Oilers Fire Trainers

Edmonton Oilers v Toronto Maple Leafs

The Edmonton Oilers have finally fired Lowe. No, not Kevin Lowe; his brother, trainer Ken Lowe, along with equipment men Barrie Stafford and Lyle “Sparky” Kulchisky. After decades of work with the team, all three are now unemployed.

The question of why these men were fired remains unanswered. Ken Lowe is probably the most interesting of the three, for a couple of different reasons. It may be that the Oilers have decided that some of the blame for their epically high man-games lost to injury should fall on his shoulders; I’m not sure that Nikolai Khabibulin’s many and varied health problems are his fault, or Souray’s concussion, or Jacques’ back, or Hemsky getting knocked from behind into the boards, or for that matter O’Sullivan’s pinky finger qualify as something he should get fired for, but this is a firing that the Oilers can probably defend to some degree in that manner. It’s even possible they may be justified.

The other reason Lowe’s firing is so interesting is that it makes it clear – if it wasn’t before – that Kevin Lowe’s new official position isn’t “President of Hockey Operations” but rather “Vice-President of Remembering the 80’s And Conversing With The Media.” It’s difficult to imagine any scenario, where after two decades of satisfaction with his brother’s work, Lowe would pull the trigger on firing him.

Finally, I can’t imagine that Sheldon Souray’s comments praising Lowe while simultaneously slamming management did the head trainer any favours.

For the life of me, I can’t imagine what sins the equipment men committed to be worthy of getting the axe. Was Kulchisky not getting the visiting team’s equipment to their room quickly enough? (Too quickly?) Was Tambellini sick of hearing Barrie Stafford tell him about his nephew Drew, who he claimed was pretty good at hockey?

It’s entirely possible that there was some reasonable explanation for this. Perhaps there were legitimate problems with the performance of these men, although decades of continued employment and work with Hockey Canada makes that seem implausible. My personal guess – and it’s no more than a guess – is that Tambellini viewed these people as part of the ‘culture problem’ with the team that he has gnashed his teeth about in two post-season press conferences now.

Whatever the case may be, it’s a little ironic to see such a poorly managed team fire a bunch of people who had nothing to do with management.

  • Dan the Man

    As long as Tambillini doesn’t hire the old Canucks gang we will be ok. If he does we will turn into a whiny organization like the canucklheads. Quinn should go to. Don’t like his coaching style with no tough guy, he is the reason a lot of players got injured. Mactavish got more out of pretty much the same group.

    • Bucknuck

      “pretty much the same group”


      No Hemsky, no starting goaltender, no Stud defenseman (Souray), no other faceoff guys besides Horc (Brodziak gone), O’sullivan instead of eric Cole.

      How about the emergence of Brule and Penner under his direction?

      I don’t think this was Quinn’s fault somehow.

  • Equipment manager conspiracy theories:

    – Helmets given to Souray and Staios were in fact made of Play Doh and Silly String

    – Sticks handed to Hemsky were forged of lead, causing undue strain on his shoulder, while also preventing him from ever being a “true super-star”

    – Can strapped onto Grebeshkkov’s was mined with a tiny explosive device, which didn’t go off in Edmonton since he was pinching every shift instead of blocking shots

  • @ Homie:

    Agreed. If you want to clean house, that means everyone. Even if there may not be anything wrong with their performance.


    When you clean house, you identify the people who are problems and remove them. If you have competent people who are assets to the team, you don’t fire them for the sake of making a change.

    It’s entirely possible the Oilers are justified here, but change for the sake of change is a ridiculous defence.

    • Deep Oil

      Joey has been reassigned to Oklahoma….. not true…… but would it really surpise you.

      Oiler Nation, how sad, ruthless is this organization – no goodwill pay it forward here.

      I am hoping you see my point of view here, you can’t be ignorant, arrogant and intimidate without a backlash………

      I am sure this will not affect season ticket holders, as the Oilers will continue lose another $10 million dollars of overdraft money.

      Any press conference to explain this purging of the unwashed ?

        • Man i couldn’t agree more……if this wasn’t so pathetic it would be laughable, but its the Oilers. Just when you think this organization can sink no lower they fire the only guys in the organization who seemed to know what there jobs were….good luck guys, you deserve much better then this ” mickey mouse ” operation can give you, and I apologize to Mickey in advance for insulting him with this comparison. What a joke…please bring back Peter Pockington and John Muckler…please……..

          • Bucknuck

            Peter Puck? really?

            The guy who gutted the last hockey dynasty? The crook?

            remember that feeling you had in August of 1988? That was a money (owner) decision.


          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            you are kidding right ?
            5 cups….numerous 100 pt years, and they won a cup after the traded the great one ( and yes i cried for a week after they did that ). As big an idiot as he often was, you can’t compare his ownership success to this mess, no chance. crook or not, we are talk n hockey here.


          • As owner, his success is deemed by making as much money as possible off his assets. He had the best players in the game on his team, in a hockey hot bed and still ended up pissing all his money away. So I’m not sure how his ownership should really be measured as a success.

          • Definitely his other ventures played a part, but if you’re a player and you can’t score goals because you’re working late nights at Gainers, you’re not cutting it as a player either.

          • Jamie B.

            Either they’re all under 20 or … no, I can’t even excuse that, even people younger than 20 have to remember the years of “buy 12,000 season tickets or I’m moving the team to Hamilton.”

          • Ducey

            Me too, I suggest you all read the “I’d trade him again” book by peter…

            It opened my eyes and I changed my opinion of him after I saw what he was up against, and how much he did for this team and this city.

          • Puritania

            I read the “I’d trade him again” book cover to cover, and found some recurrent themes in it.

            First, Pocklington would have sold anything if he thought it would be a good deal for him in the long-term. That whole thing about Peter wanting to trade the entire Oilers team for the entire Leafs team back in the 80s? One hundred percent true. Peter’s words: “I would have made a fortune in Toronto!”

            And let’s not get started on the Gretzky trade.

            Second, no matter what happens, Peter’s the victim. He was a victim of quasi-communist government over-regulation. He was a victim of over-zealous unions. He was a victim of the vicious “American culture of suing the pants off of everybody.” But did Peter ever to anything wrong? Nooooo. If so-and-so hadn’t screwed it up for him, maybe he would have been able to make such-and-such-a-deal better.

            While I appreciate Pocklington’s “git ‘er done” approach in the early 80s, he’s been a train wreck ever since. There’s a reason he doesn’t come back to town anymore.

          • You people are high. The guy is a convicted tax fraud (not sure if the trial and sentencing etc are done yet). Sure he rode the bandwagon of the most talented team ever to unprecedented success with a brand new franchise but do you really think it was his doing?

            ~Why don’t we try and bring Bruce McNall or Boots Del Baggio back as owners too?~

    • Ducey

      actually it should.

      is reflective of the management style this Tambelini guy is trying to employ:

      – no accountability: I have yet to hear him saying ‘I made some mistakes as well’
      – no vision: didn’t he get all piss & vinegar last April and then sat on his hands all summer long?
      – no communication skils
      – no guts to resign and admit he’s just another brilliant example of the Peter principle.

      now: what kind of ‘corporate culture’ a guy like that can implement in an organization?

      • I'm a Scientist!

        And if they include EVERYONE…when do we get to hear about Kevin Lowe and Tambo getting the axe? I am ready to hear that. Clean slate, start from the ground up!

  • ogorr

    thought Drew was his nephrew.

    I can’t for the life of me figure out why they would fire Sparky and Barrie. You could make a case for Lowe I guess.

    I feel for these guys.

    Do you think it has to do more with things outside of their actually job duties?

    Edit: to clarify Could it be a personality conflict or relationships forged with some players that have negatively impacted the team or managements image

    That’s the only thing that I can think of.

    Edit:I guess it could be Katz tightening up the purse strings as I imagine after 20+ years these guys were probably at the high end of the pay scale compared to other teams