Man of Action

Jonathan Willis
December 23 2013 10:10AM

 

Craig MacTavish, like any general manager of a losing team, has taken some heat this season. The heat's been made worse by things he said in the summer, when he sold Oilers fans on "bold moves" and promised action.

The funny thing is that by Edmonton standards, we've seen that action.

Steve Tambellini Mid-Season

The entire list of trades and signings made to add players by Steve Tambellini during mid-season follows below:

  • March 2009: Patrick O'Sullivan and a second round pick acquired for Erik Cole and a fifth round pick
  • March 2009: Ales Kotalik acquired for a second round pick
  • March 2010: Ryan Whitney and a sixth round pick acquired for Lubomir Visnovsky
  • February 2012: Nick Schultz acquired for Tom Gilbert
  • April 2013: Jerred Smithson acquired for a fourth round pick
  • March 2013: Mike Brown acquired for a fourth round pick

There's an old line about some skaters having to play their way into midseason form after a summer spent getting out of shape; Tambellini was the general manager equivalent of that, spending the winter in hibernation and then coming to life at the trade deadline to make like-for-slightly-inferior trades or acquire irrelevant pieces for draft picks.

Jerred Smithson is the ultimate Tambellini player. Edmonton needed a centre months earlier, and the solution Tambellini came up with was a marginal fourth-liner two months after he might have been useful.

Ilya Bryzgalov

Craig MacTavish hasn't made a midseason trade to add players yet either - though he's shipped out Ladislav Smid and Jason LaBarbera and Mike Brown - but he did make a free agent signing to bolster his team.

Ilya Bryzgalov was signed as the solution to a problem.

The problem, of course, was Devan Dubnyk's implosion, an implosion that cost the Oilers dearly. For all the harping about how Edmonton is no better this year than last, if Dubnyk had managed the 0.920 save percentage he did one season ago the team would be 21 goals better than it is and likely be ahead of both Calgary and Nashville. It's an implosion that represents more than half the gap between where Edmonton is and being a break-even team by goal differential.

The difference between MacTavish and his predecessor was that he didn't wait until March before getting proactive. He gave Dubnyk as much time as he could, and then made a move. On a team that once handed the reins over to Jeff Deslauriers after its starter got hurt, this is a novelty.

It's also an encouraging sign. I've had many people tell me they can't tell the difference between the Oilers under Tambellini and the Oilers under MacTavish. This is a big one. And while the picture's awfully black right now, and lots more changes need to be made, Edmonton already made the most crucial decision it could have: firing the man who led the descent into the abyss, and replacing him with someone willing to make moves before March. 

Recently by Jonathan Willis

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, 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 FireKLowe
December 23 2013, 11:22AM
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JW, let me try to clear things up for you through your rose colored glasses and explain how Lowe is the main culprit and in any other organization would’ve been fired long ago.

1. Lowe royally mishandles the Pronger trade request and basically gets duped by Brian Burke. For the best defenceman in the league, Lowe gets an unproven NHLer (Lupul), prospects, and picks. Don’t tell me we got Eberle out of the trade cuz that’s just dumb luck.

2. Lowe gives out stupid contracts and extensions to one hit wonders from the fluky cup run (i.e. Pisani, Horcoff, etc).

3. Lowe royally mishandles the Smyth contract negotiations and lets him go over a measly $200K thus disrupting the line chemistry that Hemsky, Horcoff, and Smyth had going.

4. Starts the trend of drafting small forwards such as Cogliano and Gagner.

5. Hires Tambellini but still appears to be pulling the strings (checkout the old Oil Change shows and you’ll know what I’m talking about).

6. Fires Tambellini and hires his old buddy MacT who has zero NHL management experience.

7. Insults fans that don’t go to the games by basically calling them tier 2 fans.

8. The rookie GM hires a rookie coach.

9. The rookie GM fails to address goaltending and defence issues over the summer.

10. The rookie GM signs Gagner to a long-term contract and gives him a no-trade clause (WTF!).

11. The rookie coach employs a bizarre and confusing system.

12. The rookie coach decides to abandon the said system after it basically has cost the Oilers the season.

I think that sums it up. Anyone feel free to add anything I might have missed.

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#52 Jacques Strap
December 23 2013, 11:22AM
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It takes incompetence in more than one position to create a truly putrid organization like the Oilers have become.

I don't think scouting has been entirely responsible, but no question it has been bad for about 25 years. I believe that if we had even the slightest notion of how to develop a talent, the scouting would look better. When is the last time the organization developed a decent goalie, despite picking a few pretty high up? (Dubnyk no longer qualifies). Do you think Alex Plante would have been as big of a bust if he was drafted by the Red Wings? I have my doubts. There are deep, core organizational issues. I don't believe in luck so there is obviously something good teams do that we are missing.

I think even the fans share some blame. This organization has always been built on offense. When any coach tried to play the trap or some other version of "chicken sh!t" hockey, they were ridiculed (except MacT in the '06 playoffs) because that wasn't the kind of hockey Oiler fans wanted. We cut our teeth in the NHL watching the greatest scoring team in NHL history. Consequently, we never learned to appreciate defensive hockey. Is there anybody out there that wouldn't appreciate it now? I'd happily watch a Hitchcock team if it meant we weren't a laughing stock.

My 2 cents.

Merry Christmas OilersNation.

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#53 China town man
December 23 2013, 11:22AM
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For tonight's game I will not go, and will not watch it on the tube! And here is my reason why. Oiler players and coach will talk a good game, And when the puck drops, the same crap happen can't score can't defend and the outcome will be another Fricken lost, so tell me is it worth it to get upset I over nothing?

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#54 Zamboni Driver
December 23 2013, 11:23AM
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Also...re: the picture that Robin had in his article.

Where in the hell was I when they hired Messier to do something?

Good God.

What the hell is Messier doing here?

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#55 Lochenzo
December 23 2013, 11:23AM
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The game against the Blues seems to confirm what I've been thinking about this group for a while. They're fragile. They came out like gangbusters but faded quickly when they failed to score. There's no resilience. And we've seen this team quit before when the opposition scores first. I don't think that the guys don't care, but I think a defeatist attitude creeps in there.

A lot of teams and athletes use sports psychologists to get their heads in the right place. Roberto Luongo leaned on those services and has bounced back big time this year. You cannot argue against the results. I don't know what the Oilers do in this regard. One thing I've heard about Ralph Kreuger was that he was a great motivational speaker. I wonder if the Oilers have managed to replace that this year.

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#56 Spaceman Spiff
December 23 2013, 11:25AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I absolutely do.

Pat Quinn isn't a Kevin Lowe hire. Tom Renney isn't a Kevin Lowe hire. Canning the trainers isn't a Kevin Lowe move.

That's before we get into the obvious differences in player personnel acquisition back in the Lowe days and during the Tambellini era.

As for MacTavish, I don't know the man but he really doesn't come across to me like a guy who would be willing to take a 'GM in name only' job.

I suspect, but don't know, that Lowe acts as an advisor and sounding board and extra hand. I don't think he's secretly pulling the strings, despite his title.

I think that's an excellent response to that question, JW. I'd like to take the discussion a little further, however.

I just moved here and, although I'd obviously read a lot of online ramblings about how Kevin Lowe supposedly runs the show behind the scenes before I got here, I'd never really realized how much it really is the dogma among fans and, I guess, some members of the media. You can't tune into a sports-talk-radio show here on the drive to or from work without a caller mentioning it. It’s almost become a disorder: Lowe Derangement Syndrome.

In fact, I think I heard two callers mention it on the radio this morning – if the Oilers would fire Kevin Lowe, the turnaround would be started … as if it were only that simple.

But … for all I know … maybe it really is that simple. So I'm forced to ask the question: Does anyone have any tangible proof that Kevin Lowe meddles in the GM's office?

That’s not meant to be a rhetorical or snotty question. I’m asking because I really don’t know. I haven’t seen or heard any tangible evidence that Lowe is pulling the strings … beyond what would be expected of a team president, of course.

If anyone can point to any move or non-move the Oilers made during the Tambo or MacT era that have Lowe’s fingerprints on them, I’d like to hear about it … politely, preferably.

Did Lowe ever say that he’d directed Tambo to make certain moves? Did Tambo ever say that he felt handcuffed or attached to the strings of a puppeteer?

I guess I’m trying to figure out why the Oilers’ problems aren’t the making of Tambo … and, more importantly, a cast of undersized players who can’t seem to execute properly when called upon.

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#57 Hangin@Bangin
December 23 2013, 11:25AM
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@JonathanWillis

What you talkin bout Willis........

Is this article your own or are you on Stauffer's lap like a ventriliquist Oilers apologist doll? Now I can't say the sample size of Mac T's tenure matches up with Tambo's yet but my god man call it like it is. Your going to sit here and blame Dubnyk for where the oilers sit now. Those 21 extra goals you speak of may take you ahead of a few other bottom feeders but your missing the big picture "PLAYOFFS". I don't care about finishing 10th or 12th or 15th that is so irrelevant. The team is at the rock bottom of rock bottoms and while what Mac T dove head first into was a shark pool from the beginning he was the one arrogant enough to promise he was a "MAN OF ACTION". Now the man of action is batting about .100 with his addition of Perron, and I hope your not serious about your ravishing reviews of Belov. Last years best defenseman not currently playing in the NHL a la one unemployed Jay Feaster and his plethera of foreign failures is a few minuses from the snowy train back to Siberia. Maybe he could still get a seat next to Denis Grebeshkov another failed retread from the brilliant mind of a man who never found it fit to play the game with a helmet. Saturday's game is a clear reminder that Dubnyk is not all to blame with this club, it's the defense that has oppostion teams licking there lips as they blow past the likes of Corey Potter and Jeff Petry then are served up piping hot pizzas in the slot by the aformentioned Mr. Belov. Mac T has pieces in this team but this is a childrens puzzle from years past , half the box is missing and the rest is nowhere in site.

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#58 Spydyr
December 23 2013, 11:25AM
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FireKLowe wrote:

JW, let me try to clear things up for you through your rose colored glasses and explain how Lowe is the main culprit and in any other organization would’ve been fired long ago.

1. Lowe royally mishandles the Pronger trade request and basically gets duped by Brian Burke. For the best defenceman in the league, Lowe gets an unproven NHLer (Lupul), prospects, and picks. Don’t tell me we got Eberle out of the trade cuz that’s just dumb luck.

2. Lowe gives out stupid contracts and extensions to one hit wonders from the fluky cup run (i.e. Pisani, Horcoff, etc).

3. Lowe royally mishandles the Smyth contract negotiations and lets him go over a measly $200K thus disrupting the line chemistry that Hemsky, Horcoff, and Smyth had going.

4. Starts the trend of drafting small forwards such as Cogliano and Gagner.

5. Hires Tambellini but still appears to be pulling the strings (checkout the old Oil Change shows and you’ll know what I’m talking about).

6. Fires Tambellini and hires his old buddy MacT who has zero NHL management experience.

7. Insults fans that don’t go to the games by basically calling them tier 2 fans.

8. The rookie GM hires a rookie coach.

9. The rookie GM fails to address goaltending and defence issues over the summer.

10. The rookie GM signs Gagner to a long-term contract and gives him a no-trade clause (WTF!).

11. The rookie coach employs a bizarre and confusing system.

12. The rookie coach decides to abandon the said system after it basically has cost the Oilers the season.

I think that sums it up. Anyone feel free to add anything I might have missed.

Yeah, what about the corsi?

Nice post props

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#60 TigerUnderGlass
December 23 2013, 11:28AM
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I still can't believe anyone can compare how the team was run under Lowe and Tambellini and still believe Lowe told Tambo what to do. Night and day.

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#61 Spydyr
December 23 2013, 11:30AM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

I still can't believe anyone can compare how the team was run under Lowe and Tambellini and still believe Lowe told Tambo what to do. Night and day.

What I saw under Tambo was tanking for draft picks. What I see under Mac-T is the tank is over let's try to win. Then a fail not sure what scenerio is worse.

They both very well could have come under Lowe's direction.

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#62 Zamboni Driver
December 23 2013, 11:31AM
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In case y'all are wondering....'Our' coach just called out the jersey tossing guy. Called him, a guy who paid hundreds of dollars on Saturday night to watch....that....a 'quitter'.

Meaning that there is now a THIRD tier of fans.

You'd think they have at least one 'Communications' person on staff over there, no?

Ladies and Gentleman, your 2013 Edmonton Oilers.

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#63 Tikkanese
December 23 2013, 11:31AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Do you know the definition of "hindsight"?

Let me help you: it's understanding of a situation or event only after it's already happened.

I could link to what I wrote in the summer of 2009 about Khabibulin. I could link to what I've written along the way, or what I wrote about Chicago's decision to sign him. Suffice to say, this isn't a case of 'that's not what you said at the time!'

Well then you may have been the only one back then and good on you. Was there a need for the attitude about it? Like I said, nearly every list had him as the best UFA available. Everyone loves bagging on that signing in hindsight, but at the time most everyone was excited about it. Recent Cup winner and all. Except for you apparently.

Does your crystal ball have any hope for the Oilers next year?

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#64 Al Low
December 23 2013, 11:33AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

The jury's definitely out on MacTavish. The most concerning thing for me isn't Gazdic (I don't like guys who can't play a regular shift, but it's a reasoanbly small sin) or Grebeshkov (the money wasn't good but if played the way he had before it would've been fine) or even Smid (MacT wants a puck-moving blue, and Smid's days were probably numbered the day he was hired).

The most concerning item for me is the attempted Clarkson contract (which I suspect would have actually been reasonably popular in Edmonton). I get that the team needs a different mix, and that UFA's get overpaid but wowee is that an ugly contract.

Overall, though, MacTavish comes across to me as a smart guy who finds the balance between making hotheaded moves and paralysis by analysis. We'll see if that view holds up.

But you're right that Tambellini set the bar awfully low - which is why getting rid of him was so important.

Good article. But when you talk about MacT not making hot-headed moves, what would you call the Ralph Krueger firing? We ended up with a coach who gets outcoached on a nightly basis and has taken the team back to the bottom of the NHL. At least Krueger seemed like he had the room and the team was moving in a positive direction.

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#65 gcw_rocks
December 23 2013, 11:33AM
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MacT may be more proactive then Tambo, but that's setting the bar pretty damn low. Maybe comparing him to Jim Nill, Joe Sakic, and Marc Bergevin would be more fair comparisons.

Nill wins automatically for picking Ruff over Eakins.

MacT shouldn't be fried because he made a few good moves (Gordon and Perron), he should be fried because of what he didn't do.

He didn't get the best head coach available. He didn't address centre depth when every blogger in the universe could see trouble coming. He didn't bring in enough veterans to mentor the kids. Replace Acton, Joensuu, Gazdic, Larsen, Grebeshkov with vets (worst case if they just grabbed guys on try out or who were signed late - Hainsey, Gilbert, Boyes, Raymond, Morrow, Grabovski, etc.) this would be a much better team.

Yes, the team was thin on talent outside of the wunderkids, but there was plenty of proven NHL talent available this summer both at the coaching level and the player level and MacT didn't go get it. He made foolish bets instead.

I don't care if he is only a few months into the job, his lack of judgement so far is staggering. He should be fired.

Fire them all to be safe!

P.S. I wish I still lived in Edmonton. I would love to go to a game and toss a jersey on the ice after the next loss. I have a cheap jersey I picked up at Canadian tire that would be perfect.

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#66 Zamboni Driver
December 23 2013, 11:33AM
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I wonder if, since it was a Hemsky jersey, that somehow Eakins got confused?

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#67 Ducey
December 23 2013, 11:34AM
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Burnward wrote:

While your .920 stat may be true...how many tenders would manage that with this team in front of them?

You ask people to stop blaming Lowe, which is fair, but put the blame on the goalies?

Is that fair?

That was DD's save % last year.

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#68 tileguy
December 23 2013, 11:35AM
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@Zamboni Driver

Exactly what is Messier doing here? Is this more boys on the bus ship? Which managers idea is this?

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#70 Zamboni Driver
December 23 2013, 11:38AM
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tileguy wrote:

Exactly what is Messier doing here? Is this more boys on the bus ship? Which managers idea is this?

I can only guess Batman is going through the Glory Days' roster hockey cards.

Got 'im. Got 'im. Need 'im. Got 'im.

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#71 gcw_rocks
December 23 2013, 11:39AM
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Al Low wrote:

Good article. But when you talk about MacT not making hot-headed moves, what would you call the Ralph Krueger firing? We ended up with a coach who gets outcoached on a nightly basis and has taken the team back to the bottom of the NHL. At least Krueger seemed like he had the room and the team was moving in a positive direction.

The players definitely seemed more motivated to play for Krueger. Krueger's problem was strategy. He couldn't translate his Europe 5x5 strategies to the NHL game. If the Oilers weren't going to go after Ruff, then getting Krueger a new crew of experienced assistant coaches would have been a smarter move than hiring Eakins.

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#72 Lochenzo
December 23 2013, 11:40AM
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Looking back at Lowe's tenure as GM, he was extremely proactive. Some of his trades caught me off guard and his offer sheets to Vanek and Penner, well, let's just say that you need a pair to do that given the flak that other GMs will fire at you.

Tambelleni was the opposite. Now, during the early part of the rebuild, yes, you let those 1st overall picks come to you. But this team needed to start being proactive again as soon as playoffs was the expectation. That didn't happen.

If Kevin Lowe was pulling the strings, we would have seen a lot happen last year. So I don't buy into this whole Tambi was Kevin Lowe's puppet-thing.

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#73 tileguy
December 23 2013, 11:41AM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

I can only guess Batman is going through the Glory Days' roster hockey cards.

Got 'im. Got 'im. Need 'im. Got 'im.

Lol, wipes tears from his eyes.

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#75 ColourMeImpressed
December 23 2013, 11:43AM
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@Jonathan Willis

I'd love to see one of the better writers like yourself tackle a "what if" scenario, like what if Clarkson had signed. With your perspective -having some insight into feeling life as a GM, what with all the criticism and hindsight coming your way - it'd be interesting to see what you have to say on the subject of Clarkson in Edmonton.

Or even do one on a successful trade for Schneider.

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#76 gcw_rocks
December 23 2013, 11:43AM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

In case y'all are wondering....'Our' coach just called out the jersey tossing guy. Called him, a guy who paid hundreds of dollars on Saturday night to watch....that....a 'quitter'.

Meaning that there is now a THIRD tier of fans.

You'd think they have at least one 'Communications' person on staff over there, no?

Ladies and Gentleman, your 2013 Edmonton Oilers.

The only smart comment on that situation would have been "no comment". Eakins is in over his head. He has no clue what the fans have suffered through. What a moron.

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#77 TigerUnderGlass
December 23 2013, 11:46AM
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@FireKLowe

1. Lowe royally mishandles the Pronger trade request and basically gets duped by Brian Burke. For the best defenceman in the league, Lowe gets an unproven NHLer (Lupul), prospects, and picks. Don’t tell me we got Eberle out of the trade cuz that’s just dumb luck.

One could also say he was screwed by a public trade demand. Have you seen the return teams get when players demand trades?

2. Lowe gives out stupid contracts and extensions to one hit wonders from the fluky cup run (i.e. Pisani, Horcoff, etc).

This is exactly what happens when the GM caves to fan pressure.

3. Lowe royally mishandles the Smyth contract negotiations and lets him go over a measly $200K thus disrupting the line chemistry that Hemsky, Horcoff, and Smyth had going.

Meehan demands more money at the last second and Lowe is told no by ownership - this is Lowe's fault. Got it.

4. Starts the trend of drafting small forwards such as Cogliano and Gagner.

Can you believe Anaheim took that runt? They must be terrible now.

5. Hires Tambellini but still appears to be pulling the strings (checkout the old Oil Change shows and you’ll know what I’m talking about).

Yes. Lowe hired Tambellini and then immediately changed everything about how he managed the team to fool everyone.

6. Fires Tambellini and hires his old buddy MacT who has zero NHL management experience.

Yet MacT has acted reasonably so far. You want to fire him for his motivation?

7. Insults fans that don’t go to the games by basically calling them tier 2 fans.

Poor thing. Did he hurt your feelings?

8. The rookie GM hires a rookie coach.

Much better to hire retreads who have been fired repeatedly by other teams. Why try to find new talent right? There is some interesting research out there on new/veteran coaching hires. You might be surprised at what it says.

9. The rookie GM fails to address goaltending and defence issues over the summer.

This is pretty well addressed in the article by young Willis here.

10. The rookie GM signs Gagner to a long-term contract and gives him a no-trade clause (WTF!).

I don't think "long term" means what you think it means.

11. The rookie coach employs a bizarre and confusing system.

This rookie coach made the unforgivable mistake of assuming his supposedly NHL calibre team could grasp a system his AHL teams had no problem with.

Is this a problem with the coach or with the players?

12. The rookie coach decides to abandon the said system after it basically has cost the Oilers the season.

You mean after realizing his supposedly NHL players couldn't understand an system used in the AHL for years.

Point is that Lowe had a reasonable good track record up until the year after the playoff run. He didn't suddenly turn into a different person. He did make a few mistakes, but nothing on the scale of what has gone on since.

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#78 A-Mc
December 23 2013, 11:48AM
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This team is years away from being any significant force in the playoffs. It's likely that you'll have a solid 3-4 years of making the playoffs before you get the right mix to actually get up to conference finals. Right now, the Oilers aren't even close to being competitive to Making the playoffs to begin with.

So what is the real time line here?

2 years, with solid #'s of moves in each, before this team can even hope to be in that playoff spot (remember: with the new alignment, we need to upend some extremely tough teams to make the playoffs).

Then a solid 3-4 years (with good moves in each) to get the right mix of playoff experience and player longevity to even make it past round 2.

Thinking that it'll be a solid 5-6 years before the oilers get anywhere competitive, cup wise, is quite discouraging but luckily that's not what we need as fans. We just need to be competitive every night. When we no longer look at a stretch of games, like our last 6, and think "Well we'll be lucky to get ANY points", that's when fans will re-engage.

We may only be 1-2 seasons away from that if Mac T can get his CHit together, soooooo.... Stay tuned?

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#79 gcw_rocks
December 23 2013, 11:48AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Let me put it this way:

Kevin Lowe made plenty of mistakes before turning the wheel over to Steve Tambellini. I'm inclined to think that's part of the reason he stepped back, honestly. But I don't think retroactively firing him for stuff he did in 2008 or earlier moves the team forward one iota right now.

Further, I'm still in the cautiously optimistic phase with MacTavish. You disagree, and there's room for that disagreement, but I'm just not in the 'fire Lowe because he hired MacT' camp.

Take those out and your argument basically comes down to 'he said stupid things about fans in the heat of the moment.'

I won't shed a single tear if the Oilers fire Lowe tomorrow, and I'm not going to campaign for him to stay on with the team. I just think we're past the point where firing him makes the Oilers better.

On your last point I think you are wrong. You fire Lowe and replace him with someone with no ties to the boys on the bus and a mandate to fire people based on their performance and you have automatically made the team better.

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#80 Zamboni Driver
December 23 2013, 11:49AM
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@TigerUnderGlass

I'm inclined to agree with some of your responses here - don't know what firing Lowe would do now, anyway...

But this one: 8. The rookie GM hires a rookie coach. Much better to hire retreads who have been fired repeatedly by other teams. Why try to find new talent right? There is some interesting research out there on new/veteran coaching hires. You might be surprised at what it says.

Yeah I don't know that you can call Tambellini's replacement being really 'thinking outside the box'.

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#81 David S
December 23 2013, 11:49AM
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Spydyr wrote:

What I saw under Tambo was tanking for draft picks. What I see under Mac-T is the tank is over let's try to win. Then a fail not sure what scenerio is worse.

They both very well could have come under Lowe's direction.

Even the most casual fan could see this team wasn't going to be about "winning" this summer. Surely MacT wasn't dumb enough to believe that either. I think the first step was to "get better". The goalie collapse and having your two top C's out pretty much sewered that thought.

What compounds the problem is that Gagner probably shouldn't have come back until at least Christmas. Even Eakins pretty much admitted as much yesterday. So you're left with one functional top six C for the first half of the season. Any team in the NHL would be screwed with that situation.

Add in far too many kids being put in over their heads and the woeful D, and you have what you have.

Get real you guys. Who in their right minds thought we'd win against LA, Vancouver, Anaheim, Boston, St Louis? And this is the cause of the angst?

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#82 Tikkanese
December 23 2013, 11:49AM
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Spydyr wrote:

Saying you are going to do something and actually doing something are two completely different things.

As Yoda says "there is no try only do."

Mac-T who spoke out early about "bold" moves looks like a fool now and Dallas is all hat no cattle.

Sure Mac-T "tried" this summer to fix the goaltending. Bringing Bryz was a move out of desperation. Still can't figure out why Smid got traded.

The rebuild has regressed this year. You don't agree?

Then we most certainly can agree to disagree.

Edit:I was right about Dubnyk and Gagner been saying they are weak for years now.

I think Smid was traded because the Oilers had basically 10 D that should all be #4-8's on a proper NHL defense. Smid's contract was going to be probable problem in future years and they can't trade their newly minted Captain and save face. Plus it gave them more room in the cap for this year for Bryz and for possible future moves.

They also needed to fill a hole at Center on the farm which also filled a hole on possibly the weakest position in the organization. Roy was a bust since he choked at the World Juniors and Bunz is near a bust so far as well, so they needed a change there as well.

The team also needed a shakeup. Given the record, it didn't work.

The season was lost already. Replacing Smid with Potter/Fedun/Larsen really isn't a huge downgrade. So looking at all those things, it made some sense. I personally would like to see Fedun playing.

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#83 TigerUnderGlass
December 23 2013, 11:52AM
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Spydyr wrote:

What I saw under Tambo was tanking for draft picks. What I see under Mac-T is the tank is over let's try to win. Then a fail not sure what scenerio is worse.

They both very well could have come under Lowe's direction.

So your belief as that a better GM would have this team in the playoffs right now? What exactly would this mystery GM have done.

Clearly MacT can see what is wrong based on what he has tried to do.

The question is, did he choose wrong or did he take the best options available?

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#84 TigerUnderGlass
December 23 2013, 11:53AM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

I'm inclined to agree with some of your responses here - don't know what firing Lowe would do now, anyway...

But this one: 8. The rookie GM hires a rookie coach. Much better to hire retreads who have been fired repeatedly by other teams. Why try to find new talent right? There is some interesting research out there on new/veteran coaching hires. You might be surprised at what it says.

Yeah I don't know that you can call Tambellini's replacement being really 'thinking outside the box'.

The comment I responded to referenced the Eakins hire, not he MacT hire, and my response has less to do with "thinking outside the box" than "seeking new talent/giving new talent a chance".

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#85 ColourMeImpressed
December 23 2013, 11:55AM
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@Jonathan Willis

I can see why you be cautiously optimistic about Mac, but is that because your point of reference is Tambellini? It really feels that way to me.

MacT has certainly done more than Tambo ever did, and has seen more success. But his mis-steps have been worrisome. The Smid trade, the Clarkson deal, even the Ference signing aren't the kinds of moves one associates with a good GM. Certainly you could make arguments that Holland or Wilson would make one of those moves in the right circumstances, but all three? In poor circumstances? Wouldn't Smid be useful right now? Wouldn't he have more value at the deadline? Was trying to sign Marty Lapointe... Err... David Clarkson to a ridiculous contract a move any really good GM would make? Especially when you've already thrown away some salary on one aging vet FA?

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#86 A-Mc
December 23 2013, 11:55AM
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Also: I dont think the team is getting worse, i think they are getting better and it's resulting in a worse record. Here's why!

For the last few years, we've played extremely risky hockey. At any given moment, the Oilers could pounce on a team with endless cheats for offense. unfortunately, cheating most often results in goals against.

Fast forward to this year. Guys still cheat but i dont see it nearly as much. What i Do see is that guys are legitimately playing harder and trying to do the right thing. Unfortunately for them, With out the risky plays, all that is left is team defense and the team's defense is simply not good (for various reasons).

LONG STORY SHORT:

In a round about way, i think the fire wagon hockey was actually hiding mistakes that we've always made. Now that the wagon fire has be put out and the team is trying to play the right way (more often than it used to), we're coming up short in the wins column.

Fire wagon was our edge but it was unhealthy. We remove that and we're left playing PROPER hockey which the team doesnt know how to do yet. We've regressed in the standings but i think that regression is healthy. Improvements from the basement will be made doing things the right way - like bricks building a wall.

I dont think we've become a worse team. I think we're better.

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#87 Rheal1
December 23 2013, 12:00PM
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Looking forward to tonight's game. I am super hopeful that the Oilers can pull a nice win for the fans. A nice xmas gift for the fans, I wish: 1. A 6-1 victory; looks good for the cosmonaut and the D. 2. Yaks gets two goals. 3. Justin S gets a few assists and looks defensively aware. 4. All star type dominance by Hall.

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#88 Zamboni Driver
December 23 2013, 12:01PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

The comment I responded to referenced the Eakins hire, not he MacT hire, and my response has less to do with "thinking outside the box" than "seeking new talent/giving new talent a chance".

Righto - misread. My bad.

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#89 Spydyr
December 23 2013, 12:03PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

So your belief as that a better GM would have this team in the playoffs right now? What exactly would this mystery GM have done.

Clearly MacT can see what is wrong based on what he has tried to do.

The question is, did he choose wrong or did he take the best options available?

Not sure where you got the playoff thing from.

A new owner hiring a friend to run his hockey operations. Who in turn hires his friend a rookie GM. Who in turn gets a man crush and hires a rookie coach. For some reason the new coach does not or is not allowed to replace the assistant coaches who just happen to be friends with the head of hockey operations. What possibly could go wrong?

You would have to be very naive to not understand that every hockey decision made here in the last eight years crossed Lowe's desk first.

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#90 TigerUnderGlass
December 23 2013, 12:04PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

Righto - misread. My bad.

It's a fair point about MacT though. My only comment in that regard is that I think it's unfair when people disregard MacT simply due to the fact that he previously worked under Lowe.

If any one else hired him there would be no questions, and he would certainly be given more than a few months to turn things around.

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#91 Racki
December 23 2013, 12:07PM
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I admittedly was a proponent of khabi being signed, but only if Anderson wasn't. I am not sure the Oilers even made an attempt at him. Also, when I saw the contract khabi got, I was immediately sick. It was obviously terrible even though I thought he'd be good here. Too long.. Too much money. Very much like Horcoff's 5.5m deal.. A player I loved but said... "wtf??" when hearing the deal.

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#92 TigerUnderGlass
December 23 2013, 12:08PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Not sure where you got the playoff thing from.

A new owner hiring a friend to run his hockey operations. Who in turn hires his friend a rookie GM. Who in turn gets a man crush and hires a rookie coach. For some reason the new coach does not or is not allowed to replace the assistant coaches who just happen to be friends with the head of hockey operations. What possibly could go wrong?

You would have to be very naive to not understand that every hockey decision made here in the last eight years crossed Lowe's desk first.

None of that qualifies as a response to my questions/comments.

I get that you're upset that Lowe hired someone he knows but it's nonsense to write off MacT for no more reason than that.

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#93 Strange Tamer
December 23 2013, 12:11PM
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FireKLowe wrote:

JW, let me try to clear things up for you through your rose colored glasses and explain how Lowe is the main culprit and in any other organization would’ve been fired long ago.

1. Lowe royally mishandles the Pronger trade request and basically gets duped by Brian Burke. For the best defenceman in the league, Lowe gets an unproven NHLer (Lupul), prospects, and picks. Don’t tell me we got Eberle out of the trade cuz that’s just dumb luck.

2. Lowe gives out stupid contracts and extensions to one hit wonders from the fluky cup run (i.e. Pisani, Horcoff, etc).

3. Lowe royally mishandles the Smyth contract negotiations and lets him go over a measly $200K thus disrupting the line chemistry that Hemsky, Horcoff, and Smyth had going.

4. Starts the trend of drafting small forwards such as Cogliano and Gagner.

5. Hires Tambellini but still appears to be pulling the strings (checkout the old Oil Change shows and you’ll know what I’m talking about).

6. Fires Tambellini and hires his old buddy MacT who has zero NHL management experience.

7. Insults fans that don’t go to the games by basically calling them tier 2 fans.

8. The rookie GM hires a rookie coach.

9. The rookie GM fails to address goaltending and defence issues over the summer.

10. The rookie GM signs Gagner to a long-term contract and gives him a no-trade clause (WTF!).

11. The rookie coach employs a bizarre and confusing system.

12. The rookie coach decides to abandon the said system after it basically has cost the Oilers the season.

I think that sums it up. Anyone feel free to add anything I might have missed.

Don't forget when KLowe backed out of the Comrie trade with the Ducks and demanded Comrie pay back his signing bonus. Cost us Corey Perry. I think Perry won a Richard trophy. Instead we got Woywitka. I think he sits on the bench in Europe.

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#94 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 23 2013, 12:13PM
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Wow Tambellini really was Satan wasn't he? The way he totally disregarded Lowes thoughts on everything (Cause Oil Change season 1 showed us that tambo didn't make a move without Lowe involved but we can ignore that) Lowe`s mandate publicly was that the Oilers were gonna let youth develop and not make any big moves. The team is in a totally different place from when tambo came in to when MacT came in. To compare the 2 this way makes me think Lowe came over to your place for a brew to explain how what we see is all Tambo`s fault. I am not gonna give any big credit to tambellini for anything but I am certainly not gonna lay this mess on him when Lowe has been the architect

You been drinking from the Stauffer revisionist cup?

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#95 the PUZ
December 23 2013, 12:13PM
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I do not like how Edmonton media likes to "backstab" previous players/management when they have already left town. MacTavish has failed to any support for our top forwards with bottom six forwards, NHL caliber defenceman or goalies. This should have been addressed in the off-season. "Bold moves" MacTavish and "Six-Rings" Lowe should have known this as they made careers living off of upper end talent as role players.

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#96 Spydyr
December 23 2013, 12:13PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

None of that qualifies as a response to my questions/comments.

I get that you're upset that Lowe hired someone he knows but it's nonsense to write off MacT for no more reason than that.

Again, when did I say "write off MacT "

He just has not accomplished much. What I said is he put "lipstick on a pig". The team's record proves that.

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#97 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 23 2013, 12:18PM
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Only willis or lowetide could lay this on tambellini. What a joke

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#98 ivan drago
December 23 2013, 12:28PM
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?

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#99 andrewmk20
December 23 2013, 12:34PM
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@FireKLowe

I want Kevin Lowe gone too because I'd like to see the management team operate without him there. It's sometimes hard to drop habits and like anyone else Kevin Lowe still involves himself in some of the day to day decision making even though he's president of operations.

I kind of take issue with the reasons you listed though. The Pronger deal was done from a weak standpoint in that he wanted out of the city. Anytime a player requests a deal that's a generational star it's never a fair deal because he's the best player in the trade by a mile. Just look at the deal Edmonton made with St. Louis to acquire him. That's why the trade pissed everyone off, we knew the team was never going to get fair value.

They also just didn't want to sign Smyth long term. The excuse they gave was just terrible but they never wanted to hand out a 5+ year term to Smyth because they thought he wasn't going to cover the value of that contract, which he didn't incidentally.

Jury's still out on Mactavish and Eakins, still not enough time to form an opinion. This season has also been a perfect storm of bad hockey. If goaltending hadn't let us down this season the club would at least be respectable. No one could have known Dubnyk would be this bad. During exhibition he showed no signs of dropping off a cliff.

Also every team that makes the cup and has to re-sign their players overpays them. Chicago did it and had to let go of a lot of good players as a result. Edmonton just had the bad luck of having solid depth players elevate their play for the playoffs and then go back to being solid depth players. Also again a ton of bad luck, Pisani got colitis and Horcoff was playing very well until concussion and back/shoulder issues really slowed him down in the back half of his career.

I think he's responsible for a lot of bad things and some good things but most of the things you've listed are common to the majority of teams and gm's. We just happen to get a front row seat to Lowe on a day to day basis.

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#100 Zarny
December 23 2013, 12:41PM
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FireKLowe wrote:

JW, let me try to clear things up for you through your rose colored glasses and explain how Lowe is the main culprit and in any other organization would’ve been fired long ago.

1. Lowe royally mishandles the Pronger trade request and basically gets duped by Brian Burke. For the best defenceman in the league, Lowe gets an unproven NHLer (Lupul), prospects, and picks. Don’t tell me we got Eberle out of the trade cuz that’s just dumb luck.

2. Lowe gives out stupid contracts and extensions to one hit wonders from the fluky cup run (i.e. Pisani, Horcoff, etc).

3. Lowe royally mishandles the Smyth contract negotiations and lets him go over a measly $200K thus disrupting the line chemistry that Hemsky, Horcoff, and Smyth had going.

4. Starts the trend of drafting small forwards such as Cogliano and Gagner.

5. Hires Tambellini but still appears to be pulling the strings (checkout the old Oil Change shows and you’ll know what I’m talking about).

6. Fires Tambellini and hires his old buddy MacT who has zero NHL management experience.

7. Insults fans that don’t go to the games by basically calling them tier 2 fans.

8. The rookie GM hires a rookie coach.

9. The rookie GM fails to address goaltending and defence issues over the summer.

10. The rookie GM signs Gagner to a long-term contract and gives him a no-trade clause (WTF!).

11. The rookie coach employs a bizarre and confusing system.

12. The rookie coach decides to abandon the said system after it basically has cost the Oilers the season.

I think that sums it up. Anyone feel free to add anything I might have missed.

Let me clear some things up why you're an idiot.

1. For Chris Pronger, Lowe got a prospect in Lupul who has been a pt/gm player over the last few years despite injuries, a top 4 D prospect in Smid who played over 7 seasons for the Oilers and a 1st round pick that turned into Eberle.

Given the situation that was good return for Pronger despite your drivel.

2. Pisani and Horcoff were given contracts because no one else wanted to sign in Edmonton. A reality too few Oiler fans actually seem to appreciate.

Pronger booked town, they didn't get Vanek, they gambled on Penner and got turned down by Heatley. What move was available in your delusional mind that Lowe missed out on? Please enlighten us all.

3. Who gives a sh*t about the Smyth contract situation? He was a washed up forward with his best years behind him.

4. Yes, clearly all teams should avoid small, skilled forwards. Patrick Kane completely lacks any value whatsoever.

5. Yep, you finally made a valid point. Tambo proved a bad hire.

6. Firing Tambo after inaction was the right move. The jury is certainly still out on MacT given he's been on the job for less than half a season.

Zero NHL management experience? You mean like Yzerman or countless other GM's that have been hired.

Guess what...no NHL experience isn't actually a point.

7. Yep, dumb comment. Other than hurting your feelings though completely and utterly irrelevant as to how good the hockey team is.

8. A rookie coach. You mean like Dan Bylsma, Cooper or Oates. Againt...not actually a point.

9. MacT failed to address the goaltending situation? Last I checked it was Dubnyk who was letting in beach balls the first 20 games not MacT.

10. WTF are you talking about? They signed Gagner to a short-term contract (3 yrs) precisely because they weren't ready to commit to him long-term.

11. Bizarre and confusing system? Are you really this stupid?

There is nothing bizarre or confusing about Eakins' system. It's the exact same thing as any basic system except when the Oilers pin an opponent to the boards in the corner the F is supposed to jump in to out-man the other team.

There is nothing complicated or confusing about it; except for dumb fans caught up in a nifty tag line called "the swarm".

12. The coach simply made an adjustment when it became clear the players weren't good enough to execute.

Quit driveling about sh*t 7 years ago and pointing the finger at everything but the actual problem...the players on the ice the aren't good enough.

You say "rookie" like it's an actual point. It's not. Countless rookie coaches and GM's have been hired and succeeded.

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