The fall guy…

By , January 29, 2010 11:27 am
The original fall guy / 6-million dollar man

The original fall guy / 6-million dollar man

Yesterday, Guy Flaming over at Coming Down the Pipe posted a great article about a fan who called into the Oilers lunch this week saying that “the fans will need a sacrifice.” In Guy’s article, he speculated that it could be the scouting staff taking the fall, just based on that they hadn’t had their contracts renewed and because they have been one constant through much of this mess. Guy did feel though that this would be a “smoke screen”, if that group were cleaned up, and I agree as well. No matter how you stack it, this is still an issue with management.

I feel that there has been some good done by management and the scouting group to assemble what I consider to be a solid foundation for this team to build on. Doug MacLean touched on this last night, and it struck a chord with me as I’d been thinking of writing on it as well too. Really, there is a good core group here of: Hemsky, Penner, Gagner, Cogliano, Brule, Potulny, Visnovsky, Stortini, Smid. Beyond those guys, we have blue-line help coming in the form of Petry (who is looking to be a good player), Peckham, Chorney and Wild. For forward help, we have Omark, MPS, Eberle, Hartikainen/Lander, Rajala, and this year’s new pick to come, to name a few. I think the one area that has always been a problem for us is goaltending though. I’ll be honest – I like Dubnyk, Deslauriers and Roy. But I have a tough time seeing any of these guys as being the future big-game goaltender here. It’s too early to tell though. But that aside, I think the Oilers have done a decent job at gathering prospects. Certainly not the best group in the league, but it is not an issue.

What IS an issue is that the core group I mentioned above has not been surrounded by a strong group of complementary players. As we all know, after the 2005/06 Stanley Cup Final, Lowe decided to make a few of these guys who aren’t part of the core group multi-millionaires – the complementary players became the core, at least on the payroll. I know I don’t have to convince even the most loyal of fan that Horcoff’s $5.5M cap-hit could be replaced quite easily these days by a grinder who is hovering around $1M (perhaps even Marc Pouliot). Moreau has even been replaced within the current line-up by Zack Stortini – a guy making $0.7M. Tambellini redeemed himself slightly by signing Mike Comrie – a prototypical complementary player – for $1.25M. Obviously that isn’t working out so well due to Comrie’s bout with Mono, but that’s not something Tambellini could have foreseen. On the flip side of foreseeable issues was the Nikolai Khabibulin signing, however. I have no issues with signing him to 1 or 2 years at the price they did, but to sign him at that price for 4 years is sheer lunacy.

So how can Tambellini redeem himself? He’s going to have to fight for his job, and get ugly. Drop most of these contracts anyway he can (trade, waivers, buyouts, recall waivers): Horcoff (although doubtful he can), Khabibulin (ditto to Horcoff), Moreau, Staios, O’Sullivan, Nilsson, one or both of Gilbert/Grebeshkov, possibly Souray if the value is good. The next step (and this can happen slowly) is to surround our group that I mentioned earlier with better complementary players. I understand that he has been put in a bad position by his predecessor. But if he wants his job, he will need to do what it takes to hang on to it. Being a GM can be a pretty unglorious, ugly job. I’d like to see Tambellini forgo the nice guy facade and just clean up this team, Cliff Fletcher style. That to me would be a guy we should hang on to. The guy that says “it’s tough to do anything in the cap world” gets no sympathy from me. It may be true, but I would like to see a guy who does what it takes to make this team a winner. As Steve-O’s manager said to him one day: “Do you want me to be a winner manager or a whiner manager?”

If there is a head a rolling this year, I want it to be several players who haven’t pulled their weight or who Lowe mistakingly made the core of this team. If that doesn’t happen, than it’s Tambellini and/or Lowe’s head(s) that should be rolling.

Who should take the fall for this teams problems this year?

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19 Responses to “The fall guy…”

  1. MetalOil says:

    Totally agree on all of that. I want Lowe gone and I want him gone now. Who cares about saving face and waiting for the off season to do it just get rid of him. K Lowe is most responsible for this mess and for me this rebuild does not officially begin until he is removed from the organization in all capacity.

  2. NorwegianOiler says:

    This is reactive, as usual, not pro-active. Isn’t it more interesting what will make the team better in the future? It seems like the organisation is doing like the fans, looking backward at ‘what went wrong’ and continually overemphasising or misinterpreting these factors instead of working pro-actively, establishing strategic initiative. We’re stuck with the feeling that shedding this player or that, this member of brass or that will actually change anything positively. Yet it won’t be until the organisation starts looking forward and determining what strategy is to be employed in the long term that we’ll see positive change. In the meanwhile the blame-game will buy time, but no results.

    I shall not even write those three letters stating, of course, that this is but my view…

    …imo :P

  3. Mr.Majestyk says:

    I put my vote in for Lowe, Tambi and the overpaid players. I’m letting Quinn and company off the hook here because for the most part the team has come out and competed despite mounting and devastating losses plus crazy man games lost due to injury.

    I really hate that there is no easy way out of this situation. I’ve stated it several times before but what I had hoped would happen was MacT getting canned part way through last season and the new coaches coming in to finish the year and assess the talent we had. It would have made it that much easier for us this season. What if Penner caught fire last season after MacT was let go? Then maybe we’re not looking for a 1st line LW in Heatley? Instead we address other needs for the team. Its so annoying that we’re where we are in the re-building phase. Even when Quinn got hired I figured we’d ice the team we had this season and 20 or so games in, things would be clear whether or not Pouliot would be able to do the job as a 4th line Center. Each year there are so many question marks, at the end of the year, how many questions have been answered? We head into next year with even more question marks than this year.

    Racki, if you’re going to include a picture of The Fall Guy, please feel free to include a picture of Heather Thomas.

  4. Smokin' Ray says:

    Damn you Racki! I miss the Fall Guy show. I even had the brown Fall Guy Hot Wheels truck.

    Personally, I blame the players that can’t do squat. It’s up to them to win games. Not the scouts fault they suck right now. It’s not the coaches (just ask MacT).

    I also blame Kevin Lowe. He’s the top guy and the top guy should take a lot of the blame.

    Good read Racki.

  5. Steve-O says:

    I’m blaming Lowe (for past fuck ups), Tambellini (current fuck ups), players (play like you have a pair/give a shit) and Quinn (realize I’ll catch heat about this one, but some of the line combo’s/lack of line matching/personnel decisions have been just baffling (Stortini on the fucking powerplay)).

    As for players, I would minus O’Sullivan and Nilsson from your list, send Grebber Grabber packing instead of Gilbert and for sure send out Souray for anything (granted he will get more than Moreau and Staios).

    I reason that O’Sullivan and Nilsson are actual NHL players who you will need to pick up anyways (O’Sullivan more-so than Nilsson (especially since Nilsson’s skill-set is duplicated all over the lineup)).

    Souray goes for sure in order to pick up a solid 3rd liner and steady d-man. And to try and cover Gagner and Cogliano’s raises this coming year.

    By removing Souray, Staios and Moreau you are saving 10 mil in cap space (with Pisani coming off too).

    Ideally, we have the players for two top lines (one playing the power vs. power and the other playing cherry minutes), and we have a 4th line (Stortini, Poo, Other).

    Add a couple smart, cheap vets of the Betts variety and the forwards should be good in order to play better, and get the kids XP.

    On D, that leaves you with 71 and 5, 77 and smart cheap vet, and Peckham/Chorney/Petry/hopefully some other cheap, smart vet in the 3rd pairing.

    Goalie we are screwed until Khabibulin’s contract is up, but draft top rated goalie next couple years and see what pans out. (I would pick Dubnyk over JDD)

    Rambling, but I think I got it all down.

  6. neufab says:

    This year is a complete shmozzle at multiple levels. I wonder just how much Lowe influences Tambi. I would like to see if he would be as passive still without the old guard standing over his shoulder. The fall has to start at the top, and include the over paid vets.

    Quinn has not had much to work with. How many times has Quinn used the phrase “he’ll get a look”? It’s like management wrote this year off before it started. I’m all for evaluating players, but isn’t that the job of scouts? A good team would recognize that you can’t win without your top players in a league as good as the NHL. Only Penner, Gilbert and Cogliano have played every game – only 3 players. When your top players – several of them – get hurt, WHY NOT bring in some extra help… especially when you know they’re done for the year. Does management not want to win? Pretty classless or stupid in my estimation. As a fan I’m insulted!

    I feel for the players. If ever there was a year to bring in re-enforcements it would be this one. There were some decent complimentary players available on the waiver wire, but no, lets force this group to suck it up. If after 30 games management still doesn’t have a feel for the team, then maybe they’re not good at what they do. Should it take more than 10 or 15 games to evaluate a specific player? If they have star quality, you should be able to tell. If you have a room full of bubble players, maybe, just maybe you have too many bubble players.

    Not that I have strong opinions on the matter or anything like that ;)

  7. Racki says:

    NorwegianOiler: This is reactive, as usual, not pro-active. Isn’t it more interesting what will make the team better in the future? It seems like the organisation is doing like the fans, looking backward at ‘what went wrong’ and continually overemphasising or misinterpreting these factors instead of working pro-actively, establishing strategic initiative. We’re stuck with the feeling that shedding this player or that, this member of brass or that will actually change anything positively. Yet it won’t be until the organisation starts looking forward and determining what strategy is to be employed in the long term that we’ll see positive change. In the meanwhile the blame-game will buy time, but no results.
    I shall not even write those three letters stating, of course, that this is but my view……imo :P

    I fully agree when it comes to just randomly blaming people (ex. the scouts). But if you’re trying to tell me that Tambellini gets off Scot Free because there is no strategy laid out, then consider me pretty damn confused, because he’s the guy in charge of strategy…

    @Smokin Ray: I agree with your sentiments as well. As for the Fall Guy, I remember I had some sort of Fall Guy wind up Truck and stunt-jump set as a kid too. :lol:

    Btw, slowly catching up on the responses here.. so bear with me folks as I try to reply to all.

    edit: I have no idea why I capitalized “scot free” in this sentence, but I think I’ll leave it that way. :P

  8. Racki says:

    Neufab: *slow clap*

    Seriously, brought a tear to my eye. I agree with a lot of what is being said in here.

  9. NorwegianOiler says:

    Racki: I fully agree when it comes to just randomly blaming people (ex. the scouts). But if you’re trying to tell me that Tambellini gets off Scot Free because there is no strategy laid out, then consider me pretty damn confused, because he’s the guy in charge of strategy…@Smokin Ray: I agree with your sentiments as well. As for the Fall Guy, I remember I had some sort of Fall Guy wind up Truck and stunt-jump set as a kid too. Btw, slowly catching up on the responses here.. so bear with me folks as I try to reply to all.edit: I have no idea why I capitalized “scot free” in this sentence, but I think I’ll leave it that way.

    I am not exactly pleased with what Tambellini has achieved so far, but he has arguably had limited time. I think the accumulated frustration of going sideways (and backwards) the last years has spilled over into the cup Tambi’s holding as well, which isn’t entirely fair. I guess you can say I am still undecided.

    For me, blame goes all around, defining exactly who has ‘most’ to be blamed for is for me all too hard to say – the dynamics between the different pieces are too indistinguishable from each other.

  10. Racki says:

    N.O.: from me, I don’t think someone’s head needs to roll just yet either, per se, but Tambellini and Lowe are both on borrowed time here. Lowe for obvious reasons of putting Tambellini behind the 8-ball, and Tambellini for putting himself further behind the 8-ball (with the Khabi contract) and not working his way out. But if he can fix the problems here, obviously that changes things. I don’t expect him to change them over night. That would be silly to think. But I’d like to at least know he’s on top of it. Really, aside from the start of the season, he hasn’t show much indication he is on top of it. But we’ll see what he does at the deadline and before the start of next season.

    Btw, thank you for posting on the wall:

    Everyone check out N.O.’s latest post here:
    http://thewall.puttingonthefoil.com/2010/01/strategic-initiative-the-rebuild/

    I haven’t had time to read it because a bunch of people are hovering around my cubicle at work. Will hopefully be able to soon.

  11. chucker says:

    You had me at Horcoff.

    I was discussing this with a cat over on HF the other day. I suggested we go Cliff Fletcher on this team. He concured.

    Overpaid players, part of the assistant coaching staff (Bucky. Serioulsy. WTF has he done to deserve being here?), and Lowe. I’ve been a Lowe defender up until the Horcoff V2.0. V1.0 was bad enough. He’s not even worth half of V1.0.

    I agree on the core and think it’s not as desparate as it may appear to some of the more reactionary fans. With all those kids coming, plus whatever we can get through trades and some SMART ufa dollar store shopping, we can get this thing moving in the right direction next year. I don’t think playoffs, but I don’t think 30th in the league either. Maybe 26-22ish. The goalie factor and how Khabbi’s situation plays out is going to be key. If they don’t go and get a Price or Halak or Ellis then we’re f’d in goal. I like the Roy drafting, but he’s young and five years away at best for proper development IMHO. JDD and DD are likely not even as good as a goaltender we waived last year.

    I’d agree on all the keepers. Also, I’d recommend Norwegian Oiler’s blog on direction and philosophy of how to move forward on the OMB here: http://fans.oilers.nhl.com/topic/8136

    I think it ties in well with what you’ve written here Racki, but I think we need a canoe in order to do it NO’s way. :P

    EDIT: A classic case of not reading every post. Oh failure.

  12. Racki says:

    hahah, there’s a lot to go through. And glad that this makes sense to more than just me! :P

    I was thinking about Halak the last couple of days. I know you’re a big fan of acquiring him as well as I. But I was thinking in particular of a comment on the TEAM 1260. I forget who made it. I’m going to say Bob McKenzie, because I’m pretty sure that’s who it was. Anyways, he talked about how with Price, the Habs will give him plenty of rope. If he loses a game, he still has another game or two to redeem himself. With Halak, he loses one game, and he’s out. He cited a recent game where Halak lost a game in a shootout, allowing just 1 regulation goal, and he didn’t start the next game. The guy doesn’t get a lot of opportunity at all there. I kind of have to wonder why we aren’t offering a frenchman (Deslauriers) and a minor prospect to acquire him. I think Halak is a goaltender that has a lot of potential on a team willing to hand him the reigns. I want to have faith in Roy, but I don’t think we have any goaltender (Save for possibly him) that can really dictate a game. He’s also quite young and goes along with our youth movement and will develop along with the rest of the team. In 2 or 3 years we might have some pretty spectacular players in all positions.

    Just some more random thoughts…

  13. chucker says:

    Racki: hahah, there’s a lot to go through. And glad that this makes sense to more than just me! I was thinking about Halak the last couple of days. I know you’re a big fan of acquiring him as well as I. But I was thinking in particular of a comment on the TEAM 1260. I forget who made it. I’m going to say Bob McKenzie, because I’m pretty sure that’s who it was. Anyways, he talked about how with Price, the Habs will give him plenty of rope. If he loses a game, he still has another game or two to redeem himself. With Halak, he loses one game, and he’s out. He cited a recent game where Halak lost a game in a shootout, allowing just 1 regulation goal, and he didn’t start the next game. The guy doesn’t get a lot of opportunity at all there. I kind of have to wonder why we aren’t offering a frenchman (Deslauriers) and a minor prospect to acquire him. I think Halak is a goaltender that has a lot of potential on a team willing to hand him the reigns. I want to have faith in Roy, but I don’t think we have any goaltender (Save for possibly him) that can really dictate a game. He’s also quite young and goes along with our youth movement and will develop along with the rest of the team. In 2 or 3 years we might have some pretty spectacular players in all positions.Just some more random thoughts…

    I saw that on TSN basically same topic and it was Bob MacKenzie.

    It’s obvious that they want Price to be the new face of the Habs, but that has been spoiled by the great play of Halak, who they treat like a throw away until they really need to win a game. He does get pulled after every loss and there are two sets of rules there. One for Price and one for Halak.

    I agree though; Throw JDD and Pouliot/Jacques their way and get Halak. We all know they want to get rid of him at some point, and we all know they prefer french guys and overvalue them because they need them to please the fans.

    I’d even offer Brule for Halak, but I don’t think it would require Brule. MAP and or JFJ + JDD (All these french guys can be summed up in three letters :) ) and we likely get him.

    I really wonder about management’s desire to get him though. I think the want they tank to be more secured before moving anyone, but I would bet at the deadline they will be in very serious conversations with Montreal. If not they should all be fired. He’s young and good already. He could be with the team for potentially 10 years. This is the opportunity in goal they’ve been needing, but I wonder if they bite with Khabbi. What a terrible contract.

  14. MetalOil says:

    I think that it might be Price that they are trying to move.
    According to THN Price was one of the pieces in a blocked trade to TB for Vinny.
    http://thehockeynews.com/articles/31155-Sources-Lightning-sale-could-be-complete-by-end-of-weekend-Bettman-blocked-Lecavalier-trade.html

  15. zackman35 says:

    chucker:
    I really wonder about management’s desire to get him though. I think the want they tank to be more secured before moving anyone, but I would bet at the deadline they will be in very serious conversations with Montreal. If not they should all be fired. He’s young and good already.He could be with the team for potentially 10 years.This is the opportunity in goal they’ve been needing, but I wonder if they bite with Khabbi. What a terrible contract.

    Well as of now we’re only 5pts behind Carolina so if we continue on pace for the rest of the games leading up to the Olympic break we’ll be 23pts behind Carolina. I think the Oilers can pull out at least ONE win before then though. Even if they end up with five wins, out of nine, they’ll only be five points ahead of Carolina and three points ahead of the Leafs (Bruins pick) assuming that those team lose all of their games before they Olympic break.

    We are developing a safe buffer for top pick I think and once we are 10-15points from 29th then we may see some trades that actually may ‘improve’ the team.

  16. Racki says:

    Actually, MO, that’s a pretty good point. Haven’t read the article yet.. but perhaps they’re trying to showcase Price. They’re doing a poor job of it, I think, but it could be what they’re doing.

    Btw, typing up tonight’s game day thread…. damn I haven’t been this excited for a game in a while. The tank is on hold for me tonight.. kick those sonsabitches’ asses tonight!

  17. zackman35 says:

    Racki: Actually, MO, that’s a pretty good point. Haven’t read the article yet.. but perhaps they’re trying to showcase Price. They’re doing a poor job of it, I think, but it could be what they’re doing.
    Btw, typing up tonight’s game day thread…. damn I haven’t been this excited for a game in a while. The tank is on hold for me tonight.. kick those sonsabitches’ asses tonight!

    Haha really? Not too excited about this one personally (maybe because I have to work tonight) but yes it sure would be a good game to win…

  18. chucker says:

    zackman35: Well as of now we’re only 5pts behind Carolina so if we continue on pace for the rest of the games leading up to the Olympic break we’ll be 23pts behind Carolina. I think the Oilers can pull out at least ONE win before then though. Even if they end up with five wins, out of nine, they’ll only be five points ahead of Carolina and three points ahead of the Leafs (Bruins pick) assuming that those team lose all of their games before they Olympic break.We are developing a safe buffer for top pick I think and once we are 10-15points from 29th then we may see some trades that actually may ‘improve’ the team.

    That would be a nice safe buffer that nobody could change. I just wonder how the Canes will do once they have their fire sale. Lots of quality players there for a playoff drive, but if they don’t unload them until later, it’s moot as you pointed out.

    As for tonight’s “game”. This is a lose lose for me. I hate the Flames and they will likely win in a huge fashion as they do against us sometimes. I’ll hate both of those, but then again, we likely won’t get any points, so that will be….comforting?

    I think I’m in Bizarro world where everything is opposite.

  19. Racki says:

    Try and put the thought of tanking out of your head for one game, Chucker ;) Can’t lose them all, right? Well, let’s hope this is the one that they don’t lose, but at the same time don’t gain any ground on the Canes either. The Canes *should* lose to the Hawks tonight, anyways. A win will be glorious… a loss means the Flames sweep the series.

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