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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#52 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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#54 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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#56 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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#57 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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#58 ColourMeImpressed
December 23 2013, 11:43AM
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@Jonathan Willis

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

Or even do one on a successful trade for Schneider.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then we most certainly can agree to disagree.

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

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

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

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

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

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#60 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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#61 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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#62 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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#63 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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#65 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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#66 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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#67 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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#68 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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#69 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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#70 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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#71 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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#72 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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#73 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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#74 Tikkanese
December 23 2013, 11:31AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Do you know the definition of "hindsight"?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is that fair?

That was DD's save % last year.

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

Not sure where you got the playoff thing from.

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

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

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

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

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#77 nick
December 23 2013, 06:34PM
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Racki wrote:

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.

Not fair that MacTavish's wife is sending in posts. Way to protect your hubby

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#78 Joel
December 23 2013, 09:40PM
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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.

Um, in regards to Messier. I know he won 5 cups in Edmonton... but please refer to his last decade in the NHL (essentially the post 94 portion of his career), where he managed to captain high spending teams in NY and Van to lottery picks and years of playoff droughts.

So I don't know if I'd count him as a "true" leader when taking his career as a whole

*Maybe I'm biased from being an Oilers fan as a kid in the 80's, and then moving to Vancouver just in time to see him drive a team with Mogilny, Bure, etc into the ground. Talk about seeing your boyhood hero have feet of clay

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#79 Joel
December 23 2013, 09:43PM
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Cold Hard Truth wrote:

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?

In regards to #2, it isn't the coaches fault that he doesn't have enough NHL caliber defencemen or goalies to fill out the starting lineup, let alone the game day roster.

I think Eakins is over his head as well, but it isn't fair to blame him for problems that originate over his head and that he can't correct as a head coach.

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#80 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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#81 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
December 23 2013, 11:05AM
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Tikkanese wrote:

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?

The Stanley Cup champs still have their Stanley Cup-winning goalie between the pipes.

The Oilers were pinning their hopes and dreams to ol' re-khab and it bit them in the ass. I highly doubt many other teams were knocking down his door with both dollars and term that summer.

And for the record, JW has been very critical of the Khabby deal since it happened. I can verify.

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#82 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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#83 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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#84 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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#85 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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#86 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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#88 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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#89 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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#90 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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#91 A-Mc
December 23 2013, 11:48AM
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This team is years away from being any significant force in the playoffs. It's likely that you'll have a solid 3-4 years of making the playoffs before you get the right mix to actually get up to conference finals. Right now, the Oilers aren't even close to being competitive to Making the playoffs to begin with.

So what is the real time line here?

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

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

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

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

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#92 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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#93 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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#94 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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#95 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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#96 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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#97 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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#98 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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#99 andrewmk20
December 23 2013, 12:34PM
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@FireKLowe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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#100 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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