Tambellini fired… MacTavish takes on General Manager position, Howson to take over MacT’s old role

By , April 15, 2013 9:52 am
The more things chance, the more they stay the same.

The more things chance, the more they stay the same.

The Edmonton Oilers have fired Steve Tambellini as General Manager. In an ironic twist of fate, a man Tambellini once fired, has been named his replacement – Craig MacTavish.

My thoughts here:

1) Happy that Tambellini is gone. He did a terrible job. I think the “apologist” types would say that he was a puppet for Lowe and company. Maybe.. but if that’s the case, he’s really useless anyways.

2) I think Lowe should be gone too. Clearly he’s a part of the mess and isn’t doing anything to help. He won’t be gone, however.

3) I like Craig MacTavish. Smart guy. He brings a coaching perspective to this. He knows what made life difficult for him as a coach and will likely work a lot closer with Krueger.

4) I hate that we stuck with the same ol’ same ol’. OBC forever, folks.

Minute improvement, like much of what we’ve seen around here. But I’ll give it a chance.

Scott Howson will also replace Craig MacTavish as Head Senior in Charge of Waiting Around for Someone To Get Fired… or Sr. Vice President of Hockey Operations, for short.

Talk is cheap, but MacTavish said all the right stuff I hoped to hear.. much of it is in this big quote of his I put together from the presser (Read on):

I’m an impatient guy. I bring that impatience to this situation. And I think that we’re at the stage in terms of the cycle of our hockey club right now that we have to do some bold things. We have to expose ourselves to some semblance of risk to try and move the team forward in a rapid fashion.

My sense, my analysis in watching this team over the last number of months is much the same as a lot of peoples’ analysis of our team – we need greater depth; we’ve got a lot of great primary pieces. This has a little bit of a wake feeling to it, walking in here and I want to put that all behind us from this point forward. I think that the future is extremely bright with these young players, but we’ve got to add some depth. We’ve got primary pieces here, but we’ve got to add some depth to help these young players and help this team grow. We’ve got to add competitiveness. I think that we lack a true understanding, in watching our team, just how difficult it is to have success at this level. It’s an incredibly difficult league to win in. It’s as highly competitive of a league as there is anywhere.

Any time I ring the alarm, I know there’s 29 teams trying to beat my brains in. And we have to do a better job in arming the coaches, and arming the core group in that dressing room with a group of players that is going to go forward and going to compete to the level that – we all know that we’re going to get there.

It may not sound like it where we are right now, but make no mistake, we’re going to do bold things and competitive things to get us to a level where we’re not only highly competitive but we’re challenging to win a Stanley Cup.

More MacT:

I think it’s fair to say that there’s a very remote chance, that where we are today has anything to do with coaching. I think the situation that we’re in right now has to do… what we need to do is give the coaches better tools for which to compete at the NHL level, and that’s our objective. We’ve gone through 4 in the last number of years (Racki: 5, but who’s counting), so for me to say it’s Ralph Krueger’s fault right now would be extremely short sighted on my part.

I give Ralph a lot of credit for the way he’s maintained the positive atmosphere. I know as a coach that the one thing that you need is that you need energy in that room. And these situations, especially the recent situations, have a way of draining that energy that the coach becomes so negative that the team can’t respond. So I give Ralph a lot of credit for the way he’s held his head up high and kept a positive atmosphere. And I think, for coaching, when I look at Ralph, the first thing he does is start with a very realistic expectation of what everyone is capable of. And I think he’s done a great job with our young players. And if that’s a vote of confidence… that’s a vote of confidence.

Kind of a bit of a defense to himself there, as coach, but I think it was warranted. I think his experience of being a coach here is going to really help Krueger out. He should be able to bridge that gap between coach and manager that always existed.

Did the Oilers make the right move in firing Tambellini?

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24 Responses to “Tambellini fired… MacTavish takes on General Manager position, Howson to take over MacT’s old role”

  1. dawgtoy says:

    Presser at 10:30. This seems like putting lipstick on a pig. Change one face and anoint another. OBC must be removed. Lowe has made the playoffs once as manager, that team barely made the playoffs.

  2. Racki says:

    Yah, really.. it’s the same old shit, different day. I see this as a minor upgrade, but I will admit that I’m a little intrigued at the thought of a guy who spent as long as he did as coach here being hired as manager. It might provide the perspective we need. But it also might ensure this team is built up of Toby Petersens.

  3. hemmerlady says:

    I’m surprised. Thought there would be a lot more hand-wringing before firing Tambi. Anyway agreed I think the boys’ club has gotta go. Doubt it will…

    @Racki: lol @ Senior VP of waiting around for someone to get fired.

  4. Racki says:

    I listened to the press conference on this. I meant to record it, and transcribe the good bits, but my recording software effed up.

    Anyways, MacTavish is a damn smart guy. I hated him as coach in the last year because he’d been here so long and we weren’t getting results. In hindsight, he wasn’t given a fair chance.. the personnel was wrong. But he’d clearly lost the room.. the players bought into the media hype to can him, and stopped playing for him.. that’s how I saw it. So it was worth trying someone knew. As much as I hate the “old boys club”, I’m glad MacTavish is back, in a way, because I think he’s one of few guys in the management area that would know what he’s doing.

    I’m disappointed Lowe is still here, and I also question this Howson stuff. The Oilers need to think more outside the box here.

    Anyways, some highlights…

    One reporter (RJ MacKinnon from the Edmonton Journal, I think) asked MacTavish and Lowe the hardest question I’ve ever heard a media person ask an Oiler employee. He said something to the effect of: how can fans be reassured things will be different here if the guys that created the mess that put Steve Tambellini in a tough spot are still here (basically calling out Lowe)? MacTavish took it a little personally, and mentioned that he didn’t think he served the team wrong in his time here. However, Lowe took it a LOT personally and fired back, mentioning the team he built was 1 win from a Stanley Cup (“7 years ago” as the reporter quipped back). He mentioned that the team “chased the dream” for the sake of the fans for a few years, thinking that they could get back to that form with the team. OK, fair enough. He then went on to say that he has 5 cup rings, and knows a thing or two about winning. He was really spewing venom at this point and riled up. I’ve never heard a guy ask a tough question like that before.

    More coming..

  5. Racki says:

    MacTavish also mentioned that he puts NO blame on Ralph Krueger and his coaching staff. I loved hearing this, because I firmly believe this too. He mentioned that they are trying to make the best of the tools they have, but the tools they have aren’t good enough.

    He also mentioned that they have a great young core here, but the supporting cast is all wrong. I have been repeating this ad nauseum for quite some time. This was music to my ears.

    In other news, Anton Lander and Teemu Hartikainen are being called up to play now… likely to replace guys like Smyth who are “passengers”.

    The more MacTavish talked, the more I thought “this guy is a wise, wise man”. He is a huge contrast to Steve Tambellini. I didn’t think Tambellini was an idiot, like some do, but I think MacTavish is miles ahead of him in hockey intellect.

    Anyways, I wish I had more clips of this news conference. I was really impressed by what MacTavish was saying, but as he noted.. his performance won’t be judged on what he says here. It’s all about what he DOES.

    The important thing is it’s clear that MacTavish sees what is wrong with this team… can he fix it? I’m not sure that Tambellini fully analysed correctly what was wrong with the team… so I think we’re already ahead of the game here.

    Bob Stauffer has a feeling that if they have a 7-10 pick in 1st round of 2013, they will move it… if it’s top 5, they’ll hang on to it.

    I’ll have a big quote up next in a moment, when I’ve typed it out.

  6. Racki says:

    Here’s the meat and potatoes from MacT.. great stuff:
    “I’m an impatient guy. I bring that impatience to this situation. And I think that we’re at the stage in terms of the cycle of our hockey club right now that we have to do some bold things. We have to expose ourselves to some semblance of risk to try and move the team forward in a rapid fashion.

    My sense, my analysis in watching this team over the last number of months is much the same as a lot of peoples’ analysis of our team – we need greater depth; we’ve got a lot of great primary pieces. This has a little bit of a wake feeling to it, walking in here and I want to put that all behind us from this point forward. I think that the future is extremely bright with these young players, but we’ve got to add some depth. We’ve got primary pieces here, but we’ve got to add some depth to help these young players and help this team grow. We’ve got to add competitiveness. I think that we lack a true understanding, in watching our team, just how difficult it is to have success at this level. It’s an incredibly difficult league to win in. It’s as highly competitive of a league as there is anywhere.

    Any time I ring the alarm, I know there’s 29 teams trying to beat my brains in. And we have to do a better job in arming the coaches, and arming the core group in that dressing room with a group of players that is going to go forward and going to compete to the level that – we all know that we’re going to get there.

    It may not sound like it where we are right now, but make no mistake, we’re going to do bold things and competitive things to get us to a level where we’re not only highly competitive but we’re challenging to win a Stanley Cup.”

  7. Racki says:

    More MacT:
    “I think it’s fair to say that there’s a very remote chance, that where we are today has anything to do with coaching. I think the situation that we’re in right now has to do… what we need to do is give the coaches better tools for which to compete at the NHL level, and that’s our objective. We’ve gone through 4 in the last number of years (Racki: 5, but who’s counting), so for me to say it’s Ralph Krueger’s fault right now would be extremely short sighted on my part.

    I give Ralph a lot of credit for the way he’s maintained the positive atmosphere. I know as a coach that the one thing that you need is that you need energy in that room. And these situations, especially the recent situations, have a way of draining that energy that the coach becomes so negative that the team can’t respond. So I give Ralph a lot of credit for the way he’s held his head up high and kept a positive atmosphere. And I think, for coaching, when I look at Ralph, the first thing he does is start with a very realistic expectation of what everyone is capable of. And I think he’s done a great job with our young players. And if that’s a vote of confidence… that’s a vote of confidence. “

  8. NorwegianOiler says:

    To say it like Tambellini would. Am I happy Tamby is gone? Yes. Am I thrilled MacTavish got the job? Not really. Should the Old Boys Club take the fall? Yes. Is MacTavish a purely bad choice. No.

    Still, doing things half-way is the Oiler way. Years of half-rebuild. Years of promoting management from within. I am not entirely sure what to think yet, though.

  9. NorwegianOiler says:

    What I don’t like is the constant reassurance Lowe gives that we are “poised for greatness” as if time is the only factor. There are a lot of steps to be made to prove our worthiness. How about making it clear that we intend to work for this supposed ‘greatness’ we are so undoubtedly going to achieve.

  10. dawgtoy says:

    My 2 cents…IF Kevin Lowe will allow Craig MacTavish/Scott Howson to run the team, and make the decisions that they deem appropriate to make, then I like this decision. IF Kevin Lowe is in charge and truly the man running the team, then nothing has changed here today.
    This is a pivotal summer in terms of this rebuild. I’d say we see some dramatic changes being made to address depth and character, and some risk being taken to improve the team this summer. All indications from what I’ve read is this summer could see many team trying to make some fairly drastic changes to their lineups. With the salary cap coming down, the Oilers could be in an advantagious position to take advantage.
    I’m not a doom and gloom type, nor am I a conspiracy theorist, therefore I believe the senior management team is aware of what needs to be done. As aluded to in the presser they made the right decisions in 2006 and came within a period of the cup. They’ll have to duplicate it again this summer. I know we’re all hoping for the best.

  11. Racki says:

    I still think that there is some managerial group decisions, but I don’t really firmly believe that Tambellini was being pushed around. If anything, I think he was just too indecisive and not a risk taker, and the proof was in the pudding.

  12. Metal&Oil says:

    I’ll give the Oilers a 50% grade for today. It’s great to finally see Tambo hit the road but they have only gotten rid of half the problem.

    Lowe remaining here dissatisfy’s me and that’s magnified by his “There are two types of Oiler fans” comments. This guy must think he job is iron clad here. That’s gonna rub ppl the wrong way. It’s BS that he said something so stupid and untrue, especially with the Oilers looking for handouts on a new arena. Katz needs to have a private chat with him pronto.

    As for Mac T:
    In one way it really sucks that we go back to an BOTB memember in Mac T. The optics of that are not good but hey I’ll give him a chance, albeit on a short leash.

  13. John says:

    … and once again Lowe gets to sit in the back of the room with his glass of Scotch & point fingers…

  14. DropIt says:

    Such a boys club in Edmonton, I’m really shocked that they decided to go the way of MacT.

    The way that things are going, you would think they would go off the board and try to figure things out from another organization that has had some success in building around a young core.

    As a Flame fan, I love this move but I couldnt imagine how it would feel to be a fan of the Oilers now. It would be like Calgary bringing back Sutter, sounds nice but a pretty brutal long term move

  15. Racki says:

    I’m not upset that the Oilers brought in MacTavish as manager. I’m upset that Lowe wasn’t canned with Tambellini, however. If MacTavish was hired on as coach again, or was already a manager here, I might be upset.. but instead, I’m .. optimistically interested. Maybe skeptical, in a way.. much like many of our moves. Certainly not a home run, but I think MacTavish will make a better GM than Lowe or Tambellini did.

    A step forward, but perhaps just a Ben Eager for Mike Brown kind of step forward.

  16. hemmerlady says:

    NorwegianOiler:
    What I don’t like is the constant reassurance Lowe gives that we are “poised for greatness” as if time is the only factor. There are a lot of steps to be made to prove our worthiness. How about making it clear that we intend to work for this supposed ‘greatness’ we are so undoubtedly going to achieve.

    Well said.

    I found K-Lowe’s demeanor at the press conference to be largely defensive, arrogant and condescending. It’s that very attitude that gives the fans (both the “paying customers” read: season ticket holders, and the rest of us who apparently don’t count) grievance.

    That said, if a reporter basically told me: “dude you f&cked up – why should the fans want to keep you here?” I would probably get my hackles up. But if you can’t take the heat, get off the Bus. The “I have 5 Stanley cup rings” argument (sorry don’t have the direct quote) doesn’t fly with me. Sorry. You deserve respect as a player, absolutely, but that doesn’t mean you’re doing a good job of running the show, or that you shouldn’t be held accountable like everyone else.

    I’ve never gotten on the K-Lowe hate-on bandwagon – but really if you’re going to talk to the fans like we’re A.) stupid and B.) haven’t gone through hell for far too long, I’m done with you.

    /endrant. I also liked what MacT had to say. Let’s see if he can back it up.

  17. Metal&Oil says:

    I found K-Lowe’s demeanor at the press conference to be largely defensive, arrogant and condescending. It’s that very attitude that gives the fans (both the “paying customers” read: season ticket holders, and the rest of us who apparently don’t count) grievance.

    That said, if a reporter basically told me: “dude you f&cked up – why should the fans want to keep you here?” I would probably get my hackles up. But if you can’t take the heat, get off the Bus.The “I have 5 Stanley cup rings” argument (sorry don’t have the direct quote) doesn’t fly with me. Sorry. You deserve respect as a player, absolutely, but that doesn’t mean you’re doing a good job of running the show, or that you shouldn’t be held accountable like everyone else.

    KLowe probably thinks that all reporters should come in the Dan Tencer/Bob Stauffer mold(in the teams pocket book) . I mean who is anyone to question a winner of 5 SCs and a man who built a team that came oh so close.

  18. Racki says:

    Yah, the media has always been that way here… they typically lob all their questions in, Gene Principe style. So I was really floored when it was asked, but happy too that it was asked. Lowe was clearly surprised. He definitely answered the question poorly and was on his guard the whole time. I’d like to think that his days here are numbered, even if Katz is a big fan of his.

  19. Metal&Oil says:

    A real leader would have accepted the criticism and not had a blow up like that. It’s a bad attitude at work here. Not hard to see where the trouble of this franchises originate.

  20. Racki says:

    Metal&Oil:
    A real leader would have accepted the criticism and not had a blow up like that. It’s a bad attitude at work here. Not hard to see where the trouble of this franchises originate.

    Yah I don’t think he made too many friends yesterday, but made quite a few new enemies.

  21. Racki says:

    Elliot Friedman’s 30 thoughts for the week… his thoughts on the Oil echoed mine a bit. Particularly, he believes that Tambellini was allowed to make his own decisions, but Lowe/MacT weren’t on board with them, in general, by the end.

    He also almost repeated something I said verbatim (I only say that because I think it is just emphasizing how clear this was from the presser)… Kevin Lowe seemed to dwell on the past, while MacTavish was very much all about the future, and his comments were implying that the past is pretty much meaningless now.

    He also suggested that Lowe should offer up an apology for segregating fans yesterday. I’m sure if given a do-over, he wouldn’t have said any of the stuff he said yesterday about cup wins, and would have phrased the “there are two kinds of fans” comment way differently (or not at all). He definitely would be wise to apologize, but if I were Katz, I would say “Sorry Kevin, but we’re going to have to let you go… you’re too much of a distraction now”. But I don’t see that happening at all.

    Anyways, I think the smart media out there seem to be believers that MacTavish can help this team. I do too. The fact that this is an “OBC” hiring does piss me off, yes, but I think MacT can do this. I do think they should have fired Lowe though, and I think that is just a matter of time now. Maybe Howson, in the “waiting for someone to get fired” position, is being groomed to take over Lowe’s job. You know if Katz asks you “hey can he shadow you for a bit?” you’re job is on the line. lol

  22. hemmerlady says:

    dawgtoy:
    http://espn.go.com/blog/nhl/post/_/id/23413/oilers-dont-need-another-buddy-system-promotion

    Thanks for the link, dawg. My favorite line is: “If you think the Oilers organizational chart looks like one of those optical illusions where the stairs are both ascending and descending in a perpetual circle, that’s because it is. ”

    Good observation by Racki and Mr. Friedman about past vs. future. I want to see MacT’s self-professed impatience put to work.

  23. Mike CBW says:

    the Oilers will never do well as long as Lowe is allowed to lie to the forgetful fans every year without having to be held accountable… Lowe “knows a thing or two about winning” ??? 1032 games played – 436 wins ?? before this season started .. yup that’s right not even batting .500 and he wants to rub his 5 Stanley Cup Rings into our faces like we are too stupid to understand… He won those rings on the coat-tails of players like Gretzky + Messier + Coffey + Kuri + Fuhr + Anderson + Ranford …. his contribution was but a small piece of the puzzle. Lowe needs to go ( NOW )

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