TERM WON’T MATTER AND WHAT IS THE MSI

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.

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.

  • 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.

WHICH WAY WILL TAMBELLINI GO?

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.

WHAT IS MSI?

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?


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.

QUICK HITS

  • 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. 

THANK YOU

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.

  • vetinari

    Can you imagine all non playoff teams tanking each season ? What a mess the NHL would become . Hopefully no one else follows our template . Change draft to make sure this sort of thing is not tolerated in the future as far as i am concerned .

  • vetinari

    If Renney got turfed for what he did with the team, Tambellini should have been turfed for what he gave Renney to work with. Plain and simple.

    Tambi made decent trades on moving Penner and Smyth to the Kings (in separate deals), but I would say that the jury is out on the Gilbert for Schultz trade until we see a full season or two for each in their new uniforms.

    There’s also losing Brule for nothing and then having to pay 1/2 of his 2011-12 salary. And then buying Souray out and paying him to play for Dallas. And then signing Khabibulin to a four year albatross of a contract. And then losing Schremp for nothing on waivers. And trading former first rounders like Riley Nash and Cogliano for second rounders. And mismanaging the whole PR situation with courting Heatley; burying Souray in the minors; and ticking LA off in the Smyth-Fraser deal.

    As for a public declaration from Tambi as to what the 2012-13 goal is, I think he can no longer hide from the media and has to give the fans a sense of what the expectations are for the next season, by no later than sometime around July 15th or so, once he’s had a chance to work the draft and FA market. He’s had an easy ride for the first four years while fans have supported the team and bought tickets to see 30th, 30th and 29th place finishes– it’s “put up or shut up” time now for him!

    Anyways, on happier news, there is no where to go but up! And congratulations on hitting the $50,000 mark for a worthy charity.

  • Puritania

    I keep hoping to myself that Tambo is actually really sly and has been sewering this team on purpose for top picks until it’s time to come out guns blazing, take no prisoners.

    Khabi,
    Barker,
    Belanger

    Brilliant.

    More likely, he is a buffoon. But until we flounder at the bottom next year I will hope to Odin that he is some underrated genious.

  • Lexi

    Tamby won’t disclose the plan because there is no plan. Except of course to continue to let StuMac and his staff work the amateur draft while Tamby and the pro-scouts do zippski. Tamby came in here with a clean slate basically and now he is little more than a pariah to most fans and public relations nightmare for the organization.

    I do wish someone would reach out and slap that sh*t-eating grin off his face though.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Tambellini’s deadline moves the last 2 season were pretty solid:

    The Penner trade was good (do we move up picks if the Kings win the cup this year, or was that only last year?)

    We all liked the signings this summer except for Barker and that was a low risk move. Renney didn’t maximize what we could have gotten from those guys by giving them icetime regardless of performance.

    The hardline resigning of Hemsky was very good, considering his value on the trade market.

    And while some fans hate it, the Gilbert for Schultz trade was a good hockey trade, to shore up a weakness. That will especially look good if we can add a puck mover in free agency this year.

    If you start the rebuild with the Hall pick, Tambellini has done an adequate job, but he’ll need to do better to keep his gig.

  • Lexi

    I hope you’re right, that if we don’t see progress ST is gone after next year.

    I am okay with keeping ST as the improvement in the drafting and developments at OKC give me some hope he knows what he is doing. Plus it is a complete mystery who the next up and coming GM candidate is. We talk about “magic beans” when it comes to draft picks, but man all the GM candidates seem like “magic beans” right now. Hextall might be the top candidate, but I just can’t see him in Edmonton and he was around for the Hickey at 4 pick and Teubert at 17 pick. Botterill looked like a genius three months ago, but he is considered a cap genius and yet they owe Martin and Michelek $9Mill for the next 3 years and flamed out in the playoffs because they didn’t trust their backup when Fleury fell apart. Joe Will is supposedly the most cutting edge guy, yet San Jose looks like they could be in the lottery in the next few years.

    Maybe next summer we’ll have a better read on available candidates (who knows it looks the the Phoenix situation is unraveling again so maybe Maloney will be available). The one thing I give ST credit for is he hasn’t crippled the rebuild with bad contracts or trading the key kids for vets, so if a new guy comes in after next year the team is still on target for success.

  • Puritania

    It’s a bird , it’s a plane ,faster than a speeding bullet ? No – it’s super sloth . Takes a team and makes it a total disaster that 4 years later remains basically the same . No where to go but up , and that took 3 years to go up one position -whoopie ! Most seem to forget Tams made this disaster as bad as it was/became . Now he is in charge of fixing it . No wonder we are where we are .

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Jason:
    1. Great interview with Taylor Fedun on Tuesday. He sounds like a really solid, character guy. I hope he does regain his previous level of play and will be an Oiler in the near future.
    2. Regarding the arena, I hope that the whiners and detractors have noted that two big condo developments, within a few blocks of the arena, were announced last week. Apparently, one of them, the Ultima, had commitments on about half of the units when they went on sale Saturday.
    The arena is, as predicted, spurring more development in the area.

  • Puritania

    I think Tambo has made some pretty significant and some very controversial moves. He made the best offer for Heatley, sent Souray to the minors, traded Visnovsky, Gilbert, Penner while they were still top players, offered Hossa/Jagr big money to come here, offered Hemsky & Eberle to the Bruins for the Seguin pick. He’s capable of making big moves, he just chooses his spots.

  • THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!!! HOW DARE MY TAX DOLLARS GO TO FUNding millionaires and billi…onnaires…and…hockey…*

    *Loses track of conversation and finds an episode of Matlock that had been forgotten since the last time he saw it

  • Puritania

    I agree that the Oil must show an improvement this year for Tambi to stick around. But what would an acceptable improvement be? Last year they did improve by 10 points, but to me this was a dissapointing result.

    I don’t think a playoff spot is likley next year but finishing in the 85 to 90 point range would be an acceptable improvement.

    I suggest that Tambi’s performance to date has been mixed. Kbabby for 4 years a big mistake, getting Ryan Jones off the waiver wire a hit.

    A GM’s event horizon in 3 years plus so not re-newing him would put the Oil in the “constant change for the sake of change leading nowhere” group. I think we should also remember the Oiler’s organization was a disaster when Tambi took over, not much talent at NHL level and zippo in the AHL.

  • dawgbone98

    I think the other problem with Tambo is that he doesn’t even get a lot of the small moves right either.

    Congrats to you for raising $50+k (and to everyone who donated). Good job!