Updated: Tuned out and Souray's business

Robin Brownlee
April 14 2009 07:30PM

Moreau in the penalty box

Fans who've insisted for years Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish had lost the dressing room weren't wrong, they were just more premature with their guesswork than a pimply-faced freshman with a hot date at the junior prom.

With MacTavish having one foot out the door and GM Steve Tambellini expected to face the media as early as Wednesday, what I was told by somebody I trust, in concert with on-the-record comments by players at Rexall Place Monday, has me convinced the lost-the-room argument holds water.

While MacTavish got most of the ink by voicing frustration with the make-up of the team, the willingness of his players to consistently compete and the inability of the coaching staff to fashion a game plan to suit a roster that's in transition, the telling stuff came from captain Ethan Moreau.

Moreau, long a MacTavish favourite and one of his staunchest backers, didn't exactly stand by his man when discussing his MacTavish's comments in pre-season that the Oilers would contend for a Northwest Division title.

Under the bus went MacT.

What was said

"Hopefully, we learned a bit of a lesson," Moreau said, answering a question by Dan Tencer from 630 CHED. "I think you just come to training camp and, if you have confidence, you have quiet confidence.

"You talk about your goals amongst your group. I don't think you need to predict you're going to win the Stanley Cup or win your division. You just go about your business. I don't think you need to have those expectations. Those are good conversations to have within your team."

Of course, Moreau talked about there being plenty of blame to go around and characterized the season as "a failure right from the top to the bottom," but that's captain-speak.

When I pressed Steve Staios, asking if he wanted MacTavish back, he said all the right things. Still, as somebody who has known Staios since before he arrived in Edmonton, I didn't find him convincing in the least.

"Yes, I would," Staios said. "I think we can have success with him. We've done it in the past. I don't think that a change, just one change, like that is the answer.

"I think that, overall as a group, I think everybody has to look at themselves and, you know, ask themselves if they gave everything they had and were committed. If you have that, you have a better chance of winning and making the playoffs."

What wasn’t said

I found it telling Sheldon Souray, the most-quoted Oiler player during the regular season, opted not to make himself available for interviews Monday. With MacTavish clearly under siege since the team was eliminated from post-season contention, I would have thought he'd be front and centre to defend his coach, watch his back, tell us everything was rosy.

Then again, maybe Souray didn't want to lie -- that would fit with what I was told earlier in the day, when it was suggested MacTavish didn't have many allies in the dressing room and that he'd lost the support of the leadership core. That would be Moreau, Staios, Souray and Shawn Horcoff, who were solidly in MacTavish's corner -- largely because they'd been given the run of the room -- when the season began.

Add that to the obvious bad feelings between MacTavish and frequent doghouse resident Dustin Penner, not to mention MacT's obvious frustration with Robert Nilsson, and nobody, as MacTavish put it, was skipping out of Rexall Place yesterday. And nobody, at least players I talked to, sounded overly distraught at the thought of MacTavish resigning.

Time’s up

So, unless Tambellini is willing to turn the roster upside down, he has little choice but to accept MacTavish's resignation, then sell us tomorrow or the next day on the new direction the team will be embarking on.

That's not to say Tambellini shouldn't be making significant players moves this summer to improve the team and find the right mix, because it's obvious to anybody with a functioning brain stem he should, but the motivation for doing so shouldn't be placating MacTavish. That won't happen here.

And it shouldn't.

Pronger reprise?

Perhaps one of the reasons Souray didn't make himself available to reporters Monday is he didn't want to address speculation that he's asked Tambellini for a trade.

Rumours Souray has asked to be dealt began several weeks ago and they've persisted since. To this point, neither Souray or anybody in the Oilers front office has gone on the record to put the talk to rest. Until that happens, and there's a flat-out denial from one of the parties, this has legs.

Stay tuned.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm 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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#151 topshelf
April 15 2009, 08:33AM
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@ David S: You think Steve Staois is a considerable upgrade to Theo Peckham? (including contract)

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#152 Ogden Brother
April 15 2009, 08:41AM
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topshelf wrote:

@ David S: You think Steve Staois is a considerable upgrade to Theo Peckham? (including contract)

Thiers a big difference between better value and more effective player. Sure Peckham maybe better value at .8 (or whatever he's paid) but he's no where near as valuable on ice (today).

Unused cap space is worthless... we had a couple million of it this year... didn't score any goals.

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#153 topshelf
April 15 2009, 08:46AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

but he’s no where near as valuable on ice (today).

I would debate how valuable Steve Staois was on the ice. Declining asset making triple the salary versus Theo Peckham who looks to coming into his own.

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#154 topshelf
April 15 2009, 08:48AM
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"looks to be coming into his own"

..need more coffee.

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#155 Rob
April 15 2009, 10:14AM
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Staios on the ice in the last 2 minutes or OT = GOAL(for the other team)

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#156 topshelf
April 15 2009, 10:24AM
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My point exactly.

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#157 David S
April 15 2009, 10:35AM
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topshelf wrote:

You think Steve Staois is a considerable upgrade to Theo Peckham? (including contract)

Nobody's gonna argue that Steve Staios needs to find a new sucker team. The point was it's getting crazy in here to the point of all-out panic. Anybody who thinks picks or a guy like Peckham or Tavares will solve our immediate problem (that being having a hockey team that plain sucks) is fooling themselves.

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#158 topshelf
April 15 2009, 10:39AM
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@ David S: I would agree with that 100%. But the Staois example is one of a few that, if remedied, would help turn this club in the right direction. That was my argument.

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#159 Dennis
April 15 2009, 10:39AM
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I am late to this party but I'll try and add in things I haven't seen mentioned.

- I never saw this highlighted by anyone but does anyone recall a quote from 10 awhile back regarding 27 and how he does good good at the front of the net on the PP? I thought it odd at the time. Sure, I agreed with him as I thought most fans would who watch all the games but here was Horc commenting on where he thought 27 should play and that ran counter to some of the things his coach would do with penner. Things like health scratching him or banishing him to the 4th line.

- most people are black and white and while it seems like 18's a good team guy, I'm disgusted over the way he nicked MacT for his expectations quote. This dolt's allowed to take dumb penalty after dumb penalty and he never see his TOI cut and he still gets effusive praise from his coach. yet, he'll still take a shot at him. I was a MacT guy who's now ready to see him leave but that was a turncoat move by Moreau not matter how you pucking slice it.

- given his age, history troubles, plus/minus history and quality of comp, I think Souray would be doing us a huge favor by asking for a trade. What are the chances he'd replicate his '09 campaign? He's never done this well while playing top four min so if he showed up in '10 and didn't play more than 50 games and/or he was -15, I wouldn't bat an eyelash. I thought and think we have to move one of him or 71 and if he's volunteering, then I'm cheering. The only thing I would caution is what kind of a return we'd get for him. His tenure in Edm has been good and bad, there wasn't a strong market for him when we signed him - Oilers overpaid and that's on the record - he's at an age where the decline usually becomes palpable and the cap's on the descent.

This isn't July of '06 with Pronger coming off a near Conn Smythe postseason and everyone knowing the cap would keep going up.

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#160 442Junkie
April 15 2009, 11:11AM
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Dennis wrote:

I thought and think we have to move one of him or 71 and if he’s volunteering, then I’m cheering.

I agree. I don't like the idea of moving 71. People seem to forget how our PP, though not good before, fell of the map after 71 went down to injury. Also, 71 was almost always back to cover for himself when he made a gaffe in the offensive zone. Personally, if he is asking to go, IMO he will make life easier on Tambo. Especially if they are as close to signing 37 as the rights holders say they are.

Also see if you can get a pick for 24 and let 5 take his spot. Even give 5 the #4 spot on the D. He's gritty and not afraid to get in the face of the opposition.

My two bits.

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#161 442Junkie
April 15 2009, 11:12AM
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442Junkie wrote:

Also see if you can get a pick for 24 and let 5 take his spot. Even give 5 the #4 spot on the D. He’s gritty and not afraid to get in the face of the opposition.

He can make up for 77 being soft.

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#162 ArnieB
April 15 2009, 11:18AM
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I can't handle all the Penner bashing anymore...sure the guy underachieved severely...but 17 goals..hmmm tied for 2nd on the team (i think), +/- tied for 2nd...

Oilers problem: leadership ...from KLowe(el presidente...dodging responsibility for the small sh++++ team he built...) down..best coach in the organization is Daum...the 4 stooges here must get the punt, to be replaced by whom?? Who knows, but can turf the 'Oiler Hockey' bs , it died the day Gretz got sold...Buchberger was a lousy player on some pretty lousy teams, and this qualifies him to be coach because???? Just because you're in the army for 20 years doesn't mean you should be a general...

Staois/Pisani/Moreau seem to have been given a different set of rules then the rest of the Oilers...time for them to go..

Argh..pardon the grammar...ramblings of a severely disgruntled oiler fan...

The Oil are dead to me until they make some serious changes, 4 coaches, 5+ players minimum.

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#163 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
April 15 2009, 11:39AM
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They were using this article as a means of conversation on the KROCK morning show this morning. One of the morons called Souray one of the top 5 defensemen in the league, then preceded to call another caller a moron when the caller disagreed with him.

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#164 Darren
April 15 2009, 11:46AM
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I agree with whoever said this is NOTHING LIKE THE PRONGER SITUATION. Once the team gets rid of MacTavish I bet Souray, Hemsky, and some of the other disgruntled Oilers will be much happier.

I believe the guys, like Souray and Hemsky, are only pissed off because they care, and guys like that are the ones we shouldn't be getting rid of .

I think Souray should be treated as a hero here, being the only big-name free agent who was willing to give Edmonton a shot - even if he ends up demanding a trade (a Big If) whatever we would end up getting for him would only help the Oilers, as opposed to him never signing here in the first place. And, he came here AFTER the Pronger debacle.

That said, this is all speculation as Robin suggested, so let's just wait and see. But I will not start bashing Souray in the meantime. I believe the situation will be solved when MacTavish leaves/is fired. I know MacTavish leaving will not solve everything but it is the most important move for the Oilers to make this offseason, in my opinion. Isn't that what this article was supposed to be about?

As R.B. suggested he players really know what is going on and the rest of us can only guess. Souray and Hemsky (and Moreau, etc.) obviously saw some disturbing things going on inside the Oilers this season and I believe this coaching change will change a lot of the problems. We'll see.

Personally, I'm just happy MacTavish is finally leaving! :D (see!)

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#165 Archaeologuy
April 15 2009, 11:54AM
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@ Jack "FMNF" Bauer: Yeah, I cant believe they would suggest that the Defenseman who is tied for the lead on his own team for goal scoring and 2nd for D-men over the entire league is one of the top 5 defensemen in the league. Souray is SO overrated, with his goal scoring, point producing, toughness, and leadership. What a loser. That pilon only averages more ice-time than Nick Lidstrom and Sergei Zubov, What, he couldnt muster up the extra 4 seconds a game to over-take Francois Beauchemin? Weeny. I mean he only managed to score 12 powerplay goals on the worst powerplay in the league. I hope we get rid of this guy. Is Tom Poti available? Somebody call Cory Cross' agent, we have a spot available on the blueline.

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#166 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
April 15 2009, 11:58AM
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If he is supposedly one of the top 5 defensemen in the league how come you havent heard a peep out of him for the Norris?

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#167 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
April 15 2009, 11:58AM
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er out of anbody?

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#168 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
April 15 2009, 12:00PM
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http://oilers.nhl.tv/team/console.jsp?catid=616&id=39819

Tambo presser.

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#169 Archaeologuy
April 15 2009, 12:01PM
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It isnt a perposterous argument, it might be more palatable to say he is top 10 this year, but that doesnt mean some very smart hockey people wouldnt include Souray in their top 5.

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#170 Darren
April 15 2009, 12:09PM
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Guys, in an effort to touch on the MacT thing a little bit...I have a question for anyone who wants to participate.

I don't know how to do polls (if you do, help is appreciated) but I am curious how you would feel if MacT leaves this week, as anticipated.

Would you be: 1 Ecstatic, 2 Happy, 3 Not too crazy about it, 4 Disappointed, 5 Pissed right off about it ???

Just curious right now, even though I'm sure there will be plenty of polls done about it later!

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#171 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
April 15 2009, 12:11PM
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mact is done-offical

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#172 Darren
April 15 2009, 12:25PM
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Holy crap, it is official now.

Craig MacTavish has been relieved of his duties. It is on Oilers.nhl.com, and Steve Tambo is doing a live conference right now.

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#173 Darren
April 15 2009, 12:27PM
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Thanks Jack "FMNF" Bauer for that scoop,

Happy? ;)

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#174 Darren
April 15 2009, 12:27PM
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Oh yeah, are you changing your name now - lol!?

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#175 Archaeologuy
April 15 2009, 12:40PM
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@ Darren: 1

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#176 Robin Brownlee
April 15 2009, 01:33PM
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SOURAY UPDATE: Tambellini was asked at the newser this morning if any players have asked for trades. He said, "No."

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#177 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
April 15 2009, 01:36PM
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It wasnt just a no huh Brownlee, it was a NO. Are you surprised at how much leg your opinion piece has gotten? It kind of shows how far this site has come.

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#178 Robin Brownlee
April 15 2009, 03:51PM
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@ Jack "FMNF" Bauer: Not surprised. It would have been a significant story if there was something more to it. There's no way, after Pronger, to ignore rumours like this, especially when people are e-mailing you etc and asking about it. I've sat on this for a while trying to sniff around and get something firmer before I asked Tambellini or Souray, but thought I had to get it out there after Souray left without talking.

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#179 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
April 15 2009, 04:47PM
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Does Tambo's response to the question mean anything to you? Its was a pretty definitive, firm, "dont f'ing ask me that again" kind of no in my opinion.

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#180 Robin Brownlee
April 15 2009, 07:59PM
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@ Jack "FMNF" Bauer: Tambellini was pretty intense throughout today. If you listened to the audio of the newser, you might have heard me ask him about the emotion in his voice.

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#181 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
April 15 2009, 08:17PM
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I did notice that for sure. I think everyone did, and if you read through the live blog comments while he was doing his presser, a lot of people are excited he showed that kind of emotion. He came across like hes had enough as much as the fans weather its genuine or not.

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#182 DEEP THOUGHTS VIIII: MAKING IT UP AS I GO - OilersNation.com
April 15 2009, 08:44PM
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[...] written MacTavish off April 9 in Already Gone, again last Sunday in Armchair GMIII and finally in Tuned Out on Tuesday, it’s the reaction to an item at the bottom of the last bit that got me thinking [...]

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#183 Has Tambo eased Souray’s fears? - OilersNation.com
April 16 2009, 09:05AM
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[...] Robin Brownlee first wrote that the rumours about Souray possibly asking for a trade might have some legs. Dan Barnes said on the TEAM 1260 that Souray had told him that this season was tough because he didn’t get to see his kids very often. I believe both of them, so I went fishing for more… [...]

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