A losing streak to end the season would be the best thing for the Edmonton Oilers

Jonathan Willis
April 14 2013 01:01PM

Well on their way to a seventh consecutive season without the playoffs, fans of the Oilers are probably long past being sick of trying to find the upside in losing. Despite that, one last run of terrible play – say five losses in their final seven games to match the current five-game losing streak – could be exactly what the team needs, for three reasons.

The Obvious Reason

All of a sudden, the Oilers have just a three point lead on Calgary and Carolina for the third overall (pre-lottery) draft position. Based on the scouting reports there seems to be a gap between the top-four in this year’s draft – Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Aleksander Barkov – and the rest of the pack. While the Oilers should be past the point where they’re tanking for picks, with the playoffs out of sight there’s no reason not to grab the best talent available.

Let Go

There are a lot of players on the roster who should have been cleared out some time ago. The summer re-signings of Lennart Petrell and Darcy Hordichuk come to mind, as do the deadline decisions to retain guys like Ryan Jones and Ryan Whitney.

Other lists will have other names, too – and there’s no doubt in my mind that both at least one of the Oilers’ compliance buyouts should be getting used this summer (Ben Eager, Eric Belanger). [As pointed out in the comments, the rules allow for compliance buyouts to be held over to the summer of 2014, so it's only prudent to retain at least one of them - JW].

A lousy run to end the year might just break management’s tight grip of their underachieving depth players, and encourage them to be a little more aggressive about trying to make the team better.

Which brings me too…

Ownership Impatience

What will it take for the top men in hockey operations to be shown the door? The post-Pronger collapse of the team under EIG ownership didn’t do it. Neither did the implosion in 2009-10 after the acquisitions of Pat Quinn and Nikolai Khabibulin (the latter’s contract should have been a firing offence in its own right). The failure to climb out of the draft lottery in 2011-12 cost Steve Tambellini’s third coach his job, but once again accountability stopped just short of the general manager’s office.

Virtually every position on the team – from the assistant general manager to the head coach to the trainers to the players – has seen change during the slightly less than five-year reign of Tambellini. If the difference between a 10th-place finish and a 13th-place finish is the difference between regime change and the status quo, the Oilers are likely to be better off in the long-term with a 13th-place finish.

At some point, the team hopes to start winning again, and for that to happen they’ll need a highly competent executive in the top hockey operations job. Based on the last few years, is there any reason to believe that person currently works in Oilers management?

Recently around the Nation Network

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, 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 Jay
April 14 2013, 03:05PM
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messyEH! wrote:

The Oilers never intended to win this year. All they did was trade for fistric and smithson. Added two rookies to the line up, N64 and schultz the younger. These are not moves that bring your team from 29th to 16th. You do not g ain 20 plus pts in the standings with a shuffle of the bottom of the line up. Yes the kids get better with age, (gagner and Hall) but the opposite is true of the Vets, Smyth and Whitney. The eb and flow even themselves out. Its frustrating as a fan but I think this tank is planned.

I can all but guarantee you this tank is not planned. But it sure says alot about management when fans think that. I'm just happy were not building these guys a rink. This pathetic joke of an organization doesn't deserve a new arena. They don't even deserve to play in the one they've been playing in.

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#53 Lochenzo
April 14 2013, 03:09PM
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What's the word on Antoine Laganiere? Am I correct in saying that the Oil cannot sign him until the end of the year because of the contract limit?

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#54 wiseguy
April 14 2013, 03:10PM
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Chet134 wrote:

I totally agree with u. The relationship between Katz and Lowe is very tight. To wake Katz up u take money out of his pocket. However I love this banter back and forth with other Oiler fans. So don't tell me what to do. Hey Oh

Unfortunately we've paid a lot of money to just throw out tickets. It's very tough to tell 16000 people, some who only go to a couple games a year or have never been to a game, to forfeit them. A better way to get Katz's attention is to use the privilege provided to us by paying for these tickets, to embarrass the team the same way they've embarrassed their fanbase and city. If we boo heartily from player introductions to the end of the game, stay silent when they score, on nationally televised games every night, we will start to see results. I've been fan and season ticket holder for a long time, and resorting to booing my own team is a last and desperate measure. However it is worth trying as the next step will be apathy.

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#55 Shane Leavitt
April 14 2013, 03:12PM
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Great, vitally necessary column as usual Jonathan.

You're very measured (smart move) in what you say about criticizing EDM MGMT, but you've long been consistent in doing so (thank god). Your last 3 paragraphs here though seem to me to have a little more edge to them than normal. Fantastic. Unlike nearly all of your MSM brethren, you take this topic seriously.

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#56 Kevin
April 14 2013, 03:19PM
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I vote Magie the Monkey for President ! he know more about hockey than these two clowns running the gong show here. I just wish there is more that us the fans can do to get some action. There is never any chance that the fan stays from the rink to send a message but that would be one one way.

FANS call for action ! Just STAY HOME for the remaining home games !

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#57 Jasmine
April 14 2013, 03:24PM
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@madjam

Fans have never had patience since Slats left. Fans wanted Lowe fired the minute he was hired. They wanted Lowe fired after he made his first trade as GM. Lowe even received death threats after trade. Fans are the reason Lowe is no longer the GM.

I wouldn't have matter who became GM in 2000, that person would have been bashed for every move.

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#58 Jasmine
April 14 2013, 03:25PM
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@DSF

Those with a winning record won't go to a team where players get run out of town by fans.

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#59 Jasmine
April 14 2013, 03:27PM
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@Rama Lama

If you want Lowe fired, I hope the team gets way worse and doesn't win a single game. Who will you blame then?

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#60 Jasmine
April 14 2013, 03:28PM
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@DSF

People don't want to be GM in Edmonton as they know fans will run players out of town. Won't matter how good players are, fans will run them out of town.

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#61 Jasmine
April 14 2013, 03:30PM
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@Jeropotato

I hope the team gets worse and wins no games if fans get their way and Lowe is fired and Burke hired. Who will the idiot fans blame then?

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#62 onlyoil
April 14 2013, 03:30PM
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jeremy wrote:

No to Brian Burke.

That is all.

Yes to BB, fire Lowe/Tambi and so called pro scouts, clear out Bucky and Smith as well. I'm sick and tired of this dog and pony show and it must stop.

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#63 Jasmine
April 14 2013, 03:32PM
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@stealthwise

FANS HAVE HATED LOWE SINCE HE BECAME GM. HE GOT BASHED FOR EVERY MOVE AND BLAMED FOR SLATS AND TAMBI'S MISTAKES. LOWE EVEN RECEIVED DEATH THREATS FOR TRADES. FANS HAVE A HABIT OF HATING ANYONE NOT NAMED SLATS.

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#64 Jasmine
April 14 2013, 03:33PM
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@Romulus' Apotheosis

He won't come to Edmonton. No one wants to be GM in Edmonton.

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#65 horndog77
April 14 2013, 03:36PM
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I like to know what upcoming player in the draft would be a good fit for Edmonton going forward? Maybe it would be a good choice to use it as a trade offer for a stud defenseman.

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#66 Jasmine
April 14 2013, 03:36PM
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@vetinari

That's the problem with Oilers fans. They run players out of town. That's why no one and that includes coaches and GM will come to Edmonton. They know they'll be run out of town especially how fan are mistreating Lowe.

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#67 MarcusBillius
April 14 2013, 03:37PM
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Why stop with Tambellini, Jason? Everyone who follows the Oilers knows that it's Lowe pulling the strings.

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#68 Rod from Viking
April 14 2013, 03:47PM
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One thing that really bothers me is there is no one in management talking to the fans, we heard from Steve Tambellini at the trade deadline and a little bit at the beginning of the season but that is it, I would say they are getting as reclusive as their owner. At least when the EIG owned the team Lowe was on the airways quite a bit. Stauffer get your employers on your show. Every year when I am wondering if I should renew my tickets if this is going to be the year, why am I so stupid, they haven't added any size,toughness or a decent veteran d-man that they know they need to get better .If we really want changes we need to not renew our seats and take our names off the waiting list as well.That is exactly what I am going to do if they don't make the changes needed this summer.

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#69 stealthwise
April 14 2013, 03:57PM
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Jasmine, got a crush on Lowe?

When your team goes SEVEN SEASONS without a sniff of success, and nothing appears to be on the horizon to turn that around (even after drafting 1st overall three years in a row and adding talent like Eberle and Justin Schultz), then it's time for a management house-cleaning.

The same-old status quo is not working, and there is no clear indication whatsoever that it will get better. The only solace Oiler fans can take is that they are further along in their fiftieth rebuild than Calgary is, and we just got whooped by the Flames' AHL affiliate on National TV by three goals.

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#70 jeremy
April 14 2013, 04:25PM
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@onlyoil

Don't mistake me saying no to Brian Burke as an endorsement of maintaining the status quo. I think that if we want to build a winning team and culture we need to steal from those that do. Go after an assistant GM from any number of consistently good teams, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Boston, Detroit. If we want to have a GM that actively seeks out players to better his team then look back over the last few years and find a team that has made deals and finds value and keeps winning, L.A, Chicago and until this year Philly and steal someone from there. Grab someone from a winning organization and say build that here, stop looking at the wings, penguins and blackhawks saying that we are following a model when it is painfully obvious that there is no plan other than improve through the draft, which as we all know is not a plan...

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#71 Ryan14
April 14 2013, 04:30PM
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MarcusBillius wrote:

Why stop with Tambellini, Jason? Everyone who follows the Oilers knows that it's Lowe pulling the strings.

I didn't know that.

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#72 DigDeepNBleedBlue
April 14 2013, 04:32PM
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horndog77 wrote:

I like to know what upcoming player in the draft would be a good fit for Edmonton going forward? Maybe it would be a good choice to use it as a trade offer for a stud defenseman.

I think a center with size is top draft priority unless you can get Seth Jones. Depending on how bad the finish is the top centers are MacKinnon, Barkov and Monahan. Anyone one of those should be a great addition.

I thought about that too. Trading this years 1st rnd pick, but with a probable low finish this year I wouldn't do it. Unless you can package it for Jones.

Next years first should be used in a package to acquire that stud D-man. In theory, the team should make the playoffs and therefore wouldn't risk losing a lottery pick.

I agree, dude, a stud D-man should be the major addition of the off-season. It's hard watching the boys stuck in their own end running around like it's a game of dodgeball.

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#73 jeremy
April 14 2013, 04:41PM
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@Butters

I don't want a GM that wheels and deals, I want one that looks at his roster and sees at least three guys that he has no intention of bringing back and gets value back for them, a prospect, draft picks, new water bottles, do something! Trading one or two of Peckham, Whitney, Jones, Fistric wouldn't have hurt the team. Picking up Smithson for a fourth when better were available for nothing weeks earlier when we actually needed a centerman should have been the final act of this management regime.

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#74 Supernova
April 14 2013, 04:56PM
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Ambassador humantorch wrote:

Clearly Katz doesn't give two left testicles about the Oilers' fortunes on the ice. As long as he can con the city into bending over and giving him a free arena, why should paltry "wins" and "losses" by the "hockey players" even cross his mind?

Everyone wants to win to some degree, especially a man with high level of success. He might not have the team or the know how, but guarenteed he wants to win.

I don't want "free" from you if this deal is "free"

Sure he is getting a lot but free is what would have happened if EIG owned the team, or you were in a US city in the mid 2000's

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#75 Supernova
April 14 2013, 04:58PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

Oh agreed.

Only Howson or MacT would take that internal shuffling job. Or Lowe himself.

I can't imagine a list of candidates that would come to EDM to serve alongside Lowe, Howson, MacT and Olczyk.

If the plan is fire Tambi, expect internal rotation. I'd be surprised if they even bothered looking elsewhere.

If the plan is, fire everyone, or fire Lowe and give the new president/gm the option to keep or fire everyone, that is going to be an attractive option to ambitious people.

Agree completely, I think Katz gives Lowe one more hire.

Would prefer a clean sweep, just don't think it happens.

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#76 Supernova
April 14 2013, 05:10PM
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Shane Leavitt wrote:

Great, vitally necessary column as usual Jonathan.

You're very measured (smart move) in what you say about criticizing EDM MGMT, but you've long been consistent in doing so (thank god). Your last 3 paragraphs here though seem to me to have a little more edge to them than normal. Fantastic. Unlike nearly all of your MSM brethren, you take this topic seriously.

If I am not mistaken Jon isn't MSM, sure he blogs for many, but he isn't credentialed or at least doesn't attend the press box.

Could be due to where he lives ( Fort St. John I believe)

Jon is a blogger with many sites but that is different in my opinion from MSM.

How do you feel about this Jon? Do you consider yourself MSM, if so is that a good thing or a bad thing? Are you credentialed to attend Oilers games in the press box if you choose to?

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#77 DieHard
April 14 2013, 05:10PM
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Go Nashville.

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#78 messyEH!
April 14 2013, 05:20PM
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Which of the free agent signings from 2011 would signal they wanted to win. Barker bought out by his previous team. Potter a man who Renney was familiar with, who could not crack the NHL line up of anyother organization he was with. Petrell a 27 year old rookie. Oh you must mean belanger the man who was made expendable in Anaheim when we traded them there current 3rd line centre for 50 cents on the dollar. Yeah cause 33 year old centres just keep getting better. Ben Eager should have been a solid signing, but injury, unlike age, is not a linear or predictable fall off in performance.

No sir, I think we are still in a deliberate tank job, or at the very least it was never planned for the Oilers to make the playoffs.

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#79 Reg Dunlop
April 14 2013, 05:28PM
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@Supernova

Free stadium... US city mid 2000s... like Miami. Actually, the team was responsible for about 125 mil on that deal, comparable to Katz' burden. And similarly,watch Katz do a fire sale after moving in because he knows us dumb Edmontonians will blindly support anything with the NHL label attached.

One more thing. Jasmine, don't you have your husband's laundry to iron? Leave hockey talk to the fellas.

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#80 Yosemite Sam
April 14 2013, 05:30PM
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I have no problems with the picks management made. They were each bpa. That's how you draft. HOWEVER there incompetence comes with not dealing from a position of strength. That's why some people feel seguin landeskog and gally/Murray should've been the pick. Had they done that's the we wouldn't need to make a deal to solidify the top 6 with balance. I think hall nuge ebs and yak should stay. Hemsky, paajarvi (I like him but his value is going up) and gags. Get players less skill more size and grit who can chip in 15 goals.

Lowe needs to go. Now.

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#81 Yosemite Sam
April 14 2013, 05:30PM
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I have no problems with the picks management made. They were each bpa. That's how you draft. HOWEVER there incompetence comes with not dealing from a position of strength. That's why some people feel seguin landeskog and gally/Murray should've been the pick. Had they done that's the we wouldn't need to make a deal to solidify the top 6 with balance. I think hall nuge ebs and yak should stay. Hemsky, paajarvi (I like him but his value is going up) and gags. Get players less skill more size and grit who can chip in 15 goals.

Lowe needs to go. Now.

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#82 Yosemite Sam
April 14 2013, 05:33PM
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Yosemite Sam wrote:

I have no problems with the picks management made. They were each bpa. That's how you draft. HOWEVER there incompetence comes with not dealing from a position of strength. That's why some people feel seguin landeskog and gally/Murray should've been the pick. Had they done that's the we wouldn't need to make a deal to solidify the top 6 with balance. I think hall nuge ebs and yak should stay. Hemsky, paajarvi (I like him but his value is going up) and gags. Get players less skill more size and grit who can chip in 15 goals.

Lowe needs to go. Now.

I meant to say hemsky paajarvi and gagner should be traded to achieve balance in the top 6

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#83 Yosemite Sam
April 14 2013, 06:14PM
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jeremy wrote:

You want a second line made up of 3 Ryan Jones'? You can have that, I'll take skill. "Size and grit" the thought that this makes a hockey player tough bugs the sh!t out of me. I want skill that is hard to play against, loved seeing Yak take the body last night, I am tired of our players swiping sticks in the puck carriers general direction and then turning off and skating by them. Take the body, finish a check, rub them into the boards get engaged physically, get some actual NHL players between the ages of 24-29 and I believe this will change, we have kids playing against men, and the men we have can barely play.

I didn't say a second line made of three Ryan jones. I said leave hall yak ebs and nuge. That's two spots to split between the top 6. Two bigger players that are harder to play against.

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#84 The Soup Fascist
April 14 2013, 06:27PM
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GVBlackhawk wrote:

You continue to make these bold, ludicrous statements with no supporting evidence. You, sir, are a fraud.

Props. You speak the truth, GVB.

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#85 Dale
April 14 2013, 06:31PM
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Bring back the Pocklington days, when the arena was half empty. Maybe the franchise would get on the right course then, despite the owner.

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#86 morgie99
April 14 2013, 06:32PM
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Jasmine wrote:

I hope the team gets worse and wins no games if fans get their way and Lowe is fired and Burke hired. Who will the idiot fans blame then?

they'll blame you jasmine since you have all the answers

now get back on your meds and get back in hospital, your day pass is over by now isn't it?

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#87 michael
April 14 2013, 06:56PM
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My vote for new GM is Lowetide. Thats all.

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#88 jason
April 14 2013, 06:58PM
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Jasmine wrote:

FANS HAVE HATED LOWE SINCE HE BECAME GM. HE GOT BASHED FOR EVERY MOVE AND BLAMED FOR SLATS AND TAMBI'S MISTAKES. LOWE EVEN RECEIVED DEATH THREATS FOR TRADES. FANS HAVE A HABIT OF HATING ANYONE NOT NAMED SLATS.

did your mom put you to sleep with a gas rag? he gets critsized for his moves because any other gm/president could havre rebuilt two teams withe the draft picks he's had. he is just as involved with running the team today now as he ever was, tambo is a fall guy for the puppet master lowe. and kevin quite posting as jasmine, face the music like a man you weasel.

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#89 Curcro
April 14 2013, 07:09PM
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jason wrote:

did your mom put you to sleep with a gas rag? he gets critsized for his moves because any other gm/president could havre rebuilt two teams withe the draft picks he's had. he is just as involved with running the team today now as he ever was, tambo is a fall guy for the puppet master lowe. and kevin quite posting as jasmine, face the music like a man you weasel.

There are always worse, Scott Howson & Doug MacLean come to mind.

Feaster isn't better.

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#90 jason
April 14 2013, 07:24PM
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you may be right that they would have done no better than lowe, however none of those clowns had three first overall picks in a row. we have and we don't have a big number one center or a number one defenceman to sow for it, and chances are the draft is the only way to get them. what we got for three number one picks, i'm not sure will cut it.

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#91 madjam
April 14 2013, 07:39PM
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We need Four Season players ! You Know -the self motivated type that show up for work fall , winter , spring and a couple of weeks in summer . Looks like Katz will stick with same management group as long as turnstiles dole out sell outs .

How good is our youth compared to others ? Not as good as we expected or as advertised . If it were otherwise , the standings and stats would back it up .

Gutting the team actually took about three years before we hit bottom , even though we had first picks at same time . This is probably first year from completed gutting , only to find out more is required . The youth can only carry us so far in one direction while veterans all seem to be going in another direction .

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#92 DSF
April 14 2013, 07:52PM
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Terry Jones calls out Tambellini:

http://www.edmontonsun.com/2013/04/14/jones-times-up-tambellini

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#93 Quicksilver ballet
April 14 2013, 08:11PM
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Tom posted this on an earlier article

While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75 year old Texas rancher, whose hand was caught in a gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man.

Eventually the topic got around to politics and then they discussed some new guy who was far too big for his shoes as a politician.

The old rancher said, ‘Well, ya know, he is a post turtle’. Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a ‘post turtle’ was.

The old rancher said, ‘When you’re driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that’s a ‘post turtle’.

The old rancher saw a puzzled look on the doctor’s face, so he continued to explain. ‘You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he is up there, and you just wonder what kind of a dumb ass put him up there in the first place.

Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini are both, post turtles.

Worth repeating.

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#94 Butters
April 14 2013, 08:21PM
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@DSF, that's all well and fine but I think the problem is with the ventriloquist and not the, well, you know...

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#95 Chet134
April 14 2013, 08:31PM
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DSF wrote:

Terry Jones calls out Tambellini:

http://www.edmontonsun.com/2013/04/14/jones-times-up-tambellini

Jasmine, Terry Jones is bashing management and trying to run people out of town. How dare he. If he keeps doing this then UFAs won't come to edmonton. Crickets crickets....,,,,,

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#96 Dog Train
April 14 2013, 08:47PM
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Management needs to go regardless but I agree that a losing streak might force ownership's hand. I am not convinced that upper management will pay the price even though they should. A continued collapse might force their hand.

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#97 The Worrier
April 14 2013, 08:51PM
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3 first overall picks in a row and the Oilers are still at the bottom of the league. How did they manage that? Management has made a debacle out of this rebuild. Or as they say in Calgary "re-tooling".

The Oilers will get their own ESPN special. It will be similar to the Marcus Dupree story.

I like the title of the show Oil Change. But when will it get to the part when there is Change? It should be called Oil Spill or Crap.

Go Blue Jackets!

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#98 Quicksilver ballet
April 14 2013, 08:53PM
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What happened last evening will help stoke the fires and make for a much more vocal home audience during these last 4 home games. We could see it all in the next 2 weeks. Fire Lowe, Fire Tambo, heck, even fire Katz.

Going into a difficult last 7 games, this could go south real fast.

Finally, the winds of change are upon us.

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#99 Pajamah
April 14 2013, 08:58PM
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Should be simple. Draft Barkov/Monahan/Lazar (one of the 3)

Trade Gagner, Hemsky, Paajarvi, and any bottom 6'er for the following

1. LHD, of the top 2 variety 2. 3C, to bump Horcoff to 4C, key is they have to be more talented than Horcoff 3. back-up Goalie

You're not signing #1, maybe 2 and 3, but the UFA pool is shallow.

The worry is that Tambellini is too incompetent to get that all done.

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#100 DSF
April 14 2013, 09:16PM
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Butters wrote:

@DSF, that's all well and fine but I think the problem is with the ventriloquist and not the, well, you know...

I agree.

Completely.

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