LAST DAYS OF MAY . . .

There’s been a positive vibe around the hiring of Craig MacTavish as new GM of the Edmonton Oilers and that continued today when former Oiler assistant coach Rob Daum offered his two cents.

Daum, the former Alberta Golden Bear head coach who was an assistant coach under MacTavish, is now coaching in Austria and will be an assistant with that country’s entry in the Sochi Olympics. He offered the following on MacTavish on Bob Stauffer’s Oilers Now show.

"I’m a big fan of Craig MacTavish," Daum said. "I think he’s a real sharp hockey guy. Not just a sharp hockey guy, but a sharp person as well. I think he’s going to do well.

"The reason I say that is I think he has a confidence and he’s willing to make moves. All he’s going to worry about is, does it make his team better? Sometimes when you get into situations, you always worry – gee, if I make this move, if this player goes over there and plays really well, I’m going to look like an idiot.

"I don’t think Craig cares about that. I think he’s going to make moves based on what he thinks is going to make his team better. He’s not going to be concerned about whether somebody goes someplace else and plays really well. You always take that chance in a trade that someone is going to go someplace and do well.

"I don’t think that’ll bother Craig. If he feels what he gets back in return is going to make his team better here in Edmonton, he’ll be prepared to do that."

MEDIA MUSINGS

Oilers fans won’t be able to read Jim Matheson’s insights from the Entry Draft this season because he’s on long-term IR with a badly broken right elbow after taking a tumble on his bicycle back on May 19.

Matheson, inducted into the writer’s wing of the HHOF as an Elmer Ferguson Award winner, will be laid up for at least three months after having surgery to insert plates and screws into the elbow – he took a bad fall when he hit a rabbit, of all things. That’ll not only throw a wrench into his golf game this summer, but it’ll put a big dent in The Journal’s hockey coverage.

Get well soon, pal.

. . . Matheson’s absence will open a window of opportunity for Evan Daum (yes, he’s Rob Daum’s son), who has been covering the Oil Kings for the broadsheet and will now take on some coverage of the Oilers this off-season.

If Daum plays his cards the right way and does a bang-up job in Matheson’s absence, he could position himself to take over the Oiler beat when Matty eventually calls it a career. Matheson’s in his 60s and Joanne Ireland is in her mid-50s, so there’s an opportunity there.

Daum’s a talented young writer

RADIO GA-GA

. . . Still with Daum, what’s this I hear about him getting his own radio slot on TEAM 1260 to focus on college sports?

. . . Speaking of water cooler talk, I’m wondering if Dan Tencer might move away from his spot as host of 630 CHED’s Oiler broadcasts on game nights and his night-time sports talk show to the 9 a.m. to noon slot now occupied by Dave Rutherford.

Tencer’s been filling in with Rutherford on vacation and, if he retires, would likely get consideration for the gig. I’m hearing Corus Alberta might split the Rutherford Show into two different regional shows – Edmonton and Calgary.

. . . If Tencer moves over, I’d have to think somebody like Reid Wilkins, who has paid his dues on Stauffer’s Oilers Now show, would be a candidate for the host’s gig on Oiler game nights.

THE NATION IS EVERYWHERE

Being tucked away in my auto glass shop in west Edmonton since last October is worlds away from hanging out at Rexall Place for morning skates and on game nights — a gig I had from 1989 until last October — even though I keep my hand in the media biz on Jason Gregor’s Show.

Some of you might have even noticed (and applauded) that I’m writing here less while I get the shop up and running. That’s my focus right now. Still, I get a kick out of it when customers come by to shoot the hockey breeze or talk cars while they get some work done.

Oiler fan Brad Lea provided a first today, and I didn’t even know it until he turned his back and walked out the door after paying his bill. Thought I’d take a picture and pass it along.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Really happy your glass shop is coming along Robin. Jeez man. I work just a couple of blocks away. Gotta get my butt down there to check out the rides and get my windshield replaced one of these days.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    A little worried about Matty. What an amazing iron man streak he had going. Jimmy played through many a paper cuts during the early yrs, and never missed a deadline. To go nearly 40 yrs before his first major surgery is an accomplishment in itself. Chicks dig surgery scars. He may want to pull out some of his short sleeved shirts when he’s up and around again.

    btw, it wasn’t Jessica Rabbit he ran over with his bike, was it?

    • Leef O'Golin

      Hey Matty, Henrik Sedin on line one. He says all you have to do is get into the lobby of the Journal, twirl around for 20 seconds or so, and your Iron Man streak will still be alive.

  • YEGFan

    Reid nauseates me with his cluck of a laugh every few minutes. Cluck cluck! I doubt Tencer and his snotty attitude translate well to Rutherfords blue haired crowd time slot. Meanwhile, the Team keeps getting stronger. I dig it.

    P.S – Nice looking digs for your company.

    • Supernova

      Getting Tenser snotty attitude off the Oiler broadcasts and into a show I won’t listen too is A-Ok in my books. I thought anyone replacing Rutherford would actually have to be knowledgable, but what the hell do I know.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The is precisely zero evidence that MacT is a skilled general manager. He has NEVER held that job at any level in hockey.

    Thus we may be about to witness a textbook case of the Peter principle.

    I could care less what the opinions are about how smart he is. That is irrelevant. Michael ignatieff was a very smart guy with a lot of knowledge about politics. Yet he was hopeless as a politician.

    His hiring was a very risky decision in an organization that already has heaps of risk in its inexperienced players and coach.

    • DSF

      So true.

      MacT has NEVER negotiated a contract and his mentor is the guy who overpays everyone and gets spitty if they don’t fall into line.

      How good would Sheldon Souray look on the Oilers blue line?

      • What floors me is how some of the writers and fans on here and other sites have actually bought into his rhetoric without so much as a single serious move.

        Sure you hear about how instrumental he was in bringing in Schultz Jr, but so was Hall, Kruegar, Gretzky, Coffey, blah blah blah.

        He talks a good game about how the Oilers have to get a top pairing defensmen, sign Gagner, get a better bottom six, get goalies, buyout players, be “bold” take some semblance of “Risk”.

        To me this is the same captain running the good ship Oilers.

        Time for talk to end, were going to find out damn soon if this guy has the nads to bring it.

        For his sake and Lowe he better not blow it.

        • Rocket

          You should be cynical if anybody hails MacTavish as a sure-fire saviour for the organization, but I’m not hearing or reading that.

          On a personal level, I’ve known MacTavish for more than 20 years. I believe he’s got a head for the game and a head for the job as GM. Being hopeful that translates into some positive action after the trainwreck that was Tambellini isn’t as much buying in as it is optimism he’ll be a solid upgrade.

        • Rocket

          I’m excited for what MacT may be able to do because of a little thing called hope. I’m aware he has done nothing as a gm yet, so I choose to look at him as a I would a prospect or draft pick. I hope he develops well with as few growing pains as possible lol. I do believe MacT has earned the benefit of the doubt though. All you armchair gm’s were inexperienced at whatever you do in life at one point.

      • Clyde Frog

        Mike Gillis?

        I never thought I would see the day that DSF peed on his almighty Canuck’s… (And their collection of Oiler sloppy seconds, *cough* Vandemeer & Barker *cough*)

        But there it is in black and white…

        • DSF

          Gillis played in the AHL and NHL.

          He coached the the Queen’s University hockey team, earned a law degree and was a player agent for close to 10 years with several high profile clients.

          The team he heads has won the NW division title every season he has been GM.

          I’d say his qualifications are pretty solid.

          MacT has been a player and a coach.

          Period.

          • Leef O'Golin

            ooohh! don’t forget his precious distance learning queen’s MBA.

            Chri$t, if i had a nickle for the putz’s in business i have met who had that on their resume.

            The MBA may be the least reliable education metric for determining actual business acumen extant.

          • Supernova

            You could say the same thing about any degree Gord.

            I know many, many successful and very smart people that have no degrees. Heck its alberta we have multi-millionaires that have no high school grad.

            The MBA is a very interesting designation and can be used for a variety of things. One of the major benefits is the network you establish. (which is of no consequence in MacT’s case)

            Mike Gillis is very qualified but it doesn’t mean that he will have more success than any other GM.

            Many of the most successful GM’s are people with absolutely zero school.

          • Supernova

            First: Reread what I said: correspondence MBAs are the worst of the group. Absolutely other degrees and designations don’t necessarily mean the holder is capable. But correspondence MBAs are the least well-regarded.

            I work on almost a daily basis with executive-level people both in business and in my political activities from tiny companies run by brilliant individuals to some of the very largest in AB, Canada and the world for that matter.

            I have advised and been involved in hiring such executives and recruiting them and helped those looking to get those positions, including helping some aquire their MBA because in some hidebound companies an MBA was a prerequisite (this was very much In Vogue 10-20 years ago but many companies have gotten away from the practice due to the tendency to hire dullards who have better than average course writing abilities) .

            And i can say from numerous experiences that the correspondence MBA is eyed very warily. Queens et al schools make huge money selling their branded correspondence MBAs. Their standards are sometimes much more lax than programs where the student actually attend the school (where costs of provision are much much higher).

            These kinds of programs are tailored to Older potential students who need the designation/tattoo to advance in the executive ranks but who are too busy with the rest of their lives to you know actually go to school. Sound familiar?

            Most people I know who hire executives put a lot more trust in programs that require actual school attendance and that are completed at a young age. A CA designation or even a simple Four year BComm or BBA degree is held in higher regard than a correspondence MBA.

            To the typical layperson the designation “queens MBA” often generates Ooh and ahhs, but to those who deal executives and pro motion on a regular basis the response is more often a “ya, so what?”

          • Supernova

            We may be splitting hairs here.

            you stated

            “The MBA may be the least reliable education metric for determining actual business acumen extant.”

            I stated

            “The MBA is a very interesting designation and can be used for a variety of things. One of the major benefits is the network you establish. (which is of no consequence in MacT’s case)”

            I agree completely with this statement;

            “To the typical layperson the designation “queens MBA” often generates Ooh and ahhs, but to those who deal executives and pro motion on a regular basis the response is more often a “ya, so what?”

            My whole point was that the correspondence MBA does not make MacT any worse of a hire. I agree completely that it also doesn’t enhance his qualifications, but to say he isn’t qualified to be a GM or to knock the man for having a correspondence MBA is ridiculous. As you know working in the business world then, alot of the hires by major companies are very much like the MacT hire. In that they either hire the individual who on paper has the qualifications (even if they are meaningless) or the hire the people that they know. I too converse daily with very successful executives and brilliant people. They quite often state to me that “the best man to captain most ships, is the one who knows and understands all aspects of the ship” this quite often means that these executive and brilliant people would or do prefer to hire a very well rounded and established “sales” person as this person is most likely to comprehend all aspects of the business. These sales people also generally have the least in designations.

            MacT is very qualified when you look at all the roles that he has held in hockey. He has a established network that clearly think very highly of him, and people that value his opinion all over the hockey world. His biggest detractors say he has no management or negotiating experience in regards to contracts. This is why teams hire “cap and contract experts” which is akin to a CEO hiring a CFO. Smart managers hire smart people around them so that they don’t have to be the smartest man in the room. They are the leaders and the final decision makers.

            Whether MacT was hired for the right reasons (tenure with Lowe) or has the right Designations (correspondence MBA), he is not lacking in qualifications for the position. His success will be determined at how he manages his team of experts and then executes. He has a capable team behind him in Rick Olczyk, Scott Howson, Stu Macgregor and many other consultants and staff.

          • DSF

            I think MacT is a very smart guy…much smarter than his predecessor but you have to ask, given his utter lack of experience in hockey operations, is there another team in the league that would have hired him to be GM?

            I expect the answer is no.

          • Supernova

            DSF,

            that is the best comment i have seen from you.

            very fair and very relevant.

            as the saying goes “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”

            This works everywhere but especially in the hockey business.

            In My opinion MacT is more than capable to cover this off.

            Gillis is under the gun now, we will see how he handles things but to date it seems Dave Nonis was a much more capable GM and put the full blueprint in place for the Canucks.

          • Jason Gregor

            Gillis played in the AHL and NHL.

            He coached the the Queen’s University hockey team, earned a law degree and was a player agent for close to 10 years with several high profile clients.

            So let me get this straight, Gillis played in NHL and AHL and coached at Queens, has a degree and was a player agent.

            MacTavish played in NHL, coached in NHL and AHL, has a degree, but because he wasn’t a player agent he is way over his head.

            Gillis had no NHL management experience when he was hired, yet he was magically more experienced?

            Okay.

            And Gillis inherited Luongo, Sedins, Bieksa, Edler, Kesler and Burrows. Six of his seven top scorers his first year were there before he arrived. The Canucks had three 100-point seasons in the previous 5 years before he took over. He’s done a good job, but don’t fool yourself into believing he built that team. The core was there when he arrived.

            There is no guarantee MacTavish will be great, or good, but suggesting Gillis was more experienced in April of 2008 when he was hired is incorrect.

          • DSF

            Really?

            How many contracts has MacT negotiated?

            I would imagine the answer is zero.

            You seem to think Gillis’ time as a player agent has no value but I’d suggest it does since one of his best attributes has been getting players to sign below market value to play for his team.

            Any GM taking over a team will likely have a “core” in place just like MacT does with Hall, Eberle, Hopkins, Gagner, Schultz and Yakupov.

            So, MacT also is inheriting the team’s top 6 scorers (7 if you include Hemsky).

            But it’s what happens next that counts.

            The Canucks missed the playoffs the season before Gillis took over just like the Oilers did this past season but they haven’t since.

            Players that Gillis has added to that “core” include Hamhuis, Garrison, Tanev, Higgins, Booth, Ballard, Malhotra, Ehrhoff, Lapierre, Weise etc.

            While it appears there are a couple of questionable acquisitions in there, there are certainly some great ones.

            I would think if MacT is able to add two top pairing defensemen, some solid veteran wingers and a viable bottom 6 forward group over the next couple of seasons and, at the same time, sign his existing players to team friendly contracts, you would have to think he’s been equally successful too as long as the Oilers make the playoffs every season he is GM.

            We’ll see.

          • “So, MacT is inheriting the team’s top 6 scorers (7 if you include Hemsky).”

            I think he’s technically inheriting all of the team’s top scorers. I think Gillis did too. Expansion team GM’s though, now there’s a real pioneer!

            (And please don’t point out that Whitney was 8th on the team and isn’t going to come back – because that’s not the same thing.)

          • DSF

            As I mentioned above:

            “I would think if MacT is able to add two top pairing defensemen, some solid veteran wingers and a viable bottom 6 forward group over the next couple of seasons and, at the same time, sign his existing players to team friendly contracts, you would have to think he’s been equally successful too as long as the Oilers make the playoffs every season he is GM.”

            We’ll see.

          • Jason Gregor

            The Canucks missed the playoffs the season before Gillis took over just like the Oilers did this past season but they haven’t since.

            Players that Gillis has added to that “core” include Hamhuis, Garrison, Tanev, Higgins, Booth, Ballard, Malhotra, Ehrhoff, Lapierre, Weise etc.

            While it appears there are a couple of questionable acquisitions in there, there are certainly some great ones.

            I knew you’d go with the “they missed the year before, which is why I said they had three 100-point seasons in previous five years. They were a good team that had a bad season in 2008.

            Ehrhoff was a solid trade, but Hamhuis and Garrison were big tickets and both the usual UFA overpays.

            Rest were either bit players or guys who didn’t perform.

            And don’t compare the Oilers core to the Canucks. The Oilers core hasn’t made the playoffs in 7 years.

            We both know you don’t believe MacT can add only three players (basically two since Garrison and Ehrhoff were never teammates)and this team will be a division champion.

            MacTavish has much more work to do than Gillis did, and don’t cherry pick and suggest because 2008 Canucks missed playoffs that Gillis and MacTavish are starting at the same point.

          • DSF

            Hamhuis and Garrison both took discounts to play in Vancouver…suggesting they were “overpays’ is not accurate.

            Gillis signed the Sedins to 6 year contracts below market value. They wanted 12 year deals and Gillis flew to Sweden to persuade them to take less than they wanted.

            Gillis signed Burrows to WAY less than market value.

            He found and signed Tanev, an undrafted free agent.

            Suggesting players like Malhotra (before injury) was a bit player is also not accurate.

            Gillis can be faulted for the Ballard trade and, perhaps Booth but both of those may be coaching issues and that remains to be seen.

            To my eye, MacT is very much in the same situation as Gillis was since he has a very strong core of young players, although it lacks balance, and what he does in the near future will be critical to the future of the franchise.

            With so many top 10 picks and the possibility of free agent acquisitions this summer because of the cap drop, he has a great opportunity to take the team to the next level very quickly.

            If he can’t…..

          • OilClog

            Garrison is in no way a discount contract, fact

            Sedins signing for 6 years when they wanted 12 isn’t a discount. Only 3 or 4 gm’s in hockey go over 6 years.. and every star player in the game wants 10yrs plus when they come up for contract.. so again.. because they wanted 12 years and only got 6 isn’t a discount or a super duper win.

            Gillis has had a few good signings.. but can you call what he’s done since game 7 against Boston successful? No, it hasn’t been. He’s iced the same regular season, beating up on a weak division team, that chokes in the playoffs year after year. Good way to use those 6 years on the Sedins eh.

            How about that beautiful Goaltending situation, a good to fairly great GM would of had Cory signed and shipped out of town for some team depth in the playoffs. Allowing world class Roberto to keep on playing and shelter another up and coming goalie behind him. Thus maximizing Cory’s value for the franchise and giving his team the best possible chance to win it all.. but he pulled a Dithers and now he has no coach, two goalies, and a grade A dung show.

            SUCCESS!

    • I think the thing that people like is that he seems to be the opposite of Tambs. For so long it has been obvious to everyone that we could draft low for ever and still be bad if we don’t make some moves to address the makeup and holes in the team and yet Tambs did nothing.

      Mact has pointed out these glaring weaknesses and said he plans to address them. Does this make him a brilliant GM? Not necessarily, but it at least gives the fans hope that he is going to attempt to make the changes we all know need to happen for this team to take the next step.

      By acknowledging these weaknesses and the need to address them publicly he has actually put additional pressure on himself. Now if he is unable to make any bold moves he will look incompetent because he has set the fans expectations much higher than we have been used to.

  • Rocket

    Actually I want to witness MacT walking into Crackmasters & talking shop with Brownlee. I bet they would get along.

    Brownlee: “Make any quick moves yet MacT?”

    MacT: “No I have a Lowe tire slowing me down”

    Brownlee: (Deadpans) “Get out”

  • Supernova

    Robin,

    Are you thinking Tencer has a news gig like Rutherford’s or a sports gig in Rutherford’s time spot?

    Sounds like you are saying he moves away from sports, which would be a godsend. Tencer has skill but his attitude makes everyone nauseous. I always thought they were grooming him for something else.

    • Rocket

      I don’t think you could get more obnoxious & obtuse than Rutherford. But Tencer might be able to get it done. Still, Tencer is clearly on The Oilers’ side so I’ll give him that and he’s willing to take fan heat if he needs to.

      • Supernova

        With Lowetide on the airwaves at that time Tencer doesn’t stand a shot with a sports show. I can’t imagine it being a sports show, but who knows ….

        Tencer strikes me as the type of guy Robin needs to take into the ring for a few minutes and straighten out. If you can filter out the ego and attitude he has some quality.

        Media outlets are really keying on talk shows that discuss live content, to my knowledge Rogers and Bell are not in the Edmonton sports talk show market. With Astral trying to get taken over but rebuffed it seems like their could be a legitimate battle for a station to build up this content and then sell to one of them.

        • Rocket

          Wow! You seem way more knowledgeable about these inner workings than me. I was just being snarky but if you’re correct, we could see a big shake up.

          BTW, I’m a big fan of Lowetide’s show. Just don’t tell him lest his ego swells 😉

      • Rocket

        DT is on DT’s side. No reason to get pissy with the little nerd. Let’s pass the hat and buy him a razor so he can shave for his 40th birthday. No hard feelings DT.

        Apparently obnoxious sells in radio. You probably think this song is about you…don’t you, don’t you….”

  • Clyde Frog

    I think most haven’t nominated him for GM of the year yet. Yes it’s true that, at the end of the day, what matters is performance, but the reality is we don’t have any performance to judge yet. I think we’re all just happy that he seems, at the surface, to believe the team needs what most of us think it needs.

    Here’s what we know:

    1. His concept of issues that need to be addressed is roughly in line with the beliefs of the oilers online fan community. Some size, mostly skill in depth positions, all kinds of defence, backup goalie preferably in a 1B position.
    2. He is a smart guy, as evidenced by his education, but moreso as demonstrated by his tactical coaching style during his time as head coach.
    3. He’s wicked-handsome.
    4. Despite the fact that he’s from the boys club, he seems to be able to state an opinion that differs from that of his boss, hinting at the possibility that he will be able to stand up to Lowe if necessary.

    • Clyde Frog

      With the exception of #3, I would agree with this. And I could probably be convinced on #3 as well but… And as Patrick Roy stated this week, all coaches in the league were rookies at one point. Same is true for GMs. MacT has had the aptitude/ been groomed to move into administration since his playing days. There weren’t too many complaints when Stevie Y took a role in Tampa. Many large companies have a CEO in waiting. Someone from the inside that can take over. Usually that person has moved up from the shop floor. This is applauded in industry yet criticised in hockey circles. Not sure I understand why.

      • Clyde Frog

        I think you don’t under stand the Peter principle – so here’s wikis take:

        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Principle

        Orgs that do not hire from outside their organization and or don’t have some kind of apprenticeship policy (in the case of hockey hiring a person who has experience as a minor league GM) are extremely vulnerable to Peter principle disasters.

        The MacT hiring has PP possibilities absolutely.

        Well-run orgs explicitly prohibit such hiring practices by having exhaustive recruiting and vetting processes when looking for executive level employees. I don’t know how Katz handles his real businesses, but his oilers franchise is obviously not run this way.

        And thus it can be argued that it is not a professionally-run business.

  • Leef O'Golin

    Robin,

    Long time reader from St. JOhn’s, NL. Love your insite and take no prisoners style of writing.

    Couple questions:

    1.) Where would you rank Jim Matheson among the hockey writes in Canada?

    2.) How many moves do you think MacT will make this off season?

  • Rob...

    There’s no good place to put this, but props to Ben Eager who scored early and earned 27 minutes in penalty minutes as he stood up for Tanner House in yesterday’s game in OKC.

  • Big Papi

    What everyone is missing here is the first confirmed Bradford Lea sighting since a Monday meeting at the DEKE House in 1988!

    Looking good Mr Lea. ITB Delta Phi 765.

  • Clyde Frog

    Gillis signed Luongo to forever, can’t trade him and went into last season with 9.33 million worth of cap-space tied up in a position where he can’t actually field both players at the same time…

    Then proceeded to wash out in the first round…

    Yup nothing but amazing moves.

  • crobar

    get anyone on there but tencer!! he is the biggest jock sniffer on edmonton radio and nothing but a perpetrator of propaganda. journalism is supposed to be objective to a certain extent!!