April 03 2009 09:26AM
I got the sense watching Kevin Lowe’s press conference last night that the local media were not going to go easy on him in the next few days, and that owner Daryl Katz’s heavy-handed attempt to cutoff conversation about the future of his head coach was going to backfire badly.
The early returns would seem to indicate that my feeling was right. We’ll start in the logical place, by taking a look at the rather excellent piece which appears in today’s Edmonton Journal under Dan Barnes’ by-line. Do read the entire thing, but there are a couple of excerpts that really stood out to me.
But the growing cacophony of discontent in fandom and the Edmonton media grew rather more hostile and centred on MacTavish Thursday afternoon and it prompted owner Daryl Katz to issue a cryptic, pre-game vote of confidence for his head coach, via text message to the team's radio rights holder. He's the boss, he can deliver his edicts any damn way and any damn time he chooses but this one seems to leap off the pages of a Wizard of Oz script, the unseen boss disseminating a message through a radio conduit.
Barnes hits the nail on the head there. Katz certainly has the power to run his team the way he likes, but a single “cryptic” text message is certainly not the best way to get the message out.
It was Barnes at last night’s press conference who raised the question of whether Craig MacTavish might be back in a different capacity next season. Lowe refused to answer. He delves into it further in his column today and he took away the same thought that both David Staples and I did; namely that the Oilers press conference last night left many questions unanswered – most specifically, the very question that Daryl Katz wished to quiet: the future of the head coach.
Barnes feels that Craig MacTavish will resign if and when the Oilers miss the playoffs; it seems like a reasonable conclusion to me.
Terry Jones, who I expected little from after his mild question to Lowe last night, surprised me with his column this morning. In retrospect it shouldn’t have been so surprising to me; Jones has always been suspicious of Katz in his columns. If memory serves it was Jones who first raised the name of Peter Pocklington when the EIG were considering selling the team to a single owner.
But it is Jones this morning who raises one of the other questions that I had last night: why wasn’t Steve Tambellini handling the press conference?
Obviously the owner has every right to be part of the process. But what does this say about the hockey people you hire? In this case, especially, what does it say of Tambellini? Does this not announce that he's been hired as a puppet? One of the reasons Tambellini was hired was to spend most of the year looking at this team and deciding what changes had to be made for the future - an outside opinion to look at everything top to bottom and make major decisions for the future. Not knee-jerk decisions.
Whatever the answers to these questions are going forward, it seems apparent that the local media wants them. That, of course, is a good thing – it’s their job.