A summer of miscalculation; a winter of failure

The Edmonton Oilers 2013 season did not fall apart during a nine-game road trip. The nine-game road trip was simply the point in the season when a summer of inept management finally caught up to the team.

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Some of the pain here was an unavoidable part of rebuilding through the draft. Decisions to employ Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as the team’s top-line forward (an often overlooked weakness entering the season) and to try Nail Yakupov as the second line’s left wing were understandable, perhaps even unavoidable. Nugent-Hopkins’ inexperience means that he would be better suited to a lesser role on a contending team, but he is the best option at the Oilers’ disposal for a top-line job. Yakupov’s left-handed shot, a desire to get him on to a skill line, and the team’s weakness at left wing after Taylor Hall also made a cameo in that position an understandable gamble (particularly given Yakupov’s success in the role in Russia). It is a gamble that has not worked out so far, as the positional change may well have increased the difficulty of Yakupov’s transition to NHL play.

Other errors were unforced. The decisions to re-sign Lennart Petrell and Darcy Hordichuk added a pair of 5-on-5 liabilities to a bottom-six group that didn’t need more players incapable of moving the puck in the right direction. The decision not to bring in a second-line left wing to add a capable veteran and force a guy like Ryan Smyth, Magnus Paajarvi or Teemu Hartikainen into a third line role opposite Yakupov on the other wing was another error.

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While the root of these problems goes back to the summer, it seems likely the Oilers aren’t even aware of some of them. The decision to spend a fourth-round pick on Mike Brown – fine in his role, but terrible at adding 5-on-5 offence (the Oilers biggest weakness) when plausible options like Simon Gagne (dealt to Philadelphia for a fourth-round pick) or Dustin Penner (in the doghouse and rumoured to be cheap) was understandable but wrong-headed. Brown scores high in areas where Penner has been long-criticized, but in just 15 games in a bad season Penner is within a point of matching Brown’s career-best offensive production. Intangibles do matter – but tangibles matter too, and the fact is that the Oilers went shopping for a fourth-line guy who could punch people even as their team struggled to generate any kind of offence. That is not a criticism of Brown, who I actually like; it is a criticism of a management team that was picking out drapes while the house burned down.


Justin Schultz personifies both the best and worst of the Oilers’ blue line. On the positive side, he’s a sublimely skilled offensive defenceman, a great fit for the team long-term and was a massive windfall for the Oilers when he chose Edmonton in the summer. On the negative side, the fact that Justin Schultz, rookie pro, is the Oilers’ number one defenceman says everything about the state of the blue line.

It was obvious in the summer that the only prudent course of action was to add another defender – and despite the fact that the best options were signed early, players like Michal Rozsival stayed unsigned until September while Chris Campoli eventually had to relocate to Europe. Ideally, the Oilers would have competed for one of the better options out there; instead they failed even to make a basic insurance signing.

They’re paying for it now. Ryan Whitney’s unsurprising struggles, the inability of Justin Schultz and veteran second-pairing guy Nick Schultz to handle the opposition’s best, along with the ups and downs of a still-young Petry/Smid tandem have been the deserved result of an unwillingness to address a problem visible in the summer months.


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The Oilers made it clear as early as April that they were comfortable with a Devan Dubnyk/Nikolai Khabibulin duo, despite the fact that buying out Khabibulin and bringing in a reliable backup was a viable option. Dubnyk – despite some rough individual outings – has performed well, but Khabibulin unsurprisingly has spent most of the season on injured reserve, which in turn has forced Ralph Krueger to lean heavily on Dubnyk, who has started six games in nine days. The Oilers are already within a point of last place, and are one Dubnyk injury away from being comically overmatched by the NHL as a whole.

The jury is still out on Ralph Krueger, the fourth coach of Steve Tambellini’s run as general manager. I like some of the things he’s done, but at times he’s seemed overmatched and despite his eloquence and the clear loyalty of his players his reluctance to play a line-matching game may be costing the Oilers. Jon Cooper, meanwhile, continues to run the most successful team in the AHL.

The reader may notice an abundance of links in the piece above; the reason for that is to establish that this isn’t simply looking in hindsight and spotting things that seem obvious now. Many of the mistakes made by the Oilers management group are mistakes that should have been evident long before now, mistakes that could have been avoided with a little foresight and a little action back in June, July and August. The Oilers management group deserves a team with the record this one has.

They also deserve to pay the price of failure, a price they haven’t hesitated to visit upon players, coaches, and lower levels of management within the organization: dismissal.

Update: To be clear, not all of the Oilers’ problems were forseeable. For example, the run of injuries at centre, and the shooting percentage struggles of the top line have hurt the team badly, and neither was a predictable problem. With teams as close as they are, my personal belief is that it takes some things going wrong to end up at the bottom of the pile, and that’s happened in Edmonton. But those unforseen problems would have had less impact if visible problems had been addressed earlier. JW.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • Gret99zky

    The way the game is played these days, your going to have many players going down to serious injuries.

    Unless the game changes thinking of untouchables or draft picks is a dream.

  • JCDavies

    A big package needs to be created to bring some real NHL talent in. It may not hurt so much to trade one of the big for hopefuls for a chance to build success.

    • O.C.

      “bring some real NHL talent in”


      This team is stacked with talent that needs a little seasoning and line support/tinkering.

      A bad couple games is not a bad team.

      Wasn’t it just a month ago that Toronto was the 43 year joke? Did they get a new team in 4 weeks?

      The bad is never as bad as it seems… but it could get “badder” by making dumb moves.

      Trading the farm is just…. wow.

      • DSF

        The team is getting worse….not better.

        Toronto has been improving steadily.

        As you may recall, you made a bet with me that the Oilers goal differential this season would be much better than last season’s -27.

        Pro-rated over 82 games, the Oiler’s goal differential this season is on pace for -58.

        • DSF

          @DSF – Honest question, why do you post on this website? I’m assuming just because you get some sort of joy from life in wasting hours of your day(s) bagging on the Oilers team. I don’t really care, good for you, but I’m honestly wondering why you do it? Everyone else appears to be fans of the team, which is a logical way to waste someone’s personal time. Just wondering.

          • DSF

            Quite simple really.

            I was an Oilers fan from their first day in the WHA and a season ticket holder for many, many years until driven away by the incompetence of management.

            My fondest hope is that we may soon see an end to the guy who drove the team into the toilet and, until that happens, I don’t have a problem with pointing out what I see as his innumerable mistakes.

            Whether other “fans” like it or not is not one of my concerns.

            You know, I just watched the CLB/DET game where an injury riddled Columbus team out worked the Wings for 60 minutes and were awarded with a very long standing ovation from their fans. (almost 18,000 of them).

            While the Jackets have also suffered a long time being mismanaged, they also have taken the steps necessary to fix the problem by hiring Davidson and Kelkaleinen.

            With 3 first round picks in their arsenal this season, I would wager a fair amount that the Jackets will make the playoffs before the Oilers.

            When you consider the Oilers have picked in the top 10 so many times in the last few years, that is just sad.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            I’m inclined to agree with you DSF, but where would we be today with a little stronger management group? We would probably be stuck forever in that 15-20th overall range, me thinks.

            Players were avoiding Edmonton like the plague, players whom ended up here made all sots of excuses why they had to leave. Lowe made plenty of mistakes i’ll give you that, but bringing in Tambellini to drive this team face first into the mud so it could be rebuilt wasn’t one of them. Katz and Lowe have only decided to build a hockey team that other players will want to come and be apart of.

            Fans will get their pound of flesh when Steve Tambellini is relieved of his front man position in a few weeks. Equiping Lowe with 6 or 7 premium prospects (4 14 19 64 93 along with Jones or Drouin) will hopefully make him a better GM again. As long as he’s learned from his past mistakes we should be okay.

            As fans we have little/no say in this matter.

  • WOW!… THANK YOU JOHNATAN.. Great write up and perspective on the situation, and more so having the fortitude to make the call, unlike many scribes ,honestly, no tire blowing here.

    I would not touch 4,14,93,64, or 19, at this point. Certainly not before we see the “draft day
    positioning”. These guys are all young and skilled and need development.. throwing these kids into the fire without vet support is just dumb.Veteran leadership is non existent on this team.. Sorry Smyth and Horcoff are not the answer, neither is Hemsky and Whittney.

    Unless there are changes in the ivory tower, not much will happen. I really believe that Lowe has his hands in the pie more than you would want, and Katz is not far off the scene.. !

    Yes Tambelini and even Krueger should go, but you have start higher, as these two guys are the front men for the real honcho.

  • Oilfred

    Here are some problems as I see it. The Oilers have too many young kids thrust into roles that they are not ready for. Their veteran players are just not good enough anymore or are injured so there is little choice.

    I would bet dollars to donuts Eberle has a hand injury and Nuge’s shoulder is acting up.

    The defense is also not good enough. Junior Schultz is too inexperienced to lead the d corps.

    Other teams trap the @#%& out of the Oilers so they can’t use their speed.

    Talk of trading any of the best 5 is ridiculous. The only redudancy the Oilers have is at RW. I love, but would trade Hemsky before Yak or Ebs.

  • DSF

    Also, a lot of the good clubs seem to find some gems after the 1st round of the draft. I haven’t seen much of that here lately. I thought Omark might have been one, oops.

  • Oilfred

    At least last year they tried. And we’re actually exciting to watch. Now it’s bore you to indifference last place hockey. Good job Lowe and tambi guess they really like jones or mackinnon.

  • Gret99zky

    Funny thing is…

    The Oilers will draft in the top 3 and pick a smallish forward and then ask him to play out of his natural position.

    We already see Yak on LW instead of his natural RW and there’s talk of moving Hall to C even though he is a natural and dominant winger.

    Draft McKinnon and ask him to play D.

  • John Chambers

    Oilcruzer you clearly need to remove your Kool-aid cooler glasses off. To expect this team to make any progress in the near future, it requires to move prospects to get NHL talent to play here. Are you so blind to realize it will take another two to three seasons before this team becomes competitive. It was a clear indication from the Detroit game that our so called vetrans had given up hope. Could Belanger and Smyth skate any quicker to get off the ice. It sucks buy one of the door may have to be moved. Hence the Oilers draft choices never did address their needs in the first place. Did they get bigger? No. Did they get a big talented center? No. It makes me want to pull my hair out. They opted for the small crafty wingers. I love Taylor hall to pieces but the odd crash and old charging hall would be nice once in a while, instead of these ridiculous cute plays. Once again looking out of the playoffs.

  • DSF

    This team simply put is lacking leadership and acountability! From Players, Coaches and Managment. This team needs personel in all areas that simply don’t tolerate loosing. The product on the ice shows this weakness. Please tell me who on this team will hold their team mates acountable .

  • 106 and 106

    Nice piece JW,

    There was another article saying that Katz’ will have to make the ultimate decision, and that no change in management would come (at least) until after the draft…

    I know that the management does care, and are being irresponsible (“assessing”) with looking at needs, but at what stage (if any), does Katz’ have to make a decision to let the VP of Hockey Operations cease to exist as a title and find a General Manager who will…. generally manage?

    I mean, there’s no pressure on him as a businessman, right? He is still turning a buck right now, but a culture of losing is eventually going to turn the milk sour, and all the momentum from Schultz’ signing here, new arena, etc. will mean nothing again.

    We’ll just be another cold, dark, pressure-packed hockey city.


  • “takes some things going wrong to end up at the bottom of the pile, and that’s happened in Edmonton.”

    I agree somewhat, but I think you’re letting them off too easily.

    One season of misfortune is one thing, but if you’ve had 6, decision making is at the root of the problem.

    Relying on chronically injured, aging players to fill key roles, over working young players who then have injury problems, good teams don’t do these things. This last issue comes from the first and thinking unskilled hockey players contribute anything to a team’s success.

    Howson comes up now, and it would be a devastating mistake to bring him back. He bungled colossally in CBJ. Went for coke machines, let a shooting centre play with a shooting winger so they both underachieved, and managed people poorly.

    Holding on to Nash until he spoke out meant he kept him to get what he wanted back, and ended up getting less in the end. That is having no feel for a situation and losing out because of it. It may also show weak negotiating skills.

    A better GM would have dealt him for less than he wanted but got more than Howson did because he could read the tea leaves, or was at least looking in the cup in the first place. Perhaps the owners were interfering, again a good manager would successfully explain the situation as it was changing. I’d bet money Howson could have traded Nash for Hemsky and Edmonton’s first and probably more, kept Carter and had a good first line when Hemsky was playing.

    On the bright side the fixes for the Oilers aren’t tricky, except maybe the first pairing D.

  • jooks


    Hmmm…I’d argue that the lack of depth at centre WAS a foreseeable problem. Belanger was barely treading water as 4C last year while Lander fell off a cliff in his NHL stint. His time in the AHL since has been passable but not particularly encouraging that he’d be a good 4th line centre this year. So since he’s the first call-up option I’d say mgmt’s refusal to add a better option was definitely a lack of foresight.

    • McDavid's Comet

      Depends on inept Florida is going to be vs how miserable we will be.The other factor is that he draft has changed.Its still weighted.But now if the the 8th place team wins the lottery they get the first pick instead of just moving up 4 spots in the draft. So in terms of where/who we pick it will be once again luck of the draw.

      I would take Barkov if I had the number 1. Big rangy center. Need a guy up the middle with size to compliment RNH.And to compete against the big boys in the Western Conference.

  • [Sorry in advance guys but I’m gonna piss a few people off with this one.]

    Who in their right mind would have expected our “top line” to have a shooting percentage anywhere near sustainably decent when the entire trio is younger than alot of guys on the Oil Kings? They’re one dimensional, therefore easy to strategize against and not nearly mature enough to handle the constant pounding that line is subjected to nightly going up against opposing top lines. As it stands right now they’re getting the crap kicked out of them and as a result both Hall and Nuge may now be playing injured.

    This whole narrative of “Management is incompetent! – FIRE THEM ALL!” sounds pretty good and is alot of fun (I tweeted the exact thing last night). It’s also a handy tool that allows bloggers and keyboard GM’s to pat themselves on the back having somehow mystically gleaned team weaknesses last summer that guys who actually get paid to do so “apparently” missed.


    Our company works with the same firm the Oilers use – Darkhorse at the U of A. They (the Oilers) are heavy into analytics. I don’t work with the Darkhorse team directly, but their forward looking situation projection and analysis is uncannily accurate. You think you’re good at parsing stats? These guys are freaking Jedi masters by comparison.

    It’s more than a little likely management knew full well this team wasn’t going anywhere all along. In fact, I’d bet some serious cash they counted on it. Think about it. Part-timers and blog heroes can figure out there’s massive holes in the lineup and guys who’ve been intimately involved in the sport for decades can’t? You really believe that? C’mon. One key piece goes down, the whole team goes to sh!t and not a thing is done to rectify the situation? *SHOCKER*

    Look, I don’t know the real plan any more than any of you guys. But my guess is when Horcoff went down the team was presented with a golden opportunity to go for another high pick, which will be used in combination with existing high-value assets (i.e. Gagner, Hemsky) to fill in the missing pieces. On top of which we have scads of cap room. Chances are the current bottom six, half our D and at least one goalie will not be here next year.

    The Oilers will be damn busy the next six months. Book it. With respect to Tambellini, he’s a patsy and would have been fired by now if he wasn’t doing EXACTLY what Lowe and Katz wanted. To that end my money is on MacT taking over the GM reigns in the very near future.

    You know who I feel really bad for? The players. Check out the latest post-game interviews on the team site. That’s the first time I’ve seen Ladi Smid with not a whiff of positivity. He looks absolutely defeated. I don’t want to think everybody else feels like. They’re in the midst of a full-on tank job. They know it and there’s jack they can do about it.

    Wonder why the team looks completely unmotivated alot of the time? They’re being asked to play far above their abilities and get the living hell kicked out of them doing so. That is simply not a sustainable state of mind for any athlete.

    • It’s a nice theory, David. It would have more weight if the “guys who’ve been intimately involved in the sport for decades” hadn’t already run the team into the ground.

      Either the decisions makers are incredibly bright and they’ve been playing possum since 2006, or they’re exactly what they look like: incompetent, even if they have hired smart people.

      And as fun as it is to joke about part-timers and blog heroes, the part-timers and blog heroes were smart enough to know the Khabibulin deal was an albatross before it happened. Now, sure, maybe Steve Tambellini (or Kevin Lowe, if we’re going to fully indulge in your conspiracy theory – funny how Lowe keeps hiring coaches Tambellini is intimately familiar with, but that’s another story) brought in Pat Quinn/Nikolai Khabibulin specifically to tank the team, or maybe they really are just bad at their jobs.

      • The popular theory at the time was that Khabibulin was the sweetener for the Heatley deal. I think the mistake they made was in thinking he’d be a good acquisition even if the trade didn’t work out.

          • It was a while ago, but I seem to remember the team thinking the deal was in the bag and that they were shocked when it fell apart. Might have been a classic example of “eyes off the ball”. They might have thought Khabi was the shiny bauble they needed to seal the deal and rushed without doing their due diligence.

            Which I suppose falls to your point about crappy management, so I accede to a degree. But I still refuse to believe the guys on Kingsway don’t know exactly what’s going on right now. It’s far too easy (and convenient) to assume they don’t.

          • It’s easy and convenient because it fits with fact. The Oilers have been a terrible team for years; ergo management isn’t good at what they do.

            The alternate theory feels a lot more like fan wish fulfillment than a rational interpretation of fact.

    • Agree 100% I think management threw us a curve ball when they traded for Fistric to start the season, we (the fans, maybe even the players) took it as a sign that they were trying to fill holes and improve the club, then 3 centers go down and *crickets*, we should have knew then and there what the plan for the season was.

  • RexLibris

    Terrific article, Jonathan. Sobering, somewhat upsetting over the likelihood of repeating these mistakes this summer, but all the same, a very good piece.

    As upset as I am about management right now, it isn’t limited to Lowe and Tamebellini. Morey Gare and the professional scouting staff and Rick Olcyk as head “capologist” are also drawing my ire.

  • outdoorzguy

    Krueger coaches to defend not to play offense as he did while he was the Swiss head coach. Get off this bull crap about the offense will come, this guys is sinking the offensive players. How does Eberle/Hall/Schultz all have well over a PPG average in the AHL and come to Edmonton and suddenly lose the offense???? Krueger goes, and so does the guy who hired 4 coaches in his tenure. Otherwise if they dont clean up management, this team is doomed and I will not be watching this junk.

    • Uhhh…because the AHL is a league far below the NHL, despite the propaganda and rhetoric to the contrary. Hall, Ebs and Nuuuge must have felt like Globetrotters down there. They weren’t getting hammered every shift, every night. Must have been like a paid holiday for them.

      • Honest question, David: how much AHL hockey did you watch during the lockout?

        Because you may recall Antoine Roussel going knee-on-knee with Jordan Eberle, or any of dozens of other incidents. The kids took hits. That’s what happens in high level hockey, which the AHL is normally, and especially so during the lockout.

        • I don’t doubt they took their hits, but I DID watch as many AHL games as I could handle (with pixel-vision and all). Eberle, Hall and Nuge did pretty much whatever they wanted more often than not.

          True the AHL had alot of NHL’ers during the lockout and isn’t a bad league by any stretch of the imagination. But the gap between leagues certainly has to account for the redeployed Oilers kicking the crap outta the scoring standings. It also has to account for the fact that we haven’t had alot of Barons-grown players making the leap to the main team and holding onto a spot. VDV is a great example.

  • Oilfred

    “Our company works with the same firm the Oilers use – Darkhorse at the U of A. They (the Oilers) are heavy into analytics. I don’t work with the Darkhorse team directly, but their forward looking situation projection and analysis is uncannily accurate. You think you’re good at parsing stats? These guys are freaking Jedi masters by comparison.”

    There are I am sure multi thousands of statisticians in NA. Why does so much go wrong, especially in business?

    How much does dark horse know about hockey? What are they being asked to analyze by the team.

    I can buy they are tanking on purpose, but that is far from having a master plan or being able to execute it. There is enough evidence to say that they believe things that aren’t true, like a “shutdown defenseman” is more necessary than a full game D – Gilbert for Schultz. That deal hurt the team, a lot, and has nothing to do with tanking, or with Justin Schultz arriving. It was just stupid, a bad trade.

  • John Chambers

    If they don’t fire someone when they get home from this road trip i quit!!!
    I will burn this jersey and with that lloydminster didn’t bail edmonton out when they were gonna move this team back in the sky reach days!!!!!

  • Congrats to the Oilers, they are officially in 15th place in the west.Columbus with injuries passed us.We can be klumped with lowlife teams such as Florida,NY Islanders Columbus.Next year with realignment Columbus moves to the east.We are officially a sewar rat team.Time to revamp the whole management team.The Oilers are supposed to be the pride of the city,bad management is destroying this team. Mr Katz time to wake up.We are the brunt of many jokes in the hockey world.The Eskimos brought in my opinion a GM who will reshape the team into a championship team.Tambellini may be a nice guy but is in over his head when it comes to rebuilding a hockey team.Mr.Katz the fans deserve much better than this.We want playoff hockey

  • Quicksilver ballet

    From a fans perspective it may appear as though management has failed miserably. If you look at it from the other side of the fence, management has succeeded well beyond their expectations. Four first overall selections in a row, who wouldn’t want to start rebuilding a team that way. If there’s been one constant the last 4 yrs, it most certainly has been, why doesn’t management do anything. Blind eye management at its best, passing off career AHL’ers as depth NHL’ers has helped greatly during this time.

    Fine sheep we have all been as management took profiting off hope to a whole new level, to afford them this luxury. The last 4 yrs the ticket purchasing fans have been cheated by this management group. Tambellini and Lowe were entrusted to put the best product possible on the ice in this market, all while fans paid nearly the highest ticket prices in this league for a shit show.

  • I’ve never really understood the facination with Brian Burke. He’s a self-promoter but he didn’t invent hockey. He never dug the Leafs out of the ground, inherited the core of the cup-winning Ducks (save for Pronger) and left the Canucks with cap issues. He’s made some good deals, but he’s also made plenty of terrible ones.

    There are plenty of good hockey people out there who would do a better job of running this team than the clown squad that’s in management right now, that much is obvious.

    • DSF

      1) He did ‘dig the Leafs out of the ground”. They’re currently solidly in the playoffs and he built that team.

      2) Burke did a lot more in Anaheim that trade for Pronger.

      3) Burke did NOT leave the Canucks with cap issues. He left the Canucks in 2004…a year before there even was a cap.

          • McDavid's Comet

            Burke has proven himself to be a great GM however after suffering all these years watch this team tank yr. after yr. I would be worried that he starts trading the core, starting a rebuild of his own; after all we know the guy isn’t afraid to make big trades but I would be scared that het turns into a Tillman and makes dumba$$ trades for the sake of satisfying his ego.

          • JCDavies

            Brian Burke is a ‘win now’ GM that doesn’t like to rebuild so I don’t see him starting a new rebuild.

            For the Oilers to really take the next step at least one of those ‘core pieces’ will probably have to be moved to fill some of the team’s needs. He might have trade a piece or two but it shouldn’t be a problem because he doesn’t have as history of trading away young core players.

      • JCDavies

        “3) Burke did NOT leave the Canucks with cap issues. He left the Canucks in 2004…a year before there even was a cap.”

        No, but he did leave them with one of the worst farm systems in the NHL. It’s like the cost of doing business in Burke’s win now at all costs mentality.

          • JCDavies

            I made no comment about the Leafs or the Marlies.

            There weren’t very many high-end prospects on those Moose teams you are talking about. Brian Burke is great at creating winning teams but he really likes to trade away draft picks and he doesn’t like to trade for prospects and unproven players. It’s just the way he does things. So. Yes, the Canucks farm system was pretty depleted when he left Vancouver. They were in the playoffs most of the time he was there too.

          • DSF

            No, you said the farm system the Canucks had was bad.

            It wasn’t.

            You are wrong.

            You’ll find that teams that finish high in the standings don’t have “high end prospects”…duh.

            Who is the best prospect on the farm in OKC?

            Is he better than Jake Gardiner or Niklas Jensen?

            Check the facts before you spout off.

          • JCDavies

            Why are you bringing Gardiner and Jensen into this? Burke hasn’t been in Vancouver since 2004 and has nothing to do with Jensen and Gardiner has nothing to do with Vancouver.

            Also, Burke traded away a lot of draft picks at the trade deadline to pickup rental players that might help the Canucks with the cup. It was probably the right thing to do but it weakened the depth of the farm system.

          • DSF

            Your assertion is that Burke leaves nothing in the farm system is wrong.

            He has been the GM when both Manitoba and the Marlies were among the best farm teams in the AHL.

            Give it up.

          • JCDavies

            Once again, I did not make any comments regarding the Leafs or the Marlies or anything Burke did while he was there.

            I also didn’t make any statements about the Moose. I made a statement about what the Canucks’ farm system looked like when Burke left. Look at his drafting record. His successful draft picks while he was in Vancouver were Sedinx2, Kesler, Allen, and Bieksa and when he left in 2004 only Bieksa was still in the system. I didn’t say anything about the farm systems Burke left in Toronto or Anaheim. I just commented on what the Canucks’ farm system was like in 2004.

    • JCDavies

      Brian Burke is actually pretty good at finding the right pieces and and assembling a team when he has something to work with. The problem with Burke is that he is too impatient to rebuild a team properly and so he rushes out and does something like trade for Kessel. It was way too early in the rebuild for him to try a move like that. The Leafs would have been better off letting someone else start the rebuild and then bringing Burke in later.

      The Oilers are in a much better position than the Leafs were at that point and having Burke, or someone like him, run the team would help them take the next step.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Hey JW, remember when K-Lowe and Tambi stated that they were trying to use the same formula the Detroit Red Wings were successful with in 2008? Then they changed that tone and said the Pittsburgh, Chicago model were more of what they were trying to establish, then they brainwashed the fanbase with “the future is bright, be patient”. The late 90’s and early 2000’s Oilers had more of an identity than these so called skilled stars. I remember Adrian Aucoin saying that he hated the Oilers, they were always competitive and had HEART. Lowe shipped out all the heart and soul to bring in skilled small forwards to entice the fans one in every 15 games or so. This team has had no identity since 2006 and it all starts with the confused SOB’s in management. JW, do you think Katz will actually clean house and that includes the motivational speaker pretending to be the coach of this team? Brian Burke spoke the truth about how Lowe took this team into the gutter. It would be something if Burkie took over Lowe’s and “Clueless” Steve’s job. I also hope the fans stop showing up to Rexall like the mid 90’s.

  • McDavid's Comet

    The crime in this is that such young players are being destroyed.

    Other than Hall, the oilers should have all their young talent on the farm or a min as 3rd line players.

    That is until they mature and learn the game at the highest level.

    Oiler management is not competent.

  • Big Cap

    “Things go wrong because alot of times because senior execs are afraid to act on what the data tells them, or act on it in a timely fashion. Business today works on a timeline far faster than alot of businesses can keep up with. Lack of agility is the prime business Achilles heel these days.”

    True and collecting data is the easy part. Understanding it correctly is the hard part.

    I have to deal with a large corporate main supplier. IMO they don’t understand what is going on in our industry, and make decisions exactly the same way the Oilers seem to. They think they are progressive, but the same guys have been running the show for years. Nothing changes, they expect different results, and make excuses.

    Continual failure is usually a sign of incompetence. If we are all lucky, this has all been bluff to get superstar laden team.

    I read that last sentence, and I’m not buying what I’m selling. I survive as the smallest player in a huge industry by my instincts. They haven’t been telling me good things since 2006 about Oiler hockey, and I trust them a bit.

    As a passionate Oiler fan, I find I have to resign to the destruction and/or bungling of what could have been great, with the faintest glimmer of hope that something will happen to save the day, perhaps Katz getting pissed off and the mega corporate blood letter coming out.

    Or somehow the brass gets into a deal with one of the worse GM’s and the team actually benefits (largely based on Lowe realizing the good guys all seem to want MPS) so they keep him.

    That insight made without consideration, piss drunk on Heatley’s summer deck at 4 in the morning with stogey in hand, wondering if his eyebrows will old man thicken like Slats, and why Karen won’t let him smoke them on his own deck.