The Oilers are en-route to their worst season record in Oilers history. The pressure is on from the media, and even fans, to secure that top pick. Tambellini recognized that and delivered a speech to the team yesterday in which he encouraged the players just to win and forget about the pressure on them to hang on to that potential #1 pick (lottery aside). I’ve given Tambellini my share of licks, but I also think that there is an unfounded opinion that the guy is a bumbling idiot. I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and just say that I personally think that the guy has a plan.
The tough thing for us to understand is that GMs have 3-5 year plans. They’re thinking way ahead, while most of us are thinking of just right now. Almost all of us want the team to win now and be in the playoffs now… and if it can’t be now “then it better be next year!”. Unfortunately these things really do take time.
It’s hard to visualize Tambellini’s plan. He’s made his mistakes (like signing Nikolai Khabibulin to a ridiculous contract for a 35+ player), but I think the right intention was definitely there. Kurtis Foster was brought in to help with our defensive woes, and turned out to be a dud. Ditto with Colin Fraser. He has also made some good moves, such as retaining Gagner, Cogliano and Brule with reasonable contracts (although their development seems to have tailed off), bringing in Ryan Jones, trading Lubomir Visnovsky for Ryan Whitney and re-inforcing our farm team immensely (who are currently holding down a playoff spot, BTW).
But really… what is the guy’s plan? Is it to gather up another draft pick? Or is it to create a winning team? Well, I think with this message he sent yesterday, it’s evident that he’s laying the bricks down for creating a winning culture. This team has been through hell and back the last four, going on five, seasons. We had some players here that were known to be bringing the team down mentally. On any given night there were a lot of “passengers”… guys that just didn’t give a shit. But credit where it’s due… just about every night this season we’ve seen these guys bust their asses, even though the results have been demoralizing. That appeared to change a bit recently.. especially in the last game, and Tambellini was warranted to call the team out. But anyways, it helped me realize a bit that his goal right now is just to create a good environment for these players.. one where they can develop their game and enjoy doing it. That’s been there most of the season and slipped for a bit.
As a fan, I’ve enjoyed watching the season because I just see it as a development year for the kids. I get tired when I hear people rant and rave about how big of a screw up Renney is, or Tambellini is. Just see this season in a different light.. it’s going to be bad.. but respect the players and coaches and general manager on the nights that the effort level is there, no matter what the results are. This team deserved to be booed the last game, but we’ll have to look past that and see how they handle things from here on out.
Tambellini does have work to do, and I am quite confident he realizes that. He doesn’t make any excuses about the bed that Lowe made for him. He did a fairly good job though of weeding out the players that didn’t want to be here. I think we will see the fruits of Tambellini’s labor a few years from now. Right now the masterpiece he’s attempting to create is just a near blank canvas with a couple of splotch marks on it. Give it time. It’s silly to criticize the guy too much right now (although that Khabi contract…) until we’ve seen the complete work. It’s a marathon, not a sprint…
BTW, today’s GDT is down below this post. Or just click here.