Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cleaning House


Our inlaws are in town for the next couple of weeks which means good times for us. My father in law busies himself with little projects around the house, my mother in law cooks and cleans and we get to go out the odd time, we get to sleep in together the odd time and we get a bit of a break from our usual hectic lives.

My mother in law is an extraordinary housekeeper. I'm talking you can eat off of the floors when she's around. She's a bit of a zealot, mind you. If you walk away from a coffee cup for thirty seconds its dumped, washed, dried and put away before you're back in your seat.

My wife used to talk about this and I didn't really see it until one of the first times they came to visit us after we bought our house. I wandered downstairs on a Saturday morning and there is my mother in law, on her hands and knees, scrubbing the kitchen floor. I mean seriously scrubbing and scouring. I immediately asked her not to do that. It made me a little uncomfortable to be honest. I mean, damn, if you want to clean then do so but use a mop, that's totally fine.

You don't have to do that, I said.

Oh no, its fine, its fine, I don't mind at all.

And then I look out the window and there's the big fellow, cavorting in the backyard, which just happens to be a sea of muck thanks to the April rains.

Oh Jesus, the dog's just going to make a mess of this now, he's just filthy out there.

Oh no mind, she says, I'll just do it again.

The look on my face must have been one of total disbelief because she chuckled.

Don't worry now, she said. I can't help myself. Its just my nature.

-----------------------------------

Never ever a dull week with the Edmonton Oilers. Ever. Never. Ever. Ever. Never.

You get the picture.

So this week we saw Tambellini dump four people from the organization, one, Kevin Prendergast, who has had a lot to do with the success and failures of the club over the past number of years. And the training staff.

Now Tambellini can't win. He really can't. He's the San Jose Sharks of NHL management. The Sharks are through to the second round but its going to take a conference final, maybe even a Cup final, for them to lose the reputation of massive chokers. A win over one of the worst clubs I have seen in the playoffs in recent memory isn't going to cut it, especially when it took them six games.

And for Thornton, Marleau and Heatley the fact that they scored one goal total in six games means that they have to do something this round or their collective reputation is going to sink even further, if that's possible.

Point is that Tambellini is in the same boat. He can't win in the court of public opinion until this franchise turns it around in a meaningful way and its probable that he won't be around when that happens, even if he is the guy who effects the turnaround.

The fans want change. Well, not change per se. They want heads to roll. Its been four consecutive poor years and Oilers' management is finally hearing the distant threatening drums. Last year MacTavish and his staff took the bullet as management, for the fourth consecutive summer, misjudged the quality of their personnel. A new coach and a new goaltender, Tambellini figured, would make this club a playoff contender. Instead they finished way up the road.

So somebody else had to pay. Prendergast was an obvious choice. A guy with actual responsibilities, the head of the farm club, responsible for development, well he's a guy who is high profile enough to satisfy the bloodlust a little bit. Sure injuries played a part in Springfield's failure and really even more than that is the fact that a whole bunch of youngsters probably would have been better served by doing their apprenticeship in the minors instead of the NHL but when you are the worst club in the NHL then really nobody's job is safe.

But what about the training staff? Well it says a lot about these guys when the situation gets a lot of airtime on HNIC but for me its really a tempest in a teapot.

I don't care that they have been with the club forever or that they were part of many national teams. That's great but neither is a reason for them to stay employed at all. People acting all offended and getting up in arms because these guys are institutions - well Kevin Lowe gets a free pass from a lot of people because of the same reason. Now being the GM and sharpening skates are two different areas of responsibility - one guy makes or breaks the team and the other guy sharpens skates - but telling me that buddy should have a job for life because he's been there since the glory days doesn't matter to me. Its not like these guys sat around a fire with Gagner and Cogliano on their knees telling them stories about the old days.

As for how he described them - hard working, excellent, blah blah blah - well that's what people say when they let people go. Its typical corporate BS. Heck I worked for a company where a scumbag upper management guy had to be let go for being a scumbag, essentially. It was announced as his resignation, thanks for his great efforts, wish him well etc etc. Not a bad word about him at all. Thats the way of the world.

I think that Tambellini and Quinn wanted to make a change. They've described it as part of a culture change, whatever that means, as Dave Hodge said this morning. I think that there may be politics involved. Tambellini is showing that he is the boss and he wants Kevin Lowe's guys out of there. In fact I think that may have a lot to do with it. In any case they wanted to make a change and that's their right.

You could argue that time had passed Ken Lowe by and the flu bug that ravaged the Oilers but no other club in the league raised my eyebrows a little bit. Not sure how that falls on the guys who sharpen skates and hang jerseys in the stalls but maybe they figured they'd move them all out at once.

Anyhow when it comes down to it I think we can conclude the following:

1/ Tambellini wants to make changes. Some will affect hockey operations. Others, not so much. Its within his right to do so. He's the boss.

2/ Now we have seen the coaching staff, the assistant GM and the support staff fired over the past two summers. Next we're going to see players moved out, many by being bought out. People want to see blood. Tambellini is going to give it to them. Some innocents are going to be collateral damage (I'd argue that Pisani should be brought back on a one year deal but probably will not), some are going to deserve the axe.

3/ The guys who are most responsible for this disaster are Kevin Lowe and Tambellini and they are the two guys who are safest. No doubt that Kevin Lowe is the guy people want horsewhipped in the centre of town but Tambellini can't fire him and unless Katz decides at some point to purge the entire organization we're not going to get the satisfaction. As for Tambellini well he's been unimpressive in his time here but he's going to get his chance to turn it around even though his tenure this far has shown that it doesn't look like he's up to it. He just hasn't a grasp of the club and the true worth of the players on it.

His failures so far make people skeptical and as a result even the least of his moves are derided as the work of someone hopelessly out of his depth.

I don't think he has what it takes to turn this around but even if he does its going to have to be an unqualified success before he ever gets a modicum of credit and while that is a little unfair, maybe, he certainly has done little so far to earn even the slightest benefit of a doubt. So while this entire uproar has been a bit silly and the flak he has gotten way over the top the fact is that he has earned it because nobody has any confidence in him and for good reason.

11 comments:

hunter1909 said...

I don't know what to think about Tambellini, but he's general managed us the first pick in the draft.

Infinitely better than pouring over the possible lower first round selections, hoping for another undersized "gem".

I'm also all for firing anyone in the Oilers disorganisation. Anyone at all. Sounds to me like the three trainer/whatevers represented the old times, times long dead and of no further use to the present or future. Good riddance.

Who gives a fuck what anyone else thinks around the league? The Oiler's reputation is already at rock bottom, so fuck off everyone until we next win the cup.

Then everyone can whine about the Oiler's tanking for Taylor Hall, hahahaha.

idaho falls house cleaning said...

What is the average cost of a house-cleaning service? Any idea

Black Dog said...

If you're coming to Toronto from Idaho, that's probably a little expensive for my blood.

Woodguy said...

Completely agree about the tempest in a teapot. (if fact those were the exact words I used to describe the situation to my wife.)

Good, smart people like Jonathan Willis and Tyler Dellow wrote pieces that spoke more towards their distrust and disdain of Tambellini rather than what actually happened.

Life in a fishbowl.

My mother = your mother in law.

I had to physically restrain my 72 year old mother from cleaning my house as my wife sees that act as a judgment upon her rather than what it actually is, ingrained behavior which simply cannot be changed.

Now I just sic my mom on the weeds in the my yard when we are in the growing season. Seems to placate everyone.

Black Dog said...

Woodguy - good stuff and I can see what your wife is thinking too; my wife is the same with my mom although my folks never say a damn thing - they know better ;)

Life in a fishbowl and also what they have brought upon themselves. They are now a laughingstock and when people start laughing at you then you're pretty well fucked.

This is a pretty critical summer for Tambellini I think. With the arena project on the horizon the last thing Katz wants is his top management being the butt of jokes. Tambellini needs to show that he knows what he is doing or this will be his first and last GM job and his tenure will be a short one.

Idaho Falls Cleaning said...

Cleaning should be a habit of everyone. I am strict in cleaning house.

Halfwise said...

There is a distinct odor of "mob" wafting up from the comments sections of Oilerblogs. As you say, at this point management can do no right in the eyes of the fans, once faithful and now baying in the full voice of the betrayed.

From a business perspective, all a Canadian NHL team really sells is hope, until the magic happens (if it ever happens). Many US teams just have to sell entertainment, as evidenced by the roster of tractor pulls, motocross, arena league football and the rest of the circuses that wander through their 22,000 seat rinks. Here the in Big Pyrogy, it's all Oil all the time (sorry, Rush).

What gets me scratching my head is the sudden outburst of loyalty to the training staff. If it was authentic it would be weird enough. But given that it is basically an expression of antipathy to management, it tells me that the business of selling hope in Edmonton is going to be harder than it was even a year ago.

How do you get a new $300 M rink on someone else's nickel when your own vocal hockey fans think your team can't even manage its current meager resources? Politics depends on the court of public opinion, and this jury hates the defendant, at least today.

I bet that is one reason why the braintrust was pushing to sign superstars, figuring that you need more than a squad of Dave Lumleys and Craig Munis to get people excited about a new building. I think they were right, but now they are on track to get nothing besides high draft picks for a couple of years. This does not always end well.

Black Dog said...

halfwise - some few folks have said that the end game right now is the arena, that nothing else is more important to the Oilers than that

I don't know if that's the case but as you say at this point there really seems to be a lot of anger with Oilers' management. Hard to see how this is going to help the arena cause.

And really Tambellini is so fucked right now. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is viewed in a positive light. He absolutely needs to pull an A this summer.

Idaho Falls Cleaning - oh don't get me wrong, cleanliness is important to me too. But when you have three kids and a dog really you're kind of fighting a losing battle. We just do out best to maintain some semblance of order.

Alice said...

The 2010 City-wide Cleanup Week
May 8-15
This year's slogan is:
"IDAHO FALLS...we're talking TRASH!"

They seem to be on to you, I honestly can't Imagine why ~

Halfwise said...

>Tambellini ... absolutely needs to pull an A this summer.

POS, Nilsson and JDD for Boston's first round pick oughta do it.

Halfwise said...

On second thought, they'd have to throw in Moreau as well. But the rational, calm, reasonable fan base here would be satisfied with the deal. Anything less would not be enough to redeem Tambellini in their eyes.

/irony off.