Tambellini: “I’m not concerned about next season at this point.”

Steve Tambellini addressed the media earlier today; the video above comes from the Oilers’ official website. The quote in the title doesn’t come from that video, it comes from the longer audio version of his conference.

I’ve quoted out the portion of the audio segment that jumped out at me:

Reporter: Do you give it another month Steve, and if Khabibulin is long-term, and we know Ales is long-term, do you say ‘well, maybe we have an opportunity to build for the season next’, and see where this one goes with the kids and things might turn out better than expected…

Tambellini: Yeah, I’m not concerned about next season at this point. We’ve got two young goaltenders that are very skilled. I can’t see any reason why they couldn’t do the job.

Reporter: You like the young goalies? That seems daunting.

Tambellini: There’s a lot of teams that you take out a number one goaltender on an NHL roster, and you never can replace a legitimate number one goaltender, whether it’s Brodeur or Khabibulin, or Luongo or things like that. We have two people in there that have proven that they can play, and I feel no reason why they couldn’t do the job.

Reporter: So anyone out there thinking that they should start building for the future – as in next year – you say, (inaudible).

Tambellini: It’s November, and we’ve got a long ways to go here, we’ve got a long ways to go as far as improving our team, whether it’s Springfield or people that are here, we’ve got a long ways to go.

Stauffer: Steve, are you frustrated or pleased that some of the guys who have come up from Springfield have outplayed some of the guys that are here?

Tambellini: Overall, Bob, I’d say I’m pleased. I thought specifically O’Marra and McDonald that came up have played very well, I thought Chorney when he came up played well. I feel good about that, that players are coming up and able to jump in our system right away and produce, so it shows that they’re playing with confidence down there.

Reporter: You think your leadership group is going to keep this group together, keep them in a positive frame of mind?

Tambellini: I see no reason why not.

Is Tambellini spinning things here, or is he giving an honest appraisal of the situation?  Given how some of these remarks (particularly the one in the title) will play, I’d guess he’s being honest; if I were spinning I’d say something to the effect of "we always have an eye to the future, but right now my focus is on winning this year".  Regardless, Tambellini’s public comments are the best look we have into what he’s thinking.

My personal take on his comments basically boils down to this:

  1. "I’m not concerned about next season" has to be a slip of the tongue.  Only a prize idiot could look at moves and not try and calculate the ramifications for the season after this one, and given how long Tambellini’s been employed by NHL teams I have trouble believing he’s a prize idiot.  A good G.M. is always concerned with next season.  Long-term planning is an obvious requirement of the job.  I’d suggest that he meant something more along the lines of what I wrote above; namely that the primary focus is on this year.
  2. Tambellini seems to contradict himself on the goaltenders; in one sentence he says that you can "never replace" a Khabibulin, and in the next he says he sees no reason why Dubnyk and Deslauriers can’t do the job.  Presumably he thinks they’ll be good enough to give this team a shot at the playoffs.  I’m not sure I buy that assessment; this strikes me as a team that needs above-average goaltending to win.
  3. Tambellini continues to refuse to say anything negative about the players on the team; a far cry from what he was doing in the off-season when he basically called everybody out.  I don’t actually have a problem with this; if he wants to keep those things behind closed doors, power to him.
  4. Tambellini started the interview by discussing how difficult it is to make trades, and near the end he talked about "whether it’s Springfield or people that are here" as the answer, so whatever help is coming would seem to be coming from inside the organization.

In short, at this point I simply hope that what he says to the media doesn’t mirror what he says behind closed doors.  This team may be a contender in the future but it isn’t now; therefore all moves should be made with an eye to the future.  This team probably needs to be bailed out by the goaltenders; average won’t get the job done.  There are definite problems on this team, and they need help from outside to get the job done.  All of those statements are at odds with what Tambellini said today.

  • Scuba Steve

    @ Rosscreek

    Ya, it deffinitly seems darkest now. But if this teams does what they should do this year (ie finish bottom 3) the framwork for an elite group of Forwards will be underway.

    Gagner/Eberle/MSP and hopefully Hall would go toe to toe with any group of 21 and under forwards in the league.

  • BarryS

    Jonathan – Tambellini didn't analyze or assess accurately the state of the Oilers at the end of last season. If Heatley had come here they would have lost 3 players that would presumably have had to come from the minor league team to fill those 3 spots. No free agents were going to sign here and they would have been up against the cap anyway.

    Tambellini is numb from the neck up based on those comments. Even if he is simply dissembling to cover for the organization it is a stupid tack to take in front of people with good memories and his words digitally recorded. When his name came up earlier this year an NHL scout or management type rolled his eyes and made some sort of a remark about his extreme reluctance to manage. That observation I believe was made by someone contributing to this site's articles. I just wonder how much time he will be given before he gets fired for the poor results signing, trading for and developing players for this organization?

    His remarks above are an insult to the intelligence of the average Oiler fan. He may well be just that dumb.

    You don't get in to an Oiler game with a smile and $25.00. If they are charging fans top sports dollars they have some sort of obligation to have a half a clue and put a respectable product on the freaking ice!

    • BarryS

      And what, pray tell, is the intelligence of the average fan? Last I heard there were no intelligence tests required to be a fan.

      Personally, I think anybody who spends a couple hundred bucks for a seat at anything is quite lacking in intelligence, but then I can remember paying 400.00 for the season and 100.00 for playoffs per seat in what is now Rexall.

      (P.S. I only gave up the seat I used to own when they became 3000.00 a season and a 1000,00 for the Playoffs and the new non-hockey fan, now former, wife wouldn't let me spend more on games than food for the table, so I'm not saying I'm any more intelligent than any other fan, likely just poorer. See former wife.)


  • BarryS

    @ RC

    I don't know why so many people want to give Tambs a free pass for last year, he was hired early in the summer with a few glaring holes that could have been filled relativly cheaply.

  • On another note…

    … I was at the Colorado game a couple weeks back, and I got cornered into a survey before the game. The chick asked where I looked first for Oiler news (wierd cause I was wearing my Flames hat) and I told her OilersNation.com. I actually gave her that answer for 2 or 3 questions I believe. Shout out to ON!

  • I was gonna mention Arnott at first too until I re-read it and saw legitmate SUPER star. Missed the super 1st time around.

    Best draft picks over the past 20 years (in order)….

    Jason Arnott (7th)

    Ryan Smyth (6th)

    Ales Hemsky (13th)

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    i am mroe critical of the Oilers scouting and drafting than anyone I know, but in reality , going back 27 years, I can't think of one superstar who was available to be drafted by them that they did not pick. I suppose Nick Lidstrom…other than that? They could have had Iginla in 1995, but really it would have been good enough if they just drafted Doan. Players like Getzlaf, Kovalev, and others of equal quality were available, but there were no superstars like Sakic, Lemieux, Forsberg, Ovechkin or Crosby available when they drafted. To my mind Iginla is the only obvious one as Lidstrom was drafted in the fourth round so nobody picked him up.

    • Chris.

      Nothing has kept the Oilers from trading for high picks… I mean you can tank for an entire season to get a good pick… or you can do what Boston did: Develop good overall organizational depth with secondary picks so you can afford to trade a quality roster player (Kessel) to a struggling franchise for what may end up being the first overall pick. The Oilers just can't seem to ever develop or maintain good overall organizational depth… Guess it's tank job time.

      • BarryS

        I believe even now the season ticket holders, you know, the guys who really pay the freight, would string up the GM at the mere mention of tanking the season. And don't think they will now, when they haven't for twenty years.

        And did you forget, Boston did not make the trade because they wanted to, the player forced them two. And who was to know, the great Brian Burke would suddenly revert to minor leaguer manager and offer two firsts and a second for a player he would have to overpay to keep? Hardly an example to use. And given where the Human Rake is, and where Penner is, we even won that forced trade, strange as it may seem.

        • Chris.

          Did you actually say Lowe "won" the Pronger trade? Pronger was traded to Philly with only one year left on his contract for a return comparable to what Annaheim gave up for him in the first place. Essentially, the Ducks aquired Pronger (who was signed long term to a value contract in the prime of his career), won a cup with him, and then traded him for the same quality back several years later. The Oilers clearly got screwed.

          • BarryS

            Stats say Anaheim has the same points we do, tonight so which quality players did you mean? Pronger only helped them win one cup, so did Carolina and they never had Pronger. Since we still have Penner and the same points, even as the most injured team in the league, as the Ducks, run that by me again?

            Oh, yes, and who signed Pronger to that good contract?

          • BarryS

            I stand corrected, that's right Penner was the RFA contract, the same one Burkie could have used and decided to screw the team more by trading two firsts and a second instead of an RFA tender for the same money, no way Boston could match.

            Remind me, How did we get bilked? The Ducks won one cup, with Pronger to join Calgary and Carolina as one cup wonders. They should have had more before and after Pronger came. They have what left after Pronger left?
            We got Smid 6 points + 7 Eberle ? Riley Nash ?

          • BarryS

            Given we have one traded guy on the roster from that trade and they have none, seems we get the edge. As well, our Pronger got us further with less talent and thus was more valuable to us, than Pronger was to them, seems he got suspended a game in the finals, on a team that should have had at least one cup before he came, and one more after, hardly seems a pillaging to me.

            As well, Penner being on the roster and being a "star" on it and Myers, Schultz, and Petrov, still in the minors, junior, or whatever, but not on the 50 contract roster, hard to make a case Lowe didn't win that one as well.

            That is as of tonight, not next year or whatever.

          • BarryS

            But not for the Ducks which is my whole point, And the only point is, Lowe was perhaps not as bad a GM as people like to believe.

            I.E. Horcoff at 5+ million and – 10 and playing injured is not as bad a signing as Nash at 7+ million and -8 on the +/- tables, means among other things he can score but he can't even check his hat.

            I goals sell tickets, while being a + in the +/- only helps win championships.

          • Chris.

            Lowe cashed in on the once in a lifetime salary cap contraction coming off the lockout to aquire Peca and Pronger… He then used the uncertainty to ink Pronger long term (Yay!), nearly won the cup, and then utterly failed to get enough return for the key assets that left since then. The Pronger that was under contract for four full years in his early thirties should have landed the Oilers more via trade than the mid thirties Pronger with only one year left…

        • Chris.

          You said: "And did you forget, Boston did not make the trade because they wanted to, the player forced them two. And who was to know, the great Brian Burke would suddenly revert to minor leaguer manager and offer two firsts and a second for a player he would have to overpay to keep? Hardly an example to use."

          I think it's a perfect example to use. Boston is a contending club that will also have a lottery pick this summer. That's good quality management… Just like Sather unloading Gomez is an example of good managemet, or Burke bilking Lowe for Pronger and so on…

          I need sleep. Will check this thread tomorrow.

  • Cogliano should get the next 20 games on a wing with Horcoff & O'Sullivan. See what he's capable of as a 2nd line winger. Perhaps he succeeds, perhaps he doesn't. Maybe he turns out down the road, who knows. But if he doesn't look like he can fill a top 6 role on a poor roster now, then I'd look to move him for someone else that is a better fit. With Hemsky out, the time is now to see if the smurf is a keeper. Also, with Hemsky out, Nilsson may get one more last-chance, but shouldn't before Cogliano IMO.

  • BarryS

    @ Chris

    Your using a very short mesuring stick to proclaim Howson > Oiler managment.

    Also, as much as I hate the injury excuse. Barry is right, the Oilers record you see today is skewed due to all the injuries. Mirror our injuries onto the BJ's and I'm sure they would be equally under-performing.

    • Chris.

      Two points.

      First, Short measuring stick? Life is short. Hockey careers are shorter. I'm simply saying Howson has helped turn Columbus around since assuming GM duties in Columbus. By comparison, Tambellini has done virtually nothing as GM of the Oilers… IMO, replacing Roli and bringing in Comrie and O'Sullivan did nothing to fill holes or bring balance to the lineup.

      Second, are we really sure the Oilers are underperforming? (Have we really been "under-performing" for so many years?) Quinn himself has indicated the Oiler may not be in a "funk", but rather their record is an indication of where the team is at. Hossa is better than Hemsky… but the Blackhawks still dominated without him. IMO, Injuries have a greater impact on poor organizations; exposes them more… Injuries can prove that the appearance of competativeness is akin to a house of cards.

      • BarryS

        Well consider the team is far below where they were at any point last year (with basically the same roster), they are either:

        A. Underperforming

        B. Quinn is an absolute idiot/MacT was briliant

      • Chris.

        Not to totally excuse Tambellini, since as time goes on this mess will have his fingerprints on it more than Lowe's…but there are a couple of differences between Howson and Tambellini's GM reigns:

        1) Howson's had 1 extra year to turn that ship around, so I'm willing to give Tambellini this one season to do the same before I fully partake in the hate.

        2) As far as I can tell, Howson didn't have nearly as bad a cap situation to deal with as Tambellini did when he took the job.

        The thing that really frustrates me is this uncertainty as to who is really running things around here…is Tambo really the GM when it comes to making the decisions, or is Lowe still steering this ship while Tambo is there to do the GM-specific day to day grunt work so Lowe can have that gigantic brain of his free to concoct his latest grand scheme.

        • Chris.


          The BJ's aren't a cap team, so we really don't know what his $$$ restrainst are.

          ie cap space is worthless if you aren't able to use it.

          Poor poor Tambs, what a bad cap situation. Some guys are overpaid, some guys are underpaid

          Horc 1.5
          Staios .7
          Moreau .5
          Pisani 1
          O'sully .5

          Nilsson should have been sent packing to Europe…other teams do it, not sure why we are so reluctant.

          So not even counting the "underpaid" players, is this team a 4.2 million dollar player away from being a Cup contender?

  • BarryS

    Want to know the difference between the two Pronger trades?

    Leverage. We didn't have it, the Ducks did (in both trades)

    Also, our Lupul >>> more value then the Lupul the Ducks got back (he was basically a salary dump the second time around)

  • BarryS

    I would like to see the oilers make some sweet plays (tic tac toe goal)get hat-tricks, Show stoping saves, Maybe some big open ice hits that make you think it should be reviewed by the NHL. A good fight from our fighters that put fear in the eyes of other teams. Shut-outs, blow-outs and shoot-out wins or last second goals for the oilers would be great to see. Maybe those are the little things we can work on until Hemsky gets better.

  • BarryS

    Anybody else notice Quinn seems to have no clue about how to organize the Shoot Out. To me, this seems his prime weakness, giving away the extra point on shootouts as if they don't matter. And that includes Gagner who seems to over think his moves or else all the goalies are on to him. Anyway, at the moment he should no more be a first three pick than Penner.