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You Make The Call: Steve Tambellini, Esoteric or Confused?

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TORONTO - APRIL 13: Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini awaits the announcement for the first overall pick during the NHL Draft Lottery Drawing at the TSN Studio April 13, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages / Getty Images for NHL)
TORONTO - APRIL 13: Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini awaits the announcement for the first overall pick during the NHL Draft Lottery Drawing at the TSN Studio April 13, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages / Getty Images for NHL)
Getty Images for NHL

For the last few weeks, I've been involved in a heated e-mail debate about the Nick Schultz - Tom Gilbert trade. The debate hasn't been about the winner of the trade (Minnesota, and it's not close), or the long-term implications for the Oilers (over-paying a "true top-pairing" guy). Instead, our back-and-forth has centered on the things Steve Tambellini said in reference to the trade during the press conference and in the version of "Oil Change" that chronicled deadline day:

  1. "I was speakin’ to Stevie Yzerman today who had him also at the world championships and his comment was ‘If you’re lookin’ for someone who is a true professional, extremely fit and very dependable, you’re gonna get someone like Nick Schultz that your coaches are gonna enjoy having." So a nice comment from someone I have great respect for."
  2. "Like I said, he has a vast experience as far as NHL play, international play, so he’s seen a lot of different things and comfortable in a lot of different aspects of the game of where we need to get better."
  3. During "Oil Change", Stu MacGregor commented “we liked him in his draft year” referring to 2000, when Wild drafted him out of Prince Albert of the WHL.

So Tambellini defends his trade by saying Steve Yzerman liked him in international play, he has international experience and the Oilers need to get better at international play, and his head scout liked him 12 years ago in Junior hockey.

I find all of this quite insane, but par for the course for the Oilers. These are things that men who manage three straight lottery teams would base their decisions on, and things they would say to others in defense of their decisions.

My sparring partner thinks this is Tambellini's way of appealing to the Edmonton media and especially the average Oilers fan. His argument is based on appealing to Team Canada expertise, as in "if he's good enough for Team Canada, he's good enough for us", the expertise of a hockey great and both the local Junior league everyone loves and the head scout responsible for delivering Hall, Hopkins and Eberle.

So are these the words of a man who doesn't know what he's doing, or an expert in media and message manipulation?