A losing streak to end the season would be the best thing for the Edmonton Oilers

Well on their way to a seventh consecutive season without the playoffs, fans of the Oilers are probably long past being sick of trying to find the upside in losing. Despite that, one last run of terrible play – say five losses in their final seven games to match the current five-game losing streak – could be exactly what the team needs, for three reasons.

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The Obvious Reason

All of a sudden, the Oilers have just a three point lead on Calgary and Carolina for the third overall (pre-lottery) draft position. Based on the scouting reports there seems to be a gap between the top-four in this year’s draft – Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Aleksander Barkov – and the rest of the pack. While the Oilers should be past the point where they’re tanking for picks, with the playoffs out of sight there’s no reason not to grab the best talent available.

Let Go

There are a lot of players on the roster who should have been cleared out some time ago. The summer re-signings of Lennart Petrell and Darcy Hordichuk come to mind, as do the deadline decisions to retain guys like Ryan Jones and Ryan Whitney.

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Other lists will have other names, too – and there’s no doubt in my mind that both at least one of the Oilers’ compliance buyouts should be getting used this summer (Ben Eager, Eric Belanger). [As pointed out in the comments, the rules allow for compliance buyouts to be held over to the summer of 2014, so it’s only prudent to retain at least one of them – JW].

A lousy run to end the year might just break management’s tight grip of their underachieving depth players, and encourage them to be a little more aggressive about trying to make the team better.

Which brings me too…

Ownership Impatience

What will it take for the top men in hockey operations to be shown the door? The post-Pronger collapse of the team under EIG ownership didn’t do it. Neither did the implosion in 2009-10 after the acquisitions of Pat Quinn and Nikolai Khabibulin (the latter’s contract should have been a firing offence in its own right). The failure to climb out of the draft lottery in 2011-12 cost Steve Tambellini’s third coach his job, but once again accountability stopped just short of the general manager’s office.

Virtually every position on the team – from the assistant general manager to the head coach to the trainers to the players – has seen change during the slightly less than five-year reign of Tambellini. If the difference between a 10th-place finish and a 13th-place finish is the difference between regime change and the status quo, the Oilers are likely to be better off in the long-term with a 13th-place finish.

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At some point, the team hopes to start winning again, and for that to happen they’ll need a highly competent executive in the top hockey operations job. Based on the last few years, is there any reason to believe that person currently works in Oilers management?

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        • DSF

          Don’t mistake me saying no to Brian Burke as an endorsement of maintaining the status quo. I think that if we want to build a winning team and culture we need to steal from those that do. Go after an assistant GM from any number of consistently good teams, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Boston, Detroit. If we want to have a GM that actively seeks out players to better his team then look back over the last few years and find a team that has made deals and finds value and keeps winning, L.A, Chicago and until this year Philly and steal someone from there. Grab someone from a winning organization and say build that here, stop looking at the wings, penguins and blackhawks saying that we are following a model when it is painfully obvious that there is no plan other than improve through the draft, which as we all know is not a plan…

      • DSF

        The team needs a GM with a track record of success….one who has proven repeatedly that he knows how to build a winning hockey team.

        There is no time, while the ELC’s of the high draft picks are being burned, to have anyone learning on the job.

        If you could get Jim Nill, fine, but I doubt you can.

          • DSF

            Im in.

            If I were Katz I would clean house from top to bottom and let the new guy hire his own staff.

            I expect Kruger, Smith and Buchburger wouldn’t make the short list.

          • Eddie Shore

            I will preface this by saying that I completely agree with Willis in that there were no assurances that MacT was the best man available, and there should have been more time spent in looking for two alternatives to Howson and MacT.

            Howson, like Burke, was crucified until people started to look at the team’s success the subsequent year, however. I am not sure he brings anything new right now though and do not see him as being outspoken enough to make his opinions known in head office.

            MacT said all the right things today that shows an honesty about the team that Tambellini and Lowe have both been unable to publicly acknowledge for 7 years. He would not have been my first choice, but he has accomplished more in the last few years than the vast majority of people have, I presume yourself included DSF (unless you have obtained a masters degree in business administration and coached a professional hockey time in the last few years while battling a chronic disease).

            That being said, as you alluded to, you need to be able to make your workers accountable. Ultimately this is where the hiring falls short for me.

            If MacT is honest with the views he expressed today, we should find out much sooner than Tamby whether or not he has been successful. For one, the situation now demands results more than ever. Additionally, it sounds like for better or worse, everyone outside the top 5 players on the team are fair game for a trade, even if it is done “begrudgingly”. I suspect 2 of the top 6 forwards will be new faces next year, and a there will be a new D-man in the top 4. Khabby will not be asked back, and if either of these 3 things have not happened after this conference, then Lowe will truly be in charge and we are all doomed for another 2 decades of incompetence.

    • wiseguy

      I agree. I don’t think it’ll happen but we can dream. My only concern is Burke being the second coming of Eric Tillman- a guy with a good résumé and reputation for building teams coming to Edmonton and making an even bigger mess while using his past history as justification for making crazy moves.

    • wiseguy

      I agree. I don’t think it’ll happen but we can dream. My only concern is Burke being the second coming of Eric Tillman- a guy with a good résumé and reputation for building teams coming to Edmonton and making an even bigger mess while using his past history as justification for making crazy moves.

  • Send Paajarvi down to the AHL,

    sit Smyth, sit Dubnyk, play Whitney, Petrell and Brown more,

    call up some AHL types,

    put Gagners line out with the toughest comp line with Hemsky

    Keep playing the Schultz against the tough comp.

    Bring the Hall line down to 15 min TOI

    Bring Horcoffs line up to 17 min a night

    That should gets us to 3rd overall pick.

    Barkov please!

  • vetinari

    The best thing for this team right now would be for Hall to lead the kids (himself, Eberle, RNH, J. Schultz and Yakupov) into Katz’s office in Vancouver and demand that unless Tambellini and/or Lowe are replaced by the end of April, they can find all of them new homes next season on teams who want actually want to win. THAT would finally get Katz’s attention and then maybe something would change…

    • That’s the problem with Oilers fans. They run players out of town. That’s why no one and that includes coaches and GM will come to Edmonton. They know they’ll be run out of town especially how fan are mistreating Lowe.

      • DSF

        Are you obstinate of impaired?

        Tambellini “came to town”.

        Kreuger “came to town”.

        Renney “came to town”.

        Steve Smith “came to town”.

        The problem is Lowe, always has been.

  • Clarence Oveur

    Fans have lost hope of our managerial group putting forth a winner at any subsequent season even if we choose first every year . Fans tired of managerial group and they are getting more hostile because of the rhetoric and poor results they are giving the fans . Fans will stay and be more positive if management takes their hits and a new vision is implimented to fit the new NHL .

    • Fans have never had patience since Slats left. Fans wanted Lowe fired the minute he was hired. They wanted Lowe fired after he made his first trade as GM. Lowe even received death threats after trade. Fans are the reason Lowe is no longer the GM.

      I wouldn’t have matter who became GM in 2000, that person would have been bashed for every move.

  • oilerdago

    The answer to your last question is no. The results speak for themselves regarding pro player acquisition, trades and the signing of free agents.

    Obviously however, Mr. Katz refuses to hold the men he idolized as players to the same level of accountability as he does the managers of his drug store empire – and last night is another in a long series of losses in what is the second phase of a rebuild that is now 7 years old.

    Time to clean house.

  • Slapshot

    Katz does not care!!! as long as the $$$$$ keeps coming in.Lowe should do the honorable thing and resign,Tambellini is to indecisive,he should have never been giving the job in the first place,Unless there are major management changes, the Oilers will be a continuous lottery team!!! and how much longer will our precious 1st round picks want to stick around with this group?

  • Jeropotato

    Brian burke would be pure comedy, but I just don’t see it with Kevin Lowe as President. If Lowe is let go also and Burke becomes an Oiler executive, that would declare a clear winner in their feud,lol.

    Pierre McGuire is kinduv a jerk off, but he is a knowledgable hockey mind. But no.Too important a stage to chance it on a rookie GM.

    Scott Howson,under appreciated work in Columbus, but if we’re gotta clean house, no point in leaving remnants like him behind.
    Ditto for Mac T, though I suspect he would be the front runner.

    At the end of the day, how many proven winners are left?

    One attribute I would like to see,over and above job capabilities, is a likeable personality.I’ll settle for entertaining.Tambo is simply not likeable.

    Brian Burke is probably the best choice at this point.

  • Maggie the Monkey

    The prospects cupboards look a little bare, save maybe Klefbom so the Oilers really only have either picks or junk to peddle. That would have landed us what exactly? We are still a ways away from being wheeler dealers.

    • DSF

      I don’t want a GM that wheels and deals, I want one that looks at his roster and sees at least three guys that he has no intention of bringing back and gets value back for them, a prospect, draft picks, new water bottles, do something! Trading one or two of Peckham, Whitney, Jones, Fistric wouldn’t have hurt the team. Picking up Smithson for a fourth when better were available for nothing weeks earlier when we actually needed a centerman should have been the final act of this management regime.

  • Reg Dunlop

    What should the Oilers have done July 1st of last year? Exactly what they did, next to nothing. There was a limited supply of UFAs and that drove the price up. This, just before the new CBA came up for renewal.

    What should the Oilers have done at the trade deadline? Difficult to say. they were a playoff bubble team at the time, not quite ready to mortgage a little of the future I should think.

    July 4 or whatever of this year will be the time for them to make some moves.

  • Eulers

    Attn Oilers fans

    Steve Tambellini is not a puppet. I have formally given him my premission to say so.


    Kevin Lowe

    P.S I have always had a hard time hearing your boos with my 6 stanley cup rings in my ears. This has also made it difficult to pull my head out my ass.

    • The Worrier


      Ridicule and derision may be what it takes to get L&T out of town.

      In the remaining home games chants of “fire Tambo” and better yet “fire Lowe” could have the desired effect – what else is there to do?