Bang the Drum Slowly

At this point in time Kevin Lowe appears to be the hockey equivalent of Bruce Pearson. And just like Pearson (played by DeNiro in the movie) I suspect the audience will go from disdain to teary-eyed by the time this is over.

Kevin Lowe’s reputation as a hockey player is in the history books. A terrific defender who played with passion and was a winner on all levels. His career stopped short of the Hall of Fame, but no one can really argue that he was one of the very best defenders in this team’s history.

After the SC run last spring, Lowe seemed to be on top of the world. He had traded for Chris Pronger and Mike Peca, then made some terrific moves at the deadline and then watched as the Oilers came within a heartbeat of the Stanley.

After the season come to find out that Pronger wanted out, and Peca would not return. Lowe’s dealing of Chris Pronger and the disastrous impact of subtracting one of the very best players in the game for two young and struggling talents and some draft picks was made worse by an inability to add a veteran defenseman at any time during the 12 months following (and I’m not counting Tjarnqvist, Hejda or Smid because we all know this team needed a veteran defender).

This summer has been a disaster save for the very nice Joni Pitkanen deal. That trade resets the blueline and gives Edmonton a chance to have a quality blueline in the fall (should they decide to sign Danny Markov, as an example).

Michael Nylander’s fiasco, the Vanek offer sheet, the invite to two writers to his home for confession (TELL me the Oilers PR department knew about that, just go ahead and tell me) all add up to a man under pressure and making some unusual decisions.

Now, the shots are beginning to come from other sources. In today’s Edmonton Journal, Georges Laraque grabs a kitchen knife and cuts deeply: “Guys are asking what’s going on in Edmonton in terms of management. You look at the Comrie saga, the Pronger saga. There’s drama. The NHL is a big family. We all know each other. When players have to make a choice, they don’t want to be a part of something that might turn into a drama. Mike Peca. Joffrey Lupul. It seems every year there is a drama that goes around the league. It’s like a soap opera. The unrestricted free agents, the 30-year olds, a lot of them want to avoid it.”

Larry Brooks in today’s New York Post: “If Lowe truly was interested in winning and was willing to take the personal out of it in order to achieve that objective, the GM would have gone straight after Henrik Lundqvist with a Group II offer sheet of $9 million per that would have forced the Rangers to dismantle their projected roster in order to match. But Lowe didn’t go after the best player on the market and he didn’t go after the most cap-vulnerable franchise in the NHL. He didn’t do that because of his longtime friendship with Glen Sather, that’s why he didn’t do it, and everyone knows it.”

Now there’s lots of stuff in there that is completely unfair. There was no Joffrey Lupul drama, in fact I suspect most of us are stunned he got value for Lupul after the season just past. If Lupul scores 35 goals this season, it would still be impossible to blame management for dealing him based on this past year.

Also, Brooks is completely wrong with regard to the Ranger goalie. The Oilers don’t need a goalie, which Brooks claims in a sweeping statement (“the Oilers are questionable in nets”) and adding a $9M goalie for this team is ridiculous.

None of it matters. The word is out. Kevin Lowe is fair game. I said in the spring he probably wouldn’t be renewed and find himself bumped upstairs or helping out in Phoenix.

Now I’m not so sure. Kevin Lowe might not last the summer.

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55 Responses to "Bang the Drum Slowly"

  1. jerk clown says:

    Larry Brooks is an idiot, but that’s beside the point.

    Interesting read LT, but can’t see him getting sacked. After all, you think we look panicked and desperate now? What will it look like if we fire our GM now?

  2. Lowetide says:

    jc: A new GM means a fresh start. Oiler fans are beginning to turn on a legend (even in EDM) and the EIG is going to have to address this soon.

    My own opinion is that when Nichols threw Lowe under the bus (“I wouldn’t have traded Chris Pronger”) that Lowe would not be renewed next spring when his contract runs out.

    Now I don’t think he makes it that far. The EIG can go through the process or they can keep Lowe as a lame duck, but honestly it seems to me that the ownership group must be watching this and thinking “this is hurting our brand.”

    I don’t know, maybe he can hit a home run. But these are pretty dark days.

  3. Black Dog says:

    Reading the papers online yesterday LT I noticed a real turn – Terry Jones and MacKinnon both had some pretty harsh words for Lowe. It made me stand up and take notice; looks like the free ride he has had is over.

    If he had only added a veteran Dman last summer one wonders how it would have all turned out differently.

  4. Andy Grabia says:

    Terry Jones and MacKinnon both had some pretty harsh words for Lowe.

    They should have harsh words for themselves. Both supported the Smyth deal. In fact, every media guy who covers the Oilers did, other than Barnes and certain very intelligent hockey bloggers (cough, not Pat). :)

  5. jerk clown says:

    LT: I understand the temptation to have a “fresh start”…in fact I was commenting to a Leafs fan (“friend”) the other day that I can’t remember a rougher 12-14 months (since Game 7) since the days when Kevin Todd was roaming the first line. But that’s just it…it’s been 12 months. I know it feels like 5 years, and I know I am in the minority on this one, but I actually think the guy is a good GM.

    Winning cures all (usually) and I think the guy deserves a chance to right the ship (I know he steered it off course himself). Lastly, and I know it doesn’t mean much under the circumstances, but he cares about this franchise like nobody else. The next guy through the door might not. Do you want a re-gurge like Mike Smith? Or Mike Keenan running your franchise? An asset stripping, win now type who is looking out for his own career and not the best interest of the franchise long-term? It’s always a danger that could happen.

    Face it, Edmonton is now, and for the forseeable future, will be a club with an us vs. them foxhole mentality – with the geography problems and media perception becoming reality now, you need people that care about this city.

  6. godot10 says:

    One bad year would be a stupid reason for Lowe to be fired or to quit.

    The Oilers could use one more veteran forward.

    Last year, the lack of one more defenseman, the injury to Moreau, and the attempt add skill confused the Oilers identity. Plus other GM’s stopped trading.

    Because of the Oilers challenges, MacT will be much more clear about the way the Oilers have to play this year to be competitive from day one. And well, Kevin is slowly figuring out how to operate under the new CBA.

    One more veteran forward would be nice.

    All last year means is that the Oilers are in much more of a rebuilding mode than us fans would have hoped considering we had reached the Stanley Cup Finals just a little over a year ago.

    Stuff happens. Teams rebuild.

    Pronger’s wife not wanting to live in Edmonton was the beginning of the year of woe. Nylander’s wife not wanting to live in Edmonton was the end of the year of woe.

    Last year the Oilers were wandering about in the desert. The year of being lost is over and done with. Us fans, as much as Lowe and MacT have to get over it, and get back to business.

    It was a year from hell. Don’t make it more than that. It’s over.

  7. mc79hockey says:

    I’m kind of at a loss here as to what to do with Lowe. A week ago, I was all for canning him. Since then though, it seems to me like he’s had a lot of the things that were predicted by a lot of the people to whom I pay attention kind of driven home to him, to the point that I wonder if he gets it now. The past week, with the trading of Lupul, the acknowledgment of the Smyth error, the RFA run (which I endorse) and the realization that UFA’s aren’t going to be lining up to come to Edmonton…as bitter a pill as that is and as irritating as it is that it had to come to this, it kind of seems to me that there’s been a recognition of all the errors, a recognition that the plan hasn’t worked and, hopefully, a willingness to become a more creative organization.

    As a result of all this, I’m no longer nearly as certain that Lowe needs to go. What I think that the Oilers should do, what they need to get, is a guy from outside their organizational bubble to replace Howson. Someone who’s willing to play devil’s advocate on proposed moves and someone with an ability to think outside the box. For the all of the criticism of the Pronger deal – and I’ve been as critical of it as anyone else – GM’s make mistakes from time to time. Lowe made a gruesome one there but that in and of itself, particularly when compared to his track record doesn’t need to be a firing offence.

    This is all conditioned on the Oilers having realized that their old ways won’t work anymore but if Lowe has accepted that and is more open to trying different things, I’m less certain that he needs to go. I think that hiring someone to replace Howson is essential though.

  8. Mr DeBakey says:

    When discussing Lowe’s performance,
    the unknown is the role of the EIG’s budget committee.

    If he hadn’t thought he was dealing with a salary ceiling of $40 last year,
    $43 this coming year,
    would he have made different, smrter, decisions?

  9. Gret99zky says:

    //Because of the Oilers challenges, MacT will be much more clear about the way the Oilers have to play this year to be competitive from day one. And well, Kevin is slowly figuring out how to operate under the new CBA.//

    I gotta agree with this. Last year Mac T and KL figured we traded Pronger for the “vaunt” and it didn’t pan out. (vaunt to naunt, I loved that…) Coupled with injuries to key players, the whole season up to the deadline was a halucination filled with blur.

    This year it is up to Mac T to be more creative with his players and get a system in place that will help the team stay in the race. Win at any cost! If this team is so surrounded by “drama” let’s make it work for us ala Charlestown Chiefs. Get an Ogie on the team. Get into an on air battle with Buffalo. Maybe the Eastern teams will change the schedule just for a chance to bash out heads in. If we really wanna mix shit up, go after Lou in NJ or JFJ in TO. That will create some drama.

    I don’t think firing Lowe is the answer right now. After his offer sheet to Vanek every team in the league is talking about us. We got everyone’s attention now. Let’s take a sledgehammer to the bus, moon everyone on the way into town, and put a bounty on the captain’s head. Stauffer would give us the airtime!

  10. mike says:

    Kevin Lowe was my favourite GM in hockey last year, and he is most certainly my favourite GM now.

    It’s interesting how this guy has reacted to the difficult situations he faced. I’m into hockey for entertainment, and lately this team has certainly been that.

    First off, I think the Smyth deal was great. Smitty is 30+, married, and well on the way to fat and happy.

    Vanek is 23, has scored at all levels and hasn’t won anything. Vanek is hungry. Smitty is getting laid way too often to be hungry. He’s settling down. He’s done.

    Second, I don’t think Lowe is trying to shake up the RFA game, I think he’s soliciting/guaranteeing future offers for Hemsky et al which he can match and prevent the UFA status for a guy (like smitty) who just won’t sign until the very last minute, thereby creating great drama, but not much for team unity.

    Last year Edm lost to Anaheim, Vancouver, Detroit, Nashville, and San Jose, on the road, by one goal each. In each game, the shots were close and at least one favoured Edm, but I forget which cause I didn’t look it up.

    I think we have a stellar franchise now, one that needs very little tinkering, save a one touch scoring forward whom Lupul was supposed to be.

    They only need to make the tournament and KL has time to pull it off.

    And thanks Lowetide for a great week of copy. I’ve just discovered this site recently and enjoy your blogs the best.

  11. Bendelson says:


    Your way off base stating Smytty is ‘getting laid to much to be hungry’. He has been married for years to my knowledge, and his effort and professionalism is second to none. The danger in signing him long-term was injuries and what role they will play in the latter stages of his career.

    It sounded like you were questioning Smytty’s desire to play hockey and win a cup – and if you ARE questioning that – you are right out of it Mike.

    By the way, I HOPE you are right about the Oilers only needing to ‘tinker’ with their line-up.
    But I think you are wrong – way wrong. You can’t explain away last year by Joffery Lupul alone. Yes, consistent goal scoring from him would have helped… but come on… did you watch the team last year Mike? Their problems go far deeper than one forward.

  12. Dano says:

    Unfortunately, were this to happen, they would probably promote from within and someone like Kevin Prendergast becomes GM. In my opinion this would be the wrong move. If a change to management is to be made an infusion of “new blood” is required.

    Jerk: “Sacking” a GM does give an organizaion some breathing room and an injection of optimism (unless you hire someone like Keenan to manage your team).

    Re: Brooks
    Agreed. The man is an idiot. In fact this strikes me as something that idiot Stan Fischler would write.

  13. mike says:

    I was questioning Smitty’s hunger indeed. I do this of all guys I know who get married. It happened probably worst to Billy Joel, now Tiger Woods is in the funk, and to think Ryan Smyth would be exempt or that his hunger may match Vanek’s is pretty far fetched.

    I did actually watch some hockey last year. After they traded Smitty, they lost to Nashville, Minnesota, Vancouver, and Detroit by one goal each. With guys using the bus. And matching shots.

    If this team can lose together for three years, in three years, I think they can win it all. Another run? I won’t be surprised.

    I’d rather have a team who wins the title every couple years but missed the playoffs the rest of the time compared to a team (read Toronto) who makes the playoffs nearly every year and never actually wins.

  14. Art Vandelay says:

    Yah, but what you have is a team that hasn’t won the title in 17 years. And the prospects for doing so are growing dimmer, not brighter. Colorado has re-stacked. Minnesota is tightly coached. Vancouver has Luongo. Calgary is a wildcard because they hired a nut. What do the Oilers have? “Last place” written all over them.

  15. William says:

    I’m not that surprised by Lowe’s actions – they remind me a lot of how he would have handled things as a defenseman: hard loyalty to his friends and perceived core (Pisani, Moreau, coaching staff, NYR/PHX), unwillingness to back down (for good/bad, e.g. Smyth), get livid and kick over water coolers after a bad period (Nylander), an FU/do whatever it takes to win attitude (Vanek/Buffalo mgmt), post-game interview to take responsibility for coughing up the winning goal (press conference).

    Maybe I don’t give him enough credit, but I think he approached things the only way he knew how: like he still has a #4 on his back. Whether or not that makes for a good GM… I guess we’ll see soon enough. If PR is the thing, firing him now would be a terrible signal. Like MC said, maybe he’s starting to get it through his skull he needs to do things differently. They need to recreate a culture where Edmonton is a desirable place to play – both winning and atmosphere. There used to be talk about the great ice and close locker room, but not so much on the former and the Smyth/Smith trades has to have gutted the latter.

  16. rickibear says:

    A new gm does not solve the external problems and city perception.

    Spending our royalty money to develop edmontons dowtown and suburbs like they did for the last 20 years in Northern Albertas Quebec (Calgary) would help the city image.

    Plus winning Atmosphere brought up as a point by many attracts players.

    But there is a chance Kevin gets bumped up and Mr pendergrast gets made Gm. Though they should have a contracts advisor.

    Our year of losing is a series of misfortunes.

    Our stable puck moving d all leave town due to the city or travel schedule. Kevin cant fix those.

    (they take the aproach 3g 25p dmen as our corp) were in first till december. Injuries decimate the corp we go from a 2.33 ga team to a team above 3.00 ga

    He makes the moves to address this

    Signs grebeshkov and Tarnstrom and trades for Pitkanen. Unloading an offensive pain and an aging physical defence man with great leadership Qualities.

    Our Goaltender is aging and needs less games so we need a back up.

    He goes and gets Garon a player who has identical numbers on an equally shitty defencive team. When Rollis contract ends mr garon hopefully steps in while dubnyk acts as backup.

    Our forwards all pretty much had bad years. Look at a players assists total, point total, and shooting % cycle. In a career They will have a couple of good years and a couple of bad years but The # of shots and shooting % is fairly constant.

    look at our forward: you are either a reciever of offence or a creator

    reasoner__ 7%____10%____reciever

    If you look at that list most of our forwards had a down year in their cycle which may be a reflection of moving out of the zone.

    However I will take thier shots and averages this year.

    It was correct not to keep Sykora and Lupul They had thier constant years.

    Ryan Smyth Had a career year and his numbers would not drop because he earns all his points in front of the net.
    Before the the Hartnell signing I would not have signed Mr. smith to 5.5M
    Our team goal output dropped off .25g/gm when he was out in the early season with an injury and after he was gone.

    However I do not want Hemsky or Horcoff to go. When either of them are out there is a dramatic 1g/Gm drop off. We need to find a left winger with a higher than 12% shooting % and can have 260 shots to fill ryans role.

    We have some positions to fill We tried ufa that did not work though

    He made his first attempt at Rfa

    Vanek whom is a risk but could be way better than ryan.

    Their may be other rfa attempts.

    Plus if you have seen Pouliot and Nilsson it is obvious they are both offensive creators and look like 20g 50p guys if they are given the minutes.

    They all look like stable thinking moves to me. Not the actions of an incompetent wack job.

    So calm down let Kevin try and improve us through trades in the summer. Wait till mid season and see where we are as a team. If things are bad let the fans with pitch forks burn him at the stake or bump him up and replace him. If we are competitive we see what he does next summer.

    Because it is a couple of really good draft years comming up and it is ok to build talent the way Tampa, Ottawa, Pittsburg, and Washington did.

  17. Lowetide says:

    Maybe he should hold a press conference and just say “we’re building with youth.” It flies in the face of what he said in the spring but it’s also the best option available.

    He’d have to convince MacT to stay, and the fanbase would have to endure a lot of losses because of the learning curve, but this team does have some nice things going on.

    The downside of course is if you have too many rookies they’re going to lose and lose and that becomes it’s own problem.

    I don’t know the EIG have the patience for it, and I don’t know that the fanbase does either.

  18. Jeff says:

    Kevin Lowe will not be fired, your going to have to get a hard on for something else.

  19. Bendelson says:


    Your out to lunch. According to your ‘philosophy’ any married professional athlete/singer? is inferior to a young, single one… WTF?

    Ryan Smyth’s dedication to hockey a question mark? Your a question mark Mike! It sounds like you really don’t have a clue.

    Your marriage that bad buddy?

    By the way – BILLY JOEL?? What the hell are you talking about?
    Of course I don’t know much about the life and times of Billy Joel b/c, well he sucks and the 1980′s are long gone, but if you are basing your Ryan Smyth analysis on the wives of Billy Joel – you are taking lunacy to a new level.

    I could continue but it seems pointless…

    Have a nice day.

  20. Jeff says:

    Bendelson you gave me a great laugh, thanks

  21. mike says:

    If KL needs to call a press conference to announce that youth is the program when Jacques, Pouliot, Storntini, Syvret, and Smid are all 21 or under and Nilsson at 22, I’d be pretty surprised. I bet you already knew this was happening and you don’t need KL to mention it much at all. Oil blew their wad in 06 and now taking another whack they’re probably aiming for 09ish.

    If the Oilers can make it to the finals once every five or ten years, I’ll be more than content. Statistically they should make it once in 16 or so. Not 7 in 28, like they’ve done. Imagine life in Buffalo or SD. They’ve never won ANYTHING. How’s Philly’s record? uug. That would really blow.

    Bendelson is clearly not from NYC, and just to clear the air, glass houses was, imo, his best. That was well before he met Christie Brinkley.

    Marriage was fun. Glad it’s over though. I can finally get something done again other than babysit an emotionally distraught woman and never see male friends.

    Maybe you’re not a fan of tiger woods. He was winning tournaments at .429, next closest, 0.05. Then the marriage and he’s won one tournament and no majors since (I think). Pretty close anyway.

    Maybe you don’t remember Tyson swearing off sex for a month before a title bout. Bendoverson, you might consider to watch something other than hockey before you lambast anyone citing reference to things with which you openly confess to be unfamiliar.

  22. Lowetide says:

    Mike: I have absolutely NO idea what Billy Joel has to do with it, but anyone with ears has to know he pretty much pursued top 40 after the final strains of “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” on The Stranger.

    As for Lowe, well there’s a difference between “going with youth” and flushing the season in July.

    If they sign Markov and Mike Johnson, plus trade for a real option for 1line LW then maybe we can talk about squeaking in.

    However, the team that made the Cup run had a helluva lot more going for them than this one, and finishing 4th in the division looks like a distant bell right now.

  23. Dennis says:

    Brooks does kinda have a point though. Not sure if it was SH or OW but over on HF someone said that what they want to see next from Lowe using the threat of offersheets as a precursor to a trade. So, if you wanna look at that from a NYR perspective, what if Lowe sidled up to Sather and told him that he knows that Avery’s going to arbi and that he should deal him to us for RS or Nilsson or otherwise we’ll put an offer on Lundqvist and drive your structure out of whack. Slats could either comply with the request from the Oilers or he could match the Henrik offer and then have to deal Avery somewhere else anyway. That’s another creative way that Lowe could’ve went about that. And if the Rags balked at matching Lundqvist for say 7 mill a season, then the Oilers could turn around and look to offload Roli somewhere else. If you’re gonna announce to everyone that it’s not personal and it’s business, then you gotta swing for the biggest RFA’s and Henrik was certainly one of those.

    Overall, I don’t feel bad for Lowe though. I get the guy who says that Lowe really cares about the crest but more than that he’s got this streak of stubborness that hasn’t served us well, ie Comrie and Smyth decisions, and while he didn’t make his bed totally with the Pronger trade, here was a guy making 6.25 when everyone else in the league besides the Oilers knew that the cap was going up, and he jumps at a poor offer seemingly because he really liked Pronger and wanted to help him out. Seriously, that can be the only explaination. And that way of proceeding along with the decision to lowball Smyth, those two things together are enough to get anyone fired.

  24. mc79hockey says:

    Maybe you’re not a fan of tiger woods. He was winning tournaments at .429, next closest, 0.05. Then the marriage and he’s won one tournament and no majors since (I think). Pretty close anyway.

    Since marrying in October of 2004, Tiger Woods has won 17 PGA tournaments, including 4 majors. So yeah, pretty close.

    Bendoverson, you might consider to watch something other than hockey before you lambast anyone citing reference to things with which you openly confess to be unfamiliar.

    No shit, eh?

  25. mike says:

    One more thing.

    Tiki Barber said the game was for 24 year old guys. New England Patriots release basically anyone over 26, and they won 3 in 4 and are this year’s likely favourite again.

    Yeah I do question Smitty’s future hockey fire and expect that he will lose his passion as did Barry Sanders and countless others.

    If I GM I’d way sooner sign a 23 year old Parise or Vanek than a 30 year old Smyth. No question. Save the odd Niedermeyer here and there, pro sports are for kids rather than married guys who are changing diapers and thinking about cholesterol.

  26. mike says:

    What? Tiger won 17 since 04? I’ll have to check that out, but you’re probably right. so my bad.

    Either way, I think you know what I’m getting at.

  27. Lowetide says:

    What on PLANET EARTH has this thread turned into? I think all we’re missing are a few words from Mike’s ex-wife.

  28. Aram Dellalian says:

    Finally. A bit of love for K-Lowe. He is this blog’s namesake, after all.

    Great post William…and bang up points about a guy like lowe “caring” more than some guy looking to get up the NHL ladder.

    There’s an underlying meaning to all the madness…we just need to wait for it to uncover itself.

  29. mike says:

    Tiger was off the wins from 02 – 05, I knew that he turned it back on lately but forgot in my zeal to prove marriage the bummer.

    He did blow 8 straight majors and all the tournaments for the first couple years of marriage. Can we agree on that at least?

    I thought only Calgary threads were this much fun.

  30. mike says:

    ha ha ha LT. She thinks I am completely insane. Nice call though. that will have me laughing all night.

  31. Tyler says:

    He did blow 8 straight majors and all the tournaments for the first couple years of marriage. Can we agree on that at least?

    He won the first major that he played in after he got married.

  32. rickibear says:


    Your on the internet
    Its full of facts you can confirm

    Use it.

  33. Lowetide says:

    I’m giggling.

  34. Big T says:


    You make some good points regarding Lowe possibly learning his lesson. Hope that he has.


    I have a tough time seeing Lowe dismissed by EIG regardless of whether he should be or not. I just don’t believe that is their MO. They’ll wait for his contract to expire and let him go or re-up if he outpreforms form here on out, but they don’t have the balls to outright fire the guy.


  35. Lowetide says:

    big t: That’s what I thought up until very recently. The EIG waits until spring when they miss the playoffs, bump him upstairs or don’t renew his contract and move in Prendergast of whomever.

    However, this past week and how it was handled is beyond what teams normally do. Having two guys over to your house to ask “is it me?” has to concern the EIG and I don’t care how much they like the guy (which I’m certain they do).

    Kevin Lowe raised expectations for the fanbase with his own quotes earlier this spring. It’ll be interesting to see how people react as the summer rolls along and people recall lines like “we have no excuses as an organization” and “we’re going to add someone to pick up Ryan Smyth’s goals, add another player on offence and another on defense.”

    I recall most of all his quote in regard to his biggest regret from last season: “Probably what stands out the most for me (was) the inability to make a deal to help the hockey club, like we did last year.”

    Sooner or later, Kevin Lowe is going to run out of time and they’ll bring in someone else. I cannot believe anyone really disagrees with this sentiment. Lowe’s time is running out, and maybe it’s sooner than we think.

  36. Steve says:

    Statistically they should make it once in 16 or so. Not 7 in 28, like they’ve done.

    First of all, the “expected” number is one in fifteen, not one in sixteen (see, two of thirty teams make the finals every year, which means that if finals appearances are equally distributed each team will get one crack every thirty divided by two, of fiteen, years).

    Second of all, for half of those twenty-eight years, including six of the Oilers’ finals appearances, there have been fewer than thirty teams, which increases the expected frequency of finals appearances.

    Third of all, there’s a reason that the mean is not the only statistical measure in the world: I don’t think many sports fans would agree that performing (say) twice as well as expected for fifteen years indemnifies a team against criticism for performing zero percent as well as expected for the next fifteen.

    I’m not as thirsty for Lowe’s blood as some people seem to be. I think once you remove the Pronger and Smyth trades from his record (two very big subtractions, granted), he’s actually looked like a good GM doing the best he can with a shitty situation (although I’m still scratching my head as to why Nylander was apparently our top priority UFA, when we had, at the very least, passable options at centre right down the depth chart). But there’s a point at which you have to say “Yeah, the glory years were great, but what have you done for us lately?”

  37. RiversQ says:

    Well, it’s not like Lowe has made one mistake or suffered from misfortune. I’ve got the Pronger deal, the Lupul contract, the Smyth debacle (that’s 12 full months of nonsense), and the MAB deal as non-trivial mistakes this year.

    He also retained three first rounders in a poor draft with a team carrying a lack of NHL quality talent. That was a significant error as well IMO.

    I don’t have much problem with anything Lowe has done this offseason, so I wouldn’t have a huge problem with keeping him. However, I think that list is plenty long enough to grease the skids for his departure. The team was bad last year, they’ll be worse this year and it’s not like the future is burning bright in terms of elite talent. That’s not the work of a good GM.

  38. Steve says:

    Well, it’s not like Lowe has made one mistake or suffered from misfortune.

    He’s certainly made more than one mistake, but he’s just as certainly suffered from some pretty serious misfortune.

    I’ve got the Pronger deal, the Lupul contract, the Smyth debacle (that’s 12 full months of nonsense), and the MAB deal as non-trivial mistakes this year.

    The Lupul contract? I don’t know. I know a lot of people weren’t too high on Lupul when he came to town, but did anybody imagine he’d suck this much?

    Besides that, it’s not like his contract is what prevented us from improving the roster last year – it wasn’t cap space, it was lack of available trading partners. Besides that, the contract wasn’t so high that it prevented us from getting value for him on the trade market (I mean, I love Gator, but you have to imagine that the centrepiece of that trade from Philly’s point of view was Lupul). I think the extent to which the Lupul contract was problematic for the Oilers has been overstated.

    He also retained three first rounders in a poor draft with a team carrying a lack of NHL quality talent. That was a significant error as well IMO.

    As a lot of people have pointed out, the draft isn’t when teams are looking to take on prospects and picks (what the Oilers had) in exchange for established NHLers, since every team is, to an extent, still looking to win that year. Absent evidence to the contrary, I’m more than prepared to take Lowe at his word that the deals he needed just weren’t out there. In fact, I give him credit for not overpaying in prospects and picks to get a veteran just to increase his chances of contract renewal.

    The Pronger deal was bad, and the handling of the Smyth situation is indefensible. And if you want to claim that those are firing offenses, I won’t even argue much. But besides those, I think Lowe’s done the best he could with a city that nobody wants to play in, a boss that doesn’t give him any budget certainty, duplicitous UFAs, and teams hellbent on retaining their RFAs.

  39. Chris! says:

    (although I’m still scratching my head as to why Nylander was apparently our top priority UFA, when we had, at the very least, passable options at centre right down the depth chart).

    Steve, I assumed that he was pursuing a guy like Nylander precisely because the centre position was so strong. Guys like Horcoff, Stoll and Pouliot are probably the guys rival GMs are most targetting in trade offers, and signing Nylander would have freed us up to move one of three for a winger.

    But, you know. Moot point.

  40. Dennis says:

    __The Lupul contract? I don’t know. I know a lot of people weren’t too high on Lupul when he came to town, but did anybody imagine he’d suck this much?___

    YOu know what, a few of us did imagine that Lupul would suck and I think they’re the same guys that started howling the day that Lupul-Smid was the rumored package. The same guys were right about that and they were right about the fact that the Oilers were trying to lowball Smyth too. Some of us were also right that the rebuild started last season and that Lowe was just blowing smoke when he said they’d pick up a rental D sometime throughout the season.

    All in all, it was a great year to be a naysayer

  41. Steve says:

    YOu know what, a few of us did imagine that Lupul would suck

    My recollection – and I assume this is wrong, because you guys probably pay more attention to what you think about these things than I do, on account of being you – is that a lot of people were saying (correctly) that Lupul was a soft player and a defensive liability and unwilling to get his hands dirty and play that thing known as “Oilers hockey”. I don’t remember anybody predicting that his offensive production would shrivel the way it did. But again, I’m not calling you a liar – if you tell me you predicted that, I believe you.

    All in all, it was a great year to be a naysayer

    That is was. Unfortunately, I was a little slow to figure that out.

  42. RiversQ says:

    Yeah I do think the Lupul contract hurt his trade value. If he was paid commensurate with his value, maybe the Oilers would not have been stuck throwing Smith in that deal.

    Furthermore, I think it absolutely hurt what this team could spend. This is a team that chooses to operate below the salary cap maximum. The fact that they choose to start the season well below the max further compounds the situation. That left them vulnerable in a year with a lack of trade partners (another Lowe mistake, albeit slightly defensible, but probably also a little naive). Lupul’s contract was always a factor IMO.

    But besides those, I think Lowe’s done the best he could with a city that nobody wants to play in, a boss that doesn’t give him any budget certainty, duplicitous UFAs, and teams hellbent on retaining their RFAs.

    What goes best with that, cherry or grape?

    What makes you think there’s no budget certainty? I bet it’s nearly written in stone every year. Seriously. These guys aren’t fucking around with that.

    Also, I won’t ever confuse the Oilers’ incompetence with city’s attractiveness to UFAs. That’s a crutch and it’s total bullshit. They obviously didn’t do their homework on Nylander and the RFA thing is something Lowe should have anticipated. Although in his defense, he did handle his elite players under contract quite recklessly, so perhaps he wrongly assumed everyone else would too.

  43. mike says:

    I didn’t realize this was the Ryan Smyth fan club.

    Personally, I think the guy sucks. I think Stortini is just as able to fall over his skates and bounce 15 in off his ass, and works for oh, about 5 million a year less.

    Smyth may have been the worst skater on the team most famous for great skaters.

    What’s with the Smyth love and the Lowe distain? I don’t think he’s worth 6M or anything even close. But we’ll know better in about 9 months time when he has 15 goals and Stortini has 12.

    And what has KL done for you lately? You must mean other than bringing you within a game of the cup using the BACK UP GOALIE, oh, say, last year.

  44. RiversQ says:

    BTW, I think Brooks is half right here. You could argue the Oilers are in reasonable shape in goal this season, but as an organization with any view beyond 2008, the position is absolutely NOT a strength. Deslauriers and Dubnyk are nothing but question marks and there’s little beyond that.

    6yrs/$40MM or thereabouts to Lundqvist would have been highly justifiable IMO and Roloson would be a tradeable asset.

    It’s too bad Lowe probably couldn’t take a crack at both him and Vanek simultaneously.

  45. RiversQ says:

    Nice post, Mike. What’s a “distain?”

    Anyway, Ryan Smyth has done nothing but obtain results as a player. Only a fool worries about how he gets them.

    Kevin Lowe, on the other hand… his record is spotty at best when it comes to results.

  46. rickibear says:

    So riversq you think we are in the oilers version of the harold ballard era. best dividend on investment dollar. (freinds in upper management; shit product on the ice; don’t pay your high end players; then move them on out; still sell out the place.)

    we will know in 2 years.

    Forgive me if you were not around for that reference.

  47. RiversQ says:

    That is before my time, but from what I do know I’m not sure any current NHL owner deserves the Ballard label. Even Wirtz.

    I will say that I don’t think the org is particularly serious about winning. I’m not just talking about dollars spent either.

  48. Big T says:

    Lupul’s contract was especially indefensible as he was an RFA without arbitration rights. Basically he had to take what the Oilers gave him or sit out ala Comrie. That’s it.

    Lowe’s mistake has been to play hardball with the big guys and UFA’s and give far too much to they guys that have little to no leverage.

    The exception would be Pisani who he gave slightly too much to, but at least Pisani had a lot of leverage.

    Agree with RivQ regarding the Pitkanen trade. Perhaps a lesser defensman would have been enough to include in the trade had Lupul not been so grossly over paid.


  49. Bendelson says:

    Last comment Mike:

    I would never confess to knowing ALL there is to know about Billy Joel – BUT I do know enough to say with confidence that he has NOTHING to do with a Ryan Smyth ‘dedication to hockey’ comment.

    I also know that Glass Houses may just be his best LP (agreed!) – thus justifying the comment that he SUCKS. Sometimes a fantasy hey Mikey? Got any kick ass Dr. Hook?
    Any Captain and Tennille references you want to pull out of the closet?

    Nice accuracy on Tiger! Sounds like you follow golf as closely as you follow hockey. Maybe your best concentrating on the piano bar has beens…

    IMO Christie Brinkley was Billy Joel’s peak. Most MEN would likely agree with this, though I commend you on your bravery about admiting your deep routed feelings towards Billy.

    MChockey – you really wanna attach yourself to Mike? Good for you, you’ve got guts (and Mike needs friends). Or perhaps you also enjoy the musical stylings of Billy Joel.

    Bizarre but enjoyable thread.

    Damn, now I have Allentown in my head. Thanks Mike.

    Back to hockey. Mike – about athletes and marriage – I think Dan Cleary is an excellent (and relevant) example of how a good women can make a man better – or in Cleary’s case – make a man.

  50. namflashback says:

    On the benefit of change:
    A changeout at GM is a highly public move, which as bridges are being burnt. Lowe has likely burnt some relationship capital with other GM’s this offseason — making it all the more likely. A new GM (assuming he is new to the org) can come in and clean the slates.

    On retaining an outsider:
    mchockey saidWhat I think that the Oilers should do, what they need to get, is a guy from outside their organizational bubble to replace Howson.

    from Oilers website
    Jun 22, 2007, 6:38 PM EDT Edmonton Oilers General Manager Kevin Lowe has named Rick Olczyk as the team’s new Director of Hockey Administration and Legal Affairs.

    This is their new capologist and CBA expert. A good step I think.

    On the “plan”:
    The 5 youthful assets for Pronger, and the 3 youthful assets for Smyth were strong indications of a youth rebuild. I think Lowe knew that there wasn’t enough “impact talent” in the pipeline or in his roster. I’m not sure that Pitkanen, Smid, Nillson, OMarra, and Riley Nash is enough but at least 3 of those are upgrades over what they had in their system and development stage.

    Why, if he knew that he would be drawn and quartered for any short term losses, would he work so hard to focus on the long term.

    It’s because he never expected to last in the long-term. It is my assertion that he was never going to re-up at the end of the year (likely decided long ago).

    Lowe was the right PR move at the time of his hire. But like any transitional hire, he his mandate (get to the CBA) has run its course.

  51. godot10 says:

    //This is a team that chooses to operate below the salary cap maximum. The fact that they choose to start the season well below the max further compounds the situation.//

    One cannot make RFA’s offers unless on is operating below the salary cap maximum. One will not be able to defend and match offers to your own RFA unless one is operating below the salary cap maximum.

    Considering the RFA’s likely to be available next summer, the Oilers better be operating below the salary cap maximum this year.

    One of Malkin or Jordan Staal is going to have to be traded in the next two years. Crosby would be nuts to take anything less than the max salary from Pittsburgh.

    Calgary has a lot of money tied up in Aucoin, Sarich, and Regehr, which means should Phaneuf decide to test RFA status, the Flames will have to restructure their team to match.

    Ryan Getzlaf might be available next summer.

    Philadelphia might be up against the wall with Carter and Richards.

  52. Dennis says:

    Allentown is a pretty good song, BTW;)

    What’s the background on this Olcyzk guy? I don’t remember the dailies talking about this guy joining the org so I don’t know what to make of him. The last guy we had was supposed to be the master capo yet he didn’t realize that the cap was rising and that’s why we didn’t re-up 94;)

  53. namflashback says:


    - Brother of the better known Ed
    - Played some college hockey
    - Law degree from Cornell 1996
    - Runs a legal consulting firm
    - Was previously a legal counsel for the NHLPA (not sure when this was)
    - Was buzzed about last summer as a potential Assistant GM for St. Louis, Nashville, Toronto
    - no prior background with the Oilers

    glove tap to Oilfans

  54. mike says:

    All my Billy Joel albums are on vinyl and I don’t have a turn table anymore. So the quotes may be a bit thin. Though you should be singing, “You may be right” instead of post brinkley pop. The more you read of my alleged insanity the more likely it may be as well. So fair warning. Still I may be able to recall some BTO and ELO but not the REO, IMO.

    Dan Cleary is the ONLY example of a guy doing better after marriage, and that was only because he was broke and was about to have a kid. The great thing about pregnancy is that we get nine months to get it together before the kid needs to eat, sleep, and shit. Which is about all they do for the first labourious while.

    Ryan Smyth is about to learn that he never gets back the sleep he’s about to lose as he listens to his wife bitch about being fat and ugly, a milk machine and having no gas to do the dishes.

    I’ll be the last to say that he didn’t give it everything he had, yet I doubt I’m the first to wonder if his next five years will look just like his last.

    I like the thoughts on the Lupul contract. I hadn’t considered that as a detractor in the trade but I sure can see it now as a liability which needed Smith rather than Winchester or Hedja or Petersen.

    And thanks for the two bits on Eddie’s bro. I didn’t prior and I’m glad that it was mentioned cause it sounds important given the last couple weeks events.

    Lowetide what do you know about this Rick Olczyk? I’m lately quite curious about the legal oil brass.

  55. Bendelson says:

    Let’s hope Raffi is a great ‘second’ example (I’m certain there are many, many more)of Dan Cleary-like resurrection after marriage (though he has of course not fallen nearly as far as the C-bear did). Nevertheless, Raffi does need to be a whole lot better next year.

    Mike: Clearly you have a sense of humour which is great and I appreciate – I do have to say however, that (obviously) all women aren’t ‘fat and ugly bitches whining about doing the dishes’ – and to suggest as much tells us a whole lot about you and your opinion of women in general – which is unfortunate.

    Misogyny is ugly and IMHO very misguided.

    Here’s to hoping a good women can one day change your viewpoint.

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