Response to Cam Tait

Here's a link to Cam Tait's latest "article".

Mr. Tait,

Your article is "Exhibit A" in the case against the Oilers' "brain trust".

No one who has even the slightest bit of an objective view of the situation can or should argue that Kevin Lowe has passion for this team. We are all aware of his past performance as a hockey player and it's nice to hear about his contributions to the community. I have no doubt that he is an extremely competitive man and upstanding citizen of Edmonton, but all of this has little to do with his performance in his job.

Under the leadership of Kevin Lowe, as both General Manager and President of Hockey Operations, this team's performance has been abysmal. Yes, he managed to bring Chris Pronger to Edmonton for one season. From what I can gather, he loses sleep and kicks himself on a daily basis for how he let that situation conclude. Aside from that, there have been very few decisions that have worked out well for the Edmonton Oilers in the long term. From General Managers to coaches to scouts to players and training staff, aside from the acquisition of a handful of first round picks, nothing has improved this team.

It appears that Craig MacTavish is making some moves to turn things around, but after years of poor decision making, his is a very difficult, unenviable and, arguably, impossible job.

This brings me back to "Exhibit A" -- your article about friendship. Friendship and camaraderie have actually prevented the success of this team. It seems quite obvious that there are people who are too close to this organization to see the warts that are all over it. Starting from the top with Daryl Katz, not only is Kevin his friend (likely due to all the merits of this character that you described) he is Katz's sole connection to the business side of the hockey world. Even if Katz wanted to fire Lowe, I suspect he wouldn't even know who to talk to to replace him.

That aside, Kevin Lowe has employed people that he knows and feels comfortable with, many of whom have long ties with Edmonton and the Oilers organization. The performance of the team indicates that these people are not getting the job done. Something is missing. There are glaring deficiencies. The most important deficiency is accountability. I only have "Oil Change" to go on, but it seems very apparent that Lowe has had a hand in the decision making regarding hiring of GMs and coaches, meetings with free agents, and scouting visits. One can only assume that his involvement and influence, either directly or indirectly, doesn't end there.

The business of hockey should be a business, not a friendship or a club. Emotions and connections cloud judgement. Players are assessed, acquired and disposed of based on evaluations of their performance. The performance measure for Kevin Lowe is the team's record and the performance of the people he has employed. Repeated poor performance and failure requires accountability. He may get motivation from the criticism and the losing record, but what about all the players who, despite having a love for the game, dedication to improvement and a high level of competitiveness, just failed their performance evaluations. How are those players handled? Do they get eight years to turn things around?

I agree that patience is required, but he has been afforded plenty of patience (since 2000) by the fan base of the Oilers. If he truly has passion for this team, he needs to recognize that his performance has been poor and exercise some accountability -- especially since everyone knows that Daryl Katz won't do it.

In the end, this is not about what kind of person Kevin Lowe is. It's about how well he does his job.

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