Exclusive: Daum has his say, takes the high road

I was half-expecting Rob Daum to dump all over the Edmonton Oilers today over how they handled showing him the door, but I should have known better.

Despite being left to twist in the wind for weeks over his future with an organization he’s been a part of since joining the Oilers as an assistant coach for the 2007-08 season — Daum was informed Friday his contract won’t be renewed and he won’t be coaching the team’s AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City — he took the high road.

"I really enjoyed the three years I spent in the organization," Daum said today. "They gave me the opportunity to be a coach in the NHL and I’m grateful for that. I’m not going to say anything bad about a team that gave me that chance."

Daum, 52, must be biting his lip because the way the Oilers handled his sacking leaves a lot to be desired. Coaches are hired to be fired, but the manner in which GM Steve Tambellini fumbled kicking Daum to the curb looks like a management version of a bunch of ham-handed fourth-line pluggers chopping the puck square.

Timing? Like a Zack Stortini one-timer.


Daum knows his numbers in terms of wins and losses in parts of two seasons in Springfield weren’t good enough. He gets it that results are part of the deal, even at the minor league level, and even with an AHL roster that was, to understate, sadly lacking.

But Daum never saw this coming. And why would he? Since the AHL season ended in Springfield over two months ago, he’d been given no reason to believe his future was in jeopardy.

"Despite our record, I enjoyed my time there," Daum said. "I was anticipating carrying on with the organization. I had heard nothing but positive reports.

"Steve (Tambellini) himself mentioned at the end of the year that the coaches in Springfield had done a good job. When I was finally told, I was surprised and disappointed. I didn’t see it coming.

"I know the record (in Springfield) wasn’t good, but I can honestly say that we got every ounce out of that team that we could."


I’d like to know how long ago Tambellini made the decision not to renew Daum’s contract and how long, exactly, the lag was between that call and when Daum was told.

What’s the big deal, you ask? What’s a couple of weeks or a month? Well, in the coaching business, it can be everything. Even a couple of weeks, a couple of days, can make a difference.

Any jobs that do come open are filled quickly. At the very least, short-lists are drawn up. Late entrants in the hiring game, no matter how qualified, often don’t get a sniff.

"This is a kick in the nuts," Daum said. "But it’s not going to change my love of coaching or my desire to be a coach. The timing is not good. It’s just not good at all. Every day can make a difference.

"I haven’t been out there since our season ended looking for a job because I didn’t think I had to. You have to be loyal to your team and I was. I wasn’t talking to anybody."

Late start or not, Daum will knock on doors and press the flesh in the hope a landing a new gig — it might be in the NHL, the minors, even the WHL. Somebody will need a coach, and Daum is certainly that. But it shouldn’t have come to this, at least not this way.

"There’s not a better coach or a person for Oklahoma City than me, but that’s not going to happen," Daum said. "Like I said, though, I’m thankful for the chance I was given by the Oilers. Now, I’ve got to move on."

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • All this talk of the right move, wrong move, low class, no class is fine. Everybody gets to have an opinion about recent organizational changes and how they were handled. What I know for sure is that the training staff and the minor league coach had little or nothing to do with the performance of the Oilers hockey team of late. Another thing I know for sure is if training camp opens with Souray, Moreau, and Pisani on the ice a new training staff and AHL coach won’t help a bit.

    I am a lot more curious about Tambo’s ability to change the face of the hockey team than I am about his ability to fire support staff.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Sheldon Souray:

    “I want a trade. I do. Yes, I do want a trade. It’s not a players thing. It’s not a fans thing or a city thing. It’s a management thing. They’ve given up on me, and it’s a two-way street. I don’t talk to anyone (in management) and I don’t expect to when I check out of here. I don’t really need to talk to them. There isn’t anything to say. Management has soured on me, and I’ve soured on them. The fans are great, they’ve accepted me here, I see the jerseys in the stands. I couldn’t have pictured a more opposite vision of what my experience here would be like. What the organization here would be like, overall.”

    This Daum move is really supporting Souray’s comments from back in April. The management of this team is really tainting the culture of the team from the top down. Too much business, not enough fun and family. yes, i know it is a business…

  • thunderbirdiv17

    I think everyone needs to get over this. I’m sure he’ll find another job. Besides maybe, just maybe Tambo has someone in mind that will do a lot better. Just a thought.

  • It’s hard to ignore what has become a trend with Tambellini in terms of how he seems to treat people.

    Personally I don’t like it but more frustrating is that it seems easier to figure out his character, or lack of character in how he deals with people, than it is to figure out how capable of a GM he actually is.

    It’s mind boggling that he has hit the news so often with his “changes” as often as he has this spring and yet after all of it the team is still as big of a mess as it was at the end of the season.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      “It’s mind boggling that he has hit the news so often with his “changes” as often as he has this spring and yet after all of it the team is still as big of a mess as it was at the end of the season.”

      It’s not that mind boggling considering trades are few and far between before the draft, UFA period hasn’t started yet and the buyout period has just opened.

      • thunderbirdiv17

        There is a perception out there that all these changes are moving the team ahead. I was just offering up a reminder that nothing has been done to actually improve the teams situation as of yet. Clearing dead weight or moving out people that they no longer feel are right for their positions isn’t progress until the new people are identified. Which hasn’t been done in any official capacity.

        That in itself leaves me wondering how this whole thing will shake out considering Tambellini doesn’t exactly come off as a great multi tasker and in 1 week time his decisions on the roster will have to take priority.

        Watching Tambellini this spring makes me feel like I am watching a three card monty game….a lot of action but you know based on history that you’re gonna feel screwed in the end.

  • thunderbirdiv17

    I would say that Tambo is, not a ditherer, but a passive aggressive son of a gun. He seems to be very positive with people to their face, and wait forever to think about things and “see what we’ve got”, but then he lowers the hammer. I think he should be a little more assertive. Not wait forever to make a decision and then overreact.
    Passive agressive. And if you’re going to fire a guy, don’t tell him he did a good job and then fire him out of the blue much later.

  • thunderbirdiv17

    Lowe has all his fingerprints ALL OVER the 4 consecutive years out of playoffs. To the extent all these “dismissals” are symbolic (and not competence/performance based) in terms of moving in a “new direction”, wouldn’t Lowe be the 1st guy to be shown the door in this organization? How symbolic would that be???

    I know Tambellini can’t do that but holy cow the guy (Lowe) is less sticky than teflon don.

    I like Lowe by the way, just sayin…..

  • SkinnyD

    I’d say if it was a slam-dunk that he wasn’t coming back they’d have let him go same time as Prendergast. Perhaps there was a lot of debate behind closed doors, resulting in the ‘late’ decision. Perhaps that speaks to how highly they regard him as both a coach and person.

    The nature of how decisions are made in big business is never quick. I agree with a previous poster – the only real black eye on Tambellini’s resume at the moment is the Khabibulin deal, given that the whole organization had overvalued its team. If he started making ‘quick’ decisions I’d be more worried. Gregor and Brownlee are correct that it’s not preferential for Daum in how this was handled – but I think incorrect in insisting that it could have been done sooner. No one but people within the org and close to the top know why the timing of the decision went down this way – and it doesn’t make them classless not to disclose. But is it disappointing? Yes…especially when it happens to a quality guy like Daum.

  • wyseguy

    certainly this sucks for Daum, I respect that he wasn’t given the opportunity of time to look for a new job. Similar to what some others have said, we don’t know what we don’t know.

    Here’s a “what if”. Tambellini and Lowe are being paid right now to take a deep look at the organization and make some heavy changes. Obviously, if they don’t work, then it’s their ass on the line. What if they looked at Daum as a decent option for OKC, but they also wanted to check out the market for something they perceive to be better? They found something “better”, but it’s taken some time to convince this person to make the move. Now that they’ve got a hand shake deal with the “better” option, they can now let their fall back option (Daum) go.

    Yes, big “what if”, and I made it completely up in my head and I have nothing close to any inside information. We could dream up another thousand what if’s that would make this decision in mid June make sense. My “what if” sucks for Daum, but from the perspective of running your business, it makes some sense.

    We scream for changes and when they come, we scream that we shouldn’t have changed, or this was a bad time to change.

    Just like another had said, we screamed when the trainers were let go. We said the team totally missed the point, cutting trainers loose has nothing to do with changing the culture, attitude and success of this team. Then, even though none of us know the whole story, some information came to light that this was a change that needed to happen. Even a retired NHL player buddy of mine shared with me that this was easily 10 years overdue and the training our Oiler players were receiving was ridiculously old school. Hell, these are the same guys that were around when Semenko said he didn’t like cycling because his cigarette kept going out.

    Long story short, a last place team needs to change in a major way, there’s no way this story has a happy ending for all involved. Lets hold our critisism until it all unfolds.

    That’s my rant.

  • I dunno. Maybe part of my problem is that I some serious doubts about Daum’s ability. I kind of think he might be overrated.

    To be totally honest with you – and I accept this is an ignorant, uninformed opinion of mine – but none of those supposed U of A hockey “gurus” have ever impressed me that much.

    For some reason, the Oilers in the post-Sather era have felt obligated to fill one of their assistant coaching spots with a Golden Bears coach and I’m just not sure if they’ve gotten much bang for their buck. Kevin Primeau? Meh. Billy Moores? Meh. Heck, did Clare Drake even last a year when he coached the WHA Oilers in the 1970s?

    I mean, they were all excellent university coaches, but I think that’s kind of deceptive. I think if you asked around, there would be some hockey people wh would tell you that it’s not all that hard to coach the Golden Bears, mostly because they have the easiest time – by far – recruiting “top” players in Canada.

    By “top” players, I mean the undrafted, unsigned but reasonably-skilled WHL veteran who have got little or no chance of ever turning pro but have four years of free tuition in their pocket. If you’re one of those guys, then the U of A is usually your first choice, for both academic and hockey reasons, out west.

    So if you’re a pretty good junior-A or WHL coach who’s looking for a far easier gig, you high-tail it to one of the big universities and pad your record for three or four or 10 years with players that you didn’t have to work all that hard to recruit.

    Look at Dave King. He was a Canadian university coaching LEGEND but was a complete mediocrity as an NHL coach and … dare I say it … national team coach. He was probably a good teacher for university players but my guess is very little of what he had in his teaching handbook had very much relevance for NHLers or even AHLers. Different skill sets, different attitudes, different environment.

    There are obvious exceptions, of course. Mike Babcock was a good coach at the U of L. Mike Keenan coached … somewhere in Ontario (U of T?). But, as memory serves, they both went from junior-A to university to major junior to the AHL to the NHL. They didn’t get their foot in the door of an NHL team that just happened to be in the same city as their university.

    I don’t expect too many people in Edmonton – fans or media – to agree with me on this, but I wouldn’t be upset if the Oilers opted to cut the cord with the U of A for a while.

  • Can we get back to the Hall vs Seguin debate now?

    The head scout from McKeen’s Hockey listed Hall as the #1 player.

    McKeen’s = Hall
    TSN = Hall
    Hockey News = Hall
    CSS = Seguin
    ISS = Hall
    Red Line = Hall

    So let’s take Seguin, right? The last time CSS was the only agency not in consensus with the rest of the major agencies was in 07, when they had Turris 1st and Kane 2nd.

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      Don’t discount them just because they whiffed on a pick. The only thing history tells us in this scenario is that it would be a bad idea to draft Turris in 2010.

    • The difference being that they just hired a new coach. Scott Arniel had some ties to the assistants and wanted to talk to them first, but ultimately decided that he wanted to hire his own assistants. The interim coach (Claude Noel) also interviewed for the job. It would be a little difficult to “fire” him in April and then interview him for the job, no? Total different circumstances IMO.

  • I know Matty (and others) have been tossing out Versteeg’s name for the Oil. And while he’s another small winger, he’s better than some of the guys they have, so they should definitely be looking at him.

    But the guy I’d be salivating over if I was Tambellini (and you’s) is Andrew Ladd. He’s EXACTLY the type of guy this team needs. Big winger with a scoring touch, 2 Stanley Cup rings and just 80 GP less than Fernando Pisani. Not to say anything negative about Pisani, but if you can get a 24/25 yr old with just about as much experience as him… S-O-L-I-D. I’d be talking Cogliano and/or the 31st pick for a shot at Versteeg and/or Ladd.

    Some of you may already know how I feel about Ladd 😉

      • I remember this about you. You don’t like him as a 3rd liner though? I think given his draft position, expectations were likely higher, but this team needs a big winger to play 3rd line min and chip in with goals & a physical presence. He’s capable of moving into the top 6 at times, too. What’s not to like?

        • I dunno. Maybe.

          He has been for Chicago almost exactly what we would want him to be for the Oilers, but for some vague unidentifiable reason I do not believe he would do it as well here and we would eventually just end up with another overpaid 4th liner on our hands.

          The question comes down to how much he is a product of his team.

          If he came cheap enough…sure, but I see him coming in well over 2 million. Maybe even 3? I guess I haven’t really done a comparison so I can’t be sure, but a universal truth in every professional sport on earth is that role players coming off championships get overpaid.

  • Hemmertime

    C’mon, cut the management some slack. They have pedigree. They obviously have to be classy to be named Forbes worst run franchise.

    I know, I know, thats about money vs results. But I believe the NHL players voted Edmonton poorly run too.

  • Interesting, if nothing else… from Joe Haggerty in Boston:

    The Bruins won’t be moving the No. 2 overall pick in next weekend’s First-Year Player Draft at the Staples Center in Los Angeles despite some pretty juicy offers from rival teams around the NHL.

    Chiarelli characterized one particular trade scenario as “intriguing”, but was adamant that he wouldn’t be moving his chance to pick one of the two elite talents available in the draft.

    “If I decide that the gap between No. 1 and No. 2 was large enough then I would potentially consider a move to bridge that gap and get that player. But right now that gap is very small and I can’t see that changing,” said Chiarelli. “I’ve gotten a lot of offers and a lot of them have been prefaced with ‘Look I have to do this’. But I’ve already stated that I’m not going to [trade the No. 2 pick].

    “There was one [deal] that I was impressed with because they came hard.”

    Chiarelli wouldn’t fill in the blanks on team or players, but did say that it stopped him in his tracks after he heard the package of players and/or draft picks laid out in exchange for a chance to draft Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin. The B’s GM also shot down this rumor that had been making the rounds in recent weeks: Ottawa approached Boston about potentially trading Jason Spezza for Boston’s coveted first round draft pick.

    Chiarelli said he hasn’t even spoken with Ottawa GM Bryan Murray over the last few weeks as the trade winds have started blowing, and that it was a completely baseless Internet creation.

    One thing that Boston seems pretty intent on doing is moving up from the team’s own first round pick at the No. 15 position in the first round. There’s a group of three defensemen that the B’s reportedly have shown keen interest in – Erik Gudbranson, Cam Fowler, Brandon Gormley — but they’re likely to be gone by the time Boston picks again in the middle of the first round.

    Expect to keep hearing whispers Chiarelli and the Bruins want to move up in the first round at least a few spots, and possibly into the top 10 to secure one of the promising young blueliners. The price could be anywhere from the No. 15 pick plus a second-rounder to perhaps a roster player/prospect thrown into the draft day deal, but the action likely won’t start really heating up until the Bruins contingent arrives in Los Angeles next Tuesday.

    “Historically to move one or two spots it’s usually a second round [pick] to move one or two spots when you’re in the middle of the pack [in the first round] if not higher with a player,” said Chiarelli. “I won’t be able to tell until I get there and start talking to teams. There has been a lot of chatter, but as far as draft movement there hasn’t been a whole heck of a lot. I’ve had talks about moving up and down from the No. 15 [pick].

    “I mentioned in my season-ending press conference that we’d be looking to the trade market to improve our team, and more than likely that’ll involve moving some [draft] picks. It gives me flexibility knowing that we’ll be getting a top end talent this year, and have picks both this year and next year.”


    • Quicksilver ballet

      There was one [deal] that i was impressed with because they came hard.

      I hope it was Tambellini directing that effort, hopefully setting the groundwork for further discussions. One has to wonder if Chiarellis position would change if the Oilers announce Taylor Hall as their first selection.

      Interesting times have arrived.

    • Eric Johnson

      I’d say Cogs with 3 40pt seasons (or close to) will get upwards of a 1.5, 2.0, 2.5 3 year contract similar in what we saw given to Nilsson.

      Gagner I would add apprx 300k per season to that.

      Not a lot of 22yr olds with with stats like that.

      • With no arbitration rights and a base salary of $850,000, I don’t see him getting much more than the +10% qualifying offer… 935K. Maybe he gets slightly more, but I doubt he’s anything above $1.5M.

        His point totals also regressed in each of his 3 seasons and he has virtually no bargaining power. His cap hit with bonuses was $1.133333M. Has he really earned more than that on a new contract? Obviously term could play a factor, but I see a 1 or 2 year deal at less than $1.25M. JMO.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          Ya, I’d be looking for 1.5 at the most for Cogs, probably more like 1.25.

          He’s the perfect trading chip to a team like the Hawks/Sharks/Flyers etc that may (or do) need to shed some $$$.

        • Eric Johnson

          With his salary + bonuses at 1.13 as a rookie, I see him being due for a raise. I think if the Oilers low balled a team like Toronto could extend an offer sheet.

          I would also say the team has been worse each of his three seasons. He’s also played all 82 games each year, something to be said about a rookie coming into the league.

          Remember What Glencross got in Calgary for 1/3 of a season of any productivity?

          Either way I’d like to see both him and Gagner signed to a 3 year deal.

  • Eric Johnson

    If the Oilers could get their hands on the number 4 pick from CBJ for Penner +. Then swap 4 and Hemsky to get number 2 from BOS.

    Would that be enough?

    Oilers would essentially have an all rookie team next year but we’d have
    Hall and Seguin…

    It sounds stupid as I write it…

  • oilerdiehard

    A point was raised on Gregor’s show today. That possibly the incoming new assistant GM/GM of OKC, may have indicated he did not want to keep Daum on.

    There may possibly be something to that. Assuming of course the new GM has essentially been decided on and asked if he wanted to keep Daum (who for the record I like and hoped he would be back). It could explain some of the delay in notifying Rob.

    Just after the presser in OKC announcing the new team name. Kevin Lowe was on a live web chat and said the new GM would choose the head coach for the Barons.

    He said something much the same to the local OKC media. Here is a link from a local newspaper story on it below.


  • striker

    First of all, I’m ok with Tambelini’s clean-up, but I am so disappointed with firing of Rob Daum. Talented coach, who was never given the tools to show what he can really do.

    Week player pool on the farm combined with continuous distractions of call-ups screwed everything up. One year is not enough time to assess a coach. He should have been given a minimum of 2-year contract. Very Disappointed !

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @ RC

    Ya, I’d be pumped if they signed up Morrison. Adding him for physical/defensive presence and then a guy like Randy Jones that can give you a little O and a little D in your 3rd pairing.

    Mix in a guy like Ladd for the 3rd line and a guy like Nystrom for the 4th line, and I think we’ve got a solid shot at the PO… with young enough role players to be of use for 3-5 years

  • BBOil

    Would definitely consider either one, but would prefer Horton because of his size and because he seems to be a bit more of goal scorer than Weiss. Think he helps fill our need for a big body and secondary scoring.

    Would never do it for Hemmer, but maybe some combo of 1-2 of Cogs/Brule/Patty O/Picks could entice them.

  • http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/2010/06/16/spector_five_reasons_seguin/

    Spector’s Article, 5 reasons to take Seguin over Hall.

    Honestly, those are some weak reasons to take Seguin. I can legitimately say that I’ve personally raised more convincing reasons why Seguin is the best pick, and I’m not a professional sports writer.

    I dont even have to read his piece on Hall to know that’s the way he thinks the Oil should go. At least pretend to be the devils advocate, Spec. Weak sauce.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Totally off topic

    Umm, does the LCBO have a spelling mistake in their ad? Sasparilla? I am pretty sure it is actually Sarsaparilla… that stuff must be GOOD!

    EDIT: Upon closer inspection, it is Woody’s that has the mistake. Interesting…now back to the Hall/Segin debate… i hear Hall is pretty good, but Seguin doesn’t look like a pig… Discuss.

  • ROBIN, I’m disgusted how this man was dealt with, and I have the following to say to Mr Tambellini:

    Poor decision Tambo !!! Change just for the sake of “change” is regrettably unacceptable. If we take a peek at the following:
    (1) Daum was not one of the old Oilers boys club members, he was a more recent and fresher mind…
    (2) Daum won at the university levels immensely, as well as major junior prior to that…
    (3) He took Houston of the AHL to 50+ wins before coming to Edmonton. 50+ WINS !!!!!
    (4) He was involved and instrumental in the development of the younger players on the Oil when they went on that last third of a season surge in 2008.
    (5) He got more wins out of a 50% “ECHL squad” in Springfield than the Oilers had this last season.

    And what does he get for it ??…. Nothing !!!