Hold on, Tambo alarmists

The Oilers get schooled by the Chicago Blackhawks, combined with an article by Dan Rosen and suddenly some people — including OilersNation’s Jonathan Willis — believe that Steve Tambellini is an awful GM and that his job should be in jeopardy. I love a good story, but if anyone thinks that Steve Tambellini will, or should, get fired a year and a quarter into his tenure as GM, they’re enjoying too much of the hippie whiskey.

News flash, people: if you expect the Oilers to improve overnight, it won’t happen.

Anyone who believes organizations plan to lose is kidding themselves. The Blackhawks look solid right now, but until making the playoffs last year, the Hawks had made the playoffs once in ten seasons. Did they purposely tank it for that many years, just so they could be a contender now?

Do you think they planned to be that bad?

Duncan Keith was a 2nd rounder in 2002, and then Brent Seabrook was taken 14th overall in 2003. Dustin Byfuglien was an 8th rounder in 2003. Cam Barker was 3rd overall and Dave Bolland was 32nd overall in 2004. Then Jonathon Toews, 3rd overall in 2006 and Patrick Kane, 1st pick in 2007 were the big pieces.

It has taken seven years for the Hawks to be this good, not to mention they’ve signed big tickets like Cristobal Huet and Marian Hossa, and because of the salary cap this might be their best shot to win, before they have to make some tough choices this off-season.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but signing Sheldon Souray and trading for Lubomir Visnovsky weren’t bad moves, and they aren’t the reason the Oilers sit in 12th place in the west.

Up until this year the, Dustin Penner signing looked like a disaster, and there is no guarantee that if they didn’t make that offer that they’d somehow be better. Would Penner’s absence have made them a bottom three team, and out them into a position to draft Zach Bogosian, Steven Stamkos or Drew Doughty?

No one knows, because there are so many other intangibles in play that you wouldn’t know where they would have finished, but the odds are they wouldn’t have gotten a top-three pick. And so far, outside of those three, no other player in that draft looks like a bonafide star, so how can anyone say that the Oilers would be better off without Penner?

The part that makes me laugh the most is that many feel if the Oilers had a 4th line faceoff guy, that they’d be in the playoffs right now. Do you honestly believe that?

Of course the Oilers could be better, since they are 30th in the league in FO% at 45.8, but the Colorado Avalanche are 29th and the Flames are 28th, yet they’re 3rd and 4th in the standings.

Philadephia (17th), Ottawa (21st), LA (22nd), New Jersey (23rd) and Pittsburgh (24th) all struggle in the dot, yet they are all comfortably in the playoffs right now.

Don’t you think all the injuries have had a bigger impact on the team’s current standings than a 4th line faceoff guy?

Rob Niedermayer is 50.8% in the draw, Blair Betts is 49.5% and both have taken over 200 faceoffs. Would they really make the Oilers better?

There are much bigger problems with the Oilers than a freaking 4th line centre.

Tambellini needs to change the culture, and if you don’t think he is then you haven’t been paying attention. He brought in a new coaching staff, and has given them the reins to try and make this team accountable.

I said it, and wrote it, repeatedly last year that Craig MacTavish wasn’t holding back this team. No doubt it was time for MacTavish to go, but now that he is gone, many of the same problems still exist.

If you thought they would all evaporate in one year, you were dreaming. Injuries to physical players like Stone and Jacques have hurt this team, but they are just a small piece of the puzzle similar the absence of a faceoff guy. This team still has too many guys who don’t consistently out-work the opposition — either physically or mentally. They still make too many mistakes. They still miss too many passes, they still lose too many one-on-one battles.

Did you think that a new coach would magically fix all of these problems, or that Tambellini would be able to rid himself of all the problems with a few phone calls.

The changes need to continue. Pat Quinn and Tom Renney are trying to find out which guys have the character, smarts and skill to play their system. If they can’t after 40 games then I’d expect to see Tambellini start to make some changes.

Any suggestions that Tambellini’s job is on the line is grossly premature and that would be another knee-jerk reaction, which is exactly what got this organization in this situation to begin with.

Bulin’s Back

Nikolai Khabibulin’s back injury will keep him out for at least a few more games, so the Oilers have recalled Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk has played well in the AHL so far with a 9-8-1 record and a respectful 2.77 GAA and .924 SV%.

If Khabibulin is out for an extended period of time you will see Dubnyk play, but if it is just a few games expect Jeff Deslauriers to get his 3rd and 4th consecutive starts.

  • @ Torres Faux-Hawk

    I have a strong opinion on the Khabibulin contract; not so much the player himself. His injury record is a concern, as was some of his Chicago performance, but he's probably an average (10-20 range) NHL starter. The contract, given the market, was downright bad, IMO, and I don't mind being on one end of the spectrum there (although THN called it the "worst" contract of the summer, so I'm not sure that I'm being an extremist there).

    As for Tambellini, I've been supportive prior to this summer, and now I've mopved firmly into "He's been overly-cautious in making changes and has yet to fix the team's problems" territory. I didn't think his summer was good, and while I think he deserves until the end of the season to see if the team he put together can turn it around (and I wouldn't mind being wrong), the early returns are that his moves this summer won't fix the team.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      Bulin is the 19th highest paid goalie, so it's not like he is being overpaid. I to have concerns but it is more about that last year.

    • I know I posted this already, but I think it rings truer when juxtaposed with your quote:

      "I have a strong opinion on the Khabibulin contract; not so much the player himself. "

      vs.

      "As everyone here knows, I’m not a believer in Khabibulin"

      and

      "While I’m still not a believer in Khabibulin I can honestly say that a 50-save effort in a 1-0 win wouldn’t have changed my mind on him either"

  • @Ogden Brother Jr.

    Not overpaid relative to NHL goaltenders as a whole, but overpaid relative to the guys on the market last summer.

    Biron, Roloson and Anderson all got substantially less money for substantially less time.

    The money isn't good but it's not awful; it's the term that kills in this case.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      Rollie has to be removed from that list as he wasn't an option. Anderson went for cheap, but was a big time risk. Clemmenson was really in the same boat as Anderson, how is that looking in Florida? And Biron, well I bet we inquired but at the same time he was asking for over 4mil to start so unless we wanted to wait Biron wasn't an option.

      Tambo went out and made getting a starter the #1 guy to sign. He ended up with Bulin, who knows maybe if he waited we could've gotten a better deal, but there is also that possibilty that we would've ended up with DD and JDD as our goalies.

    • Dan the Man

      "As everyone here knows, I’m not a believer in Khabibulin"

      -Jonathan Willis

      "While I’m still not a believer in Khabibulin I can honestly say that a 50-save effort in a 1-0 win wouldn’t have changed my mind on him either"

      -Jonathan Willis

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I thought the whole point of Tambellini sitting on his hands last season was to "assess what we have". So what is the reasoning for waiting until we are out of the race this year? He should know what we have. We watched this same garbage hockey last year and so did he. We have essentially the same line-up. We have all the same problems. You don't need to be a rocket surgeon to do the math.

    • Chris.

      X2.

      Unfortunately, Lowe/Tambellini still like this group… MacT is probably laughing himself to sleep after watching Quinn's post game comments.

      MacT: Thanks guys for being such great friends; for saying I did a great job and then firing me; and then especially for keeping the same roster! (like I didn't get the insult) Too bad Quinn is getting even worse results! My stock is rising! HAHAAHA! Losers.

  • @ Torres' Faux-Hawk, Others:

    This is the article I wrote here when the Oilers signed Khabibulin. My conclusion is quoted:

    The final analysis: This wasn’t the best possible choice, and the term is a little frightening. All of that said, this isn’t an albatross contract either, and the goaltending should be adequate for the next few years.

    Smoking gun?

  • @ Ogden Brother Jr.:

    Roloson would have taken the same deal he took in NYI here; he said the only reason he left was the Oiler's refusal to consider a second year.

    As for waiting, anybody – and many, incluidng me (although I wasn't the first) – could see there were more potential starters than there were destinations, particularly after Colorado gambled on Anderson.

    But we probably argued about this enough in the summer, yes?

  • @ Torres' Faux-Hawk

    "I'm not a believer" implies the absence of a strong opinion rather than a strong opinion in and of itself.

    I don't believe Khabibulin's a top-ten NHL goaltender. I don't believe he's a magic bullet for the team. I don't believe he was the best possible acquisition this summer. I don't believe his injury record makes him a ood bet.

    All of that fits well with "I have a strong opinion on the Khabibulin contract; not so much the player himself."

    I remain lukewarm (i.e "not a believer") on the player, and disdainful of the contract.

    • Saying that you don't believe in a player and then attempting to state that it has nothing to do with the player himself is quite a stretch. Clearly you and I have very different opinions on what constitutes a strong opinion. If your parents told you they didn't believe in you, would you consider that to be a strong statement?

  • misfit

    "The part that makes me laugh the most is that many feel if the Oilers had a 4th line faceoff guy, that they’d be in the playoffs right now. Do you honestly believe that?"

    I think an argument could be made that a defensive centerman who can win draws and help with the PK would do just as much to get this team into a playoff spot than adding Heatley at the expense of Penner, Cogliano, and Smid, would, even without the career season Penner seems to be having.

  • @ Torres' Faux-Hawk

    Damn it! I've been trying to be objective, and there you go telling everyone that my bond with Nikolai Khabibulin is like the bond between a father and a son.

    Me not believing in Khabibulin has roughly as much emotional weight as internet commenters not believing in me. Namely, none.

    • Dan the Man

      I'm glad we have that settled. I look forward to your next article on what Edmonton's faceoff percentage is when Liam Reddox used black stick tape versus when he used white tape.

  • Everyone backlashed when I said that Tambi was a ghost wandering the halls of Rexall last year. The statement still stands. Outside of 1 deal where he groveled at the knees of a man who spat on the Oiler Jersey and one heck of a fiery speach at the end of the year, Tambi has done zilch.

  • oilerdiehard

    From where I sit, we hired a GM that has been passed over many, many times by his own organization.

    From what I've seen, he hasn't changed a whole lot after his Obama like "Yes we can" speach at year's end.

    No, you can't overhaul a team in 18 months.

    But you can fill a few holes with players not named Mike Comrie. You can get bigger and meaner with smaller moves. You can quit developing players on the fly in the NHL like this team stubbornly does year after year.

    This "culture" change that's talked about needs to start at the top. I still see a stubborn arrogant organization who refuses to take accountability for running it into the ground. The dollars are coming in big time. But the on ice product is not bearing fruit.

    I listen to this man talk about "identity". What is the teams identity? Are they rebuilding, or competing for the cup? We all know the answer as fans, but our GM doesn't seem to get it. Our former GM didn't get it either.

    Their arrogance is laughable at times.

    Gregor speaks of Chicago tanking it for a decade. I'll just say this, we're heading on year 4 out of the playoffs and haven't stock pilled a damn thing as far as prospects and draft pics. I don't see the team dramatically improving even next year. So if we as fans are at 5 straight of no playoffs, no playoffs in 7 of 10 years, is that not tanking it without really tanking it? No Kane (1st) or Toews (3rd) is coming without getting worse, and our GM, current and previous, don't have the balls to get worse so they can get better down the road. Unfortunately they missed their chance and this could be a lot longer coming now. Especially with the long term dough tied into some questionable players.