LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS

Jason Strudwick
May 29 2012 08:29AM

Fans and media alike are always wanting to know about "The Plan" for the Oilers. Does the team have a plan? What is The Plan? Why won't Steve Tambellini tell us The Plan? There is a strong feeling that it is a right of theirs to know the answers to these questions.

I am here to tell you mangers shouldn't outline their plan and you shouldn't want to know the details of The Plan. Don't get me wrong, I am not writing this as a show of support for or against the approach as GM of Steve Tambellini. His body of work to come will determine the outcome of his legacy as an Oiler general manager. I am writing this to outline how I think strong managers with longer track records function and why they keep their plans private.

A manager I have always admired is Lou Lamoriello. He has been the New Jersey Devils manager since 1987 (25 years). In that time he has won three Stanley cups and with this years post season run it is his fifth cup final.

Not too shabby.

Lucky Lou

He fiercely guards his club's secrets and privacy. Can anyone tell me one time he came out, stood behind a podium and outlined his plan? Never would happen. He operates to produce victories and not shake hands and kiss babies. Are there times that the fan base gets frustrated? Sure, but going to the cup final every fourth year in the last twelve probably helps get them over it.

The opposite of a private manager like Lou is the Toronto Maple Leafs Brian Burke. He chooses to be the face of the franchise. He has also been successful. He won a cup at the helm of the Anaheim Ducks and assembled many of the pieces that are still making the Canucks so strong. He was my GM when I was in Vancouver. I really liked and respected him, plus he was entertaining.

But why does he lay out his plan so often in the media? This makes no sense to me at all. It does get the Leaf fans excited, but when he fails to accomplish what he said he would do it makes it look like he failed. It puts the team in a position of bargaining weakness. As a fan you don't want that.

For example, near this year's trade deadline he publicly announced he was looking for more size up front. Why say it out loud? For whatever reason he didn't get any. Could it be that every other GM knew what wanted? When another GM with a good sized forward he is looking to trade hears that, does his asking price not automatically go up? Of course! He knows you want it.

I don't get it. Maybe he should watch the show Canadian Pickers - those guys know how to bargain! When the LA Kings pulled off their big trades last year, it blew the doors off of everyone. I can't remember any media members calling that. I loved it. The Kings management group played their cards tight to the vest. They did not lay that out for the world to see until it was completed.

I believe that it a major strength to have as a club. In my opinion managers should not lay out their master plans. Yes, at times it will frustrate the media and fans but if it even makes the difference in one trade or free agent signing it is worth it. Lou Lameriello is the manager that all others should copy. Sure he has made a few mistakes but his track record suggests he knows what he is doing.

You're starting when?

I will never understand why the NHL schedules such a long break between the conference finals and the cup final. I am sure that building availability is one part and maybe the guys are tired, but they should want to keep all fans engaged. I feel the cup finals lose steam with the time off.

Next year fire the final up right away!

5cf6b487166aced0cd781e41bfef915e
Jason hosts the Jason Strudwick show from 9pm to 12am, weeknights on the team 1260. He is an instructor at Mount Carmel Hockey Academy and loves working with the kids. Having played over 650 games in the NHL, Jason has some great stories and unique takes on life in the NHL. He loves Slurpees and Blizzards. Dislikes baggy clothes and close talkers.
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#1 friday the FISTeenth
May 29 2012, 08:31AM
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I wouldn't be the fist to say I trust The Plan

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#2 Rick
May 29 2012, 08:38AM
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It's not the absence of Tambellini telling us about his plan that is bothersome.

It's the absence of Tambellini doing anything that resembles a plan that is bothersome.

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#3 The Towel Boy
May 29 2012, 08:44AM
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I don't get why Burke telegraphs his needs all the time either. Maybe he forgets he's not in Anaheim anymore and when he holds press conferences to discuss his GM plans, people actually care and listen.

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#4 Ambassador humantorch
May 29 2012, 08:46AM
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Rick wrote:

It's not the absence of Tambellini telling us about his plan that is bothersome.

It's the absence of Tambellini doing anything that resembles a plan that is bothersome.

It's the absence of any hockey-team-assembling skill in the entire Oilers front office that is bothersome.

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#5 Ambassador humantorch
May 29 2012, 08:48AM
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Though we have it on good authority that Ricky is impeccable when it comes to dealing with all of this.

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#6 5inatrailer
May 29 2012, 08:50AM
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I know it's a typo, but by sayin he was your BM, that's medical speak for he was your bowel movement- not an uncommon sentiment on these boards.

I agree with your emphasis tho. 30 guys are trying to beat each other. Don't give your opponent an advantage in negotiations.

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#7 geoilersgist
May 29 2012, 08:50AM
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Agreed! The team that beats their opponent in fewer games should get the benefit going into the final and should only be two days off after the final game of the previous series.

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#8 TonyDanzaPervo
May 29 2012, 08:54AM
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"He was my BM when I was in Vancouver. "

We have 1 thing in common - Burke resembles my BM too.

*ahhh, too late. Props to 5inatrailer

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#9 Joan
May 29 2012, 08:56AM
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Rick wrote:

It's not the absence of Tambellini telling us about his plan that is bothersome.

It's the absence of Tambellini doing anything that resembles a plan that is bothersome.

DING DING DING We have a winner !!!! 12 years of being a season ticket holder have brought me some good times but mostly frustration and a hole in my bank account. It's bad enough that the team has not been successful, but many of the perks that we used to enjoy are now gone. e.g. player signings at Saturday night games, Molson cup lunches, season ticket holder breakfasts and lunches etc. I gave up my tickets this year. $6,500.00 was too much to watch this anymore. I wish the Oilers good luck and I will watch them (from afar) in the future. Hopefully ,sometime soon, there WILL BE a plan, for success

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#10 Shredder
May 29 2012, 08:58AM
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I kinda said the same thing yesterday in a post...if Lowe-belini lies to us, it probably wouldn't have been the first time, it won't be the last, and it's the right thing to do.

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#11 Guy Lafleur
May 29 2012, 09:02AM
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Pierre Gauthier NEVER told anybody the plan and how did that turn out???

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#12 VK63
May 29 2012, 09:13AM
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Apparently the sweetest refrain in the world of Brian Burke is the sound of his own voice. As a bonus the league and the mindless lemmings in national sports media share that opinion.

Aren't we lucky?

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#13 Dman09
May 29 2012, 09:23AM
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Ya this layoff between games sucks. I just want to find out who is going to win and speed on into the draft to see if Tambo can do anything that isn't placed in his hand ready made for him.

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#14 Oiler Al
May 29 2012, 09:33AM
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If this years plan is like last summers [ Belanger, Hordichuk, Barker, Eager], I dont want to know about it ..period. Keep it a secret, better yet, keep them the hell off the ice. Cup run should be over by May 30th every year. Who wants to watch a game on Sat. afternoon when its 30 degrees outside.

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#15 @Oilanderp
May 29 2012, 09:42AM
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Usually when things get bad people always ask me what my PLAN is to deal with it. I never tell them anything. Actions speak louder than words: I dress in a sheepskin loincloth, don my best raping and pillaging helm, hold a hammer in one hand and point at the sky with the other.

Then they go away, and everything gets better.

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#16 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
May 29 2012, 09:42AM
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Completely disagree!

Keeping your plan hush hush is an old school way of thinking - and that's as politically correct as I can put it. I can easily argue why there are more advantages than disadvantages with a certain high degree of transparency.

And it works in your favor, on many levels, as the plan's architect. If Tambellini knew a lot more about management strategies, people wouldn't think he's incapable.

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#17 Jonathan Willis
May 29 2012, 09:42AM
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In fairness, Ken Holland also lets a fair amount slip out. Not specific player moves - he's like a vault there - but his general approach to development, goaltending, etc. Though there's been a recent conversion in some cities to his goalie strategy, for the most part people continue to ignore what he says.

Have you read Behind the Moves, Jason? There's some great stuff from Lamoriello there - he's as tight-lipped as ever in certain areas but he expounds a bit on his general philosophy. It's great stuff.

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#18 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
May 29 2012, 09:57AM
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Tambellini's plan hasn't been scripted yet, he's still assessing the situation.

With yet another lottery finish coming next season. It'll all come crashing down for Steve when he's terminated at seasons end.

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#19 Gitagrip
May 29 2012, 10:11AM
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Perceived prowess by a GM seems necessarily a product of great goaltending. Just ask Torrey, Holland, Bowman, Lamoriello and our boy Glen Sather. Remember their goalies? Here's a good read if you think GM's make good architects.

http://www.iveybusinessjournal.com/topics/leadership/debunking-the-proven-winner-myth-in-the-national-hockey-league

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#20 db7db7db7
May 29 2012, 10:13AM
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The plan is written on the wall. 20 1st overall picks from now we'll all get it.

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#21 JB
May 29 2012, 10:14AM
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Struds, I would suggest that the reason fans want to hear about Tambellini's plan is because it would appear he doesn't have one outside of lots of losing and drafting high every June.

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#22 Lochenzo
May 29 2012, 10:30AM
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I don't prescribe to the Burky way of doing things. First you tell the world how desperate you are, then you tell them that you absolutely must get a goalie before the deadline. Then after the deadline, you complain about how expensive goalies were. Well, duh. You put yourself in a corner, rival GMs will try to exploit it.

One a side note, Oiler fans should be watching the Devils to see how they do against the Kings because what powers the Devil's boat is similar to how the Oiler roster is shaping up. Blue chip defense with no real stud and a forward group led by their star wingers. Speed and forecheck. Will that be enough against the Kings' size?

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#23 book¡e
May 29 2012, 10:46AM
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Tambellini often tells us what his plans are. However, he mostly is lying. I like that.

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#24 HallFever
May 29 2012, 10:47AM
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@Next up, is Connor McJesus.

I hope your wrong with the lottery finish for next season but I hope you ARE right that Tambellini is terminated. EPIC FAIL

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#25 Kent Wilson
May 29 2012, 11:02AM
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I'll take the bullet for the typo. Struds is innocent there. I was editing the piece and inadvertently replaced the "g" with a "b".

At least it was humorous error I guess.

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#26 John Chambers
May 29 2012, 11:02AM
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@ Biceps Maximus

Do you think it would be more beneficial or less beneficial for ST to have come out to the media and say: "We're trying to get Hemmer under contract. This is an imperative for this team, but if we can pry a Brenden Smith out of Detroit we might do that deal instead." ??

Of if last summer he'd opened his mouth to assure Oiler fans that they were trying to deal for Smyth: "We really can't tolerate him being dealt to the Flames, but I'm trying to saddle Lombardi with a bad contract like Brule's."

Instead Tambellini speaks quite often about big picture objectives, such as injecting elite talent into the organization.

I still think the guy is often poor on execution, but with regard to the casual fan's "need to know" they handle this professionally.

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#27 Neilio
May 29 2012, 11:14AM
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The thing is, Lou looks like he has a plan. Sometimes his fans don't understand, but there doesn't seem to be anyone in the organization that doesn't understand what that team is about and what direction it is going.

When the players and staff are sitting around waiting for word on what Tambo wants to do, that becomes a problem. It was already suggested of the Oilers management that they are non-communicative and insular BEFORE Tambo was hired. He hasn't done anything to remedy that problem, even though it may be one of the things that free-agents are wary of. So when we hear our own players not getting any communication or see them hang Renny out in the breeze, it makes you wonder if anyone outside the non-dynamic-duo knows whats going on.

When you hear players talking bout wanting to play in a pee-pee soaked heck hole like Detroit, you have to know that the way they treat and communicate their players makes a difference. Winning helps, but its not the only thing.

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#28 Aitch
May 29 2012, 11:43AM
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@@Oilanderp

Wow. You're still doing that? And it still works! Excellent!

I'm with Strudwick on this one. I don't want to know what Tambo game plan is. Or at least I don't want him telling everyone what it is. It's obvious to all when there is a hole in the line-up and it should be obvious to most who follow hockey (outside of the morning SportsCentre loop).

I think the Oilers should package some future draft picks with some of the fringe Top6 players and the current crop almost-good d-men to get some better d-men who are ready to defend for the set of young forwards we already have maturing. But if I heard Tambo on SportsNet saying that, you know that every other GM is suddenly going "Yes, b'y! I have one of those. Now gimme..."

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#29 freeze
May 29 2012, 12:09PM
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@Jonathan Willis

I wish that book would come out in a basic format. I get what they are trying to do with it but my curiosity on the information just isn't large enough to drop $100+.

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#30 Oil Is My Blood
May 29 2012, 12:12PM
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Not really interested in the site you refer to, but props to you for your avatar!

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#31 50 in 39
May 29 2012, 12:23PM
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I think there is some reasoning to releasing information about your potential plans. I don't think a GM is in contact with all the other 29 GM's on a continuous basis. You can generate greater interest and discussions about player moves by letting the desired information "slip" out. It doesn't have to be in the Brian Burke loudmouth way, you can also let guys like Darren Dreger broadcast it for you.

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#32 CaptainLander
May 29 2012, 12:42PM
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I don't think Burke gave a lot away by saying he was hoping to get bigger up front. It would be like ST saying he was looking for a top 4 d-man, duh. I think Burke not getting a quality player with size up front had more to do with the difficulty in finding quality players with size. I am assure ST can attest to that.

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#33 Harlie
May 29 2012, 12:47PM
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haha Canadian Pickers...great show!!!

And have you seen American Diggers....YEAH BABBBYYYYY!!!

Also, Souray told me years ago that Lou is a class act and was one of the best too.

And the Stanley Cup finals start when? This Wednesday? Next Wednesday. Why on a damn Wednesday??

Lastly, I bet ol' Burke must have been a great guy to have as a GM. A few years back, I watched that guy quaff down 2 pints at the Vancouver airport in about 2 swigs each. The guy became an honorary hero of mine right there. haha

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#34 dawgbone98
May 29 2012, 12:55PM
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The difference of course is that Lou has a bit of a track record in terms of putting together quality hockey teams.

Tambellini has yet to put together a mediocre hockey team.

But why have a plan when you can ask Stevie Y about which defenceman has poise?

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#35 etownman
May 29 2012, 12:59PM
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Actually for all you cynical Tamby posters I will say this, I like what Tamby has done to date in regards to none moves! Some of the UFA's have not proven to be good pickups but in terms of drafting & handling those draft picks he has done the right things! The Oilers have drafted well over the past 3 years in particular & you have to let these prospects develop to a point where they know what they have in these players before you even think of moving them! Gagner is a good example of this, if the Oilers do move Sam, they do so knowing exactly what they are giving up! They can't do that with Paajarvi, Hartikainen, Pitlick, Hamilton etc.

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#36 Wax Man Riley
May 29 2012, 01:17PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I'll take the bullet for the typo. Struds is innocent there. I was editing the piece and inadvertently replaced the "g" with a "b".

At least it was humorous error I guess.

Ohhh.... the Flames Fan "inadvertently" putting a BM on us ;p

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#37 Harlie
May 29 2012, 01:24PM
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@Wax Man Riley

you know why birds fly over Calgary upside down?

There is nothing worth BM'ing on.

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#38 Pucker
May 29 2012, 02:04PM
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Mr. Strudwick . . . I was out on Sunday and seen a TV with the 10 best OT goals of all time. You got a nice goal mentioned in there. I think you were an AC with the Islanders.

nice rip to the top corner!

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#39 Dog Train
May 29 2012, 02:49PM
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Actions speak louder than words. So far, Tambellini's actions deservedly has the fan base questioning whether or not he is the right man for the job.

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#40 Brownlee loves the word meow
May 29 2012, 02:51PM
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Meow I would have to agree that finishing last over and over... and over does get frustrating.

However I dont think anyone can say that the tanking idea in the rebuild wasnt successfully completed. With out a doubt tambi got rid of misfits and also added crappy players to fill the holes. Thus we tanked. Thus 3 FIST overall picks in a row.

Does he now know how to get key pieces that can accentuate the existing young team? I think he knows how to make moves. Slow chess like moves.. but he does make moves.

The real question for anyone doubting Tambiis does he know what the Oilers need?

I think with some of the moves, the answer would have to be yes. Last year they targeted grit, faceoffs, and reliable shut down defense. Eager, hord, belanger, schultz.

Did they target exactly what they needed.. yes. Did they all work out...no.. not at all. Schultz was a good move, and arguably Eager adds some grit/effort/toughness to a team needing some emotion. Are they giving guys more time in the AHL and treating them better.. absolutely. Are they changing coaching style to get them over the hump and push the guys when they need to be pushed.. you would have to assume that considering Renney was more of a teacher than a leader.

I might be just a positive thinker.. but I dont see even with out them stating what the plan is, that one couldnt read the script that has been written so far and not see a light at the end of the tunnel, or a reason behind what has happened up to this point.

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#41 Jonathan Willis
May 29 2012, 02:53PM
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freeze wrote:

I wish that book would come out in a basic format. I get what they are trying to do with it but my curiosity on the information just isn't large enough to drop $100+.

I get that. I bought because I figured it would be invaluable for this sort of thing (and it has been) but my wife remains highly skeptical.

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#42 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
May 29 2012, 03:15PM
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@John Chambers

I think that if ST came out and said that, he'd be one of the worst managers and communicators in all of sports.

Focus on the fact (for example) that most fans share your thought process on ST being "often poor on execution". That's because there's no starting point - fans don't know what his plan is. How can you access someone's performance when there are no clear expectations.

You don't need to be very specific when articulating your plan, but you have to be very deliberate in how you do it. You can use it to your advantage, despite of your example. It goes back to effective management and communication.

Burke is a blow-hard, but take his larger than life persona away, and he's actually an excellent communicator.

ST's big picture stuff, based on his assumption of what the casual fan needs to know basis, is child's play.

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#43 Walter Sobchak
May 29 2012, 06:07PM
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I think both Tambellini and Klowe let stuff slip all the time when it suits there need.

Tambellini is deffinetly watching what he says these days

Having said that.

I like how Burke has the balls to come out and say we are building this type of team! I won't stop until we get there!! I'll do whatever it takes to get the players I need, and if I have to trade to get those payers I will!! if I have to move up in he draft I will! I am sorry about our season!! No BS we are going to be better!

That's leadership, as a player it makes you feel good to hear that!

Or you can have.

We plan on making the playoffs.........our Goalie is our MVP........I will not be here again next year....if your going to be here again you might as well win first! We might not take the best player avalible.......we're flexible!!!!!!

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#44 Chris81
May 29 2012, 09:51PM
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Tambellini did reveal a bit of a plan last offseason when he said the team was going to be competing for a playoff spot. He added the players that he thought was going to get the job done (A-class ringers like Hordichuk, Eager, Barker, Belanger, and Sutton). He missed his mark by December.

He also revealed a mid season plan. No lottery pick. To accompish this, he made one slick, lateral move in trading Gilbert for Schultz. He missed his mark again.

And we now have another plan. A new level of compete. Which I am going to quantify by being in the playoff picture when 2013 hits. It's a softball of a goal, but if he misses his mark again, can the apologists quit their BS?

These are the plans that need to be revealed to the public and it is the one thing Tambellini does well I think. Let us know where we should expect the team but not how he is going to get there. Too bad he is failing at his own imposed goals.

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#45 Westmount Wookie
May 29 2012, 11:21PM
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It is fine to keep The Plan close to the vest but ST has not demonstrated any real vision or direction for the club accept down.

Tillman has a solid track record of producing winning teams and making/creating deals and finding talent that leads his team to win. When Tillman traded away a franchise QB for almost nothing the word was wow- bold move, cant wait to see what he does next, Tillman knows what he is doing... etc

Tambo on the other hand has never showed any real vision or plan to fans and the best thing about his time here is 3 first overall picks in 3 years - not exactly Mr Successful to paying fans. We have a right to question his plan and vision because his track record tells us he isn't that good GM.

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#46 Devolution
May 30 2012, 03:06AM
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@Gitagrip

Very interesting article, with good information for non sports related fields.

"The authors argued that only 30 percent of a star’s performance is attributable to individual capabilities, while 70 percent is due to the resources and capabilities specific to the analysts’ former firms, where they developed into stars."

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#47 @Oilanderp
May 30 2012, 03:32AM
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*dances flagrantly with his raping and pillaging helm and his sheepskin loincloth*

P.S. Pretty sure that's a win there..... *brushes off his lapel ON HIS SHEEPSKIN LOINCLOTH ... uhhh suit*

*points at the sky like in the headline pic*

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