TIES THAT BIND

Robin Brownlee
April 15 2013 05:29PM

If there's anybody who is actually surprised Craig MacTavish was named the new GM of the Edmonton Oilers today after Steve Tambellini was fired and made the fall guy, they haven't been paying attention.

That doesn't make Kevin Lowe's end-around of anything remotely resembling due diligence and process in terms of scouring the NHL for other candidates – a fact that's been bemoaned at great length in the aftermath, and a criticism that certainly has merit – right, and it doesn't mean critics shouldn’t be hacked off about it, but it should surprise nobody.

This is a shot that could have been called, and was, the second MacTavish returned to the organization as vice-president of hockey operations under Lowe. The only real question about when – not if – what happened today would come was tied to the health of MacTavish, who has had non-Hodgkins Lymphoma for a couple of years now.

No matter what happened with the Oilers this season, Lowe was not going to be blown out by owner Daryl Katz because they’re friends. Again, you don’t have to like it, but that doesn’t make it less true. That remains so today and it isn’t going to change. That's a pound of flesh fans aren't going to get.

Likewise, if things went sideways, as they have, Tambellini was positioned as the fall guy. The first guy who'd be offered the job was MacTavish because he and Lowe go back more than 25 years – hell, they were teammates in New York with the Rangers in 1994 when they first discussed what it might be like one day to jump into coaching and the front office as a tandem. They like each other. They respect each other. They have history. Ties that bind.

No surprise. None.

SETS UP NICELY

Process (no small matter for debate) or lack of same aside, the bottom line for long-suffering Oilers fans facing a seventh straight season out of the playoffs has to be this: will the organization be more competently guided and better built for success under MacTavish than under Tambellini?

My best guess is the answer is yes, and there's plenty of reasons for that – not the least of which is that I believe, lack of experience aside, MacTavish has a better grasp of what it takes to build a team than Tambellini does (or at least a better grasp than the often indecisive Tambellini displayed).

I could be mistaken, of course, but my opinion of MacTavish was formed over many years of picking his brain about hockey – from the time he was captain here to his brief tenure as an assistant coach in New York to his return to Edmonton. We spent a lot of time in airports, hotels and hockey rinks across the continent.

Fact is, I think MacTavish's approach to the game and team building will see him more successful as the GM of this team than he was as head coach. And, as he said today (and I've seen first-hand), MacT's got an impatient streak – that in itself is a welcome change for fans frustrated by Tambellini's guarded approach to getting things done.

ALL IN THE TIMING

MacTavish is sharp. He's aggressive. He has very strong opinions about the kind of players he wants and what it takes to build a team. Those traits aside, MacTavish is taking over the big chair at the perfect time and it would take a face-plant of biblical proportions for him not to be more successful than was Tambellini, who, like departed coach Tom Renney, stepped into the breach with the team at its lowest point.

As disappointing as the last five games have been and as much as the weaknesses in the roster have been exposed during that stretch, this isn't a team that is hopelessly far off returning to contention in terms of the number of players needed and how much the mix must be tweaked. The core is going to continue to get better – no matter who is GM.

The trick, one Tambellini never did grasp or at least never did act on, is to plug in the right forward here, a defenseman or two there and veterans in support positions who can bring the kids along. MacTavish, rest assured, will move on that. Will he make the right moves? We'll see soon, which was never the case with Tambellini.

Bottom line is MacTavish, like returning Scott Howson, is stepping back into the Oilers fold at exactly the right time. From where I sit, they're set up to enjoy infinitely more success than Tambellini ever was. That, of course, has yet to be played out, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a year or two from now the Oilers are right where fans want them to be.

If that happens, I'm guessing results will trump process, no?

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 Bucknuck
April 15 2013, 09:33PM
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Wow - another thread dominated by DSF making inflammatory remarks and then arguing. I can't quite figure out if you are a misguided bitter fan, or just love arguing, or what.

Whatever the case, the events that transpired today were completely predictable. When they brought MacT in I could see the writing was on the wall. When they brought back Scott I saw a great wingman who was getting back to what he was best at.

It seems to fit. A great communicator (MacT) is what is needed, especially when Lowe seems to be self destructing , which I believe is due to his frustration. He REALLY wants to win, and by hiring MacT I think he stands a pretty good chance of it.

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#102 DSF
April 15 2013, 09:36PM
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From the Edmonton Sun:

"Edmonton Oilers fans are being asked to remain patient while the guy who can’t get the job done now is replaced by the guys who couldn’t get the job done before.

Seriously.

In a surreal and combative media conference that some described as a cross between a Saturday Night Live skit and a military dictatorship explaining the latest “election” results, President For Life Kevin Lowe stepped to the microphone Monday and laid out the Oilers master plan:

Steve Tambellini has been fired for his inability to clean up the mess left behind by Lowe, Craig MacTavish and Scott Howson, a task so daunting that owner Daryl Katz decided it can only be tackled by Lowe, MacTavish and Howson.

Seriously. That’s what you are being asked to swallow.

No word yet on when Tom Renney and Pat Quinn are coming back, or when Ethan Moreau assumes his position as Assistant to the GM."

http://www.edmontonsun.com/2013/04/15/president-kevin-lowe-fails-to-provide-change-in-leadership-he-says-the-team-needs

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#103 DSF
April 15 2013, 09:38PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

Wow - another thread dominated by DSF making inflammatory remarks and then arguing. I can't quite figure out if you are a misguided bitter fan, or just love arguing, or what.

Whatever the case, the events that transpired today were completely predictable. When they brought MacT in I could see the writing was on the wall. When they brought back Scott I saw a great wingman who was getting back to what he was best at.

It seems to fit. A great communicator (MacT) is what is needed, especially when Lowe seems to be self destructing , which I believe is due to his frustration. He REALLY wants to win, and by hiring MacT I think he stands a pretty good chance of it.

Did you ever watch Groundhog Day?

This is the hockey version.

Bend over.

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#104 Neal
April 15 2013, 09:50PM
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I had a couple insightful comments, but like Dave, I'm a mini pack holder... so don't know if that makes me a Class 1 fan or Class 2? The badge idea was a good one, but useless on ON...maybe everyone can clearly identify whether they are Class 1 Fans or just Class 2. That way we won't have to read them all... and it would clearly delineate who should be commenting. They really defined classes on the Titanic...

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#105 DSF
April 15 2013, 09:53PM
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This was posted in the last thread and every one of us needs to read it:

Sorry for comments here kevin. Afterall, I am one of those other fans.

I remember going to Oiler games as a Bay Blueliner. Yep, up there in the deep end, WHA days, cheering the boys. My family didnt have much, so that's all I could afford. Sorry I wasn't a better fan Kevin.

Then the NHL came. I was a student at the Uof A, paying my tuition, scartched together a few dollars to attend the odd game or so. Sorry i did'nt do more.

The I graduated! Got a job. Still couldn't really afford tickets, but i got a jersey and watched all the games I could. I know I could have done more.

Then I got transfered to Thunder Bay! I subscibed and got the Saturdat Journal mailed to me, before the internet came Kevin, to keep tabs on the TV. I missed the games pn ITV, but found out ITV was carried in the town of Long Lac, four hours north. I went there every Wednesday I could to watch the team. Youare boys were fantastic Keven. All those cups. I bet there would have been more if I did more.

Then, I got transfered to calgary. Close to home! Still an Oiler fans. My kids are 21 and 18 now. Since they were 4 and 2, I bought tickets every Christmas when I came up and took my father and my two sons to a game. We have been faithfully doing it every year, except the strike years of course. But i understand, you needed more money.

We didn's miss this year though. We came up just a few weeks ago and say you beat calgary. My 86 year old and my sons loved it. What a tradition! Alas, it's not enough however.

I'm so sorry I am not an "A" fan Kevin. I havn't missed a game on TV yet this year, I have a bunch of jesey's, even one signed by Smyth when my son was ill and in the hospital.

It's not easy being a die-hard fan in calgary Kevin. My neighbours don't like me. My co-workers are on me for the last seven years. But I stayed true. Now you don't like me.

On behalf of all of us, who have been there from the beginning, who grew up with the team, I'm sorry for not being a better fan.

Now it's your turn to apoligize to all of us.

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#106 Bucknuck
April 15 2013, 10:03PM
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DSF wrote:

Did you ever watch Groundhog Day?

This is the hockey version.

Bend over.

I am seriously hoping you are wrong. Time will tell. I don't think it is possible to be much more inept than Tambellini, so I feel rather confident. Though I must say the term "bold moves" used by MacT today was exciting and scary at the same time.

It won't be like groundhog day, though. It will be a different brand of sucking, the making dumb trades kind, which will be more exciting than the last four years of a$$, at any rate. EDIT - or else maybe MacT really does understand hockey (which I believe) and will make this team compete.

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#107 etownman
April 15 2013, 10:12PM
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I think MacT is the right man for the job! Only time will tell but I'm a helluva lot more confident that Mac will get the players we need! Just never thought Tambi was the man to get'r done!

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#108 Kypreos
April 15 2013, 10:15PM
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Katz is the problem and scared of Kevin Lowe, maybe because he grew up worshiping him now he does have the testicles to fire him.

You better grow some Darryl!

Get rid of this guy. He got his cups riding the coattails of other good hockey players. He was in the right place at the right time.

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#109 Romanus
April 15 2013, 10:18PM
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Kypreos wrote:

Katz is the problem and scared of Kevin Lowe, maybe because he grew up worshiping him now he does have the testicles to fire him.

You better grow some Darryl!

Get rid of this guy. He got his cups riding the coattails of other good hockey players. He was in the right place at the right time.

Right. That's how he became a billionaire.

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#110 Kypreos
April 15 2013, 10:21PM
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Romanus wrote:

Right. That's how he became a billionaire.

Then why does he not get rid of him?

He has no balls!

Anyone with half an IQ can see what is going on.

Pull your head out of the sand.

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#111 Kypreos
April 15 2013, 10:24PM
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The good ol boys club!

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#112 GVBlackhawk
April 15 2013, 10:27PM
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DSF wrote:

Exactly how it played out for Bob Pulford in Chicago.

Years of incompetence were lavishly rewarded by Bill Wirtz until he died.

It wasn't until his son took over and cleaned house that the Hawks returned to respectability.

If you want a lesson in a lack of respectability, go back and watch Lowe's performance today.

If I were Katz, Lowe would have been fired before he got back to his office.

Shameful.

Agreed.

If he was my buddy and running the team, I still would have removed him after his performance today. Lowe could not control his emotions and said some things that I would assume he regrets. People who cannot control their emotions are not suited to management positions -- they make too many needless mistakes.

He needs a career change.

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#113 Kypreos
April 15 2013, 10:35PM
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Romanus wrote:

Right. That's how he became a billionaire.

You really Lowe has not said that same line to Katz? "I have won more cups than you Darryl"

Come on, that came out way too easy!

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#114 andrewmk20
April 15 2013, 11:36PM
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@DSF

ummmm... how old are you, are you immortal or was that a typo cause you said "your 86 year old" did you mean 8 and 6 year old sons, cause otherwise you'd have to be over 110 years old. If you are over a hundred and ten though I can now understand the majority of your posts.

I do agree I don't like these decisions though. Kevin Lower does need to be held to the same amount of accountability as Tambi. Quite frankly the entire management team needs to be broken down and analyzed to see who is still a relevant contributor and who is dead weight.

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#115 ginganinja
April 15 2013, 11:56PM
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@andrewmk20

"kids are 21 and 18 now" im guessing his dad is 86. Let me just say that dsf is what we will all turn into if this team stays on this road. Ive been a fan my whole life, 24 years. I have three good memories Dallas series Colorado series, 2006 and a whole lot of hopes and dreams. Every year my level of negativity inches closer to the max of my negativometer soon to reach the dreaded point at which I actually become dsf. He gets a lot of flak but I would say he had the most accurate and unclouded judgement out of anyone on this site all year. That being said, LET FANS BE FANS! Unreasonable expectations and dreams are normal for any good fan.

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#116 dougtheslug
April 16 2013, 12:22AM
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Actually I've never trusted Kevin Lowe as a GM since way back in 2006, when he was hired by his buddy and fellow Boy on the Bus, Wayne Gretzky, as assistant GM for the Olympic team in Turin, 2006, along with Tambo as director of player personnel. Instead of making the risky move of selecting younger players who were playing well that year, and deserved to be there, the "brains trust" played it safe, picking mostly by reputation, essentially duplicating the roster that won gold in 2002. Thus we saw plodders like Todd Bertuzzi, Kris Draper, Shane Doan, Adam Foote - safe,choices, but iffy on the big olympic ice - make the team instead of the likes of Sidney Crosby, Eric Stahl, Pual Kariya, Marc Savard - selections that would have raised eyebrows for sure, but in fact players that were having stellar seasons. I remember the "brains trust" saying "Crosby will have his turn", which made me cringe at the time because everyone I talked to knew that the the Olympic team should be comprised of the best players available, not some kind of lifetime achievement award for veterans.

Predictably, Canada was hopelessly outmatched on the big ice surface, getting shut out by Finland, Switzerland and Russia.

Klowe has shown that same mentality as a GM, demonstrating a lack of creativity, falling back to safe choices out of loyalty. And his performance today, insisting that his Stanley Cup rings won over 20 years ago, in a hockey landscape light years away from the modern game, somehow confers on him the knowledge to navigate that landscape, just shows how out of touch he and his buddy Katz really are.

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#117 Jimmy
April 16 2013, 01:10AM
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What Lowe did today really exposed him for what and who he is. He didn't get the usual soft-ball questions from the media and it doesn't appear he liked it much.

That classless outburst may have shown the high foreheads at Rexall Sports that the 1980's man-love on display may be the beginning of the end for KLowe.

Sleep tight Kevie. If you think you are hearing footsteps in future it may be ownership coming to relieve you of your duties.

" Sleep tight mate in your quilted chambray sleepshirt" your turn may be coming soon.

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#118 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
April 16 2013, 07:10AM
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@Bucknuck

I am seriously hoping you are wrong

given his track record there is a very real chance your hope becomes reality

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#119 j
April 16 2013, 07:58AM
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I think it is a good sign that we are all so opinionated about this move. Tambo wasn't getting it done - period. I really don't care what 'mess' he inherited considering most of the roster has been turned over i.e. this is now his team and it isn't good enough. Moving forward, is MacT able to deliver? We don't know yet as he has never been in this position with the org before. People are quick to throw him under the bus yet we have no idea what he is capable of. Stevie Y was heralded when a rookie GM. His team is no where near the playoffs this year yet no one is asking for his head. MacT is labelled because he struggled the last two years as a coach. Is that really indicative of his executive abilities? And his last two years as a coach remains the high point for the Oilers the past 5 years. Give him a chance. As far as Lowe goes - he is a loose cannon and always has been. There are far wackier, insensitive people in this business. At least Lowe wants to win. Badly.

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#120 Rob...
April 16 2013, 08:24AM
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DSF does impact the number of hits and comments blogs get here, and that ultimately gives ON the ammo it needs to bring in advertising revenue. That revenue in turn can go to pay high quality bloggers we love to read. It sounds ridiculous, but if DSF turns out to be Wanye writing under a pseudonym to increase ON's value that would be brilliant.

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#121 Spydyr
April 16 2013, 08:28AM
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DSF wrote:

This was posted in the last thread and every one of us needs to read it:

Sorry for comments here kevin. Afterall, I am one of those other fans.

I remember going to Oiler games as a Bay Blueliner. Yep, up there in the deep end, WHA days, cheering the boys. My family didnt have much, so that's all I could afford. Sorry I wasn't a better fan Kevin.

Then the NHL came. I was a student at the Uof A, paying my tuition, scartched together a few dollars to attend the odd game or so. Sorry i did'nt do more.

The I graduated! Got a job. Still couldn't really afford tickets, but i got a jersey and watched all the games I could. I know I could have done more.

Then I got transfered to Thunder Bay! I subscibed and got the Saturdat Journal mailed to me, before the internet came Kevin, to keep tabs on the TV. I missed the games pn ITV, but found out ITV was carried in the town of Long Lac, four hours north. I went there every Wednesday I could to watch the team. Youare boys were fantastic Keven. All those cups. I bet there would have been more if I did more.

Then, I got transfered to calgary. Close to home! Still an Oiler fans. My kids are 21 and 18 now. Since they were 4 and 2, I bought tickets every Christmas when I came up and took my father and my two sons to a game. We have been faithfully doing it every year, except the strike years of course. But i understand, you needed more money.

We didn's miss this year though. We came up just a few weeks ago and say you beat calgary. My 86 year old and my sons loved it. What a tradition! Alas, it's not enough however.

I'm so sorry I am not an "A" fan Kevin. I havn't missed a game on TV yet this year, I have a bunch of jesey's, even one signed by Smyth when my son was ill and in the hospital.

It's not easy being a die-hard fan in calgary Kevin. My neighbours don't like me. My co-workers are on me for the last seven years. But I stayed true. Now you don't like me.

On behalf of all of us, who have been there from the beginning, who grew up with the team, I'm sorry for not being a better fan.

Now it's your turn to apoligize to all of us.

Infinite props. Lowe just does not "get it".

There has been segregation at Rexall for years. Try bringing your kid down to see the Oilers come on and off the ice without a club seat. Or go for a beer at the river Cree bar.

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#122 The Real Scuba Steve
April 16 2013, 09:19AM
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Maybe Terry Jones should have Fire Kevin next On the suns front page

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#123 positivebrontefan
April 16 2013, 10:04AM
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Spydyr wrote:

Infinite props. Lowe just does not "get it".

There has been segregation at Rexall for years. Try bringing your kid down to see the Oilers come on and off the ice without a club seat. Or go for a beer at the river Cree bar.

+1 on that. Try explaining to a six year old Taylor Hall fan that you can't go down there when there's an entire group of kids crowded down there. Makes you look like an a$$hole to your kid. Thanks Oilers. And yes I know you can buy a club pass. Another cash grab. Maybe if I had won 6 Stanley Cups I could afford to buy club seats. This last couple of days has turned me off so bad. Unfortunately I will be one of the sheep lining up to get tickets next year so my kids can go to the game. That's my fault.

Signed 1 1/2 class fan.

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#124 vetinari
April 16 2013, 10:29AM
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Apparently being an Oiler fan is like a case of diabetes-- what type are you?

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#125 The Soup Fascist
April 16 2013, 10:33AM
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positivebrontefan wrote:

+1 on that. Try explaining to a six year old Taylor Hall fan that you can't go down there when there's an entire group of kids crowded down there. Makes you look like an a$$hole to your kid. Thanks Oilers. And yes I know you can buy a club pass. Another cash grab. Maybe if I had won 6 Stanley Cups I could afford to buy club seats. This last couple of days has turned me off so bad. Unfortunately I will be one of the sheep lining up to get tickets next year so my kids can go to the game. That's my fault.

Signed 1 1/2 class fan.

Just as an FYI, after the game you can go down to the Club area and wait by the Oiles dressing room with your kids. You do not need club passes after the game - at least they didn't when my kids were at the age where they wanted autographs.

If this has changed, someone please correct me.

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#126 match16
April 16 2013, 10:50AM
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outdoorzguy wrote:

I never saw any of the loss to Calgary on Saturday night. Tonight on the news I saw a clip of the end of the game and despite losing 4-1, what really struck me was the fact the seats were still full at the end of the game. Amazing you put up with this!

I understand the fans love for their hockey team, but until such time they start to stand up, leave games like this, don't attend games and leave seats empty, stop buying Oiler items, this is what you'll get.

Make no mistake about it, despite what Loser Lowe said today, public pressure did have a role in Timid Tambellini's firing. Take a stand and hopefully sooner than later, Loser Lowe will be going out the door as well.

We stayed so we could keep booing

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#127 Quicksilver ballet
April 16 2013, 11:00AM
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Are the Oilers going to hold another press conference to correct some of the mistakes from yesterdays press conference?

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#128 tileguy
April 16 2013, 11:12AM
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To make the best of this situation,

Kevin, just tell Mac T how much money he has to spend and then stay the f**k out of his way. That is all.

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#129 match16
April 16 2013, 11:19AM
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DSF wrote:

You have no idea what I've accomplished and calling someone who has clearly more intelligence than you do "stupid" is really ironic.

Would you like me to correct your spelling mistakes or can you handle that on your own?

Watch out for those dangling participles.

And never, ever begin a sentence with "And".

It's a conjunction.

It makes you look stupid.

It's funny, you make fun of someone for starting a sentence using AND, while using AND as the first word of that sentence. Kind of makes YOU look stupid. AND you do the same thing again in post #81.

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#130 positivebrontefan
April 16 2013, 11:26AM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Just as an FYI, after the game you can go down to the Club area and wait by the Oiles dressing room with your kids. You do not need club passes after the game - at least they didn't when my kids were at the age where they wanted autographs.

If this has changed, someone please correct me.

To be honest I haven't tried that. When I have had club seats I have not seen to much of the players after the games. They're to busy counting K Lowes cup rings.

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#131 Ryan2
April 16 2013, 11:50AM
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This line from Robin sums up what we can expect from CrackedT:

"He has very strong opinions about the kind of players he wants and what it takes to build a team. "

I can't wait for him to add more Thoresen, Petersen and Pouliot types to the roster. Awesome! Stanley Cup, here we come.......

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#132 John
April 16 2013, 12:58PM
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DSF wrote:

You have no idea what I've accomplished and calling someone who has clearly more intelligence than you do "stupid" is really ironic.

Would you like me to correct your spelling mistakes or can you handle that on your own?

Watch out for those dangling participles.

And never, ever begin a sentence with "And".

It's a conjunction.

It makes you look stupid.

Didn't you just use And at the beginning of a sentence?

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#133 Oiler Al
April 16 2013, 01:03PM
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Don't for a minute think that Howard Katz holed up in the top floor in Vancouver is not a major player in running this team in terms of personnel! Yes he might be an astute businessman, but he may also be sniffing jocks and playing with his toy the Oilers.I guess its his right, he owns the organization, but does he know enough about hockey, beyond Lowes six rings, to make the right calls.

He personally calls players while the chase is on, and really beleive he made the draft day table call Yak and not Murray.

In the meantime while Howard hides in the suite, Lowe gets to bash balls on the front line, supported not only by the owner but by his longtime cronies.

Its been replayed over and over, that orangizations run by buddies or family most likely fail.

Whos the curly kid on the draft podium? More coming.

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