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.
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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.