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.

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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 pkam
November 01 2013, 11:15AM
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Zarny wrote:

Haha...no Whitney's strength now is certainly not his skating.

That's the point. In Pit and before his ankle injury skating was his strength but that isn't the player that showed up in Edm.

Hence the problem with Ryan Whitney.

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?

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#52 Zarny
November 01 2013, 11:22AM
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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.

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#53 Zarny
November 01 2013, 11:30AM
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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.

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#54 Walter Sobchak
November 01 2013, 11:54AM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

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

Conveniently left out the years before Tambellini & the great work done thus far.

A monster road trip coming up against heavy teams the soft parade the Oilers have had so far is going to get ugly.

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#55 Fresh Mess
November 01 2013, 05:52PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I get the same line when I critiqued anything, even when I'm right. I assume you nod along with Doug MacLean when he talks, and Mike Milbury too - after all, they were once NHL general managers.

As for Pat Quinn, if he wasn't the worst head coach in Oilers history he was *this* close to it. If you think it's beyond the pail to criticize him because of his illustrious career that's your call, but you won't be talking much about hockey in that case.

For my part, I have no trouble saying on the one hand that he's one of the all-time great coaches and saying on the other hand that ripping Visnovsky as "Barbara Ann Scott" was an incredibly stupid thing to do.

Well yes, I do think Milbury or Maclean know a hell of a lot more about the game than you or certainly me. Doesn't mean I always agree with their judgement.

And was Quinn the worst coach, or was he just saddled with the worst team ever assembled in franchise history? He did not have the benefit of icing Hall, Eberle, RNH etc. His core was a past-best Ethan Moreau and Shawn Horcoff. That teams elite scorers were a rookie Ganger and Ales Hemsky (lol).

By the way, how did things go after they got rid of Quinn and brought in Renney? Kreuger? Now Eakins with a supposedly much better team?

My interpretation of your remarks was that you were suggesting Quinn was a foolish old man, which I found to be incorrect and disrespectful. Fair game to be critical but references to age related feebleness are offside. Maybe I was reading something that wasn't there.

I will submit that this team would be much better off now had they fired Lowe et all and made Quinn GM to manage this 'rebuild'

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#56 greg
November 01 2013, 06:23PM
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at the 2012 draft we should of traded the 1st overall pick (nail yakupov aka Patrik Stefan 2.0)

trade him to montreal straight up for PK subban

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#57 Neal
November 01 2013, 08:59AM
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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.

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#58 Harlie
November 01 2013, 09:10AM
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@camdog

I too had heard that Souray's beef was with Klowe and mot Tambo which the media purported it to be. I heard from an inside source and I was quite surprised because I was saying it was Tambo when my source corrected me and said it was Lowe. This was back when it was all happening.

I always liked Lowe as the face of the organization and for what he does in the community and his commitment to charities etc. For this reason I see why Katz is reluctant to let him go. But, having said that, this is a results based business and being a "good guy" only gets you so far.

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#59 DrunkGuyTy
November 01 2013, 09:19AM
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@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.

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#60 Batfink
November 01 2013, 09:44AM
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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?

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#61 Zarny
November 01 2013, 10:27AM
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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.

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#62 pkam
November 01 2013, 10:53AM
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Zarny wrote:

It's not just "injury history" in some generic sense.

Whitney's strength used to be his skating. His ankle injury all but destroyed his career. He simply was and never will be the player he used to be.

Sure Vis and Souray have had injuries. None of those injuries permanently reduced their ability to play.

The Oilers gambled on Whitney and lost. The fact that he cried when he found out he had to move to Edm probably didn't help.

I don't know Whitney's strength is in his skating.

I remember I watched his first few games as an Oilers and I was not impressed with his skating, however he managed to put up points and great +/- and made his partner better.

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#63 Zarny
November 01 2013, 10:55AM
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Batfink wrote:

You are correct, I am happy to admit I'm wrong. It's too hard, we should do nothing, and wait for the inevitable explosion and a 20 game winning streak. My bad. I assumed the apathy wasn't contagious. By the way, that 30 goal scorer was also a rental. Look to any successful franchise. Not afraid to make the calls, right or wrong, not afraid at all.....

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?

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#64 Eulers
November 01 2013, 11:02AM
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JW, brilliant writing here: "Add it all together, and the Oilers managed to turn a solid one-through-three group five years ago into Nick Schultz today."

I've said it before and I'll say it again: as bad as things are, I can't help but be happy that Tambi is no longer our GM.

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#65 Zarny
November 01 2013, 11:27AM
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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.

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#66 pkam
November 01 2013, 11:45AM
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Zarny wrote:

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.

Whitney wasn't putting up points and his +/- wasn't great before his ankle injury?

2009 3G 8A 11pts in 19 games 2010 2G 25A 27pts in 35 games (before his ankle injury)

And this wasn't good enough?

And I remember he helped Gilbert and Vandermeer to play better when paired with him.

If is after his ankle injury in 2010 that he is not the same player he was.

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#67 TayLordBalls
November 01 2013, 11:48AM
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Tambo was BRILLIANT !

If I was rebuilding a team and wanted to rip the guts out of it, then replenish it with 3 x #1 draft picks - I would hire Tambo.

He was the perfect man for the job.

Now the man is MacT and I have every bit of confidence in his abilities too.

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#68 Neal
November 01 2013, 11:49AM
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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.

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#69 Jason Gregor
November 01 2013, 11:53AM
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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.

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#70 Dog Train
November 01 2013, 01:39PM
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Losing Souray for nothing hurts the most. The Visnovsky for Whitney deal would have been good if not for Whitney's health issues. Management let their pride get in the way of doing their job and paid a good player to go away. Brutal decision.

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#71 Oiler Al
November 01 2013, 01:40PM
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Team has decent puck moving D men in Petry,Schultz jr.,Belov, however there is zero toughness on the back end. Guys like Petry and Belov with size are soft players.Smid has size but his hits are really bearhugs. None is these guys clear players in front of the net, in fact 'SMid is laying face down on the ice when most of the goals are scored. No one hammers forecheckers coming into the zone, etc.Need guys like Sutton and even Fistric to lay some hurt on the backend.Ference was more of the same, good puck mover,but its a one sided game.

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#72 Fresh Mess
November 01 2013, 02:12PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Then why is it no one else in the NHL wanted him for free? You know something the rest of the NHL GM's didn't? It's clear you think you know more than the accomplished Pat Quinn.

Oh right, the advanced stats.

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#73 MessyEH!
November 01 2013, 03:51PM
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pkam wrote:

So if Hall is not franchise good player, is there a better player than Hall in the 2010 draft who can be a franchise good player?

How about RNH in 2011 and Yak in 2012?

If there is no franchise good player better than our draft in those years, is it the management's fault?

Even after drafting very high for 4 years, we still have holes in our roster and very little depth in forwards, do we have the asset to trade for a franchise player when one is available, and will he want to come here?

All I want to point out is how bad we were in 2010 that after rebuild for 3 years we are no better than a bubble team.

I do not think that word means, what you think it means.

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#74 **
November 01 2013, 04:28PM
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Whitney had the potential to be a top 2 d man. Solid move, until he got hurt. This is the one move Tambellini did right and still destiny screwed it up for him.

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#76 Zarny
November 01 2013, 05:41PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Ok, keep believing that throwing RNH -Hall - Eberle & Hemsky out on the PK will somehow miraculously turn it around at some point.

I know what!!! Why don't the Oilers revisit last years lines & throw Gagner -Hemsky & Yakupov out there again, cause with that learning curve and all I'm sure they won't be anywhere near a run away train in the defensive zone again!

For the record the Oilers have zero franchise players.

Good yes, not franchise good.

No there won't be any miracles.

They'll simply learn and be better just like Crosby.

And yes it could take them half a season to figure it out. Very possible. It's not about this year. It's about winning the Cup in 3-4 years.

Killing penalties isn't rocket science but you don't get to be world class at it overnight. It's not a coincidence the best penalty killers in the world are also skilled players.

None of the Oilers have proven themselves to be a franchise player but Hall is close. Nuge is on track and Yakupov has played all of 60 games in the NHL. Can't say one way or the other.

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#77 Rod from Viking
November 01 2013, 08:36PM
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@Zarny

Katz was very involved in the decision to draft Yakapov, the scouting staff and management wanted to draft Ryan Murray.

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#78 Boxman
November 01 2013, 08:29AM
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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!!

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#79 vetinari
November 01 2013, 09:07AM
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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.

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#80 Jay Gray
November 01 2013, 09:10AM
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Nurse gain 20 pounds of muscle and snarl yet?

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#81 Lochenzo
November 01 2013, 09:34AM
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Harlie wrote:

I too had heard that Souray's beef was with Klowe and mot Tambo which the media purported it to be. I heard from an inside source and I was quite surprised because I was saying it was Tambo when my source corrected me and said it was Lowe. This was back when it was all happening.

I always liked Lowe as the face of the organization and for what he does in the community and his commitment to charities etc. For this reason I see why Katz is reluctant to let him go. But, having said that, this is a results based business and being a "good guy" only gets you so far.

If that's the case, then you don't have to cut Kevin Lowe. Just ensure a separation of duties. MacT has Scott Howson to lean on in making GM decisions. K Lowe can focus on community relations and the new arena.

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#82 Lochenzo
November 01 2013, 10:02AM
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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.

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#83 pkam
November 01 2013, 10:24AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

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

If I remember correctly, Visnovsky had some injury problem when he was with us too. I believe Souray's injury history when we signed him was worse than Whitney's. And I don't think Whitney's injury history when we acquired him is any worse than Hall's injury history today. Can we can argue that Perron has a history of concussion and he may get another in the near future so why do we acquire him?

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#84 Zarny
November 01 2013, 10:32AM
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pkam wrote:

If I remember correctly, Visnovsky had some injury problem when he was with us too. I believe Souray's injury history when we signed him was worse than Whitney's. And I don't think Whitney's injury history when we acquired him is any worse than Hall's injury history today. Can we can argue that Perron has a history of concussion and he may get another in the near future so why do we acquire him?

It's not just "injury history" in some generic sense.

Whitney's strength used to be his skating. His ankle injury all but destroyed his career. He simply was and never will be the player he used to be.

Sure Vis and Souray have had injuries. None of those injuries permanently reduced their ability to play.

The Oilers gambled on Whitney and lost. The fact that he cried when he found out he had to move to Edm probably didn't help.

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#85 Zarny
November 01 2013, 10:41AM
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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.

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#86 Ricky's Jalapeno Chips
November 01 2013, 10:45AM
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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.

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#87 admiralmark
November 01 2013, 10:54AM
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I have to confess I was one of those fans when realizing the season was a write off i championed the idea of tanking. I.E. Tambellini style. I would argue if we can make the playoffs we might as well move as high up the draft list as we can. Now after seeing the results and the lasting effect it has on this team.. I am less inclined. We have too large a gap of NHL ready talent on D to match our players up front. And secondly I believe the losing psyche is poisoning the players that had to live through this. Throw in our bad luck with ink's, a new coach... Its almost comical we didn't expect a year like this?

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#88 Zarny
November 01 2013, 10:57AM
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pkam wrote:

I don't know Whitney's strength is in his skating.

I remember I watched his first few games as an Oilers and I was not impressed with his skating, however he managed to put up points and great +/- and made his partner better.

Haha...no Whitney's strength now is certainly not his skating.

That's the point. In Pit and before his ankle injury skating was his strength but that isn't the player that showed up in Edm.

Hence the problem with Ryan Whitney.

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#89 Kr55
November 01 2013, 11:09AM
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Lowe had to OK all these moves though, so he is not excluded from blame. Tambo also had orders to stop "chasing the dream" and tank.

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#90 Neal
November 01 2013, 11:59AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

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.

True, but what happened to Nick Schultz in the time he's been here. In Minn he was a shut down guy. Not a huge player, but so positionally smart that he was tough to play against. That's why the trade was heralded as a win/win for both teams. Look at him now - what the hell happened?

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#91 pkam
November 01 2013, 12:28PM
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Neal wrote:

True, but what happened to Nick Schultz in the time he's been here. In Minn he was a shut down guy. Not a huge player, but so positionally smart that he was tough to play against. That's why the trade was heralded as a win/win for both teams. Look at him now - what the hell happened?

I still remember the Oilers fans praised him the 1st year he was here. Somehow we turned him from a reliable shutdown D to a headless chicken.

But the question is, is this Tambo's fault?

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#92 pkam
November 01 2013, 12:43PM
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TayLordBalls wrote:

Tambo was BRILLIANT !

If I was rebuilding a team and wanted to rip the guts out of it, then replenish it with 3 x #1 draft picks - I would hire Tambo.

He was the perfect man for the job.

Now the man is MacT and I have every bit of confidence in his abilities too.

Exactly. The Oilers had been trying to make the playoff at all cost before 2010. The result is we overpaid for UFAs, we lost in most trades. We have no more depth.

When we started our rebuild in 2010, we had a very bad team. I mean very very very BAD.

So after a terrible 2010-11 season, Tambo added a few players who help the team to be more competitive, but not good enough to get out of the basement. So we didn't get dominated and blow out every game, yet we secured a top 3 picks. Do you really want him to make the team better so we were out of the top 3 draft picks?

After 2 years of rebuild, we were a bit better. Our young top draft picks started to play better. We have a little depth after 2 years of better drafting and development (which we didn't have before 2010), fans got impatient thinking Tambo was too slow in the rebuild.

The fact is, Pens didn't make the playoff 5 years after they draft Whitney. Chicago didn't make the playoff 4 years after they draft Barker. Burke said we will lead the Leafs to playoff in 4 years when he took over the job and started the rebuild and he couldn't. But Oilers fans thinks 3 years is too long.

You can complain all your want, but the 4 years that we didn't make the playoff before 2010 does not help to speed up the rebuild. And our lack of good prospects at 2010 actually make it harder than the other teams.

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#93 Zarny
November 01 2013, 01:30PM
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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.

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#94 pkam
November 01 2013, 02:41PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

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.

Actually, Souray not just called out Tambellini, but Kevin Lowe as well, and for ridiculous reasons.

If I remember correctly, he told the public that Tambellini never checked how he was doing while he was on LTIR. And at the same time, he said that Kevin Lowe was forcing him to play when he was not fully recovered. So when Lowe was forcing him to play before he was ready, but when Tambellini didn't check with him, he was not happy?

I heard he asked for a trade and getting impatient and Tambellini was too patient because he didn't want to lose in the trade. So Souray bad mouth the management to vent his frustration.

What do you expect to happen to you if you bad mouth your management in the public? Souray never apologized even once. That showed how much he wanted to be an Oilers.

And seriously, Kevin Lowe overpaid to sign him at 5.4M. it is already difficult to trade that contract, and he just made it even harder with that kind of attitude.

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#95 Micbilly
November 01 2013, 03:14PM
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How about the coach that has been instructing the players all this time? Does that coach ever get mentioned as part of the problem???? Sorry what was that Steve Smith...

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#96 pkam
November 01 2013, 03:47PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Ok, keep believing that throwing RNH -Hall - Eberle & Hemsky out on the PK will somehow miraculously turn it around at some point.

I know what!!! Why don't the Oilers revisit last years lines & throw Gagner -Hemsky & Yakupov out there again, cause with that learning curve and all I'm sure they won't be anywhere near a run away train in the defensive zone again!

For the record the Oilers have zero franchise players.

Good yes, not franchise good.

So if Hall is not franchise good player, is there a better player than Hall in the 2010 draft who can be a franchise good player?

How about RNH in 2011 and Yak in 2012?

If there is no franchise good player better than our draft in those years, is it the management's fault?

Even after drafting very high for 4 years, we still have holes in our roster and very little depth in forwards, do we have the asset to trade for a franchise player when one is available, and will he want to come here?

All I want to point out is how bad we were in 2010 that after rebuild for 3 years we are no better than a bubble team.

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#97 pkam
November 01 2013, 03:52PM
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@Neal

"and a D that wants to stick check and make cute little no look passes"

That sounds like Gresbehkov. So are you suggesting that MacT is no different than the previous management?

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#98 Neal
November 01 2013, 06:11PM
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pkam wrote:

"and a D that wants to stick check and make cute little no look passes"

That sounds like Gresbehkov. So are you suggesting that MacT is no different than the previous management?

Nah, Grebishkov was quite good in 2008-2009 then was lousy in 2009-2010. I don't blame Mac for giving him a try because of the crap D we have. He knew the guy, was cheap, and cost us nothing in players. Didn't work, so he's gone. It was low risk. At least he tried. He also got Belov under similar circumstances, who looks good. My point was that I think Mac sees the enormity of the problem he inherited, and it would be unrealistic to expect him to fix it in the 6 months he's been GM.

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#99 misfit
November 02 2013, 12:56AM
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DrunkGuyTy wrote:

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.

The injury thing is a weak excuse. Whitney has never, at any point in their respective careers, been better than Visnovsky. And the contracts they were signed to at the time of the trade had them becoming UFAs at the exact same time, so the age argument is irrelevant too.

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#100 Wax Man Riley
November 02 2013, 01:44PM
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Zarny wrote:

LMAO @ Oiler Al.

Yep...my chemical engineering degree gets me a gig paying $200K+/yr.

Tell you what...when you can pass 1st year calculus come talk to me about getting a job ;)

I PASSED FIRST YEAR CALCULUS!!!* CAN I HAVE A JOB??

*took me 2 tries, but I did it!

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