If Steve Tambellini was a member of the bomb squad with the Edmonton Police Service instead of the GM of the Edmonton Oilers, he’d be nothing more than smoking shreds of DNA by now.
While Boston GM Peter Chiarelli was busy convincing Florida boss Dale Tallon to drop his trousers in the Nathan Horton trade, Tambellini was no doubt preparing his dissertation to the media after deciding he’d seen enough of Pat Quinn as his coach.
That little ditty — Tambellini’s pitch that Quinn saw the bullet coming because handing Tom Renney the job was always in the plans and had been discussed — blew up in Tambellini’s face like a satchel of C4 once Quinn later had his say on a conference call with reporters.
By afternoon, it became pretty obvious Tambellini and Quinn weren’t on the same page at all. That’s no surprise. Neither, given recent history, is that Tambellini fumbled handling the announcement, given he long ago blew off most of his fingers.
All thumbs he is.
HAD TO GO
Now, before anybody accuses me of whining or suggests I think Quinn got a raw deal, I’ve got no issue with bumping him to pasture in the form of the "senior advisor" job he’s been given. Quinn has a year left on his contract, and the 68-year-old Irishman might as well earn it bitching about "kids these days" instead of being paid out.
Given the team’s dismal showing this season and rumblings Jason Gregor and I had heard and passed on here, it was time for Quinn to go. I didn’t think it would play out like this when Quinn was hired in May 2009 — I called him the right man for the job — but it was clear after talking to players this off-season there wasn’t a fit.
But, for the love of God and not getting blown to smithereens with every organizational move, get the story straight. Reporters aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer, but even dullards like us pick up on inconsistencies like we heard today.
Tambellini called today’s move to Renney the right time for the team and for Quinn, and deemed it a matter of succession, albeit accelerated, that had been on the table since the Quinn-Renney tandem was hired.
Hmm. What happens if I cut this green wire? Snick.
I’VE GOT YOUR SUCCESSION RIGHT HERE
"I truly believe this was the right time for Pat and Tom," Tambellini told reporters. "We talked about a succession plan when we brought the two in… there had to be something in place going forward. That’s why Tom was named an associate coach, not an assistant."
Quinn, no doubt feeling he was left sucking the hind banana, didn’t play along with what Tambellini was pitching.
"It’s not my decision," he said. "I had been looking forward to coaching the team next year. A decision was made. They’ll have a place for me to continue to help them make their changes, which I will move to.
"Is it a promotion? I’d say not. My career has been coaching and that’s why I wanted to come back into the game with Edmonton last year. We went through some tough times, but I was looking forward to continuing to help to change the climate and continue to help this organization go back to respectability in the sense of winning. I’ll continue to do that, but it’s just going to be in a different capacity, obviously."
On the conference call, I asked Quinn about the succession plan, and if he expected to be moved aside after a season or two.
"About a succession plan, any good management group has a succession plan," he said. "I’m aware of the fact that there should be a plan in place.
"As far as whether or not they told Tom he was going to be the next head coach, I don’t have any knowledge of that.
"All I said to Steve at the start was don’t just play it as an interim coach, as far as I’m concerned, because you’re going to waste the year, or two years. Two years is my contract.
"I felt that if you come in as an interim, that’s what you get. If the organization recognizes that, and I mean the players, then it’s tough to hold their feet to the fire when it really counts."
As much as I respect Quinn, I’m guessing there was some fist-pumping among Oilers players when the news of his bump into the role of senior advisor — duties yet to be determined — spread. Did I hear a "Hell, yes" from the Czech Republic? I think so.
In the end, Tambellini made the right decision, like he did by sacking former assistant GM Kevin Prendergast — Quinn’s senior advisor role won’t see him filling that position.
When you’re 30th by a mile, selling an honest rebuild to fans and about to step to the stage in Los Angeles with the No. 1 pick in the Entry Draft, you’d better get things headed in the right direction. Moving Renney into Quinn’s spot is a step toward getting it right. No argument there.
Substance trumps style, after all. That said, I can’t get the image of Tambellini sitting down with Chiarelli in Tinseltown and trying to finesse something out of him not to draft Taylor Hall out of my head.
Shouldn’t a handshake include fingers?
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.