Oilers vs. Ducks Postgame: Relentless

Jonathan Willis
February 14 2010 09:35PM

Anaheim Ducks: 7

Edmonton Oilers: 3

Given that this was a pay-per-view game on Valentine's Day during the Olympics, I'm assuming viewership was pretty close to an all-time low.  Speaking for myself, I only played slight attention to the game, and the most interesting part for me was Steve Tambellini's interview (although Comrie, Moreau and especially Horcoff all had interesting moments).

Today's word is relentless, which so fascinated Bob Stauffer during the intermission, and fit so well with Steve Tambellini's 300th rendition of 'we'll do whatever it takes to make the Oilers not a good but a great franchise,' and his 500th rendition of 'we need to find players who want to be Oilers.'

Some quick points on the interviews, since aside from the total implosion of the penalty kill and Ryan Getzlaf showing that he's perfectly ready for Olympic work that was the bit that was most interesting:

  • I roll my eyes each and every time Steve Tambellini says "step one" (and he says it a lot).  He's been on the job for a year and a half and if he's still stuck on step one he should do the honourable thing and fall on his sword - which takes me to my second point:
  • If we're really at the start of a lengthy process, as Tambellini and Katz have both indicated, then what in the name of all that is good and proper has Steve Tambellini been doing for the last 19 months?  Finding furniture for his office?  Perhaps this is why the organization is at such pains to tell us that Steve Tambellini is now in charge - if he were up for re-election he certainly wouldn't want to run on his record to date.
  • For all this talk about 'making changes', I think it's also important to remember that the only really big change that Tambellini has made in his time in power was to replace Dwayne Roloson with Nikolai Khabibulin and his creaky back.  Change isn't always good if the man in charge makes bad decisions.

If that seems like ranting, it is.  Steve Tambellini talks a ton about how it won't be easy to fix all the problems with this team, he pushed them back this summer.  After a year of assessment he blew a summer chasing a big name (probably the source of his new-found commitment to drafting and development), he threw a ton of money at Chris Neil, and he signed one of the three most injury-prone goaltenders in the game of hockey.  As a guy who wishes nothing but success for the Oilers, the chasm between Tambellini's words and Tambellini's rare actions is wide enough to be maddening.

Frustration is where this comes from, to be honest.  This past year, the coaching staff was blamed, and coaches were fired in the ECHL, the AHL, and especially the NHL, where everyone but Kelly Buchberger was gassed as Tambellini brought in his Hockey Canada people.  Tambellini blames the players, he talks about pressuring people within the organization and making them uncomfortable, but for all that talk on a night where the penalty kill surrenders four goals after nobody was brought in to fix last year's 27th-ranked unit, it's hard to look anywhere else but in the direction of the general manager.

When Katz talks about being relentless, he means the constant, unceasing pursuit of perfection.  So far - up to and including tonight - all we've seen is relentless incompetence.

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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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#51 papaburgundy
February 15 2010, 11:54AM
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Well, the only bright spot about that game is that I think Getzlaf is good to go for the Olympics and if he can score any goals like his last one last night, Canada will be in good company

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#52 Hunter5
February 15 2010, 11:57AM
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Ryan Getzlaf has one game to prove to Yzerman that his ankle is good to go. Can you imagine what he's thinking when the Oilers stand be tween him and the Olympic's. I wonder if he thanked the Oilers after his 4 - Point night?

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#53 Matt Henderson
February 15 2010, 12:03PM
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BarryS wrote:

Given that in his interview Tambo was careful not to raise trade hopes at the deadline, might as well start blinding yourself.

As someone has already posted, the signing of Khabi was likely part of the failed bid to get Heatly.

Oh, dont you worry. I have my rage on a hair-trigger. Tambellini can downplay whatever he wants. I have expectations, and if they arent met I guarantee anger. (see my reaction after watching Avatar)

His last chance should come at Draft Day. If he hasnt accomplished any moves to better the team at the Draft or on the Ice by then he should be fired before the free agent season begins.

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#54 Eddie Shore
February 15 2010, 12:05PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

I understand not making too many changes after Hemsky and Bulin went down. I really do. The Oilers could have traded their youth for some 2nd line guys to help keep the team in the 12th-8th mix, but that would have just kept this team mediocre for next year as well.

I dont, however, understand the changes Tambi made in the summer that left this team so vulnerable. But that has been discussed more than enough.

Back to the GM's moves (or lack there of) this season. Doing nothing so far has all but ensured that the Oil will pick in the top 3 (top 2 if all goes well). Now he has a chance to make this team even more suited to pick 1st and collect more picks by trading some of the few veterans that have some kind of value.

I'm excited to see what the Oilers do at the deadline, but that excitement is ready to turn into blind rage if the Oil cant do anything of note.

I agree. If Tambo can actually replace some bad contracts and aging underperforming vets I think he will have made up for his blunder. However, if nothing changes before the summer then I'm on board for gassing him. However, his lack of action since Hemsky and Habby went to down was better for this team long-term than a knee-jerk reaction of acquiring players to push for 8th again.

Funny how everyone claimed to be in agreement of a proper rebuild but now the losses, which we all knew would happen, are here and the world is coming to an end.

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#55 Crash
February 15 2010, 01:04PM
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IMO what this team needs more than another soft player (aka: Betts, Moore, et al) who may or may not improve faceoffs is more guys who will stand up for their teammates at the drop of a hat and put a scare into anyone that thinks about running our skill guys. I'm not talking about having one or two guys like that I'm talking about our bottm six being stocked with them. Guys like Steve Ott, Colby Armstrong, Jordin Tootoo. Yet I always hear how it would be good to resign Pisani at a discount and keeping Potulny which is going to keep our bottm six soft.

I've heard JW criticize the attempt to sign Chris Neil...this I don't understand...we need about 3 Chris Neils who bring a nasty side every night and who can also play the game a bit. This will do more for creating room for our skill guys than people realize.

With regards to making changes IMO I think that the attempt will be made to move some of Moreau, Staios, POS, Nilsson, Souray, Grebs and maybe even Horcoff, Gilbert, Vishnovsky, etc. If I'm reading it right Tambo is not going to move a draft pick to have someone take Moreau or Staios off his hands. This leads me to believe the plan is to buy out some of these contracts (Moreau, Staios, POS, Nilsson) if he can't find any takers. Just a hunch there.

The biggest problem that is left with the GM of this team is that (1) it's a bad team in a location that players won't jump at to come to and (2) Because this team is so bad the only thing he has to trade that would get him any return is guys that not many of you would not want him to unload.

Getting players of substance to sign here in the off season will require overpayment which will cause many of you to come unglued. It's almost laughable how many of you are making this sound so easy. Let's get serious, adding Betts or Moore or a guy or two similar along with adding all world Martin Biron would not have done a damn thing to make this team better this year with all the sickness and injuries that have plagued this team. We still would have been a lottery team.

Once we unload guys like Moreau, Staios, etc...what are we going to be able to replace them with? And at what cost?

I hope that the Oilers can make a couple of good deals and that guys like Ott, Armstrong, Hamhuis will consider signing here and some of our young guys turn out to be more than ready to contribute than many of you think (ie: Hall/Seguin, Eberle, MPS). And maybe we can use a Cogliano, Grebishkov, maybe even a Brule to trade of other guys like maybe a Patrick Sharp or someone similar. If this all happens then it won't take as long to become a playoff team. Much easier said than done.

If not it will be a full rebuild with drafted youth and the garbage players that no other team wants to sign until our youth reach potential.

For all of you ready to dump your tickets and break your legs jumping off the wagon. The next couple of years or more will be very tough on you no matter who the GM and other management is of this team. So what's the point of the endless bitching about the management at this point?....the changes you are all asking for may not be complete by July 2nd, it may take all summer for the initial changes and another few years for the rest.

Will you be able to handle it?

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#56 Dyckster
February 15 2010, 01:26PM
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@Crash

Re Neil: I think JW was concerned with the amount of $$ being thrown at the player, not the player himself.

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#57 Crash
February 15 2010, 01:30PM
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Dyckster wrote:

Re Neil: I think JW was concerned with the amount of $$ being thrown at the player, not the player himself.

Unfortunately in order to sign FA's, you have to throw $$ at players...there is absolutely no way around this especially in Edmonton...

Us fans of the Oilers will have to get used to it...all we can hope is that we overpay for players who will give us what they are supposed to give us and I think Neil would have.

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#58 Ducey
February 15 2010, 02:07PM
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"and the Oilers have been known to HS the wrong guys"

Willis, most of us are all fans sitting back, looking at on ice performance, reviewing stats and hanging on everything Bob MacKenzie et al dig up for us.

I have had a lot of chances in the last year to find out some of the stuff that really happens behind the scenes. I don't dispute much of what you say from a stats/ on ice perspective but the reality is that many of the trades, non-trades, and decisions are made for lots of reasons that have nothing to do with hockey.

There are lots of issues with alcoholism, drugs, poor attitudes, lousy lifestyles, deceitful behaviour, etc. that factor into managing a large group of NHL players. We have seen the publicized example of Sean Avery and we have heard rumbling about Dion Phaneuf but there a dozens of players with very significant issues that never get publicized.

Before you presume to criticise "HS's" or anything else you might want to keep in mind you don't know the whole story. Does this mean Tambi/ Lowe are always right? No. But it is likely you would agree with a few more of their decisions were you privy to the info they had.

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#61 Moop
February 15 2010, 02:18PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Crash:

What's the difference between Chris Neil and Zack Stortini? I mean really? Neil may be a slightly better fighter but he's another guy who isn't an especially good hockey player and for 2MM/yr he would have been a ridiculous addition.

In nay case, I don't think 'more grit' is the answer in and of itself - J-F Jacques was brought on board with that in mind, but he's *this* close to being totally useless outside of his ability to hit things. Ethan Moreau's the same kind of player.

This team doesn't need more guys who can hit things but can't play hockey. It needs hockey players.

Oh Willis, you and your crazy ideas. Hockey teams don't need people who can actually play hockey. They need people who have been identified as having courage, people who want to be Oilers. And the thing is, we can't just identify these people overnight. It takes a good 6-7 years of careful observation before any decisions can be made on the matter. Otherwise, we could end up with a team of schlubs who can't do any better than last place in the entire NHL.

Wait...crap.

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#62 Crash
February 15 2010, 03:06PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Crash:

What's the difference between Chris Neil and Zack Stortini? I mean really? Neil may be a slightly better fighter but he's another guy who isn't an especially good hockey player and for 2MM/yr he would have been a ridiculous addition.

In nay case, I don't think 'more grit' is the answer in and of itself - J-F Jacques was brought on board with that in mind, but he's *this* close to being totally useless outside of his ability to hit things. Ethan Moreau's the same kind of player.

This team doesn't need more guys who can hit things but can't play hockey. It needs hockey players.

I guess if you can't tell he difference between Chris Neil and Zach Stortini and how having good hard nosed guys that you aren't afraid to use on the ice and can actually have a physical impact then I'm not sure what there is to say to you.

Neil has scored 16 goals in a season and has 7 this year. Stortini and Jacques don't not nor will they ever compare to a Chris Neil or Jordin Tootoo or Colby Armstrong or Steve Ott. And do you seriously believe Ethan Moreau brings the kind of toughness and grit that scares anybody...cmon, seriously

One of the problems with this team is adding too many guys that can just play hockey...ie small forwards, too many small forwards who can all play hockey

And if you noticed in my post I mentioned adding guys who bring a scary toughness, who stand up for teammates at a drop of a hat who can ALSO PLAY. Again, Steve Ott, Colby Armstrong, Jordin Tootoo, Chris Neil are players just like this....yes Chris Neil is tough as nails and is the type of guy who makes other teams accountable for running skill players...Stortini doesn`t scare my Grandma, nor does Jacques and certainly neither does Moreau.

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#63 Eddie Shore
February 15 2010, 03:09PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Crash:

What's the difference between Chris Neil and Zack Stortini? I mean really? Neil may be a slightly better fighter but he's another guy who isn't an especially good hockey player and for 2MM/yr he would have been a ridiculous addition.

In nay case, I don't think 'more grit' is the answer in and of itself - J-F Jacques was brought on board with that in mind, but he's *this* close to being totally useless outside of his ability to hit things. Ethan Moreau's the same kind of player.

This team doesn't need more guys who can hit things but can't play hockey. It needs hockey players.

I'm not a huge fan of Chris Neil but comparing Stortini to him is a bit of a stretch. Chris Neil can be an effective player by doing things other than fighting, unlike Stortini. He also has better finish than Stortini.

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#64 Wanye
February 15 2010, 03:20PM
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It's a good thing that the OilersNation is a website and not a hall party. The after hours brawls we would be having would be stuff of legend.

I can't WAIT to see what we are talking about in two more months of this 30th place hockey.*

*Hopefully we are talking about some sort of delicious fudge

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#65 Ducey
February 15 2010, 03:21PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Ducey:

For starters, is that my quote?

Secondly, even so, the Cup-winning Oilers teams weren't exactly a bunch of choir boys. What happens on the ice is far and away the most important part of the story.

Sorry, I guess its not your quote. Thats embarrassing!

But I still disagree with your suggestion Tambi be fired. Now if he messes up the trade deadline and the summer, I will agree with you.

He signed Bulin but its far from clear what info he may have had from doctors etc at the time and it is also unknown whether Bulin might come back and play.

I also see Tambi's patience as a virtue.

Sorry again for the misquote.

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#66 Reggie Dunlop
February 15 2010, 06:22PM
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I think we should substitute the word post-mortem for post-game for the rest of this season. The chalk outline gets redrawn game after game.

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