One of the three hundred or so questions buzzing through my head as I learned that Steve Tambellini was to become the new General Manager of the Oilers was what his relationship would be like with Craig MacTavish. I wasn’t the only person to have this thought. Given, however, that the HFBoards thread spends more time discussing caning and Dan Tencer (separately) then it does Craig MacTavish and Steve Tambellini, I think there’s some room to expand on this topic.
According to the story on Tambellini’s hire from the Canadian Press, “Tambellini’s first orders of business will be to speak with head coach Craig MacTavish and meet with veterans Shawn Horcoff, Steve Staois and Sheldon Souray, all of whom he knows from various international teams. That will help give him a better read on a squad that went to the Stanley Cup final in 2006 but has finished out of the playoffs the past two seasons.”
This makes a good deal of sense, given that Tambellini and MacTavish have had a good deal of experience working together on Team Canada’s various entries at the World Championships. As per various reports, Tambellini leaned on his coaching staff to some degree in determining which players to approach about playing for Team Canada, and it seems likely that both MacTavish and Tambellini have respect for each other’s level of knowledge and expertise.
Still, I don’t think that this is especially good news for MacTavish. While I think MacTavish is an excellent coach, Lowe stuck with him through some awfully hard times, times when a less loyal GM would certainly have fired him (the seven game losing streak near the start of 2005-06 stands out here). Unlike Lowe, Tambellini never played with MacTavish; their personal history is far less, and despite the fact that Lowe is technically Tambellini’s boss, I really believe that at some point this will be Tambellini’s decision to make. Things look good for MacTavish for the immediate future, but if the team starts slumping a little ways down the line, he could be in trouble.