Blame Steve Tambellini

Jonathan Willis
November 01 2013 07:55AM

There’s a long list of things wrong with the Oilers right now, but somewhere near the top of the list has to be the state of the defence corps. With the exception of Jeff Petry (and possibly Anton Belov) there hasn’t really been a positive story on the Oilers’ blue line this season, and the only way to really address the problem is with top-pairing talent – something that can be extremely difficult to find.

It’s something the Oilers once had.

The Kevin Lowe Blue

Kevin Lowe isn’t a popular figure with the fanbase these days, and that’s understandable – whatever his exact duties with the team, he’s the one prominent figure that still has a job after years and years of losing, and it doesn’t help that he occasionally says tone-deaf things. But whatever his state of popularity, the blue line that he left Steve Tambellini in the summer of 2008 was pretty solid.

Here’s that group, then and now:

  • 1. Sheldon Souray. Played just under 25 minutes per night, adding snarl and offensive production (53 points). He’s hurt now but played 21 minutes per game for Anaheim last season and did many of the same things.
  • 2. Lubomir Visnovsky. Played 23 minutes per night and added a brilliant puck-moving presence. He did exactly the same things for the playoff-bound New York Islanders last season.
  • 3. Tom Gilbert. Played 22 minutes per night and recorded a career-best 45 points. These days he’s Florida’s number two defenceman and one of only two guys with an even-or-better plus/minus on the team.
  • 4. Denis Grebeshkov. Played 21 minutes per game, posting 39 points and a plus-12 rating. Edmonton just waived him after bringing him back from the KHL in the summer.
  • 5. Steve Staios. Played 20 minutes per game in the twilight of his career; retired these days.
  • 6. Ladislav Smid. Played 15 minutes per game in 2008-09 and is a top-four NHL defenceman for the Oilers these days.
  • 7. Jason Strudwick. Edmonton’s seventh defenceman in 2008-09 has since retired and WHAT’S THAT HE WRITES HERE!

That was an awfully good group five years ago, and (if Souray were healthy) four of those guys would still be useful NHL players. What happened?

Summers of Steve

Basically, players got moved without ever being replaced.

Sheldon Souray got hurt, clearly felt slighted by the team, and went public with his feelings. The Oilers, not wanting their impressionable young players to be unduly influenced by Souray’s opinion that management would struggle to differentiate between an arse and an elbow, first exiled the defender to the minors and then bought him out entirely. In the years since, Souray had a really good season in Dallas for pennies on the dollar and then a pretty good one in Anaheim. Essentially, the Oilers alienated a useful player whose skillset was a strong fit for the team and then flushed him for nothing.

Lubomir Visnovsky drove old-timey coach Pat Quinn nuts with crazy things like “puck movement” and “occasionally pinching in the offensive zone” so Tambellini dumped him to Anaheim in exchange for Ryan Whitney. Visnovsky’s still a useful top-four defenceman, while the much younger Whitney is now a frequent healthy scratch in Florida.

Tom Gilbert drove the fan-base crazy by being soft, so the Oilers traded him to Minnesota. Nick Schultz, the player brought in to replace him, is a third-pairing defender these days. Gilbert has had his problems – including a buyout in Minnesota after a dreadful PDO season last year – but he’s a number two defenceman with the Panthers today.

Denis Grebeshkov and Steve Staios were moved for picks in solid trades, while Ladislav Smid still plays for the team.

Add it all together, and the Oilers managed to turn a solid one-through-three group five years ago into Nick Schultz today. That isn’t the whole answer, but it’s the single-biggest reason why the defence corps is the mess it is right now.

Around the Nation

Just a reminder to sign up for StreakCred. There's a great new monthly prize for November, and a portion of the proceeds go to charity. Sign up here to compete.

Also, feel free to check out some of my recent articles:

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
Avatar
#1 StHenriOilBomb
November 01 2013, 08:00AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
45
props

For all the people crying for MacT's head - it takes time to recover from being trampled by a buffoon.

Avatar
#2 DrunkGuyTy
November 01 2013, 08:09AM
Trash it!
10
trashes
+1
41
props

Probably worth noting that the Visnovsky for Whitney trade was a solid deal. Whitney was a younger version of Vis. and racking up the points until he toe-picked and his career went in the toilet due to his ankle injury.

Avatar
#6 StHenriOilBomb
November 01 2013, 08:16AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
29
props
Greenlingj wrote:

Blame Tambo all you want.

Oilers are in a mess, they need to take ownership of it and not shift blame to old ghosts.

c'mon. Who's not taking ownership? That's all management and coaching has talked about. These things take time.

When MacT was hired, Don Cherry claimed that MAc would have the team back competing by 2014-15.

After Eakens was hired, Bob Mackenzie warned against high expectations, as many teams struggle with a complete culture and systems change - especially with 40% new folks on the roster.

This year was never meant to be. Tambo left things in too much of a mess.

Hopefully these guys can figure it out, and MacT can add some defense, and next year starts promisingly.

Avatar
#7 Six Rings
November 01 2013, 08:04AM
Trash it!
13
trashes
+1
27
props

BLAME KEVIN LOWE!

Avatar
#8 Boxman
November 01 2013, 08:29AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
26
props

While it is true Lowe et al have been disasters it doesn't help us move forward to look back at all the cluster f#*ki*g that they have done to us fans. As good as a blood letting at the top of the Oiler hierarchy would feel it won't help. Our biggest issue moving forward is we have little any team wants other than our young stars and there lies the rub. If Craig can't pull off miracles trading then we better get on board with Eakins. We may be even worse in the short term but I haven't heard anybody come up with a better idea. Another coaching change will make a mess of our young players so suck it up Oiler fans. As for the idiot who yelled " you suck" to Eakins in front of his 5 year old daughter, a proud moment I am sure for whoever did it and his or her parents, I hope you have the courage to apologize for your sad actions. If not I hope a heaping helping load of karma is headed your way!!

Avatar
#9 Czar
November 01 2013, 08:41AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
22
props

If Eakins wants to improve our defense than a good start would be to never have Belov and J.Schultz out together. Justin needs Ference or Smid to hold his hand until he finds his way at both ends of the ice. Other than a few ill advised pinches Belov has been good, just wish he was a little nastier out there.

Avatar
#10 Jay Gray
November 01 2013, 09:10AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
20
props

Nurse gain 20 pounds of muscle and snarl yet?

Avatar
#11 Greenlingj
November 01 2013, 08:01AM
Trash it!
25
trashes
+1
19
props

Blame Tambo all you want.

Oilers are in a mess, they need to take ownership of it and not shift blame to old ghosts.

Avatar
#12 Zarny
November 01 2013, 11:04AM
Trash it!
5
trashes
+1
17
props
Quicksilver ballet wrote:

I just laugh when I see stupid comments like this. Nothing is set in stone in todays game for 6 weeks, let alone 6 years. The direction of a team today can, and often does turn on a dime.

EVERY, did you friggen hear that? Every decision is made by committee. Nothing is done without their usual pow wow round table discussions. The only thing Tambellini was allowed to do without permission was go to the bathroom.

Tambellini was brought in as a fall guy, a guy to take the bullets for the 5 difficult years ahead for this club.

Couldn't get the job done MY ARSE!

Spare me your drivel.

As I said, Tambo no doubt talked to Lowe, his assistant GM and several others...or as you put it a committee.

At the end of the day though the final decision is the GM's.

Tambo was not brought in as a fall guy. If you think any business brings in someone as key as a GM to fail you're full on retarded.

And if you had actually listened to what Lowe and Tambo etc have been saying over the last few years you'd know their rebuild was a 6 year plan.

3 years to amass some prospects and 3 years to add depth around them while they mature.

That's why unlike fans like you who wet their pants after 14 games MacT isn't panicking. He knows the Oilers had no chance of winning the Cup this year. Making the playoffs was about getting pasted in the first round for the experience.

This year won't be best case. The Oilers won't make the playoffs. That doesn't mean you chuck everything in the garbage and panic.

Avatar
#13 Jason Gregor
November 01 2013, 11:53AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
17
props

Gilbert was traded because of his lack of competitiveness. Minnesota had him as a health scratch and then bought him out.

Florida is 3-7-2, and one of those reasons is because Gilbert is in their top-pair. He isn't a top pairing D-man on a winning team.

He couldn't play in Minnesota who was competitive and no other team signed him. There is a reason for that.

Would he be that much better than J.Schultz at this point? I don't think so. He would be in your 3rd pairing here, just like N.Schultz. Gilbert moves the puck better, but N.Schultz competes much harder.

Oilers traded Gilbert because his play wouldn't help you win. He can play a lot of minutes, but he doesn't help your team win. Look at how beat him out for icetime in Minnesota...

I agree losing Souray for nothing hurt a lot. Tambellini had his ego bruised by Souray calling him out and the Oilers let it get personal. Awful decision.

Avatar
#14 camdog
November 01 2013, 09:05AM
Trash it!
12
trashes
+1
16
props
Jonathan Willis wrote:

Whitney's injury history long predated his acquisition by the Oilers.

Long time lurker

Visnovsky had a no trade clause signed in LA he didn't want to come to Edmonton, he wanted to stay in LA. Incredibly bad move to trade for a guy that didn't want to come here. Lowe tried this numerous times and each time it back fired. The Whitney trade was more sending Visnovsky home rather than making a hockey trade.

Souray was driven out of town because of his feud with Mactavish

Grebeshkov was horrible and yet Mact brought him back, a waste of a roster spot on a gut shot.

Staois was at the end of his career

Smid is not a number 4 d man, has has never progressed.

Gilbert was a horrible trade.

That blue line that you say was solid was so weak it lead to the Oilers finishing dead last in the league by a wide margin in 2009-10. I don't know how anybody with any reputation can defend that teams defense as being solid?

Avatar
#15 Czar
November 01 2013, 09:31AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
16
props
Jay Gray wrote:

Nurse gain 20 pounds of muscle and snarl yet?

He's following in Prongers footsteps, banging everything he can on and off the ice.

Avatar
#16 EricOG
November 01 2013, 08:22AM
Trash it!
7
trashes
+1
15
props

Well, when you trace back to where it was Tambo came from, you get this man:

Kevin "I'm smarter than you" Lowe......

That is the one constant in this hell hole the Oilers are stuck in.

Avatar
#17 Newj
November 01 2013, 08:51AM
Trash it!
6
trashes
+1
14
props

JW:

I think you're stretching things a bit by stating we lost out in the trading of Tom Gilbert. We dont need more offensive, soft on the body dmen. Gilbert may be doing OK on Florida but he was horrible with the Wild.

Avatar
#18 Tikkanese
November 01 2013, 09:18AM
Trash it!
18
trashes
+1
14
props

If "Jeff Petry is a positive" then the Oilers are in trouble. Oh, wait. They are in trouble.

Avatar
#19 Tikkanese
November 01 2013, 09:25AM
Trash it!
6
trashes
+1
14
props

"but he’s a number two defenceman with the Panthers today." isn't that like saying he came in first in the special olympics?

Avatar
#20 Zarny
November 01 2013, 01:22PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
14
props
Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Blow it out your arse, Captain Kool-aid. 3 GM's and 5 coaches over the last 6 yrs says otherwise. Nothing from this organization is released before it is sanitized for public consumption/the Oilers spin has been applied.

It's best a fool (like yourself) remain silent, than open his mouth and remove all doubt. Please just stop talking idiot.

LMAO...oh I don't drink the kool-aid son.

I'm not in panic mode because I fully expected the Oilers would start slow this year.

It was friggin obvious to anyone who wasn't drinking the kool-aid.

Like yourself.

You should take your own advice about remaining silent because you're one of the dumbest posters I've read on here lol.

Avatar
#21 Ari Gold
November 01 2013, 09:19AM
Trash it!
7
trashes
+1
13
props

This article makes me sad. That D corps from before was garbage yet it makes our current corps look even worse. Yuck.

Maybe this team needs a rebuild, you know, blow it up...

Avatar
#22 Dan the Man
November 01 2013, 08:32AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
12
props

Remember the days when the Oiiers used to be able to get defencemen like Hamrlik, Spacek or Jason Smith for our garbage? We could really use one of those deals right now. Also, I don't understand why MacT signed Grebeshkov instead of going after Gilbert this past summer.

Avatar
#23 pkam
November 01 2013, 11:08AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
11
props

Blaming Tambo for trading Staios and Grebeshkov?

I still remembered Staios was always a step or 2 behind in his last 2 years with the Oilers. He had one year left at 2.9M. I don't know how Tambo can trade him for a rookie and a 3rd round pick. I am still laughing today at Daryl Sutter for that trade. And you blame Tambo for that?

And Grebeshkov for a 2nd is another great trade by Tambo. Remember Grebeshkov was called Garbagekove by the Oilers before he was traded? You probably forgot his signature no look backhand turnover pass in our own zone. I will be excited if MacT can get us even a 3rd or 4th round pick for him.

Remember Oilers fans were so excited when we acquired N. Schultz for Gilbert. Gilbert had 3 years left at 4.0M and Nick had 2 years left at 3.5M. The Wilds have to buy out Gibert, we may get a low draft pick for Nick by the trade deadline. We may not win, but we definitely didn't lose in that trade. And it is another mistake by Tambo?

Avatar
#24 Zarny
November 01 2013, 11:32AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
11
props
Quicksilver ballet wrote:

That blowhard Zarny thinks it's ALL Tambellinis fault. Do we pin this years boobie prize (Sammy Reinhart) on Tambellini too?

LMAO...you have bad reading comprehension.

It's not all Tambo's fault but he was the GM. He was responsible for personnel decisions.

Not Lowe. Not Katz. Not the coaches. Not his assistant GM.

That's how it works and every GM knows it.

Avatar
#25 Oasis
November 01 2013, 09:39AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
10
props

Is anybody else confused why the Oilers went out and grabbed Grebeshkov only to put him on Waivers.

Lets be honest, Grebeshkov hasn't played much at all this year. The time he has played, he has not looked that bad.

So why go out and sign the guy just to put him on Waivers? I think we are paying him 1.5 million and we are not even going to bother playing him. I would at least like to give him a good look to see what he has.

Oh, this must be one of those bold moves MacT was talking about.

Oh, and you can blame Tambo all you want for the Defence we have now and there is certainly merit in that argument.......but Tambo was hired by K Lowe and answered to K Lowe. There is one constant in this dumpster fire of a hockey team and it's Kevin Lowe.

Avatar
#26 Zarny
November 01 2013, 11:30AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
10
props
Walter Sobchak wrote:

It's not just the defense that's in a mess, the bottom 6 is arguable just as bad save for Gordon.

We have players playing out of position, we have skilled players trying to do things they never have done before (PK) we have a coach asking players to play tougher??

A system that had to be scratched because it's getting eaten up night after night, players that have no concept of "Swarm" or "Zone" defense a PK that horrible & a PP that's just as bad.

The only thing the Oilers are doing better this year is out shooting the opposition and those are arguable coming from weak areas.

The team itself is bad, not just the defense, we can look back and point fingers and say he's the one to blame!

Why hasn't it been fixed then?

Yes, skilled players trying to do things they have never done before like PK.

Sort of like Pit getting Crosby to kill penalties which he didn't do to start his career.

Every team plays their most skilled players on the PP. If you want to win the Cup your best players need to be able to kill penalties.

Crosby does it, Ovechkin does it, Toews does it, Richards does it, Bergeron does it.

Avatar
#27 Neal
November 01 2013, 08:59AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
9
props
Boxman wrote:

While it is true Lowe et al have been disasters it doesn't help us move forward to look back at all the cluster f#*ki*g that they have done to us fans. As good as a blood letting at the top of the Oiler hierarchy would feel it won't help. Our biggest issue moving forward is we have little any team wants other than our young stars and there lies the rub. If Craig can't pull off miracles trading then we better get on board with Eakins. We may be even worse in the short term but I haven't heard anybody come up with a better idea. Another coaching change will make a mess of our young players so suck it up Oiler fans. As for the idiot who yelled " you suck" to Eakins in front of his 5 year old daughter, a proud moment I am sure for whoever did it and his or her parents, I hope you have the courage to apologize for your sad actions. If not I hope a heaping helping load of karma is headed your way!!

Yeah for sure. I've been saying for years that Lowe was the primary architect of the disaster. I also said Burke was right when he talked about Lowe sewering the team. Point is - how can Mac be expected to turn this around overnight? Everyone seems to forget that another GM is involved with a trade! And that you don't unload your garbage for another's treasure. As for Eakins, give him a chance. He's a smart guy and will learn. And right on Boxman, the idiot that did that embarrasses everyone in Edmonton.

Avatar
#28 Mac962
November 01 2013, 09:08AM
Trash it!
12
trashes
+1
8
props

With the exception of Jeff Petry ? seriously ? Wow i must be missing something.

Avatar
#29 Batfink
November 01 2013, 09:44AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
8
props
Jonathan Willis wrote:

I continue to remain astonished at the level of disdain for Jeff Petry, easily the best defenceman on the team.

The Oilers generally have one solid pairing in any given game, and it's almost always the one Petry's on.

Therein lies the problem, JW. Petry is our best defenceman. I've had a few days driving alone to mull over the Oilers. And this is my conclusion: When poop goes south, as a part of something that is *CLEARLY* not succeeding, all parts have to ask themselves 'am I doing EVERYTHING possible in my power to turn this around?' If ANYONE answers no, then the project is doomed to failure. Now, looking at the team, from management down, do you really believe they are doing everything possible to turn this around? Listening to inside sports last night, the host asks Scott Howson a loaded question "how easy is it to wheel and deal around the 30th October with a view to improving the team, because I don't believe it is." My first thought was 'ask Garth Snow.' He got the reply he wanted, Scott saying "near impossible, every GM knows the Oilers situation." The host then went on to report other NHL news, particularly the trades of Philly, Colorado, Buffalo and the Isles. And Buffalo in a similar situation to us. BS detectors going off the scale, Captain!

*please don't start quoting corsi, or how the Oil 'look better'. It cheapens us all. Wins column, please.

So fellow ON soldiers, I put it to you; is the GM doing all in his power to turn this around?

Avatar
#30 Zarny
November 01 2013, 10:20AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
8
props

I laugh when I see stupid comments like Tambo got his marching orders from Lowe and Katz.

That's not how it works.

Katz has been sold on a 6 yr rebuild plan by Oilers' management. He's not Jerry Jones. He doesn't make personnel decisions he just writes cheques.

Tambo and Lowe no doubt talked frequently. I'm sure Lowe offered his opinion as did the assistant GM, coaches and others; but the job and responsibility was Tambo's.

My biggest criticism of the rebuild has been surrounding a very young core of forwards with little to no depth; especially on D.

Tambo's approach seemed to be he would add the other pieces once the young kids were ready to win. I think that's what got him fired. It was obvious the Oilers needed more depth to make the playoffs last year and he did nothing.

Convincing veteran NHL players to come to Edm during a rebuild could be a major factor in that approach. Teams may have been asking for too much at the deadline last year.

Bottom line is Tambo didn't get it done.

Avatar
#31 Quicksilver ballet
November 01 2013, 10:54AM
Trash it!
9
trashes
+1
8
props
Zarny wrote:

I laugh when I see stupid comments like Tambo got his marching orders from Lowe and Katz.

That's not how it works.

Katz has been sold on a 6 yr rebuild plan by Oilers' management. He's not Jerry Jones. He doesn't make personnel decisions he just writes cheques.

Tambo and Lowe no doubt talked frequently. I'm sure Lowe offered his opinion as did the assistant GM, coaches and others; but the job and responsibility was Tambo's.

My biggest criticism of the rebuild has been surrounding a very young core of forwards with little to no depth; especially on D.

Tambo's approach seemed to be he would add the other pieces once the young kids were ready to win. I think that's what got him fired. It was obvious the Oilers needed more depth to make the playoffs last year and he did nothing.

Convincing veteran NHL players to come to Edm during a rebuild could be a major factor in that approach. Teams may have been asking for too much at the deadline last year.

Bottom line is Tambo didn't get it done.

I just laugh when I see stupid comments like this. Nothing is set in stone in todays game for 6 weeks, let alone 6 years. The direction of a team today can, and often does turn on a dime.

EVERY, did you friggen hear that? Every decision is made by committee. Nothing is done without their usual pow wow round table discussions. The only thing Tambellini was allowed to do without permission was go to the bathroom.

Tambellini was brought in as a fall guy, a guy to take the bullets for the 5 difficult years ahead for this club.

Couldn't get the job done MY ARSE!

Avatar
#32 David S
November 01 2013, 11:08AM
Trash it!
4
trashes
+1
8
props
Zarny wrote:

I laugh when I see stupid comments like Tambo got his marching orders from Lowe and Katz.

That's not how it works.

Katz has been sold on a 6 yr rebuild plan by Oilers' management. He's not Jerry Jones. He doesn't make personnel decisions he just writes cheques.

Tambo and Lowe no doubt talked frequently. I'm sure Lowe offered his opinion as did the assistant GM, coaches and others; but the job and responsibility was Tambo's.

My biggest criticism of the rebuild has been surrounding a very young core of forwards with little to no depth; especially on D.

Tambo's approach seemed to be he would add the other pieces once the young kids were ready to win. I think that's what got him fired. It was obvious the Oilers needed more depth to make the playoffs last year and he did nothing.

Convincing veteran NHL players to come to Edm during a rebuild could be a major factor in that approach. Teams may have been asking for too much at the deadline last year.

Bottom line is Tambo didn't get it done.

From all accounts, Katz and Lowe agreed on a ground-up rebuild (the timing of which can be debated). If you know anything about Katz (and I do, although not in recent history), he doesn't get "sold" on anything. He's a self-made guy who makes the hard calls for a living and he's damn good at it.

That's EXACTLY how it works.

The thing with a rebuild is you can't make it look too obvious. The first step in that process is hiring a disposable (Tambo) patsy to take the heat. Funny how all Tambellini's decisions ended up with us acquiring so much high end talent through the draft, huh? It's also funny that as soon as Tambellini was fired MacT started undoing all the damage Tambellini did.

Don't think Katz has much say? He was sitting beside MacT in his private box the night we got physically obliterated (TSN panned to the duo several times during the game). Almost the NEXT DAY Steve Macintyre was on a plane headed to Edmonton.

Avatar
#33 Quicksilver ballet
November 01 2013, 11:13AM
Trash it!
24
trashes
+1
8
props

@Zarny

Blow it out your arse, Captain Kool-aid. 3 GM's and 5 coaches over the last 6 yrs says otherwise. Nothing from this organization is released before it is sanitized for public consumption/the Oilers spin has been applied.

It's best a fool (like yourself) remain silent, than open his mouth and remove all doubt. Please just stop talking idiot.

Avatar
#34 Zarny
November 01 2013, 11:27AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
8
props
pkam wrote:

If he can put up points and great +/- and help his partners to excel, why do we still focus on his skating? Isn't it obvious that he has adapted his game and get his job done.

Pronger isn't great at skating but do we care?

Except Whitney wasn't putting up points and his +/- wasn't great. He was a minus player. And his partners weren't excelling.

Oh and Pronger was a good skater especially when he was in Edm. Tall and lanky but he could get around the ice no problem.

Avatar
#35 Neal
November 01 2013, 11:49AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
8
props
Zarny wrote:

LMAO...actually if you look at any successful franchise what they don't do is panic 14 games into a season.

As for being afraid not to make the calls...go look at Mike Milbury's career to see the folly in that thinking.

By all means tell me who you think is available right now that isn't a rental?

You think Montreal or any team with a bona fide top D wants to package someone like Subban for a younger prospect and some picks with 65 games left in the season?

Other GM's aren't going to make a trade just for sh*ts and giggles. As the Oiler GM how can you make their team better for the next 65 games?

Right On! Trades only happen when 2 GM's sign off. How many other GM's are as stupid as many of our fanbase want to think? Mac has a monumental task undoing Lowebellini's years of debacle. We have a team whose core is smaller soft forwards who think hockey is about "dangling", and a D that wants to stick check and make cute little no look passes. (Ok with the few singular exceptions). This is the mountain of sh*t Mac is looking up at and he knows it. As for Eakins, how would you like to coach this group? Bottom line is the arrows will point up but we ain't done suffering yet.

Avatar
#37 David S
November 01 2013, 08:39AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
7
props

OK look. Tambellini was the executioner but he got his marching orders from Lowe and Katz. If he hadn't been doing exactly what he was supposed to do he would have been fired long before he finally was. MacT coming in was the signal that "Greatest Tank Battles" was over.

THIS is what happens when you tank for three years and it's not only happening with the D as our bottom six isn't too sh!t hot either. If we hadn't traded away good players and taken junk back we would not have ended up with the high end group we have.

Avatar
#38 Zarny
November 01 2013, 10:27AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
7
props
Batfink wrote:

Therein lies the problem, JW. Petry is our best defenceman. I've had a few days driving alone to mull over the Oilers. And this is my conclusion: When poop goes south, as a part of something that is *CLEARLY* not succeeding, all parts have to ask themselves 'am I doing EVERYTHING possible in my power to turn this around?' If ANYONE answers no, then the project is doomed to failure. Now, looking at the team, from management down, do you really believe they are doing everything possible to turn this around? Listening to inside sports last night, the host asks Scott Howson a loaded question "how easy is it to wheel and deal around the 30th October with a view to improving the team, because I don't believe it is." My first thought was 'ask Garth Snow.' He got the reply he wanted, Scott saying "near impossible, every GM knows the Oilers situation." The host then went on to report other NHL news, particularly the trades of Philly, Colorado, Buffalo and the Isles. And Buffalo in a similar situation to us. BS detectors going off the scale, Captain!

*please don't start quoting corsi, or how the Oil 'look better'. It cheapens us all. Wins column, please.

So fellow ON soldiers, I put it to you; is the GM doing all in his power to turn this around?

Garth Snow gave up a 30 G scorer, a 1st round pick and a 2nd round pick for a rental.

The Oilers aren't looking for rentals.

They need players who will still be here in 3 years when the core will be experienced enough to actually compete.

The players the Oilers need aren't available in October I'm afraid. The teams they are on still think they can make the playoffs. Or instead of draft picks they're going to want a roster player in return because they have 65 games left to play this year.

How hard is it to wheel and deal in October?

It took 2-3 weeks for the Steve Downie for Max Talbot trade to get done. The Oilers are looking for a lot more than Downie or Talbot. Those deals don't happen overnight. Especially in October.

Avatar
#39 Ricky's Jalapeno Chips
November 01 2013, 10:45AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
7
props

Getting rid of d-coach Charlie Huddy was a huge mistake. Cleaning house for the sake of cleaning house didn't work out so well in that instance.

Avatar
#40 Zarny
November 01 2013, 11:22AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
7
props
David S wrote:

From all accounts, Katz and Lowe agreed on a ground-up rebuild (the timing of which can be debated). If you know anything about Katz (and I do, although not in recent history), he doesn't get "sold" on anything. He's a self-made guy who makes the hard calls for a living and he's damn good at it.

That's EXACTLY how it works.

The thing with a rebuild is you can't make it look too obvious. The first step in that process is hiring a disposable (Tambo) patsy to take the heat. Funny how all Tambellini's decisions ended up with us acquiring so much high end talent through the draft, huh? It's also funny that as soon as Tambellini was fired MacT started undoing all the damage Tambellini did.

Don't think Katz has much say? He was sitting beside MacT in his private box the night we got physically obliterated (TSN panned to the duo several times during the game). Almost the NEXT DAY Steve Macintyre was on a plane headed to Edmonton.

I do know something about Katz. He's smart enough to know he doesn't know hockey and leaves personnel decisions to the people he has hired.

Of course he watches games with MacT. Mike Ilitch watches Red Wing games with Ken Holland too. That's sort of what owners do.

What Katz doesn't do is pull a Jerry Jones. He isn't directing the show or meddling with coaching, scouting or personnel decisions.

It isn't funny how Tambellini's decisions ended up with the Oilers acquiring so much high-end talent. He was a GM hired by a team undertaking a rebuild. What did you expect him to do? Trade away draft picks and prospects?

It also isn't funny that MacT has started to change course. They are into year 4 of a rebuild. What do you expect him to do? Trade away some talent for draft picks and prospects.

Both GM's operated according to where the franchise was when they were hired.

Avatar
#41 Zarny
November 01 2013, 01:30PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
7
props
Walter Sobchak wrote:

Well, those are what people call elite " franchise type players"

Where's the Oilers PK stand right now? Ya! That's what I thought! Keep using using them though.

I guess if you tell yourself something enough it will come true. " the PK is good!" The PK is good!"

Nope, still bad.

Ron...aren't the Oilers' young kids supposed to be elite franchise players?

And I didn't say the PK was good...it's bad right now.

Guess what...Crosby wasn't very good at killing penalties when Bylsma threw him out there either.

He is now though and the Oilers skilled players will get better too.

It's a painful learning curve but necessary if you want to win the Cup.

If you just want to make the playoffs in 7th place and at best win one series before getting pasted by a real contender then by all means let's roll some 3rd line players out there on the PK.

Avatar
#42 vetinari
November 01 2013, 09:07AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
6
props

I look at that list, make comparisons to the current roster and agree that while some of our players may eventually grow into the roles that they are currently assigned, many of them won't.

We seem to have gone in the direction of "well, if we can't have quality, we'll get quantity" and hopefully someone will emerge out of this group to lead the team.

I hate Pronger (the man) but I loved Pronger (the player) and he would not only give us 26+ minutes a night of punishing but safe hockey, he also made the players around him better. If we can find and get the next Pronger, I'm okay with saying goodbye to one of the kids in exchange.

Avatar
#43 Tikkanese
November 01 2013, 09:39AM
Trash it!
13
trashes
+1
6
props
Jonathan Willis wrote:

I continue to remain astonished at the level of disdain for Jeff Petry, easily the best defenceman on the team.

The Oilers generally have one solid pairing in any given game, and it's almost always the one Petry's on.

Did you watch the last game, just as one example? Petry was the main reason for two goals against. To quote Mactavish "at best, you hope they are a non negative factor on any given night". More often than not, that describes your boy, Petry.

Avatar
#44 Lochenzo
November 01 2013, 10:02AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
6
props

I think the pairs should be adjusted and hopefully that's an adjustment they've made over the last few days.

Petry-Ference against tougher competition. Nick Schultz - Belov Smid - Justin Schultz

Smid has not been as strong out of the gate as I expected. J Schultz still makes some mistakes, I'd rather those mistakes come against 3rd line competition rather than Patrick Kanes of the world.

Grebs not playing as much is more of a product of trying to add a little more physical edge to this grouping. I kinda saw Grebs as more of an insurance policy in case Belov was no good.

Avatar
#45 Quicksilver ballet
November 01 2013, 10:41AM
Trash it!
11
trashes
+1
6
props

The Oilers aren't so much developing players as they are just distributing icetime as they see fit. This organization doesn't have a clue when it comes to doing what'll be best for these kids at both ends of the rink.

Huge mistake passing on Lindy Ruff in favour of Eakins. Dallas Eakins is already knee deep in uncertainties, forced to lend his ear to the Lowes and Buchbergers of this organization. If MacT had brought in a veteran coach like Ruff, they wouldn't all be lost like they are right now.

No doubt it'll be Eakins who takes the fall for this seasons 28th place finish. Should've done things your way Dallas. Bucky, Smith and Lowe yapping in your ear constantly looks to have ruined your opportunity here. Make your old buddy Roger Neilson proud and punt these guys/take charge of your domain before its too late...

Avatar
#46 Zamboni Driver
November 01 2013, 09:07AM
Trash it!
13
trashes
+1
5
props

Tambellini's biggest downfall was that he couldn't string two words together when a mic was in front of him. He must still have a sore back from the puppet strings being played by "Six Cups"

As for Mactavish.

Not too soon to judge him.

He's the "MBA" who, while doing some okay things (Perron, Gordon) also wasted money and contracts on useless retreads like Grebs, ESPECIALLY Macintyre, and, I'm sorry to say (b/c his dad was my dentist) his 'Bold' move in Ference.

Avatar
#47 DrunkGuyTy
November 01 2013, 09:19AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
5
props

@Jonathan Willis

True, but I just wouldn't write that trade off as being as useless as some of the others. I thought it was a reasonable gamble at the time and he was performing. The injury itself was typical Oiler luck.

Avatar
#48 Zarny
November 01 2013, 10:41AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
5
props
Will wrote:

All the talk has been about our defence and how bad they are. And 5 on 5 they are worst in the league right now. Sure some of that blame has to land on shaky goal tending early in the year.

But, if you look at the team's problems from last year to this year, it is clear coaching is making a big difference. We were one of the worst teams to generate offence at 5 on 5. That problem has been fixed as our underlying metrics are way better than last year (winning face offs, outshooting the opponents, outchansing opponents), but we're giving up a ton of goals 5 on 5? hmmm, okay, that one stat does not a case make.

What about special teams. Last year the Oilers lived and died by their special teams. They're power play was top three and their penalty kill was like 8th or something. Both special teams under the Renny Krueger regime got much better. But this year, both are terrible, especially the PK. Obviously Eakins has realized his swarm system is not working and he's reverting back to 'traditional' defence, so maybe it turns around, but how the team could plummet like that kind of sucks.

What's especially strange is that one of the coaches from last year is still on the bench, why Eakins didn't come in and say, okay that was working for this team, lets just keep doing that, I don't understand. Did he want to put his sucky stamp on the team?

Every coach puts his stamp on the team. They all have their own philosophies about how to play the game.

WSH struggled to adapt to Oates system last year. Jersey sucked balls for a month and half during Sutter's first year. Pretty common.

Eakins' system requires young players to use judgement when to do things they've been coached not to do. It's not surprising there is an adjustment period and he's not reverting back to a "traditional" system I'm afraid. Don't know where you got that from.

One of the reasons the PK sucks this so far this year is Eakins is using the young skilled players to kill penalties. Sidney Crosby didn't kill penalties when he first came into the league but he does now thanks to Bylsma.

It's the right thing to do. Everyone plays their most skilled players on the PP. You need to match that skill on the PK if you actually want to win the Cup.

Avatar
#49 Tim in Kelowna
November 01 2013, 11:20AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
5
props

The Oilers need to shift their team building strategy away from a premium on skill to a premium on hustle and dedication.

Skill is great, but it's only useful if your team is playing as a team. If your top skill guys are trying to do it individually then the team is destined to fail. On the best teams, the skill guys check their ego at the door. That isn't happening with the Oilers.

To me there are 3 problems:

1 - Management has assembled a small & soft roster with a few guys with pedigree.

2 - The team hasn't yet adapted to Eakins' game plan.

3 - The team isn't a team. (eg. When RNH gets kneed, someone on the ice needs to drop the mitts with the offending player. Period.)

Avatar
#50 Quicksilver ballet
November 01 2013, 11:23AM
Trash it!
14
trashes
+1
5
props

@Walter Sobchak

That blowhard Zarny thinks it's ALL Tambellinis fault. Do we pin this years boobie prize (Sammy Reinhart) on Tambellini too?

Comments are closed for this article.