HELL BENT FOR LEATHER

Craig MacTavish is way more active in the GM role than his predecessor Steve Tambellini. It might be a matter of being at different points during the rebuild, or maybe it’s a new coach or the goalie situation, but Craig MacTavish is hell bent for leather.

STEVE TAMBELLINI OCTOBER THROUGH DECEMBER 2008

In the fall of 2008 I wrote the following about Steve Tambellini:

  • One of the things that marked Kevin Lowe’s tenure as a GM was a galling tendency to wait forever after the start of the season to address an obvious need. So, with the entire human population (well, the ones who pay attention) and the Lords of Math already aware that the 3line needs a RH center, I think it’s fair to say that Tambellini’s first test will be to show us he’s smarter than his boss and pull the trigger on a deal right now.

Well, that was November 2008, and the first trade of the Tambellini era waited until January of 2009. Goalie Mathieu Garonfell out of favor and was dealt for winger Ryan Stone, minor-league goalie Dany Sabourin and a fourth-round pick that ended up being Tobias Rieder. That’s a good return, but really didn’t address need for the organization.

The next time Tambellini made a deal it was the deadline and he didn’t get Justin Williams but did acquire Patrick O’Sullivan. And so it began.

CRAIG MACTAVISH OCTOBER THROUGH DECEMBER 2013

Since October 1, MacT has done the following:

  1. Traded Mike Brown to San Jose. This was made possible by the emergence of waiver acquisition Luke Gazdic.
  2. Traded Ladislav Smid and Olivier Roy to Calgary for Laurent Brossoit and Roman Horak.
  3. Signed Ilya Bryzgalov.
  4. Traded Jason LaBarbera to Chicago. Made a mistake, fixed it.

And there are rumors this evening (via HNIC) that Linus Omark is the next man out of town (town being OKC).

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Addressing need. Craig MacTavish needed a goalie solution and found one. It’s been years since the Oilers had a GM who moved a finger before Christmas to help the roster. Now, the season is lost so there isn’t the same urgency, but it’s far more interesting to follow this version of the Oilers than it was in the last decade. MacTavish hasn’t been on the job long, but is aggressively trying to improve the situation in Edmonton. 

Defensemen coming in? Center? Big winger? He’s working on it. And that’s progress.

(Brossoit photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved).

  • Serious Gord

    MacT made a mistake in hiring Eakins then pony up and fire this guy.I have never seen this team this lost playing out there since Quinn. Players seem so lost and scared to make a mistake. Krueger and Horcrapp told Yak to tone down his “cellys” since then he doesn’t celebrate his goals,this from Krueger and Horcrapp who score goals. This whole organization has no leadership starting from the top. Lowe has to step down.His plan has not worked for 8 years. He is the one who pulls the strings. He has provided nothing as a coach, GM or Prez, sure he won cups, but it was as a player surrounded by super stars. Get your hands off the team. Its ours and you screwed it. Start a petion!!

  • Serious Gord

    Speaking of being dead last…

    As far as I can determine the oil have been in dead last since the very first game of the season. And now, believe it or not a discussion can begin as to whether they will stay in last place for the whole season.

    The flames are five points up with two games at hand.

    Take a look at their schedule between now and jan 15 and compare it to the oil’s.
    There is an excellent chance that the gap will be even larger at that point – more than half way – than it is now.

    The grim reality is that this could be the makings of the worst season in oiler history.

    Good work MacT, Eakins, and of course Klowe.

  • bwar

    Reading these comments you’d think that the fans here don’t realize that this is far and away the best Oilers team of the last four or five years.

    That doesn’t make them good mind you, but so so much better than last year it’s incredible.

    It’s like everyone here has had collective amnesia. Last year’s team was dreadful, badly outplayed game after game after game, worst or second worst in the league.

    I know, I know, you are going to point to irrelevant things like the standings, while ignoring relevant things like unsustainable shooting percentages on the power play and goaltending. May I remind you that the standings are not necessarily an indicator of team quality. For instance the Leafs are absolutely awful, far worse than the Oilers, and yet they look decent in the standings.

    This team has the best coach it has had in years. It has a GM who has made good moves after years in which the team failed to add a single player of quality.

    Face it, the Oilers are starting to emerge from the wilderness but the rebuild only started in the spring. If you are frustrated right now it can only be because you had unreasonably high expectations due to the fact that you were unaware of a) how bad the team was last year and what bad shape the organization was in under Tambellini and b)how it is difficult to rebuild under in the NHL under the best of circumstances and almost impossible to rebuild through the draft.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      No disrespect, but I think pretty much everything you said here is wrong. The Oilers suck, and their position in the standings reflects that. Standings ARE an indicator of team quality, and position in the standings is an incredibly relevant thing to most fans. In what world are the Leafs ‘far worse than the Oilers’? The Leafs made the playoffs last year, I would’ve expected them to be about where they are now (middle of the pack).

      ‘Last year’s team was dreadful, badly outplayed game after game after game, worst or second worst in the league.’ You actually just described the team this year perfectly. You did watch the game against Van, right? One of the worst performances they’ve displayed this season.

      Argue about sustainable PP shooting percentages and corsi all you want, this team sucks and is dead last in the West for a reason.

    • I am the Liquor

      If you are going to make such an outlandish statement you really need to provide a lot more backup than just power play shooting percentage and goal tending.

      The next two games could be so ugly that I wonder if it might be the motivation for change. It seems that they have been outshot by west coast teams by over a 2:1 ratio so far this year.

      It looks like I took a good time to escape on a vacation.

    • Oilerz4life

      Are you Drunk or High or BOTH. Not sure what team you are watching but ir certainly isn’t the Oilers. Oh MacTavish you should be busy trying to improve the team instead of writing on these sites.

  • bwar

    Leather? Like a gimp? And every other team in the league gets to beat them like, well, you know.

    We heard a lot about culture change, etc. Eakins started it by removing the ’80s mementos from the locker room. I wish he could’ve continued by removing the 80’s mementos running (ruining?) this team. Here’s an idea that may blow Katz’s mind; have people who actually know how to build and manage a pro hockey team run your hockey team. No one gives a crap about the Oilers of the 80’s outside of the management, the owner, and some fans. Those times are long gone, never coming back. The Oilers are an unbalanced team that look more and more like the Blue Jackets/Thrashers than the Blackhawks/Penguins. And so far, MacT/Lowe have given very little indication they can turn it around. LaBarbera trade? Omark move? “Oh look honey, if you move the chair a hair to the right, you have a MUCH better view of the iceberg!”

    Sorry for the wandering, nonsensical rant. And, of course, if MacT does manage to right this ship I reserve the right to take this all back and praise him as the saviour of the franchise. Lowe still has to go, though.

  • Serious Gord

    One look at the goals against tells part of the ugly story. Combine that with “Sam the Sham” Gagner as the Oilers 2C and you can immediately see why the Oilers are the worst team in the western conference. Wow. Some people think this team has progressed.

  • Serious Gord

    Eakins is gone after the trade deadline, MacT personally takes over as coach so he can decide who he’s turfin in the offseason. Players and asst. coaches alike. Could be wrong, but I would’nt be surprised. They gotta do something before the season ticket drive.

  • bwar

    I don’t think there’s any doubt the mandate changed when MacT came in. It would really be interesting if somewhere way down the road Tambellini opened up about the game plan he was following.

    As for filling these needs. I do think MacT is doing his best. And its tough sledding in this current era with the Cap constraints to make as many moves as I’m sure he would like. I don’t have much faith in the pro scouting dept of this team. Bringing back Grebs was a fail although low risk. I’m sorry but resigning Gagner to that contract is going to be a huge Albatross. Just like all the Hemsky lovers that just can’t seem to understand why there isn’t a market for him. Now were gonna have to listen to the Gagner fans wonder why there’s no market for him. The one saving grace might be the cap rising so we can accommodate his overpayment for the remainder of his contract.

    • reaperfunkss

      I dont think applying the “trying ones best” is an appropriate measuring stick in this case. I am all for that in amatuer sports but the amount of money these people are paid means there should be results not platitudes and gold stars for effort.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Just an observation here but I noted that many good posts have a high number of thumbs downs. Never knew that Bob Stauffer and other Lowe/Katz groupies could converge on a website such as this one to do their masters’ work. Weird.

  • Serious Gord

    1. When is the Edmonton media going to start calling out Kevin Lowe regarding this atrocious rebuild?
    2. When will Mac T either fire the assistant coaches or better yet tell Eaking to choose his own guys?
    3. Fans at Rexall must chant “Fire Lowe! Fire Lowe! Fire Lowe!”

  • I am the Liquor

    Ive been a fan since the Al Hamilton/Mike Zuke days. Ive never been less interested.

    Craig Mactavish is probably the dumbest man in hockey if it werent for Kevin Lowe.

    Do you really think those two morons are going to turn this ship around? Theyve been at it for ten plus years already. They seem to have bedazzled the jock sniffing owner into believing they actually know what they are doing..

    As an Oiler fan, Ive never felt less confident in the future of this team than I do right now.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    mike milbury also wasnt hesitant to make a move. its one thing to make a lot of trades. constructing a competitive hockey team is something completely different. mact had his chance this past summer and made a soft lineup softer and hired an unqualified, and as it turns out, idiotic head coach. the team is actually WORSE. there is no longer any defence for this organization regardless of who is in charge. the product we see on the ice and their record speaks for itself.

  • outdoorzguy

    No need to complain as it falls on deaf ears . Enough people are satisfied with squad as it is and being an annual cellar dweller . Record crowds prove it , so why the hurry to change anything here ? Drink the kool aid and enjoy as sold out matches continue in spite of on ice results . Changes over last 8 years have not made us a more competitive club , but still occasionally one worth watching . So why fire anyone when your this successful financially and fan base wise ? Tongue in cheek .

  • outdoorzguy

    I think Eakins is a snake oil salesman! He sure sold McTavish on his useless goods to get hired. Look at the results. Zero. Nada. Last place. Again. Still.

  • bwar

    I’ve said “fire Lowe” for years, (and he really should have been turfed). Now I get to say “fire 6 Rings”; but I also realize that if say, he got caught screwing Katz’s dog and was actually fired, that it really wouldn’t impact this team’s performance. I and everyone else here would get alot of personal satisfaction out of it, but it wouldn’t improve the team at all.

    Mac is the only one who can make meaningful changes. And, within the constraints of trading in this league, I believe he’s after it already. The problem is that every GM in the league knows the sh*tpile he’s in, so it makes it very difficult to make winning trades. It explains some of the “questionable” acquisitions he’s made like Grebeshkov, Belov – gambles that, if they didn’t work out, then big deal – the cost wasn’t really anything.

    It’s going to be slow and frustrating, and the people who say “why don’t we trade Omark and Gagner for Ekman-Larssen” won’t get it. This is a terrible team and it took a long time to make it that way. Even if Mac is a genius, it’s going to take awhile to turn around. In the meantime we need to see the pansies playing with more heart – like Arco.

  • D-Unit

    It’s hard to say wether MacT is doing good or not. The team is not going to finish as high as they did last year, but over 82 games last year, a lottery pick was probably in the cards, so I don’t believe the shortened season should be used as a measuring stick for anyone.
    I don’t for a minute believe that he really has so many players that are untouchables regardless of what he said. With the right return he probably would move anyone of the “talent”. Problem is, he won’t get a good return for anything right now.
    When it comes to Eakins, it’s hard to judge a coach when his best players don’t play like it. Hall, Crazy Eyes, Nuge, and Gagner were never developed right. They never should have been handed the team and said go, it’s yours, even though you are rookies. That is not Eakins fault, IMO he is doing the right thing with Yak, limit ice time and situations, someone should have done that with the “talent” noted above. But Tambo, Renney, Kruger, Lowe, or whoever wasn’t smart enough to do it, or listened to outside pressure.
    I find it very interesting the Oilers players who give their best each night are none of the “home grown talent”. No one taught them right, or held them accountable. I can’t put that on MacT or Eakins. Though Eakins does need to back up more of the Accountability stuff he spouted off about before the season started. But if he did, he would either ice about 6 players a night, or they would have to call up 75% of the OKC team.
    Apologies for rambling on.

  • gr8one

    I’m honestly baffled by this team.

    If someone had told us at the end of last season that in the off season MacT would secure a true impact winger in exchange for PRV(Perron), replace Horcoff with a better version of Horcoff(Gordon), sign a pretty good top 4 D in Belov, and that Arco would be as good as he’s been and also Smytty would have a pretty good bounce back year, we would all have been doing backflips of happiness and scrambling to find ways to obtain playoff tickets and maybe even dreaming of a potential parade route.

    But, Oilers.

    I really believe though that with good goals being this season would be a whole different story, in t just for goals allowed but for the psychological effect its had on the team as a whole not being able to rely on playing well could equal wins.

  • reaperfunkss

    There is no doubt we are better under MacT than the greatest ditherer of all time Mr. Tamby…….this guy has to be the laughing stock of NHL GM’s.

    Mac T comes in and actually does something……now we can debate the “somethings”, but he is not standing still. The only error he has made is the whole coaching thing. Should have never fired Krueger, just because some slick tough talking coach, preaching fitness comes through the door!!

    It does not matter anymore because it appears we are now destined to draft first again. I’m now to the point where watching the Oilers lose is getting to be fun again……..just as in the past 6 years of our rebuild. Just how good will it feel to make the playoffs after the pain we have had to endure?

    No use making a trade Mac T……no one is sending us a game changing player so draft carefully……no more midgets!!!

  • reaperfunkss

    Ok obviously this team has the key pieces to be a contender with the exception of exceptional D men goalies are good getting more competion goalie wise would be smart. Justin Shultz is expendable. Hemsky get rid of him why does he still play for this team trade him. Get Ryan mcdonagh. He is not a pu$$y he is aggressive he has great puck control and he can put up points but that’s not why you get him. Adam Pardy underrated makes everyone on the ice more dangerous he just doesn’t put up points. The oilers need more aggression more balls. Not I’m going to punch you in the face if I can ever catch up to you aggression. Players that intimidate others directly through pyhsical play by making bone jarring hits being strong on the puck winning battles.tthat is what Edmonton is missing. Get rid of joneseu he is garbage petry is playing like garbage pick up tootoo pick up Steve ott. Gleason would be nice addition but not worth much trade wise at this point.

  • bwar

    Ignorance is bliss and runs rampant on this sight and oilers fans, expectations where way to high to start the season, dubby stumbled out of the gate and it cost large, one or two players and we are right there

  • bwar

    11-21-3

    No, folks, he hasn’t done a good job.

    No one in this organization has done a good job.

    We’re injury-free and we’re 11-21-3.

    Jesus. The flames have 6 points on us.

    MacT owns this season, people. He owns this record. He’s the one who built the defense, the forward lines, and the goaltending. He’s the one who hired the coaches.

    We’re so fricking bad, we need another rebuild.

    11-21-3

    I have to keep repeating it because the apologists still pop up making excuses.

    Any one of us could literally have GM’d this club over the past few years and done a better job. And no, I’m not qualified for the job. Not nearly.

    That’s what’s so sad about it.