Do you see what I see? Edition VIII

NHL Draft Lottery Drawing

The Summer of Steve is two weeks old and if the release and re-assignment of the head trainer and equipment managers can garner this much attention, then the rest of the summer will be monumental.

I found it interesting to read people ripping Tambellini for his dismissal of the equipment guys when, in fact; many don’t know exactly what the equipment guys actually do. Unlike critiquing a player or a coach, most of the criticism came without seeing or knowing what these men do.

Suggesting all they do is fill up water bottles, fold towels, sharpen skates and do the laundry is gross underestimation of their roles. Sure that is a part of it, but like in most dressing rooms they can set the tempo of a room.

They welcome new players in constantly, and have to make sure they help them feel at home. They have to be someone the players can trust and most importantly they need to know how to deal with 23 different personalities. It’s not an easy job.

Tambellini said he needed to change the culture of the room, and clearly there were some issues within the room that weren’t just between players. But if you expect to find out exactly what those were you’ll be disappointed.

You won’t get Lowe, Stafford or Sparky to say anything bad about the organization that gave them some of the best years of their lives. And players won’t and shouldn’t bad mouth the trainers.

I can tell you it wasn’t change for the sake of change, and that there were some issues from both sides, but after speaking with those involved on both sides the timing was right to make a change.

Quinn moving on?

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a coaching change. I wonder if Quinn is the right guy to lead the troops into next season.

Calgary Flames v Edmonton Oilers

If Quinn stays Tambellini will have to acquire a few more players who play with fire and grit. Quinn demands a lot from his players, and wants them to be hard to play against, but that’s not the forte of this group right now.

Quinn can get hot under the collar, but when your team is losing and many of your players don’t possess that fire, I wonder if those polar dynamics can work in unison?

It was clear during the season that Quinn was frustrated, and the players were at times equally frustrated with their coach.

Ethan Moreau was ripped when he said the coaches tweaked their system and put guys in more defined roles after the all-star break. He was ripped more because he was playing bad at the time, instead of what he said. And when you look at what he said, you wonder if there was a communication breakdown between the players and their head coach?

It won’t be an easy decision, but if Tambellini decides to change his head coach, he won’t be considered indecisive Steve anymore.

Shooter or shot-stopper

The New Jersey Devils made another first round exit and now Lou Lamoriello will have some decisions to make. He’ll needs to find another head coach, with Jacques Lemaire retiring yesterday, he has to find a goalie that can play at least 20 games, if not more, so Marty Brodeur can stay rested and he’ll have to decide if he wants to pay Ilya Kovalchuk seven million dollars per season.

Jacques Lemaire Announces Retirement from Coaching

Lamouriello admitted during Prime Time Sports on the TEAM 1260 yesterday that Brodeur’s workload has to decrease and he’ll be looking for a goalie that can play at least 20 games. Would Lamoriello be interested in Jeff Deslauriers or Devan Dubnyk? (For the record I think the Oilers will keep Dubnyk).

Jeff Frazee, their 2nd rounder selection in 2005 is their best prospect in Lowell, but he hasn’t played one NHL game. I doubt Lamoriello goes into next season planning on reducing Brodeur’s workload by handing 20+ games to an NHL rookie.

It’s clear that reducing Brodeur’s minutes, and the amount of shots he takes in practice will keep him fresh, but it’s not like he was horrible this year. He won 45 games and is a Vezina finalist voted on by the league’s 30 GMs. In the four playoff games the Devils lost they scored a grand total of four goals. It’s hard to blame your goalie when he’d need to post a shutout in order to win.

Of course Brodeur will be back in New Jersey, but will Kovalchuk be his teammate?

Kovalchuk has yet to win a playoff series, and has only ever won one playoff game. He is an exciting player and one of the league’s best goal scorers, but he has yet to prove his worth in the playoffs.

Those who suggest his six points in five games proved his worth might want to look a bit closer. Three of his points came in one game, and he didn’t score an EV strength goal that wasn’t into an empty net the entire series.

I think he is a great talent, but he hasn’t proven he can be a difference maker in the playoffs and that’s what he has to do if he wants to get paid like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin or Alex Ovechkin.

If any GM pays him more than $6 million dollars, I’d be stunned if that team ever wins, unless he goes to a team like Pittsburgh, Detroit or Washington, or to a team with a dominant centre that he can play with.

High-scoring wingers, who aren’t great defensively or great play makers rarely are the leaders on championship teams. If any team pays Kovalchuk more than Marian Hossa they are making a huge mistake.

Parting shots

Montreal Canadiens v Buffalo Sabres

If there was any debate before, it is obvious now that if the Montreal Canadiens are going to move a goalie it will be Carey Price. Price needs to mature and then he’ll be fine, but his immaturity is partially the Canadiens fault. Allowing him to avoid the media scrums after sub-par performances just encourages him to be act like a spoiled brat. His on-ice tantrums are growing old, and change of scenery will help him.

Knowing Lamoriello he might go after Price and let him learn under Brodeur. Once Price matures he’ll be a decent goalie, and learning from Brodeur might be the perfect tonic.

They say anything can happen in game seven, but can Jaroslav Halak play that well again? I can’t see it happening, but back-to-back game sevens will make TSN, not NBC Must See TV.

I’d keep Dubnyk over Deslauriers because his positioning is better andhe is two years younger (Dubnyk turn 24 on May 4th, Deslauriers turns 26 on May 15th). I like how Deslauriers battles, and I don’t mind that he shows some fire on the ice, but he gets caught scrambling too much, and at this point his game isn’t two years more mature than Dubnyk’s. I’d expect Tambellini to move Deslauriers this summer, rather than bring both guys to camp and risk losing one for nothing on the waiver wire.

  • Halak was out of his mind last night. I felt bad letting in that lone goal after O’Byrne got out of the penalty box & iced the puck. He probably could have made a better decision – instead he was stuck on the ice with 2 other defencemen.

    40 Seconds into this clip on HNIC they start talking about the Training staff.

    I kind of agree with Healy – this should be a non story, except in Canada. If the team is going to get younger, then the organization surrounding the players should get younger.

  • OilFan

    If the trainers are being reassigned why was Brownlee and Willis crying over it ? Good read. I like dobbie also. I hope we can land Price in my eyes he is far better then our young goalies. Thanks again Gregor. How can I be the man ? When your the man !

      • MrCondor

        Robin with Gregor comming out on his show and saying there was some things going on between trainers and players that had an effect on the firing are we still “surprized” at this. And have YOU heard the same things now a few days later?

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Why were players frustrated with their coach? Is it because after every game he said we shouldn’t make drop passes and they continued to do that and end up screwing us up?

    I can see a guy like Cogs being pissed off that he was stuck on line 4, but this is 2 coaches now that did this. Maybe he needs to elevate his game?

  • Ender

    There’s an awful lot of smoke in the last couple days coming from the Oilers Head Coaching position. I expect to see a change there reletively soon, though I must say I’m a bit suprised it looks like it will happen after only one season.

    When Quinn and Renney were hired, it was easy to see a logical succession plan from Quinn to Renney at some point and it made all kinds of sense to have a guy upstairs that had spent time with the organization at ice-level. All that said, I fully expected that it would be Tambellini that Quinn would eventually replace. Now it looks as though it might be Prendergast instead, at least at first. The good thing is, the succession plan is still sound under a variety of timelines. I won’t mind in the least if Renney leads the troops come September, and it’s starting to sound like Quinn might not mind that either.

  • Oiler Country

    If Tambo is really getting rid of ‘what’s old’ in the culture of the Oilers, then lets hope they finally put the vintage jerseys into mothballs as well. I’m sorry but those days are over lets turn the page and put those to rest. Bring back the Midnight Blue jersey as the home jerseys.

    I agree that Quinn will be moved, either up or out and as I have said before I can see a younger up and coming coach added to the staff.

  • OilFan

    OUT ON A LIMB CALL. J.Matheson of Journal makes bold claim today that “no way , no how ” will Bruins trade their first round pick No.2 overall . I say they will deal not only that pick , but also there own first round pick to the Oilers in order for them to get T.Hall ! That leaves Oilers with Sequin , Bostons other first rounder (approx. 23-30th position). Why ? There may be other players or draft picks invovled , but this deal seems eminent and very likely to happen in some way or form . The Bruins want Hall that badly . The deals there for both teams to have a win win position . Oilers either flop picks with Bruins ,or work out an agreement to take Sequin with our first pick . Oilers might even dangle our No.52 pick courtesy of Nashville . The deal only makes sense if Bruins will give up their own first round pick , otherwise the Oilers will in all likelyhood take Hall as their first overall pick ! The deal might even be as simple as Oilers pass up Hall in order for Bruins to get their man , and swap their own first round pick (23-30) for one of our two second round picks (31st or 51st ). I say we will be dealing with the Bruins .

  • Jason, if there was a coaching change would Renney just step up and become the head coach or do you think Tambs would bring in somebody new?

    I agree with the Halak/Price debate. Halak is the only reason that Montreal wasn’t swept, let alone having a chance to upset the Caps.

    • Jason Gregor

      I doubt he brings in someone new. I think Renney expects he will go from associate coach to head coach when Quinn’s contract is over, of if he leaves before then.

      I doubt Renney would agree to be an associate coach under someone else.

  • MrCondor

    I’d agree with keeping Dubnyk as well. I don’t think either of them played well enough for management to claim “this will be our guy”; why not keep the younger guy with the size advantage?

    JDD played nearly 50 games and stole more than a couple of them (see 5 game road win streak). I think he’d be a good backup somewhere. I hope we can get a decent draft pick for him. 4th or 5th round?

  • The Devils need a philosophical change; they cant be all about defense anymore. Jacques Lemaire should have retired a year ago.

    Do you think Kovalchuk will gamble on a team like Pittsburgh and take a severe pay cut for 1 or 2 years?

  • Oiler Country

    Quinn leave??? ..bite your tongue Gregor (or fingers, whatever works). It’s interesting that people say Quinn might not want to build a team that isn’t in his regular coaching style, the players roles are different to what Quinn likes.. yada yada yada.. but Quinn coached the world juniors to the championship to show the NHL he could coach a different style with a young team. The NHL took notice and last year gave Quinn the reigns.

    I’ve never seen Quinn coach just on year of hockey, the big irishman couldn’t let this failure of a team tarnish is hall of fame career. I’d say he’s back next year and then out or move on up. I’d like him take the assistant GM job this year and the GM job next year when Tambo gets canned. Notice how I didn’t say “if”?

    If Tambo guts the head coach, it may because Quinn says, “Get your head out of your ***, build a team right with… ah hell, here let me just do it.”

  • wyseguy

    I was talking to a buddy last night who retired from the NHL a couple of years ago. He never played with the Oil, but has a buddy on the current roster and also stays in touch with a number of players in the league. With all the uproar of letting go the Oil’s training staff, he said he heard quite a number of stories about things that have gone on in the room and this change was long overdue. Like 10 years overdue. He also mentioned the rumour of a new head coach.

    He also said that a losing team and Edmonton being a less desirable place to live has caused them to have to over pay for every player on their roster (his words, not mine). I didn’t think a city made that much of a difference, but he said it’s big. So, if we want to stop overpaying, we gotta start winning and build a positive culture. As has been said on this site before, Detroit isn’t the greatest place to live, but also takes a long time to build a culture like that.

    Not a quick fix, for sure.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      If most people would take a step back and look at the situation from a different angle then they would see this too. It’s not exactly rocket science.

    • Interesting stuff. Rumours are rumours, but they could be true.

      Regarding Edmonton (or Calgary) being an unattractive place to play for NHL players, my beliefs are based on this: If Edmonton was good enough for the greatest player who ever lived when he was in the prime of his life 25 years ago, it’s gotta be good enough for a third-liner.

      That said, I would urge caution on using Detroit as an example of a rotten city that players only flock towards because the Wings are winning.

      Yes, there are parts of Detroit that resemble the neighbourhoods Robocop patrolled, but there are also some pretty toney suburbs (most notably, Auburn Hills) and those are where the players live.

      One thing to keep in mind when comparing Canadian cities to U.S. cities – in the U.S., “wealth” is defined on an entirely different scale than ours. I can remember reading a column in the National Post a few years by a Canadian writer who travelled extensively in the U.S. He said a lot of Canadians would be shocked at how upscale a lot of the U.S. cities we always believed were dumpy, downscale burgs. And these were cities in supposedly backwater “have-not” states (like Little Rock, Ark., or Jackson, Miss., or Tuscaloosa, Ala.).

      The writer went on to say that if you took someone from a city in one of the more wealthy U.S. states, such as New York, Connecticut or California, and jetted him out for a tour of the rich neighbourhoods in our nicest Canadian cities (like Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal), that person would not necessarily be all that impressed.

      The truth is that standards-of-living are markedly different in the U.S., especially if you have a lot of money to spend. And that includes places like Detroit – which only sucks to live in if you’re making less than, say, $100,000 a year. If you’re pulling in more than that, you’re living in a neighbourhood far, far away from the post-industrial blight.

      Anyway, I still think Edmonton and Calgary are fine places to play, but I would hesitate using Detroit as a comparison in our favour.

      • Plasmanut

        I don’t think using Gretzky living in Edmonton while he was making less than 1 million a year in 1985 is a good way to justify why a second line winger making 4 million nowadays would want to live here.

        Gretzky, Messier, Anderson, Coffey and others are sure not living here anymore and if it was so great to live here, those guys would have come back, even after leaving this market to chase fat contracts elsewhere.

        Times have changed, and even kids who grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan know what they can afford and access in a US market (you made that point yourself) Combined with lower personal income tax, climate, the prospect of being rich yet anonymous and about 100 other reasons, it’s a no brainer for most NHL guys.

  • Plasmanut

    Of course a city is big. These days, markets such as Calgary and Edmonton are pretty lame when you’re a millionaire hockey player. Not only do you have to settle for less as far cities, but those teams are not even in the playoffs.

    I spend a fair deal of time in cities such as Phoenix and LA every year, and there’s no question in my mind where I would rather play.

    Out of the fishbowl, playing playoffs hockey and coming home to a street lined with palm trees where your Porsche never gets dirty.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      It’s not like LA and Phoenix have been signing big name UFA’s over the years. Maybe now that they are showing that they can win they will.

      • Plasmanut

        That is precisely what’s going to happen. So things are about to get yet harder for the Edmontons of the world.

        Considering hockey and everything else aside, do you think Kovalchuk would prefer to play in Edmonton or LA? Maybe he individually doesn’t mind. I don’t know the man. I am suggesting that for most guys in his shoes, the decision is ridiculously easy to make.

        • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

          With every team that becomes a more suitable team to sign with that usually means one team becomes a less suitable club, so it evens out.

  • MrCondor

    I can see what you’re saying, but I think I’m still comfortable using the Gretzky analogy, because it still stands the test of time.

    Why? Well, as I recall, he opted to have his wedding here. That tells me that he lived here during the off-season. He didn’t necessarily jump on a plane after the playoffs ended, never to return until training camp. He lived here, he made a life here. Yes, he was probably getting too big for here and would have (voluntarily) followed the other superstars out the door when the time came, but there was a time when No. 99 was making millions here and choosing to live here, too. In hindsight, it seems fleeting, but it happened.

    It’s important to always keep that in mind because that’s the gold-standard: If it was good enough for Gretz, it should have been good enough for people like Nylander and Heatley and Peca and, yes, Mr. and Mrs. Pronger. I wish more people realized that.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      The thing is your theory really has no barring on impending UFA’s? Who did we ever really sign away from another club back then? It was more guys brought in via drafting/trading. It’s not like Gretzky choose to start his career here.

      Once he and others started playing here they seen the success that the team could have and decided to stay. Back then there was also alot less options for players. Back in the 80’s there was what 20 teams?

      Totally different era, back then players didn’t leave via free agency as often either.

    • This Gretzky analogy does not hold any water. You’re saying it stands the test of time, but it’s a different CBA now, and movement by players is very different now than it was in 1985. Just because it was that way 25 years ago, does not mean it “stands the test of time”; it just means that’s the way it was 25 years ago.

      I agree with Original Ogden Brother on this – I would be very surprised if any player based their decisions on what Gretz did in 1985. If they did, why don’t more NHL players have thier wedding’s here, and why don’t they all pose with chocolate bars on a couch*?

      *like this:

      • Deep Oil

        I can see what you’re saying, but I think you’re looking at my point with a CBA-perspective and not the “quality-of-life” perspective that I was going for.

        You’re absolutely right – Gretz didn’t leave because he couldn’t, I suppose (although I would think that if he really wanted to leave, all he had to do was ask and Puck would have pulled the trigger). Bottom line: He was under contract with the Oilers so he couldn’t leave. I get that.

        My point is this: At no point do I ever recall Edmonton’s relative size or ameneties being much of a consideration back then with Gretz. That’s why I brought his wedding up as an example – No. 99 could have been hitched in Brantford or St. Louis (JJ’s hometown) or Toronto or the Bahamas or a drive-through chapel in Vegas.

        Instead, he opted for a marriage right smack-dab in the middle of the fishbowl, during the off-season. To me, that little fact transcends everything else – if Gretz found a way to make a go of it in Edmonton – regardless of the CBA and the state of free agency back – then all others who have come after should have been able to as well.

  • I would be shocked if any team really is anxious to jump on a Dubnyk or Deslaurier trade, especially if they’re transitioning from a future hall of famer to one of them. But I do think Price is a likely bet for going there.

    Halak is looking better and better all the time now. It irks me because I know a small few of us were getting flamed (elsewhere) for suggesting the Oilers go after him last season. And I think for a bit there, he wouldn’t have been so hard of a guy to pick up. Oh well.

    As for Quinn, if he leaves his coaching post, I hope they fit him into the head office somewhere. I think he would have some good ideas for how to make the team better and it would be disappointing just to cut him loose. I think no matter who is coaching, it’s clear they need some personnel changes in the lineup anyways, so I’d rather see the Oilers clean up some of our roster and hang on to Quinn.

  • wyseguy

    I’m not saying that choosing a city to play in wasn’t an issue, I just didn’t think it was as big of an issue as some other things ($, chance to win). They play for 6 mos of the year, of that they spend less than half their nights in their own bed. During the season, their life is predominently hockey. Virtually every player in the league has an off season home other than where they play anyways.

    It just surprised me to hear it is a big deal for players, I obviously underestimated it. Of course, I live in a different world than a millionaire hockey player, so it’s hard for me to relate.

      • wyseguy

        Good question, I don’t know. I live in West Kelowna, and quite honestly I don’t want to move anywhere. I’m a strange duck though, I’d prefer to live in a place with winter all year long. Skiing and hockey on the back yard rink is heaven for me.

        I’m not a big fan of the US, so I likely wouldn’t answer your question like most would.

  • Deep Oil

    You hear about these hockey players spending their days on rinks in their backyards in Canada imagining playing for the Stanley Cup. How early in the morning and how cold it was when their parents were driving them to the rinks at 5:30 in the morning. Picking up a Tim’s on the way to boot.

    Where are those guys? Now you got these overpaid p***ies who’d rather hit the beach then hit the snowmobile. I know that good Canadian kids are what make up the NHL but please, where did all that passion go? It just isn’t the culture in Edmonton it’s the culture as a whole in the NHL. Bettman got his sunbelt teams and all of these wimps followed suit. Would I want to live in somewhere warmer if I had millions of dollars? Most likely but then again I love this country. I couldn’t live in the states where I couldn’t wake up in the morning and walk down a street and see a thousand people.

    I think the NHL players just need to come and say it flat out, I hate playing in a colder climate because I’m an overpaid wimp now. When I was in pee wee’s I did dream about making millions of dollars and thanks to Gary Bettman move to Florida or California and be able to swim in a beach right after a game. Maybe that was Bettman’s plan the whole time, give all of these guys places nice and sunny year round to play so they don’t want to come back to Canada.

    • You need to practice, get better at hockey, then you can make an awesome statement by signing somewhere less desirable to live.

      Until then, the overpaid pussies that are very good at hockey still get all the votes.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        Or some of those overpaid pussies just stay put and enjoy the team that drafted them.

        Didn’t JBO come back to Canada 😉

      • One in a million people in every country get to call themselves professional athletes. I’m merely saying that a lot of these guys who go on record saying that they spent years in cold and what not as the best years of their lives are suddenly not wanting to play in a hockey rich environment complete with optimal hockey weather.

        Now being an Oiler’s fan that doesn’t bode well for me seeing that every free agent from here to Boston wants nothing to do with Edmonton. Why? Mostly because of the weather, I’m not making a statement, I was trying to call a spade a spade. And next time in their interviews leave out the early cold mornings and say whats really on their minds.

  • It would be interesting to be able to go back and find out if economics was the only reason players like Doug Weight and Bill Guerin decided not to sign here.

    If we had the money to pay them, would they still have left?

    • Crackenbury

      It’s a simple case of poor reporting and not getting the facts straight. The Oilers Foundation doesn’t spend 80% on admin costs. The cost of prizes for their lottery are included in the so-called “admin fees”. I would expect to see a retraction or correction from the original source in the not too distant future.

  • Deep Oil

    “They say anything can happen in game seven, but can Jaroslav Halak play that well again? I can’t see it happening, but back-to-back game sevens will make TSN, not NBC Must See TV.”

    I think people said that about Dwayne Roloson in 2006 too and look what happened there.

  • Deep Oil

    Nice article Gregor, as usual you’ve gone and got the real story from the horses mouth. I can see the need to change the entire culture around the team. These guys interact with the team regularly, so its not like firing the janitor. I agree, take DD, he has more pedigree, more potential. We need a coach who is more coddling, less firy. Renney should be our guy methinks, but just my opinion. Renney coddled Jagr for years, so he is a good coddler.

  • misfit

    If Khabibulin was brought in at least in part because of his reputation as a mentor to young goalies, then why wouldn’t the Oilers look into bringing in a kid like Price? If we’re rebuilding, it would probably be smart to try to bring in someone like Price who can solidify our goaltending situation for the next decade or so since Khabibulin isn’t going to be around forever, and most teams who have players like Price aren’t usually open to moving them.

    Of course, I didn’t hear any mention of Khabibulin being brought in as a mentor to our young goalies when we signed him, but Tambellini was sure to bring it up after it was clear this season was going down the toilet and the “rebuild” talk started.