MACT: THE HAMMER AND THE EOOBC

Robin Brownlee
June 08 2013 06:18PM

Craig MacTavish is riding such a wave of popularity right now, the new GM of the Edmonton Oilers could probably declare himself a candidate for mayor and do well at the polls. So far, so good.

That said, with the firing of head coach Ralph Krueger reverberating around the city in the first significant move of his brief tenure, the tough calls for MacTavish, and boss man Kevin Lowe and owner Daryl Katz, for that matter, are still to come.

In moving Krueger, as I pondered here MacTavish might May 23 – albeit for a bigger name than Dallas Eakins – MacT has certainly started delivering on the bold moves he talked about when he took the job. MacTavish walking the walk after talking the talk isn't surprising to anybody who knows him.

It should be noted, or course, Krueger was an outsider without membership in the Edmonton Oilers Old Boys Club – the same EOOBC that brought MacT back into the fold last season. Krueger, like Pat Quinn, Tom Renney and Steve Tambellini, all fired during this rebuild, wasn't a card-carrying member.

Fans stunned by having a GM who actually does something might think I'm quibbling about details because it can be argued that any change on a team that's been out of the playoffs for seven consecutive years is a good thing, but that's how the cards have fallen so far.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Now, what about those remaining with the organization who hold EOOBC cards? What happens with them? For starters, with assistant coaches Steve Smith and Kelly Buchberger, who has taken on the invincibility of a cockroach and survived the firing of four head coaches – MacTavish, Quinn, Renney and, as of now, Krueger?

Much will depend on what Eakins decides after he's unveiled as new bench boss, but I can't imagine Eakins agreed to take the job here without being given the latitude to pick his staff. Will Smith and Buchberger be cut loose? Will they be retained? Will they be given a cushy place in the organization to fall? How much input will MacTavish, Lowe and Katz have in that?

If MacTavish intends to make good on turning this organization around, and we've got no reason to believe he's fibbing given what he's already said about Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky and what he did with Krueger, he'll have to cast a critical eye throughout the organization.

Will Smith and Buchberger get a pass? What about the pro scouting staff, where Morey Gare, another none EOOBC member, runs the show and Dave Semenko earns a pay cheque? Given the swings and misses with free agents in recent seasons, has the pro scouting staff been good enough?

I still wonder about another old Oiler, regardless of what has been said publicly. That would be veteran Ryan Smyth. We'll have to wait – likely not long – on all of the above, but for the first time in a long time it's going to be an interesting off-season. It already is.

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

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 vetinari
June 08 2013, 06:25PM
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Mac the Knife strikes again...

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#2 Harlie
June 08 2013, 06:25PM
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GO MACT GO!!!!!!!!!!

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#3 EricOG
June 08 2013, 06:27PM
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At what point does "bold" become STUPID or RECKLESS or JUST PLAIN DUMB?

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#4 Doug
June 08 2013, 06:30PM
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Keep cutting MacT.....there's a lot of dead weight to go yet!

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#5 speeds
June 08 2013, 06:31PM
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Robin,

Bob McKenzie tweeted earlier today that his guess is EDM deals the 7th overall pick. Have you heard anything on that front, and are there any names floating around as the return for moving that pick?

Thanks!

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#6 Harlie
June 08 2013, 06:31PM
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EricOG wrote:

At what point does "bold" become STUPID or RECKLESS or JUST PLAIN DUMB?

Have you checked last years standings? Did many players trend up this year under Freddies' regime? Aren't you tired of playing to hold a lead or hang on for a tie? Aren't you tired of sewering assets like Jones, Smyth, Whitney, Peckham for either not playing to their strengths or not playing them at all? Aren't you tired of the lack of passion and compete. Aren't you tired of the losing?

C'mon man, anyone who ends up with this record is on the hot seat...it was inevitable. It just came sooner than you wanted. To some, like me, it came at the right time. Now the big news is who's in next..

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#8 The Soup Fascist
June 08 2013, 06:38PM
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EricOG wrote:

At what point does "bold" become STUPID or RECKLESS or JUST PLAIN DUMB?

Not sure ...... but you sure as hell can't see it from where we are standing right now.

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#9 EricOG
June 08 2013, 06:42PM
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Harlie wrote:

Have you checked last years standings? Did many players trend up this year under Freddies' regime? Aren't you tired of playing to hold a lead or hang on for a tie? Aren't you tired of sewering assets like Jones, Smyth, Whitney, Peckham for either not playing to their strengths or not playing them at all? Aren't you tired of the lack of passion and compete. Aren't you tired of the losing?

C'mon man, anyone who ends up with this record is on the hot seat...it was inevitable. It just came sooner than you wanted. To some, like me, it came at the right time. Now the big news is who's in next..

Last year's standings as well as every single standing under the 6cuplowe regime.

Being a center ice fan for all these years, I have grown really really tired of losing. Losing that has been fed by 6cuplowe's and mastersMcT's incompetence and "boldness", save for one lightning in a bottle season.

I will start believing the moment I see Bucky out the door and the new coach with his own hand picked crew.

This is a very bush league move.

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#10 EricOG
June 08 2013, 06:44PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Not sure ...... but you sure as hell can't see it from where we are standing right now.

But you can envision it, the moment they trade Yakupov or the seventh pick.

Any one of those moves will render the "rebuild" and all the pain it came with it as a whole lot of wasted time.

WAY TO GO GO MASTERSMcT AND 6CUPLOWE!!!!!

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#11 Count
June 08 2013, 06:57PM
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EricOG wrote:

But you can envision it, the moment they trade Yakupov or the seventh pick.

Any one of those moves will render the "rebuild" and all the pain it came with it as a whole lot of wasted time.

WAY TO GO GO MASTERSMcT AND 6CUPLOWE!!!!!

They are not moving yakupov and do SHUT UP

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#12 Stratedge
June 08 2013, 07:06PM
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I agree that what happens with Buchberger and Smith will be really telling... firing Krueger is easy for MacT. Letting accountability reach the other two (finally) will be more challenging. I see no reason why Eakins would hang onto them, makes no sense. If he does it will be clear we still have the same problems we always did.

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#13 michael
June 08 2013, 07:10PM
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So Robin are you volunteering to tell Dave Semenko that he is fired from the EOOBC? Good luck with that. He'll be part of the EOOBC till he dies. The guy is loved. Who cares what he does. Community relations. Personal thug for Katz and Klowe. Remember the guy from The Godfather? The Big guy what was his name.He was sitting around practicing his thank you to Don Corleon. Same kinda deal. Some things you just leave as they are. How about Joey Moss. Wanna be the guy who tells Joey he isn't welcome into the EOOBC anymore? Thought so. The EOOBC club has some interesting characters. But that is what clubs are all about.

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#14 Racki
June 08 2013, 07:12PM
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When you have a team blowing it and missing the playoffs for 7 years in a row, I would rather have a GM that is "impatient" and "bold" than a GM who sits on his hands, hopes for things to fix themselves, and watches the leaves change color. This team needed someone like MacT. He might make several mistakes in year 1, but the way I see it, this team can't get any worse. You can't be scared to break eggs when you're making an omelette.

The thing is, MacT has a clear vision of what he wants for the team.. he has a plan. I don't think anyone could actually tell you what Tambellini's plan was. MacT fired Krueger because his philosophy was something different than what MacT wanted (I'm thinking he relied too much on motivational speaking and not enough on tactics). It wasn't an easy choice to cut him, but MacT has shown he has the guts to do what's necessary. Much like how we now expect he'll do what's necessary with Horcoff and Hemsky.

I've been loving MacT as GM since day one, when his interview made me a believer that he wouldn't watch the paint dry like our old GM. Tambellini always had the "we're still in the rebuild" excuse to hide behind for when his off-season decisions didn't quite pan out and the team tanked yet again. I don't at all believe MacT will stand up to the mic in April of 2014 and try and sell another "we knew this year would be tough" speech, if we falter again. Failure isn't an option anymore... we're wasting too many Hall/Nuge/Yak/Schultz/Eberle years. But one thing I'm sure of is MacT will keep trying until he gets it right, rather than think "oh well.. another high pick won't be so bad!"

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#15 EricOG
June 08 2013, 07:15PM
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Count wrote:

They are not moving yakupov and do SHUT UP

I just love Internet tough guys AND Oilers Management Apologists.

Friend, we Oilers fans are one of the most loyal fans out there.

After all these years of incompetence we have had to endure I can't believe that there are still people who will defend the joke that is 6cuplowe and MastersMcT.

And all this just so that DK can smell Lowe's jockstrap and get a new state of the art building. In the real world, an organization run like the Oilers would be yesterday's news and a topic for studies at a Masters level class.

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#17 Cout
June 08 2013, 07:18PM
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EricOG wrote:

I just love Internet tough guys AND Oilers Management Apologists.

Friend, we Oilers fans are one of the most loyal fans out there.

After all these years of incompetence we have had to endure I can't believe that there are still people who will defend the joke that is 6cuplowe and MastersMcT.

And all this just so that DK can smell Lowe's jockstrap and get a new state of the art building. In the real world, an organization run like the Oilers would be yesterday's news and a topic for studies at a Masters level class.

I meet the bigges idiot on here God shut up

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#19 bazmagoo
June 08 2013, 07:27PM
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Happy to see MacT man up and put him stamp on the team. Will be very interesting to see the personnel changes throughout the summer, and very excited to see if Eakins is installed as coach and lives up to all the hype.

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#20 Quicksilver ballet
June 08 2013, 07:27PM
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Cout wrote:

I meet the bigges idiot on here God shut up

He's just trying to stir things up here. Inject some passion, nothing wrong with that.

In your opinion, what makes one persons opinion more credible than someone else's?

The person who directed this club to 30th, 30th,29th and 24th place finishes, is above criticism?

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#21 Sidd
June 08 2013, 07:33PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

The seventh pick could be part of a deal-sweetener involving Hemsky or Horcoff IF the Oilers are convinced they can get a player they want by moving down.

Bob Mackenzie also said Philly is looking for a Dmen and would entertain offers for Sean Couturier.

Jeff Petry + x = Couturier

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#22 EricOG
June 08 2013, 07:38PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Stop phrasing things in a way intended to draw a negative reaction and you likely won't get one.

There's plenty of room to criticize this management team given the results these past seven years without the "6cuplowe" and "MastersMcT" junk. It isn't witty. It's playground stuff. Save it.

Sorry to have offended you. I have nothing but respect towards you and your work. The first championship I witnessed was back in 1984. I was 10 years old. I loved McTavish as a player and still do.

But I'm a very competitive and loyal person and just hate it when I see the state of my Oilers.

Once again, I'm sorry, but that's just the way I feel about all of this.

Just one thing.... Oilersnation was born as a way to vent and express your feelings with regards to anything Oilers, so that is what I am doing.

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#23 Racki
June 08 2013, 07:41PM
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Sidd wrote:

Bob Mackenzie also said Philly is looking for a Dmen and would entertain offers for Sean Couturier.

Jeff Petry + x = Couturier

I was suggesting that over on Lowetide's site that Petry + for Couturier might be a good trade for both sides. I wouldn't give our 7th, or any significant roster player (even a Paajarvi).. but maybe Rajala and the 2nd rounder or something.

Couturier isn't blowing anyone away just yet, but he's still young and brings a two-way game. We have a lot of talent to surround him with at forward, so I think we could get him going in that regard.

Nuge and Couturier should be a solid 1-2 punch, I'd say.

Moving Petry creates a big whole on the blue, but I also have dreams that we can somehow land a guy of Pietrangelo caliber. That's probably crazy talk.. but there's a couple young RHD that would be nice to acquire somehow (that I'd give up #7 for, along with roster players)

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#24 **
June 08 2013, 07:44PM
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I appreciate the meaning of the cockroach analogy, but still, kind of politically incorrect to compare the 2 assistant coaches to cockroaches.

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#25 Sidd
June 08 2013, 07:47PM
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@Racki

I agree 100% , Oilers won't get Monahan as Calgary will take him. They would have their rugged 2 way center, and they could pick a possible #1 dman for the future at #7. The Doctor.

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#26 Quicksilver ballet
June 08 2013, 07:49PM
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Sidd wrote:

Bob Mackenzie also said Philly is looking for a Dmen and would entertain offers for Sean Couturier.

Jeff Petry + x = Couturier

I'm sure Holmgren wishes he could go back to last summer and re-do the whole Weber thing again. Less than one yr later, these guys appear to be available, after being untouchables last year. Perhaps Poiles trade option wasn't so extreme afterall.

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#27 Count
June 08 2013, 07:59PM
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EricOG wrote:

Sorry to have offended you. I have nothing but respect towards you and your work. The first championship I witnessed was back in 1984. I was 10 years old. I loved McTavish as a player and still do.

But I'm a very competitive and loyal person and just hate it when I see the state of my Oilers.

Once again, I'm sorry, but that's just the way I feel about all of this.

Just one thing.... Oilersnation was born as a way to vent and express your feelings with regards to anything Oilers, so that is what I am doing.

What a tool

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#28 michael
June 08 2013, 08:06PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

There is no reason to fire somebody just because they happen to be a former Oiler, but I'd like to think we're past the point of keeping people just because they are.

How about competence in the job being the telling factor? If MacT can assess that without letting friendship cloud his vision, it's all good.

Competence. Then half of my co-workers would be deuced. I work as a nurse. Trust me there are days I would fire my own ass if I thought it would make the system run better. Guys who are part of the EOOBC just don't only work for the club. Example. Paul Coffey. Klowe calls up PC and asks him to give JS the old party line and get him recruited to come to Edmonton. How about Sather putting up his own cash to bail out Pocklington a couple of years ago. Jari Kurri runs the Finnish National Team doesn't he/ Do you think he doesn't get a call or 2 a year from KLOWE regarding players in the FEL? The EOOBC extends world wide. It may not be as extensive as say the Montreal OBC but after 34 years there is alot ex Oilers out there now who identify themselves with the Oilers. MacT is a guy with alot cache in this market. He didn't fire RK today because he thought RK is a poor coach. He fired him today because RK's style of coaching did not in MacT's eyes match what his vision for this team is moving forward. RK is a good coach. He did'nt get stupid overnight. Your one of the most intelligent sports writers/analysts this town has. When the Sun let you go it wasn't because you got stupid overnight either. I just think that MacT recognizes certain realities in this market and he is aware of some of the cronyism that is within the Oilers organization. Whether he can do anything about is another thing. He just needs to focus on the team and leave the rest to KLOWE to worry about.

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#29 EricOG
June 08 2013, 08:08PM
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Count wrote:

What a tool

Gotta defend the boss at all cost, I respect that...

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#30 JeZza
June 08 2013, 08:10PM
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Hire will smith!

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#31 Count
June 08 2013, 08:16PM
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@EricOG

Tool.

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#32 David S
June 08 2013, 08:18PM
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@Harlie

Aren't you tired of sewering assets like Jones, Smyth, Whitney, Peckham for either not playing to their strengths or not playing them at all?

Those guys did a pretty good job of sewering themselves with crappy play and generally not being competent NHL'ers. Krueger just called them on it.

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#35 Spydyr
June 08 2013, 08:45PM
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What about the pro scouting staff, where Morey Gare, another none EOOBC member, runs the show and Dave Semenko earns a pay cheque?

Look at their past record and give them what they deserve.A fresh start in another place.

Also hope Smyth is also set free.Time to look forward not back.

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#36 Naky
June 08 2013, 08:49PM
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While I'm not shocked at Krueger's dismissal, I will definitely be interested to see what they do with the assistant coaches, and as Robin mentioned, the pro scouting staff which has clearly crapped the bed over the years with no repercussions that we've seen. That being said, I also said for years that Prendergast needed replacing and thought they'd never do him in and they did, so maybe MacT will wake up and do what needs to be done there too. I think this organization's biggest weakness for a long time is being far too patient and far too loyal to vastly underachieving (and perhaps under qualified) employees who ultimately are doing the organization a disservice with their mediocre results.

This may sound cold, but this is a very results oriented business and if I had as many expensive strike-outs as the pro scouting staff has had in the past half a dozen years, I know I'd be fired at my job too. How many millions has Katz spent for bums recommended by them so far? Yikes.

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#37 meowmixman
June 08 2013, 08:52PM
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I scanned quickly through the "WHAT'S NEXT?" section and became very excited when I saw "Will Smith" being mentioned multiple times.

LIES!!!

>:(

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#38 Rama Lama
June 08 2013, 08:54PM
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From all that I can gather about Eakins his calling card is working with youth and development.

Was that not Krueger's calling card........I'm thinking MacT's coaching style compares favorably to Eakins's therefore he got the job.

I'm not sure if this is good or bad?

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#39 Rocket
June 08 2013, 08:59PM
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Lots of love for Will Smith on here. Must be the handful of people who saw his recent movie.

So far MacT has been pretty active. Hopefully it continues this summer.

Couturier for Petry + 7th? Yes please.

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#40 DSF
June 08 2013, 09:01PM
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@Rama Lama

Eakins has been hyped tremendously, mainly by the hyperactive media in the Centre of the Universe.

To be honest, the track record of highly hyped young tigers being promoted from the AHL to the NHL has been pretty dismal. Scott Arniel, John Stevens, Guy Boucher, Cory Clouston, Davis Payne and others were all highly regarded AHL coaches who soon floundered in the NHL.

While there are also some recent success stories, it appears the smarter and safer route is to find a head coach who has significant experience as an NHL assistant.

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#41 Dangilitis
June 08 2013, 09:02PM
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@ robinbrownlee-

"In moving Krueger, as I pondered here MacTavish might May 23 – albeit for a bigger name than Dallas Eakins "

Do you think that he should have gone for a bigger name? Is Tippett talking to other teams? I don't suspect his style would have fit MacT's vision for the team based on playing to its strengths of skill and pace. AV took a bad rap for what happened this year but he had no legitimate #2C for much of the year, and he, like MacT, got a team to game 7. Eakins looks good and an upgrade - but could it have been an even better one?

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#42 TwoSkidoos
June 08 2013, 09:03PM
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I, for one, am liking what MacT is doing. He's living up to what he has said from the giddy-up.

I'm actually excited to see what he does next. He's already done more in 3 weeks than dithers did in his entire tenure here. I'm glad to see someone do what's best for the team and what works for him, not pander to anyone.

So far, so good.

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#43 Racki
June 08 2013, 09:04PM
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@Rama Lama

I think you can debate whether MacT's coaching style was any good or not, but I'd say what IS good about this is that the GM and coach will be on the same page. I think if the coach is saying "I want pluggers!" and you're feeding him Martin Erat, because you think the team needs more skill.. there's probably going to be a problem. Having them both on the same page at least ensures that the coach has the players he needs to get the most out of his team.

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#44 Serious Gord
June 08 2013, 09:07PM
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Count me out of the MacT popularity contest. And robin you certainly don't share the same oilers fans as friends and acquaintances as I do.

The termination if Krueger has been handled abysmally. That he should have been terminated is something I wholeheartedly agree with but he should have been let to the same day tambellini was fired and the a new proper GM search - not a katz/lowe selection from the EOOBC (as you acronym it) - been done followed swiftly by a similar process to acquire a coach.

MacT is both a symptom and posterchild of what is wrong with oilers management.

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#45 Rocket
June 08 2013, 09:09PM
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DSF wrote:

Eakins has been hyped tremendously, mainly by the hyperactive media in the Centre of the Universe.

To be honest, the track record of highly hyped young tigers being promoted from the AHL to the NHL has been pretty dismal. Scott Arniel, John Stevens, Guy Boucher, Cory Clouston, Davis Payne and others were all highly regarded AHL coaches who soon floundered in the NHL.

While there are also some recent success stories, it appears the smarter and safer route is to find a head coach who has significant experience as an NHL assistant.

Yeah no kidding. While I hope Eakins works out, it seems there are other more proven coaches out there that should be considered.

Maybe other coaches don't want to coach The Oilers? Time will tell if Eakins is worth the hype.

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#46 Racki
June 08 2013, 09:10PM
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DSF wrote:

Eakins has been hyped tremendously, mainly by the hyperactive media in the Centre of the Universe.

To be honest, the track record of highly hyped young tigers being promoted from the AHL to the NHL has been pretty dismal. Scott Arniel, John Stevens, Guy Boucher, Cory Clouston, Davis Payne and others were all highly regarded AHL coaches who soon floundered in the NHL.

While there are also some recent success stories, it appears the smarter and safer route is to find a head coach who has significant experience as an NHL assistant.

Those folks in Vancouver also seem to be begging for him to be hired there too, from what I hear. But you're right, an AHL coach isn't anything to get too overly excited about. I'm still optimistic though. Now there is rumor out there that Maurice could also be hired as associate, but a lot of that seems to be more fan driven... but you never know. He was talked to by the Oilers. That combo didn't work out in Toronto though, but those were just 2 years during some pretty dark years there.

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#47 DSF
June 08 2013, 09:16PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Count me out of the MacT popularity contest. And robin you certainly don't share the same oilers fans as friends and acquaintances as I do.

The termination if Krueger has been handled abysmally. That he should have been terminated is something I wholeheartedly agree with but he should have been let to the same day tambellini was fired and the a new proper GM search - not a katz/lowe selection from the EOOBC (as you acronym it) - been done followed swiftly by a similar process to acquire a coach.

MacT is both a symptom and posterchild of what is wrong with oilers management.

This.

Both the new GM and the new head coach (likely) were hired without a thorough examination of the available options.

MacT was hired when Jim Nill was obviously available ...the "stuff" runs down hill from there.

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#49 David S
June 08 2013, 09:21PM
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Robin,

Will either you or Jason be posting a follow-up article that gets more in depth regarding the possible philosophical gap between MacT and Ralph that inevitably led to this decision? MacT wouldn't go into detail today during the presser, but hinted that the media would have a pretty good sense of what that divide consisted of. I'm very interested to understand why this happened from a strategic point of view.

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#50 Rocket
June 08 2013, 09:25PM
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David S wrote:

Robin,

Will either you or Jason be posting a follow-up article that gets more in depth regarding the possible philosophical gap between MacT and Ralph that inevitably led to this decision? MacT wouldn't go into detail today during the presser, but hinted that the media would have a pretty good sense of what that divide consisted of. I'm very interested to understand why this happened from a strategic point of view.

I would also like to know this. Good call David S

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