• That’s when I reach for my revolver

    by  • April 24, 2010 • Uncategorized • 13 Comments

    I’m just going to excerpt a quote from the story on the Oilers website:

    “However, at the end of the season and for some time now I have been communicating our plan for the future. Part of that plan is to change the culture in our dressing room, and this is the right moment to bring a fresh energy to the medical, training and equipment area and Ken, Barrie and Sparky understand that. This has nothing to do with their work, their effort, their passion, or their dedication. We all know you couldn’t find three more hard working, dedicated or passionate people in this industry. I know that because I was a part of Hockey Canada’s efforts when we won World Hockey Championships and an Olympic Medal together with Kenny and Barrie.”

    I’m like a lot of people in that I have some difficulty in understanding why Ken Lowe was fired (although I thought it might be telling that Terry Jones got quotes from Ryan Smyth and Matt Greene for his piece trashing the move, but not Jarret Stoll, who was permitted to play very shortly after he received a concussion and then suffered another one) and I cannot for the life of me imagine why the equipment people needed to be replaced.

    I’d be sympathetic to Tambellini if, out of respect for the contributions that Lowe, Stafford and Kulchisky had made, he declined to air his grievances with them publicly and said nothing more than “We thank them for their contributions and they will continue to be valuable members of the organization.” When he says what he said about them though, I find it baffling. Outside of their work, effort, passion and dedication, what else could there be from a “culture” perspective? Do they want people in those roles who speak additional languages? Appreciate fine art? Are they not providing sufficient leadership?

    It doesn’t really make any sense. While I don’t really care one way or another who the equipment manager or trainer is, other than I’d like the team to have the best people available, and I have no information on which to base an opinion one way or the other, I am interested in this move from the perspective of what it tells us about Tambellini. In that sense it’s a troubling move because he professes that there were no problems with their work, effort, passion or dedication but seems to think that getting rid of them is a positive and necessary change.

    What I’m left with from having watched all of this is that Tambellini is either being untruthful, which is certainly a possibility although not the option I’d have chosen, or he’s chasing something that he doesn’t seem able to articulate beyond “culture.” Neither of these are particularly appealing to me, particularly because I have a hard time fathoming how the trainer and equipment people affect the culture in the dressing room or what skills Tambellini has to identify people who will impact the culture in the way that he’s hoping. I’m left with a strong sense that the GM has a bit of a problem with chasing rainbows, like he did last summer when he apparently concluded that getting rid of the coaching staff would cure whatever ailed the 2008-09 Oilers.

    I don’t think that this video came out of a press availability – it looks to me like it was done for oilers.com (I’d link but they’re a competitor). Hopefully whenever Tambellini next emerges from the Tambobunker to face what passes for the independent press (a collection of Oilers employees, people who are dependent on the Oilers to give them scoops, talk show hosts who refer to “reporting” as “leaking” and the odd soul with a somewhat independent spirit), someone presses him on this culture thing. It’s hard to imagine a satisfactory answer.

    * * *

    As long as I’m taking some shots at Tambo and the local media – this from John MacKinnon caught my eye in the Journal:

    To a large extent, the emotional reaction was another manifestation of the frustrated fan base finding its range. Last season, the target had been head coach Craig MacTavish. Sack him and watch the team improve, or so went the fans’ logic.

    Oops! Wrong target, as this year’s 30th-place finish graphically demonstrated.

    In all fairness to the fans who thought replacing MacT would fix things, although I wasn’t amongst them, you can argue that they did have one particularly august supporter: Steve Tambellini. When you, as GM of the team, do nothing more than replace your coaching staff and swap veteran goalies, is that not a tacit statement that you think replacing the coach will fix things? If it’s not, it seems to be a pretty spectacular explosion.

    I liked this as well:

    Well, certainly. But if Tambellini is going to reconstruct a winning culture, top-to-bottom, then changing the fixtures in the Oilers locker-room is a basic component of that change. Which is not to suggest, in the slightest, that any of the three men dismissed was contributing in any negative way in the locker-room. Far from it.

    Nor is there any suggested cause-and-effect between the 531 mangames lost to injury and the ouster of Ken Lowe. In the main, the majority of games lost this past season were either owing to traumatic injuries like Sheldon Souray’s concussion and broken hand, like Ales Hemsky (shoulder surgery) and Ladislav Smid (neck surgery) slamming into the boards, like swine flu taking down a handful of players, or both flu and mononucleosis sidelining Mike Comrie.

    No, this personnel change is part of a larger organizational overhaul that is not yet complete.

    They weren’t contributing anything negative but they have to go to permit a winning culture to be built. Forget fact checking and editing for grammar; the Journal have someone go hang around outside a first year logic exam at the University of Alberta and see if they can corral someone to check things for logic.

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    13 Responses to That’s when I reach for my revolver

    1. Mike W
      April 24, 2010 at

      Worse case scenario is that Tambellini thinks that firing non-essential cogs will make him seem more “decisive” in the public eye, which fits the Oilers quixotic need to make an off-season “big splash” in the last few years.

      What I find most disheartening is that I’ve simply never heard Tambellini speak in anything other than mumbled, contradictory cliches. And of course it doesn’t help that he’s simply replacing everyone with Hockey Canada cronies, an organization that is as far from a meritocracy as you can get.

    2. Travis Dakin
      April 24, 2010 at

      “I’d link but they’re a competitor”

      Ha you cheeky fuck.

    3. Deano
      April 24, 2010 at

      I cannot for the life of me imagine why the equipment people needed to be replaced.

      ummm… to show that Tambo is in charge and Kevin can no longer protect his brother?

      Moving down the org chart is not the right direction.

      Its going to be difficult to fix the problem in this organization when the problem is not allowed to be Kevin Lowe.

      I wonder if Joey Moss is preparing two envelopes?

    4. Woodguy
      April 24, 2010 at

      Why is Tambellini getting roasted for throwing people under the bus on the way out the door?

      What do you expect him to say?

      “The whole organization is shit and I have to remake every part of it”

      That would be great, but he still answers to the guy who turned the Oilers into a pile of shit, so he can’t really do that.

      It would also be really unprofessional and everyone would get all upset and roast him for being an asshole.

      I’ve written a few letters of recommendation for people I have let go. I don’t lie, but I certainly don’t highlight their faults.

      Why kick someone in the ass on the way out the door?

      Especially people who have worked for the organization for a long time.

      Maybe these guys were one of Lowe’s blind spots?

      I think its really tough to criticize this move, or his words, without more complete information.

      All he did was talk nice about people he just fired. Its not uncommon.

    5. Woodguy
      April 24, 2010 at

      That should read “NOT throwing people under the bus on the way out the door”

    6. Kris
      April 24, 2010 at

      “Outside of their work, effort, passion and dedication, what else could there be from a “culture” perspective?”

      Playing favorites with the veterans? Explaining to 19 year old kids that Moreau is the boss and you’re the “juice boy.” Pretending that the way the locker room works now must be the best way to do things because that’s how it worked in the 80′s. (I’m thinking “goat boy” and remember the 80′s.)

      I really think it’s stuff like that; traditions from the 80′s getting passed down and they pissed off Quinn. Indeed, I remember Quinn making complaints about how the stalls were hierarchically arranged during camp, or something like that.

      Of course, none of this means a lick to winning or losing games, but I think that’s it: Quinn and Tambellini think a lot of Oiler traditions and maybe some of the favoritism don’t belong in an NHL club and they’re trying to stop it.

    7. April 24, 2010 at

      Of course, none of this means a lick to winning or losing games, but I think that’s it: Quinn and Tambellini think a lot of Oiler traditions and maybe some of the favoritism don’t belong in an NHL club and they’re trying to stop it.

      I think changing the culture of the room might have some indirect effects, if it brings more accountability to certain veteran players known for their tendency to take ridiculous penalties and not own up to how fucking terrible they’ve been the last couple of years. Not to name names.

    8. Quain
      April 24, 2010 at

      I really think it’s stuff like that; traditions from the 80’s getting passed down and they pissed off Quinn.

      Last I checked Quinn had roster control and could certainly have benched or demoted Moreau/Pisani/Horcoff/Veteran01 if he was pissed about the culture of entitlement.

      In other made up justifications: Sparky slept with Comrie’s wife. Honest to God. Heard the other two watched. Explains everything.

    9. Ski
      April 25, 2010 at

      Really at the end of the day…they are gone…no one complained when the 2nd year marketing manager was released. Or the sales manager was shit canned because of the poor sales of high end corporate sponsorships.

      These guys are just part of the old boy network. Letting them go is a good thing for the future of this team. When you have such a prevalent number of “old timers” in an organization…there is always going to be problems with changing the culture. “Old timers” don’t change willingly and I’d bet that Tambi and the coaches see this as the problem.

      Good on Tambi as the culture of the room is going to change alot next year

    10. kinger
      April 25, 2010 at

      Who cares about where the stalls are located? I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t even be talking about this if the team was composed of legitimate NHL quality hockey players. It’s just a bullshit distraction.

    11. kinger
      April 25, 2010 at

      was = were and a = another.

      This software needs a goddamn edit button. Somebody needs to send off an angry email to those lazy WordPress guys.

    12. April 29, 2010 at

      Leave it up to 94 to ask about Joey.

      There are so many hateful things about this org that sometimes it feels like employing Joey Moss is the only thing that exempts them from total contempt.

    13. Pingback: There's plenty of reason to be upset with Oilers management . . . | Edmonton Journal

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