• Tambo and Newspeak

    by  • February 5, 2011 • Uncategorized • 20 Comments

    While I’ve got my doubts that Steve Tambellini has ever read 1984, his latest comments on Sheldon Souray display a grad student level mastery of the concept of Newspeak. Wikipedia’s got a good article on Newspeak – this is the gist of it:

    Newspeak is closely based on English but has a greatly reduced and simplified vocabulary and grammar. This suits the totalitarian regime of the Party, whose aim is to make any alternative thinking—”thoughtcrime”, or “crimethink” in the newest edition of Newspeak—impossible by removing any words or possible constructs which describe the ideas of freedom, rebellion and so on. One character, Syme, says admiringly of the shrinking volume of the new dictionary: “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”

    Jim Matheson has been beating the “When will the Oilers trade Sheldon Souray?” drum off and on throughout the season. I’ve been a bit mystified by it because the Oilers can’t trade Souray without him clearing re-entry waivers and if a team was willing to trade for him, one would think they’d be even more excited in getting him at half his salary with no trade value. Matheson went back to the well though and came up with this from Tambellini, on the possibility of moving Souray on waivers:

    “I would like to get an asset for Sheldon. If that’s not a player or draft pick, then the asset is the money we would be saving — half of what he’s owed,” Tambellini said. “If something doesn’t work out now, then we will try again this summer.”

    (Let’s just talk about how bad Sheldon Souray’s contract is for a minute. He has played 144 NHL games since he signed it and he’s been paid about $21MM so far. That’s $11.96MM per 82 games played. Rick DiPietro has been paid $22MM since signing his much ridiculed contract and played 159 NHL games. That’s $11.34MM per 82 games.)

    Back to Tambo’s quote. It makes no sense. If he has to give Souray away and pay half the freight to be rid of him, he’s not “getting an asset” – he’s cutting the Oilers losses. While cutting certain losses is always a good thing to do, it’s not getting an asset. That’s limiting your losses. As it stands, Souray’s owed something like $6.5MM. What Tambo is trying to do is turn a complete fiasco of a contract into something more positive by painting Souray’s (presumed) departure as gaining an asset, because they get “an asset” in the form of someone else paying him half the money he’s owed.

    Referring to the money you have to pay Souray if someone takes him on recall waivers as a sunk cost sounds bad; claiming that you got an asset back because you no longer have to pay him half of the money he’s owed sounds good. “The Oilers management doesn’t cut losses; they accumulate assets. Assets are good, so management is good. I love Big Brother.” Dystopian!

    Now one wonders: if you could get “an asset” by waiving Souray, why wouldn’t you do it? Well, Tambellini’s got a strategy:

    “Until I get a call from a team saying they’re interested in Sheldon, I won’t be putting him on re-entry (waivers). Have I had a call yet from anybody? No, I haven’t.”

    “If there’s interest in Sheldon, I’m sure somebody’s going to call.”

    It is entirely conceivable that it is not, in fact, the case that somebody will call if there’s interest in Souray. Consider the following situation: you’re the GM of another NHL team that could use a defenceman. You like the idea of Souray at half-price, although you’d rather not have the extra year on his deal and would prefer to just pick somebody up at the trade deadline.

    You can’t be certain if you’re going to get the guys that you’d prefer. You also can’t be certain that someone else wouldn’t grab Souray if he was put on recall waivers. I would suggest that, in those entirely plausible circumstances, you specifically wouldn’t tell the Oilers that you were interested in Souray. As soon as he goes onto recall waivers, you have to decide whether to take him or run the risk that someone else takes him, you end up getting skunked in a trade and you get nothing. Why would you force the “bird on the hand or two in the bush” decision on yourself until you had to?

    There’s another angle on this too. Tambellini’s desire for certainty that someone will take Souray if he moves him comes at a price. Souray is currently costing the Oilers something like $23,000 per day. In October of this year, when Souray was about to be sent down, there was some thought that the Oilers would sit on him for a year and then try and move him for something in the summer when there was only one year left on his contract. While I wasn’t wild about the risk there, it was an idea that I saw making at least some sense as a concept – the Oilers were basically going to gamble $2.25MM on being able to get something back – even if I didn’t think that the risk/reward combination made sense. There was at least a thought process that I understood.

    Judging by this story though, that’s not the case. If they’re willing to take the “asset” that they’ll get in the form of salary savings though, the policy of waiting until someone phones Tambellini and says he’s interested makes no sense. That “asset” gets about $11.5K crappier every day. By refusing to put Souray on re-entry waivers, he permits people who might have an interest in Souray to defer their decision.

    I’ve considered the possibility that this is all a clever way to try and generate some consideration in exchange for making Souray available – maybe someone agrees to make a trade that provides you with some marginal gain if they get Souray on re-entry waivers. That seems unlikely to me though – the Oilers have now paid Souray something like $1.5MM or so that they could have avoided if they’d put him on re-entry waivers at the start of the year and he’d been claimed. Whatever Tambellini gets in return for putting him on re-entry waivers now and having the right team claim him to trigger the subsequent exchange of value, it won’t be worth $1.5MM.

    There is talent on this Oilers team and you can see the possibility of good things in the future. Until they lose the inept management (and do something about Khabby, a by-product of the inept management, as well as address some of the other problems created by the bad management), their ceiling is going to be limited. Or, as Tambo might put it, a team that could be plusgood or goodest will remain as an ungood one.


    20 Responses to Tambo and Newspeak

    1. godot10
      February 5, 2011 at

      Souray has undermined his own ability to get through recall waivers by inviting his buddy Mark Spector to Hershey to observe the Ranger scouts watching him and publicize the fact.

      He still hasn’t learned his lesson about not using the media to get at Tambellini.

      Either that or Souray prefers a buyout this summer, and the ability to choose his own destination, rather than playing in New York.

    2. Tyler Dellow
      February 5, 2011 at

      I don’t think he’s worried about getting through recall waivers. I don’t quite get your point.

    3. The Other John
      February 5, 2011 at

      This is a followup article to the ” can Zach Stortini ” clear waivers story….right? Which, of course, was preceded by the can ” JDD and his GROSSLY bloated$1.05 m contract” clear waivers.?

      See the way to make that sound legitimate is to tell the favored few MSM that we are on ” pins and needles” praying that an Oiler asset (30th overall) can sneak through waivers so as to not to hurt our hockey club

      Other teams look and say: holy shit: the Oiler are now putting over $7.15m into the minors and why is it that nobody in the MSM in Edmonton is asking any, little alone, hard questions about the people that signed Souray, JDD and Stortini to these ridiculous contracts if they are unable to play at this level. Lest anyone think these contracts stand alone, our $3.75 m goaltender is functionally done and has, surprise surprise, 2 years left on his contract but THE OILERS MAKE NO MISTAKES.

      Apparently the mistakes are made by those teams that,by gross negligence, fail to snare the GREAT players the Oilers make available on the waiver wire

      I would pay a fortune to have ex Edmonton Journal sports columnist Wayne Overland write one of his famous columns where he called out Oiler management for their complete and utter inability to field a roster without gaping holes at a decent price

      Oh and by the way Steve ……. if you recall Souray on recallable waivers the Oilers get NO assets in return. if you read the CBA, which every one of the other NHL GM’s has done, you would already know that.

      Please advise where I can send you my statement of account for professional services rendered?

    4. speeds
      February 5, 2011 at

      Tyler’s article kind of mirrors my thoughts after reading the story earlier today.

      I was shocked when I read Tambellini’s first quote, the second quote by Tambellini you’ve posted, because I have been under the impression that EDM wasn’t/isn’t willing to expose Souray to re-entry waivers. I don’t really see how Tambellini’s “not til they call me” approach makes sense, so I’m assuming there must be something else going on.

      Why would you wait for a call from another team if you were willing to lose him on re-entry waivers? What would be the harm in exposing him to re-entry waivers and finding out, for sure, that no one is willing to take him?

    5. chartleys
      February 6, 2011 at

      My favorite book!

      I was actually explaining double think today. Too funny.

      when I was working in the states, the last couple years, I honestly got a kick out of how eerily similar things seem to be getting.

      Try and tell an American they were allies with Iraq 20 years ago. They absolutely refuse to believe it. It’s quite frightening.

      Funnier strange is how similar I found Cuban jingoism and media spin to their ‘polar’ opposite America. Oh and the extreme instances of racist remarks towards the blacker portion of the populance in certain areas…but I digress.

      I’m past the point of embarassed watching these guys get pass after pass on the question of their ineptitude. It’s past the point of embarrassing really. I always had some faith in Canadian media being markedly better than our neighbours but I’ve come to accept it’s failings are becoming similar. Toeing the party line on any oiler’s management related issues, completely giving all the candidates a pass on addressing the arena question during the recent election and the journal business section with lead articles that the real estate weekly guide would likely find too biased and dishonest to print…It just makes me laugh now.

      I watch this team moreso now because it’s impossible to look away. I’ve long ago given up facepalming myself over things. I just find it disturbingly entertaining to watch people reiterate newspaper crap factually to me.

      just like my time in the states, the only joy I really get is when I manage to flick a light switch or two on in the casual or lemming fan base and after thinking about what I’m saying they come back to me to talk more on it and start really thinking about it. Part of me honestly hopes the clowns are still on top to let this opportunity completely pass them by…

      Like always sorry for babbling.

    6. February 6, 2011 at

      I watch this team moreso now because it’s impossible to look away.

      Really? Impossible? I’ve watched less than 45 minutes of Oiler gameplay since the Christmas break ended.

      You’d be surprised how easy it actually is not watching this team play.

    7. Pat H
      February 6, 2011 at

      The quote from Tambellini reminds me somewhat of Lowe’s logic when he suggested that really, when you get down to it, the team acquired Penner through trading Pronger.

      Ridiculously illogical statements from this organization, and the Orwellian flavour to it all, is the norm.

      They want to get an ‘asset’. Nice. Lowe has trained Tambellini well in the adopting the party jargon. Jeez, can they never be just a little bit forthright about this stuff. Describe it as it is: a mitigation issue.

      Apart from all that, I agree with your position on why the team is in this situation to begin with (management, at least to some degree, brought this on themselves). I also agree with your conclusion in this post – if they’re really trying to do what Tambellini says they’re trying to do, they would have attempted to recall Emmanuel Goldstein long ago.

    8. Tyler Dellow
      February 6, 2011 at

      Part of me honestly hopes the clowns are still on top to let this opportunity completely pass them by…

      It’s a hard management group to cheer for. You know that they’ll be all smug about how they did it the right way if they ever do win anything, which will be insanely irritating. I can understand where you’re coming from.

    9. February 6, 2011 at

      I can’t visit HFBoards anymore because there’s too much rabid man-love for the current management team there, and daring to speak out against them brings the trolls out of the woodwork like you’ve never seen.

      I can’t understand how anyone could view the Oilers braintrust as anything other than a horrendous failure. 5 years out of the playoffs, 2 years straight finishing DFL (likely), and record-breaking levels of arrogance and swagger emanating from the front office and owners house.

      Orwellian, indeed.

    10. February 6, 2011 at

      Really? Impossible? I’ve watched less than 45 minutes of Oiler gameplay since the Christmas break ended.

      You’d be surprised how easy it actually is not watching this team play.

      I’ve watched maybe five or six complete or near-complete games all year, with a handful of other first and third periods sprinkled in. Having not much time and several other means of entertainment — including another last-place team that I pay cash money to watch, because at least I trust management there — the NHL has pretty much fallen by the wayside.

    11. February 6, 2011 at

      I too had been under the impression that Souray wasn’t going to be recalled during the season so that the Oilers could (try to) move the entirety of the last year of his deal in the summer. And honestly, I think there’s some chance that this is still the case and that Tambellini is simply lying here. The problem is, there doesn’t seem to be any incentive for him to lie about it. The best I can come up with is that (1) he wants fans to believe Souray is completely unwanted, which justifies the decision to have in the minors, and (2) he doesn’t want fans to think that the team is intentionally “wasting” the money it costs to have Souray in the minors. That’s a bit of a reach for sure, but we understand his comments as the truth, it’s not like the strategy makes a lot more sense.

    12. February 6, 2011 at

      While I agree Tambo’s stance is puzzling, it really is marginal value for the franchise either way. We don’t need the cap dollars next year (at all), and if we get an asset it will be middling at best.

      That’s not the stuff I sweat as an Oilers fan, what i sweat are the potential chance for the management to maim the potential ceiling of the franchise by buying high and selling low.

    13. Mr DeBakey
      February 6, 2011 at

      The “gaining an asset” thing comes from Burkie.
      I read a piece recently where Burkie talks about not trading Kaberle.
      The logic was that Kaberle situation is win/win:
      - trade him for an asset, or
      - use his skill until his contract is up, then gain his Cap space as an asset. That was the language he used.

      Tambo learned at the feet.

    14. Tach
      February 7, 2011 at

      “the policy of waiting until someone phones Tambellini and says he’s interested makes no sense. That “asset” gets about $11.5K crappier every day. By refusing to put Souray on re-entry waivers, he permits people who might have an interest in Souray to defer their decision”

      Isn’t the reason for this is that under Article 13.5 of the CBA he can’t be put back on Re-Entry waivers until he either spends 30 days on the Oiler roster or plays 10 games?

      Essentially Tambo can take a crack at getting someone to claim him on Re-Entry Waivers, but if he clears Re-Entry Waivers, he doesn’t get another try unless Souray spends 30 days or 10 games with the big club. As Tambellini has expressly stated that hell will freeze over before Souray spends another day on the Oiler roster, I can see how he wants to be damn sure he will be off the roster when he puts Souray on Re-Entry Waivers.

      Also, when you say they can’t trade Souray – you just mean from a practical point of view right? I don’t see any restriction on trading a minor league player.

    15. Hambone
      February 7, 2011 at

      I don’t want to steer the conversation completely away from the Souray issue, but what I would ask Tambo or Lowe is some variant of: “how come there are teams that were bad (i.e. non-playoff) for one season and managed to bounce back into playoff position in short order, and why is Oilers management unable to do that?”.

      I’m thinking of teams like Philadelphia and Colorado as recent examples, Pittsburgh a less recent example, with one poor season but a few astute moves to bounce back. Never mind the Detroits and New Jerseys that never miss the playoffs (NJ this season the only notable exception), and reload rather than rebuild.

      One or two more seasons like this one, and we will be in the murky depths of New York Islanders-esque incompetence and bungling.

    16. NewAlgier
      February 7, 2011 at

      Souray doesn’t count against the cap. I feel sorry that he’s not playing in the NHL (he should be, just at a lower price). I feel bad for his family. But Katz pays more every year to run his jet and hold the Edmonton taxpayer hostage. So whatever Tambo tells him only makes me laugh.

      • May 6, 2014 at

        Your average Leaf fan thikns that he’s going to a parade in June 2006 Ah, the perpetuation of stereotypes. How very droll. For the record, the “average” Leaf fan is about as stupid as as the “average” hockey fan of any team, so I don’t really see the need to single out delusional members of Leaf Nation. The kind of people who think Mike Ribeiro is a first-line scorer, or that Bryan Marchment still actually adds something to a team, or that the Canucks are one player away from winning a Cup, or that Doug MacLean has a keen sense for evaluating young talent exist in every city. So why the Leaf hate-on? We just have more sports radio call in shows to air these idiotic Belak-for-Crosby trade rumours than, say, Ottawa does. I can’t wait till Calgary officially runs the country so Cowtown can have a turn being the big market boogeyman.That notwithstanding, I remember when Cory Cross was kind-of, sort-of, holding out for a contract with the Leafs in about 2000 or maybe 2001. He took to practicing with the U of T Blues during his time off in the city. Word started to spread of this, to the point that more people (20) were showing up for Blues practices than would ever fess up to going to the games (6). A friend of mine was on that team, and he’d gleefully relate to me how the players were blatantly taking runs at Cross, or intentionally trying to deke him out of his jockstrap to see how they measured up to a marginal NHL hockey player.I think Cory Cross gets a lot of abuse because his parts seem so tempting, but their sum so disappointing. Recreational hockey leagues are full of people who are convinced that if only they had another 6 inches and/or 70 pounts, they could have broken into the NHL. Then they turn on Hockey Night in Canada, they see Cory Cross pulling in 800K for losing a foot race to the Zamboni and they think “What a waste!”I think that’s where it comes from. Cory Cross is far from the worst defenseman the Leafs — or the Oilers for that matter — have given regular ice time to in my time as a hockey fan. Generally speaking, he doesn’t hurt you in his own end more than many other players do (Wade Belak? Paging, Wade Belak?) But he has all the offsensive flair of a brick.People pick on him because of his unassuming, galoot-like disposition. If he was out there laying people out at centre ice, people would think of him as a physical defenseman who knows his role. I’m sure he’ll be a serviceable defender in Pittsburgh. Or should I say Kansas City.

    17. jimbo
      February 8, 2011 at

      think about the mess edmonton would be in if: they actually signed Vanek, Hossa or won the duel for nylander ( all Mr. Lowe’s deals) we have horcoff who seems to be given the birthright of # 1 centre and cannot be moved and several long term contracts for weak players like Gilbert. Worse than the team is cheerleader reportings like Matheson who cannot seem to assess the quality beyond his fogged up glasses. even when the oil win like toinight it is hard to get into the games cause you know in two nights they will suck again. we have had the worst GM in tha past 10 years in the league outside of milbury. yet in edmonton incompetence gets you promoted just like machoica

    18. Hambone
      February 8, 2011 at

      jimbo, I think I remember someone who wrote in to the “Ask Matty” column who questioned the competence of the Oilers management and asked for some accountability after all the dumb moves they have made, especially Lowe. Matheson said something completely dismissive and inadequate, to the effect that nobody else would want the job. Pretty hard to believe when you consider how few NHL management jobs there are and how many hockey guys are probably trolling for them.

    19. Precious
      February 19, 2011 at

      One season was sabotaged by Pronger (whose trade request triggered a mass exodus), two seasons by injuries, and another two seasons by a sensible rebuild. Along the way there has been a change in management, and an interest in replacing the arena which outweighs making the playoffs. KLowe took the team to G7 SCF, which many supposedly smarter GMs do not have on their resume.

      Tambi is running against the grain of why no Canadian team since 1993 has won the cup, and he’s getting crucified for it. Canadian teams are 1/4 of the NHL, ignoring the nearly bankrupt. Show me the four or five cups Canadian teams should have won over that time period based on spending and ambition. Anyone?

      I figure KLowe is a slightly above average hockey mind clouded by anger management issues. Tambi hasn’t done much, but he hasn’t screwed up the reload, either.

      I think our evaluations of Oiler management are clouded by fan hubris.

      Finally: Tyler, you really ought to be able to keep straight the difference between Oiler money and Batman money. It’s not Oiler money if Katz pockets the difference. Other teams closer to the cap count their coins differently. We lust to be numbered among them, but that’s not the present reality.

      BTW, DFL equated to DFF on draft day. We had a hatty today to prove it.

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