This is Nail Yakupov. From what I can tell his first name sounds more like ‘Nile’ than ‘Nail’ but I’m uncertain if that’s artistic license or there’s an actual trick to the pronounciation. Yakupov is dynamic–Taylor Hall dynamic–but for Oiler fans the thought of another appearance by Steve Tambellini at the draft lottery, another set of draft parties on a Friday night in June, another trip to the podium to announce "the Edmonton Oilers are proud to select" is almost too much to take.
The pinnacle of an NHL season is supposed to happen in spring, not summer. Right?
It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to know the Oilers are overmatched. Last night’s effort was poor, to the point where even positive Tom Renney was disgruntled. However, it’s also true that much of the starting 20 are either on the sidelines or hobbled by injury. Although the current Oilers looked pretty vacant last night, we need to also consider:
- RNH is on the sidelines. The kid is a PP savant and it’s no coincidence the well has run dry since his gifts have been sidelined.
- Jordan Eberle future captain is also injured. The young man has come to represent all that is right with the Oilers: youth, skill and a sense of what is to come. Losing Eberle was huge.
- Tom Gilbert is not appreciated in his own time but any fool can see this blue is exposed more without him.
- Ryan Whitney hasn’t been healthy in a long time. If you read Robin Brownlee’s articles here at ON about Whitney dating back many months the story comes clear: this is a man who is not worried about just the last 35 games of this season but in fact has his career flashing before his eyes. Expecting anything from him now is a non-starter, but the current Oilers were put together with Whitney as a major item.
- Shawn Horcoff is (imo) injured or tired or both. Horc has once again been used like a rented mule with zone starts, tough opponents and miles of back checking on the menu. It’s a tough job and he hasn’t been up to it for quite awhile now.
- Ryan Smyth has faded a little after an enormous start. Smyth’s wonderful media interviews remain the same (Ryan Smyth is a gem, we all know that, right? The Hansons are in town tonight for the Oil King game. The Hansons probably wanted to be Ryan Smyth before Ryan Smyth!)
- Nikolai Khabibulin has come down to earth. Predictable but devastating to a team that needed historic goaltending all the same.
So as much as I understand the frustration, there are reasons for the falloff. Some of us suggested this was not a team that would push for the playoffs (my guess was 13th in the conference, 27th overall) and the club has in fact improved in some areas (goal differential although that’s sinking by farenheit and by celcius). The injuries have hurried sundown, but the Oilers left the station with a lack of balance and too few actual NHL players.
WHAT SHOULD THE OILERS DO?
There seems to be a sense that the Oilers will make some moves in regard to management over the summer. Fans I talk to and follow on twitter are more upset today than they have been at any time since the rebuild began (the current re-rebuild started about Feb 2010 by my estimate).
There has been next to zero in terms of rumors or rumblings about Steve Tambellini getting fired or Tom Renney being on his way out. Mark Spector wrote a piece the other day that brought things into focus–both coach and GM are apparently without contract after this season–but the Oilers are not known as being an organization that moves quickly in these areas. An example would be the Ales Hemsky contract negotiations; the first time I’ve heard anything in regard to those was also this week when Darren Dreger mentioned it on tsn.
The Edmonton Oilers MAY shuffle the deck a little, they have done that many times over the years (shuffling Prendergast and elevating MacGregor, shuffling Lowe and adding Tambellini) but this is not an organization that fires people in the front office often.
If you’re asking me, I do think the Oilers may shuffle things over the summer. My guess is that Tom Renney stays, Stu MacGregor becomes more independent of the GM in regard to the draft and Steve Tambellini’s role is more clearly defined as a "professional development" role similar to the job Prendergast filled before leaving the organization.
I believe it is possible that Kevin Lowe, Mike Sillinger and Todd Nelson may be in different roles come summer time and that (as Woodguy suggested to me this week) Craig MacTavish may find his way back into the organization in a prominent role.
That’s my guess, which along with a dollar fifty will get you an XL double bouble at Timmy’s. I have no contacts within or without the organization and with the exception of conversations with people like Woodguy, listening to the radio and reading the Al Gore no other reference point. Someone like Brownlee or Jason Gregor would be far more connected on something like this and I’d encourage you to read and listen to them for updates.
I don’t think the Katz ownership will see a lot of knee jerk reaction, and anything done in the front office or coaching office today would certainly run counter to the way they’ve done business since taking over.
Changes may come in spring, but I don’t think they will be of the variety many Oiler fans are looking for this morning.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The Edmonton Oilers put themselves on an island once the word "rebuild" went public. Rebuilds sometimes work, often don’t but that meeting they had with season ticket holders has had an enormous impact on the organization and its fans. Apparently "fix it, but do it right" can have several meanings.
The disconnect between fanbase and organization appears to be growing, but it’s my guess we’re miles from anyone seeing the unemployment line.
Nation Radio hits the air today at noon Edmonton time on Team 1260. I’d love to hear from you, seems to me Oiler fans would like to say something today and this is a chance for public exposure for your views. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave comments in this post; there are two twitter accounts available: @ItsNationRadio and @lowetide_
- Scott Taylor from Jets Nation. I believe that Pavelec had been playing goal for the ’90 Jets Edmonton doesn’t win the Stanley. I’ll ask Scott if he agrees and we’ll review the homestand and look forward to the road trip.
- Kent Simpson, commentator for the Edmonton Oil Kings on Team 1260. The Hanson’s are in town tonight and we’ll talk SLAP SHOT!, the Oil Kings and their chances and I’ll ask Kent about what coach Tom Renney will be saying to his Oilers these days.
- Kent Wilson from Flames Nation. We’ll talk about Jay Feaster’s attempt to both compete despite flaws and to hold on to the future. The Bourque-Cammalleri trade may also come up in discussion.
- David Staples from the Cult of Hockey. David has a unique view on the Oilers and doesn’t back down from a conversation day or night. We’ll talk about this year’s model of the Oilers and discuss the trade deadline, the future of management and owner Daryl Katz and his role in helping the fanbase figure out just what is going on.
- Thomas Drance from Canucks Army. I’ll attempt to interview Thomas without getting looted. Among the topics of discussion: are the Bruins running the Canucks show?
Hope you tune in.