Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On Kreuger and Some Thoughts On The Draft Schmaft

Ralph Kreuger gets the nod today and what is that now, four coaches in five seasons? A losing proposition for sure, teams that run through coaches and/or management generally are losing losers who lose and of course the Oilers are no exception. I've said it before, Scott Bowman and the ghost of Toe Blake couldn't get much out of the mooks management has given the coaching staff since 2006.

Next time its Tambo's head on the block though. MacT was at the end of a long run and said himself that he was done but we're talking about the third hire now for the GM and its his last one unless a few years down the road the club has had some success and it looks like Kreuger can't get them over the final hump.

I didn't like how the Oilers handled the Renney situation, they fucked him over pretty good but I really don't mind that they took this long to hire Kreuger. They had some candidates in mind, I presume, who may not have been available to interview until the playoffs were over (and yes as I said I am presuming here) so I'm not one to make a big deal of it. Of course if they didn't then lol and wow are these guys terrible.

They're terrible anyway but can't get on their asses when not merited, right?

As for the actual hire, I like it. As I have said before I think that you have a handful of great coaches, a handful of rotten coaches (Craig Hartsburg, Michel Therrien, Pat Quinn for example) and then the vast in between where there are varying degrees of competence. If you're coaching at the NHL level you're one of the best in the business regardless of how fans moan and groan but switching out a guy like Craig MacTavish (good NHL coach) for Tom Renney (good NHL coach) isn't going to make the Oilers a playoff team.

 Better players will.

 I am glad though that Edmonton did not go the route of hiring Marc Crawford or Brent Sutter, the same old same old tired retreads that seem to make their way through the league year after year. For me when it comes to a coach I'd rather go off the beaten path in the hope that you might find a topnotch guy. Is Kreuger that? Probably not. He seems like an articulate guy and he had success last year (very small sample size) and with the Swiss program. In other words I think worse case he is an average coach and maybe, he's better than average.

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

What's that old saying, sometimes its not what you do but what you don't do? Is that a saying? How would I know?

Its a sign of how little faith in the Oilers many fans have that no other team is surrounded by so much angst, rumour and innuendo and it all culminated last Friday. The Oilers were probably shopping the pick and couldn't hit the home run they would have had to hit to make it worthwhile and so they did the only thing they could do and they picked Yakupov. But oh the questions. Who did the scouts want? Who made the final decision? Did Katz come from on high and lay down the law? What media member/shill was in the know?

God what a circus. I presume the Oilers showed up to the draft in a Beetle and all piled out in clown outfits. Katz, his kid, Lowe, the scouts, Stauffer and Tencer. And Tambo riding behind on one of those tiny bikes, honking a horn. BWAP! BWAP!

Tough? Sure but they deserve it. Stop losing and then maybe folks will start respecting you. Losers.

So they got the one and only guy they should have picked at number one and as for the rest of the draft who knows? Tyler Dellow did his usual excellent work and so one is left wondering (as they did at the time) what they were thinking when they picked Moroz when they did. He may have been at the top of their board but of course it seems like a reach, especially when they couched it as picking complimentary guys for the talent.  Not the best plan.

But they are the pros, we're not and its not like this kid doesn't have some good arrows. Same as the next two they got and there Zharkov seems like he may be a steal indeed. When will we know? Maybe in two years. More likely in five, if then.

We still don't know how 2007 is going to rate so don't get your knickers in a knot lads. If they end up with Yakupov and another player from this draft then its a good one. Yakupov and two and its a big win.

So we'll see.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Choices



I spend a lot of time thinking about being a good father. I am of the opinion, which I have often stated here, that when you are a parent you have to believe 100% in what you are doing all of the time, that this is the best way to raise your kids. And with that said I think you should always look to be doing a better job. Does that make sense? No, of course not. Its because I have three kids and I'm exhausted to the point of a mental breakdown lol.

In any case I work constantly on my 'dad skillz' which rhymes with 'mad skillz' which they are yo. Yo yo. My big issue, for a while, was my temper. I have a bit of one, not vicious or anything, but just enough that I can blow my top when pushed enough. And when you have kids you're always getting pushed. I've worked at it though, I really try and remember that they're little and having their old man blow up at them is so counterproductive in almost every way. I can't even recall my Dad raising his voice at me once. And I'm a better father because of it. Calm, cool, trying to always remember that I'm setting an example for them and also that to a little person a big person going mental is probably a bit terrifying. Not helpful.

One of my big things when it comes to the kids is getting them to learn how to make their own choices. I want them to learn how to think critically and have perspective and all of that good stuff. Now I'm not one of those people who treats their kids like little adults because that's stupid imo. They're kids. They are literally mentally deficient and if you don't believe me you should hear my almost four year old, super bright and all that, talk to her feet. The word immature applies, you know.

But at the same time I want them to think. They are smart, all three of them, and so when we talk about sex I'm not going to talk about the wee wee and the pee pee and all that. I lay it all out there and I tell the boy, who wants to see the world, that he can choose to get his knob out there all he wants but if he's a dummy about it (or for that matter just plain unlucky) then those trips may have to wait or may never happen. And I tell my oldest daughter, who has expensive tastes and wants to open her own business, that both of those goals will be hard (not impossible mind but a lot more difficult) if she ends up as a teen mom.

They each get 5.00 a week to do their chores and its their money to spend (although we have the caveat that they must always have twice on hand as what they want to spend) and so they have gotten themselves DSes and the boy went out and blew a wad on LEGO a couple of weeks ago and quite often they have wanted something and we will make a deal that we will pay for part of it but they have to chip in. Sometimes they say fine, sometimes not. As long as they aren't spending it on the crank we're ok with the whole deal.

I give them as much information as they can handle (and they're sponges - they can handle a lot) and let them know that in the end they will have the choice, because that's the case. I'm not going to be there all of the time.

It might be fruitless but they're bright kids and hopefully they will do the right thing.

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

Finally finally the draft is here. One of the big problems with being an Oilers' fan is that the offseason starts in November pretty well and so you end up with essentially eight months of speculation about what has gone wrong and what needs fixing and how it can be fixed and the draft is a huge part of this, especially when the team is as shitty as it has been for these past six seasons (again why do Lowe and Tambellini have their jobs? My God.).

 So we have been talking about the draft since probably Christmas and its been talked to death. This will end this weekend and then we will spend a week parsing what happened at the draft as well as what free agency may bring. And then we will have a week to talk about the free agents and then two months to talk about the upcoming season and bitch about what management did or did not do to turn this sorry state of affairs around.

 It would be nice to talk about a playoff race one winter and spring and then about the playoffs for at least April or part of May one year. Fack.

 Now what I know about the draft is what most people know about the draft. Very little. I usually see a few of the top guys play at the WJC and in the Memorial Cup tournament. I read the work that LT does over at his site and I read various rankings. That's about it. I believe in a few ideas when it comes to the draft.

1/ You always always always draft the best player available. If you have a couple of smallish centres and decide not to draft Zach Parise because of this and then end up with Marc Poulot JF Jacques and no smallish centres a year or so later its what you deserve because you are an idiot. Don't draft for need because your need can change in a heartbeat.

2/ Don't spend draftpicks on guys who project to be nothing more than replacement level guys. Lets call this the Abney rule. Drafting a goon when you can get a goon for nothing at any time is ridiculous.

3/ Don't waste your high picks on goalies. Here's a list of the goalies who have been in the Finals since 2006 - Ward, Roloson, Giguere, Emery, Osgood, Fleury, Niemi, Leighton, Thomas, Luongo, Quick, Brodeur. Luongo and Fleury were high picks and a couple of others went late in the first round but the percentage of first round goalie busts, I suspect, is higher than the overall percentage.

4/ If you have a chance to move up to a higher round by packaging a couple of lower round picks then you do so, the math shows that as you go later in the draft the chances of picking a guy who makes it drops off a cliff.

5/ Go by your board but man you had better have a good reason if your board is off the board, so to speak. If you're picking a guy like Niinimaki in a spot where nobody else has him then you had better be sure that you are the smartest guy in the room because most likely you are not.

 That's it. Genius shit, right?

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

 I think the Oilers' amateur scouting has improved. I did a series of posts on the Prendergast era last summer and the end result was that I found the Oilers to be, imo, around 20th in the league during that time period with a chance to move up the list depending on how guys like Dubnyk, Petry, Peckham, Gagner, Omark and so on perform.

 Under the present regime I think they could be better than this. Of course there are the lottery picks but really where a scouting department makes its bones is after those high picks. We probably won't be able to judge Stu MacGregor for another decade really but for now the fact is that he has so many picks with good arrows, as LT likes to say. Many (most) of these guys will fall by the wayside (Ryan Martindale already has by the looks of it) but the reality is that things look good for the Oilers if you look at the kids they have accumulated over the past few years.

 The draft this week and what may happen has been beaten to death already, there's not even a rusty smear on the pavement where the horse once was. I once made a joke that the Toronto media would go through Paul Maurice's shit, trying to divine intent from the pieces of corn therein. Well so it is that the combination of the internet and way too much time to look at the draft for Oiler fans has lent itself to entire swaths of cyber forest to be clearcut as fans and media debate what will happen, what Tambellini's wink or Lowe's twitch or Yakupov's grin meant.

 What do I think? Does it matter? Do you care? Of course you do, this is why you are here!

1/ Every scouting service/draft list/talking head has Yakupov number one and then seven or eight guys in the next grouping. He is the best player available. This is the consensus. Unless the Oilers get a young first line centre or top pairing defenceman in exchange then they need to make the pick. No team is going to move that for Yakupov so really its a moot point imo. Yakupov is the best player available. Take him.

2/ Kyle Woodlief mentioned that the Oilers might be the first team to be disappointed at winning the lottery and Jim Matheson tweeted recently that second place would have been a lot easier for the Oilers. If Woodlief's statement is correct (and I'm not saying it is) then Oilers' management should be fired en masse. And Matheson is out to lunch imo. You know what's easy? Getting the number one pick in a year where the number one guy is a clearcut choice. Its like manna from the skies. The Oilers were both bad (they are exceptional at this) and lucky (something they often are not). Take advantage.

3/ No idea what happens Friday. There is a lot of talk about teams trading down, about a flurry of movement. Every year there is talk of a lot about a ton of movement and every year we are disappointed. It might happen. What I do find amusing is that four of the five teams in the lottery are probably four of the five worst clubs of the past decade. Definitely since the lockout if you were to list the top five jokes in the NHL you would have to include the Islanders, the Leafs, the BJs (lol BJs) and your Edmonton Oilers. The idea that these teams are all flailing about trying to trade down makes me laugh somehow. I can just see the likes of Yakupov, Grigorenko and Galchenyuk falling into the laps of the Flyers, the Bruins and the Canucks and going on to long productive careers. Haha. (sobs)

4/ Every year these is talk that its a weak draft and this year is no different, especially because so many of the big boys suffered injuries. I would bet that this year will be like every other year. Most of the lottery picks will be stars. One or two of the top ten outside of the lottery will end up being better players than lottery guys and there will be guys picked later in the first round and in the second round who will become stars. It happens every year, the business of selecting teenagers and projecting how they will play in the NHL for the next fifteen to twenty years is a crazy one.

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

So what does it all mean?

Well I think the Oilers should take Yakupov. They are thin everywhere and yes that includes on the wings, still. He is the consensus bpa. Not taking him would be pretty dumb unless you think you're smarter than everyone else. Having finished out of the playoffs six years running (despite spending to the cap many of those years) and 30, 30, 29 these past three years I can say confidently that the Oilers are not smarter than everyone else.

What do I think will happen? No idea but I think they take Yakupov. They love Murray but they are a conservative organization and I really can't see them out of step with everyone else. A lot of what we have been hearing is noise, some of it created by the media, some of it created by the Oilers themselves. I think they take the Russian and also that Matheson will, shockingly, write a column on how the Oilers desparately tried to move up but were unable to do so.

;)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fathers




My old man is going to be eighty on Tuesday. Isn't that something? He's still going strong even if he's slowed down a bit. He's not the man he once was but he's pretty damn close and all I can hope is that in thirty five years plus that I'll be carrying on like he still can.

 I've talked about Dad on this blog numerous times. You can check the tag on the side 'My Old Man' but here is one of my favourites. He's an old school before TV type of guy. He has what my friends referred to as 'old man strength', built up from years and years of physical activity and labour, enormous hands and popeye forearms. As a young man he played ball and boxed but his sport was hockey, good enough that he was scouted by the Wings and offered a minor league contract. He can play guitar and rebuild an engine and wire and plumb a home. He built our sauna and sleepcamp from the ground up. He prospected in Newfoundland where he shot a black bear then came into his tent one morning (first thing I grabbed was my rifle, good thing I didn't grab a frying pan he jokes) and started his career in Uranium City in cold so bitter that bare skin would freeze in a less than a minute. As a teenager he was a firespotter, working with a World War II vet who had flown Spitfires and whose idea of fun was buzzing moose and doing loop de loops in the Beaver bush plane they used to look for forest fires.

 He is a man from a simpler time when hard work and smarts could lead to an upper management job in a company where he started work as a surveyor on a construction crew. He's a guy who received a standing ovation at his retirement party, a spontaneous burst of affection that left him in tears.

 He's from a big raucous family that likes to have a good time and when we get together every couple of years he is invariably the last one of his generation left standing with the youngsters (as he famously said a decade ago at 3am by a Northern Ontario lake - 'everyone went to bed except me and all you young punks'.)

 Most importantly in a life well lived he is a good man and that manifests itself in his roles as a father and grandfather and when all is said and done there is nothing more important than that. I hope that we have many more years together and whenever I see him we enjoy ourselves immensely.

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

 Was on twitter some time ago and a fellow who goes by the handle of @67sound summed up parenthood thusly (and I paraphrase) - you'd better love it because the work is neverending.

 Its a grind is what it is, at least at times, especially when you're all in, as I am. There's no other way to go about it though and when talking to a cousin the eve of his marriage a couple of years back about family I told him what I feel to be true. If you're a dad you have to be all in. I knew a guy when we lived in Florida who would call for his wife as soon as the baby spit or shit or looked sideways. His poor harried wife wanted to go shopping with Jenn - her husband split on his boat immediately - and I offered to take care of their little guys. She could hardly believe it. I could hardly believe what a tool her husband was.

 With us there's no choice in the matter anyhow. At least two days a week and sometimes four my wife is gone before the kids are up and home after they hit the hay. I feed and clothe and change diapers (no more however) and pack lunches and run them to their sports and activities and at the end of the day I crack a beer and talk to them about their day and answer their questions and take it all in. It won't be long (our oldest is nine this fall) before they will stop believing that I can walk on water and will likely have little to do with me and while I know that that will pass I also know that these days are short and I'd better enjoy them while I can.

 Father's Day will see my oldest run a 5k that is part of a terrific program that she is part of called Girls on the Run. I'll be up early to go and cheer her on and then in the afternoon, depending on the weather, I am either going to have a nap or go sit on a patio and have a couple of pints. Its my day after all. ;)

 Then a steak dinner with the family and a phone call to my old man who will invariably forget that the phone is not a tin can tied to a string and will shout loudly enough that if I step outside I could probably hear him from 400 km away.

 My old man.

Here's A Model For You Numbnuts





Awaiting the first reference to the Oilers following the Kings' model.

Take me out to the back 40 if you do, as my old man would say.

After every season the talking heads, most of them dummies, point to the Cup winner and say, there, there is the model that everyone should be following.

So when Anaheim and Boston win then teams should get big and tough and try and intimidate clubs. Never mind the big tough teams that flame out in the first round or never even make the playoffs because they can't skate or play hockey or don't have future hall of famers on their blueline.

Detroit wins? Fill the executive suite and manage by committee. Like the Leafs.

Chicago or Pittsburgh? Tank. You know, like the Islanders or Atlanta. Also ignore the fact that Chicago was terrible for almost two decades before just sneaking in as their window closed.

Have key guys on entry level contracts. Right? Makes sense. If your big guns are cheap (Getzlaf/Perry, Toews/Kane, the Pens stars) then you can surround them with proven and pricey quality. Its a good strategy except Boston only had Seguin on his entry level deal and he was a bit player last year and the Kings only had Quick. So you don't NEED guys on their entry level deals although I would agree that it makes things easier.

And on and on it goes.

After the Kings won, a commenter at Lowetide's had a checklist:

Franchise goaltender - just like Carolina, Chicago, Anaheim and the Penguins.

Franchise defenceman - again like Carolina. Also the Penguins.

Depth down the middle - this, more than any other, makes sense. But all of these Cup winners had depth at every position. I would rate centre as more important then the wing but you're not winning the Cup without quality and depth  on the flanks as well.

You want to know what you need to win the Cup, well, its a special little crazy obsession of mine. If you come here often then you know what that is.

Good players.

You can draft them or trade for them or sign them or pick them up on waivers but that's what you need. Good players and as many of them as you can amass.

The LA Kings second line was Dustin Penner, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Their second line.

This is what makes me crazy about the Edmonton Oilers and their style of management. They discard useful players constantly. I'm not going to list all of the ones tossed aside since June 19th 2006 because I'm afraid the enormity of it would crash the internet.

And I am sure you are tired of hearing about it.

But to win the Cup you need to get into a position where you can win it. We might mock San Jose and Vancouver and Calgary but every year recently (though obviously no longer for the Flames) these clubs made the playoffs and with good teams and from there all you can hope for is some luck and some good health and then who knows ...

Good players. Nick Schultz is a good player. He is also a guy who the Oilers might have picked up (or an equivalent) without giving up another good player in Tom Gilbert. Ryan Smyth is a good player and yet he may be out the door. Ales Hemsky is a good player and yet he was almost sent away. When Dustin Penner was moved the Oilers were lauded. Yesterday Dan Tencer called that trade 'highway robbery'. A top six forward on a Cup winner for two guys who have nothing under the belt yet. I like Klefbom a lot but its this attitude that reflects why the Oilers have been a league joke forever.

Good players. Get good players. That's all that matters.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together - Two Silver Foxes




In an ironic twist just a few days after an extension for Steve Tambellini caused much laughter (amongst non Oiler fans - as a buddy of mine remarked, he doesn't know all of the ins and outs of the Oilers but giving a guy an extension after finishing 30th, 30th and 29th didn't seem something you could defend at all) and anger (amongst Oiler fans) it has become quite clear that the end game is now in place when it comes to our man Tambo.

Craig MacTavish is back with the Oilers.

Darcy McLeod, who goes by Woodguy, has commented a few times (including this past weekend at Lowetide's site) that Katz is buddies with many of the Boys on the Bus and it was his understanding (paraphrasing here) that the idea was that Lowe and MacT were to be given free reign to run the club some day.

When the club fell apart in the early days under Katz a scapegoat had to be made and so MacT was cut loose. Perhaps he was offered a role upstairs, perhaps he refused this role because he went back to school, earning an MBA. Then he battled cancer. His name was mentioned as a possibility in many discussions when coaching vacancies came up but his illness precluded these, one would think, and once he regained his health one wonders if the die was already cast for his return. Certainly one would think that if one had to choose between coaching and management one would take the latter path, especially when MacTavish already has seen how poor management can undermine any coach's ability to win games.

What does it all mean?

1/ Tambellini is next to go. Even without MacT's arrival this was the case but if this year, like the last six, goes off the rails, then Tambo's will be the head on the post outside of the city gates within the year.

2/ MacT is the GM in waiting. I have absolutely no doubt about this. Apparently he will have some say in the selection of the next coach. One might guess that he will 'recommend' the final hire. It will be his first coach in all but name.

3/ There were many who believed Lowe was pulling the strings all along ('Steve makes recommendations') - I'm not a big conspiracy guy but more and more I do think that Tambo is just another voice in the room here.

4/ The positive is if you think Tambo is lousy (and I do) then you can take heart in the fact that he will soon be gone.

5/ The negative is if you think Lowe is pulling the strings (and I do, to a certain extent) then know that Oiler fans will suffer for many years longer. Don't think so? Bob Pulford.

I think a lot of fans like this move. I do although I would feel a whole lot better if I knew Lowe were not going to be involved once MacT takes charge. MacT is a pretty smart guy and knows about a balanced roster, something Lowe certainly does not. He is educated, which is a nice change of pace. He is articulate and while plenty of folks didn't love him as a coach I think a) he still has a lot of goodwill amongst the fan base and b) after Quinn and Renney failed many saw that maybe MacT was not the problem after all

I think he will be a good GM. If Lowe were out of the picture I'd feel a whole lot better about it though.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

On Tambellini



When Steve Tambellini was hired I honestly didn't have much of an opinion because I didn't know anything about the guy. It was his first job as an NHL GM and so there was nothing to go on. Even with a first time coach you can go back to his record in the minors or junior. It may not translate well into the pros (hello Craig Hartsburg) but at least there is something. Tambellini had been part of Canucks' management for years and the franchise had seen a pretty good run of success, running from their dynasty in the early years of the new century to the present incarnation of the club. The problem is nobody knows if he had a single thing to do with this success.

 Tambellini has had four years with the Oilers and has just been extended for more than one year, although, its unclear as to how long exactly. Hall of Fame writers (lololololol) Matheson and Jones both figure three and while they are no longer in the loop so much their guess is probably a good one. Plus they are awesome writers and excellent observers of the good old hockey game, so there's that. Matheson is a gentleman and Jones lives large. Great guy. Hall of Famers.

 Lets get a few things straight. I don't have any personal dislike for Tambo just as I didn't have any for Kevin Lowe. (As an aside a little blast from the past the other day. My friend Ellen Etchingham (name dropper!) wrote a terrific column on this ridiculous CBC show, While The Men Watch or whatever its called, and in the comment thread, amongst the many well deserved plaudits, was a comment from a fellow named 'McLea' a professional crank who used to troll the Oilogosphere years ago. He is a typical troll, comes in, throws around insults and bullshit without a positive or constructive comment to offer, and his comment on Ellen's work was typical. Anyhow it reminded me of a comment he made years ago, probably around 2007. He said that he could not wait for the Oilers to succeed so guys like Tyler Dellow and Cam Thomson and Dennis King and myself could eat crow regarding all of the mean things we were saying about Lowe. I replied that I'd be happy to eat crow if it meant the Oilers were doing well but I was in pretty good company in thinking that Lowe would not be able to make it happen. And here we are years later, still waiting. Haha.)

 Anyways while I have little use for Tambo and the rest of the muttonheads running the good ship Oiler aground year after year I would be more than happy, ecstatic in fact, if this all turns out well, and Mike Winters is, after all, correct.

 I have no personal axe to grind with the man. I am sure that he is a decent guy. He struggles in front of the cameras and in a world where anyone can turn a stumble into a gif or a mocking rap it makes him an easy target but at times, like earlier this week when he talked to Greg Brady, he can come across as a guy who (gasp) has a plan and a proper idea of what he is doing.

 Now we don't know what goes on behind the scenes but I think we can accept the following as fact, yes?

1/ In 2006 the Oilers were, like LA, better than your usual 8th seed, done in by poor goaltending all year long, but once they snuck by Detroit they were full value for their march through the playoffs. They had a very good team: Roloson, Pronger, Smith, Staios, Spacek, Tarnstrom, Smyth, Horcoff, Dvorak, Samsonov, Peca, Pisani and Moreau were all veteran guys who ranged from superstar to excellent checker. Plus they had Hemsky, Stoll and Torres, three younger guys who could all play as well. That's a damn good team.

2/ Lowe, who had put this team together, destroyed it pretty quickly. Some left as free agents, others were traded. Out of the thirteen vets listed above by the following summer only five remained and, most importantly, none had been replaced by equivalent players until Lowe went out and signed Souray and Penner.

3/ And this is where it all goes off the rails. For the next couple of years Lowe alternates between bringing in kids and assets (Smid, Lupul, Pitkanen, Eberle, Nilsson, Plante, Nash), spending kids and assets (the picks for Penner, the possible picks for Vanek, Stoll and Greene, Pitkenen, Lupul) and bringing in older guys like Cole, Visnovsky and Souray. Just an absolute mess and disastrous any way you look at it.A very good team is dismantled but its not a rebuild, except when it is. The end result is a team with not enough good players and lost season after lost season. The development of young guys thrown to the wolves is botched. The team spends a ton of money and is terrible.

And this is where Tambo comes in.

Much like Lowe you can look at most of his moves and rationalize how somehow they made sense at the time. Brodziak was redundant because of Pouliot. Grebeshkov is in Russia anyhow. Katz was the guy behind the pursuit of Khabibulin and Heatley and so on.

The problem for Tambo supporters (and there are still folks out there who believe in the guy because THE OILERS CAN DO NO WRONG I guess) is that his record is just abysmal. It really is. Being a GM you need to do a couple of things. You need to be able to evaluate talent and then you need to make bets on that that. Sometimes you get lucky with those bets (Stan Bowman figuring his team was good enough that they could win with Niemi as their number one goalie) and the good GMs, well, the good GMs lose some bets (they all do), but they tend to win a lot more than they lose. And then they win a Cup. Or Cups. And they contend year after year.

 The naysayers, many of these Tambo supporters, say that Holland and Shero and Chiarelli all got lucky. And of course they all did. But these guys and others (Doug Wilson, Lou, Mike Gillis) are good at what they do and the proof is in the Cups and the years where they have been in the mix. Luc Robitaille said it very well last night (paraphrasing) - 'We want to be in a position where we are good every year. A lot of those years you might not win. You might not be good enough, Or you might get unlucky. But if you're good then at least you have a chance). Of course you might end up like the Sharks or Sens or (maybe) the Canucks and not win but the truth is that the smart fan will recognize that all of these teams might have won and might have with a bounce here or there. Which is better? That or the life of the fan of the Oilers or the Leafs who likes to poke fun at these 'losers'. As Tyler likes to say, excuse me while I get my revolver. /spins chamber

 Since 2006 you could count the meaningful games played by the Oilers on one hand.

 Back to Tambo. You have the move of Cole for O'Sullivan and a 2nd, an aging UFA for a kid and a pick but then, then, that pick gets flipped for Kotalik in an attempt to make the playoffs. Khabibulin gets signed, so does Quinn and the Oilers try to move Smid, Cogliano and Penner for Heatley. Luckily (at the very least for Smid) Heatley balks but again we have that move kids out/bring kids in thing going on.

 And here is why Tambo should not have gotten that extension. Right here. This is a guy who thought this was a playoff team, who spent to the cap, and the club finished dead last. There were injuries sure but think about that.

 Cap team.

 Dead last.

 Your GM has to be able to evaluate talent.

 That was the result.

 Since then Tambo has torn it down and he has shown that a) he can pick the BPA when he has the first pick overall and b) he can put a really bad team together

 It appears that the amateur scouting is on track and the organization as a whole, from the minors on up, is more professional and successful. Of course when you are coming from nothing ....

 Sorry I promised I would be nice.

 But here is the issue, again.

 This is a building club yet kids like Omark, Paajarvi, Peckham, Dubnyk have sat down in place of veterans.

 Tambo's job is to evaluate talent. Yet he trades his best defenceman for a defenceman (a good player mind) who doesn't have the same toolbox and is older and has more miles on him to boot. He signs Ben Eager and Eric Belanger to three year deals. He signs Cam Barker. He extends Andy Sutton to a contract at probably twice his worth. He trades Visnovsky for a younger Dman (good) who has injury issues (who saw that coming? Everyone but Tambo) and watches Lubo put up an all star season while Whitney's career may be over due to his chronic injuries. And there is the Khabi contract.

 And his team finishes 30th, 30th and 29th, despite adding Eberle, Hall and Nugent Hopkins.

 My fear about Tambo is he has that HNIC mentality. What I mean by that is he thinks, I think, like Stock and Weekes and Healy and Cherry and all the other moops on that once great show. You need that intangible grit, that character, that heart. It was Shawn Thornton who won the Cup for the Bruins, not Bergeron and Krejci and Chara and Thomas and a run of brutal injuries for the Canucks. A guy like Kovalchuk doesn't care about winning, same as Hemsky, never mind that they play through vicious injuries that would leave all of the internet tough guys whining and whimpering on their couches, shitting themselves from the pain.

 Saw an interesting exchange on Twitter yesterday, the usual, some dim bulb going on about how Tom Gilbert was a pussy who never blocked a shot, the same 'soft player' who finished 11th, 32nd, 10th and 4th in the league in blocked shots. Some soft player, right? But these are the guys who love Tambo, who think Peckham is good. And Barker. And that Eager and Hordichuk should play more and Hemsky and Smyth should get moved as quickly as possible. Guys who don't even know basic facts. And there's a lot of them out there.

 And I think that Tambo may have that same juvenile mind. The obsession with tough Western Canadian kids with pedigree, high picks with links to the World Juniors. The thought that 'toughness' counts way more than having, you know, good hockey players.

 I don't know how four years like the Oilers just had get the GM an extension. I really don't. Its been the worse four years in franchise history. The team has been out of the playoffs for six years now and dead last two of the past three years. At least this year they jumped a spot.

 Its so horrible. But we're stuck with him. Maybe this summer he signs or trades for two good defencemen and another goalie and a couple of strong two way forwards with some size.

 But probably not. And maybe its best that he stays the course because that will mean another lottery pick, no bad contracts and one year closer to his firing.

 I just want the best for the club and if Tambo is the man, awesome. But it isn't.