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?

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#101 The Real Scuba Steve
April 14 2013, 09:19PM
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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.

Jasmine are you actually Kevin Lowe? going under that ridicules name?. Or are you drinking to much cool aid?

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#102 DSF
April 14 2013, 09:20PM
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The Real Scuba Steve wrote:

Jasmine are you actually Kevin Lowe? going under that ridicules name?. Or are you drinking to much cool aid?

If you're an HF alumnus, Jasmine is Narnia.

Nuff said.

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#103 Eddie Shore
April 14 2013, 09:21PM
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DSF wrote:

Terry Jones calls out Tambellini:

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

Finally.

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#104 Kypreos
April 14 2013, 09:54PM
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It must be great to once again be looking forward to a lottery pick. If Edmonton had not received the last 3 first overall picks in the draft, Edmonton would have a different management team as they clearly cannot make a hockey decision unless it is staring them in the face. Lowe is an idiot and Tambellini is puppet. Do something....

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#105 madjam
April 14 2013, 10:02PM
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Change coming but what shape ? President and GM same person ? Weed out the excess . Coaches might remain the same for once . A deal maker mover shaker type- not necessarily PRES/GM ? Downsizing in scouting ?

We need bigger sticks , as our players look like they are playing with field hockey sticks in comparison to other teams that appear to have pole vaults for sticks . We look like leprachans wielding schalaleighs .

Most of our players have an ego and confidence problem. Not enough ego , and thus lacking confidence . You balance the two and reach a higher level of play . You lack one or both , you play resigned and lethargic .

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#106 Rindog
April 14 2013, 10:07PM
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DSF wrote:

The team needs a GM with a track record of success....one who has proven repeatedly that he knows how to build a winning hockey team.

There is no time, while the ELC's of the high draft picks are being burned, to have anyone learning on the job.

If you could get Jim Nill, fine, but I doubt you can.

Why stop at management? Why not hire a coaching staff that has atleast some kind of success at the NHL level?

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#107 Ari Gold
April 14 2013, 10:23PM
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@Next up, is Connor McJesus.

Hit the bloody nail on the head! Perfect analogy.

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#108 DSF
April 14 2013, 10:45PM
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Rindog wrote:

Why stop at management? Why not hire a coaching staff that has atleast some kind of success at the NHL level?

Im in.

If I were Katz I would clean house from top to bottom and let the new guy hire his own staff.

I expect Kruger, Smith and Buchburger wouldn't make the short list.

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#109 Alsker
April 14 2013, 11:00PM
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Conspiracy theory time: Klowe put a stop to trades at deadline with the excuse of team unity/faith knowing this would end thumbellinas tenure with the team protecting him and allowing McT to take on GM(wonder if Craig will have deja vu as he once again becomes the scape goat) or allowing Klowe to triumphantly return as GM to save the organization from failure. Having worked for him I wouldnt put it past him.

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#110 DSF
April 14 2013, 11:02PM
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Alsker wrote:

Conspiracy theory time: Klowe put a stop to trades at deadline with the excuse of team unity/faith knowing this would end thumbellinas tenure with the team protecting him and allowing McT to take on GM(wonder if Craig will have deja vu as he once again becomes the scape goat) or allowing Klowe to triumphantly return as GM to save the organization from failure. Having worked for him I wouldnt put it past him.

His ego would make that a real possibility.

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#111 Alsker
April 14 2013, 11:06PM
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@DSF

For once I agree whole heartedly with you

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#112 Hottie G
April 14 2013, 11:08PM
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You all know the Oilers are an abismal organization. And their fans are just as pathetic. Why do you need to read a bottom feeder blog to realize that doing terrible is the best thing for a team that had no ability or desire to make the playoffs. If you read this... you suck. your team sucks. And i pity your intellect.

You would think after the past 20 years of mediocrity (i'm being polite) that most of your minions would know that doing bad is actually good.

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#113 Rod from Viking
April 14 2013, 11:21PM
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Johnathan, how does it work if you trade a player and are still responsible for part of his salary? Are there any maximum % amount of times you can do it?

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#114 Rod from Viking
April 14 2013, 11:24PM
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Correction; maximum % and any limit to how often it can be done,I would guess the retained salary goes against the cap.

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#115 Allan Vaillancourt
April 15 2013, 01:17AM
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This team needs a complete overhaul. From the top, right on down.They screwed up at the Draft Table too. Picking Hall 1st overall was a mistake and I don't think Nugent-Hopkins will amount to much either, He doesn't play with Grit.

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#116 The Oilers Shot Clock
April 15 2013, 03:24AM
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Management needs to release job descriptions and a management flow chart for us fans. What does everybody do exactly? Theres too many people for such few jobs.I bet Lowe doesnt cc Tambellini in all his emails. Howsen probably secretly forwards them to Tambellini later. How can management be this top heavy and expect to be effective. There has to be some infantile stuff happening behind all the smoke and mirrors. There would be at any other company so top heavy.

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#117 madjam
April 15 2013, 07:53AM
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New Proposal : A new branch of the NHL - the heavy weight division and the middle weight division . Middle weight will obviously be the most entertaining and skilled . Many sports over the years have gone to such classifications , and one should consider the advance of the sport , and rinksize being like a boxing ring . We are the fans and we want to be better entertained .

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#118 Serious Gord
April 15 2013, 08:03AM
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Kevin Lowe wrote:

Attn Oilers fans

Steve Tambellini is not a puppet. I have formally given him my premission to say so.

Signed

Kevin Lowe

P.S I have always had a hard time hearing your boos with my 6 stanley cup rings in my ears. This has also made it difficult to pull my head out my ass.

LOL

Ridicule and derision may be what it takes to get L&T out of town.

In the remaining home games chants of "fire Tambo" and better yet "fire Lowe" could have the desired effect - what else is there to do?

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#119 madjam
April 15 2013, 08:10AM
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Are we a fraud NHL team ? Dominated and pushed around by a mediocer AHL team , while we are playing for our playoff lives in the NHL . I dare say maybe our rebuild has only taken us as far as a mediocer AHL team in reality . Time to take the callouses off our eyes ? I used my magnifying glass to watch our team play ,makes them look pretty big afterall .

Still reeling from the way we got waxed by Flames AHL squad . As fans even we are embarrassed , as are the players and coaches . Lets not over react , but lets not under react either . Management is 'mum 'in times of negativity . Oiler slick has turned to goo sludge . Oilers new logo on retro sweaters will read " Slippery When Wet " . The slide for five . Poking fun at a pokey team .

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#120 outdoorzguy
April 15 2013, 08:16AM
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Whatever happened to Loser Lowe's intensity that he showed when he played? Where has it gone in the management office. Maybe Karen cut em' off!!

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#121 Hammers
April 15 2013, 08:27AM
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The way there playing we don't have to try to tank . I felt 4-5 weeks ago we would get a 5-8 pick and it's possibly the 5 not 8 . I would send J. Schultz & Magnus to OKL to give them a shot at playoffs . Bring up Tuebert who will probably be cut but find out for sure .

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#122 RexLibris
April 15 2013, 08:31AM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

Johnathan, how does it work if you trade a player and are still responsible for part of his salary? Are there any maximum % amount of times you can do it?

Sorry to step in here, but I thought I'd offer up what I've read about this: the maximum amount that can be retained is 50%, that amount remains as a cap hit on your books. So far as I can tell there are no limits to the number of times it can be done, with the overall salary cap probably serving as an ad hoc ceiling to this sort of thing.

The difference between the cap hit retained versus the actual money retained is something I haven't delved into yet (ie: if the cap hit is $5 million but the salary is closer to $3 million due to a backdiving contract).

I'm sure others will have the information to proved there.

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#123 Eulers
April 15 2013, 08:52AM
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Maybe now is the time to try Hall at center. What do we have to lose at this point? Might as well do the hard learning when the mistakes have little consequence.

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#124 Frank Exchange of Views
April 15 2013, 08:55AM
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The Edmonton MSM will break out the knives on Tambellini and offer him up to the rabble.

Lowe and company will get another grunt front and center. Maybe Howson maybe someone else as desperate as Steve was.

Nothing is going to change until Taylor Hall calls his agent and tells him to get him out of town.

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#125 jason
April 15 2013, 09:35AM
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Frank Exchange of Views wrote:

The Edmonton MSM will break out the knives on Tambellini and offer him up to the rabble.

Lowe and company will get another grunt front and center. Maybe Howson maybe someone else as desperate as Steve was.

Nothing is going to change until Taylor Hall calls his agent and tells him to get him out of town.

the simple truth is that if things don't change dramaticly, new management that makes dramatic moves to make this team a contender, if the team doesn't start winning next season, then that's what hall will do, and eberle, rnh, schultz and yaks will be on the phone to their agents 5min later. and when every other gm knows these guys all want out of dodge, we'll be lucky to get abunch of 4th line ahl players and a bag of magic beans for them. the point is if things don't get alot better awful quick, then they're going to get a whole lot worse awful quick. this is exactly why replacing the entire managment team right now is critical.

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#126 Czar
April 15 2013, 09:42AM
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If we've learned anything in the last few years it should be to avoid anyone ever associated with the Canucks! Tamboob, Renney and Quinn are proof enough of that. DSF is right again[ouch] about Jim Nill,he might be very tough to get but would be well worth it!

There were opportunities in the past to get the right people in the organization. I don't care who's behind the bench,when a guy like Hitchcock becomes available he should have been pursued and the minute John Davidson parted ways in St.Louis Katz should have had a limo at his door and a contact in his hand.

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#127 Lochenzo
April 15 2013, 09:51AM
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I'd like to see Taylor at centre too. But tell him at the end of the season. Let him work on some things and be ready to give it a try at camp.

It also spares the locker room any tension. Obviously, moving Taylor to centre means somethings gotta give in the middle.

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#128 Eddie Shore
April 15 2013, 09:53AM
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KLowe holding a presser at 10:30. Think he'll give Steve a vote of confidence (kiss of death)?

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#129 The Beaker
April 15 2013, 09:55AM
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does anyone think its possible for us to be drafting top 3? need to be that high to get a top 4 player as its more likely now someone wins the lotto and pushes us back.

Or is is likely at all if we are drafting 5th to get Barkov?

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#130 Lochenzo
April 15 2013, 09:56AM
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How would you feel about this? Buyout Horc, then offer the same contract to Bozak this summer. I'm assuming that you can buyout anytime over the summer. So you can sign Bozak and then do your buyout. Still a hard thing to do to your captain.

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#131 Czar
April 15 2013, 10:00AM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

KLowe holding a presser at 10:30. Think he'll give Steve a vote of confidence (kiss of death)?

Do you know if it's being aired on the Oiler site or is one of the sports channels covering it? Thanks dude!

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#132 Eddie Shore
April 15 2013, 10:05AM
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Tambo has been gassed according to Ryan Rishaug.

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#133 Eddie Shore
April 15 2013, 10:06AM
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https://twitter.com/tsnryanrishaug/status/323821029657034752

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#134 Walter Sobchak
April 15 2013, 10:33AM
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Jasmine wrote:

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

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...................HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...............HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA

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#135 Dangilitis
April 15 2013, 04:23PM
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DSF wrote:

Im in.

If I were Katz I would clean house from top to bottom and let the new guy hire his own staff.

I expect Kruger, Smith and Buchburger wouldn't make the short list.

I will preface this by saying that I completely agree with Willis in that there were no assurances that MacT was the best man available, and there should have been more time spent in looking for two alternatives to Howson and MacT.

Howson, like Burke, was crucified until people started to look at the team's success the subsequent year, however. I am not sure he brings anything new right now though and do not see him as being outspoken enough to make his opinions known in head office.

MacT said all the right things today that shows an honesty about the team that Tambellini and Lowe have both been unable to publicly acknowledge for 7 years. He would not have been my first choice, but he has accomplished more in the last few years than the vast majority of people have, I presume yourself included DSF (unless you have obtained a masters degree in business administration and coached a professional hockey time in the last few years while battling a chronic disease).

That being said, as you alluded to, you need to be able to make your workers accountable. Ultimately this is where the hiring falls short for me.

If MacT is honest with the views he expressed today, we should find out much sooner than Tamby whether or not he has been successful. For one, the situation now demands results more than ever. Additionally, it sounds like for better or worse, everyone outside the top 5 players on the team are fair game for a trade, even if it is done "begrudgingly". I suspect 2 of the top 6 forwards will be new faces next year, and a there will be a new D-man in the top 4. Khabby will not be asked back, and if either of these 3 things have not happened after this conference, then Lowe will truly be in charge and we are all doomed for another 2 decades of incompetence.

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