THE ARCHITECTS: LOWE AND TAMBELLINI

Robin Brownlee
March 06 2013 09:44PM

While it's up to debate exactly how long the Edmonton Oilers have been in a full-on rebuild and it makes for interesting speculation what the 2012-13 edition of the Oilers might become, there's no question the team fans see here and now has been built by Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini.

For the last 12 NHL seasons (counting 2012-13), including the previous six in which the Oilers failed to qualify the playoffs, Lowe and Tambellini have been at the helm as GM – Tambellini is entering his fifth season in the big chair after taking over for the 2008-09 season from Lowe, who was GM from 2000-01 to 2007-08.

Simply put, for better or worse, the team Edmonton fans see today is the team Lowe and Tambellini have assembled. Every player on the roster now, save for Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff, who were drafted by Glen Sather in 1994 and 1998, respectively, has been drafted or otherwise acquired (via trade or free agency) by Lowe and Tambellini. This is their team.

With Horcoff and Smyth the only remnants from the Sather era, an ownership change from the EIG to Rexall billionaire Daryl Katz and Craig MacTavish, Pat Quinn, Tom Renney and, now, Ralph Krueger having served as head coaches since 2000-01, what you see now and what this team becomes in the next three or four years has Lowe's and Tambellini's fingerprints all over it.

So, here we are.

BY THE NUMBERS

Lowe's seven-year tenure as GM produced a thrill ride to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup final and playoff appearances in 2001 and 2003 (both first-round exits). Lowe's teams made the playoffs three times. In a span of 574 regular season games, the Oilers recorded 263 wins. Here's a look at the numbers season by season:

SEASON RECORD PTS OVERALL

2000-01: 39-28-12-3 93 12th

2001-02: 38-28-12-4 92 15th

2002-03: 36-26-11-9 92 14th

2003-04: 36-29-12-5 89 17th

2005-06: 41-28-13 95   14th

2006-07: 32-43-7 71      25th

2007-08: 41-35-6 88     19th

TAMBELLINI'S TENURE

With Lowe promoted to president of hockey operations, Tambellini was named GM of the Oilers July 31, 2008. In four full seasons since then, a span of 350 regular season games, the Oilers have won 130 of those games, missing the playoffs for four straight years. The Oilers are 8-9-5 through 22 games so far this season. By the numbers:

SEASON  RECORD  PTS  OVERALL

2008-09  38-35-9    85     21st

2009-10  27-47-8    62    30th

2010-11  25-45-12   62    30th

2011-12  32-40-10   74    29th

2012-13  8-9-5          21    23rd

NEXT ACT?

So, after six straight years out of the post-season, what constitutes adequate progress in the rebuild? Do the Oilers need to make the playoffs? That's a feat many prognosticators thought possible. Just as many pundits expected the Oilers to be in contention for a post-season berth this year with an abbreviated 48-game schedule, but to come up short.

How close is close enough? What if the Oilers are out of the post-season running for all intents and purposes by the end of this nine-game road trip? What if they finish in the bottom five yet again? Should Lowe lose his job? Does Tambellini have to go? I'm guessing there is, and will continue to be, plenty of debate on both fronts.

Given the record over the previous 11 seasons and what I'm seeing play out so far this season, I know what I'd do if I was signing the cheques in Edmonton and I didn't have a playoff race on my hands right down to the wire – Lowe and Tambellini would be relieved of their duties.

That call, of course, belongs to Katz, and, given his relationship with Lowe, I don't see that happening. Tambellini, coming off an underwhelming two-year extension as a mandate, will be the fall guy if there is one. That could open the door for MacTavish, now the senior vice-president of hockey operations, but that's an item for another day.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 Ales Hallsky
March 06 2013, 10:28PM
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SirFozz wrote:

FIRETHEMALL

Lets leave the mall out of this!!

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#2 DSF
March 06 2013, 09:54PM
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About time someone called them on their record of failure.

Unfortunately, picking MacT as a successor is just more of the same.

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#3 The Oilers Shot Clock
March 06 2013, 09:59PM
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When tambellini gets fired he'll simply put on a set of Groucho Marx glasses and reapply for the job.

Nothing changes untill it's Lowe. Everything else is just fluff.

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#4 TigerUnderGlass
March 07 2013, 01:05AM
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DSF wrote:

Nothing about the Oilers is "perfect"or "average".

Perfectly average.

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#5 Hemipower
March 07 2013, 08:11AM
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Taylor Gang wrote:

It's not a matter of blockbuster moves. It's a matter of addressing needs, which time and time again Tambellini has proven he isn't capable of.

I agree on the blockbuster part. But what move should Tambo be doing? What trade in the last two years did he "miss" on. And how does anyone know he didn't try to make a trade and other teams didn't simply say " No thanks - we don't want what you are offering"

The oilers are dealing from a point of weakness right now. The vultures are circling right now and no one is going to trade our garbage for a shotgun to fix the problem.. This is still a work in progress and no one could do a bang up job with what we have at this point.( unless you trade our young guys' - which I am not willing to do yet )

The problem seem's alot of people ( not everyone ) have passed judgement on Tambo and Lowe and just spew out insult's and negativity and have completely lost touch with reality. It is getting old for some of us.

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#7 GVBlackhawk
March 07 2013, 09:10AM
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Hemipower wrote:

This management team keeps missing the boat. We should've traded some young guys for Shea Weber - then we would be way up in the standings like Nashville. I mean they are a full 2 points ahead of us ~

Missing out on Parise and Suter was a bonehead move too. What a difference 14 mil a year is making for them. They are way up in the standings compared to us ~

What moves is everyone so upset that Tambo hasn't done? I mean, can we please move on from Khabby and Horcoff? ( neither are in the lineup )

Overpaid Khabby in dollars and term.

Overpaid Dubnyk in dollars.

Signed Cam Barker.

Overpaid Sutton in dollars.

Overpaid Potter in term.

Overpaid Ben Eager in term.

Overpaid Gilbert Brule in dollars and term.

Prematurely rushed prospects like Gagner, Nilsson, Cogliano, Paajarvi, etc.

Did not recognize Whitney's inability to skate and kept him on the roster.

Traded N.Schultz for Gilbert even up, when it is obvious that puck moving Dmen are worth more.

Traded Eric Cole for Patrick O'Sullivan.

The Sheldon Souray debacle.

That's just off the top of my head. If I took 10 minutes, I could create a more comprehensive list of the bungling that has occurred.

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#8 dawgtoy
March 07 2013, 04:38PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

The Oilers, still paying Sheldon Souray to be the best d'man on the Anaheim Ducks. Good one Steve, you incompetent puck.

You nailed it, Props +1000.

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#9 dawgtoy
March 06 2013, 09:59PM
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@DSF

and for once we agree.

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#10 EP
March 06 2013, 10:36PM
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This organization has developed a losing culture and the people responsible for it are Lowe and Tambellini. They have to go. A change in culture begins at the top and until a significant change in upper management occurs, the losing will continue.

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#11 DSF
March 06 2013, 10:44PM
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Katz needs to throw $5M a year at Jim Nill and let him rebuild the organization from top to bottom.

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#12 DSF
March 06 2013, 11:00PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

Nonsense. They are perfectly average.

Nothing about the Oilers is "perfect"or "average".

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#13 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
March 06 2013, 11:14PM
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DSF wrote:

Nothing about the Oilers is "perfect"or "average".

you need to slow down, i am finding myself agreeing with you way to much. it isnt healthy for our relationship

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#14 David S
March 06 2013, 11:54PM
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NewAgeSys wrote:

I think we have a good tandem in these two. The sad thing is that the system we use is to labour intensive and complicated for anything less than a veteran laced roster which we do not have and will not have for a substantial number of years. Add in Ralphs rookie year and slightly new interpretation of the decades old losing system and we have real big challenges here in E-town.

It is my belief that our preservation of and decades old misplaced loyalty to an inferior system of playing NHL hockey has eroded this once great Dynastic Organisation into a shell of its real identity and potential.

The ONLY common thread that runs through all of this history of impotence is the SYSTEM, many good men have fallen and been sacrificed to preserve this Iconic Trojan Horse, we have cannibalised our own organisation in our search for the core problem preventing us from becoming a winning organisation and all along it was the SYSTEM we were defending and covetting.

These two men are professionals and their duties are definable on many levels but when it comes to system influences the trail runs cold, who decides what system we use anyways? Who and by what parameters makes this critical decision?

I have no complaints with the aspects of these guys jobs we can define but I want to execute and bury this system of play, and if it takes removing these men from the equation then so be it, it is that critical of an issue with this organisation.

I cannot say these men are the architects of anything because this entire organisation is as other NHL teams are, catalysed around a system of play and this system was in place long before these guys came into power, simply put. whoever introduced this system of play was the architect of what we see today and it sure as hell wasnt these two, as good as they are at their respective jobs they have nothing to do with the real history and creation of the structure of this organisation. They have simply been gatekeepers of a system of play that pre-dates them both by a longshot.

Even their present day decisions and direction are dictated by this powerful system influence.

Keep the men and jettison the system immediatly.

Mentions of the word "system" in this post - FOURTEEN.

I sear I'm going to break your damn code if it kills me.

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#15 Trent
March 07 2013, 12:19AM
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I don't blame Tambi; I don't trust that he has full authority or even enough authority to truly run this team.

KLowe loves this team, that I truly believe. I'm unsure if he is the man for the job. I don't have a reasonable solution to fix the problem though.

It does scare me that KLowe's motto is "Expect the Unexpected". Isn't that something Michael Scott from THE OFFICE would have as a mission statement?

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#16 toprightcorner
March 07 2013, 12:25AM
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problem started with Lowe after the last lock out. did a great thing and got Pronger but everyone else they started adding was small skilled players as they felt with the new rules of preventing holding, hooking and the trap. He was quoted saying that to succeed in the new league was to have speed and offensive talent. Shremp, Omark, Mike York, Bergeron, Salmalenin, Nedved, Peca, Samsanov, Thorenson, Nielson, Sykora, Pouliet,Peterson, Cogliano, Sanderson, Gagner, Gilbert, Grebeshkov, OSullivan, Reddox, Visnovsky, Brule, Fraser, Belanger, Lander, Barker, Whitney, Paajarvi, Comrie,

These are guys added under the rein of Lowe and Tambo. these guys are either small or not grit (based on hits) This does not include Horcoff or Smyth, neither big, or the top skilled players we currently have. These are the support players that we have added.

The culture of the type of player we get has not changed from Lowe's time as GM which leads me to believe that Tambo is likely told to follow that same culture. If someone in management leaves and it does not include both Tambo and Lowe, we will be stuck in the same rut we have been for over 10 years, easy to play against.

I would give Tambo until after the trade deadline next season. After that if he has not added the grit and size we need, replace him. If he does fill those spots with quality people, then he buys himself a couple more years imo.

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#17 Old Retired Guy
March 07 2013, 01:03AM
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All valid points.

But other than that, its all good.

Keep saying that in two years, 7 or 8 players from the current roster won't be here.

We'll draft a big center this year, pick up a UFA like Ryan Clowe, Klefbom will join the roster, we'll move Hemsky, Whitney and a prospect and pick up a top 2 D-man and then when that's all done we'll finally go out and buy us a Pronger.

Really.....how hard can it be??

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#18 Hemipower
March 07 2013, 07:24AM
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This management team keeps missing the boat. We should've traded some young guys for Shea Weber - then we would be way up in the standings like Nashville. I mean they are a full 2 points ahead of us ~

Missing out on Parise and Suter was a bonehead move too. What a difference 14 mil a year is making for them. They are way up in the standings compared to us ~

What moves is everyone so upset that Tambo hasn't done? I mean, can we please move on from Khabby and Horcoff? ( neither are in the lineup )

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#19 Woogie
March 07 2013, 09:08AM
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One thing everyone is forgetting. The last 3 years we are losing hockey games on purpose. We are rebuilding through the draft. This year is the first year were management said they need to compete for the playoffs.

Personally, I say we judge management with the moves they have made from the start of last off season.

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#20 Hemipower
March 07 2013, 09:12AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I'm not so sure people questioning the ability of Lowe and Tambellini to take this franchise forward have lost touch with reality.

The record over the previous 11 years is there for all to see in black and white. That's pretty real, no?

As you point out, it's foolish to think (or to want) Tambellini to try to make sweeping changes in the span of a few weeks or months because the team is struggling -- that truly is a position of weakness.

But why is the team in that position? And who has built the team that's in this position over the past 11 seasons? Lowe and Tambellini. This is their baby from top to bottom. Period.

I am not saying everything smells like peach's and rose's so I understand the frustation.

But what Lowe and Tambo did in the past isn't really the problem now. we can debate until the cows come home - what if " we traded for Perry or drafted Doan " . We don't own the oilers so if Katz doesn't want to hold Lowe responsible for the past, there is nothing we can do. I am more worried about " what have you done for me lately ? "

Right now my main concern is the lack of heart and drive among our player's, not what kind of name I can call Tambellini.

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#21 Woodguy
March 07 2013, 09:37AM
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Given the record over the previous 11 seasons and what I'm seeing play out so far this season, I know what I'd do if I was signing the cheques in Edmonton and I didn't have a playoff race on my hands right down to the wire – Lowe and Tambellini would be relieved of their duties.

*slow clap*

*standing ovation*

Thank you for putting that out there.

Hopefully others in the MSM will start asking why progress isn't happening as well and who is responsible.

Stauffer said on his show the other day that Horcoff (didn't name him, but it was clear) is holding the kids back and contributing to a culture of losing.

I think that's total horsesh*t.

The culture of losing (if there is one) starts at the top.

They rifle through players and coaches, but the name at the top, and their results, haven't changed.

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#22 nunyour
March 07 2013, 09:43AM
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Lowe's record speaks for it's self doesn't it? Time to go Lowe.

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#23 Will
March 07 2013, 09:59AM
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Ah yes, it's true this management squad can not compare to the might Glen Sather, who this year has built an impenetrable juggernaught of a team who is currently demolishing all who stand in their way.

Crucial and insightful moves such as hiring Ray Emery, drafting Toews and Kane, and what's that? Oh Glen Sather isn't the GM of the Chicago Black Hawks? Well surely the team he has built this year must be some kind of standings leading powerhouse? They are barely in 8th place? And the have Rick Nash, a Vezna goalie, Brad Richards, and a host of other super stars all through their line up. Basically the team everyone is saying the Oilers should be.

Huh?

No excuses as the Oilers are playing like crap over the last few, but come one. I think anyone would say this is not the season to judge how the team was built.

I know this article looks at the past decade, but it's also reactionary based on where the team is sitting in the standings right now, 3 points out of a play off spot. Can someone please tell me why sitting 3 points out of a play off spot means we are on the verge of finishing in last place?

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#24 Mike Krushelnyski
March 07 2013, 01:32PM
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Pucker wrote:

After reading the first 100 comments (less DSF and New Age) . . . I got to wonder if Katz is tanking in order to tick-off the fans, reduce attendence, then re-locate.

He's just under-estimated how much crappy hockey would have to be played before the numbers went down.

Yep, that's why he fought so hard to get a new arena in Edmonton. It's secret rich guy stuff, don't try to work out the logic.

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#25 Quicksilver ballet
March 07 2013, 04:14PM
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The Oilers, still paying Sheldon Souray to be the best d'man on the Anaheim Ducks. Good one Steve, you incompetent puck.

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#26 BoJangles
March 06 2013, 09:59PM
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Fist order of business, clean house on upper management.

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#27 Dan Tencer
March 06 2013, 10:00PM
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FIST Tambellini, is not going any where.

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#28 Hayek
March 06 2013, 10:00PM
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First Oilers do a reorganization, Oilersnation next?

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#29 Eddie Shore
March 06 2013, 10:01PM
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Can Katz turn off his man crush for former Oilers long enough to fire Lowe?

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#30 SirFozz
March 06 2013, 10:08PM
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FIRETHEMALL

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#31 Devolution
March 06 2013, 10:22PM
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I am the furthest thing from a reactionary, especially when peoples' livelihoods are at stake, but really, at some point there needs to be a reckoning. They both need to go.

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#32 Sam
March 06 2013, 10:24PM
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Given Lowe's and Tambellini 's record you cannot justify keeping them.

If Katz wants to move the goal posts and deny reality it is his call. This team will stay the same, and "next year" will be their rally call.

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#33 DSF
March 06 2013, 10:24PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

Can Katz turn off his man crush for former Oilers long enough to fire Lowe?

The only thing that would make a difference is a fan revolt.

And Oiler fans are so drunk on false promises that will never happen.

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#34 Hammers
March 06 2013, 10:25PM
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Main reason to fire Lowe is he hired Tambellini . At the time he was GM he did OK under circumstances ( ownership/money ) but his biggest mistake was giving Tambellini a job when he was passed over for gm twice in Vancouver .

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#35 GVBlackhawk
March 06 2013, 10:27PM
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DSF wrote:

About time someone called them on their record of failure.

Unfortunately, picking MacT as a successor is just more of the same.

Management's failure has been called out by many bloggers. For example, you will get a healthy dose of this at Copper n Blue. The mainstream media has been resistant to criticizing management. This means you Bob Stauffer, Dan Tencer, Jim Matheson, Terry Jones, etc. Do your jobs or stop calling yourself professional hockey writers -- just quit.

If Katz doesn't have the balls to fire Lowe, then promote him to President of 80's Hockey Stories and eliminate his role in management. Get rid of the old boys club and bring in outsiders, exclusively.

Lastly, they need to replace the pro scouting department who have demonstrated their incompetence time and again. This is often overlooked and under-reported.

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#36 Ronald
March 06 2013, 10:31PM
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Lowe must know he has been a failure with the Oilers, he must be thinking when will Daryl wake up to this charade. Is today the day.

Be a man Kevin and quit for the sake of the Oilers. Leave with some respect and dignity.

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#37 DSF
March 06 2013, 10:33PM
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GVBlackhawk wrote:

Management's failure has been called out by many bloggers. For example, you will get a healthy dose of this at Copper n Blue. The mainstream media has been resistant to criticizing management. This means you Bob Stauffer, Dan Tencer, Jim Matheson, Terry Jones, etc. Do your jobs or stop calling yourself professional hockey writers -- just quit.

If Katz doesn't have the balls to fire Lowe, then promote him to President of 80's Hockey Stories and eliminate his role in management. Get rid of the old boys club and bring in outsiders, exclusively.

Lastly, they need to replace the pro scouting department who have demonstrated their incompetence time and again. This is often overlooked and under-reported.

Despite what you may read, the amateur scouting department is also well below average.

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#38 GVBlackhawk
March 06 2013, 10:36PM
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DSF wrote:

Despite what you may read, the amateur scouting department is also well below average.

Then you have never seen me refer to the head scout as Mediocre Bastard Stu. I try to look at the team as objectively as possible.

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#39 DSF
March 06 2013, 10:42PM
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@GVBlackhawk

Good on ya.

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#40 Taylor Gang
March 06 2013, 10:50PM
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Ah a rant about management, my time to shine!

Now, can I just say, you really get the sense that management has this "you scratch my back I'll scratch yours" mentality. Nobody will get fired because collectively they protect each other's job security.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that this is not the year to make the big trade. A 48 game season is a throwaway (in management's mind) in order to draft well in what looks to be a 2003/2008 style draft class. That being said, somebody has to go. Tambellini has looked at our roster, told the fans what we want to hear, and sits on the roster, hoping somebody will emerge into our savior. The fact is, our roster is incompetent. Our veterans underachieve every year, and our defense simply lacks the skill to be formidable. 5 and 2 should not be a top pairing and we all know it. 19 seems to be our blue chip, future top 2 defenseman, and unfortunately is the reason we haven't acquired a big time d man yet. Personally, trading Hemsky in a package for a stud will do wonders for this team. Yet Tambellini lacks the confidence to do so. Instead he keeps our poster boys from 2006. He couldn't be more indecisive as a GM. Do we need another year? Is this the year we make the playoffs? We never know because of his questionable moves. The only way our team moves forward is if we have a team that actually has interest in us winning.

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#41 Woogie63
March 06 2013, 10:50PM
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What was Tambi's record when he was senior VP with the Cauacks?

I think it is about as bad as it is here?

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#42 TigerUnderGlass
March 06 2013, 10:52PM
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@DSF

Nonsense. They are perfectly average.

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#43 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
March 06 2013, 11:13PM
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is it wrong that i look at that first picture and see KLowe with his hand up his puppets arse?

i think tambellini was perfect to drive this ship right into the sewer. there is no way he has proven he is anywhere close to being the right guy to build a winner. at all.

if i have to listen to tambellini give another press conference while he has that sh** eating grin on his face i will write another strongly worded post voicing my displeasure (cause really what else does a guy do). the guy, thus far, hasnt proven he has the stones to make the tough calls and make the deals this team is going to need to make.

sitting back and hoping for the best ISNT F-ING GOING TO WORK

/rant

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#44 6 ring circus
March 06 2013, 11:24PM
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Until people stop showing up and there is no waiting list for seasons tickets,there will be no changes.The Oiler's are a poorly run organization top to bottom!!!

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#45 DSF
March 06 2013, 11:27PM
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cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

you need to slow down, i am finding myself agreeing with you way to much. it isnt healthy for our relationship

Admitting it is the first step.

Call me.

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#46 Gret99zky
March 06 2013, 11:28PM
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Taylor Hall asking for a trade out of town might lead to Tambi & Lowe's dismissal.

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#47 NewAgeSys
March 06 2013, 11:36PM
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I think we have a good tandem in these two. The sad thing is that the system we use is to labour intensive and complicated for anything less than a veteran laced roster which we do not have and will not have for a substantial number of years. Add in Ralphs rookie year and slightly new interpretation of the decades old losing system and we have real big challenges here in E-town.

It is my belief that our preservation of and decades old misplaced loyalty to an inferior system of playing NHL hockey has eroded this once great Dynastic Organisation into a shell of its real identity and potential.

The ONLY common thread that runs through all of this history of impotence is the SYSTEM, many good men have fallen and been sacrificed to preserve this Iconic Trojan Horse, we have cannibalised our own organisation in our search for the core problem preventing us from becoming a winning organisation and all along it was the SYSTEM we were defending and covetting.

These two men are professionals and their duties are definable on many levels but when it comes to system influences the trail runs cold, who decides what system we use anyways? Who and by what parameters makes this critical decision?

I have no complaints with the aspects of these guys jobs we can define but I want to execute and bury this system of play, and if it takes removing these men from the equation then so be it, it is that critical of an issue with this organisation.

I cannot say these men are the architects of anything because this entire organisation is as other NHL teams are, catalysed around a system of play and this system was in place long before these guys came into power, simply put. whoever introduced this system of play was the architect of what we see today and it sure as hell wasnt these two, as good as they are at their respective jobs they have nothing to do with the real history and creation of the structure of this organisation. They have simply been gatekeepers of a system of play that pre-dates them both by a longshot.

Even their present day decisions and direction are dictated by this powerful system influence.

Keep the men and jettison the system immediatly.

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#48 Jeff
March 06 2013, 11:39PM
Trash it!
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Brian Burke

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#49 Mike Vampyr
March 07 2013, 12:07AM
Trash it!
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Kevin Lowe said it best "This is a Business !! for it to be Successful you have to get rid of the dead weight it's not the Players. Get rid of Tambellini, Lowe and McTavish it's time to FLUSH!!!

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#50 Mike
March 07 2013, 12:17AM
Trash it!
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DSF wrote:

About time someone called them on their record of failure.

Unfortunately, picking MacT as a successor is just more of the same.

Didn't you guys learn the first time...MacT IS NOT THE ANSWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DUH !!

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