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 Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#51 Cold Hard Truth
December 23 2013, 03:37PM
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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.

Congratulating MacTavish is more an indication of how low standards have sunk, if anything.

Aside from the Perron trade, which I will give him credit for, MacTavish's off-season and season moves look indistinguishable from the Tambellini tenure. Remember how ecstatic everyone was when Tambellini signed Eager, Belanger and Hordichuck over the off-season?

Tambellini is just a convenient scape goat. Both Katz and Lowe pushed the idea of the rebuild and no doubt, had say in the direction of the team.

Besides, you are missing the point Jonathan:

MacTavish should not have been hired in the first place. He failed as a coach, nobody else wanted him in the NHL, and low and behold, he is now our GM. Everyone and his dog knows that MacTavish was only hired because he is friends with Lowe and Katz. I would love to hear you argue otherwise. and THAT, is what is fundamentally wrong with the Oilers. Instead of filling positions out of merit, the Oilers organization has just been a body of patronage. The disgraceful play on the ice is the sum result of this.

Everyone and his dog can see that Jonathan. Why can`t you?

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#52 Cold Hard Truth
December 23 2013, 03:47PM
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Jonathan,

Answer me two questions:

1. Why was MacTavish hired in Edmonton? Was it for his burnished CV? His rugged good-looks? Why was he hired?

2. The Oilers have regressed, in nearly every way, under Eakins in spite of the 'core' getting older and more experienced. Is that not Eakin's fault? If it is, is that not MacTavish's fault for hiring a inadequate coach?

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#53 gcw_rocks
December 23 2013, 04:12PM
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Giving Lowe as pass on the decisions of his general managers is naive. As a consultant I have worked with senior executives across almost every industry and you know what they all have in common? Formally or informally they get approval from their bosses before making critical decisions and they all have their strategies and priorities confirmed as well.

And in every other industry, when the president doesn't like what he hears he provides clear direction on what he or she wants.

There is no way, none, that Lowe is president in name only. Everything material that Tambo did or didn't do came with Lowe's approval. Ditto for MacT.

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#54 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
December 23 2013, 11:02AM
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Mo Playoffs Mo Problems wrote:

That's fair enough. I imagine they're both trying to play their way into a job for next year (be it with this organization or another). Too bad they'll probably flush Dubnyk, a shame to spend so long on a guy and probably let him walk for nothing, but a lot remains to be seen in how both goalies play.

Anyhow, thanks for the response and Happy Festivus. I'm sure there'll be plenty of Oiler-related grievances aired today.

Put another way, I think it's a shame to spend so long on a guy to see him turn out way worse than you ever could have expected.

I tried to give Dubnyk the benefit of the doubt this season. I even picked him up in my fantasy pool when the Oilers were playing the soft parade in November. I'm now leaning towards his league-average seasons being the aberrations and his current performance been the accurate depiction, though.

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#55 Mo Playoffs Mo Problems
December 23 2013, 11:10AM
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@Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

Agreed.

I'm no Dubnyk apologist, but it's rare(i.e. Sean Avery) for me to enjoy watching someone's level of play go off a cliff.

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#56 ColourMeImpressed
December 23 2013, 11:16AM
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@Ed in PV

"MacT performance to date has been mixed. But he made big promises when he was hired and will be judged accordingly."

MacT's third-best move this year (after Perron and Gordon) was Clarkson rejecting MacT's colossal overpay in favor of Toronto's merely huge overpay.

I think we really don't put enough emphasis on how bad a deal Toronto's seemed like *at the time the deal was signed*, how much worse Edmonton's was, and now that Clarkson is back to Earth, how much worse it all looks.

We didn't dodge a bullet, MacT tried to shoot himself in the foot but Clarkson swerved mid-air and hit Nonis. The Clarkson deal would have been worse than the Horcoff or Khabibulin overpays - and MacT was instrumental in getting Horcoff signed for that much.

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#57 Yep
December 23 2013, 11:21AM
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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.

Tambi was a Lowe hire. And Tambi was only GM for as long as he was because Lowe kept him there. Blaming Tambi is equivalent to blaming Lowe.

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#58 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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#59 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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#60 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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#61 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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#62 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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#63 EHH Team
December 23 2013, 10:38AM
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In general, I like what MacT has tried to do, and agree he has done better so far than Tambo did. Although trading Smid has backfired big time.

I don't know how much the trade/signing failures under Tambo are his fault and how much can be attributed to poor professional scouting. Has this improved?

I'm keeping my mind open for awhile to give MacT time to make some more significant moves (my only untouchables are the three number ones plus Klefbom and Nurse). I will also be very disappointed if we begin another season with the same assistant coaches.

Here's hoping for some positives in 2014.

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#64 Smokey
December 23 2013, 10:53AM
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Oil Is My Blood wrote:

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?

If you think Craig Mactavish took a job to be someones lacky, then you dense. The guys a Bull. He took a job and sure their are times he has to confer with above, but the guys not Lowe's mouthpiece.

I don't think this Lowe's some sorta egomaniac micromanaging dictator makes sense Some people have suggested this because they saw a few episodes of Change Change and inferred meaning from a few statements.

The truth is he's the last decent GM we had, he actually had some track record.

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#65 tileguy
December 23 2013, 11:08AM
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@Racki

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.

^^ This in spades ^^

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#66 Ed in PV
December 23 2013, 11:11AM
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"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."

By the above statement you seem to be suggesting the status quo from last year would have been an acceptable result. I think most Oil fans would consider that to be a failure as well.

I would suggest that after the first 10 games DD has been at his normal level. Oil might be 6 or 8 point ahead of where they are now if he had been on his game from the start.

MacT performance to date has been mixed. But he made big promises when he was hired and will be judged accordingly.

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#67 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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#68 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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#69 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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#70 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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#71 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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#72 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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#73 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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#74 tileguy
December 23 2013, 01:26PM
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Rocknrolla wrote:

messier was hired as a consultant this year. While he finishes his multi arena project in New York. Scouting and such is the details. Google Elliot Friedman for the article.

Rumor has it he was offered the HC job before it was given to Krueger....

At least Messier I think could motivate this team, he is a true leader.

That's boys on the bus talk. "I think I know a little about winning", "I think I know a little about motivation".

got I'm, got I'm, need I'm.

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#75 Johnnydapunk
December 23 2013, 03:26PM
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I'm still on the fence about MacT, I will always be impressed with the fact he was the one who decided that the "responsible forechecking system" (the trap) was the way forward for the Oil in the 2005-06 playoffs which was in my view one of the keys in the Oil getting as far as they did. That was coaching to me.

So far he tried to address goaltending, trying to trade for Schneider, making it clear that Dubnyk was walking a fine line, and signing LaBarbera, who shouldn't have been as rubbish as he was based on his past history, and when that didn't work, trading him off and signing The Bryz on a fairly friendly trial deal for the season. I also give him credit for signing Bachman who I think could be resigned and be a good number 2 next season as I think he has been alright and putting up good numbers in the AHL.

His trade for Perron was also very good, Boyd Gordon has been decent, Belov needs time, but is gonna be a good solid 3-4 defenceman, maybe a number 2, early to say. Grebs wasn't that bad of a signing, he was an experiment that didn't work, it may have also helped get Belov here and settled a bit so there was some value in signing him. MacIntyre was signed as a reaction to the fact the Oil didn't have enough toughness and was an "impulse" signing. And when he was injured, Gazdic was a great find on waivers and he has done what has seemingly asked.

I think the problem Eakins has and will have now is that he got everyone's hopes all up and someone "pumped his tyres" a bit much and now he is looking like a right muppet. I agree with what he is trying to do, though I don't know if it will work tonight and I wouldn't be overtly shocked if he got the sack or he walks out on the job. Having a pop at the fan who threw the jersey is not the thing to do though, the dude did it because he was frustrated and rightfully so after the horror show of that game. Think it would be wise to keep the fans not necessarily on his side, but cool enough that they aren't screaming for his head every home game. If the team loses like that again, it will be like the teddy bear toss of jerseys.

I am surprised saying this, but a player like Ryan Smyth is incredibly valuable to the Oil right now as he is one of the few, few players who bleeds for the Oil, I mean have you ever heard of a player requesting a trade to Edmonton in the last 15 years? Sure players come here, but that is sadly rare, and the Oil don't have enough players like that. Gags could be one of those, I really hope he improves his game to get the donkey off his back.

The season is a write off, and I've accepted that. This summer is gonna be big for MacT as a lot of contracts are up and some decisions are gonna be made. I would like to see 6Rings out of that process and someone from the outside with no loyalties to come in and see what the mess is really all about as someone neutral would be able to make some more objective decisions. I doubt it though, but one can only hope.

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#76 pelhem grenville
December 23 2013, 03:27PM
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...katz can't clean house chris...put your self in katz place right now...take each of those names you have mentioned and replace each name with a new one ...

we're hooped bud ...

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#77 Spydyr
December 23 2013, 03:30PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

So you believe he is a failure as GM because he was unable to acquire 4 top 4 defensemen in a single off season? I've now asked repeatedly what a good GM would have done differently. You refuse to answer.

I'm not putting words in your mouth, I'm spelling out the implications of your own words.

Again at no time did I mention four top four defencemen.One would of been nice though.

A good GM would of addressed starting goalie not just try too.It is too important a position.

A good Gm would not have spouted off about "bold moves".

A good GM would of seen that he has too many small skilled forwards and made a deal for that top four defencemen.

A good GM would of realized the team was soft as butter and signed someone harder to play against then Jones.

A good GM would have addressed 2C as Gagner obviously is not the answer.

I could keep going on but this is getting old.

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#78 Mo Playoffs Mo Problems
December 23 2013, 10:51AM
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@Jonathan Willis

That's fair enough. I imagine they're both trying to play their way into a job for next year (be it with this organization or another). Too bad they'll probably flush Dubnyk, a shame to spend so long on a guy and probably let him walk for nothing, but a lot remains to be seen in how both goalies play.

Anyhow, thanks for the response and Happy Festivus. I'm sure there'll be plenty of Oiler-related grievances aired today.

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#79 pelhem grenville
December 23 2013, 10:57AM
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...That MAN OF ACTION looks old...it's a good thing he'll have a chance at a 'top pick' in June to regain his youthful look...

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#80 Ducey
December 23 2013, 11:02AM
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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.

Don't worry about it JW.

For the most part, people are not interested in any kind of rational analysis.

The team is not going to make the playoffs? They have not forever? They may not next year?

Well, then we need a hanging! If KLowe gets fired that will immediately result in the Oilers reeling off 20 wins in a row!

Maybe Uncle Daryl should get more involved! He knows so much about hockey!

The real danger that this team has that it will start listening to the emotional shirt throwing mob and do something stupid like trade a young future star for a bunch of plumbers or dumping the team President, just cause.

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#81 Burnward
December 23 2013, 11:07AM
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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?

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#82 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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#84 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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#85 TigerUnderGlass
December 23 2013, 12:45PM
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Spydyr wrote:

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.

1. What did you expect to be accomplished in less than a season?

2. You haven't written him off you just compared him to a pig.

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#86 Spydyr
December 23 2013, 01:30PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

1. What did you expect to be accomplished in less than a season?

2. You haven't written him off you just compared him to a pig.

1) An NHL starting goalie and a defense not comprised of eight 5-6 defencemen.

2) I compared the job he has done too putting lipstick on a pig. At no time did I compare anyone to a pig.

As this is the third time this thread you put words in my mouth perhaps your reading comprehension could use some work.

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#87 Oiler Al
December 23 2013, 01:31PM
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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.

JW, and who hired Tambelini, and let him wallow in the do doo he was creating on ice and behind the bench. Did it take Klowe 3 years to realize that this guy was spinning his wheels ?

Ultimately its the guy at the top that is responsible... never mine the 2006 fluke, this team has been in the ditch for a long time now, and no signs of a turn around in the near future.

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#88 Chris.
December 23 2013, 02:51PM
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Remember when Tambellini hired a new coach and crashed a team expected to compete for a playoff spot into last place?

Remember when the pundits said he deserved more time because he hadn't really been GM for very long?

How did that work out?

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#90 Harry
December 23 2013, 11:11AM
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If MacT is so proactive why has he made no moves to bokster our biggest weekness, defence. A He actually made it worse by trading Smid. Im a firm believer that he needs more time to make his mark on the team but other than the Perron trade nothing is making much sence so far.

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#91 Burnward
December 23 2013, 11:15AM
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@Jonathan Willis

Fair enough. I think the quality of chances given up by the Oil this year probably has a lot to do with it though.

There is no way they were this bad defensively last season.

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#92 Spydyr
December 23 2013, 11:18AM
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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.

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.

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#93 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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#94 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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#95 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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#96 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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#97 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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#98 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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#99 TigerUnderGlass
December 23 2013, 01:57PM
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Spydyr wrote:

1) An NHL starting goalie and a defense not comprised of eight 5-6 defencemen.

2) I compared the job he has done too putting lipstick on a pig. At no time did I compare anyone to a pig.

As this is the third time this thread you put words in my mouth perhaps your reading comprehension could use some work.

So you believe he is a failure as GM because he was unable to acquire 4 top 4 defensemen in a single off season? I've now asked repeatedly what a good GM would have done differently. You refuse to answer.

I'm not putting words in your mouth, I'm spelling out the implications of your own words.

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#100 FireKLowe
December 23 2013, 06:17PM
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Cold Hard Truth wrote:

Congratulating MacTavish is more an indication of how low standards have sunk, if anything.

Aside from the Perron trade, which I will give him credit for, MacTavish's off-season and season moves look indistinguishable from the Tambellini tenure. Remember how ecstatic everyone was when Tambellini signed Eager, Belanger and Hordichuck over the off-season?

Tambellini is just a convenient scape goat. Both Katz and Lowe pushed the idea of the rebuild and no doubt, had say in the direction of the team.

Besides, you are missing the point Jonathan:

MacTavish should not have been hired in the first place. He failed as a coach, nobody else wanted him in the NHL, and low and behold, he is now our GM. Everyone and his dog knows that MacTavish was only hired because he is friends with Lowe and Katz. I would love to hear you argue otherwise. and THAT, is what is fundamentally wrong with the Oilers. Instead of filling positions out of merit, the Oilers organization has just been a body of patronage. The disgraceful play on the ice is the sum result of this.

Everyone and his dog can see that Jonathan. Why can`t you?

You nailed it! Cronyism has killed the organization.

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