Steve Tambellini isn't exactly an enthralling guy to listen to, but when he addressed the media last night, he offered some insight into the thought process of the group in some of their recent decisions. For me, the three most interesting subjects he addressed were: the play of Darcy Hordichuk; the team's strategy during the most recent draft; and where Eric Belanger fits with this group of players going forward. Over the next few days, l'll take a closer look at each of these sections, starting with what Steve Tambellini had to say about the role Hordichuk might play (if you want to listen to the whole thing, it's available on the Oilers' website).
Here's what Steve Tambellini had to say about Hordichuk:
He didn't play every night, but I thought he responded and was effective and intelligent in the way he approached his job, to bring that toughness with some intelligence, I thought he did a good job for us. I don't want to speak for Ralph, but I think that if Darcy is in the lineup he may see more minutes than what he did last year.
I was a bit disappointed that no one asked Tambellini why he thought Hordichuk played an intelligent game. It's an odd description, but there are a few different ways that it might apply. For instance, Hordichuk fought eight times last season, but didn't receive a single instigator penalty. Further, in his own interview, Hordichuk offered some ways that he might be more effective, which may have impressed Tambellini. One of those ways was receiving either more shifts per game or more shifts per game designed to help him fulfill his role, i.e. in a way that would enable him to offer an "immediate response" for something another player had done.
Obviously, the Oilers signed the player because they think he has value in the enforcer role. But as far as playing time goes, more targeted shifts seems more likely to me than more shifts in general. Hordichuk was only in the lineup for two of the five games that Krueger managed the bench. He played 7:19 when the Oilers drubbed Calgary 5-1, and played a more typical 2:51 when the Oilers beat Philadelphia 2-0, a game in which Hordichuk's linemates, Anton Lander and Lennart Petrell, both played much more (although it was still less than seven minutes at even strength). Krueger gave Ben Eager a regular shift with the other fourth liners (and two turns in the top nine), so it's possible that Hordichuk will get that too, but I wouldn't count on it. If anything, it seems to me that Krueger's promotion could be better news for Eager than for Hordichuk.
Finally, a note of interest to me and probably no one else: Tambellini's first sentence is in a loose ABBA format (good job, intelligence, intelligence, good job). Kind of odd, but I wonder if that's something he does a lot in order to provide emphasis.