The Boss wades in

What’s this I hear about GM Steve Tambellini letting his coaching staff know he was less than impressed with the Edmonton Oilers mistake-filled 3-2 win over the New York Islanders Monday?

I’ve got it from a reliable source that was indeed the case, as Tambellini met with head coach Craig MacTavish and the rest of his coaches in the dressing room area after the game. I’m led to believe it was not a happy bunch that emerged from the meeting of the minds.

Now, admittedly, I don’t know what was discussed, but it definitely wasn’t a session of high-fives after the Oilers needed a couple of lucky goals by Kyle Brodziak and Jason Strudwick to send the hapless Isles to their 13th straight defeat on the road.

What seems clear is that Tambellini, now 38 games into his tenure as GM, is starting to make his voice known after sitting back and assessing what’s what since taking over from Kevin Lowe. Maybe Tambellini was unhappy with the Oilers fumbling and stumbling through the first 20 minutes against the worst team in the NHL. Given how the Oilers had already blown off points against the awful Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators, that would be understandable.

Maybe it was a broader discussion than that, given how wildly inconsistent the Oilers have been and that they’ve delivered far too many, shall we say, uneven performances this season. That would make sense, too.

Maybe it was a bit of both.

JUST WONDERING

Now, I’m just speculating here, but I wonder if anything that was said by Tambellini Monday played into the fact that Gilbert Brule is finally getting a shot on the top line as a fill-in for Ales Hemsky?

Could it be Tambellini, like a lot of fans, was mystified by MacTavish’s decision to put Liam Reddox on right wing on the top line with Shawn Horcoff and Dustin Penner while Hemsky recovers from a concussion?

I never did get it that MacTavish seemed to suggest that Brule didn’t have the experience to take that role, despite having more than 150 games on his NHL resume, while Reddox, who now has 18 games, did.

Tonight, after, ahem, reconsidering that stance, MacTavish will give Brule his chance to shine when Mats Sundin and the Vancouver Canucks come calling. Hmm.I wonder — and again, this is just speculation on my part — if Tambellini has asked himself some of the same questions many fans and some of us on press row have about personnel choices by the head coach?

Time will tell. One thing’s certain, at least I think it is — Tambellini isn’t just here as a puppet for Kevin Lowe, now the president of hockey operations. I get the sense Tambellini’s done sitting back and that we’ll see him start to make his imprint on this team before very long.

From where I sit, the sooner the better.

— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

  • Chris

    Steele wrote:

    If Tambo went Rambo on anyone, it should be the forward units. Not the coaching staff

    Or the coaching staff that thinks Reddox is a first line forward.

  • Steele

    Hmmm, all of this is pretty interesting, but – tell me if I am wrong – isn't the brunt of the "Oilers loosing" really fall on the offence? I mean, sure WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES, but, besides Gilbert (teetering on the edge of failure/fame) & Staios (getting old – was never a big physical conditioning guy) the D has been solid. It's the forwards that are not putting the puck in the net.

    If Tambo went Rambo on anyone, it should be the forward units. Not the coaching staff (very good), nor the D (including the 3 headed G-unit).

    ~Steele

  • Rick

    jeanshorts wrote:

    Remember the first time dad left you the keys to his car? ANYBODY????

    I remember that day well…I drove it up a telephone pole.

    So does that mean the Oilers are heading for an even bigger train wreck than they have been?

  • RobinB

    jeanshorts wrote:

    Remember the first time dad left you the keys to his car? ANYBODY????

    So why didn't you go down into the garage, close the door tight and fire up the family wagon like he was hoping?

  • Thank god it looks like the gears are finally starting to be put into motion.
    Although, does it seem a little odd to anyone else that Tambo started kicking chairs around the same day the Kevin Lowe was in Ottawa for the WJC? Remember the first time dad left you the keys to his car? ANYBODY????

  • swany

    If we see another effort like the Islander game a meeting with the players might be next. Remember Brian the idiot Burke did that with the Ducks and they sure picked it up after that.

  • Al Hamilton

    Rick wrote:

    Sorry for the double post but…
    I am wondering how MacT essentially letting the players off the hook by giving them yesterday off fits into Tambellini going off the rails on him on Monday?
    Seems unusual that in this case the crap didn’t seem to flow downhill. After all when all was said and done it was the players on the ice executed the game plan like a beer league team.

    Maybe Tambo bag skated MacT and staff so the players got the day off……

  • Chris

    Tambo IS beginning to assert himself… and it's about time. Tambellini was on Gregor's show last night, and Gregor did a nice job of pressing him for an explanation of how the front office group dynamic functioned. After some tap dancing, and the usual platitudes like; "Decisions are made as a group", and; "I came here because of Kevin", and so on… Gregor asked him who had the final decision or veto as it were and Tambo said, "I don't know if it's veto, but at the end of the day, I'll have to stand up and make any decision as manager of the team…" to be followed by many qualifying and softening remarks. It all on the just a game home page.

    Finally the Lowe reign of ineptitude may be at an end…
    Sort of. In an Oiler kind of way…

  • Joe

    Good.

    I know that coaches and fans see things in the short term (game to game) whereas upper management sees things in the long term. I'm happy that he's finally stepped in. Systems are sloppy and stale, and maybe this will finally be a step in the direction of rectifying these problems. We can only hope at this point.

    Tonight's game will be a good starting point to see what direction these coaches will take this team in from here on out.

  • Rick

    Sorry for the double post but…

    I am wondering how MacT essentially letting the players off the hook by giving them yesterday off fits into Tambellini going off the rails on him on Monday?

    Seems unusual that in this case the crap didn't seem to flow downhill. After all when all was said and done it was the players on the ice executed the game plan like a beer league team.

  • Rick

    It's about time he's done sitting back, count me in with the group that believes Tambellini has been more of a puppet to Klowe than truly a GM.

    I don't recall another instance where a GM was hired and then waited 5 or 6 months before putting some kind of his own stamp on the team which is what we are still in the process of witnessing. Two waiver pick-ups certainly don't count in that regard.

    As for not being happy about the Islander game, good. I don't necessarily believe that all the problems drop at MacT's feet but if I have to hear him talk about how the Oilers weathered the pressure from the opposition one more time I will puke.

    It's a novel approach I know but how about forcing the opposition to try and weather the Oilers pressure for once, particularily on home ice. Maybe the Brule move is a sign of that, or hopefully it is anyways.

    Maybe it's an indicator of a slight shift from trying to play it safe and by not losing as opposed to actually trying to win…