THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE REASONABLE

Lowetide
February 23 2013 08:37AM

We're one third of the way through this season and as always there are some who are performing above expected levels and others who have fallen behind. The list of overachievers for the Oilers is interesting, but the guys trailing "reasonable" are the story here.

Each year, before training camp, I create an offensive 'line in the sand' for each regular player. The idea is to create a 'reasonable expectation' for the player--not too high, not too low--based on their own past. It's like a handicap in golf: you're not playing against anything but your own score. Here's how things are going so far this season.

OILER RE (SO FAR) 12-13

  1. Sam Gagner +5 Actual: 16, 5-11-16 (14, 4-7-11). This is such a bizarre season for Gagner, who is scoring at a terrific pace while also centering a 2line that is getting its teeth kicked in at even strength. Still, offensively he's more than covering the bet.
  2. Justin Schultz +3 Actual: 16, 4-4-8 (RE: 15, 1-4-5). Schultz has exceeded his number smartly in the first one-third of the season. Although he does appear to be hurting a little, the young man is so talented his results rank among the best overachievers so far this season. Stud.
  3. Taylor Hall EVEN Actual: 16, 3-13-16 (RE: 13, 7-6-13). He's on pace and meeting expectations. Hall's goal total is a little low, but these things even out over time and we do know that he dedicated himself to improved passing this year.
  4. Jordan Eberle EVEN Actual: 16, 5-6-11 (RE: 15, 5-6-11). Eberle is where he should be based on reasonable expectations and he's been excellent on the powerplay. I think that entire 1line has been terrific, better than the numbers suggest so far, and if the Hockey Gods even things out we should see a nice run in March.
  5. Nail Yakupov EVEN Actual: 16, 5-4-9 (RE: 15, 4-5-9). Young Russian has been inconsistent--this is what rookie's do--but has met expectations and shown glimpses of what he will do in the future. Wonderful talent, his shot is breathtaking and I expect the Oilers will take better advantage in the coming weeks.
  6. Ladislav Smid EVEN Actual: 16, 0-2-2 (RE: 14, 0-2-2). Smid is not going to make his money posting goals and assists, but did enjoy a spike last season. His offense is where it should be, and we should not expect 5 goals in the final months of the season.
  7. Ben Eager EVEN Actual: 7, 0-1-1 (RE: 10, 1-1-2). Big winger had some injury troubles early but seems to be rounding into form. His most recent games have been (imo) his best as an Oiler. I have adjusted for his injury.
  8. Ales Hemsky MINUS ONE Actual: 16, 7-3-10 (RE: 12, 3-8-11). This is basically even, he's had a nice start to the year (especially on the PP) offensively. Like Gagner, Hemsky has some question marks surrounding him based on how many shots the line is giving up compared to what they're doing at the other end. The boxcars are fine.
  9. Teemu Hartikainen MINUS ONE Actual: 15, 0-2-2 (RE: 10, 1-2-3). The big Finn is on pace for what we'd expected, getting some PP time and then up and down the depth chart depending on which way the wind blows. It doesn't show up in the stats, but he's becoming a terrific down low battler, suspect Smyth's help is part of it.
  10. Shawn Horcoff MINUS ONE Actual: 7, 1-1-2 (RE: 15, 2-3-5). I adjusted for injury. Horcoff--like Belanger--is having a good season and his being placed on the IR coincided with a downturn in team performance.
  11. Nick Schultz MINUS ONE Actual: 16, 0-1-1 (RE: 16, 0-2-2). Offense isn't his calling card, although you'd think he would get some points just based on playing next to the other Schultz. It has been a struggle for him defensively of late, but the offensive numbers are what we should have expected from him.
  12. Lennart Petrell MINUS ONE. Actual: 13, 1-0-1 (RE: 10, 1-1-2). Winger had an injury that cost him a few games but he's on track for the season. Might get pushed with the return of Jones and the early season performances of Hartikainen and Paajarvi.
  13. Ryan Smyth MINUS TWO Actual: 15, 2-3-5 (RE: 13, 3-4-7). A minor downturn in terms of offensive output, I did predict he would have fewer PP opportunities and Smyth lost a game via healthy scratch. Smyth is an all-time battler, though and has played better since returning.
  14. Eric Belanger MINUS TWO Actual: 13, 0-2-2 (RE: 15, 2-2-4). Veteran has been playing an extreme defensive role, and the minus 2 RE should not be viewed as a negative. Belanger is delivering quality play and looks exactly like the player Edmonton thought they were getting summer 2011.
  15. Magnus Paajarvi MINUS TWO Actual: 13, 2-0-2 (RE: 1-3-4). All kinds of good things--including growing confidence in his offensive game--make this a very nice beginning for Magnus Paajarvi. Down slightly in RE, but in the range of what we could have expected.
  16. Ryan Whitney MINUS THREE Actual: 12, 0-3-3 (RE: 13, 1-5-6). I did account for some worry about his ability to play at previous levels but didn't nick him enough. I don't believe this is a slump or that he's not doing his best to perform at the highest levels.
  17. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins MINUS SIX Actual: 15, 1-6-7 (RE: 14, 4-9-13). The Nuge is injured and it is certainly having an impact on him. On the other hand, like all gifted offensive players he's getting chances galore and if healthy I belive the Nuge would be on pace. At this point, he's having a disappointing season.
  18. Mark Fistric DNQ Actual: 10, 0-2-2. I did not project Fistric (he was acquired later) but this number should be viewed as a positive. Big defender has had an impact in his first 10 Oiler games.
  19. Anton Lander DNQ Actual: 4, 0-1-1. I did not project Lander to play in the NHL this season. He did look good though, in between Harski and Paajarvi on the Nordic Line. Lander's injury was a bad turn. 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

The RE numbers are here. I think everyone is in the range save for Gagner and Schultz (positive) and Nuge and Whitney (downside) but the two who are not performing at level have been/are injured and that has impacted performance.

The Oilers record is not because of overall downturns in performance. Their 5x5 scoring and the 2line's troubles are the major issues, with the 1line, Schultz the younger and goaltending the positives.

If this team does the same things for the next 16 games, they should win more games. Seriously.

 

C2a6955161684b5e3189319acfa5ebe4
Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#1 Skidplate
February 23 2013, 10:32AM
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@DSF

Yes but Khabby is 40! not 35 or 34. We have Smyth 37, Horcoff 34, Belanger 35, Sutton 37 AND we are still within 1 year of the bottom three in league age. So yes, the Oilers are a young team.

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#2 RexLibris
February 23 2013, 03:52PM
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@Rama Lama

So just to be clear: are you laughing with me, at me, or around me?

We've been through this before. I'm not a solid Tambellini fan, but based on what the average is for NHL management right now, the team could have done much, much worse in laying the groundwork for this rebuild.

I realize that is not praise, but I would much rather have had Tambellini in charge these last four years than Feaster, Burke, Sherman and a host of others.

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#6 OilClog
February 23 2013, 11:07AM
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Lyles is not an opportunity, it's a wasted roster spot.

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#7 Skidplate
February 23 2013, 11:09AM
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DSF wrote:

Why is that a problem?

With Souray's $1.5M coming off the cap next season, Liles could replace Sutton's $1.75M cap hit and you would have a much better defenseman for only $600K more than this season's cap hits.

Liles would also bring much more offence to a team that has only 4 goals from the D and all of them scored by Schultz.

Liles scored 7 goals and 30 points last season and would bring not only scoring but also puck movement and a veteran presence to the D corp.

The problem is he has a NTC.

Another option, although likely to cost more in a trade would be Cody Franson who is having a great season (1G 10A 11P +11).

In any event, with Gardiner returning and Morgan Rielly and Matt Finn on their way, Toronto has a glut of defensemen and that should be an opportunity for the Oilers.

With Liles game and age (32) 3 years at 3.875 is too much for my liking.

Franson, now we are talking. I was greatly irritated when Toronto got him from Nashville for basically nothing. He would be a prefect fit on the Oilers.

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#8 Oiler Al
February 23 2013, 12:59PM
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I think the best deal Tambelini made under his watch, was sending the " Pancake Plunderer" to the Kings. Bringing him back would be a step backwards..this guy comes to play only when he feels like it, which is not that often.

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#9 Bonvie
February 23 2013, 06:51PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Being Penner back to be with hemsky and gagne?

That is the exact opposite of what needs to happen. Hemsky and gagne need to be moved to bring in size, fierceness and physicality to the first two lines. And Penner only meets one of those three requirements.

Oil fans need to come to grips with the fact that hemsky, gagne AND Smyth need to be moved elsewhere or - in the case of Ryan Smyth - into retirement.

Are you talking about trading Hemsky to the Kings to play with Gagne and Penner? I think the rest of us are asking for Penner to come to the Oilers to play with either Gagner or Hemsky.

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#10 Skidplate
February 23 2013, 08:48AM
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I think with the very difficult road trip ahead, if the team falls too far back and RNH is truly hurting, then he should take care of that injury now. It would probably mean a draft lottery, but this is a good year to pick early. I know it absolutely sucks to be talking this way yet again, but the facts are the facts. We are not there yet.

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#11 Alsker
February 23 2013, 09:05AM
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Good read as always Lowtide, definitely more optimistic way of looking at things then the anger/panic we fans are at right now...Out of curiousity what was the last deal this management group made? Its been so long...

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#13 Crackenbury
February 23 2013, 09:19AM
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I hope you're right about winning more games, but to me it looks like another decent start followed up by the true nature of this team; an overwhelming acceptance of losing.

If Tambo doesn't make some kind of move soon, within the next 10 days, he needs to go and it can't wait until the end of the season. Katz needs to show the fans and players he wants to win more than he wants to surround himself with comfortable people. Firing the training staff isn't going to cut it this time.

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#14 Alsker
February 23 2013, 09:21AM
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Sorry forgot about that(too much kool-aid last night) but Tambos legacy is Eager/Hordichuck/re-aquiring Smitty/Jones/Petrell?/N.Schultz wheres the WOW factor or impact player..been a long time since a Pronger/Guerin type splash

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#16 jake
February 23 2013, 09:27AM
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Lowetide wrote:

Skid: I hear you, but would dearly love to see Steve Tambellini do something to help this team before they pull the plug.

I think he owes it to the fans, and maybe his future.

Hear what you are saying but I don't want any GM of the Oilers doing anything because of "his" future. Remember MacT on July 1st, something about ensuring you don't do anything stupid. Note - Not endorsing doing nothing either.

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#18 RBC
February 23 2013, 09:38AM
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I still think patience are required. I know we have been waiting for a very long time, but we are getting close now. At least the games are more entertaining. This team is the youngest in the league; with a little more seasoning they could really take off. Let's not panic ourselves into a bad trade.

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#19 nunyour
February 23 2013, 09:41AM
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RNH does look tired to me too,i would try Smitty at centre there,seem as good as anyone on face offs and has said he enjoys the challenge,then he can go stand in front of the net where he is at his best.

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#20 The Oilers Shot Clock
February 23 2013, 09:41AM
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I'd rather trade our first this year for someone who can play now. Tambellini is cooking with ingredients chosen at random. Address a need.. God help me but we could use a bit of Burke right now.

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#21 Serious Gord
February 23 2013, 09:45AM
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The way your post reads LT you would think that the oil was knocking on fifth place instead of fifteenth.

Point comparisons,as I think you would agree, are a pretty flimsy metric.

And when you discount how this team plays when it's opponent is down a man the point totals get REALLY ugly.

That said I don't disagree much with your assessments. I think that JS has been scouted now and teams are adjusting to his lack of a shot for example.

By and large most of the players are playing as well as was expected.

But the problem is that this team is as unbalanced as a stroke victim.

And that is a KLT (Katz-Lowe-tambelini) failing. I don't know about you but I give THAT team an F-

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#22 Oiler Al
February 23 2013, 09:45AM
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I guess it means they finish 29 th again?

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#23 Suntory Hanzo
February 23 2013, 09:53AM
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What about Petry?

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#25 Serious Gord
February 23 2013, 09:54AM
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The Oilers Shot Clock wrote:

I'd rather trade our first this year for someone who can play now. Tambellini is cooking with ingredients chosen at random. Address a need.. God help me but we could use a bit of Burke right now.

Not sure if you are aware, but the draft lottery now includes the bottom 15 teams. Thus the bankable value of first round pick from a bottom-feeding team has been cut in half.

I think it's a great change BTW as it removes a lot of the incentive to tank a season.

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#27 Skidplate
February 23 2013, 09:58AM
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Lowetide wrote:

Skid: I hear you, but would dearly love to see Steve Tambellini do something to help this team before they pull the plug.

I think he owes it to the fans, and maybe his future.

I just think we are too far away yet. The something that Tambellini needs to do may be too much.

It will take more than one dman to get our 5 on 5 scoring up to snuff. By the time you address 5v5, faceoffs, toughness, defensive help we may not have any draft picks left and I am scared to think what we would need to remove from our team to get there.

I am OK with a top 10 pick this year, one more year of seasoning for our future stars and one more off season to address the teams needs. (I know, I know, how many chances does this management team need).

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#28 DSF
February 23 2013, 09:58AM
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RBC wrote:

I still think patience are required. I know we have been waiting for a very long time, but we are getting close now. At least the games are more entertaining. This team is the youngest in the league; with a little more seasoning they could really take off. Let's not panic ourselves into a bad trade.

The Oilers are not even close to the youngest in the league.

Columbus, Winnipeg, Toronto, LA, Carolina, Ottawa, Minnesota, St. Louis, Colorado and Buffalo all have a lower average age.

http://www.quanthockey.com/TS/TS_AverageAge.php

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#29 Hammers
February 23 2013, 10:00AM
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Lowetide wrote:

I think we do have to give Tambellini credit for the Justin Schultz signing. At least some of it. And he is certainly the biggest free agent signing I can recall in many years.

His free agent signings of 2011 summer (Belanger, Eager) are finally paying off--playing much better.

It isn't enough, surely. However I'm not certain if he's making the calls on all of these things.

How on earth do you give Tambellini credit re Schultz . Everything I read tied into Hall , Coffee , and Krueger and a young team . If we are honest here Tambellini has made more mistakes than I would have expected . I have blamed Lowe and that was for hiring him .

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#30 DSF
February 23 2013, 10:01AM
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@Lowetide

The Oilers should take a look at J.M. Liles.

With Gardiner set to return soon, the Leafs have 10 NHL defensemen on their roster.

I would image the Oilers could pick him up fairly cheaply.

He could certainly give a boost to the 3rd pairing and is another option on the PP.

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#31 Coco crisp
February 23 2013, 10:02AM
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Magnus ??

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#32 Coco crisp
February 23 2013, 10:03AM
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Magnus ??

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#33 Coco crisp
February 23 2013, 10:03AM
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Magnus ??

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#34 Coco crisp
February 23 2013, 10:03AM
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Magnus ??

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#35 gazmort
February 23 2013, 10:06AM
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@DSF

What's your point?

Aside from you deciding that everyone on this site is drinking the kool-aid (wrong), what are you trying to achieve? Anything?

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#36 canucknnv
February 23 2013, 10:07AM
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There is something missing from this Team. Everyone knows where the holes are and I'm not speaking to that. What I am saying is across the league there are teams every year that win games by heart and heart alone. Ottawa is decimated by injury but have won 10 games. Nashville has holes every year but yet they make the playoffs albeit they are never a huge contender but still are widely respected for bringing it every game.

The Oilers don't bring it every game. They have way too many games where they come out flat and stay flat. Talent wise I don't think there is a team in the league that comes close to pure skill, yes its young skill but off the charts skill nonetheless. The team got outshot 40-14 by the god awful blue jackets and won. It was a must win game and they never showed up but were gifted a 3-1 win.

I love this team but the results are flat and I think there has to be more house cleaning done and I mean 6-8 players need to go. I'm not sure who they are but there has to be something wrong in the room because there is too many passengers game in and game out.

MacTavish will be GM by May 5th.

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#37 Rama Lama
February 23 2013, 10:08AM
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Lowetide wrote:

I think we do have to give Tambellini credit for the Justin Schultz signing. At least some of it. And he is certainly the biggest free agent signing I can recall in many years.

His free agent signings of 2011 summer (Belanger, Eager) are finally paying off--playing much better.

It isn't enough, surely. However I'm not certain if he's making the calls on all of these things.

I am not giving him ANY credit for a players choosing us. Never was he mentioned by Schultz, in fact Gretzky and Coffee had more to do with this than Tamby.

This is a very polarizing figure, he does present himself like a decent and caring human being.......I will give him that. As a GM he has never given me the impression that he is in charge, driving the troops so to speak.

He comes across as more the reluctant leader managing through consensus.......this is not what we need at this juncture. THere are builders and maintainers.........I strongly suspect he is a maintainer.

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#39 Alsker
February 23 2013, 10:12AM
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Unless mgt are willing to move one of the Fab5 a serious deal will not happen, we dont have enough depth to move a starter and not create another hole..with Jones returning and when Lander+Horcoff are healthy the possibility of a trade that benefits us can happen...unless we can get a vet with character for a couple prospects we are who we are..

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#40 Skidplate
February 23 2013, 10:14AM
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DSF wrote:

The Oilers are not even close to the youngest in the league.

Columbus, Winnipeg, Toronto, LA, Carolina, Ottawa, Minnesota, St. Louis, Colorado and Buffalo all have a lower average age.

http://www.quanthockey.com/TS/TS_AverageAge.php

DSF, you are right. But other than Col and Win, Edmonton is a whole 1 year older than the rest of the teams you state. With the departure of Khabby's 40 years next year, that brings our average back right near the bottom.

What RBC was getting at was the Oilers are a young team. He to is right.

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#41 Kevin
February 23 2013, 10:21AM
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DSF wrote:

The Oilers are not even close to the youngest in the league.

Columbus, Winnipeg, Toronto, LA, Carolina, Ottawa, Minnesota, St. Louis, Colorado and Buffalo all have a lower average age.

http://www.quanthockey.com/TS/TS_AverageAge.php

Your right on there. All this talk and excuses about being a young team when in fact as stated above not really the case at all. Management is starting to run out of where to blame - there is no where to hide now if your sitting on Mahogany row. Quite frankly as a die hard Oil fan I like many are getting quite sick of management not being abel to address issues that have been quite obvious for years now. It's time for a major shake in front office and I'm starting with Klowe and ending with Tambo and everything in between. This team is a Pond hockey team ! I want NHL calibre, the fans at least deserve that.

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#42 DSF
February 23 2013, 10:26AM
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@Skidplate

Virtually all teams have one or two greybeards that bring up their average age.

For example, the Kings have Willie Mitchell (35) and Rob Scuderi (34) on defense who are nearing the end of their careers.

STL has Nichol (38) Langenbrunner (37), McDonald (35) and Redden (35).

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#43 Chet134
February 23 2013, 10:32AM
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You have to kidding me lowetide that we should give tambo credit for signing Schultz. Schultz came to Edmonton cuz of the young talent not the organization. We drafted the young talent due to poor management and their philosophies on how to win. Which is not working. Injuries has been a problem but this year has proven to everyone that we have pieces but still far away from competing for the playoffs. I never thought we were going to make the playoffs but being a lottery pick is unexceptable. It won't happen but they should clean house with Lowe, McT and Tambo. We are soft throughout the whole organization and there is zero help coming. Skill only goes so far but no one goes to the night, scores greasy goals in front of the net or wins the one on one battles in the corners. We get zero scoring from the third or fourth lines plus glaring mistakes on the D which costs us games. I Agee it's tough to make trades but tambo hasn't done anything to improve size and grit in the top two lines. Its disappointing to see players like James Neil, Chris Stewart, Mike Richards etc getting traded in the last couple years. Don't expect any glaring trades this year from the old boys club. I feel bad for the fans and the season ticket holders.

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#44 Skidplate
February 23 2013, 10:39AM
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DSF wrote:

The Oilers should take a look at J.M. Liles.

With Gardiner set to return soon, the Leafs have 10 NHL defensemen on their roster.

I would image the Oilers could pick him up fairly cheaply.

He could certainly give a boost to the 3rd pairing and is another option on the PP.

The problem with Liles is he is 3.875 Cap hit for 3 more years.

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#45 Chet134
February 23 2013, 10:54AM
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So your saying that if we get another top five pick this year in the draft which basically showing zero progress for the four year that management shouldn't be fired.

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#46 Taylor Gang
February 23 2013, 10:55AM
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I'm glad fans are starting to realize just how good hall is. Of the kids, he seemed to be the whipping boy for some weird reason. That being said, one of the kids HAS to be traded to turn this team around. As painful as it sounds, we can't have this much talent up front without addressing the back end. Gagner and Hemsky could be traded but I don't think they'll have enough pull to bring in what we need. So let's look at our kids.

Hall - seems to be the only player genuinely pissed about losing on the team. Also the only physical presence from the kids and a wicked shot. Let's call him untouchable.

Eberle - our top scorer from last year. Granted he played easy minutes but you can't ignore 76 points, especially considering he played 78 games. No thank you

RNH - a centre has a lot of pull in the NHL. He has more upside than Gagner and frankly is a better player too. Seems to have the injury bug but it could just be freak accidents. Scratch him off the list

Schultz - our only defensive option from the kids. Nuff said

This leaves us with Yakupov. Now bear with me here because I like him as much as anyone (my brother has his jersey already) but he is of the least immediate help to the team. Also, Yakupov could be a very tasty option for teams with tons of defensive options to pick. Teams such as Nashville who have lots of yound defensive options. I know it may leave a sour taste in the mouths of Oiler fans everywhere, but the payoff is more than worth it.

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#47 DSF
February 23 2013, 11:00AM
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Skidplate wrote:

The problem with Liles is he is 3.875 Cap hit for 3 more years.

Why is that a problem?

With Souray's $1.5M coming off the cap next season, Liles could replace Sutton's $1.75M cap hit and you would have a much better defenseman for only $600K more than this season's cap hits.

Liles would also bring much more offence to a team that has only 4 goals from the D and all of them scored by Schultz.

Liles scored 7 goals and 30 points last season and would bring not only scoring but also puck movement and a veteran presence to the D corp.

The problem is he has a NTC.

Another option, although likely to cost more in a trade would be Cody Franson who is having a great season (1G 10A 11P +11).

In any event, with Gardiner returning and Morgan Rielly and Matt Finn on their way, Toronto has a glut of defensemen and that should be an opportunity for the Oilers.

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#48 Crackenbury
February 23 2013, 11:07AM
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@Lowetide

You are definitely a glass half full kind of guy. Not a bad trait if you're going to last in the business you're in, but Tambo shares none of the credit for landing Schultz. Schultz was won over by Krueger and the players. Tambo's credit is limited to finishing last and picking first.

If Tambo can get off his hands and actually pull off a legitimate significant hockey trade in the next couple of weeks I'll give him credit for actually having patience and a plan. If nothing happens between now and the end of the year, it will just confirm we've been stumbling around for the past 4 years.

Maybe someone can point out to me how Montreal was so bad just a couple years ago, loaded up with undersized forwards and a pathetic defence and now they're in first. What changed? Markov is an obvious improvement but there's more to it than that! It's only 12 months ago the media was reporting what a mess the organization was. I'd like to have that kind of mess.

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#49 Chet134
February 23 2013, 11:11AM
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Hey lowetide tells me do you think we would have a different management if the oilers we getting 13000 fans to every game, we were losing money and we had just won 2 out of the last 10 games. Do you think changes would have been made by Katz.

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