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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#101 Pucker
March 07 2013, 01:16PM
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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.

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#102 ScottieA
March 07 2013, 01:30PM
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Oiler Al wrote:

ROBIN.... THANK YOU THANK YOU... Great topic.. look at all the responses!

Just yesterday I accused the Edmonton media of not having the ya ya's of addressing this very issues, and here you are by chance you bring up and issue that could be at the heart of the organizations problem.Surely, at the very least need to be exposed and discussed.

They have been hiding behind the " rebuilding blind far too long".

I think coaching is part and parcel of the team play this year. Another Tambelini/Lowe choice.

Thanks for providing the wording that I've long been searching for: rebuilding blind.

I've been trying to figure out the exact direction that management wants to send this team towards, and have yet to find it. I've lost track of how many times they've changed course and decided a new course of action.

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#103 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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#104 Dodd
March 07 2013, 02:07PM
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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.

I'm sure he's fine with losing. Most self-made billionaires aren't very competitive.

Also, I'm sure he wants to start over in another market, hoping for the kind of sellouts and loyalty in Seattle that he's guaranteed in Edmonton. If the Oilers were winning, he'd be seeing exactly the same dollars during the regular season.

He's also fine with your idea of losing millions in reduced attendance in order to begin building a fanbase somewhere else.

I'm sure he's been sinking millions into operations, payroll and new arena planning in hopes that it was all wasted.

Seriously, some people think the NHL is like the old WWF on tv. is Katz planning to hijack the Macho Man???

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#105 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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#106 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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#107 Rama Lama
March 07 2013, 04:52PM
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I can't hold back anymore..........RB you have done it again, that being stated what needs to be said. JW did as well in an earlier article, but you went a little further and with more zest......good fo you.

As anyone in business knows, usuall the buck stops at the boss......the GM in this case. I for one think that Lowe is equally to blame and brought in a very weak GM, probably for control reasons. I do not for one second believe that Tamby has ever made a hockey decision of his own volition. He needs to be prompted either by other GM's positioning deals, or by Lowe in the background.........that's just where the evidence points to.

Both are not builders and have never had a positive history of assessing talent needed or talent available.........outside of the one exception that being the Pronger trade, which I will give credit to Lowe.

Both are culpable and need to be replaced with real talent for taking this franchise to the next level.

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#108 Pucker
March 07 2013, 05:50PM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

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.

I'll admit stupidity once they start building.

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#109 Pucker
March 07 2013, 05:55PM
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Dodd wrote:

I'm sure he's fine with losing. Most self-made billionaires aren't very competitive.

Also, I'm sure he wants to start over in another market, hoping for the kind of sellouts and loyalty in Seattle that he's guaranteed in Edmonton. If the Oilers were winning, he'd be seeing exactly the same dollars during the regular season.

He's also fine with your idea of losing millions in reduced attendance in order to begin building a fanbase somewhere else.

I'm sure he's been sinking millions into operations, payroll and new arena planning in hopes that it was all wasted.

Seriously, some people think the NHL is like the old WWF on tv. is Katz planning to hijack the Macho Man???

100,000,000 to 200,000,000 $$ allows for a pretty good hit on rebuilding a fan base. There are likely options beyond Seattle.

What other reason is there for a smart man like Katz allow this management team to continue?

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#110 Hair bag
March 07 2013, 09:39PM
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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 find it interesting that you talk of records from 12yrs ago but fail to recognize the issues they were dealing with at the time ie low Canadian dollar, ownership group that didn't have the money to spend to keep the quality players we did have, in later years the Pronger situation - there have been a lot of factors that have come into play over the years that would have sewered the efforts of the best, most creative gm's in the league. I'm not convinced that the current group is the answer but I think they have until next year to prove they are on the right track. If the Oilers aren't playoff bound next season everyone in mgmt should be gone...imo

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#111 Gilmore Tuttle
March 07 2013, 10:49PM
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David S wrote:

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

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

Almost as many times as Staples used "chipped in" in his blog today. It was like his "chipped in" key was stuck.

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#112 Gilmore Tuttle
March 07 2013, 10:52PM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

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.

Getting a new arena deal helped inflate the price of the team that he overpaid for in a jock sniffing stupor. Now he can sell and buy the team in his home town - the Canucks.

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#113 VK63
March 08 2013, 11:22AM
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@Gilmore Tuttle

Further to the above comments. I would caution any trains of thought that coupled intelligence with wealth. Incredibly, they are not mutually exclusive........ at all.

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#114 Perogy Chode
March 08 2013, 02:39PM
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If any of us working class joes had the track record of the oilers clowns, we'd be fired years ago. Tambo signings= bad coach, bad goalie, bad vets, bad trades. He can't fill in the cracks, has worse vision than Ray Charles.

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#115 Kasper
March 08 2013, 05:49PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

nope they are cuz sheldon hurt katz is feeling lol

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#116 bman
March 08 2013, 09:16PM
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@Pucker

just finished watching another pounding on our Oilers. The standard for performance is so low that every person from the top down is convinced that team talent will supersede undershot performance level. It is confusing for the outsider or fan to look at this team and see winners. Those young players in our top 6 are going to be here no matter what but I look at those bottom 6 guys and question whether they are interested in performance or pay cheque.

A lift in overall team performance is the hardest job in coaching. Individual performance level will always be reachable by players via work, coaching and talent. Engaging a team in championship performance requires drivers in every seat. No passengers. There is no such thing a part time commitment.

Too many part timers here.

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#117 outdoorzguy
March 10 2013, 11:41AM
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On Monday morning March 11, Mr. Katz should get on his private plane and fly to Chicago. He should hand Krueger a severance cheque and tell him thanks, but things just aren't working out for us. Then, and I'm not even sure if any of the Three Stooges are even with the team, have a conference call or meeting with them and tell them all that their services are no longer required, clean out your desk and pick up your cheques on the way out. Then Mr. Katz should shuffle off to Buffalo and pick up Lindy Ruff, taking him out to Denver where he is introduced as the new coach and acting General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers (until the end of the season when Darcy Regier leaves Buffalo to come to Edmonton). We can survive with an acting GM until Regier arrives because the one we have now is persona non grata

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#118 outdoorzguy
March 12 2013, 09:34PM
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What a great move to bring back another "Old Boys Club" member. Looking after Scott Howson is genius. Look how the team reacted on the ice!! Great move Loser Lowe!! We're on our way now.

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