Firing Pat Quinn: Fumble-lia, Fumble-rooski

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.


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 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.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Tambellini finally putting the breaks on a year late , not really jumping a year ahead of plan . Nice to see he’s finally ready to take at least the internal part out of reverse gear . Now if he can actually do the same with on ice product we will finally see some progress . Eberle , Svensson and Hall were coming anyways despite Tams . We’ll see how and what he can do to add to those pieces before we can judge if he truly has put the breaks on his other dealings that has left us with many voids with the on ice product .

    If Tams had done this mid season he might have been able to avoid a part of the toxic spillover . Maybe even get some players to still want to play here , rather than want out of here !

    If Oilers still can’t provide any marked upgrades with trades, etc . then it’s painfully obvious the next two to go . The youngsters, who were coming anyways, may not be enough to hold their jobs ( L and T ) if they can’t handle bringing in decent NHL talent to fill all the other voids that need filling on our club . Will we still be stuck in reverse when it comes to procurring upgraded NHL talent ??

    In closing , i guess it’s probably not a good idea for me to apply to Oilers for a job as a senior advisor to the mailroom or janitorial services ?

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    I think the first Nation Idol challenge should be a creative writing assignment:

    Speculate as to why Deep Oil acts like the Oilers’ spurned ex-girlfriend.

  • Spartacus

    Lets hope we will finally see some progress in getting rid of the dead weight in the locker room.

    Tambo has had two summers to reorganize the management staff, time for the players to be help accountable.

    • Crackenbury

      Lets not over react when it comes to the players ! Just how accountable are the players with what management left all of them to deal with the last two seasons . Lets not forget they had less than adequate help in forming a club and environment in which to excel most of it beyond their control . After all , our talent level was not that high to begin with . A constant addition of downgrades and band aids didn’t help much either

      In other words , management created the mess , and up till now have done little to even address it .

  • Chaz

    I have to think that Fumble-ini’s latest move may have saved his butt for another year. He has now fired his first hire who goes back a long way with Fumble and his new coach. All of this in his first 24 months on the job.

    The disturbing issue to me is Fumble’s credibility and ethical standards. Getting caught with a handful of cookies behind his back by the Edmonton media present to witness another ham-handed display of public dissembling.

    I say that to say this…Fumble and Taylor Hall’s father may just deserve each other. The emotional pyro-technics are far from over for Oiler fans. I can say for sure I wouldn’t want my kid drafted by the Oilers with a man of Fumble’s public character on display and abundantly obvious to even the most determined dullard.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      So what exactly did he do wrong here? He tried to save face for Quinn. This is how it typically works.

      He could have been brutally honest and said the game had passed Quinn by and that even though Quinn still wants to coach, Tambellini feels he’s no longer capable.

      Would that have benn the proper send off for a guy like Quinn.

  • smiliegirl15

    @ Ryan2

    So maybe we get Horton and the #2 for our #1 pick?

    @ Crackenberry

    He accepts a new position but makes Tambellini look like an arsehole for trying to softsell Quinn’s firing.

    I don’t think that took much effort on Quinn’s part.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    They just said it on the Team 1260. Quinn brings alot of knowledge to this team and will be a better advisor then he was coach.

    Doesn’t sound like there were too many players happy with Quinn as a coach. Liked him as a person, but didn’t like his coaching. Not sure you keep someone around when the majority of the players had issues with the coach.

  • smiliegirl15

    @ Ogden Brother Jr.

    Doesn’t sound like there were too many players happy with Quinn as a coach.

    That’s because he held them accountable for their play. Penner answered the bell; the rest of them said “Holy crap who does this guy think he is? We don’t play that way – we let the goalie do all the work. What do you mean Roli isn’t here any more? Who’s going to save our butts now?”.

    If it hadn’t been for Roli’s above and beyond play in 08/09 we would have been exactly where we are right now – at the bottom of the heap.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @ OBJ

    “The other thing I’d like to point out is why would we want Tambo to spin this so he looks like an idiot”

    What we want is any reason to jump on the guy (and I’m not even a Tambellini fan). If he came out and called it like he was, the boards would be flooded with posts about how disrespectful he was to Quinn and that he should have just given the pre-packaged answer (that he did give)

  • Dyckster

    My thoughts?

    Maybe there’s a method to all the madness. The Oilers are of a different mindset now then they were this time last year. In the summer of 2009 there was little talk of a “rebuild”, we chased some free agents in the hopes of winning immediately. Quinn would have been a better fit for a team fighting for a playoff spot.

    The landscape has now changed dramatically, we are now willing to accept 2-5 years of development to reach contender status again. PQ isn’t the right guy for this type of team, the GM recognizes this and is unwilling to waste another year when we’re already several years behind the 8 ball.

    The coach needs to fit the circumstances, hence the right move was made here.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    A “hell yes” from the Czech Republic geez could this make it easier to resign Hemmer in 2 years, did Pat and Hemmer have issues with how he was used?

  • BarryS

    Personally the smell about the orginization is not the smell of roses, and hasn’t been for the three years. Course, Roses bloom best in sh*t so perhaps there is hope yet. Course, even roses take a while to grow, especially in this country.

  • Crackenbury

    What will the Oilers do when they can’t move Moreau? Buy him out? What a classless move by Fumbellini that will be. The Oilers “owe” Moreau one more year. He is their captain after all.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      The Oilers paid this dude $2 million this past year! Not $15/hr. Not $50,000/year. $2 Mill!!

      To play well, to give them grit and toughness, to be their captain. To help the kids etc.

      He played poorly, wasn’t gritty, never went to the tough areas. His leadership was crap, his attitude was worse.
      He ‘owed’ them $2 million worth of services.

      Didn’t give them that…

      gotta get rid of guys like that
      it’s not classless, it’s smart

  • Dyckster

    Should there be any surprise that Oil brass are fumbling around with high profile decisions. Tambalini knew over a year ago that Souray wanted out. Now it likely he will start the season as an Oiler….why ? because he has no trade value. Tambalini was snoozing/assessing while Tallon scoped Bostons 15th pick.Now the coaching mess….and still, now two days before the draft with an obvious need for a centerman, a potential franchise centerman we are already in the papers talking how we can convert a winger. Folks, lets face it, Hall and Seguin are neck and neck, basically split votes among scouting. Would it not make sense in this case to draft in the area in need. Its proven we are unable to trade or sign a 1st line Center and when one is staring us down we appear to turn a blind eye. Halls style will not work playing with the big boys in the NHL. We can’t risk potential injury down time on this important pick. Stop the nonesense and start making some sense.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Well, Brownlee, congratulations, you called it again. I remember when you wrote that article about Quinn being on the way out a few months back, I thought, Brownlee is crazy. Of all the problems we have, the coach was not one. But lo and behold, here it is. Judging by Brownlee’s excellent track record, I went ahead and made a friendly wager that the Oilers will draft Seguin. I hope this isn’t Brownlee’s one mistake per year.

  • JohnQPublic

    I can’t see what the moaning is about. Quinn isn’t the man for a rebuild, the hiring of both Quinn and Renney a year ago was hailed, Prendergast had to go, and the move to Oklahoma is a great move by the organization.

    The lack of contracts for the the coaching staff and the removal of Daum all make sense given the recent changes.

    Given that we’re in full rebuild mode, this all makes sense.

    But most of all, we should give Tambi credit for making the organization buy into a full blown rebuild. That’s a big accomplishment.

    Now we have to wait to see how the player moves turn out.

  • Sending Quinn upstairs as an advisor was the best
    move for the organization. He can do for the Oilers what Scotty Bowman did for Chicago. The
    players seemed to have trouble relating to him.
    Besides you can’t have a coach who could win first
    place in a Morty Seinfeld Look-a-like contest.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Tambo “you have to be able to communicate with your players no matter what, it isn’t like it was before”

    Hmmm, big hint to what the problem was between Quinn and the Oilers.