Edmonton Oilers

Craig MacTavish has the title of vice-president of hockey operations in his third go-round with the Edmonton Oilers. I don’t think it’ll be more than a season or two until he’s general manager, and I’m betting he’ll be good at it.

I can’t put my finger on an exact over/under as to when the former Oiler captain and coach, hired this summer to work alongside president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, will take over from current boss Steve Tambellini, but I see it happening. I don’t have any inside information on this, it’s just a gut-feeling. I’m guessing I’m not alone.

I know Tambellini just got a contract extension – we haven’t been told what the term is – but I can see one more season out of the playoffs, which is more of a probability than a possibility, being enough to trigger a shuffle at the top with Tambellini moving out and MacT moving in.

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For me, this isn’t so much a dump-on-Tambellini bit, which is like shooting fish in a barrel around here, as it is recognition of ties that bind, and those ties between the Oilers and MacTavish, starting with owner Daryl Katz and Lowe at the very top of the food chain, are undeniable.


As far back as their playing days with the Oilers and the New York Rangers, Lowe and MacTavish shared what-ifs about what it might be like to coach and manage a team together. They’ve already done that, of course, but my sense is there’s an encore coming.

Even if the Oilers show substantial improvement this year and push for a playoff spot, which seems more than reasonable, under Tambellini, I think it’ll play out that MacTavish will be calling the shots, in tandem with Lowe, by the time the Oilers are actually back in the playoffs. What, 2013-14?

Tambellini is an outsider and the history of this organization – the Once an Oiler, always an Oiler mantra – suggests that’ll always be the case. Outsiders, be it Pat Quinn, Tom Renney, Scott Howson, Rob Daum or Ralph Krueger, come and go. Insiders, like Lowe, MacTavish, Kelly Buchberger and Steve Smith, come and go, then come back again. That’s how it goes.

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MacT as GM? It’s a matter of time.


Aside from the NHL and NHLPA settling into to hammer out a new CBA, which is obviously no small matter, there is precious little else going on around the hockey world. One need only look at the headlines on national websites like TSN and Sportsnet to see that.

. . . “Owen Nolan to host fishing, hunting show” I’d rather watch Steve MacIntyre host a show about hunting bears with nothing but his bare hands.

. . . “Canucks’ Malhotra to participate in Vancouver pride parade” Political statement or does Malhotra have something to tell us?

. . . “Jets promote Simmons to assistant GM” Now, if we’re talking Gene Simmons or Richard Simmons, you’ve got a news item. Sadly, no. The Jets have promoted Larry Simmons. You know, Larry Simmons, right?

. . . “Report: Tiger’s ex-wife dating San Jose Shark” Apparently, Elin Nordegren is boffing Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray. Glad to see Elin tearing it up a bit after bashing in Tiger’s teeth with a three-iron (she must have liked the look).

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I think it’s time NHL teams accept that non-MSM bloggers are here to stay and start issuing them press credentials and granting access to players.

“Hey, Darcy, I’m doing a story on goons and knuckle-draggers and I’d like to talk to you . . .” Or “Taylor, I think the Oilers made a big mistake burning the first year of your ELC in 2010-11 and I’d like your thoughts on the big picture I’m painting here . . .” Or “Nuge, screw the boxcars and PPG, your QUALCOMP/real Corsi/something something numbers prove beyond a doubt Gabriel Landeskog deserved the Calder Trophy. Whaddaya say?”

Move aside, spineless MSM fartcatchers. Now the tough questions can be asked and the truth finally be told. I’d pay to see it.


. . . The Bronte 5000 pegs Jordan Eberle at 29-38-67 for 2012-13. And yes, the software has been updated since I had everybody on the Edmonton roster except Laddy Smid scoring 40 points in the Lucky 13 Pool two seasons ago.

. . . Buchberger has been an assistant coach through the tenures of MacTavish, Quinn and Renney. Now, he’ll ride shotgun for Krueger. To borrow from an infamous text message, “Bucky isn’t going anywhere.”

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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  • I don’t think Tambi is in control right now. I think he is the current face and voice and the one that is there to take the heat on the tough decisions.

    I can guarantee he is not authorized to make personnel, or contract decsions before discussing with the “management team.” I am sure he is able to voice his ideas, thoughts and opinions but Lowe signs his cheques and he trusts Mact’s opinions more.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Ya that’s all I want is to see guys from Hockeybuzz that can’t tell their arse from their hole access to NHLers.

    As for Mac, try find the episode of Debrusk on wildtv. He’s buddy has a bad shot at a bear and instead of being careful he runs after the bear into the bush. Oh ya, he used a bow and not a gun.

    • There’s a lot of talented writers out there without formal journalism training or MSM credentials. I also see value in using some advanced stats to supplement what we see inside the rink.

      That said, there’s a big difference between running the numbers and drawing conclusions at arm’s length as an outside observer and working in NHL dressing rooms and press boxes. I’d like to see some of the conclusions and theories under live fire where those being written about can have their say.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        I agree to some degree, but I can see things ending badly and the current relationships between players/coaches/gm’s/whoever and MSM being hurt.

        Letting people speak their mind when they have no repercussions isn’t going to end well.

  • Jason Gregor

    I love reading about hockey during the summer months, but . . .

    It should be a hard and fast rule that every article posted here in the time from the Stanley Cup Parade Day to the opening of training camp be illustrated with pictures of beautiful women. No hockey people whatsoever.

    Compare the images in this story for gawd’s sake.

      • DSF

        Don’t understand your point, Jason
        I want more girl pics in the summer. Less pictures of Kevin Lowe.
        My comment, if read correctly, has nothing to do with the content of this story, actually. Just a general light-hearted comment on pictures being used.

        Have no idea who the girl is in the picture.

        I guess with so much gay support/gay bashing in this set of posts, my tongue-in-cheek call for more pictures of beautiful women in the summer months is called “inaccurate bitching.”

        Did you misread my post Jason, or are you just being a dick on Positive Friday.?

  • Coming from an industry that saw the print/TV-to-online transition a decade ago, I think you and I both know better than that about those “softball” questions that get tossed.

    Ultimately you, like I, am a parasite of my industry and whether I’m a parasite-by-proxy (via a major media conglomerate) or a direct parasite, we thrive only when our host thrives.

    You may actually think you’ll be asking the Oilers hard questions if you get issued a press pass and given full access as a blogger, but you won’t. Ask questions like that, no matter how politely, and pretty soon you won’t get answers. The pass may give you permission to be there, it may give you the right to shout out a question, it may even include some sort of provisions that your questions have to be answered every so often, but you’re going to get 110% team game all about the team all praise the team answers if you act like a dick.

    I’m not saying that some bloggers don’t deserve press credentials, but as soon as you get them, the relationship changes. You have to start dealing with these people day to day and once that happens, you lose the capability to coldly and analytically cut them apart in print because they will stop responding to you in any meaningful fashion. Or you’ll end up as Larry Brooks to their John Tortorella.

  • Stack Pad Save

    Okay, I don’t want to be heavy handed here, but the little joke about Malhotra maybe being gay because he marched in the Vancouver gay pride is inappropriate.
    First of all, I don’t give a crap about Malhotra’s sexual orientation. Second, he marched with a member of the Burke family, as part of Brain Burke’s initiative to encourage gay hockey players to come out and straight players to accept them. These kind of jokes belong in the trash bin with anti-gay AIDS ‘jokes.’
    Brian Burke can be a jerk, but the way he has stood up for his son’s legacy is very admirable. It is 2012 folks. Lets move on.

    • You are being heavy handed. There is no joke and there is no punchline. Like you, I don’t care if Malhotra is gay or not. Doesn’t matter a bit.

      If it’s a political statement only, I applaud it, just as I do Burke’s initiatives. If it’s something more, good for him. It is 2012 but the fact no active NHL player — from a group that numbers 700 or so in any given season — has come out says something about the hockey/sporting world as a whole.

  • Handing the reigns to MacT will be a disaster. What this team needs is a fresh perpsective, which can only be acheived by punting the entire management team. KLowe has been in charge through this whole process and its been a disaster. Tambo only knows player development systems, cause that’s what he did in Vancouver. Other than that, the guy has zero origonal ideas to go with Lowe’s bad ones. So, why would we think bringing in a guy who thinks like Lowe is going to improve things?

    Naive to the extreme or spent WAY too much time drinking the boys on the bus brand kool-aid.

  • Reality Check to the head

    I love how the Oilers look to finally be approaching respectability and now MacT looks to be the heir-apparent. Sure, lets allow an “outsider” to go through the losing and when the ship is finally turning around, lets bring in one of the good ol’ boys to reap the rewards. Reminds me of what Renney said when he first got hired. The rebuilding coach is rarely around for the finished product (paraphrasing). Looks like that will happen with Tambo.

    • Stack Pad Save

      I could be mistaken but I believe the same thing happened with the GM’s for Pittsburgh and Chicago with the GM who got all the draft picks and selected well was not the GM in the season they won their cups. It makes sense, incompetent GM creates a bad team, lucks out at the draft, or by shear impossibility of failing by having so many opportunities to draft high restocks the shelves. Owner then goes and fires incompetent GM and replaces him with a person that knows what they are doing and that GM makes good decisions to help win a cup.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        In PIT and CHI case it didn’t matter who the GM was they had incompetent ownership that couldn’t or wouldn’t pay the price to dress a competitive team.

  • Stack Pad Save

    My take… I think RB was poking fun at the media a little with the Malhotra comment and the others. News in the NHL is so slow the MSM might have to dig up some angles on nothing stories.

  • Danny Donkey

    I am not saying MacT will be a bad GM but it is really troubling to me that Oilers managmenet continues to hire Oiler alumni. They are basically doing what Montreal is doing with having to hire francophones as GM’s and coaches. If you handcuff yourself by only looking at specific people and not from the entire pool of talent your limiting your chances of success. The message clearly seems to be regarless of whether you fail or succeed, if your an Oiler alum, the Oilers will look after you. Doesn’t appear to be any accountablility within the organziation.

  • Reality Check to the head

    ‘. . “Canucks’ Malhotra to participate in Vancouver pride parade” Political statement or does Malhotra have something to tell us?’

    LOL. I bet he’s gay. Oh good one Robin. I hope you starting doing fart jokes soon too!

    With this sort of high quality writing among non-MSM bloggers how can the NHL not give you guys credentials and access to players?

    Leave the jokes to Wayne. He is a comedic genius and should be given anything he wants.

    • Please, pay attention.

      See headline above Malhotra item.

      See comment 22.

      As for: “With this sort of high quality writing among non-MSM bloggers how can the NHL not give you guys credentials and access to players?”

      I’ve had NHL credentials since 1983.

      Maybe leave the comments to Wanye. He has the ability to comprehend what’s been written in items and follow up comments before running his yap. That works well.

      • The Fish

        Exactly, you’re a journalist, and people expect, or at least used to expect, more from your field than making comments that could be taken from youtube’s commentary section.

        I have no idea why you thought questioning Malhotra’s sexuality would be something to comment on because he was attending a parade.
        It might be generational thing,I don’t know. I’m sure the similar things were being said about other people who put their necks out to support other disadvantaged groups during the 50’s and 60’s.

        I guess it’s my fault for being an elitist and still holding the fourth estate to a higher standard than the ramblings of the general public.

        • Lighten up dude!

          The second I read that Malhotra was attending the parade the first thought that popped into my head was “had he just came out of the closet?”

          That is not gay bashing, that is an initial reaction. I then read the rest of that article and found out that he is doing it to support a friend and a cause.

          You are probably right. I bet people asked if the 1st white person to join the Matin Luther King march was really black.

          If you get offended by every joke, comment, or opinion that is different then yours, or that could potentially be taken in a way that could offend someone, then you are very likely to give yourself an aneurism.

          The title of the article and the other examples of how slow the news is were funny and showed that this was a light non offensive comment.

          • The Fish

            Cody, is the first thing that crosses your mind when you read that Mayor Steven Mandel has marched in the gay parade yet again that he just came out of the closet?

            This just in. Many, many of the people who march in the gay parade are NOT gay, not that that matters. It is a fun celebration and a statement of support for the LGBT community, who need our support.

            I am not trying to hammer Robin, I’m just pointing out that these jokes are inappropriate and not funny, just as jokes about blacks and Jews and First Nations people are inappropriate. This is not about people being thin-skinned its about people being insensitive.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            It`s 4 pm and I can`t believe this is still being discussed. So before I get back on topic, some things have to be said. What IF Maholtra was coming out of the closet. Brownlee nor anyone else has inferred that that at all would be a negative thing. In fact, only you, Mike, and Dave seem to be towing this line that it would be at all negative. Nobody has come out and preached intolerance asides from you three, so again get a grip with your own issues and get back on topic. The way I see this season unfolding is a full season out of the playoffs and Tambo axed, or CBA shortened season which benefits the Oilers (with their strong starts) into the 8th seed, thus ensuring another year of Tambo at the helm.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    i would have no problem seeing MacT for one year as a head coach here again when Kruger falls flat on his face and we’re a lotto team again….then firing Tambo when his contract is up and hiring MacT as the new GM. no problem at all!!

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Don’t see MacT being GM. It is a management group, changing his title means nothing.

    And no to bloggers getting credentials. It will never happen but if it did, my god it would end badly. I can just imagine the questions Douchy McDouchebag would ask and then get punched in the face.

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    No joke about the Canucks is inappropriate. I think Mac T may be GM some day but I don’t think it should be for a few years. He needs a little seasoning in management first to avoid any rookie mistakes. I’m a huge Mac T fan and think he is one of the best quotes in the game. He doesn’t take any crap and he keeps all the media guys inline. I also don’t mind Tambo either. He brings a ton of management experience, takes a beating from the fans in Edmonton and doesn’t waiver from the rebuild plan. At the end of the day he brought in Hall, Nuge and Yakupov and Shultz. Another GM may have tried to speed up the rebuild and dealt a 1st round pick so lets give Tambo some credit. Finishing last isn’t as easy as everyone thinks. That being said he does need to make a trade to round out this team this summer.

  • @ Mike

    As Robin said, and I apologize if I am making the wrong assumption, it was not meant to be a joke. Both a political statement and/or a personal stand should be respected and applauded.

    Robin Brownlee:

    “It is 2012 but the fact no active NHL player — from a group that numbers 700 or so in any given season — has come out says something about the hockey/sporting world as a whole”.

    It will be very hard ground to break when it does happen.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @ Robin, so true about MSM fart catchers. We know who they are in this city. They NEVER ask the hard questions for fear of being shut out. Whether it be Eskimo stories or Oilers, the sycophants make it difficult for ever other earnest newshound.

    Local MSM aren’t that bad but there are a few columnists that are an embarrassment to the profession.

    Let’s get back to the days of Cam Cole fearlessly going into the Esks dressing room and facing Dan Kepley. That takes balls.

  • “You are being heavy handed. There is no joke and there is no punchline. Like you, I don’t care if Malhotra is gay or not. Doesn’t matter a bit.

    Then be professional and don’t say it in the first place. It was as inappropriate as subtle inuendos about race, religion, or… handicaps. I wonder if that would be published as quickly, sir?

    • Even if it was a joke it is pretty pathetic that in todays society that you have to be so careful about what you write for fear of how someone may take it.

      People have different types of sense of humor and differing opinion. RB never said there was anything wrong with being gay and he still gets a bunch of people with their panties in a bunch.

      This is an opinion column. People are allowed to have opinions that differ from yours. RB never said there was anything wrong with it and even if he did it would be an opinion.

      I am pretty sure Malhotra was aware he will take a little fun ribbing and most likely have some people actually ask about his sexuality. It is not their business, but when someone with some fame takes a stand for something half the reason is to get people talking.

  • geoilersgist

    I’m no english major but it doesn’t take half a brain to realize what RB was saying. Why do people come on here just to hate on the writers?? If you don’t like what is being written go somewhere else or start your own blog…

  • I said I didn’t want to make a huge issue out of this and I don’t. If Robin wants to claim he wasn’t making a joke about Malhotra’s sexual orientation that is fine with me. Lets just say it wasn’t well expressed and agree that there is a line here and we agree not to cross it.
    And now back to hockey.

  • The Fish

    . “Canucks’ Malhotra to participate in Vancouver pride parade” Political statement or does Malhotra have something to tell us?

    Stupidest comment ever.

    • Stack Pad Save

      Stupidest comment ever is a bit of a hyperbole, but speculating on a hockey blog about someone’s sexual orientation only allows for the website to momentarily bring it down to a level on par with TMZ.

    • ubermiguel

      What’s with everyone reading Robin’s comment as intolerant? I read it like he’s just waiting for the first trailblazing openly gay NHL player, and it might be Malhotra, and that would be news-worthy. No insults, no gay-bashing, just wondering who the courageous individual is going to be.

  • vetinari

    If Tambi does get let go sometime this season, I would hire Renney to give Tambi his dismissal notice through interpretive dance… after an appropriate period of reflecting on the decision, of, say 4 to 6 weeks.

    I applaud all the NHLers who are taking part in the You Can Play project and attending gay pride events. What follows has nothing to do with my personal opinion on gay marriage which, for the record, I am in favor of.

    Has anyone seen any comments telling Malhotra to “shut up and play hockey” like we did following Tim Thomas’s statements regarding Chick-Fil-A? Everything I have seen directed to Malhotra with regard to this “story” has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive.

    Why is it that Tim Thomas needs to “shut up and play hockey” according to so many while Malhotra is praised? I understand the difference between championing positive social change and spreading bigotry. I have to admit that personally I think Thomas is dead wrong and admire Malhotra’s actions especially considering his profession.

    I’m don’t think that Thomas should keep his mouth shut because he’s a hockey player and it’s not his place. I think he should keep his mouth shut because I think his opinion is idiotic. I just came to this realization and I’m not really sure I like what it says about me.