Tambellini New GM

The Edmonton Oilers made a significant change in direction today at the highest levels of the hockey operations side. Quoting their website “The Edmonton Oilers have announced significant changes to their Hockey Operations Department, naming Kevin Lowe as the team’s President of Hockey Operations. As President of Hockey Operations, Lowe has named Steve Tambellini as the team’s new General Manager. In addition, long-time Vice-President of Hockey Operations, Kevin Prendergast, has been named Assistant General Manager.”

We discussed the possibility of this happening here. Quotes today aside, we should assume Steve Tambellini is the de facto General Manager and that Kevin Lowe’s power in the organization has been diminished by today’s moves.

The line in bold tells us that much. No matter the quotes from Lowe or others today, and claims about who has the final say, Tambellini is the contact point for agents, GMs, etc. This is a sign that Katz is now in charge, he probably did due diligence on what successful organizations look like in terms of management structure, and then went about the business of getting it done. Like the Detroit Red Wings, Or New Jersey Devils. Who are the GMs in those cities again?

More on Tambellini later.

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49 Responses to "Tambellini New GM"

  1. Scott says:

    His power may be reduced, but I think he’ll still be guiding this ship ala John Davidson or Scotty Bowman with a trusted GM beneath him.

  2. Paper Designer says:

    I dunno about his power being reduced. He essentially answers to nobody but the owner, and there are more people directly under him. Not sure how that amounts to a reduction of power.

    It’s a reduction of influence in my eyes. He’s still going to be the final say in the big picture, but will he necessarily be the one to make the sort of day to day calls that a GM must? More power, but in fewer areas.

  3. Scott says:

    It’s a reduction in power in the sense that LT alluded to. Now Steve Tambellini is the one talking to agents, coaches and other GMs on a daily basis. He has the power to get things done.

    Lowe’s power is in steering the ship and helping the decision making process, but it will be Tambellini kicking tires and having his tires kicked at trade deadline, July 1, etc.

  4. Tweezer So Cold says:

    I am very excited that somebody has broken through the Old Boys’ Club.

    Tambellini welcome!

    Does he have to fling monkey doo Anaheim’s way also?

    I’m kinda hoping this move kills that little soap opera, and we can focus on laying waste to Ducks, Wild and the other Western playoff teams, and set our sights on another tilt with Detroit next spring.

  5. Scott says:

    I imagine he has a good reputation with Brian Burke and his relationship with Buffalo can’t be that bad. He must have been at least mildly involved in the Bernier deal.

    Overall, though, the Lowe RFA backlash and blacklist angle is pretty overplayed and evidence is to the contrary, anyway.

  6. Steve says:

    So, um, are we reasonably confident that Tambellini didn’t have much influence in Vancouver? Because I’d actually take Lowe’s last two summers over Vancouver’s.

  7. mjsh says:

    Color me a sceptic but I think there is more to this story than what we know today. Either there are issues between K-Lowe and the owner or there are health issues with the Lowe family. Yes, Tambellini comes with a great reputation but as others have said, K-Lowe was in the middle of rebuilding the team. Not a prime time to leave. I hope I am wrong about the health issues.

  8. Ozzieoiler says:

    I’m a long way away, but this just seemed to come out of nowhere.

    I’m going to wait and see on this one.

  9. Bruce says:

    Well I like this a lot better than the other scenario that’s been floated, namely MacT promoted to GM and Bucky to head coach. I like our coaching staff just fine the way it is. Bringing into the front office a New Boys Club guy like Tambellini who has worked with Lowe on Team Canada but otherwise has no links to the Oilers, seems like a solid choice. I sure hope so.

  10. toqueboy says:

    from tencer blog:
    Tambellini will team with Kevin Prendergast, formerly VP of Hockey Operations and now the Assistant General Manager, on the day to day operations of the Oilers and their American Hockey League affiliate in Springfield. Lowe will preside over the entire operation, still having the final say on any transactions. “Somebody at the end of the day has to make the final decision and that person is me,” admits Lowe. “Steve will end up doing more of the day-to-day stuff of the General Manager’s role, which is a lot. That’s what was wearing me down personally. The major decisions are going to be made collectively with the management group with me ultimately having the final say.”

  11. godot10 says:

    Lowe and Tambellini worked together under Gretzky for Team Canada in the Olympics and World Cup.

    They hadn’t replaced Howson, and were one guy short.
    Detroit had Holland, Nill, Yzerman, (and Bowman and Devellano). The Oilers had Lowe and Prendergast.

  12. toqueboy says:

    my guess is that this clears lowe up to be point man/face on the whole DT arena propaganda which should ramp up any time now.

    it would have been too easy for fans to bitch about lowe if they only saw him working the arena angle and not the players.

    i understand lowe’s relationship with tambellini but i still think there were better qualified people out there for this position…to me, this is like us signing michael ryder as gm instead of going after hossa. armstrong immediately comes to mind as a great hockey man who was a free agent…among others.

  13. Mark-Ryan says:

    He’s a guy who has a lot of things Kevin Lowe doesn’t. Tons of respect around the league, 17 years of grunt work before the promotion and Brian Burke’s respect. In that respect, I think he adds something to the front office. I also like how he’s got a previous working relationship with both Lowe and MacT.

    I’m for this.

  14. Nelson88 says:

    Solid move. Smart hockey guy, well respected, good chemistry with the current brain trust but also not an “old boy”. The bonus being the Canuck faithful are even more demoralized then before :)

    Me thinks the conspiracy theorists and anti Lowe crowd are reading too much into this.

  15. CM says:

    Great move by the oilers…would be nice to add a bit more to the scouting department now…

    Question: who was the pres of hockey operations before?

    Is lowe the new sinden?

  16. Robert says:

    Hey, many of you are missing the point (including LT if I read his comments correctly). This is clearly KLowe being a bit tired of the grind. Now TamB makes the phone calls, pays the Bills, and talks with all of the annoying agents. KLowe gets to fly around and be a world class businessman.

    He also gets to tinker with the team when he wants “Go get me a forward, trade that loser defencement, and while you are at it run down the street and get me a large double double.” Ok, I am kidding, trades and signings will be a discussion in a boardroom first (by KLowe, TamB, KP, and Katz -when he wants) and then TamB and KP take care of making it happen.

    Also, having some insight into Katz’ approach, I think he provided some advice to KLowe. ” Life is easier when you make the big decisions and then Let someone else do the footwork”.

    I agree that if the team sucks this year MacT is gone unless its a golie issue or 12 injuries or something…

  17. RiversQ says:


    I think this is a good move. Tambellini has experience and whatever Lowe brings to the table is still an available resource.

  18. transplantedjetfan says:

    Pretty sure Armstrong took a job in St.Louis. Glad to see a well respected man get the job and a fresh set of eyes join the brain trust.

  19. Doogie2K says:

    Pretty sure Armstrong took a job in St.Louis. Glad to see a well respected man get the job and a fresh set of eyes join the brain trust.

    He’s GM-in-waiting for when Pleau retires in a couple of years.

  20. goldenchild says:

    Maybe Lowe watched that Seinfeld episode where George tried to leave on a high note. Thats the way they do it in Vegas.

  21. Scarlett says:

    I was really liking Lowe’s moves in this off-season. I never expected this to happen when things were smooth sailing for the team. But looks like he gets less work but same power…and makes the final decisions. Not bad!

  22. Coach pb9617 says:

    I’m 180 from you LT. This only enhances Lowe’s power withing the organization.

    Sure, he doesn’t get to review the tapes on the 8th d callup, but he gets to hear the pitches from the various sources and pull the trigger. Aside from that, now he’s got everything in his hands, like Davidson in STL.

    I like it for these reasons.

  23. goldenchild says:

    I agree with Coach’s take.
    I also think the title of GM for Tambellini was necessary because thats the only way he could get out of Vancouver. GM in Edmonton isn’t the same role as GM in Calgary. I like the days results.

  24. Shawn says:

    Armstrong is not a free agent, he’s the AGM in St. Louis and set to take over from Pleau when he retires.

  25. Jonathan says:

    Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Steve Tambellini was pushed out the door by Mike Gillis, who probably didn’t appreciate having a GM-in-waiting with the organization, and also seems to prefer to handpick his people.

    Secondly, I think something that’s being understated (because it was pretty much already a fact) is Prendergast’s promotion to assistant GM. I think this is a restructuring to more of a Detroit Red Wings (or New York Islanders!) model with a team of executives (incl. Olczyk, Tambellini and MacGregor). I also think that Lowe won’t be terribly involved in player decisions, but more the business side of things- the comment that he’ll be pushing for the downtown arena is likely spot on; Katz obviously appreciates that Lowe is a better salesman in Edmonton than Laforge. Speaking of which- where’s Laforge going? Gone, gone gone?

  26. dawgbone says:

    Tambellini may have experience, but is any of it good?

    He’s been the so called best young mind in hockey for a few years, but he isn’t that young anymore (in fact, he’s older than Lowe).

    At some point, you have to look at his track record, the fact that every job he’s been rumoured to be in line for he’s lost out on and wonder what exactly he will bring to this organization.

    It wasn’t too long ago that John Ferguson Junior was one of the top young minds in hockey, and that situation didn’t work out particularily well.

  27. PunjabiOil says:

    Lowe has hinted in the past he wasn’t going to be a GM for the long run.

    Interesting notes

    *This developed over the past 4-5 days
    *Lowe has the hammer to finalize all transactions
    *Appears to be management by committee
    *Did Lowe’s rant against Burke have a role in any of this? His perceived reputation around the league?

    Very interesting change, and not enough details at this point.

  28. Dennis says:

    I’m with DB on this one: it’s nice to have another guy to make decisions but what exactly has Tambellini done?

    For instance, if we can believe that Jim Nill did some of the good things for the Wings and then we heard that Nill was the new Oilers GM, then we could say for sure that the new guy’s come from a successful org and there’s a chance he’s had his thumb in some successful pies.

    But this is Tambellini and he comes from the Canucks; a team that hasn’t won fuck all or developed fuck all so what is it that this guy’s done that’s impressive?

    I’m asking.

  29. toqueboy says:

    armstrong was a free agent..i was alluding to the 4 months since the season’s been over…there have been several others…sorta how hossa was a free agent but isn’t anymore. i’m not saying that tamB isn’t the man for the job, i’m just saying that if we knew lowe was stepping down/up, then why the hell aren’t we turning up every stone for the best possible option.

    i disagree with people who say that this isn’t a “good ol’ boys” hiring. this is lowe hiring one of the only other people he’s every worked with in a management position. he might be good, and while this isn’t “an old oiler” this is certainly as close as it could have been.

  30. transplantedjetfan says:

    If it means anything, the farm team here in Winnipeg is run solidly. They’ve had some decent teams and turned out a few coaches. Two Jack Adams winners if I’m not mistaken.

  31. Lowetide says:

    A few items:

    1. I think this IS Katz setting up the team in a more logical management style. I don’t understand the hurry but there may be forces at work here we don’t know about.

    2. Lowe may have the “hammer” but as time rolls on and Tambellini grows into the role I can’t imagine he would be involved with all the other GMs and not be the go-to guy. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Has a franchise ever had a GM who didn’t talk to other GMs? This sounds crazy in a Charley Finley type fashion.

    3. I think the quick timeline tells us that Lowe probably has had some kind of life-altering event.

    4. There’s no real way to evaluate these guys. We don’t really know the role he played, so that if I say “Tambellini as pretty smart in making sure Allen learned defense in the minors for a season before getting elevated to the show” there’s no real way to know how much input he had on that decision.

  32. rickibear says:

    “But this is Tambellini and he comes from the Canucks; a team that hasn’t won fuck all or developed fuck all so what is it that this guy’s done that’s impressive?”

    Conspiracy boy looks to his favorite target. He is not there! Panic takes hold. He fixates on the new person in the chair. What is wrong with him. Calmness coming back! He has a new target. And the rant begins.

    Did you know the inability to sleep at night and the need to fixate complaints on one indvidual are signs of depression.

  33. Ducey says:

    I expect Lowe started looking around to replace Howson, called Tambellini and soon found himself thinking maybe he should give up more of his daily role. Either that or it is part of some elaborate conspiracy to stick it to Burke – I expect Tambellini has some stories to tell in that regard.

    I would feel more comfortable if I knew of anything that Tambellini had ever done.

    So is this site now going to be called Tambellinitide?

  34. Hemsky_83 says:

    I think this is more of a Katz move, something he felt was needed to better the business.

    He acknowledges that Lowe is a brilliant hockey mind, but he has simply been stressed out and struggled to cope with the daily run-ins with agents, GM’s and the media. We’ve seen bridges burned over the last few years, and Katz wanted changes.

    Tambellini brings a fresh face to represent the team. He thinks at the same level as Lowe, and probably shares the same direction. Lowe’s promotion means he still regulates what’s happening, but it’s more pushing buttons then doing the actual interactions. I like the idea of a management group.

  35. dstaples says:

    Lots of good theories. No real answers, no good information . . . yet. But inquiring minds are restless.

    My best guess … Lowe is very, very, very, very tired of doing it all. The past two years have been unending killers of stress. As PunjabiOil has said, he has talked about packing it in before.

    Plus, Detroit has a better model, so he moves to that model.

    Lowe is still in charge on major calls, but Tambellini does heavy lifting day in, day out.

    And now there is one more guy to go speak to the Rotary Club in Sherwood Park at dinner time, one more guy to do media interviews, one more guys to be the object of criticism, one more guy to take business trips. That has got to be appealing for Lowe, caught up so many years in the NHL circus.

    The most pressing question, given Rikibear’s shot at Mr. King: How long before R-bear is the first to be labeled a Steveapologist?

  36. Bill Needle says:

    With this change, Lowe can take all the credit if the team does well, say he’s the one who’s still calling the shots.
    If the Oilers don’t do well, he can dump all the blame on Tambellini, say it was all Tambellini’s doing.

  37. Oiler Mag says:

    Maybe Katz says to Lowe, why don’t you have a couple of fingers of JD and say what you like about that over-sized lebricorn, because i’m moving you upstairs. Lowe jumps out of his seat, into the bar and then onto the radio. Katz says, right I’m finding someone to work the front desk who hasn’t pissed off important trading partners.
    Important question is: Is Lowe going to have the final yes/no on all the trades that go down???

  38. TugboatAl says:

    This is a good move.

    With Lowe you keep the team vision,competitive and aggressive attitude, and a culture of winning from someone who has been there. The culture of an organization is reflected top-down.

    By adding Tambellini you negate the negatives that Lowe carried with him. (bad taste in the mouthes of NHL GMs who K-lowe counted Stanley Cup rings with and presented offer sheets to…) You then add league wide respect, plethora of experience, history of success and a guy who, although new to the GM title, is very jacked in with the NHL.

    This isn’t a demotion in any way for Lowe. Katz must believe that Lowe brings value to the orginization, or he would be gone. A billionaire’s only job is to hire good leaders to steer the ship.

    It was clearly stated that Tambellini reports to Lowe. When was the last time you argued with your boss, regardless of the leeway you were provided? (and kept your job?)

    I say good move for the Oilers, and everyone involved.

  39. PunjabiOil says:

    3. I think the quick timeline tells us that Lowe probably has had some kind of life-altering event.

    Lets hope not.

    There’s no doubt I’ve been a critic of Lowe, but at the same time he’s done a lot of good things, and he appears to be a good person at heart. To be honest, I was disappointed when the news first came out. Lowe has been the face for the Oilers for a long time, and you have to admire his competitiveness, dedication, and loyalty to the Edmonton Oilers.

    It’s really hard to figure out what happened. However, I do believe there was enough evidence leading to this move.

    1) Lowe asserted before the lockout he really had no intention on doing what he was doing for the long run, due to the stress, 80 hour weeks, etc.

    2) After signing the 4 year extension, Lowe was on the Oilers Live segement on the official website. He was dropping hints once again, that it was possible he wasn’t going to be a GM in the future. The interview is probably still up on the official site.

    3) At Katz press conference, he mentioned how the change in ownership ”redeveloped my passion”

    4) Just look at the guy. Just 7 years ago, he was young, energetic. Fast forward to today – a weary smile, stress lines visible throughout his face, his hair thinned to the point where it can’t thin much more.

    5) In an interview today he mentioned that the move, ”help me enjoy the game of hockey the way it’s supposed to be enjoyed.”

    Being a GM is a stressful position, especially when things aren’t going the way you want them to – and you have the competitive streak.

    Lowe didn’t Mike Milberry this organization. He could have traded his prospects for immediate help in the summer of 2007, to get the critics off his back. He further faced the adversity of the penny pinching EIG – and the blame Lowe took for the Smyth trade. Further to his woes – the failure of attracting free agents, and losing the star players he built the team around – due to the perceived image of Edmonton.

    Kevin Lowe never had an easy path. I may disagree with his moves, but he’s the epitome of an Edmonton Oiler. I hope number 4 is retired one day, and I hope everything is well with him and his family.

  40. PunjabiOil says:

    Please excuse the poor grammer, incomplete thoughts, poor word choice.

    It is after all, 2 AM.

    Articling sucks.

  41. Asiaoil says:

    This has everything to do with reamking the image of the Oilers from what it has been (small-time ownership and old-boy management) to somehting far more in line with the new owner’s status and experience (big money and new managemtn appraoches).

    Tambellini is very good in one key way – he’s great with the media and you can see that even in the presser today. Lowe has burned so many bridges and alienated so many people over the years (not all his fault) that the team simply needs a new fresh face to match the new fresh ownership. I also would not doubt that personal issues as LT alluded to were also in play.

    A good day all in all – it was time for a new media saavy GM to come in and be the new face of the team to match the new media saavy owner.

  42. Dennis says:

    DS: Rickibear just showed what kind of person he is.


    I asked a valid question and that guy fixates on me as he always does.

  43. Mike says:

    Maybe Katz says to Lowe, why don’t you have a couple of fingers of JD and say what you like about that over-sized lebricorn, because i’m moving you upstairs. Lowe jumps out of his seat, into the bar and then onto the radio.

    Oiler_mag I think you absolutely nailed this. It all fits so perfectly! And it’s in keeping with my alcoholic’s intuition that says KLowe had himself a nice big bowl of loudmouth soup before that interview.

  44. Bruce says:

    Dennis: Some of us still love you. Why just last night I thought of you not once but twice while attending the Eskimos-Lions game at Commonwealth with my son. I’m not the football fan I was when I had season tickets with my own Dad in the dynasty years 1972-83, in fact I rarely get out to a game anymore, but after watching a series of hellacious hits — anonymous BC kick returner getting drilled on the sidelines and right through one of the sandwich board ads out on the track, Jarious Jackson getting smoked by two guys just as he reached the goal line for a BC touchdown, and Kamau Peterson getting absolutely obliterated just as he pulled in a pass and somehow holding onto the ball — I thought to myself, goddammit Dennis, this looks Real enough to me. The Peterson play in particular blew my mind, given his friend and teammate Jason Tucker was ambulanced off the field last week with a broken neck on a similar play. But in that moment Kamau showed his teammates and his opponents and the fans and everybody how bad he wanted it, not to mention a ballsack big enough to do the flying squirrel. The play lit a fuse that saw the Esks outscore the Lions 25-0 the rest of the way to wipe out a 14-point deficit and and win going away. In hockey I’ve always admired the guy who will take the hit to make the play, and that’s what all three of these guys did, in spades. They all got absolutely rocked.

    Football being football it didn’t exactly hold my attention for the whole three hours, and during one of the many idle moments I thought back to the day’s surprising events in Oilerville. I pondered how Lowe in his new role would no longer be heavily involved in the smaller transactions that he has shown aptitude for, but that he would still be involved in all the Big Decisions, and won’t Dennis be pleased with that scenario? I laughed out loud right out of the blue, confusing my poor kid who has trouble following the old man’s thinking at the best of times.

    But man, that football game was so tough even one of the cheerleaders limped off with an apparent knee injury. But not before she stuck it out to the end.

  45. Doogie2K says:

    I don’t normally watch football but I watched most of that game last night. That was a hell of a hit Peterson took, and the best part was, the Eskimos scored a TD on the very next play on a long-bomb to a guy named, of all things, Stamps. From then on, the Eskimos looked like they were on another level entirely from the Lions, on both sides of the ball. Crazy.

  46. Sean says:

    I don’t see this as the beginning of the end of Kevin Lowe. I see it as KLo being overworked and Katz wanting a manager to compliment him and share the workload. In order to get the guy they wanted (Tambellini) they needed to do an org reshuffle and assign different titles. Compared to 15 years ago there is more information to sort out, a larger talent pool of prospects weed through and some 6-8 more GMs to manage relations with. Detroit figured this out first, Edmonton has now too. A management team is required in todays NHL. As long as KLo and Tambellini communicate enough, I dont see why they cant coexist.

  47. rickibear says:

    Dennis: The last paragraph was a joke directed at both you and me.

    I expected your response to the comments and I accept that I am percieved to be targeting you.

    What I was expecting from you was a collection of thought on KLowe based on your last two years Klowe discussions and a transition into your thoughts on the move.

    I had allways thought that your comments were rational.

    No more KLowe conspiracy club(IOF)comments.

    I come to this site to read You, LT, Johnathan, Ice Dragon, Bruce, Dorito Grande, Etc.

    As for the “good ole boys hiring,” when you are delegating work you better have people you trust or the industry trusts. That is the key to the hiring. Klowe got both.

    Plus this is a guy, who can appreciate the position Kevin Prendergast is in.

    You can be sure Prendergast recomended his replacement, and Klowe picked his. I have no problem with these three gentlemen deciding player development and procurement.

  48. Master Lok says:

    Agree with both Lowetide and PJOil. The timing of this move is dumbfounding – considering that KLowe has already done all of the work.

    If Katz was unhappy with KLowe, another GM would have been in place to do all the moves (i.e trades, Free agents etc.)

    I suspect it’s one of two things – KLowe is really really tired of the job – or that there has been a health scare (really high blood pressure etc).

  49. CrazyCoach says:

    I hear Tambillini is a big reader and follower of the “Moneyball” philosophy, so that automatically makes him qualified to some in here.

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