FanPost

Dear Mr. Tambellini: GET AWAY FROM MY TEAM!

Tambo
Photo by Bruce Bennett via Getty Images


THAT'S IT!...I have had it...I'm done.

I have been far more patient and tolerant of some of the ridiculous things said and done by Steve Tambellini than many in the online community, and even though I have believed for a while that it was in the best interests of the Oilers franchise to replace him, I haven't actively campaigned for it. Well, those days are over.

I'm a pretty level-headed guy, and I'm not typically one to lose my cool, but the last 6 games have just pushed me over the edge. To be clear, this has NOTHING to do with the team's performance on the ice. Not even a bit. Sure they haven't been great, but the ship sailed on this season long ago, so really, who cares.

No, what has me fuming is the way the dust is settling from the Tom Gilbert trade. Fans of the Oilers gave #77 a hard time while he was here, but this was a player. A VERY good player. And the way he was sent out of this organization is inexcusable from someone who is entrusted with running a professional sports franchise. It's a joke, and it's not a funny one.

Before I completely skewer Steve Tambellini, I want to preface this by saying that I'm not just a guy who has hated him all along. To prove it, I'm going to list 5 things I think he's done right during his tenure, in an attempt to prove I've actually given this some thought instead of just posting out of rage.

Tambellini's Best Moves:

  • Claiming Ryan Jones off of waivers from Nashville
  • His signing of veteran AHL depth goalies (Gerber and Danis)
  • The Dustin Penner trade
  • The Ryan Smyth trade
  • The identification of inespensive depth players like Corey Potter and Lennart Petrell who have been useful players this season.

There, now that I'm not a complete hot head, After the jump, I'll explain why the Oilers' fanbase should no longer tolerate Tambellini's presence in the management of this team.

Before I even get to Gilbert, since I'm likely to rant for a while about it, let me quickly throw out a couple of other things that have Tambellini worthy of termination. I'll even explain why the Gilbert trade is different than all the rest...

Khabibulin's Contract - Among the first things Tambellini did was sign this deal to land the Oilers a new "#1 goalie". While everyone knows how bad the deal turned out, it is really the term of the deal, right from the date it was signed that Tambellini should be faulted for. We passed on Roloson because he wanted a 2nd year, and instead offered Khabibulin 4 yrs.

The acquisition of Colin Fraser - Some might ask how such a minor signing could be such a big mistake, well, its because it needed to be a major signing. The team needed veteran help down the middle, and instead of getting a legit player, he acquired Fraser, and apparently considered the matter addressed. He then had to try again the following season with Eric Belanger. While Fraser may not have been expensive, it was the willingness to let an entire season pass by as if it didn't matter before trying to correct the problem that is most bothersome.

The Cam Barker signing - Like the Fraser signing, instead of doing what was necessary to get a proven commodity, Tambellini took a risk on a player with serious question marks. Needless to say it hasn't turned out well, and some of us still fear he might try to bring Barker back next season.

The Andy Sutton Contract - Further evidence of Tambellini's inability to determine fair market value for a player, even when dealing from a position of strength. He was bidding against nobody for a player that was easily replaceable, and instead of dealing him for a future asset or signing him at a cap friendly number based on his role, Tambellini brought him back at a 50% overpayment. Genius.

The collection of those decisions was enough to convince me that it was best for the team if Tambellini was replaced. But at the trade deadline this year, Tambellini reached new levels of unbridled stupidity. In a move that defies comprehension, Tambellini, owner of one of the worst bluelines in the league, traded his best defenseman. The only thing I can think of to justify the move is that he is actually not intelligent enough to understand what he was doing. To be fair, the player he brought back, Nick Schultz, is not a nobody. The team actually needed a player like Schultz, but what they needed to do was to ADD Schultz to the group they already had. What Tambellini did was like trading a queen for a pawn in chess. It's completely backwards.

I think many people wanted to give Nick Schultz the benefit of the doubt, simply due to a lack of familiarity with his game, to see what we had gotten back for Gilbert before rushing to judgement. I know I did. And, to his credit, Schultz has been decent. He is a useful NHL player. But after 6 games as an Oiler, it's almost as if the team has just accepted that he's going to be a depth role player. THIS IS THE GUY WE TRADED TOM FREAKING GILBERT FOR! Did they not get that Gilbert was the best defensemen the team had? How could that be possible? This was a guy who is in the top 40 in the entire NHL for Time on Ice per game. That puts him squarely in a group with other top pairing defensemen around the league. Instead, Tambellini would rather bring in a guy who the team sees fit to play less than Corey Potter? Are you serious?

Here is a look at how the Oilers used their blueliners over the course of Schultz's first 5 games in an Oiler uniform:

Vs. Blues 02/29

Pos

+/-

EV TOI

PP TOI

SH TOI

TOI

5 L. Smid

D

0

18:16

0:00

4:51

23:07

6 R. Whitney

D

-1

19:47

1:10

2:57

23:54

13 C. Barker

D

-1

11:33

0:00

0:00

11:33

15 N. Schultz

D

0

15:05

0:00

4:40

19:45

44 C. Potter

D

0

11:59

0:50

2:05

14:54

58 J. Petry

D

0

19:20

0:23

5:33

25:16

Vs. Stars 03/02

Pos

+/-

EV TOI

PP TOI

SH TOI

TOI

5 L. Smid

D

0

19:56

0:00

1:53

21:49

6 R. Whitney

D

-3

21:24

0:00

0:07

21:31

15 N. Schultz

D

0

14:18

0:00

0:00

14:18

25 A. Sutton

D

1

15:26

0:00

1:47

17:13

44 C. Potter

D

-3

19:21

0:00

1:51

21:12

58 J. Petry

D

1

21:41

0:00

2:13

23:54

Vs. Ducks 03/05

Pos

+/-

EV TOI

PP TOI

SH TOI

TOI

5 L. Smid

D

0

20:51

0:00

2:25

23:16

6 R. Whitney

D

-3

20:12

1:01

0:06

21:19

15 N. Schultz

D

0

15:33

0:00

1:28

17:01

25 A. Sutton

D

0

14:24

0:00

0:52

15:16

44 C. Potter

D

-1

19:39

0:00

0:42

20:21

58 J. Petry

D

0

19:48

0:00

2:25

22:13

Vs. Sharks 03/06

Pos

+/-

EV TOI

PP TOI

SH TOI

TOI

5 L. Smid

D

1

19:19

0:00

1:47

21:06

6 R. Whitney

D

0

24:25

0:56

0:07

25:28

15 N. Schultz

D

0

17:44

0:00

0:28

18:12

24 T. Peckham

D

-2

18:02

0:00

0:28

18:30

44 C. Potter

D

1

22:31

0:00

0:00

22:31

58 J. Petry

D

0

21:37

0:00

1:40

23:17

Vs. Canadians 03/08

Pos

+/-

EV TOI

PP TOI

SH TOI

TOI

5 L. Smid

D

0

14:50

0:20

2:58

18:08

6 R. Whitney

D

-1

18:47

3:07

0:34

22:28

15 N. Schultz

D

1

14:53

0:00

0:32

15:25

24 T. Peckham

D

0

12:48

0:00

0:42

13:30

44 C. Potter

D

-1

15:42

3:46

1:59

21:27

58 J. Petry

D

0

17:45

0:23

2:47

20:55

Per Game TOI Averages

Pos

+/-

EV TOI

PP TOI

SH TOI

TOI

5 L. Smid

D

18:38

0:04

2:47

21:29

6 R. Whitney

D

20:55

1:15

0:46

22:56

13 C. Barker

D

11:33

0:00

0:00

11:33

15 N. Schultz

D

15:30

0:00

1:25

16:55

24 T. Peckham

D

15:25

0:00

0:35

16.00

25 A. Sutton

D

14:55

0:00

1:20

16:15

44 C. Potter

D

17:50

0:55

1:17

20:02

58 J. Petry

D

20:02

0:09

2:55

23:06

So, through 5 games with Schultz in the Oiler line-up, the team is consistently playing him 5th most at even strength and as a second pairing option on the penalty kill. The top 4 at EV have been Petry, Whitney, Smid and Potter.

Now let's look at Tom Gilbert Season Averages, which are primarily based on his time in Edmonton:

EV TOI - 17:48

PP TOI - 2:08

SH TOI - 3:18

TOTAL TOI - 23:14. (Gilbert's Average Total TOI/G is more than 1:30 more than any teammate on either MIN or EDM this season)

Among the things that have really just continued to grind at me since the day of the trade are the comments that Tambellini made in justifying the deal. He cited Schultz as a guy who can play in all situations, particularly when defending a lead late in a game, and that he brought "balance" to the Oiler line-up. Let's examine that for a minute, in terms of how moving Gilbert could be part of a solution to these issues.

I think based on ice-time alone, you would at least have to question Tambellini on his statement about Schultz providing the Oilers with improved options at specific situations in a game. I don't know how one explains acquiring a player to improve your situational defense, and then uses the new player less in every situation than you did the he was acquired for? Was Gilbert good enough to play more than anyone else, but suddenly not good enough to play when the game was on the line? Highly unlikely.

Another sticking point with me is the point about "balance". Schultz is known for his ability to play either side of a defensive pairing, but I recall seeing an interview (I wish I could find it to quote from it) where he stated he was most comfortable on the left side and that it is very difficult for a player to play the blueline on his opposite side. Even if we accept the fact that Schultz is a useful player on either side of a pairing, I fail to see how he is an improvement on Gilbert? Gilbert, along with Jeff Petry and Corey Potter were the only right-handed defensemen on the Oilers' roster. So, in acquiring Schultz at the expense of Gilbert, the team has taken away it's top-pairing right-handed defender and replaced him with yet another left-handed rearguard to go along with the likes of Smid, Whitney, Sutton, Peckham and Barker. That is a 6:2 ratio of left-handed shooters to right-handed shooters for those keeping track.

It should also be noted, much as was the case with Ales Hemsky leading up to the deadline, that a big factor of a player's value is the "cost of replacement". Once again by this criteria, Gilbert would far out-weigh Schultz as being much more valuable and costly to replace. 20+ minute defensemen who play the right side, play consistently against the other team's best players (with reasonable success) and contribute heavily on both special teams are not plentiful around the league, and while I believe part of the rationale for dealing Gilbert is the belief that they have another such player in Jeff Petry, the ability to control two such players did not post a conflict and was actually the team's one point of strength on the blueline.

The last point I want to make is why the Gilbert trade is different from the rest of Tambellini's less than stellar moves. With his previous errors in judgement, Tambellini was just compounding the issues of a team destined for the bottom of the standings. The downside of his errors were compensated for with the additions of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall. But now, the team is not in need of another shiny new offensively gifted lottery pick, what they need are bonefide NHL players and a team built with the right chemistry to reward the fans for their last five years of loyalty through all of the suffering and losing by actually starting to get better. The goals of this franchise have changed. The time for acquiring the assets needed to rebuild the core is over, and it is now time to focus on the assention of the Oilers back to respectability and eventually to becoming a contender. Trading away a player like Gilbert will do nothing towards accomplishing this task, in fact, it is a significant step off-course.

This brings me to why I'm now at the point where I can't take it anymore. Because this off-season is one that arrives with the promise of great improvement possible for the Oilers. The team is going to gain what could be (and should be) their final significant addition through the draft with yet another lottery pick. The assets are there to take the bold actions necessary to turn this team into one that is a significant threat to make the playoffs next season, and missing these opportunities could set the development of this team back another full year, which should be considered unacceptable by all. The time has come to ask ourselves if we are willing to accept that the Oilers are entrusting Steve Tambellini to make these decisions on their behalf and on the behalf of the fans who live and breathe with the blue and orange? I'm sure I speak for some of you when I say that I'm not.

GET AWAY FROM MY TEAM!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this FanPost are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or position of the staff.

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