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Sunday, January 29, 2012

OIlers – “Change” Needed Due to “Burning Oil”

As an Oiler fan and one who has watched them since they entered the NHL, I am extremely frustrated with the direction of the team and I believe that most of the problems are due to poor decisions by Kevin Lowe and GM Steve Tambellini. I also believe that blame needs to be cast at Tom Renney, the other coaches, and Moores and Sillinger in player development. Tom Renney is a pretty good guy but he cannot be fully excused for the current state of the team. The Oilers are on course to finish second, third or fourth last in the league this year, which is really inexcusable and it is the result of poor player development, mistakes in drafts and in trades, and coaching that has not been tough enough—they are “burning valuable Oil.”

Tambellini is in the last year of his contract as GM, and Renney and the other coaches are also in their last year of their contracts. The fans deserve some changes but keep in mind that the Oilers are the stingiest club in the NHL and they will base most of their decisions on how much money they can save.

In my opinion, the Oilers should fire Tambellini this week and see what effect that has on the players and coaching staff. They should also fire Moores and Sillinger in player development. Then give Renney and the rest of the coaches the remainder of the season to see if they can get the team back in the right direction. If they are not able to do that then get rid of the coaching staff at the end of the year and start over. Not too many Oiler fans would disagree with me on that plan. However, a certain reporter has indicated that he was informed that Tambellini will be offered a contract extension, and if that is true I hope that Oiler owner Daryl Katz changes his mind.

Tambellini really has done nothing to benefit the Oilers and nobody could really do any worse than what he has done in the drafts or in trades. Additionally, he has not been fair with players regarding contracts, and who wants to play for a guy like that? He is a bad part of Oiler history and he has proven that he is not skilled at his job.  

If Tambellini is staying, Daryl Katz, Kevin Lowe and Tambellini might just let the Oilers tread water for a while longer so that they can get better draft picks—yes, they are thinking about that for sure, and they know that the money is still going to come in because the fans are going to pay to see Eberle, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Smyth. Another scenario is that Tom Renney will be fired very soon and a new coach will have an opportunity to see if he can make a difference. However, once again, everybody knows that it is Tambellini who is doing the most damage to the Oiler team. I do see some problems with Renney because his system and motivational skills are obviously not working as well as they should. I often see that the Oilers are not fully prepared when they start a game. Yes, I agree that a large part rests on the players themselves. 

Regarding draft picks, Lowe and Tambellini made some mistakes in the last two drafts. One mistake was last year when they had the opportunity in the second round to get the top goalie prospect but elected to pass on him. Khabibulin is 39 years old people! The Oilers took Nugent-Hopkins first and also had the 19th pick in the first round, and they selected a big Swedish defenseman, Oscar Klefbom. Okay, they got their big defenseman who they needed but then to start the second round they took another defenseman rather than John Gibson, the best goalie available—and he is good! Always take a talented goalie because he is more valuable if he turns out and later you can trade him if you need to! Anaheim jumped on Gibson and what a great pick for them because he almost surely going to be a big part of their team in the future. Without a great goalie you will not win the Stanley Cup but without a great defenseman you can! Regarding the draft two years ago, it looks like Tyler Seguin is proving to be a better player as compared to Taylor Hall—offensively and defensively. I fear that Hall’s career will be riddled with injuries due to his poor balance and getting into positions that are too dangerous. Before the draft the Oilers had to have known that he had an issue with balance, and in fact I believe that Lowe questioned him about it but they went forth to select him away. I also don’t like Hall’s degree of pride and stick-throwing in practice. Honestly, I hope that he can prove me wrong and become better than Seguin and also avoid further injuries. One thing is for certain, nobody could have done worse in the draft selections over the past two years than Lowe and Tambellini have done. Anyone who gives them credit for drafting skill needs to do take a closer look at all the picks. By the way, I really liked Kevin Lowe as a player and watched him develop and go on to win Stanley Cups. He was a great competitor and was not afraid to sacrifice himself over and over again by blocking shots—thanks to Lee Fogolin for teaching him how to do it.

Moving Penner last year was a mistake (unless I am proven wrong by Colten Teubert) because Dustin was improving each year and to have a guy that big up front is always a huge bonus. The fact that he was going into the last year of his contract was probably an issue for the Tambellini and the Oilers who don’t like to spend money. The Oilers should have traded Hemsky instead even if it meant taking less for him than they wanted. Now, Hemsky has to be traded because he will be a free agent this summer. It should happen soon and we can expect that they will go for a skilled defenseman and that player might come from the Predators or another team strong in that area. I must say that getting Ryan Smyth back was a great move and the Oilers did not have to give up much to get him. Smyth requested the trade and that is why the deal was lopsided in the Oilers’ favor.

Since I am on the “money saving” topic, I want to mention that late last year Tambellini attempted to “low ball” Ryan Jones on a new contract, but Jones, knowing that the amount offered was too low, told him that he would not talk until the end of the season. Tambellini decided to up the offer because he knew that Jones is a hard-worker, good at killing penalties, and that he also scores when given enough ice time. 

The Oilers have ruined the development of some players, namely Paajarvi and Omark. Both played well last year and now Omark is out of the picture after being sent down to the AHL. The Oilers have made him angry and they are purposely lowering his value. Now the Oilers need to trade him or sign him and why not do it right away. He will be in the NHL again and will do well wherever he gets a chance to play enough. He does need to pass the puck more rather than trying to do too much himself. Paajarvi was sitting, sent down and then brought back up. They have really damaged Paajarvi’s confidence and it is hard to believe it. They have him thinking that he is only 20 years old and that he has a lot of time. They took away his spark somewhere along the line.

Let’s watch Omark score the winner in a SO against Tampa last year—spin-o-rama! The fans love him so they should have given him more opportunity. After watching, please click the back arrow in your browser to return to my site.


Katz, Lowe and Tambellini know that part of “rebuilding” and winning Stanley Cups involves keeping the “core” players together, but they will forsake that principle later on when guys like Eberle, Hall and Nugent-Hopkins eventually become close to unrestricted free agent status. Penner was more than a year away from being an unrestricted free agent and they decided to trade him anyway because no team would give enough in exchange for Hemsky.

If Oiler management have no intentions in keeping a core group together then don’t bother going to the games.  

I really like Eberle but unless the Oilers are prepared to open up the bank you can expect Eberle to leave the team as soon as he is unrestricted. I would not be surprised if he goes through salary arbitration after next year.

Let us hope that the needed “Oil change” involves Tambellini not getting a contract extension!

Check out Eberle’s first NHL goal by accessing the link below. To return to my site please remember to click the back arrow in your browser after watching.

TJ Stanley