Steve Tambellini and the dive for five
I’m one of many people who has called for Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini to send a clear message to fans he has a plan in place to rebuild the franchise, but I’m not sure he needs a news conference to do it.
While I get the frustration fans are feeling, that they want and expect to see some kind of blueprint for the future, I’m thinking we’re seeing it unfold now, even without the benefit of a state-of-the-union address.
I’d like to think Tambellini is telling us he’s on board with the DFF and is painfully aware of the overhaul that’s needed already — not so much with what he’s done but with what he hasn’t done.
Namely, that he hasn’t rented a goaltender to take the place of Nikolai Khabibulin. Unless I’m mistaking inaction for a plan, and I suppose that’s possible, the decision has been made to leave the crease to Devan Dubnyk, in goal for a 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh Thursday, and Jeff Deslauriers. That, without question, is a good thing.
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Not only will staying with two unproven goaltenders all but assure a lottery pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, it’ll also give the organization a better read on both of them before next season.
While I was told Tambellini was on the hunt for a goaltender to bolster the AHL farm in Springfield — the Oilers got Andrew Penner instead of Hannu Toivonen, which is the name I was hearing — I never heard he was looking to replace Khabibulin. Thus, I’m thinking plan ahead of inaction.
I, like Jason Gregor, am also hearing Tambellini might be able to do some business where captain Ethan Moreau is concerned. Between now and the trade deadline, I expect we’ll hear the obvious suspects — Moreau, Sheldon Souray, Steve Staios and maybe Fernando Pisani — are being shopped. 
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If Tambellini sticks with the kids in goal and moves even two of the four players I just mentioned to free up cap space and build a stockpile of picks and prospects, no official declaration is needed.
Actions, as always, speak louder than words.

Some perspective

Most of us are guilty of going over the top at times when it comes to a passion like hockey, me included, so I’m not going to preach about keeping a healthy perspective. Still, I think it’s worth a thought.
There’s been no shortage of bad feelings and venom spewed by Oilers fans as this season has come off the rails. It’s understandable, to a point. When things are as FUBAR for the hometown hockey team as they are now, fans who support this team emotionally and financially get wound up. They get pissed off. They get carried away. Some of us who write about this team do the same.
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Just this week I was blowing snot bubbles and hacking away at the keyboard, deleting nasty comments about my Bang For The Buck Vs. Getting Screwed story, which was about Oilers fans and drew some pointed reactions, when a couple of situations made me step back.
First, I found out somebody I worked alongside for many years, somebody I respect, is gravely ill. While our relationship was mostly business, there was more to it than that. When my son Sam was fighting for his life in the hospital three years or so ago, he cared enough to make a point of asking how things were going. Now, he’s fighting for his.
When I lost my job at The Sun, he was one of the first people to call and tell me how sorry he was. He didn’t have to do that, but he did. Suffice to say, I didn’t give a rat’s ass about the Oilers power play or that some OilersNation readers think I’m a dummy when I got the bad news about him this week.
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In addition to that, and I’m guessing any parent can relate, Sam took a bad fever a few days ago. Hearing him moan and cry, I’ve never cared less about the fate of the Oilers. Thankfully, the fever blew over in 48 hours. Sam is fine. The Oilers, not so much. Now I’m back, hacking away.
I guess the point is, we all lose sight of what’s really important, of what really matters, sometimes. Occasionally, life provides us a reminder that hockey, like a lot of things we get distracted by, isn’t all that important in the grand scheme. No children get sick. Nobody dies. Mea culpa.

What’s in a name?

I get flashbacks to the lousy Vancouver Canucks of the mid-1980s whenever the name Taylor Hall comes up. I’ve already seen Taylor Hall play in the NHL, and he was a flaming dud.
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The Taylor Hall I remember isn’t the one the Oilers will pass on with the first pick in the 2010 Entry Draft because they know something about Finnish winger Joonas Donskoi nobody else does, it’s the Taylor Hall Vancouver took 116th overall from the Regina Pats in 1982.
That Taylor Hall, a right winger who put up big numbers (63-79-143) with the Pats in 1983-84, played 41 NHL games and tallied 7-9-16 before retired in 1995-96. Slow feet. Heart the size of a pea.
Hall’s longest stint with Vancouver came during the 1985-86 season when he played 19 games and scored 5-5-10 on a Tom Watt team that was horrid. As I recall, Tambellini was on that team.

Man up

Somebody who calls himself jumptheshark at HF Boards was taking a run at Bob Stauffer the other day, bitching about his Oilers Lunch show on TEAM 1260 and lamenting how Stauffer has become a shill since joining the company payroll.
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Another poster suggested jumptheshark step out from behind the fake name, call into the show and engage Stauffer. I liked the idea. Can’t see that happening — a lot of people would rather take their shots anonymously and swarm with their buddies on message boards — but I wish people would do it more often.
If somebody has an issue with something I write, if you think my take is wrong or I’m just clueless, comment here by all means, but if you’ve got something to say, phone me at Just A Game on Wednesdays or Thursdays at 426-8326. Give your real name. Have your say. It’ll be fun.

And…

  • Dubnyk looked infinitely more steady than Deslauriers has in his last three starts in the loss to the Penguins, but I’d stick with a rotation that sees Deslauriers start against the Sharks. The remaining games aren’t about wins, they’re about evaluation.
  • Shawn Horcoff made the trip to San Jose with the Oilers today but was sent back to the hotel and didn’t practice. Horcoff took ill Thursday afternoon before the Pittsburgh game.
  • Gilbert Brule, who has missed two games after taking sick, didn’t make the trip. I’m not sure what the NHL record is for games missed due to sickness (as opposed to injury), but I can’t remember a more fragile roster.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.
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