Sunday, April 25, 2010
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.
Posted by Black Dog at 4:40 PM