I’m flattered the question I put to Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini Wednesday produced all that quotable stuff about expecting to make the playoffs next season, but that’s not what I was asking about.

The end of, I’ll admit, my rather rambling question — OK, it bordered on a Bryan Hall query in terms of duration — went like this: "Progress without playoffs is still a possibility?" The question coaxed a 40-second answer from Tambellini that included, but wasn’t limited to, the following:

"There’s no thought, and I know speaking to Tom (Renney), that we don’t want to make the playoffs next year. Of course we do," Tambellini said.

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"There’s no one that was told inside that dressing room that our goal was not to make the playoffs. There should be that pressure every year, every night, every season regardless of new players, veteran players. There’s no excuses in the NHL to think you can’t make the playoffs.

"I expect our team to make the playoffs next year . . ." On and on went Tambellini. Fine. Good. Sound bite delivered. Now, about the progress part . . .


In terms of points totals and placing in the Western Conference, I believe the Oilers can make substantial progress without making the playoffs next season. At 25-45-12 for 62 points, the 15th-place Oilers finished 35 points behind eighth-place Chicago.

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With that as a starting point, next year’s team can improve by 30 points — good luck with that — and still not get a real sniff of the post-season. A 30-point increase this season would have left them 11th.

Tambellini never did answer my question about progress, so perhaps our readers can take up that train of thought here. In your opinion, how much improvement in points and placing represents reasonable progress?

Is it playoffs or bust after five straight years out of the post-season? Does playing meaningful games in late-March get it? You tell me. I get into games for free. When the story is done, I hit the send button and get a cheque, win or lose. People who buy tickets, the fans who pay the freight, have a different stake in this.

Is there a placing or a points total that triggers it for you? What will it take to make you to say, "OK, this thing is on the right track?"


Progress, obviously, involves more than a specific points total or placing in X-spot. It could be argued Tambellini could do nothing with this roster and have the team improve by 20 points, no?

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Take away, or at least limit, injuries that ended the seasons of Taylor Hall, Ryan Whitney, Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner. Might Kurtis Foster and Colin Fraser have better years? Could they be worse?

What will a season of NHL experience mean to the likes of Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi, Devan Dubnyk and Theo Peckham? Will any of them be better. How about Teemu Hartikainen and Linus Omark?

I’m not advocating Tambellini stand pat after he calls the name Ryan Nugent-Hopkins June 24. Not by any stretch. I’m just saying Tambellini could dither all summer and this team could improve by 20 points.

He won’t, of course. Tambellini has Ryan Jones to sign. He has Sheldon Souray to jettison. Tambellini recognizes, as he pointed out Wednesday, the need to add depth on defence and down the middle. Find a face-off guy, please. Free agents to pursue, etc etc.

What represents suitable progress? You tell me.

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

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  • Bucknuck

    I am at the point where I do not care about a draft pick anymore. Make the games mean something. I want a win or a loss to mean more than draft position next season. If they miss the playoffs I am OK with that, but they damn well better keep it interesting right to the end, just like Gagner and company did back in 2008.

    If they keep it interesting, they will keep me happy.

  • Shawn Cronin

    If,and I think it is a big if,they can acquire 1 reliable d-man and a 3/4 centre we should be flirting with the playoffs.If these two things are accomplished and they stay relatively healthy anything less is a bad season.

  • Bucknuck

    And QUIT trading good roster players for draft picks please. If they trade away a top six forward or top four D, then there better be an NHL player coming back the other way.

    • The Real Scuba Steve

      No kidding should I quote Klowe’s” you trade talent to get talent”. Unless they do more than they did last year they are going to right up in the same place next year.

  • 5cups7years

    Source Dict-shun-airy….

    Prog·ress (prgrs, -rs, prgrs)
    1. Movement, as toward a goal; advance.
    2. Development or growth: students who show progress.
    3. Steady improvement, as of a society or civilization: a believer in human progress. See Synonyms at development.
    4. A ceremonial journey made by a sovereign through his or her realm.
    intr.v. pro·gress (pr-grs) pro·gressed, pro·gress·ing, pro·gress·es
    1. To advance; proceed: Work on the new building progressed at a rapid rate.
    2. To advance toward a higher or better stage; improve steadily: as medical technology progresses.
    3. To increase in scope or severity, as a disease taking an unfavorable course.

    So to assimilate this into OilSpeak…
    1 Making the playoffs gets closer to the Goal which is to polish Lord Stanleys mug .
    2 Team would be to finish with more points next year — I know Duh! But individually Id expect to see players with better season stats…again probably a Duh!
    3. Steady improvement — maybe measure by how one sees the “Process”
    4. Ceremonial Journey — isnt the first, second, third and fourth round of the playoffs after compiling 16W ceremonial?

  • Pronger's Wife

    Extend Hemsky, re-sign Jones, find a veteran player who can win face-offs and kill penalties, hope Foster can turn it around and I think .500 hockey would equal a successful season next year. Play-offs the year after that with the emergence of #1 pick 2011 into the mix.

    Or, Tamby could just check and see if Taylor Hall maybe has a long lost twin brother… Timmy? VAN could have Henrick and Daniel and we could have Taylor and Timmy. Just sayin’.

  • Pilgor09

    If the Oilers finish in the bottom 3 next year it is a failure. I have them finishing in 10th next year. That’s a high standard but that’s what I expect. There would be major progress if they finished in 10th and have a sniff at the playoffs. It would be way better for the team as a whole than getting another lottery pick.