IF THERE’S EVER A CONCERN: HANDS ON

 

 

Frustration within the passionate and loyal fan base of the Edmonton Oilers is growing by the day and by the loss with the Oilers destined to miss the playoffs for an eighth straight season. Rightfully so.

Much of that frustration — again, rightfully so — is being directed at Kevin Lowe, the team’s former GM who is now owner Daryl Katz’s president of hockey operations. There was a sign of that, literally, at Rexall Place during Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues. A fan sitting front row displayed a cardboard sign that read: "Fire Kevin Lowe."

The frustration directed toward Lowe is, in large part, because of the perception that, while he’s been bumped out of the hot seat and into the background publicly in his position by Katz, he’s still had his fingerprints all over player personnel decisions – trades and free agent signings — made by former GM Steve Tambellini and now Craig MacTavish.

Actually, perception is the wrong word. Lowe confirmed his participation in the decision-making process Tuesday during a wide-ranging interview on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260. While Lowe didn’t get specific about how much influence he has, it’s obvious he’s hands-on – we’re not talking about the façade of the "senior advisor" position Pat Quinn was dumped in.

Lowe has been, as has been noted before, the one constant in Edmonton’s front office through these eight years of ineptitude and losing dating back to the 2006 Stanley Cup final, and beyond.

WHAT HE SAID

Gregor asked Lowe what role he played as POHO in the decision-making process with Tambellini and now MacTavish.

"I would say that uh, that uh . . . really, it’s a tough, tough question," Lowe said. "Craig is the general manager, as was Steve Tambellini. They go about their business and shop around the NHL with the scouting staff and collectively throughout the organization try to come up with ways to make the hockey club better, whether it’s signing a player or trading a player or what have you.

"At the end of the way, when those recommendations or when those ideas come up, Craig will talk to me and get my feelings on it and you know . . . we talk enough over the course of the season that I generally know where he’s going on things and, you know, there’s an owner that has to make a call in terms of whether you’re going to spend the money for a free agent or trade an asset that’s been part of the organization for a while, so there’s a collective decision being made.

"I mean, if there’s any concern that our people can’t make decisions without me endorsing them, then that’s not accurate. We’ve always had a, taken the approach from the day that I took over as general manager that we’re collectively going to make decisions – not that it’s a purely democratic process, but it’s wise of you to involve as many people in your organization when you are making decisions.

"It’s not a fiefdom where one person says, ‘No, this is what we’re going to do.’ It’s a collective group decision on any strategy that the hockey team is going to make. It’s not easy. We’ve been in this rebuild and it’s incredibly frustrating for everyone. The fans should know that, for the people that are running the show they are probably, I don’t even know if you can compare it, but in terms of frustration, it’s incredibly frustrating, but we’re in it. We are where we are.

"The only thing we can do is continue to work hard and believe that, in time, if we’ve done the drafting we hope we’ve done and we are patient with the young players that they’re going to become the players we expect them to be and it’ll result in a, you know, positive and exciting hockey team."

(Photo via @quickone1 on Twitter)

STARTS AT THE TOP

Lowe was at the top of Edmonton’s management food chain as GM for eight seasons – he had nobody to answer to in hockey operations decisions, except ownership, until he was moved to POHO in July 2008. Essentially, anybody Lowe huddled with when making decisions as the GM was an underling – an assistant GM, members of his scouting staff or coaches. It stands to reason Lowe’s opinion carried more weight than anybody else’s did.

Was that the case during Tambellini’s troubled and indecisive tenure in Lowe’s former position? I don’t know for sure, but I doubt it. Is that the case now with MacTavish? No way. Still, you’d have to be a fool to think Lowe doesn’t carry considerable swing in every hockey decision made now.

Simply put, Lowe had more say than anybody else in the organization in building the Oilers from 2000 to 2008 as GM. At the very least, he has had considerable influence in hockey decisions made since then. That’s a span of command and influence approaching 14 seasons.

Draw your own conclusions.

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

  • McDavid's Comet

    This type of article makes me wonder about Jim Nill. Apprenticed for a long time with a successful org. Then when he decided to go out on his own, he had the knowledge and experience to act bold, not just talk about it.

    If I was a hot prospect GM, why would I come to Edmonton when I know KLowe is going to stand over my shoulder monitoring everything? I could care less about the GM getting along with the Edmonton media. Get one that produces. Clean out all the cobwebs from the KLowe days. Ditch MacT. Keep Eakins. And bring in someone who doesn’t carry the stink of KLowe.

  • Oilerz4life

    Just read an interesting article about the Oilers issues from the dressing room. Apparently Hall, Ebs and the kids effing hate Eakins. Apparently they liked Krueger but hate Eakins and that Mac-T, Lowe and company are behind it all trying to keep the kids in line. Apparently Katz is on the kids side but for some reason the whole mess is going sideways under Lowe, Mac-T and Eakins. Apparently handing the reins over to the kids under a good players coach like Krueger benefits the play of the team. Go figure. If that is the case then it just adds validity to the argument that Lowe, Mac-T and Eakins should be let go, with good experienced management put in place, with a good players coach. Makes sense to me. No where in the league is there an old boys club like Edm. Its a joke. Lowe. Mac-T. Bucky. Smith. Eakins. Should all be fired. Period.

  • Serious Gord

    it is the job of Patrick LaForge to make money for this organization, despite the best efforts of Lowe, he continues to do so.

    Lowe is hockey. the hockey sucks. has for a long time. accountability. the word needs meaning.

  • Rick Stroppel

    “With 10 Olympians to the Edmonton Oilers’ three, St. Louis Blues dominations shouldn’t come as a shock ”

    This is one of the resons I am beyond frustrated with the Edmonton media and Oilers. Yes, the statement is true, but you don’t see the other 28 teams that have lost or will lose to the Blues write this on their papers as a feaking excuse for losing. Terry Jones, I know you are worried in losing access previlages to the team, but think of why you got into writing in the first place. i am sure integrity was floating around at one point of your career. It’s because of writers like you that fans are still in denial and KLowe has a job still. Just STOP!!

  • camdog

    ok, so I just read the article and not going through 270+ comments, and this may have been talked about already but here it goes:
    TIME FOR A BOLD TRADE MACT. BOLD! Our 2 weakest areas are Goal and Defense, and we have an abundance of goal scoring (should be) elite players. In order to get the ball moving on the weak areas, lets move one of our untouchables now. Who can it be? Hall, RNH, Ebs, Yak, JSchultz, Gags, Hemmer, KBom, Nurse?
    Gags NTC kicks in this year and he is not a fit so he can be packaged. Hemmer is UFA and probably wont sign here again so lets get him out too. If we are looking at a Dman in the likes of Letang, Karlsson, Keith, Subban

    • bleedingoil

      forget last post. posted in error. All I wanted to say was EBS, GAGS, Hemmer, JSchultz and 1st rounder all need to go to get us a starting true #1 Goalie and an elite puck moving Dman that can play D.

    • camdog

      Read through comments man your so off topic right now.

      When Eakins said they don’t know basic defensive hockey he’s throwing all previous coach’s under the boys on the bus.

      • bleedingoil

        asshat, I am not reading 270 comments just to appease your need for consistency in the topic at hand. I am sure the topic the collective group of armchair GMs and owners have discussed changed more times than the coaching staff has in the last 7 years. The quick way to fix this trainwreck organization is to make a quick trade for the pieces we need to win today. Until Katz, Lowe, MacT and Eakins lace up and play some hockey, you gotta stop blaming them for the effort put forth by our players. Our players consistently give pucks away, pass to the opposition, screen our goalies, play out of position, watch as their teammates get pummeled by guys 6 inches taller and 20+ pounds heavier. That wont change if Lowe is gone, or MacT or Eakins. it is a problem on the ice and dressing room between players. They do NOT know defensive hockey and anyone with a television and one eye can see that.

  • bleedingoil

    Did anyone actually think this team was improving last year? Would have been interesting to see where they would have ended up after a full 82 games.

    Krueger was more amiable, and set less restrictions on his players for sure, but his team couldn’t hold a candle to the rest 5×5.

    OH NO, the players don’t like Eakins (by the way there is no evidence to back up this claim), maybe its because they already got their 6 million and they’ve never had a coach tell them they weren’t working hard enough before.

    The way I see it Krueger’s ‘eventual’ Oilers would make it into the playoffs by way of their special teams, and get knocked off by the first big team they faced (a la Toronto or Washington style).

    Eakins’ would be Oilers will compete 5×5 with the big dogs, and will be a team that has a chance to win against anyone on any given night.

    Maybe I have too much faith in Eakins, but for a team whose management has basically hung them out to dry, there are many positive signs early in this BRAND NEW NHL coach’s career

    • Tikkanese

      They did improve last year their special teams but that was it.
      The moves by Mac T ,(Eakins, Gordon and Ference)were made to try to change the “Losing Culture” on this team as much as anything.
      It was a major mistake handing the keys to the city and the huge contracts over to the kids prematurely.
      Bob Stauffer last year alluded the kids were influential in the hiring of Kruger as well and that is complete insanity.
      The core of young guns is going to have to to be altered if this ship is ever going to be righted.
      Eakins message and coaching worked with AHL players, he is having a really tough time making it work with players that already have millions.

  • outdoorzguy

    As the old saying goes, it might not be Kevin Lowe’s fault, but it’s definitely is his problem. I’ve never been on the “fire Lowe” wagon until this year. Enough is enough, and a total house cleaning is long over due.

    I’m ok with MacT staying on as GM – grant him a sample size of more than a year. But if Lowe has to go, so too should Kelly Buchberger, Steve Smith, Dave Semenko, and any Boys on the Bus that have been around the last 8 straight seasons without playoffs.

    It’s ironic this organization loves the “old boys network”, never bother to hire an Oiler from the glory years who is actually having success in the coaching ranks. How on earth is Bill Ranford the goalie coach of the Kings and not the Oilers???

    While we’re at it, get rid of Freddy Chabot too! He hasn’t made Duby a better goalie.