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Craig MacTavish Has The Qualifications, It's The Baggage That Makes Fans Nervous

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Craig MacTavish deserves a job as an NHL executive, but the Kevin Lowe albatross may hold him back

US Presswire

Three-and-a-half years ago, I wrote:

When it comes to roster management, MacTavish was put into situations by his general manager, whether it was Kevin Lowe or Steven Tambellini, that forced him to coach majorly unbalanced rosters. Whether it was a lack of defense, a lack of forwards, an over-abundance of unproven rookies, or an shortage of proven veterans, each year the roster was incomplete. The effect was two-fold. The general manager's mistakes left him with a deep understanding of the need for a balanced roster as well as an understanding of the value of real NHL players, especially relatively cheap veterans from the Wes Walz genus.

It was obvious then that Craig MacTavish was on the fast track to management in the NHL. Of course, it helps that he's a member of the largest make work program in the province of Alberta, but even without his personal relationship with Kevin Lowe, MacTavish was going to make it into the front office of an NHL team, it was just a matter of time.

His qualifications match those of nearly any new executive in the NHL, and he's far more qualified than at least half of a dozen current GMs. If not for the meddling nature of the worst executive in the NHL, Edmonton fans would be very happy about the hiring. In fact, MacTavish would be a solid hire in places like Miami, Calgary, Philadelphia, and Denver.

His press conference was bizarre, with MacTavish passionately pleading for action and change and Lowe arrogantly defending his record as a manager with his record as a player. But throughout the press conference (when he wasn't trying to bail Lowe out), he said the right things, anti-Oilers, anti-Lowe things.

We need greater depth. We’ve got a lot of great primary pieces and this has a little bit of a wake feel walking in here and I want to put that all behind us from this point forward. I think that the future is extremely bright with these young players but we’ve got to add some depth. We’ve got primary pieces here but we’ve got to add some depth.

He said "depth" once every 23 words in that passage. I think he's concerned about the team's depth. Note he didn't say "poise" or "compete level" or "poise".

Grit without skill, as I mentioned, is not something’s that’s going to move the dial of our team forward.

Nothing about "harder to play against".

"Bottom line is getting good players..."

Nothing in there about players who see what Tambellini is building and want to be a part of it. Nothing about players Steve Yzerman recommended. Nothing about international experience.

But for all of the good things Craig Mactavish said, there's still...

"Holy mackerel, we've got a lot of guys here"

"Is it me?"

"And lastly I’ll say that there’s one other guy in hockey today that is still working in the game that has won more Stanley Cups than me. So I think I know a little bit about winning, if there’s ever a concern."

The qualifications are there. The experience will come. If Kevin Lowe can stay out of the way, Craig MacTavish should be successful at the helm in Edmonton. More successful than the last two GMs, anyway.

More on the Craig MacTavish hiring:

Batty: Tough Questions For Oilers Management

Parkatti: The Storming of the #YEG

Hull: Steve Tambellini Fired