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, 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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#1 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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#4 Loweblows
December 23 2013, 10:36AM
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Our rookie GM MacT fired Kreuger and replaced him with a rookie coach who is learning to teach a new system to rookie players. That does not sound like something that any wise and experienced GM would do. For that reason MacT gets a big fat F in my books. He signed Gags long term-fail. He gave away our most physical D man- fail. Allowed Hall to take the heat on HNIC- fail. Signed washed up D men-fail. Was Oilernation recently bought by the Katz group?

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#5 Loweblows
December 23 2013, 10:19AM
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Blah blah blah blah blah- rinse and repeat!

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#7 tileguy
December 23 2013, 10:20AM
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sorry to be off topic but this is important as well.

NsxZero wrote:

Wow Jones actually found the guy that threw his jersey on the ice. Ladies and Gentleman our hero, Curtis Goyetche.

http://www.edmontonsun.com/2013/12/22/jones-oilers-fan-shows-frustration-by-throwing-jersey-on-the-ice

BEAUTIFUL! How symbolic can it get, hard working blue color guy working in the north, die hard fan did it out of frustration, not as a joke. Goes to the game as a regulat attendee (tier 1.5) and loves his team. This guy should be cannonized. (ooops truly politically incorrect during the xm..... er holiday season)

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#8 DonDon
December 23 2013, 10:30AM
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Today's Bleacher Report places the Oilers in 30th place, DFL.

I believe MacT has made improvements in the lineup (Perron, Gordon, Belov, Arcobello), but actual performances are below last year due to the rookie NHL head coach's inexperience, some misguided approaches in applying systems and poor player interaction, and dropoff in play of the 'skilled' players (not just Dubnyk). The addition of Ference and subtraction of Smed nullifies any gain on D.

The team is still lacking a qualified 2C and 1D and it is questionable if Gazdic, Joensuu, Larsen, Potter are real NHLers that can match up with the big boys.

Merry Christmas to all.

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#9 David S
December 23 2013, 12:53PM
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Zarny wrote:

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.

^ NAILED IT.

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#10 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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#11 Lochenzo
December 23 2013, 10:30AM
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RexHolez wrote:

So now were blaming tambi for collecting first overall picks and trying to stock up assets like Lowe asked?

Tambi's opportunity to grab the bull by the horns was last season. I didn't understand why he was unwilling to acquire an extra centre early on to help out the club when both Horcoff and Belanger were hurt and RNH struggling with a bad wing.

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#13 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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#14 Spydyr
December 23 2013, 10:26AM
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Lipstick on a pig.

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#15 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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#16 RexHolez
December 23 2013, 10:21AM
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So now were blaming tambi for collecting first overall picks and trying to stock up assets like Lowe asked?

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#17 Oil Is My Blood
December 23 2013, 10:14AM
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JW, your whole article is based on the premise that MacT and Tambo call the shots. I don't believe that for a second, do you KLowe?

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#18 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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#19 Racki
December 23 2013, 10:57AM
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Big fan of MacTavish. Was one of the ones running him out of town as coach in his last year, due to him being stale. However I always recognized the very smart man he is. I do think he's superior to Tambellini by a mile even though results haven't showed this. He has a big mess to undo, whereas Tambellini created it (although I do like the decision to blow it all up).

MacT is impatient, as he says, and it shows. Tambo seemed to be too unsure to take a risk. I think the team is in good hands but we have to remember that Tambellini burned Rome to the ground before MacT took over. So sadly, there is much work to do. Tambo left MacT with good building piece (due to ineptness that let him draft high), but Tambo was incompetent at filling the rest of the roster out.

I think MacT has made some good changes, the best of which are Gordon and Perron. Another year in the free agent market, since trades are dead, will give MacT more chance to shine. This July's goals... New starter.. Top end D... Bottom six dudes. He will make it happen. He also should shore up the top six and move one of these guys for some size.

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#20 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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#21 The Real Scuba Steve
December 23 2013, 10:37AM
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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.

If Klown oh sorry KLowe is working for the Oilers under a lesser role then why keep him? If Klowe stepped down that would cause a lot breathing room for a while for Kayz, The OIlers, and for the fan base. This team is still KLowe vision.

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#22 Danger Pay
December 23 2013, 11:04AM
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The worst part for Oilers fans is the realization that this mess will still take years to fix. Mac T was just handed the reins and this is his first full year as GM. So that means Lowe, Mac T and Eakins are going no where Because if Katz did replace Lowe then the new President would for sure hire a new GM and the new GM would for sure hire a new Coach and we have done that song and dance for the last 4 years.

With hindsight being 20/20, I wish the Oilers had

A: Iced a Pure Goon Squad, while drafting the three. #1 picks. The reason being the Oilers would have more than likely still finished last but teams would have hated playing against a tough, hard hitting , rugged Oilers team.

B: Sent everyone of the #1 picks back to junior or the farm to develop for at least 1 maybe even 2 seasons each, before even touching NHL ice. My reason (again with 20/20 hindsight) so when Hall and Ebs finally joined the team they would have been able to make an offensive impact right away on a team that needed it, then Nuge and Yak.

The other reason is B/C if the Oilers had done this they would have had a tough hardworking team with offensive skilled players coming up through the farm instead of this unbalanced all offense team that is heading straight to the podium, again.

Just imagine, Hall and Ebs would be in the second year of their entry level contract(!!!!) and Nuge would be poised to join the Club this season or next, with Yak in his first full year of development on the farm and the Oilers would have a tough goon team to protect them all once they made it!

I may be wrong on how entry level contracts work when playing on the farm or junior but I hope the Nation gets the idea.

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#23 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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#25 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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#27 outdoorzguy
December 23 2013, 10:50AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

It's funny.

I've spent the last five years saying that Edmonton's management was screwing things up one way or the other. I've consistently pointed to teams like Atlanta as an example of failure, and consistently suggested management needed to be changed from the moment Steve Tambellini inked Nikolai Khabibulin on.

These weren't popular takes, particularly in the early years. But that's what I thought, so that's what I wrote.

Now, when everybody and his dog is livid at Oilers management, I see a new group that while far from perfect (oh, hey, David Clarson) is largely taking reasonable steps.

MacTavish didn't get the bottom six fixed, but he turned the keys over to new people. Doubtless he'll do so again. He wasn't able to completely overhaul the forwards but he did his best to bolster them, bringing in Perron. He couldn't fix the defence so he went with a by-committee approach (one that hasn't worked out, admittedly). The goaltending collapsed early on and so he went out and found a solution, getting called desperate and crazy for bringing in a guy with Bryzgalov's past but doing it anyway.

I get the frustration and I get the anger and I get that any recognition of the good moves is seen as being an apologist for the team. But rightly or wrongly I have to write what I think, and while my track record is also some distance from perfect I think it stands up pretty well.

I also think, after years of largely unpopular criticism, that I should have the credibility to say 'I see signs of life' without instantly being branded as putting lipstick on a pig. You don't see it that way, and that's fine - opinions will differ, they always have and that's healthy - but I'm basically going to ignore your view because I'm confident you're wrong.

"I see signs of life"? Really? Where? There hasn't been life in this organization for a dozen years. 6Rings sucked it all out a long time ago!! The owner is lifeless, except when it comes to depositing his souvenir sales cheques.

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#28 Consultant
December 23 2013, 10:59AM
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Good level headed article. I'm getting tired of the blame game where everything is just Lowe's fault, the juvenile assumption that he controls all aspects of the team behind the scenes. All of the management team have made mistakes. Sure Lowe made a mistake with Comrie, but that was years ago, he also defined bold and hastily pulled a team together that made it to game 7 of the finals. His passion, history and 6 rings actually do mean something to me. And MacT made a mistake hiring a rookie coach, but he has also made some good moves (Perron, Belov). I think these guys can and have learned from their mistakes, they can work well together and we will see some tweaks after the holidays that will help this team. We were never going to win the cup this year, now we just have to stay focused on being a playoff contender next year, sadely that is all we have now, a big shake up trade just to wake the team up is not going to help long term and neither is a huge mangement reshuffle. This management team we have now (in its current config. with Mact as GM)is new.

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#31 FireKLowe
December 23 2013, 01:08PM
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Zarny wrote:

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.

Mrs. Lowe is that you? Sorry to get your panties in a knot but it is what it is. Your husband is an idiot and has ruined this once proud franchise.

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#32 outdoorzguy
December 23 2013, 10:37AM
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Spydyr wrote:

Lipstick on a pig.

This pretty much sums up my thoughts. Doing something just for the sake of doing something is far different from doing something for the improvement of the team and organization. This twelve year spiral we're in, although certainly not all McTavish's doing, will continue until there is a total sweep of the management/ coaching offices.

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#33 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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#34 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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#35 Chris.
December 23 2013, 03:11PM
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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.

Hi Willis.

It's been a long time.

I believe Katz should look at cleaning house: Lowe, Howson, Bucky, MacT, Smith... everybody... I believe the Oilers are going in circles. I know that the rebuilt core of Hall, Eberle, RNH and Schultz are better than the core of Gagner, Cogliano, Nilsson and Gilbert that was assembled by essntially the same braintrust years ago... However, both groups are similar in that they are comprised of smaller, skilled, mostly perimeter type players who seem to underachieve the lofty expectations of those who assembled them.

As a coach, MacTavish predicted the first group would challenge for the division... Forgive my pessimism years later when the same crew at Kingsway predict a team with similar deficiencies, and lack of balance will one day soon challenge for the cup. We are just wasting time. This organization is in desperate need of a core philosophical shift... Organizationally from the draft on out, too much faith has been placed on the idea of the NEW NHL (rebranded post 2004 lockout) where speed and puck handling skills would trump size and tenacity...

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#36 Zamboni Driver
December 23 2013, 10:38AM
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The same guy that gets kudos for Gordon (I guess) and Perron also is the mastermind behind Garbage-kev (another example of a team with no new ideas), that backup goalie, wasting a roster spot on the Goon....

Saying MacTavish is better than Tambellini may be marginally true...but it's really not much of a compliment.

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#37 Rama Lama
December 23 2013, 11:13AM
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JW, be honest but when you heard that we signed Ference, what was the first thing that went through your mind?

What went through your mind when you heard Gordon's name? How about Jessie Jonnesau? Perron? LaBarbra?

Not one of those names ( except Perron) excited me........mainly because they did not address our needs based on supporting cast for the core? I believe that is where our problems start. Management does not know what type of players to surround the core with, including Mac T.

They all must have missed what the pundits, hockey people, fans and media have been saying for the pst three years. We have too many of the same type of players and keep adding more.

Most frustrating.

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#38 Fossil
December 23 2013, 11:21AM
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The basic hockey mistakes made by this team defy logic. Lazy line change when the play is headed into your end is the worst example. Not getting the puck in deep when pressured at the blue is another. Not shooting when there are guys going to the net for a rebound, instead try to go cross ice through multiple defenders for a tap in that isn't there. Not clogging the middle of the ice when defending or creating offence by going to the middle. And lastly, button hook, drop pass.....? I question the hockey IQ of all levels in this organization.

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#39 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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#40 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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#41 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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#42 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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#43 S cottV
December 23 2013, 12:57PM
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MacT really blew it hiring Eakins.

No way Dubie delivers a .920 with what was and is still - going on in front of him.

Dubie hasnt been great but Eakins trial and error learning curve is as much or more to blame for those unwarranted ga's. I mean c'mon, the defensive zone coverage has been and is still horrific.

These next 4 games to close out the year will be very interesting. I believe that they will get a couple of wins, however if they dont - it probably cements what appears to be a sizeable disconnect between Eakins and the player group.

The big problem with the Eakins hiring, is that it has set the program backwards rather than advancing it. I mean - there is not one area of play that looks better - that is taking shape. The club is in 29th place and has not played a meaningful game since being effectively out of the playoffs in mid Nov.

While the Jets will be tired tonight, they still have faint hope to make the playoffs and the game has meaning for them. Eakins should have been able to direct the club into a similar position and failure to do so, may still be his undoing.

These next 4 games will have tell tale implications and undertones for what is going on and what may have to be done.

MacT may have to fess up...

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#44 tileguy
December 23 2013, 10:43AM
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@Jonathan Willis

Now if only the oilers could stand up for themselves. Props to you JW.

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#45 Zamboni Driver
December 23 2013, 10:57AM
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@Jonathan Willis

Actually I meant MacIntyre, not Gazdic. Don't mind Gazdic actually. Have to be smarter than to waste time, effort, money and one of 50-spots on Steve MacIntyre (another example of 'if he used to play for us, he must be good').

Though the Smid trade is still a head-scratcher. Not that he's anywhere near a great player, that trade especially the timing still makes no sense.

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#46 Tikkanese
December 23 2013, 10:58AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

No, we're blaming Tambellini for years and years of incompetence. Specifically, three times he thought he had playoff teams (2008-09, 2011-12, 2012-13) a significant distance into the year, and three times he twiddled his thumbs rather than trying to improve them.

But if you'd like to go into the rebuild (a rebuild caused when he signed a terrible old goalie who promptly got hurt, an old coach who was out of touch, and handed the team over to Jeff Deslauriers) we can do that too.

A terrible old goalie huh? Hindsight is 20/20.

Khabby was the consensus best UFA goalie available on pretty much every list out there that summer. He had similar offers but chose the Oilers because we were the only team to add the 4th year to the contract.

Not to mention, the Stanley Cup Champs didn't think he was "terrible" when they signed him this summer, did they?

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#48 ColourMeImpressed
December 23 2013, 11:11AM
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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?

Yeah... it's kind of a flaw in the stathead's view of the game, that things will "always average out". Stats guys love the idea that a shot is a shot and a shot attempt is a shot attempt.

But the Oilers give up some really, REALLY good shots. Multiple breakaways (on the power play, at that!), turnovers at the blue lines, coughing it up in our own zone (remember Ryan Jones' tape-to-tape pass to Brendan Gallagher in that first Montreal game?), etc.

I'm not absolving Dubnyk of responsibility, but I think .920 is asking a lot with this kind of play in front of him.

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#50 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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