What am I missing?
On one hand, a chunk of the Edmonton Oilers fan base is calling for the heads of GM Steve Tambellini and coach Tom Renney, and the sooner the better. On the flipside, Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun tells us Tambellini might get a contract extension before the trade deadline.
Having just returned from eye-balling a bunch sweet rides I can’t afford in my annual trek to Scottsdale for the Barrett Jackson car auction, I’m making the transition from not giving a damn about any of the above for the last five days – I recommend the same kind of break from the grind to pissed off fans clamoring that something, anything be done RIGHT NOW – to trying to make sense of both extremes. I’m struggling.
Fire Tambellini and Renney now? Uh, no. Offer Tambellini a contract extension between the NHL all-star break and the trade deadline because the Oilers can’t have a “lame-duck” GM? What, if Tambellini doesn’t have a new deal inked by Feb. 27 he might . . . get upset . . . not do his job at the trade deadline . . . take another offer over the summer. . ?
The downside of waiting until the season is over is what, exactly?
WHAT’S THE RUSH?
While I’d love to say a few days away from the angst and consternation fans have been experiencing and venting about for weeks finds me back in town with a new perspective, I’d be lying. Rested? Yes. Wishing I played hockey instead of writing about it while watching all of those cars rolling across the auction block? Certainly. But a new perspective? No.
I’ll say again what I said before – owner Daryl Katz and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe need not make a call on Tambellini or Renney until the season is over. The way I see it, that applies whether we’re talking about handing them pink slips or contract extensions.
Sack Tambellini and Renney in mid-season when they’ve had nothing approaching a full line-up to judge their work on? Really? That’s asinine. And please, resist the urge to label a plea for patience as giving either one of them a free pass. Not so. They’ve been far from flawless.
Likewise, hand out an extension when the team has plummeted to 29th place in a season when the stated goal was to contend for a playoff spot and play meaningful games in March? You’re kidding, right? With the team in a tailspin, Tambellini and Renney have pushed the issue and earned a vote of confidence and new contracts how, exactly? They haven’t.
DO IT RIGHT
I understand how upset fans are at watching the Oilers stagger towards what looks like a third straight lottery pick, I really do. Fans buy the tickets and the jerseys. They have a financial and emotional investment in the team, and they’re damn sick of the losing – regardless of whether you peg the rebuild at two years or three or four. Whatever. What’s not to understand? I get it.
That said, I think Katz and Lowe and whoever else makes the calls on who keeps their job and who doesn’t are making a big mistake if they pull the trigger before all 82 games are played this season. Doing it now, with the team at its lowest point, might satisfy fans screaming for immediate action, but that doesn’t make it a sound, sensible approach.
It makes sense to run Tambellini and have Lowe babysit hockey operations for the balance of the season? Fire Renney now and . . ? You want Ralph Krueger running the bench? Kelly Buchberger? That’s a better move than replacing Renney after the season because . . ?
Just as goofy is the notion of an extension for Tambellini with the team in the throes of a hideous stretch that’s going to continue when the San Jose Sharks beat the Oilers for fun tonight and the Canucks do likewise in Vancouver on Tuesday before the break. I’m not suggesting Jones has the story wrong, only that the Oilers have it wrong if what Large is hearing is right.
What Lowe and Katz need to do is step back and judge every aspect of the jobs Tambellini and Renney have done without emotion when the season is done. If that means firing one or both, so be it. If that means offering contract extensions – two years at the most, the way I see it – then make that call and be prepared to live with it.
Making either move now is foolish.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.