This is Gilles Meloche. He was acquired by the California Seals as a “consolation prize” about 40 years ago. Chicago traded a package of younger players for the Seals starting goalie (Gary “Suitcase” Smith) and one of them was Gerry Desjardins. All hell broke loose in training camp that fall when Desjardins showed up injured. The Seals (a poor expansion team) had no goalies while the Hawks had Tony Esposito and Gary Smith.
No fair! screamed the Seals, but Clarence Campbell refused to reverse the deal, suggesting instead the two clubs re-work the trade. The two clubs finally solved the problem when Oakland sent Desjardins back to Chicago for D Paul Shmyr and the young Meloche on October 18, 1971.
Meloche would prove himself a worthy acquisition, playing in over 800 NHL games (including playoffs) and spending some time as an Oiler (it was summer 1985, though. So he never actually played for the Oildrop).
Steve Tambellini has been the Oilers GM for awhile now, so you can imagine my surprise when finding out yesterday that no one said “GO” back on July 31, 2008. He’s been observing, like the French in war. However, rest assured he’s on notice starting today that things better turn around, because this time next year he’s going to be accountable for, you know, his track record.
If Steve Tambellini wants to impress the fanbase, he might want to start looking around for a goalie. With Nikolai Khabibulin injury prone and old for a goalie, with Jeff Deslauriers not stopping pucks and Devan Dubnyk not ready for prime time this team needs a Gilles Meloche pretty damn quick.
The prevailing wisdom with regard to these kid goalies is that you’ve got to play them in order to see if they’ll be any good. So far in 09-10, Deslauriers has a .896SP which ranks him 56/74 NHL goalies for the season; Devan Dubnyk’s .869 is good for 70th out of 74 goalies who have played this season in the show.
Haven’t seen enough of Dubnyk? Fine. Play the man. Still think Deslauriers has the right stuff? Knock yourself out. But I have to say that the confidence level fans have in regard to this organization’s ability to develop talent (which is different from the ability to procure it) is not high, and the goaltending mess is a perfect reflection of what ails this organization.
There’s not a sure bet in the bunch. If I’m Steve Tambellini, sleep won’t come easy in the next few months. There’s a lot of work to do, and it looks like goaltending is going to be job one; which is incredible considering the mess elsewhere.