I’ve been up for a few hours in anticipation of today because July 1 is a very important day in the Brownlee household. It’s Canada Day. It’s my wedding anniversary. My brother-in-law, Arman, is celebrating his 50th birthday. And there’s that NHL free agency thing . . .

I have my priorities and Steve Tambellini has his. Time was, a stretch of 20 years or so, I’d have been on the phone a for couple hours already this morning trying to figure out who Glen Sather/Kevin Lowe/Tambellini — does that work out to Slowebellini in today’s jargon? — trying to get a handle on who the next Edmonton Oiler might be.

Today, it’s about making dinner reservations at the perfect restaurant, picking up a dozen roses and a meaningful card and scraping together some clothes that fit so I don’t look like a scarecrow on a day when I give thanks I convinced the right girl to walk down the aisle with me.

Today, having just spent three weeks in the Philippines, it’s about calling back "home" to Guimba in Nueva Ecija and wishing Arman a happy 50th birthday and letting him know we love him and we miss him.

Today, after that phone call and before the dinner reservation at the just-right place, it’s about making sure Sam knows the significance of July 1 and living in what I consider the greatest country on the planet and plotting a place where we can watch fireworks, even if the odds are the Great Samsoni be sleeping by the time they start.

And today, there’s that NHL free agency thing.


I’ve sniffed around a little since the Entry Draft trying to figure out who Tambellini might be targeting today to bolster his roster, but I honestly haven’t given it as much thought as I have the other stuff.

If Tambellini doesn’t address the obvious need for grit and toughness that can play in his bottom six forwards, it’s a shame, but not nearly as important as ensuring I pick right restaurant, today of all days.

If Tambellini doesn’t pursue a veteran defenseman to bolster a blue line that’s at least one experienced stay-at-home guy short, it’ll be an oversight, but not one nearly as significant not saying all that needs to be said in that call to Guimba marking a half-century in a great life lived.

It’s important that Tambellini find a face-off man who can get the job done, but it’s more important that I remind Sam we live in a country where we can hop on a jet any time we want and go visit Arman and his grandmother and his uncles and his cousins, but they cannot come visit us without months of paperwork and waiting — no matter what the circumstances. Sam will ask why. I don’t have an answer that makes sense.


I don’t expect a big splash from Tambellini in what stacks up as a woefully thin crop of unrestricted free agents, but I do expect him to do his due diligence and put in a call to Zenon Konopka, Cam Barker, Vern Fiddler, Cody McCormick, Ben Eager, Brian Sutherby, Adam Pardy and Jim Vandermeer, offering a cut-rate contract. Maybe even a "have a nice Canada Day" call to Dean Lombardi.

How Tambellini takes care of business today, and between now and the opening of camp, will go a long way in determining what happens next season and how this rebuild takes shape. It matters to all of you who have bought into "the plan." It matters a lot.

It matters to me, too. I’ve been tagging along with this team since 1989 and trying to call the shots Slowebellini might make because it’s been my job. Still is. I’ve got more than a passing interest.

So, I’m going to be all over the goings-on, but more tomorrow and in coming days than today. Konopka or the right restaurant and card for the woman I love? Not even close. Tracking a new deal for Vandermeer or a timely father-and-son talk with Sam? Sorry, Jimmy. The most important phone call I’ll make today? Hello, Arman . . .

It’s a big day.

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

  • JDP

    What a day!!!!!1 Incredible. Mind boggling. I am all a twitter. Tambo? Really was that you today? Andy Sutton. Wow. The mans a monster. He’ll compliment Peckham. The Bash brothers are reborn. Eager and Hordichuck. Tough and tougher. Belanger. Like him at the price and the term. We might win a faceoff this year. And be able to kill a penalty. With the addition of Smyth we got leadership,grit and scoring. Its been a great 7 days in Oilers history.Will the Oilers sign Strudwick as thier 7th dman?

  • JDP

    You nailed it Robin , great day for Tambo and the Oilers . Seem to have filled all their needs .Too many forwards though . What d.o you think ? Some trades for picks , or a big deal to come i.e Hemskey

  • Mitch

    Robin hope you enjoyed your time with your family yesterday, nice article to help us keep humble. I Like the moves by Tambellini, nothing huge or surprising just goes out and gets what this team needs right now. Ben Eager plays with a edge and most times over it, Hordichuck is tough enough to fight anyone in this leauge, most important they can play the game at a higher level than MacIntyre, Stortini, and JFJ. Andy Sutton brings a nice physical element to the backend to compliment Peckham and is on paper better than Jimbo or Foster. Belanger can help with the faceoffs and mentor young guys. Some might be scared that these guys have bounced around and say “why” but I like that because these guys are experienced and understand what a privilage it is to play the game, it will keep the young group humble and hungry. We are starting to see what the effect of having a Star player like a Taylor Hall can do, some guys want to come play here now. Still need a major upgrade on D and in goal, yes Khabibulins game has left him. Or do we still need to miss the playoffs?

  • I say we keep Gags and hold off throwing Nuge into the fire.With the world juniors in Edmonton this year it would be a treat for our fans and Nuge himself to enjoy the ecxperience and show what he can do on a world stage rather than get thrown into the league when his size may still be a bit of a reach.

  • oilersplumber

    Give him my number, he is in obvious backlog mode……..

    Flyers becoming the laughing stock of the league..

    Toronto….ugh….who is this FA Truculence guy they keep mentioning ?


    Florida…..apprapo that the seniors sunshine state is signing all the seniors…

    ……..c’mon Steve-o center and a d-man please….

    …..what ever happened to Greg deVries ???….