Khabibulin To Have Surgery

Jonathan Willis
January 13 2010 11:25AM

The Edmonton Oilers have finally announced what we all suspected was going to happen: Nikolai Khabibulin will undergo surgery to repair the herniated disc in his back.

I don't really have all that much to say at this juncture.  I've contended that this was a poor signing from day one, for a variety of reasons, despite the popular acclaim that Tambellini received around these parts for finally dumping that cantankerous old Roloson and adding a Stanley cup-winning goalie.

Last week I referenced a Pat Quinn comment - that Khabibulin went through something similar last season in Chicago - and concluded the following:

This is about risk management. Had Steve Tambellini signed Khabibulin to a one-year contract, I couldn’t argue forcefully that he’d made a poor decision; it would have been a short-term bet on a player coming off a fine season. If Khabibulin’s performance wasn’t all that good, or a long-term injury issue popped up, come summer the Oilers would have been free and clear.
Tambellini didn’t sign Khabibulin to a one-year contract. He signed him to a four-year contract, despite the player’s age and injury history. It was a reckless move that showed an utter inability to effectively manage risks – and despite Tambellini’s rather short time at the helm, it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if it turned out to be a move that led to his dismissal.

My opinion hasn't changed since then; this was an egregious error on the part of the general manager and it, combined with his other errors, has left me with absolutely no confidence that Tambellini can turn this franchise around. Say what you will about Kevin Lowe; he never iced the worst team in the Western Conference.

Anyone interested in a rehash of the other reasons this was such a poor signing can read any or all of the links below:

  • A Bad Day/Where Do We Go From Here: July 1
  • The Official 2009 NHL Free Agent Thread: July 1
  • A Loser Move For A Loser Franchise: July 1
  • Loser Move, Part II: July 1
  • Relentless Incompetence: July 3
  • As The Dust Clears: July 10
  • NHL Games Missed Due To Injury Since The Lockout: July 12
  • Building A Tandem: July 23
  • The (Almost) top 50 Goalies Over The Last Three Seasons: July 23
  • Most Injury-Prone Starters in the NHL: July 24
  • The Goalie Market And Excuses: July 25
  • Testing Ken Holland: July 26
  • The Best Goalies Since The Lockout: July 28
  • Yet Another Angle on Khabibulin: July 29
  • At Least He's Not Likely To Play On Any Warm Days: September 24
  • Is The President 90 Feet Tall: December 13
  • Fool Me Once: December 16
  • Other Than That, How Did You Enjoy The Play, Mrs. Lincoln: December 19

Signing Khabibulin was a bad decision.  The fact that it was a bad decision was painfully obvious from the moment it was announced.  It's a decision that should probably cost Steve Tambellini his job.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
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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#52 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 13 2010, 12:44PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Original Ogden Brother:

Maybe a little, although I'm more inclined to blame him for not line-matching and playing J-F Jacques on the top line than I am the Khabibulin problems.

Ya, I probably wouldn't have it as his "top fault" (...though when thinking about it, probably close)

I was more just talking about this point specifically (bulin) though, and where blame should be laid for the Oilers current tending situation. Everyone is fixated on the signing, while no one is looking at the managment of the player once he was here.

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#53 Dyckster
January 13 2010, 12:45PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

No heat on Quinn for playing him 18 out of 21 games?

I guess it depends? If the back was acting up and Quinn knew about it, then maybe ya a little heat is warranted. If Quinn was none the wiser, then I would fully expect a #1 goalie to play that much. IMO anyway.

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#54 Giggsunited
January 13 2010, 12:46PM
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Dan the Man wrote:

If he retires the Oil are the hook for the cap hit but not his actual salary.

If he remains on LTIR the Oil are on the hook for his salary but are allowed to exceed the cap by the amount of his cap hit.

I heard if Khabi retires before July we are not on the hook for anything. If he carries past that and retires then we are on the cap hit but not the salary.

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#55 Dan the Man
January 13 2010, 12:48PM
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Giggsunited wrote:

I heard if Khabi retires before July we are not on the hook for anything. If he carries past that and retires then we are on the cap hit but not the salary.

You sure about that? That's not my understanding.

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#57 Mike Krushelnyski
January 13 2010, 12:52PM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

What choice did he have? Quinn was brought in here to win games, obviously he's got a better chance of doing that by running out Khabibulin rather than one of his other goalies who are clearly not NHL caliber. It all comes back to a poorly constructed team.

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#58 Bucknuck
January 13 2010, 12:52PM
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I think this recent skid says something about what Ales Hemsky means to this team. The goaltending hasn't been great, but lack of offense seems to be the bigger problem since he left. It is very rare to win when you only score one goal, which is all the Oilers have mustered on a lot of nights. JDD has played good enough that Oil should have won more than once in the past 13 games.

Whether it is drawing the best checkers or just keeping the opposing players distracted, it seems that Oilers without Ales just can't score enough to win.

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#59 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 13 2010, 12:54PM
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Dyckster wrote:

I guess it depends? If the back was acting up and Quinn knew about it, then maybe ya a little heat is warranted. If Quinn was none the wiser, then I would fully expect a #1 goalie to play that much. IMO anyway.

70 games? Wasn't everyone riding MacT last year for not getting JDD involved?

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#60 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 13 2010, 12:56PM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

What choice did he have? Quinn was brought in here to win games, obviously he's got a better chance of doing that by running out Khabibulin rather than one of his other goalies who are clearly not NHL caliber. It all comes back to a poorly constructed team.

The same choice 70% - 80% of the coaches in the league make. Play your back 20 - 30 games so to not burn out your starter.

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#61 Mike Krushelnyski
January 13 2010, 01:01PM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

What I'm saying is JDD and Dubnyk haven't looked like they're ready to handle even 20-30 games. I understand what you're getting at, but I'm arguing that Tambellini essentially forced Quinn to ride an injury prone starter. The Oilers were a bubble team at best coming into the year so it's not like they could afford to drop games here and there to find out if JDD could hack it in the NHL.

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#62 Dyckster
January 13 2010, 01:02PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

70 games? Wasn't everyone riding MacT last year for not getting JDD involved?

They were, but the fans were upset cuz they wanted to see more of JDD. They weren't worried about Rolli getting injured. I'm with Mike Krushelnyski when he says "What choice did he have? Quinn was brought in here to win games, obviously he's got a better chance of doing that by running out Khabibulin rather than one of his other goalies who are clearly not NHL caliber."

Quinn wanted to set a winning tone with his new team.

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#63 Kevin
January 13 2010, 01:05PM
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Hemmertime wrote:

Yay, now all we have to do is send Horc and dive for Five is solid.

na, leave him be- the $7 million dollar invisible man is doing just fine. Can't win face-offs, little to no scoring, worst plus minus and does'nt hit. We may improve some what if we replace him.....

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#64 Milli
January 13 2010, 01:12PM
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It really is tough when you compare to Roli. So, Roli wanted 2 years, and we refused. I'm fine with that if the plan is to go out and sign a young proven tender. I'm not fine with it when the plan is to sign an old but proven (and injury prone) goalie. This along with Tambo's apparent inability to do ANYTHING is what has made me do a total reversal in my support of him as GM. Not that he cares what I think. And then you see Roli playing his @ss of on the island, looking like he's got a few more years in the tank, and damn did Roli battle.

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#65 VK63
January 13 2010, 01:14PM
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Wow... the cancer that is fan apathy is fully fed these days, flourishing even.

I hope that "waiting list" has some deep pockets and strong stomachs, no internet and tv would help as well, blind and deaf.....

*single tear for Katz*

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#66 VMR
January 13 2010, 01:15PM
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Yup we're stuck with that cap hit until he's 40. As has already been said bone headed move and the worst free agent signing last summer. The Flyers took some flak for this too when they signed Pronger to an extension that kicks in after he's 36, they're stuck with his cap hit forever.

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#67 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 13 2010, 01:24PM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

What I'm saying is JDD and Dubnyk haven't looked like they're ready to handle even 20-30 games. I understand what you're getting at, but I'm arguing that Tambellini essentially forced Quinn to ride an injury prone starter. The Oilers were a bubble team at best coming into the year so it's not like they could afford to drop games here and there to find out if JDD could hack it in the NHL.

JDD looked pretty good in a limited role. He fell apart once game 7/8/9 in a row kicked in.

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#68 Ender
January 13 2010, 01:24PM
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Kevin wrote:

na, leave him be- the $7 million dollar invisible man is doing just fine. Can't win face-offs, little to no scoring, worst plus minus and does'nt hit. We may improve some what if we replace him.....

I was all about sending Horc in for surgery next as well until I read this. There is something in Kevin's point. Might be better to wait until Horc starts to turn things around and become a force before taking him out of the line-up. Thus, you keep the DFF healthy now as well as providing a contingency plan to deal with any possible resurgent optimism among the players later. Win-Win.

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#69 Dennis
January 13 2010, 01:25PM
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I am looking forward to the dailies tomorrow where Lowe and Tambo get roasted over the coals for all the false moves they've made since July of 2006.

The reporters in Edm have never been afraid to shoot straight when it comes to the Oilers brass and I dare say tomorrow will be no different!!!

!!!

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#70 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 13 2010, 01:27PM
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Dyckster wrote:

They were, but the fans were upset cuz they wanted to see more of JDD. They weren't worried about Rolli getting injured. I'm with Mike Krushelnyski when he says "What choice did he have? Quinn was brought in here to win games, obviously he's got a better chance of doing that by running out Khabibulin rather than one of his other goalies who are clearly not NHL caliber."

Quinn wanted to set a winning tone with his new team.

Like I said, he had the same choice that the majority of the league makes. Only the elite play 70+ games. Very few teams have high end back-up goalies.

Middle of the pack starters play 50 - 60 games, thats the way most teams opporate.

Quinn most certainly did have a choice, he chose to ride Bulin until he broke.

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#71 Lofty
January 13 2010, 01:32PM
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Dennis wrote:

I am looking forward to the dailies tomorrow where Lowe and Tambo get roasted over the coals for all the false moves they've made since July of 2006.

The reporters in Edm have never been afraid to shoot straight when it comes to the Oilers brass and I dare say tomorrow will be no different!!!

!!!

I want to hear what Katz has to say. Tambo is mildly retarded and Klowe should never show his face again.

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#72 Lofty
January 13 2010, 01:32PM
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Dennis wrote:

I am looking forward to the dailies tomorrow where Lowe and Tambo get roasted over the coals for all the false moves they've made since July of 2006.

The reporters in Edm have never been afraid to shoot straight when it comes to the Oilers brass and I dare say tomorrow will be no different!!!

!!!

I want to hear what Katz has to say. Tambo is mildly retarded and Klowe should never show his face again.

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#73 Mike Krushelnyski
January 13 2010, 01:36PM
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@Lofty

I kind of want to see if Tambo still has the balls to come out and say "we've got half a season left and we like our team and want to see where it's going blah blah blah"

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#74 MattL
January 13 2010, 01:39PM
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Lofty wrote:

I want to hear what Katz has to say. Tambo is mildly retarded and Klowe should never show his face again.

Wow, I'd love to see you say that to their faces. Mildly retarded, hey? Never show his face again? Tough words from an anonymous commenter. Someone's got a case of internet muscle.

Which NHL team are you GM'ing again?

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#75 Ender
January 13 2010, 01:40PM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

I kind of want to see if Tambo still has the balls to come out and say "we've got half a season left and we like our team and want to see where it's going blah blah blah"

I don't know if that statement would demonstrate stones between his legs or stones between his ears.

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#77 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 13 2010, 01:50PM
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I hate ragging on a contract so early and there is still hope that Bulin turns out to be like Souray was, but if Bulin pulls the pin Tambo is the only one to blame. I understand the signing of Bulin, but I have to think 2 years is the max you give Bulin unless of course you get him for a mil a year over 4 years.

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#78 Offthebandwagon
January 13 2010, 01:52PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Predicted Tambellini Press Statement:

"Obviously, this is one more piece of bad news. Our team is struggling right now, but there isn't a team in the league that wouldn't be with their best forward, best defencemen and best goaltender all missing significant time. It's like losing Crosby, Lidstrom and Brodeur."

"I'm eager to see what this team can do next season when all of our players are healthy. I still have confidence in our team and our coaching staff."

What would you like to hear him say?

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#79 Archaeologuy
January 13 2010, 01:54PM
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Offthebandwagon wrote:

What would you like to hear him say?

"Today I am tendering my resignation as the GM of the Edmonton Oilers..."

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#80 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 13 2010, 01:55PM
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I'm a little bit pissed off with the whole surgery now. I didn't realize recovery was only 12 weeks, why even give the Cortisone the 8 weeks? It's just a temp fix anyways and for a guy with back problems it was bound to fail. Now what we have is our starter most likely gone for the year and we won't know until next season if Bulin can play or not. Instead they should've done the surgery to start and at least we would have an idea if Bulin would be ready to go next year or if we needed to acquire another goalie.

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#81 Racki
January 13 2010, 01:56PM
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hopefully they install a water cooler in his back while they're in there to keep Rehabibulin fully hydrated.

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#82 Racki
January 13 2010, 01:59PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Predicted Tambellini Press Statement:

"Obviously, this is one more piece of bad news. Our team is struggling right now, but there isn't a team in the league that wouldn't be with their best forward, best defencemen and best goaltender all missing significant time. It's like losing Crosby, Lidstrom and Brodeur."

"I'm eager to see what this team can do next season when all of our players are healthy. I still have confidence in our team and our coaching staff."

*Vomit*

Very likely true though. Don't forget to throw in a "we are committed to winning."

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#84 MattL
January 13 2010, 02:02PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Predicted Tambellini Press Statement:

"Obviously, this is one more piece of bad news. Our team is struggling right now, but there isn't a team in the league that wouldn't be with their best forward, best defencemen and best goaltender all missing significant time. It's like losing Crosby, Lidstrom and Brodeur."

"I'm eager to see what this team can do next season when all of our players are healthy. I still have confidence in our team and our coaching staff."

I don't know, I think he'll have to be a little more realistic at this juncture. It's not like we're 11th here, the Oil is DFL.

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#86 The Real Scuba Steve
January 13 2010, 02:13PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Predicted Tambellini Press Statement:

"Obviously, this is one more piece of bad news. Our team is struggling right now, but there isn't a team in the league that wouldn't be with their best forward, best defencemen and best goaltender all missing significant time. It's like losing Crosby, Lidstrom and Brodeur."

"I'm eager to see what this team can do next season when all of our players are healthy. I still have confidence in our team and our coaching staff."

Wow that's good, are you sure you don't write his press releases for him? LOL

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#87 Skidplate
January 13 2010, 02:14PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

I'm a little bit pissed off with the whole surgery now. I didn't realize recovery was only 12 weeks, why even give the Cortisone the 8 weeks? It's just a temp fix anyways and for a guy with back problems it was bound to fail. Now what we have is our starter most likely gone for the year and we won't know until next season if Bulin can play or not. Instead they should've done the surgery to start and at least we would have an idea if Bulin would be ready to go next year or if we needed to acquire another goalie.

The thing to remember is that it isn't just a team decision. The player must want to have the surgery. I don't know about you, but I would look at all options before I let some cut me open and perform back surgery. Everytime you get put under, there is a risk you don't wake up.....

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#88 The Towel Boy
January 13 2010, 02:14PM
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I assume when he says "I'm eager to see what this team can do next season..." he doesn't mean the exact same team in terms of the roster...but rather "The Edmonton Oilers."

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#89 BUCK75
January 13 2010, 02:15PM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

I kind of want to see if Tambo still has the balls to come out and say "we've got half a season left and we like our team and want to see where it's going blah blah blah"

This should put everything to rest. Tambo has spoken!

From Tencer's Twitter

dantencer Tambellini refuses to talk about the trade deadline or future, saying he doesn't want his players to lose focus on the goal of winning now.

It's no wonder everyone is so infuriated - these guys are watching a totally different team!

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#90 MattL
January 13 2010, 02:15PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

MattL:

From four days ago:

"We have 18 games until the Olympic break. We are going to use this time to find out who wants to be here and who doesn't. This is our big evaluation stage to determine our long-term future."

Yeah, he's not saying, "We have 18 games to figure out if we'll be in 5th spot or 6th spot in the Western Conference."

I don't doubt that they are using the games between now and the trade deadline to figure out which of these bums is committed and which ones want to be traded.

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#91 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 13 2010, 02:22PM
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Skidplate wrote:

The thing to remember is that it isn't just a team decision. The player must want to have the surgery. I don't know about you, but I would look at all options before I let some cut me open and perform back surgery. Everytime you get put under, there is a risk you don't wake up.....

I realize this. I actually know someone who had some back problems and had surgery go wrong. It took him 5 years to get back to normal after surgery went slighlty wrong.

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#92 Lofty
January 13 2010, 02:24PM
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MattL wrote:

Wow, I'd love to see you say that to their faces. Mildly retarded, hey? Never show his face again? Tough words from an anonymous commenter. Someone's got a case of internet muscle.

Which NHL team are you GM'ing again?

I'v got no problem saying it or putting my name on it...

Oilers hockey is an embarrassment and Lowe and Tambo should be held accountable. They should crawl out of town and let a top to bottom rebuild begin. They get paid to do a job and are not getting it done they should be ashamed with what they have done.

I'm not a GM but I am a life long fan.

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#93 Ender
January 13 2010, 02:25PM
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Not to completely derail the conversation or anything, but where in the heck is Wanye these days? Shouldn't he be back by now or something? And where is he that they don't have internet - the Antarctica? Since his little Amsterdam write-up, I've only seen him comment on here once or twice.

Maybe the current state of the Oilers has him living in a drunken stupour?

(insert witty jibe here)

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#94 Rick
January 13 2010, 02:27PM
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BUCK75 wrote:

This should put everything to rest. Tambo has spoken!

From Tencer's Twitter

dantencer Tambellini refuses to talk about the trade deadline or future, saying he doesn't want his players to lose focus on the goal of winning now.

It's no wonder everyone is so infuriated - these guys are watching a totally different team!

Good lord I actually thought you were joking with that post.

I kind of wish I didn't check for myself.

Oh well, it helps explain why Tambellini has been paralyzed when it comes to making trades...it turns out the guy has no backbone.

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#95 The Towel Boy
January 13 2010, 02:30PM
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@Ender

I suspect we'll here from our old friend sooner than later.

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#96 David S
January 13 2010, 02:33PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

MattL:

From four days ago:

"We have 18 games until the Olympic break. We are going to use this time to find out who wants to be here and who doesn't. This is our big evaluation stage to determine our long-term future."

After watching the game last night, I can imagine the only guy who wants to be here is Joey Moss. And he's only here for the great benefits package and sweet game-level seat behind the bench.

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#98 daveeed
January 13 2010, 02:45PM
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This will all make sense when Tambellini pulls the mask off his face and reveals that he is Brian Burke...

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#99 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 13 2010, 02:46PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Bob McKenzie's on a question asked about Eklund's rumor is a pretty funny fun, simple but funny. Someone threw it at Eklund, no response yet.

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#100 Rick
January 13 2010, 02:48PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

That Twitter quote is absolute gold.

Contrast Tambellini's approach with the paying public with the approach from the Oilers current greatest rival's GM;

"Carolina Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford was on 99.9 The Fan late yesterday afternoon with a brief update about the team. ...

When the subject came up about this season's last place "perfect storm", once again, he took the blame for misjudging the personnel on this team and said that win or lose, the makeup of the club would be changed by 50% next season. ..."

http://www.canescountry.com/2010/1/6/1236317/jim-rutherford-50-of-next-years

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