We’re really just guessing but it does appear a changing of the guard is happening in Hockey Ops for the Edmonton Oilers. The actual hiring and firing may not happen until spring or later but speculation about the power struggle on Kingsway will be an interesting follow.

hope smoke macgregor

In the days that have followed since the Craig MacTavish media avail, more questions than answers have come to the fore. “If the problem is the scouts, why haven’t they been replaced?” is asked most often but there are others.

  • Elliotte Friedman: When Bob Nicholson cancelled his appearance at
    Hockey Canada’s 100th anniversary last week it was taken as a sign that
    his influence in the Oilers’ organization is growing. He was part of the
    “forensic audit,” as the team’s brain trust assessed its disappointing
    performance. The unanswered question is: what will be Nicholson’s role
    when the dust settles? We might not learn until the spring. Source

More things we can watch for over the next few months: 

  1. Who speaks to the media and what area they are addressing? Nicholson appeared on a Toronto radio station but hasn’t made himself available in the Edmonton market. Does that change in the spring?
  2. Craig MacTavish is absolutely frozen in terms of improving the team. Obvious recalls aren’t happening, open auditions of entry-level players are on hold while minor league veterans like Steve Pinizzotto play with the big club.At some point, will the Oilers act?
  3. When they do, will MacT make himself available?
  4. Or is this Eakins show through to the trade deadline?
  5. If Craig MacTavish wanted to sign Jeff Petry on the morning of January 1, 2015, would he need approval from Bob Nicholson?
  6. How does the organization say “the goal is to being the highest quality
    player through the door” while also saying “we’re acutely aware of the
    former inadequacies of our draft after the first round” AND continue to
    retain its amateur scouts who made those picks?
  7. Will Stu MacGregor be at the draft, and if so, why? There has been no cover for MacGregor, surely he is being set up for a fall. Why wait? 
  8. Is the reason MacGregor and the scouts remain is that they were overruled by management at important points in the draft (Musil, Yakupov, perhaps Perhonen) and the forensics have proven such?

There may not be answers but there are implications to all of these things as time rolls along. I do find it somewhat fantastic at this point that the Oilers are so bad on the ice AND so fundamentally frozen in the procurement department WHILE ALSO being absolutely certain this is not the time for change.


If you’re going to rip Stu MacGregor and Morey Gare with public words and give the impression they are not to be trusted, what on earth are you waiting for? We all know it’s coming. Find your new amateur scouts and proceed with gathering a 2015 draft list you can trust and get the bad eggs out of the basket.

Unless. UNLESS the problem wasn’t with the scouts themselves, but rather with the marching orders given them. Is that it? Is THAT the problem? Is the problem the decisions made above the scouting director?

If it is, it sure would be nice to know. I have a feeling the biggest problem facing this Oilers management group is that they can’t fire Steve Tambellini again.

  • dougtheslug

    Any conclusion by the “braintrust” that doesn’t involve flushing out said “braintrust” won’t fix anything. They can keep blaming the footsoldiers all they want but the generals have run this organization into the ground.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Don’t worry, this lame duck management will be gone, and Lowe , Tambellini, MacTavish will be fired at the end of the season, and they’ll get a new coach to replace MacTavish, Renney, Quinn , Kruger , Eakins. And after these wholesale changes, along with drafting a next-level talent like Hall , Ryan Nugent-Hopkins , Yakupov , Connor McDavid, it won’t be a question of “if” we win the Stanley Cup, but “how many”.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Although I have to admire the dire and desperate optimism of an article whose premise is “nobody is doing anything, and nobody is getting fired… maybe this means everybody will get fired”.

  • Johnnydapunk

    I don’t think MacGregor is part of “the problem”. Through investigative breakdowns maybe individual scouts are in need of removal but I think MacGregor’s done ok.

    As for Pro scouts? Only reason they should not all be turfed is because management has simply ignored their advice. But based on the majority of pickups they are not competent.

    But none of this really matters unless Lowe and MacT are removed. Wishful thinking on my part but I would be elated to see those 2 gone. Nicholson hired as President a new GM(someone not from the Ole Boys on the Bus) and Babcock hired as coach. I know its a dream.

  • Gooilgo

    Can’t one of you guys living in Edmonton sneak into Klowes house and tie a rope around both of his feet and the other end to the bumper of a Greyhound bus headed for somewhere far far away?

    I’m sure Messier could get him a job doing commercials somewhere.

    “I think I know a thing or two about Home insurance….”
    And cut

    • Johnnydapunk

      He could commercials for Bauer Helmet.

      Punch Line could be, ” If I only wore a lid, maybe I had a enough sense to manage the Oilers, but it wasn’t my fault!”

  • Gooilgo

    Hard to give a crap as long as they keep that douche Eakins. He has destroyed or will destroy all young talent. Players just don’t care as long as he remains.

    • OK. Let’s get off this bunk. RIGHT NOW.

      Lowe has a ceremonial impact on the team at best. He works the room at charity events and placates arena project investors. Nicholson runs the back end, Laforge runs the business and MacT runs the team.

      The decision has been made to go for another high draft pick – which explains the lack of any action that might improve the team’s performance in the near future and jeopardize that strategy.

      Katz signed off on the master plan. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was HIS plan.

      • I don’t really care if he spends all his time golfing in Florida or sitting on the couch and never says a word to anyone. His time as G.M and his decisions as POHO is directly responsible for this organization being the laughingstock of the league and one of the worst teams to ever play in the league. He needs to be held accountable.

        • McDavid's Comet

          Agreed, KLowe is the common denominator during this 9yr. $hitshow. Problem is Oilernation has been aware of this for many yrs.; how long is it going to take before Katz realizes it. If there is a power shift occurring within the org. then, wouldn’t it be better to do it sooner rather than later. I’m starting to believe that tanking this yr. for generational talent is Katz’s master plan. To be this degree of an embarrassment has to have a purpose behind it, or perhaps that’s just wishful thinking.

      • Harry2

        What part of President of HOCKEY Operations do you not understand. Kevin Lowe is the cancer that is rotting away this franchise. Just look at tge teams record since hes been employed by the Oilers.

        On a side note, Lowe was with MacTavish and Eakins at the youngstars tournamebt in Penticton. If he has no say towards personnel why on earth would he be at such an event. Lowe even said himself that the personnel decisions are a comunal effort. With his track record and arrogance even an opinion of one would assume would have negative effects.


  • Gooilgo

    If I was MacT and I was basically neutered by the higher ups because I was told I couldn’t make a move, I’d walk out in protest.

    Unless I needed the money and the only way to still receive that money was to get fired rather than quit.

    • The Last Big Bear

      What if……after throwing KLowe under the bus a bit with his past regime comment the higher ups told MacT what everyone else has posted: “Craig, you hired your coach, changed all of the roster except for 4 forwards and 2 d-men so it is basically your team, and told us you would win. Now let’s see your coach and your players do it.”

      They could also throw in the fact that he has given out more bad contracts to non-performing players than Tambellini did as well.

    • Johnnydapunk

      Ownership has been bad.
      Management has been bad.
      Scouting has been bad.
      Player development has been bad .
      Public Relatins have been bad.

      Sadly, coaching is was probably our least concern with this sh@t show of an organization.

  • I don’t think Craig would have his powers diminished, I believe he would quit long before that. There are two reasons they aren’t looking for deals. Teams are sniffing for deals like sharks seeing red in the water. Offers will be lowballs and fruitless. Secondly, there is no point because right now there are no deals for big ticket items to be had. Bold deals are not there.

    I also don’t believe there is any real forensic audit. Like we would ever know, other then a few choice snippets in a press conference statement. I’ll give a hundred bucks to the first reporter with the nards who asks anyone in the braintrust when the report will be made available to the public. (Crickets would ensue, and they would then say to Matheson or Stauffer, “whats your question there Bob or Matty?””)A forensic audit would be as independant as the 911 Commision report and would have omissions as to any complicity of MacT, Lowe, and Howsen, or Eakins in this debacle. The report would only indict all involved in scouting and player development. The only thing that would be uncovered would be an indictment on the junior and pro level scouting, and a couple heads would fall. MacBastard right now should be looking under his bed at night and removing his Skype account.

    All we are going to see before the end of the season is alot of window dressing. Nicholson should not be in the interview process should POHO. Katz needs to burn the sucker down, change the culture of ineptude.

  • Johnnydapunk

    One thing that is obvious and the proof is in the results, that this franchise has been sliding down the shute from the day that Katz took over the ownership of the Oilers.

    Is it likely that his dream of running a NHL hockey team ,using a couple pigeons to front his desires.

    Let face it if you are recluse, like Howard Huges, you don’t have a mic in your face having to answer hard questions.A community gave you a new rink, and now he disappears to a cave in Vanc. Probably a very nice cave, but no mics in front of those Bono glasses.

    In fact the pigeons barely have to answer hard questions these days.

    Right or wrong, this time it wont be trainers etc, taking the fall.. it will be the scouting staff, excluding Semenko.

    • Chongler

      It’s a very rich mans’ twisted version of hockey card collecting. Only instead of cards he collects Dynasty-Era Oilers. Let’s just hope that he doesn’t have his sights set on adding a Messier or Anderson to his collection…

  • pipes101

    As soon as I hear about the firing of Lowe, and the other upper management. I am going to start crying out of pure joy that the nightmare might be over.

    Then screw the draft party lets plan a Lowe firing party!!!

  • Two things we know to be true are that:

    1) Craig MacTavish is, at the very least, reasonably intelligent and certainly enough that combined with his NHL experience as a player, coach and in management he knows his team is broken and lacks proper NHL centres, D & goaltending; and

    2) He has deliberately allowed the team to sink into an abyss even when simple/token lifelines like Lander, Chipchura, Marincin, & Schlemko have floated by or been available to at least TRY to improve even if it was marginal.

    The only logical conclusion is that there is an edict “from above” that it is tankapalooza for the umpteenth year in a row without any respect for the fans or the players on the roster. How in the world can a player be expected to give 100% and risk his career when mgmt. clearly doesn’t have your back?

    I can’t imagine there are more than a couple players who have any desire to remain with this franchise. They must be begging to get traded and it would be foolish to think that isn’t wide spread knowledge throughout the league.

    $50 and a pack of smokes says Ramsay quits – if he isn’t fired after this year. Why would anyone want to waste their time putting a full effort in for this org.

  • pipes101

    “Oilers have fired Kevin Lowe”
    *Parade in downtown Edmonton
    “in replacement Oilers have promoted Craig Mactavish
    *crowd starts booing
    “Oilers hire Kevin Lowe as GM
    *rexall gets burnt to the ground
    “Are you impatient? This is my first year as GM(dosen’t include those years before that) and you are already telling me I should get fired? I have 6 rings so winning shouldn’t be a concern”

  • Chongler

    A “Forensic Audit” as it has been called is exactly what Nicholson needs to do understand what he needs to do to fix the organization. An organization cannot continue to fail as dramatically as the Oil have without some fundamental problems. Nicholson needs to change this but he needs to be confident he is implementing the correct changes and not just act on his first impressions.

    The “Forensic Audit” tells me 2 things. 1: Katz has lost faith in KLowe and 2: Nicholson is the real power broker in the organization.

    I don’t actually believe that part of the audit is to “freeze” things until the audit is complete, the organization must keep functioning. I wonder if the disaster of this season has left MacT paralyzed by self doubt.

    Lowe Tide, thanks for the good article.

  • Oilers4Ever

    This team has officially sunk me as a fan (tier 2). I’m putting my money where my mouth is and staying away from Rexall. Not another dime. We aren’t just the joke of the NHL anymore, we’re the joke of professional sports. I fully expect McDavid to pull a Lindros and tell Edmonton to get bent come draft day and nobody would or could blame him. Maybe I dont know a thing or two about winning, but everything this team does makes zero logical sense. No compete, no passion, no identity, no will. Enough is enough! My blood pressure can’t handle it anymore. This team is so broken is sadning. I for one and sick of boo’ing the team and complaining about management year after freakin year. Im done with the front office politics, hearing about the “potential” of the youth, the “encouraging” future, being preached about “patience” and waiting for the next top pick when our season is already over in November. By now we should be jockeying for playoff position and watching competitive hockey. I JUST wanna see some GD wins! Im at the stage where I just don’t care anymore.. As a once diehard fan, it saddens me to think of what this team has become growing up in the gritty era of watching Smyth, Grier, and Marchant lay it all on the line game after game.. . Last time we made the playoffs I was a teenager and now im pushing 30… Today I shed a single tear and say goodbye. Flames fans can no longer laugh at this guy.

  • McDavid's Comet

    best line in the article

    ‘I have a feeling the biggest problem facing this Oilers management group is that they can’t fire Steve Tambellini again’

  • WTF2

    Fire the scouts and save some money. Rely on the Data provided by Central scouting and personal interviews at the draft this year. That certainly cannot be as bad as the Oil have done for the past decade.

    On that score be prepared for players to refuse to report to Edmonton to join a losing organization.

  • Andy7190

    This was never Tambellini’s show. This has always been the Lowe show, and if that is not the case now, it is only because he was able to hire his buddy MacT.

    And MacT has hardly covered himself in glory since he got the job.

    Firing Krueger and hiring Eakins… on Skype… while not even interviewing ANY OTHER candidate is a major failure.

    And so have several of MacT’s personnel moves, from an asset management point of view.

    I think the current Oiler management has been frozen by Katz, pending this review.

    No moves, until a big one comes probably in the new year.

  • Oilers4Ever

    Are these fcukin idiots that dumb that they need to do a forensic audit to find out what’s wrong when everyone else clearly knows what the problem is? What a $hit show!!!

  • I’m of the camp that believes Katz (pick one) and Kevin Lowe are at minimum steering decisions made by the lower tier of management which started with Tambellini who was just a puppet/figure head. I don’t think the coach can possibly be as pathetic as he is appearing, he wouldn’t have made it to the AHL so I’m assuming he is being told who to continue giving ice time to etc. He just can’t be that bad. Like a previous poster had said, get rid of the whole fridge, perhaps it isn’t just the contents that are rotten.