Today is a conflicted day for all heady fans of the Edmonton Oilers hockey club. For years we've debated scenarios through which one of two realities would become real: 1. the Oilers discontinued sucking, 2. Tambellini would be dismissed as GM. We're desensitized enough to be indifferent in our preference, but as more time passed, it seemed more and more inevitable that the latter would need to occur in order for the former to have a decent shot of happening. It seems the upper management of the club has finally realized this as well, today announcing that Steve Tambellini has been relieved of his duties in deference for Craig MacTavish, a distinguished member of the Imperial Guard.
You can't say the Oilers weren't patient with ol' Tambo. He's had almost 5 years to distinguish himself in any conceivable way. He's been given every opportunity to prove himself somehow (anyhow), and managed to turn Queens into 6's the entire way through. I've always thought that the moral hazard of being Oilers GM in this era was the model of job security. You were simultaneously able to be terrible while claiming that you were good at your job. In no other enterprise on the face of the planet is this true. And in only a handful of NHL clubs is a half-decade plan of razing Earth possible -- the Oilers happen to have enough loyal and incredibly wealthy fans to be essentially agnostic as to their own results. But today proves that this leniency only extends so far, even in the clubby realms of the Oilers' HQ on Kingsway.
Perhaps Tambo's most important legacy with the Oilers will be his ability to win three consecutive draft lotteries in a row. Considering their seedings each year, the probability that they'd win those three in a row was 4.4% (48.2%*48.2%*18.8%). There have been many other fantastic eulogies of Tambo's tenure with the Oilers, which I won't attempt to recreate here, but suffice to say he had a penchant for signing the wrong free agents, trading the wrong players away while bringing the wrong players in, picking the wrong players off waivers, signing the wrong prospects to entry-level deals, drafting the wrong players in the 31-100 overall draft slots, and burying the wrong players in second-tier leagues for reasons about as complex as "not liking each other". When you string enough of those transactions together in sequence, you end with what we have today in the Oilers -- a team akin to a woman having Angelina Jolie's lips and endowment while missing limbs, having a combover, and speaking in tongues.
Taking his place is Craig MacTavish, veteran of the Clone Wars and provider of many good memories from a time when the team was definitively in the "have not" category rather than the "foolish cap-spending morons" category. He's a man who has his supporters and his detractors, but what you cannot argue with was his ability to eke every single iota of possible standings points out of the troops he was given. He was a smart and likable man, witty in his press conferences and demanding of his players. The primary reason to be suspicious of this is, of course, MacTavish's status as another Oilers alumni. This is a franchise that seems terrified to bring in new blood, and this move only adds fuel to criticism of that practice. But of all the possible alternate scenarios (HOWSON), getting MacT in the GM's chair is likely the best we could have done at this point.
We'll have more as this develops