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Oilers' Roundtable - The Misery Of Another Lottery Season

Nineteen games in and the good news is the Oilers aren't in last place in the NHL.  They aren't even second-to-last.  Right now, the Oilers are on pace for sixty points, eleven more than both the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders.  There's more good news in that Devan Dubnyk is playing well in goal, but it's not enough to overcome the poor play of The Maginot Line.  The two aging veterans at the bottom of the defensive depth chart have been less than kind to the goaltenders, and the bottom six has been in too deep for most of the early going.

To bring in some non-Copper & Blue perspective on the season thus far, management and the future, we reached out to various writers around the Oilogosphere.  We're thankful that people still take our calls, including Stephen Sheps of Bringing Back The Glory, Pat from Black Dog Hates Skunks, Jeff Chapman from Oil On Whyte, SumOil, one of the Copper & Blue's most frequent commenters and the man behind our regular CHL prospect  updates, Downright Fierce, from Slow Fresh Oil, and the Founder of The Copper & Blue, Jonathan Willis, the hardest-working man in the business.

Copper & Blue: The media has now focused in on Dustin Penner and Tom Gilbert and are laying blame at their feet almost exclusively. No one in the mainstream media is talking about Khabibulin's problems or the penalty kill system, or most of the young players on this team (not just rookies) being overwhelmed. Is the media being honest with the fans? Should the fans trust the Edmonton media anymore?

SumOil: The media is fully justified to blame Dustin Penner and especially Tom Gilbert. Penner had a very good season last year and Gilbert was phenomenal towards the end of the season. Hence the fans, media and even the coaching staff had high expectations for them. Penner is not having a good year at least when it comes to boxcars. His goalscoring is at a similar pace as before, but it is his assists that is failing him. The mainstream media generally appeals to the casual fan who doesn't really care much about corsi, zonestarts and other microstats. A casual fan starts with goals and ends with points. So the media criticizing him is justified from their point of view. Tom Gilbert on the other hand has been terrible defensively and offensively. His decision making, positioning, anticipation, everything he is known for is off. Its like he is getting worse as he is entering his prime. His boxcars and micro-stats are all hurting. So the media is justified with their blaming Gilbert and to some extent Penner, but to blame them exclusively is irresponsible of them. The biggest issues are the lack of defensive depth followed by penalty kill and goaltending but they do not speak much about those issues. It is their job to convey a complete report and they are leaving out these significant details. So coming back to the original question, the MSM is not being completely honest and any and all of their reporting should be taken with a grain of salt. However as long as they stick to the news and not analysis, there is no need to mistrust them.

Jonathan Willis: I'm not sure that characterization is entirely accurate, as I've seen media comments critical of people like Khabibulin and Andrew Cogliano, but I would agree that Penner is getting more than his share of criticism. Gilbert's play this season has been awful, do I can understand why he's a target, but I'd like to see the blame shared a little more evenly across the roster. As to the latter question, individual members of the media are doing what they always do - writing from their individual perspectives. As in all professions, some are good and some are less good, and I've found that each needs to be evaluated individually.

Pat: I don't know if its a question of honesty so much as a combination of media guys being too cozy with the club and just not really being that competent. They get Lowe and Tambellini whispering in their collective ears about a rebuild and patience and all this and so they ignore some real issues. Or they just don't get the real issues. What they should be asking first of all is how a club went from being a Stanley Cup finallist to the worst club in the league and who is at fault for the talent bleed that has gone on. Its the third coach in three years. Four of the top six D from last season are gone as well as a slew of forwards. When Penner and Gilbert get run out of town the club will get weaker still. So who is at fault here?

Stephen Sheps: As for Penner and Gilbert, their styles of play make them appear to be doing less than they really are. The average everyday fan doesn’t give a crap about advance stats, outliers, or any other form of critical engagement with the game; they read the stats page in the journal or the sun, maybe read Matty’s Hockey World or the occasional Ireland, Tychkowski or MacKinnon article, watch the games and see them bad. To be fair, I am seeing Gilbert bad right now too, but I think the entire defense is playing at an ECHL level right now. Gilbert is not alone is his terrible play, but you can’t pick on Kurtis Foster because he’s the new Souray, Ladislav Smid is too young still, Theo Peckham a rookie, Jim Vandermeer hardly plays, Ryan Whitney has 14 points and everyone just loves Jason Strudwick because he’s the world’s most likeable human being. Therefore, Tom Gilbert, a great #3 defenseman, potentially a really good #2 with his long hair and big contract becomes the whipping boy for the local media to rag on, much like poor Janne Ninnimaa before him was unfairly criticized under the burden of over-inflated expectations. Hell, even Paul Coffey got a bad rap in this town, which is notoriously hard on its players. Every year there is one or two players who get crapped on. Its old hat now for both Tom and Dustin based on their contracts vis-à-vis their styles of play. It isn’t right, it isn’t fair, but they look like they aren’t carrying their weight based on their salaries, not advanced stats, and as such the people employed by the media machine will poop on them.

Jeff Chapman: I'm not expecting media to be transparent or honest at any time, let alone the Penner / Gilbert situations, but with that I also think that the media wants the Oilers to succeed. I think the whole Penner / Gilbert tiff is a diversionary tactic to keep management from looking stupid on the things that they've dropped the ball on like Khabibulin's contract or the woeful powerplay. Let's not create a rift with things management can't (or won't) touch - it would make management look incompetent. I mean, it's obvious it's Gilbert and Penner's fault that the team's stinking up the West again. Right?

Downright Fierce: Short answer? No. Long answer? You asked for it!

Much of the mainstream media relies on observation and conventional statistics, so it is hard to argue they are being dishonest with their audience. What is more believable: the MSM thinks that DP & the Tommy Gun are the rusty links in the chain, or that they are clever enough to be shielding the Organization from the hard questions?

Dustin Penner is a familiar target, so it’s no surprise that the media is itching to pick up that particular riding crop again. Tom Gilbert, on the other hand, is a victim of circumstance. The Minneapolitan finished last season on a high note, showing chemistry with the newly acquired Ryan Whitney. Going into this season with a shallow blue, even the pessimists among the non-MSM crowd seemed to anticipate Gilbert-Whitney treading water. Instead, Tommy G looks to be taking a step back while Whitney is playing exactly like the veteran we expected. Not the end of the world, but the media needs a scapegoat.

The MSM has shown itself to be dinosauric in thought and philosophy time and time again; unwilling (at least unreasonably hesitant) to embrace new concepts despite (perhaps in spite) of hard evidence. To expect them to pick up on Penner’s underlying advanced stats is a little pie-in-the-sky. It might be even more ludicrous to expect them not to jump on the plight of a player unable to carry his expected share in Gilbert. Regarding what the media has overlooked thus far: Khabibulin appears to avoid criticism due to the poor play of the team in front of him and his untradability. The penalty kill is only as good as its players in the media’s eyes. And the faltering Department of Youth likely gets a free pass thanks to two beautiful syllables: Re. Build.


C&B: On November 16th, Darren Dreger reported that the Oilers were looking to upgrade their defense, but not at the expense of their plan. Everyone and their uncle knew that the Oilers defense wasn't going to be NHL worthy, any idea what Oilers' management was doing?

SumOil: I don't think the management ever thought that Oilers would be this bad. None of us thought that the Oilers would be this bad. As Steve Tambellini had said earlier that this is a long term rebuild and I think their plan is to loose and get as many high picks as possible and hope that their rebuild mirrors that of Pittsburgh rather than Atlanta. Hence getting a competitive defense was definitely not on his priority list. However those problems were compounded by the terrible play of our goalie and penalty kill. If the management wanted to ice a decent team, there were many competitive D-men to be had in the free agency market. However, they didn't and Steve Tambellini is sticking to his long term rebuild strategy. Also I do not believe that Oilers are actually looking to upgrade their defense through trade. If they were, they would be open to trade some of the valuable assets. To get some you must give some.

Jonathan Willis: Blowing smoke rings?

Pat: Well there are two options. Either they were planning on a total tank job or they are completely incompetent. Considering that this is the fifth straight season where basically any man in the street could point out the flaws on the roster constructed by Oiler management I would have to go with option #2 Chuck.

Sheps: In a word-no. I have absolutely no idea what the management team is doing. My comrade BCB did a write up on that very subject a little while ago, and while I can honestly say I didn’t understand everything he said in the post, most of that comes from my utter lack of understanding of the great German philosopher G.W.F Hegel, whose work formed a significant part of BCB’s analysis. My point is that the team at Bringing Back The Glory are very confused by most things this season, from roster choices, to tactics, to the impending arrival of cheerleaders, to even coaching staff choices. Dreger is a decent reporter, and like most of the talking heads at TSN, if he says something might be happening, there is likely at least a degree of truth to it. It’s entirely possible that there was something brewing on the Souray front, maybe it was as simple as calling up Belle. The thing that gets me is that more than anything else, it doesn’t seem that Vish and 3.0 have a plan, so what plan is it that a move would be at the expense of exactly? The lack of vision is what got them into the mess they’re in, and not just defensively.

Chapman:  I think management was floating Sheldon Souray's name out without having to actually say it in the hopes of garnering some attention. My theory is that management would love to trade a bad contract for defenceman. Doesn't make Commodore for Souray look so bad now, does it? Souray's coming back from a wrist injury, and everyone knows that his chances of appearing in an Oiler uniform again are thin. They've got this guy in Hershey, he's not getting any younger, management would kill to get a return on him, and the line is that they'd "like to upgrade their defence". They could just call Souray up, but they'd have to silently admit that they did the wrong thing by sending him to Hershey. Sure, they could just bring him up, and someone could take him at half price, but there's always risk involved. Management already looks bad for the whole thing, they won't risk looking extra dumb on this.

Downright Fierce: I don’t know that it was obvious to Oilers' management. The problem stems from every defenseman in the depth chart being asked to perform at least 1-2 steps higher than they are used to playing. The Org had to have been banking on at least half of those bets to cover and only Whitney has paid out. As it often happens with the current Oilers' management, they are left looking the sheepish gambler returned home from a bad loss and it remains to be seen when we, as fans, shut the door in their face.


C&B: "This is a rebuild, we have to be patient." This is a common refrain from the bright-siders in the fanbase. Is it sound, or are the fans thinking this way play the part of Pollyanna?

SumOil: As I said earlier, Rebuilds can go either way. People here are cozying up for a Pittsburgh or a Chicago style rebuild. However, they shouldn't forget Atlanta, Florida, Columbus or any other unsuccessful rebuild. A smart management doesn't need 4-5 years to turn things around. I think the model rebuild should be that of Philadelphia. One year they are the worst team in the NHL and next season they are challenging for the Pennant. This happened due to smart trades, aggressive signings and pro-active management. I seriously think Tambellini is capable of neither. As for patience goes, I think we all can say that we have been patient since 2006 and don't have much success to show for it. I am getting impatient and losing interest. I sincerely hope that Oilers think long and hard about the next FA and try to ice a more complete and competitive team.

Jonathan Willis: There's a certain degree of truth to it, but there's no law that says what goes down must come up, and coming up is the more difficult part. Draft picks aren't the magic bullet some seem to think they are, as any Islanders or Thrashers fan could tell you.

Pat: Well its fine to be patient if there's an end game. The problem is the end game here is uncertain at best. If a large number of picks/prospects stay healthy and become good NHL players and if management can fill in the holes and if...if...if then things will be great in three to four years. The problem is that the team is going to get worse before it gets better. Penner and Hemsky will surely leave when they are UFA and that means the two best players need to be replaced and who's to say other kids won't follow them. My biggest fear is that the club doesn't seem to be making any type of improvement at the NHL level. Now the scouting is better and the farm club is better so that's a good sign but I would feel a lot better if, say, Jacques weren't on the roster. there seems to be no recognition of individual talent or of the team situation as a whole and that is worrisome to me.

Sheps: Pollyanna. The rebuild won’t happen under this leadership regime. They are, to paraphrase the Great One, making the Oilers into a "Mickey Mouse Organization." To be honest, I am really glad this craptacular run is happening now, because I am in the middle of a PhD program and too busy to be as emotionally invested in the team this year. I have perhaps let my academic cynicism get the best of me, but I have no faith that anyone in the management group currently assembled has any idea how to complete a rebuild. The positive people in the fanbase, bless their hearts, have to understand that the scorched earth rebuild does not guarantee a contender, particularly if this people in charge couldn’t manage their way out of a paper bag without spending two or three years assessing whether or not they are in fact inside of the paper bag to begin with.

Chapman:  I believe in the rebuild, yes. And, I believe it's a sound judgment. I'm running out of patience, but I also believe that the our bounty will again runneth over. I was pleased with the YoungStars tournament in Penticton this year, I was very much pleased with the preseason, I'm quite pleased with the way a lot of things I expect will look a year or so. Getting rid of the Khabibulin contract in a couple of years will be probably the single greatest accomplishment that occurs where nothing has to happen except time pass. I absolutely believe that the rebuild is real, and we will all be there at the top of the mountain. Just wait. It'll be great.

Downright Fierce: Since the powers-that-be within the Org branded this era as a Rebuild, there has been a dramatic shift in the way people talk about losses. There is less vitriol and more bargaining, with a loose idea of a better tomorrow hovering in the background. Patience, as they say, is a virtue and there is a lot to be said for metering expectations. The conflict arises based on which expectations you choose to meter. The Rebuild should not justify poor hockey, nor should it exonerate mismanagement and I think some fans may be doing just that. There has to be some internal questioning and, dare I say it? Doubt. It must be realized that this same group got us into this mess and while faith is commendable, blind faith is not.


C&B: The narrative surrounding Sheldon Souray centered around his ability to poison the room, hence he was sent away. How worried are you that the room is being poisoned by not just losing, but not even being competitive?

SumOil: I cannot recall where I read this but apparently Burke sent Getzlaf and Perry to the minors in their first pro season because he did not think that his team was competitive enough. He thought keeping the kids on a losing team would not be good for their morale and he also did not want them to think that it is ok to lose. I cannot verify the authenticity of this report, but I subscribe to this theory. Young hotshots should almost always be placed in a position to succeed. Getting killed game after game can never be good for the players and the dressing room. However, it might even be some sort of a wake up call. All three rookies are coming off a very successful year. If they are smart and positive, they might even take it as a wake up call and strive to be better. Sitting here we can only guess about what goes on in the locker room. I think this Tambellini regime was hell bent on weeding out the negatives from the locker room and they did so. This is Horcoff's team now and I have so far not heard anything negative about the psyche or tensions in the Oilers locker room. If anything, I think it might be players like Hemsky and Penner who are 'wasting' their prime years on a very bad team.

Jonathan Willis: Not really. Winning sorts out locker room problems pretty quick, and the obsession with "culture" that people seem to have drives me nuts.

Pat: Well as I said my first concern is that they are going to lose Hemsky and Penner and probably Whitney and or Gilbert will ask out as well, if not both. Which means the team will lose a lot more games which means that other guys will get out as soon as they get leverage as well. Losing gets old pretty quickly.

Sheps: As much as I hate to point to anything not written by Willis or LT over at Oilersnation, I have to give Jason Gregor credit where credit is due. Aside from sharing a favorite NFL franchise, the Miami Dolphins, we share in the belief that losing does not always lead to a bad playing environment. He used the argument that many big NHL stars stayed with their poor teams regardless of a lack of success. Rick Nash is a prime example of this, as the BJs have played in one playoff series since he was drafted as their centerpiece. He is locked in to a rather long-term contract there and seems to like it. The Wings were awful for a long time too, yet Stevie Y and Lidstrom played their hall-of-fame hearts out in front of such terrible goalies as Tim Cheveldae when they got started. Joe Sakic played on a few of the worst teams in hockey. These things happen. Those Nords teams were less than competitive for a while, but they grew up together, suffered together and eventually became one of the most complete teams of their era, ironically after they left Quebec. Nietzsche used the idea of pain as the only way for memories to really stick. Maybe the memory of being terrible will end up being a motivator to these kids, wanting to never forget where they came from before having an extended run of glory. On the other hand, it could have the opposite effect; the trauma could just be so severe that these kids quit hockey before they hit their peak and end up sad, lonely insurance salesmen or some other equally depressing fate. Losing is one thing, but getting blown out as they have in four of the last five games cannot be good for the collective well-being of the team. I think it might actually be harder on the veterans than the kids. The rookies had an idea of what they were getting themselves into and knew they would be a little bit over their heads. This comes from being young and inexperienced. Players like Hemsky, Penner and Horcoff who have had stretches of success in their careers have to be wondering if they have actually hit bottom or if it could still get any worse. It’s probably a good thing the team hired a sports psychologist.

Chapman:  I'm not sure the room is being 'poisoned', but it's a downer for the kids.  I'm on record for saying that it was a good thing to have the kids in the NHL this year because I still believe that keeping them down for another year would stunt their productivity.  I'm still sticking by this, but losing a dozen times in sixteen tries isn't going to do anything for anyone's psyche.  When the team is getting the crap kicked out of them in Carolina, I also don't think it's the right message to stick Hall on the bench for showing frustration by slamming his stick on the glass.  If you're getting your ass kicked, I want you to be angry. If you'd like to say that the room is being 'poisoned', I can go with that I suppose. 

Downright Fierce: The core of this team is so young it is hard for me to imagine them getting really down on themselves, especially when the coaches et al have been hammering the Rebuild message into their heads since training camp. That being said, if guys like Hemsky and Penner are not seeing improved competitiveness in their contract years then we risk losing their high-end talents to South Beach free agency. The Souray quarantine may prove to be beneficial because, frankly, he seems like a whiner and whiners are never louder than when the going gets tough. While many of the leaders in the room suck on ice, they seem like the kind of guys who suck it up as well. An unhappy Souray would be like a volcano: either rumbling ominously or spewing fire and toxic gas into the atmosphere.


C&B: It's pretty obvious that Steve Tambellini assembled a roster full of holes, and was obvious in preseason. How much blame should Tom Renney take for the current situation considering he's not managing his bench, over-playing Nikolai Khabibulin and sticking with the Diamond Penalty Kill?

SumOil: When Tom Renney was appointed as the head coach, he was not put in a position to succeed. He was not given adequate personnel and doesnt have the team(esp goalie) he had in NYR. Lack of line matching doesnt bother me as it does to others. There aren't many players capable enough of handling unsheltered minutes. Sheltering any line would be "unfair" to two other lines. However, the penalty kill is an absolute disaster and Renney should think hard about changing tactics and formation. Also maybe bringing up some penalty killers from the farm would be beneficial. Nikolai Khabibulin compounds this problem as he is the big money goalie. If a team is not looking for wins, it makes sense from management point of view to keep playing him to extract the most for their investment.Then again playing him less regularly may prevent him from getting an injury(to some extent). People should highly refrain from thinking of DD as a saviour. He has started only 2 games so far. We have a very small sample size here. Remember NK was doing very good at the start of the season too. I dont think DD will be Khabibulin bad, but if the defense plays like that DD wont looks too good either.

Jonathan Willis: Some blame. Scotty Bowman wasn't going to make this team competitive, but some of the issues are coaching problems (like the PK). I'm content to keep watching for the season, to see if his strategies seem to pay off in terms of player development or guys getting the system, and then re-evaluate at the end of the year.

Pat: He gets some, much as Quinn did last year but really this club is awful. You could have Toe Blake and Scotty Bowman behind the bench and they are still going to be terrible.

Sheps: I’m not convinced that the Khabi-overplay is entirely on Renney. Based on the media spin, I am inclined to believe that his playing was an edict from above. The imbalanced roster is also not on Tom, either. He can only do so much with what he has, and he doesn’t have much to work with. As far as not managing his bench, I have seen a little more of the blender and the short bench employed in the last few games, though in each of those games, the team was so far behind that it didn’t matter what Renney did. The team is super young, and still has too many of the same players, skilled smurfs or coke machines with hands of stone. The lack of balance really is going to handcuff even the best coach in the world. I truly think even with Mike Babcock or Scotty Bowman behind the bench, this team would only have one or two more wins based on the roster. The diamond on the other hand is all on him. It is a fine system when you have the players that execute it well and a goalie that is good enough to consistently bail you out and kick rebounds to safe areas if the diamond gets chipped. It is well known that Renney is a great tactician, but without the proper troops in place to execute the battle plan, the tactical advantage is completely negated.

Chapman:  Is it all of Renney's fault?  Not a hundred per cent, no.  But the penalty kill is just an abomination from seven levels deep, and Khabibulin has started way more games than he should've, and now his groin exploded.   Whether it's right or not, the buck's going to stop with him.  I would like to get inside his head and figure out why Stortini has sat as much as he has.

Downright Fierce: When Renney got promoted, I began anticipating a more intricate gameplan behind the bench. Unfortunately, he appears to have been reined in and we may never know if it is the work of the coach or his higher-ups. If it’s Renney, I think we have to see it as a coach trying to build a system from the ground up with a focus on indoctrinating the Oilers Youth. In this scenario a coaching change must happen if the players do not buy in, but you also have to accept that Renney gets more than 82 games to make it work. If it is indeed a mandate from on high, then we have more evidence of an overly intrusive management and a shit-rolls-downhill attitude within the Org. In which case, I think we see Renney’s creative side liberated in Year 2. Either way, I don’t see the Oilers starting 2011-12 with their fourth head coach in as many years.


C&B: Do you think anyone in Oilers' management has learned lessons from this or is everything going to be same as it ever was?

SumOil: I dont think the management is going to learn much from the state of the Oilers. This management has never been the one to plug the holes, rather it is known for covering holes with mud used from digging new ones. However, they can/should learn from the success of OKC Barons. That is a well built team with veterans and depth at every position; from center to defense. The kids are not being forced into taking responsibilities they can't handle. I wish they learn from it and do the same for the Oilers in near future.

Jonathan Willis: Paraphrasing Malcolm Reynolds, I think that expecting management to make big strides is a long wait for a train that don't come.

Pat: If its a deliberate tank job then I guess they would learn from it but really the bad moves have outnumbered the good by a large margin over the past five seasons so I can't see it. I'd love to think that this is all part of the plan but I just think they are incompetent when it comes down to it.

Sheps: Lets be honest, Tambi is not Bill Parcells-a 3 year rebuild, focused first on drafting needs, not best player available (not to knock the magnificent bastard, who I think should actually be running this team based on the way he scouts talent…), then going after players to fill specific, obvious holes while working under the constraints of a complex salary cap system, not necessarily being loyal to veterans with diminished skill-sets, despite how great they are in the room (see Taylor, Jason or Thomas, Zack for examples of this). This comparison is actually the basis for a future study, however in a recent post after the loss to the rangers, I promised I would write about the Dolphins and because I am not an MSM journalist, I would hate to break my word and lie to you, the loyal and faithful readers. I am not convinced that the mismanagement team has learned a thing. If they had, the summer’s worth of roster overhauling would not have been to ensure enough room for the kids but rather addressed needs to help develop the kids while icing a squad that doesn’t get blown out every time they get on the ice.

Chapman:  I'm not certain. I sure hope so. While I'm hopeful for the future, until we see some of the pudding, we'll always be looking for the proof that's in it. As I stated a couple of answers ago, I absolutely believe in the rebuild, but until the fans are buying playoff tickets, it'll be the same song that's playing on the jukebox.

Downright Fierce: The Org has yet to give me a reason to believe that they are capable of evolution. From what I’ve seen in the hilariously titled Oil Change series, Lowe still plays a big role in many of the team’s decisions and has been around long enough for a pattern to emerge: Take all eggs. Place in one basket. Repeat. Until Vish takes a bigger step back or is dismissed entirely, I have little faith we will see anything revolutionary out of this front office.


C&B: How bad do you think this season has to get before someone loses their job? Who is that someone going to be?

SumOil: I doubt anyone is going to lose a job mid-season. If at all Tambellini might get the proverbial axe at the end of the season. Rarely there are cases when a GM at the start of the rebuild is the same guy at the end of it.

Jonathan Willis: I think if the season continues at it's current pace, we'll see some more blood-letting. As with previous installments, the only safe bets are that the duo of Lowe and Tambellini hold their positions, and Kelly Buchberger survives yet again.

Pat: Can it get worse? I guess it could but they are getting smoked every single night. Brule, Cogliano, Gilbert are all regressing. So many of these guys are getting their confidence shattered. Only Devan Dubnyk and Peckham have done okay lately and if Dubnyk gets pounded for a few nights then what happens there? And who is going to get canned? Renney? Unlikely. I'd love to see Lowe and Tambellini take the gas pipe as this is an embarrassment and they are responsible for it but I doubt it will happen. Its a total disgrace though, isn't it?

Sheps: This is already a disaster of a season. After the recent string of blowouts, how can it get any worse? Khabi’s latest injury is likely a blessing in disguise that may in fact be the moment that turns the season around, but that is a serious long-shot. Tambi has to be the one to go. Lowe is untouchable-he’s basically Katz’ personal toy, a living breathing link to his youth that he gets to hang out with every day. Renney won’t go as they will not be so shortsighted as to turf three coaches in three years. The Magnificent Bastard is clearly going nowhere, as he is the only person on the Oilers staff who knows how to evaluate talent. It has to be Tambi. He is in over his head. He is the only logical choice. However, if Daryl had balls, Lowe and Tambi would both be gone, Quinn would step in as an interim GM a la Cliff Fletcher before Burke. They need to take time to find the right man for the job, someone with experience and no past ties to the team, someone from outside with a proven record of building a winner, or at the very least, a competitive team. It is the only way to get the franchise back on track. Kill the head so the body can die.

Chapman: Barring an expansion Ottawa Senators style season (10-70-4), no one's losing their jobs.  If the team goes on another Winless January™ like they did this past winter, the first to go will be Renney.  And I just don't see that happening.

Downright Fierce: Here we come to that word patience again. If the fans see an acceptable amount of effort from their team (we have had maybe a half-dozen games’ worth so far), then the points do not matter. If the Oilers look complacent in the face of failure, or even if they are giving full effort and the blowouts continue… Well, then we find ourselves in a different conversation come April.

Should the fans’ patience wear thin, Steve Tambellini will be left holding the conch and that has everything to do with Katz & Lowe framing the Rebuild as an order passed down to the Great Assessor. This summer we were told Tambellini really really got the keys to the kingdom. They’ve allowed him to gut the training staff, coaching staff, and the veteran core of players and, if all goes awry, then we have already been told who will be to blame. At this point, I think we will see Kevin Lowe naming Edmonton’s eighth General Manager by season’s end (unless Tambi turns in a miraculous trade deadline or Katz cleans house).


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