April 23 2010 11:51AM
The Edmonton Oilers have finally fired Lowe. No, not Kevin Lowe; his brother, trainer Ken Lowe, along with equipment men Barrie Stafford and Lyle “Sparky” Kulchisky. After decades of work with the team, all three are now unemployed.
The question of why these men were fired remains unanswered. Ken Lowe is probably the most interesting of the three, for a couple of different reasons. It may be that the Oilers have decided that some of the blame for their epically high man-games lost to injury should fall on his shoulders; I’m not sure that Nikolai Khabibulin’s many and varied health problems are his fault, or Souray’s concussion, or Jacques’ back, or Hemsky getting knocked from behind into the boards, or for that matter O’Sullivan’s pinky finger qualify as something he should get fired for, but this is a firing that the Oilers can probably defend to some degree in that manner. It’s even possible they may be justified.
The other reason Lowe’s firing is so interesting is that it makes it clear – if it wasn’t before – that Kevin Lowe’s new official position isn’t “President of Hockey Operations” but rather “Vice-President of Remembering the 80’s And Conversing With The Media.” It’s difficult to imagine any scenario, where after two decades of satisfaction with his brother’s work, Lowe would pull the trigger on firing him.
Finally, I can’t imagine that Sheldon Souray’s comments praising Lowe while simultaneously slamming management did the head trainer any favours.
For the life of me, I can’t imagine what sins the equipment men committed to be worthy of getting the axe. Was Kulchisky not getting the visiting team’s equipment to their room quickly enough? (Too quickly?) Was Tambellini sick of hearing Barrie Stafford tell him about his nephew Drew, who he claimed was pretty good at hockey?
It’s entirely possible that there was some reasonable explanation for this. Perhaps there were legitimate problems with the performance of these men, although decades of continued employment and work with Hockey Canada makes that seem implausible. My personal guess – and it’s no more than a guess – is that Tambellini viewed these people as part of the ‘culture problem’ with the team that he has gnashed his teeth about in two post-season press conferences now.
Whatever the case may be, it’s a little ironic to see such a poorly managed team fire a bunch of people who had nothing to do with management.