie-in-the-sky stuff -- unless Tambellini wants blow his wad and put everybody except Ales Hemsky on the table and see what happens -- but it needs to be a trade to inject some enthusiasm, balls, jam, brass, whatever you want to call it, into a team profoundly lacking in it. If some of those qualities come attached to a mean-as-hell shut down defenceman or a proven penalty killer, all the better.
Don't wait for the deadline. Do it now.
Tick, tick, tick...
The Oilers play seven of their next eight games on the road, they've lost three of their last four games and they're packing for stops in St. Louis, Detroit and Minnesota without Lubomir Visnovsky.
They're 25-22-3 and sitting in ninth place as they jump a jet for the Show Me State. They have absolutely no chance, none, of finishing these next eight games that high in the standings with this group of players.
For those who fancy firing coach Craig MacTavish as their default solution, let's get off that, shall we? That isn't going to happen right now. It isn't going to happen next week. It isn't going to happen until after a move's been made to shake this line-up from the comfort zone it’s clearly fallen into. How else do you explain another heartless effort against the Blackhawks?
So, let's dispense with the drama and make a move, or moves, now. With all of the time Tambellini's spent on the phone, he's got a pretty good picture of what's out there and who's available -- even if he isn't letting on. Can't get Jason Spezza out of Ottawa via the big deal route in a swap of bad contracts for Horcoff as part of a package? Fine. Add somebody who competes. Send a message. Shake it up.
I get it that patience is a virtue. I get it that it's better to make a deal from a position of strength. But with this group of players so obviously content with mediocrity, the only position the Oilers are destined to assume between now and the NHL trade deadline involves grabbing ones ankles.
It's time to make a deal.
-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.