Tambellini: A Composite Picture


Steve Tambellini was hired as the Oilers GM yesterday, and despite 17 years of hockey management experience, is a bit of an unknown, both in terms of who he is and what exactly he'll be doing. I thought I might help remedy that by looking to what's been written about him in the MSM today.

Joanne Ireland writes (convincingly) that the Oilers front office needed beefing up; frankly, I think she's on the money here. This is the kind of action frequently suggested by commenters in a salary cap world (since extra money can't be spent on players, spend it on management).

John MacKinnon (not breaking his "don't-talk-hockey-in-July rule" as it's August 1) shares Ireland's opinion, and points to Daryl Katz as the driving force here. He also points to Lowe leading the drive for a new arena, something that seems like a good use of personnel and an almost inevitable occurence to me.

Terry Jones believes that this move is all a mirage. Now, I could launch into a rant about what Terry Jones' opinion is worth, but that would be foolish, Rather, I'll say that this seems like a rather elaborate charade for the organization to perform. It's been suggested (not by Jones) that a possible reason for such a charade would be that Tambellini would not accept a lateral move; I'd argue that Tambellini knows what a GM does from his 17 years in management, and that if he wouldn't accept a lateral move he wouldn't be any more likely to accept one just because it has an upgrade in title. Allan Maki counters Jones' argument- even if Tambellini is the number two man in the hierarchy, the front office has been significantly upgraded.

Mike Gillis is fully supportive of Tambellini's decision; unsurprisingly so, since he was almost certainly giving Tambellini a push out of Vancouver.

As for my personal views, here's a few:
1) This is a legit hire- Tambellini will be GM in name and reality
2) This is a good hire- Lord Bob feels that this hire was a mistake, but I need to disagree. While it's true that Tambellini has been in management for 17 years, he certainly hasn't been a next-GM candidate for that time. He hadn't even served as an assistant GM until 2004, and being passed over in favour of Dave Nonis when Nonis was Burke's #2 and Tambellini #3 is not neither surprising nor a black mark. As to not being chosen after Nonis' firing, it seems clear that Aquilini wanted radical change, and he's only going to get it from a guy like Gillis, who has crazy, outside the box ideas, as opposed to a guy like Tambellini, who after 17 years of experience, presumably knows what works and what doesn't.
3) It's way to early to form definite opinions about this guy, but he's got the resume, he isn't an old boy's club member, and there's no reason to be hammering at the guy until he actually makes some mistakes. It's also to early to praise him, but I am extremely optimistic about this hire.

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