Deep thoughts XV: Taking a step back

Robin Brownlee
January 15 2010 05:51PM

Steve Tambellini and the dive for five

I'm one of many people who has called for Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini to send a clear message to fans he has a plan in place to rebuild the franchise, but I'm not sure he needs a news conference to do it.

While I get the frustration fans are feeling, that they want and expect to see some kind of blueprint for the future, I'm thinking we're seeing it unfold now, even without the benefit of a state-of-the-union address.

I'd like to think Tambellini is telling us he's on board with the DFF and is painfully aware of the overhaul that's needed already -- not so much with what he's done but with what he hasn't done.

Namely, that he hasn't rented a goaltender to take the place of Nikolai Khabibulin. Unless I'm mistaking inaction for a plan, and I suppose that's possible, the decision has been made to leave the crease to Devan Dubnyk, in goal for a 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh Thursday, and Jeff Deslauriers. That, without question, is a good thing.

Not only will staying with two unproven goaltenders all but assure a lottery pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, it'll also give the organization a better read on both of them before next season.

While I was told Tambellini was on the hunt for a goaltender to bolster the AHL farm in Springfield -- the Oilers got Andrew Penner instead of Hannu Toivonen, which is the name I was hearing -- I never heard he was looking to replace Khabibulin. Thus, I'm thinking plan ahead of inaction.

I, like Jason Gregor, am also hearing Tambellini might be able to do some business where captain Ethan Moreau is concerned. Between now and the trade deadline, I expect we'll hear the obvious suspects -- Moreau, Sheldon Souray, Steve Staios and maybe Fernando Pisani -- are being shopped. 

If Tambellini sticks with the kids in goal and moves even two of the four players I just mentioned to free up cap space and build a stockpile of picks and prospects, no official declaration is needed.

Actions, as always, speak louder than words.

Some perspective

Most of us are guilty of going over the top at times when it comes to a passion like hockey, me included, so I'm not going to preach about keeping a healthy perspective. Still, I think it's worth a thought.

There's been no shortage of bad feelings and venom spewed by Oilers fans as this season has come off the rails. It's understandable, to a point. When things are as FUBAR for the hometown hockey team as they are now, fans who support this team emotionally and financially get wound up. They get pissed off. They get carried away. Some of us who write about this team do the same.

Just this week I was blowing snot bubbles and hacking away at the keyboard, deleting nasty comments about my Bang For The Buck Vs. Getting Screwed story, which was about Oilers fans and drew some pointed reactions, when a couple of situations made me step back.

First, I found out somebody I worked alongside for many years, somebody I respect, is gravely ill. While our relationship was mostly business, there was more to it than that. When my son Sam was fighting for his life in the hospital three years or so ago, he cared enough to make a point of asking how things were going. Now, he's fighting for his.

When I lost my job at The Sun, he was one of the first people to call and tell me how sorry he was. He didn't have to do that, but he did. Suffice to say, I didn't give a rat's ass about the Oilers power play or that some OilersNation readers think I'm a dummy when I got the bad news about him this week.

In addition to that, and I'm guessing any parent can relate, Sam took a bad fever a few days ago. Hearing him moan and cry, I've never cared less about the fate of the Oilers. Thankfully, the fever blew over in 48 hours. Sam is fine. The Oilers, not so much. Now I'm back, hacking away.

I guess the point is, we all lose sight of what's really important, of what really matters, sometimes. Occasionally, life provides us a reminder that hockey, like a lot of things we get distracted by, isn't all that important in the grand scheme. No children get sick. Nobody dies. Mea culpa.

What's in a name?

I get flashbacks to the lousy Vancouver Canucks of the mid-1980s whenever the name Taylor Hall comes up. I've already seen Taylor Hall play in the NHL, and he was a flaming dud.

The Taylor Hall I remember isn't the one the Oilers will pass on with the first pick in the 2010 Entry Draft because they know something about Finnish winger Joonas Donskoi nobody else does, it's the Taylor Hall Vancouver took 116th overall from the Regina Pats in 1982.

That Taylor Hall, a right winger who put up big numbers (63-79-143) with the Pats in 1983-84, played 41 NHL games and tallied 7-9-16 before retired in 1995-96. Slow feet. Heart the size of a pea.

Hall's longest stint with Vancouver came during the 1985-86 season when he played 19 games and scored 5-5-10 on a Tom Watt team that was horrid. As I recall, Tambellini was on that team.

Man up

Somebody who calls himself jumptheshark at HF Boards was taking a run at Bob Stauffer the other day, bitching about his Oilers Lunch show on TEAM 1260 and lamenting how Stauffer has become a shill since joining the company payroll.

Another poster suggested jumptheshark step out from behind the fake name, call into the show and engage Stauffer. I liked the idea. Can't see that happening -- a lot of people would rather take their shots anonymously and swarm with their buddies on message boards -- but I wish people would do it more often.

If somebody has an issue with something I write, if you think my take is wrong or I'm just clueless, comment here by all means, but if you've got something to say, phone me at Just A Game on Wednesdays or Thursdays at 426-8326. Give your real name. Have your say. It'll be fun.

And...

  • Dubnyk looked infinitely more steady than Deslauriers has in his last three starts in the loss to the Penguins, but I'd stick with a rotation that sees Deslauriers start against the Sharks. The remaining games aren't about wins, they're about evaluation.
  • Shawn Horcoff made the trip to San Jose with the Oilers today but was sent back to the hotel and didn't practice. Horcoff took ill Thursday afternoon before the Pittsburgh game.
  • Gilbert Brule, who has missed two games after taking sick, didn't make the trip. I'm not sure what the NHL record is for games missed due to sickness (as opposed to injury), but I can't remember a more fragile roster.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

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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 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
January 16 2010, 01:59PM
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DougieF89 wrote:

Oh and remember if the Oil don't win a game the rest of the season....who cares! When we compare the Oilers results with what the people of Haiti are going through the performance of a hockey team is very very insignificant.

I don't mean to come across as insensitive, so please avoid excessive inference when reading these next statements:

What's happened in Haiti is tragic. Perspective is important, but don't go overboard with 'putting things into perspective'.

My dog died yesterday, for instance. Are you going to tell me that's insignificant, too?

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#152 Not Hemmertime
January 16 2010, 02:18PM
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Oh and remember if the Oil don\'t win a game the rest of the season....who cares! When we compare the Oilers results with what the people of Haiti are going through the performance of a hockey team is very very insignificant.

Yes, it is perspective. I donated to the Haiti relief at work (where they matched dollar for dollar donations, good on em) so I am not heartless. However, Haitians mean little to me whereas the Oilers mean more. It\'s a sad fact of our society that most people think the same way I do. If I had the choice of Haiti getting 10 more earthquakes= Oilers win the cup, well, I don\'t want to answer that because I\'d get flamed. When QC was hit with ice storms I saw nothing of a \"Haitian relief effort for Canada\". Sure we have more money than them, but I am lucky I do not have relatives that are affected by the disaster, I would feel differently if I had ofc. But to dismiss others feelings as trivial because something bad happened doesn\'t make sense. Someone is being tortured right now to death as we speak, so we shouldn\'t care about the Haitians? There is always something worse.

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#153 MrOiler
January 16 2010, 02:42PM
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Brownlee, if you keep making good points in your articles you'll get banned from the Internet.

a) some much needed perspective on life vs. hockey

b) Stauffer is a pro who really gives a damn about his job

Sometimes the anonymous blogger/rant thing just brings out the worse in human behaviour. I get wistful for the old days when you had to stand up for what came out of your mouth.

The Oilers suck, there's a lot of work to do, but I won't stop being a fan ... it's just not a lot of fun right now.

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#155 oldeschulemensch44
January 16 2010, 03:48PM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

DougieF89 wrote:

Oh and remember if the Oil don't win a game the rest of the season....who cares! When we compare the Oilers results with what the people of Haiti are going through the performance of a hockey team is very very insignificant.

I don't mean to come across as insensitive, so please avoid excessive inference when reading these next statements:

What's happened in Haiti is tragic. Perspective is important, but don't go overboard with 'putting things into perspective'.

My dog died yesterday, for instance. Are you going to tell me that's insignificant, too?

Hmmm how to start the rebuilding process. first Visnovskii and stone to Florida for Mac intyre and Vokoun. Next Staios and Delaurier to Montreal for Halak and Laroque. Why bring back Macintyre since he left this team has played scared , remember at start of the season they hit everything that moved now......? How to Fix the scoring issue i don't know where to begin. this team needs size and aggression. not a bunch of guys who defend thamselves with their purses. a captain who plays on the fourth line. And lets find a real effective disturber. Zack Stortini is not a tough guy his fights are like watching two prepubecent kids make out. i really weep for you season ticket holders because when my family had season tickets from 1973- 1990 we never paid more than 2k a year including playoff and we saw success. you poor suckers.

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#156 oldeschulemensch44
January 16 2010, 03:53PM
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Ninjafoot wrote:

RB, Do you think there is any chance that management trades some of our dead weight for "rental" type contracts, strictly from the perspective of letting those rental UFA's go at the end of the season to drop salary and total number of contracts we are covering? EDIT - **assuming we can find someone who has that scenario available**

nothing will help us now.

remember the part in titanic whne the ship broin half and started go straight down. that the good ship Katz and Company right now.

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#157 TigerUnderGlass
January 16 2010, 04:10PM
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@MrOiler

Sometimes the anonymous blogger/rant thing just brings out the worse in human behaviour. I get wistful for the old days when you had to stand up for what came out of your mouth.

Whatever you say "MrOiler."

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#158 TDSM31
January 16 2010, 09:27PM
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Oilers second last overall, Falcons last overall, Thunder second last overall. This organizations first priority needs to be a complete overhaul the scouting staff...starting with Prendergast and MacGregor.

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#159 RossCreekNation
January 16 2010, 09:30PM
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@TDSM31

MacGregor isn't the problem. He's only been in charge for two years - Eberle & Svensson is a decent start. He's about the only guy that deserves a pass. Prendergast on the other hand should be gassed!

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#160 lenny
January 18 2010, 09:02AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Is their proof either way? No. Is their a way to find out? Not really. Don't most teams (or at least some) run with some kind of committee? Yes.

The "Halrious" part is that if the team was doing well everyone would be claiming it's because the evil Kevin Lowe is in the background. Since the team sucks it's because the evil Kevin Lowe is at the fore-front.

Tambs tenure hasn't resembled Lowe's in the slightest. How people can conclude that Lowe is still pulling the strings is beyond me.

Its "Is there Proof either way?, not their" Is there a way to find out not their

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#161 TDSM31
January 18 2010, 09:13PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

MacGregor isn't the problem. He's only been in charge for two years - Eberle & Svensson is a decent start. He's about the only guy that deserves a pass. Prendergast on the other hand should be gassed!

MacGregor has only been head scout for two years but he's been part of the scouting staff for eight so he's been involved in a lot of their crap picks over the years and also deserves to be gassed.

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