Edmonton Oilers president Patrick LaForge has provided fans some telling insight into the careful consideration, due diligence and deep-thinking that went into the Oilers decision to undertake the rebuild the team finds itself in now.

It seems, according to an interview LaForge did with Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun last fall, at least in a quote provided by David Staples at the Cult of Hockey in the Edmonton Journal, the thinking wasn’t all that deep — like contemplating if you should re-paint the family SUV after bouncing it off a telephone pole.

"First of all, we didn’t blow it up — it imploded," LaForge told Francis. "It is not that easy. It was easier for us. We finished 30th. We sucked.

"We were the worst team in the NHL. When you’re the worst — where can you go? As (GM) Steve Tambellini would say, we’re not one player away, we’re 20 players away."

While I’m guessing Tambellini and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe are greatly appreciative of LaForge’s blunt take on what prompted management to take things down to bare metal, he didn’t say much that anybody with half-a-brain didn’t already know, did he?

Just asking . . .

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • MJM

    What’s he supposed to say? It’s true. Why make something up? If I heard him or anyone else in management beat around the bush and say it was a long drawn out process deciding to rebuild, I’d wanna smack them. It was obviously needed.

  • Robin, the very fact that you right this article and end it with the question you do suggests to me that your underlying thoughts are very similar to mine. I’ll come out and say that yes this blow up was not by design. Pat Laforge is bang on there. This fact is a very scary thing. Again I point to our leadership and top management. They are lacking greatly in their ability to assess and obtain what it takes to build a winning team in the NHL. I have said it before and i will say it again KL and ST have to go. These two are learning on the job at the expense of the loyal oil fan. We have cleaned house in all areas except for the room at the top. Time for Katz to cut the ties that will keep the team in toilet bowl contention year after year.

    • Starving Student

      I have to (somewhat) disagree with your assessment that management is lacking the ability to assess talent. Yes it their fault for bringing in talent that resulted in the 30th place finish that was 2009-2010. But you could argue that was their attempt to fill the desire of fans created by the 06 cup run. However it is also their assessment of amateur talent that has brought in the likes of Eberle, Omark, Petry, Hartikainen,and Peckman (you could included Hall and Paajarvi, but those were no brainer’s, we were lucky Paajarvi fell that far to us). It’s thanks to those picks that we are arguably 1-2 years ahead in the rebuild. You could look at Ottawa and Calgary, can you imagine starting a rebuild with the quantity and quality of their upcoming talents?

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

          I’m looking for managment change, but I’m sure they did have some input on who was drafted + deserve credit for hiring MBS in the first place

      • The only bright spot in the organization is Amateur Scouting. Stu MacGregor is good as his job. He’s the only manager in that organization who is good at his job.

        Pro Scouting is terrible.

        Other than interviewing potential draft picks, and going through the Taylor/Tyler thing last year, Lowe and Tambellini are not closely involved in Amateur Scouting. Which is a good thing.

        At least they turfed Pendegrast and put Stu in charge of Amateur Scouting, that was one good thing they did.

        • Starving Student

          I would make the argument the fact that they did hand the reins over to Stu MacGregor would be a brilliant assessment of talent. They could have just as easily have handed it over to somebody else. Look at Scott Howsen, Garth Snow or Brian Burke, all three of these men took over within a year of ST. I would argue their draft record has not been as good as the magnificent bastard and ST. I too would agree that our pro scouting may not be the greatest but there are 3 players we should consider.

          Also IMO i would say that the coaching staff has done a good/great job in player development, not just in E-town but in OKC. Isn’t it the GM’s job to help put together the coaching staff?

          Lastly Devan Dubnyk, Ryan Jones and Theo Peckham are some of the positives we can take from this season. At the start of the season, many had Liam Reddox above Jonesy on the depth chart and felt he had deserved a spot on the roster. Peckham had a tough camp and compared to Richard Petiot and looked like he could have started in OKC, and who could forget the three headed monster with JDD. I’d say the Oilers brass made the right decision with all three players.

      • Yes, some nice talent for sure- but when you don’t have any one in your top 9 that will hit anyone, you have a problems. If Redox is still drawing an NHL pay check next year hear you will have problems. If you are still without first line centres you will have problems- sorry Horcoff at roughly $1 million per goal does not count…. Still to many similar small/so called skilled forwards. Last I check a 30th place finish, yet again. If one wants to discuss the 2006 cup run, please go back and look at each series and not just comment on the fact that we were one game away from the cup. Go back, revisit the fine print. Look and the shots on goal, look at the overall territorial play in each series. Were we really the better team in each of those winning series ? I think if you are truly honest you will realize that we caught lightning in a bottle and went on a run. The planets were all in alignment so to speak. We had no business beating Detroit or San jose.
        I am not questioning are recent draft history. Drafting is one parting of building a winning team. Last I checked too, Detroit is drafting at or near the bottom every year. Folks, let’s not get caught up in this re-build talk by Oil Brass for it could be argued that it should not have come to this in the first place. More pride should be taken in drafting last not first. Lets face it you or I could be making the first pick. Not moving Hemsky and trade deadline is another huge management mistake- his value is declining with each passing day- sure his last injury could not have been for seen- bad luck I guess but come on Hemsky is somewhat injury prone. A good GM would be playing the odds there and try to move assets at their peak value should it be deemed that they don’t fit into the long term plans. Enough said I hold my stand KL and ST need to go !

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

          We didn’t catch lightning in a bottle, we caught arguably the best playoff player of the decade, who makes a habit out of carrying underdogs to the Stanley Cup final on his back, in a pretty decent trade in the sommer of 2005. Plus some decent deadline deals. Would you have suggested blowing up that team after Pronger skipped town? How many season tickets holders would have enjoyed and/or agreed with that? Hindsight is 20/20 my friend.

  • Zed

    The conversation probably went like this:

    ST: Well Kevin. We’re in 30th place, should we rebuild?

    KL: Yes.

    ST: Wow. You are some kind of genius. No wonder you get paid the big bucks.

    KL: Yeah I know. It’s all part of my master plan.

  • And who is in charge of the re-build?

    The same guys who were so incompetent that a cap maxed team placed 30th in a league of 30 teams.

    Kevin (Gimme back my your bonus) Lowe and Steve (Khabby is our MVP) Tambellini.

    Brilliant strategy.

    • Redhouse

      While this is just my 2nd post, I have been reading here for many months. And I see similar comments often, that KL and ST are either the last link to the old days and have to go, or are responsible for putting us where we are and have to go.

      I think what is being forgotten is that we have a new owner, with the willingness to put money into the team and its on-ice salaries, that just 2 short years ago we did not have. We have to first deal with the residual from the old times, of on-ice talent (word used in context, if perhaps not quite implying the sarcasm I have in mind. See Khabibulin, N.) that has to flow through the system, prove itself or not (See Jacques, J.F.) and be replaced with new bodies chosen under the new regime.

      In that respect, though they are not batting 1.000 (See Brule, G.), they are indeed making excellent progress in rebuilding the team and have brought in some proven talent that will look even better when we are fielding (icing?) a more competitive team (I’ll probably take some flack for this one but I’m a believer so here you have it…stay healthy, you ba***rd! – see Whitney, R.)

      Bottom line, particularly with Tambellini, I’m all for giving him a couple more years to complete the turnover to *his* roster, and see where we stand…say, on this date in 2013. Then if we haven’t finished, say, top 5 in the west, (or wait a month and see if we’ve won a round or 2 in the playoffs) it might be time to move to the next guy’s vision.

      Sidebar note to Mr. Brownlee – how current is your avatar picture? I think it’s been around since prior to your, uh, healthy living committment – for which you are due big congratulations! Time to update that pic, good sir?

      • Bar Qu

        Finishing dead last was also done under Katz with STambellini as GM – maxed cap and a roster ‘designed’ to make the playoffs.

        If ST cannot put a roster together on purpose to do better than 30th, I don’t see how waiting longer for him to accomplish it will enable him to improve. Time will tell, since the fact he hasn’t been fired already says that he will be back again next year, but I would be the most surprised out of anyone if ST does anything of value this summer.

  • Zed

    I’m curious what the Oiler management feel is the main reason for their teams predicament right before they said the word “rebuild”.

    Actions do speak louder than words. From a fan’s perspective, the actions to make this team better since 2006 have been uneffective.

  • Mitch


    Tambellini comes out and says were 20 players away from being a legit team? Once again they can’t assess talent because Quinn was brought into get them to the playoffs, looked at the scouting reports on the players realized who ever made the assessments must have been sniffen glue. The so called “core” was a joke, we sit here today, wondering if the top management guys have the smarts to take us to the next level, maybe Klowe needs a scouting report to be done on himself. Yes Robin your 100% right anyone with half a brain could figure this organization need a complete rebuild, let alone someone with the cerdentials good enough to run a NHL team. Pull the trigger at the top it needs to be done.

  • Kevin R.

    We suck. Who is leading us in the rebuild? The guy who led us to sucksville…K. Lowe. Get rid of the garbage and maybe we will be successful. Remember that some times have been rebuilding for years and still stink. Panthers,Thrashers, Islanders…

  • Pronger's Wife

    We do suck right now, but how many teams can withstand the amount of injuries we’ve had this season? Especially on a really young team?

    Also, because of the extreme injury situation, I think we got a look at some guys who we wouldn’t have otherwise seen this year and looked really good – Hartikaenen, Vande Velde and Petry. Could help them to make the team out of camp next year.

  • Kevin R.

    Mom. In response to:

    “Patience will get us through this one, not more managerial changes.”

    Sorry, but you have it backwards. Managerial changes, not patience, will get us through this one. Patience is overrated and tired.

    If much of the future can be predicted from the present and past, two last place finishes and an inability to provide complementary NHL-calibre role players to support and protect the young players and rookies, the evident lack of competent centres and defence, this team will be a bottom feeder next season should Klowe and Stambellini be around. Where is the owner and his advisors? God help us all, even with the first draft choice!

  • Kevin R.

    Ask the Pens about injuries. It was nice to see what we have on the farm. This will also help us to hand out some pink slips too. Bye Bye Fraser, Reddox,Jacques,and maybe the two grumpy old men on defence. Thanks for coming guys and enjoy life elsewhere. Happy trails.

  • Kevin R.

    Well, I for one am glad that team imploded. It was a team that probably could have fought for 9th place for more years in a row, just like the Flameballs are now, and we never would have got those superstars you need to contend.
    It looks now like the management has an actual “plan” with the way they are building. The only problem I’ve had so far is the lack of gritty veteran leaders on the 3/4 lines and at 4D. Otherwise, we are right on track imo. Improving slowly, solving problems, filling holes with youth.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Furthermore, giving Detroit credit for their drafting is like given Oilers credit for their shrewd picks in the 1980’s. It’s ancient history! Name one Detroit pick from the last 8 years, other than Johan Franzen that you wish you had drafted. Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Lidstrom……all drafted over a decade ago

    • Helm

      I think kindl and brendan smith are going to be good NHLers as well. Im sure there are others in the ahl that we wont hear about until they are “ready”. (novel concept in itself)

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Filppula drafted in 2002, which is 9 years ago. But you make my point. Those 5 players you mentioned are the best Detroit has done in a decade of drafting.( Heck, we have a boatload of Abdelkaders, 10 goals in 128 NHL games). Hardly the nucleus of a Stanley Cup contender. What succeeds in this league is success. Detroit has signed a succession of good free agents because they they are perpetually in the mix with their core, now over 10 years in the league. Vancouver signed a bunch of quality free agents recently for the same reason. Their core has been around for as long. I don’t know why so many people think changing management is suddenly going to change the situation here. What I see is a core of talent that is assembling slowly, but may well start to blossom in a couple of years. Then the pieces will start to fall into place. Or not.