We’ve known for months that Steve Tambellini had a contract extension, so yesterday’s announcement wasn’t a surprise. The fact the presser was at a Casino was fitting because in many people’s eyes, extending Tambellini was a huge gamble by the Oilers.

It seemed most fans and media wanted to know how long the extension was, my sources tell me it is a three-year deal, but I don’t think the term matters that much.

If the Oilers don’t improve this year, Tambellini won’t be at the draft podium in June of 2013.

There are many reasons to argue why Tambellini shouldn’t have received an extension. He’s weeks away from hiring his third head coach, he’s coming off of 30th, 30th and 29th place finishes and most of his free agent signings or trades have been busts.

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All valid.

On the other hand teams that are continual losers are constantly making change. They hire a new GM every few seasons, and he then he spends a few seasons trying a different direction, yet they rarely see improvement. Being patient isn’t one of my biggest strengths, and most fans and pro sports teams suffer the same inability to stay the course.

It would have been easy to fire Tambellini, there are many valid reasons why they could have, but they elected to stay the course. There are cases where being patient has paid off.

  • Darcy Regier missed the playoffs three straight seasons before making it to consecutive conference championships with the Sabres.
  • Jim Rutherford missed the playoffs his first four years running the Hurricanes, then lost the Cup final in his 7th season and finally won in his 10th year as GM.
  • David Poile missed the playoffs his first five years running the expansion Predators, but he’s made the post-season in eight of nine seasons since. Considering his budget most seasons, he’s done a hell of a job.
  • George McPhee made the playoffs, with one Cup appearance, in four of his first six seasons, but then the Caps missed the dance three years in a row, where they drafted Ovechkin, Green and Backstrom, and now they’ve made the dance five straight times.
  • Glen Sather missed the playoffs in his first four years with the Rangers, but they’ve made the dance in six of seven since.
  • Dean Lombardi missed the playoffs his first three years, but he’s now in his 6th season and he’s one win away from winning the Stanley Cup.

Of course there are examples of teams who’ve kept the same GM and haven’t seen much progress.

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  • Don Waddell was the GM in Atlanta for ten years. They missed the playoffs for the first six, made it in their 7th season, but missed the next three. Waddell wasn’t able to surround his elite top picks with solid complimentary players and the Thrashers were essentially losers during his entire regime.
  • Scott Howson has missed the playoffs four of five years as the GM in Columbus, and his 5th season was his worst, yet he’s still in charge.
  • Garth Snow made the playoffs his first year as the Islanders’ GM, but he’s missed the last five years. The Islanders have yet to show any real signs of improving, yet Snow continues to pull the strings.
  • In 3 1/2 years leading the Leafs Brian Burke has yet to guide them to the playoff, yet he’ll be front and centre during 24/7 on HBO later this year.
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The optimist in me says that the Oilers will improve next season, mostly because they’ll have four excellent young players and I’m tired of seeing Wanye and Oiler fans in a constant state of unhappiness, but I’m sure people in Toronto, NYI and Columbus have felt they’d see improvement the past four years, but it didn’t happen.

Tambellini has yet to show he is willing to make a significant move, although for the past two seasons the Oilers haven’t had anything of significant value to offer up in trades. Moving forward, however, he will need to show the ability to make a gutsy, calculated move to improve his team, or they will continue to flounder near the bottom of the standings.

I understand why there are legions of fans who don’t believe Tambellini can make a major move to improve his team, because so far his actions are very deliberate and excruciatingly slow. He is incredible cautious about letting anyone, even some of his own staff, know what his plan of attack is.

Being outgoing, gregarious and bombastic hasn’t made the Leafs any good, so I don’t agree that Tambellini needs to outline his plan publicly. He’ll be evaluated on his actions, rather than his words, and thus far his actions haven’t been great.

I honestly don’t believe the term of his new deal ultimately matters. If the Oilers don’t make a significant improvement this season, there is no way that Kevin Lowe and Darryl Katz should believe he’s the guy to lead them to the promised land playoffs.

Despite signing a multi-year deal, I believe Tambellini has one season to show improvement or he should be gone. That doesn’t mean they have to make the playoffs, but they can’t be out of the race in January or February. This team will need to be in the hunt right up until the final weeks of the season. If not, then Tambellini should not return.

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The funding for the new proposed downtown arena is always a hot topic, but in many cases the debates are filled with wrong information. For the past months I’ve received numerous emails, texts and tweets from fans upset that the city would use money from the MSI (Municipal Sustainability Initiative) towards the arena. Many vented that this should be used on more important things like education, health care, etc.

I spoke with Michelle Davio, spokesperson for Municipal Affairs of thegovernment of Alberta to get some insight into exactly how the MSI works.

JG: Can you explain what is the MSI exactly, and how does it work when distributing it to each municipality?

MD: It’s a program to help municipalities with their infrastructure needs. It started back in 2007. This year, like you said, it’s $896 million that’s become distributed to municipalities across the province. Of that, Edmonton is getting 167 million this year and has received about $735 million to date.

JG: What are the guidelines that the City has to abide by to use funds from the MSI?

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MD: There are guidelines, but they’re pretty broad. It’s supposed to be used for public infrastructure. Edmonton has used it for things like the Queen E Pool, rehabbing the Dawson Bridge, building fire stations, all sorts of things. 

JG: So an arena would be considered?

MD: Yeah. One of the eligible categories to use MSI funding is for parks, recreation, and sports facilities. There’s a criteria, but assuming that it meets the criteria, that would be an acceptable use. But it’s up to the City of Edmonton to decide what their priorities are.

JG: Where does this money actually come from, this 896 million? Is it all tax money? 

MD: Yeah. It’s tax dollars. It comes out of government revenues. Next year it’s supposed to go up to 1.05 billion, the total pot, and it will be the same the year after that.

JG: What are some of the other categories that a city could use this money towards? 

MD: Roads, bridges, libraries.

JG: So not healthcare. 

MD: You could build a healthcare facility.

JG: Would building a school fall under this? 

MD: I believe those are separate budgets.

JG: So a lot of times it’s just going for infrastructural upgrade more than anything else. 

MD: And new facilities as well. For example, connections on the Anthony Henday, it’s being used for that. Building parks, fire stations, an exhibit at the zoo. They have bought Edmonton Transit buses with it. They have to submit a list of projects that they want to use MSI for and make sure they fit within the broad criteria. And if they do, then it’s up to the City.

JG: When does the transaction happen? When would the City get this money? 

MD: MSI money flows once a year, so they get the money by June this year out of that year’s budget.

JG: Oh, okay. So now my other question would be, if the facility was to start being built, let’s say, January of next year ‑‑ that’s when the first shovel would come in the ground. If it took three years, could you take $35 million from each year out of it? Would that work, or is it normally a one‑time thing? 

MD: No. Sometimes municipalities use multiple years’ allocations for a project. There have been lots of things that are built that take more than the amount you get in one year.

JG: So then the city would have to submit to you and suggest: For the 2013 year we will need "$50 million," and then in 2014 they could put another 50 million in if that’s how it was going to work. They don’t have to use 100 million all a one shot one-time thing.

MD: That’s right. And you can use, up to 75% of future year allocations, where you can plan to use it for a particular project.

Hopefully that gives you a better understanding of how the MSI works. We can debate all day if it is the right idea to use this money for the arena, but considering the city will likely recoup their money through new taxes I’d look into it. Rather than see the city, and taxpayers, lose a billion dollars to continually grow our city out, rather than rebuild the inner cores.

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  • The New Jersey Devils have never been swept in a seven-game series, going at least five games in all 43 series they’ve played. That is the longest active streak in the NHL, MLB and NBA.
  • The Devils were the best PK team during the regular season. They only allowed 27 goals on 259 kills (89.6%) and they scored 15 SH goals. But in the playoffs their PK has been awful, surrendering 19 goals on 71 chances (73.2%) and they only have one shorthanded goal. Some tweeted me suggesting it’s because they faced good PP teams in the Panthers, Flyers, Rangers and Kings. I looked it up, and those numbers don’t jive.

    Regular season PP ranking:                                            V. Devils in playoffs
    Flyers –          6th at 19.7%                                              Flyers went 3 for 19…..    15.7%
    Panthers –    6th at 19.7%                                               Panthers went 9 for 27… 33.3%
    Kings –         17th at 17.0%                                             Kings are 3 for 9….          33.3%
    Rangers –    23rd at 15.7%                                             Rangers went 4 for 16… 25.0%

    The Flyers and Panthers were solid in the regular season, but the Panthers were unreal v. the Devils, while the Flyers PP% dropped. The Flyers scored 12 goals on 21 PP chances in the first round v. the Pens, but couldn’t score capitalize against the Devils.

    Martin Brodeur’s PK save % is obviously lower in the playoffs, but it would be misleading to say it is just him. It is amazing how a team can play that well for 82 games, but suddenly in the playoffs their PK falls apart.

  • A day after hiring Michel Therrien the Habs fired assistant coaches, Randy Cunneyworth and Randy Ladouceur. When the Oilers hire their new head coach, I wonder if we’ll see the same happen in Edmonton.
  • After two awful seasons, it would be a joke if Tom Renney takes all the blame. He can’t be the only one responsible for 29th and 30th place finishes. Don’t be surprised to see some changes on the coaching staff, and in pro scouting. Renney can’t be the only guy who pays the price. 


I set a goal to raise $50,000 for my MS Bike Tour this year, and I wanted to say thanks for helping me reach my goal. I’m currently at $50,379.00 with two days before the ride. We have $47,529.00 on line and I have $2,850 in cash and cheques that I’m taking down to the MS Society today. You can add to the total if you like right here.

It was lots of fun organizing all the prizes we had for my auctions, and I thank you all for participating in my MS WSOP tournament and my Ultimate Sports Fan Package. Also a big thank you to all the companies and people who donated the prizes.

I’ll ride the 190 KM this weekend with a great sense of pride knowing there are so many people in the community willing to help others.

Thanks again.

  • oldhippy

    For those who don’t like the Hemskey signing, I suggest you do a little bit of research. Compare Hemskey to Marian Gaborik. Similar injury situation, points, linemates(in Minnesota). I dare say that, if Hemskey went to UFA this off season, someone would have scooped him and likely for more than the $5m.

    I don’t get the critics. You say Horcoff sucks, yet you won’t cut Hemskey slack, for having him as his center. You complain about rushing the kids, yet you complain about all the ice time the veterans are getting. No matter what Tambellini, Lowe, Renney, or McTavish have done, they were wrong. It’s getting old folks.

  • striker777

    Thanks for a ray of sanity. Other than my reservation about signing Fly By for 5 million I agree with your comments.

    A previous comment (not from you)complained about Tambi not making short term moves to shore up the roster when injuries occurred. I wonder if some people understand what a complete rebuild the Oilers are in the midst of. They cannot gte sidetracked looking for short term fixes.

  • oldhippy

    Further research on Belanger. He was 386th in the NHL in total points. That puts him at 13th best on an average team. Below middle of the pack, but pretty much spot on for a defensive specialist, centering 4th line wingers. In 794 NHL games his shooting % was 10.5%. This season, only 3.4%. Since he was signed based on his statistics over the last few Seasons, the Oilers would reasonably have expected him to score 12 goals, based on the number of shots he took.

    However…..Goals and points were not why he was brought to the Oil. It was his faceoff numbers. He won 55.3% of his faceoffs and was near the topp in the league for numbers of faceoffs. Further, when you compare him to players who fared better on the dot, you would see names like Thornton, Bergeron and Teows. Yeah, he didn’t put up their offensive numbers, but he is only drawing $1.75m/season. The closest comparison I could find for games played and points, with similar f/o%, was Rich Peverley. He only makes $1.125m, but he was an RFA when he signed that contract.

    Further, he took 189 Shorthanded face offs and only 42 on the power play. Not exactly a recipe for point production.

    I think at $1.75m he was slightly overpaid, for what he contributed. If his point toals return to his career metrics, we should see 10 to 12 goals and 35 to 45 points. Given what he brings in faceoffs he would be a bargain.

  • oldhippy

    @Fresh Mess…”No taxpayer money”…

    Funny how Tim Thomas and his tea party, “don’t tax me” antics play in to all of this. Every time a community or government is railroaded in to paying for their work place, 57% of it ends up in hockey players pockets. So taxpayers subsidised Thomas while he was an amateur, because most minor hockey rinks are taxpayer funded. Then when he reached the NHL, through revenue sharing, the sweet deal the Oilers got at the coliseum, directly contributed to the salary cap increase. And then he feels he is taxed too much. LOL

  • 50 in 39

    If I’m a player I want to start winning.

    If I’m the new coach I want to see some improvement from the veterans and shelter the rooks.

    If I’m the GM I want to add a coach, at least one OFF-DMAN, a proven NHL PKiller, manage the cap and see some development on the farm and on the big club.

    If I’m the owner I want to see some ground being churned and some concrete being poured.

    And what the owner says goes.

    Stay tuned for a couple more years.

  • striker777

    Tambo is the best Oiler GM since the dynasty. He just needs to learn the art of trading.
    Example: with a season in a tank, management should have played Omark on a line, where he could rack up some points. He would be a much more attractive trade-in for other teams.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    David S wrote:

    You must REALLY be choked about the AGA and new RAM.

    doubtful. the new RAM probably provides him steady employment as a night security guard. it allows him to run around in his spider man PJs pretending to be Larry Daley.*

    nobody would be choked about that

    *truth may be stretched… or not

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    MSI.Tax payer money either way. In this case the tax payer money is from all Albertans. Which in my opinion makes the most sense. We build a ighway to to Ft Oil and it costs all Albertans. We build a bridge in nowhere Alberta and its on all Albertans. We are in this together. Arguing over what the MSI is put to is stupid. I don’t tell Vegreville how to spend thier money. Or Grand Prarie.Or bashaw. Everyone gets a piece. If the municipality decides to spend thiers on an arena,so be it. If they want to build a new Arts center.Fine by me. They want to build a giant Easter Egg Park. So be it. Mandel and company are allin on this project. Whats the issue? Public perception. And thats what we pay the PR people for.

  • oldhippy

    Geez Louise, Steve isn’t THAT bad. In fact, I think he has a lot of potential. If you’re going to rebuild, you may as well do it right, and doing it right is getting 3 successive #1 picks. If your objective is 3 consecutive firsts, why would you want to upgrade significantly by acquiring free agents or trading for obvious upgrades?

    Steve’s plan has worked exceptionally well, although there was a bit of consternation before the draft lotto. (Horseshoe Tambellini’s luck held though, he got #1, much to the chagrin of a pretty P.O.’d Scott Howson.)

    Early in the game I think Steve recognized that Edmonton not only loved their Oilers but they, by and large at least, are a pretty forgiving bunch. The fans, and at least part of the media, are/were willing to sit still for literally years while he implemented his plan. (Not many other city’s would sit still for this, even Jay and the boys 180 miles south don’t seem to be willing to blow up their geezers when it’s painfully apparent it’s really their only remedy from wandering endlessly in his desert.)

    Anyway, I think we’ll really see what Steve is all about this summer. I’m very optimistic he’ll upgrade the D via free agency and trade to the point the club may actually make the playoffs. And 2-3 years from now when the Oil win the Cup, the signs on the October lawns will read “Horseshoe Tambellini for Mayor.”