Tambellini Info

This is Steve Tambellini in about 1980 as a member of the New York Islanders. Before that he played for the Trail Smoke Eaters and the Lethbridge Broncos and was also part of the Canadian team at the 1978 WJC’s (8gp, 2-2-4).

He had a good NHL career (over 550 games, 160 goals and 150 assists) and old timey guys like me remember him which is always a good sign.

He was a member of the Stanley team on the Island 1980, but I don’t know if his name is on the Cup. When he was wrapping up his NHL career he signed with the Canucks, who at that time (and long after) represented the “Cleveland Indians” for NHL fans.

When he retired Tambellini was used by the Canucks in a media relations role (“congratulations to the Thornhill Elementary kids school patrol and on behalf of the Vancouver Canucks let’s all have a big MAC!”) A lot of years later he moved up the ladder to VP of Player Personnel, a very important position for any organization. In the years 1998 through 2007 the Canucks did procure and develop several quality NHL players and although the amount of credit given is impossible to measure we can at least give credit to his organizational group for these players. Among them are Bryan Allen, Artem Chubarov, Jarkko Ruutu, the Sedins, Kevin Bieksa, RJ Umberger and Ryan Kesler. Some of those players were deep draft picks and took some time to develop so we can give credit to the organization for being at least on the radar in terms of procurement and development. The Canucks obviously made some horrid decisions during this time as well. Beyond that, we’re pissing in the wind.

Not much is known about him other than that so I thought it might be an idea just to throw things out there in case some of it is news to you:

  1. He was a skill center with speed.
  2. He was part of two rather large trades (was dealt with Chico Resch to Colorado for Mike McEwen who was a very good hockey player. Then he was traded to Calgary with Joel Quenneville for Mel Bridgman and Phil Russell).
  3. He turned 50 on May 14.
  4. Teammates (NHL, WJC, Olympics) included Glenn Anderson, Mike Bossy, Sean Burke, Butch Goring, Thomas Gradin, Randy Gregg, Wayne Gretzky, Terry Harper, Dale Hawerchuk, Guy Lafleur, Al MacInnis, Dennis Maruk, Denis Potvin and others. He would have been 99′s teammate on the 77-78 World Junior team. Tambellini went 6gp, 2-2-4 and the other guy went 6gp, 8-9-17. One was drafted in the first round, the other never drafted. Lordy.
  5. Tambellini’s coaches he would have played for in the NHL: Al Arbour, Bert Marshall, Marshall Johnston, Bill MacMillan, Badger Bob Johnson, Tom Watt and Bob McCammon.
  6. Tambellini’s GMs as a player would have included Bill Torrey, Cliff Fletcher, Lou Lamoriello, Jack Gordon and Pat Quinn.
  7. Tambellini’s GMs he’s worked for include Brian Burke, Dave Nonis and Mike Gillis.
  8. His nickname appears to be Tambs. Which is horrible. New nickname? I like Steve Zodiac. It works for the old generation and the new.
  9. As much as we are able to know about an organization of men that can’t number 200 at the highest level (NHL upper management), Tambellini appears to have an excellent reputation and would have been on most lists for “future General Manager.” He got the gig in Edmonton, with some haziness in regard to just how much power he’ll have in this group.
  10. In today’s Journal, Patrick Laforge is quoted as saying “Kevin’s been the executive vice-president, hockey operations, for the eight years I’ve been here, so he’s had all these responsibilities In this case, we’ll be co-equals, so that’s really the only thing that has changed. The issue, in a number of ways, is that he hasn’t had the time to do the things he’s capable of doing in a broader sense.” I can only take that to mean he will tackle things other than the procurement of players, the 23-man roster and the nuts and bolts of decision making. In other words, Tambellini does the ground work on trades, presents the idea to Lowe (along with KP) and Lowe gives the thumb’s up or down. I honestly can’t see this working for long, as Lowe’s time will probably be spent (more and more) away from the rink and away from all the hockey games, scouting reports, etc. The farther he gets from today, the less his influence in the hockey side of the operations. I can’t see it any other way. It isn’t good or bad, but I think it’s pretty important to make that statement now. Lowe can’t add more work in another area (after saying he needed help) and remain as in touch as is required for the GM job. He may tackle the arena project, he may streamline the management system, he may decide to add scouts in the mid-west to cover the increasingly powerful USHL. While he’s doing that, rookies are going to emerge and veterans are going to lose a step and Kevin Lowe is going to be out of touch before you know it.

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16 Responses to "Tambellini Info"

  1. Doogie2K says:

    When would Tambellini have played with Lafleur?

    He may tackle the arena project, he may streamline the management system, he may decide to add scouts in the mid-west to cover the increasingly powerful USHL. While he’s doing that, rookies are going to emerge and veterans are going to lose a step and Kevin Lowe is going to be out of touch before you know it.

    This is what confuses me about the whole deal. I mean, if he’s overseeing all of Rexall Sports’ properties and affiliations — the Oilers, the Oil Kings, the Falcons, and maybe the Thunder — I don’t think he’s going to have the time for more than broad strokes. I see Lowe as more of a rubber stamp for Tambellini’s immediate moves, and a voice in the room for long-term planning, but it’s not like he’s a glorified GM and Tambellini’s a glorified AGM. That defeats the purpose.

  2. Big T says:

    Well that answers that question. Thanks Cosh.

    I hope it was TamB who orchestrated the Luongo deal and did nothing else of for the rest of his tenure with the ‘nucks.

    The largest feather in his cap IMO has to be his work for Team Canada. Clearly a number of people believe he has something to offer when it comes to high level talent.


  3. Rick says:

    The more I tried to mull through the changes that happened yesterday without emotion, the more I kept coming back to a similar take on things as you had in your 10th item.

    I don’t think this is about castrating Lowe as much as it is about lessening the day to day load for an overworked guy.

    For an example, as fans we tend to get totally wrapped up in the players. Who’s here, who’s coming, who’s going, how are they going to get this guy or that guy and so on. Then when a trade finally does break we often hear how it was weeks or even months in the making. We also hear about how for every trade that is made there are many that never get done.

    If we really think about that, how much minutia is eating up hours and hours of these guys’ days that can be better spent elsewhere? And that is only talking about deal making.

    Delegating the heavy lifting and day to day stuff to another guy doesn’t seem like such a bad thing upon reflection.

    I agree that as the Oilers move forward and Tambellini establishes more of a track record within the organization his authority will probably grow with it but that would only happen if or when he proves that he is capable of doing a good job. Again not such a bad thing.In the mean time Lowe will act as Tambellini’s training wheels.

    Now that I am getting comfortable with this change in direction the bigger concern is what kind of a guy the Oilers have in Tambellini.

    It’s tough to get a good read at this point and personally concerning in the fact that I have never been terribly impressed with the make up of the Canucks. Even when they were seeing some success.

    Another thought I had but am not sure if it was part of what was intended, is the optics of stability within the organization moving forward. We all know the time comes when a GM or coach is shown the door. Often it tends to leave a real cloud over the organization while they try and sort out who the next guy is, the type of changes they will be looking to make and so on. One of the best recent examples is the Leafs, who on every level look like a total disorganized mess.

    Does it make a difference having a hockey guy above the GM who can a) step in on an interm basis if the GM is let go, b) is able to bring the next guy that meshes with the overall vision of the organization and c) gives off the appearance of a steady hand at the wheel even amid change?

    Just a thought.

  4. Baroque says:

    I like the earlier suggestion (by someone) of Mr. Tambelline Man.

    (Although maybe that’s just because I can’t get the tune out of my head!)

  5. mc79hockey says:

    I’m still not sure what in the hell is happening. I tend to think that Lowe just took a giant step closer to his destiny: VP of Remembering the Glory Days but it seems like the Oil have a plan to generate more value from that role than one otherwise might think. LaForge’s comment in MacKinnon’s column kind of gives away the game, I think:

    “LaForge noted the Oilers franchise operates in four leagues, with the Western Hockey League’s Oil Kings and Oilers farm clubs in the American Hockey League and East Coast Hockey League all under their umbrella.

    Most important is the new arena project, which Lowe will play a key role in, although precisely what role that is wasn’t made clear on Thursday.”


  6. Bruce says:

    He was a member of the Stanley team on the Island 1980, but I don’t know if his name is on the Cup.

    Soon as I read this comment I went off on a wild goose-chase looking up Tambellini’s stats, figuring that he did qualify and finding a pic of the engraving on the Cup. Only then did I make it to the comments and see Cosh had solved it within minutes of the initial post. Good sleuthing, Colby!

    While he never played a single playoff game, Tambellini did appear in 45 games that regular season. As I recall the requirements for engraving are 40+ games in the season or at least one game in the SCF. Tambellini qualified on the first count. Given he was a centre, I suspect it was the arrival of Butch Goring (acquired for a winger and a blueliner) at the deadline that relegated him to the PB.

    When would Tambellini have played with Lafleur?

    That would have been at the 1981 Worlds. That was after the Habs got blown out by the Oilers in a shocking three-game preliminary round sweep (gee, I seem to keep mentioning that) and Guy decided to head overseas. Some nobody from the Italian league tried to make a name for himself by crushing the Flower early in his first game while he was working off jet lag, and Don Cherry is still pissed about it. Neither Tambellini nor Lafleur made much of an impact in that tourney. Nor did Canada.

    Tambellini also represented Canada near the end of his career in the Calgary Olympics, playing alongside fellow NHLers Randy Gregg, Andy Moog, and Jim Peplinski.

  7. DeBakey says:

    Let me be one of the first to say
    “I’m tired of all you Tambellpologists covering for this guy. What has he ever done for us?”

  8. Black Dog says:

    good one mr. d

    you tambetrasher you

  9. Kev says:

    I grew up in the Lethbridge area when he was a Bronco. He appeared to have a good rep then too and was a name player around there at that time.

    PunjabiOil put it quite nicely, that the path Lowe has had to walk was a tough one, but he exemplified an Oiler through and through. We’re lucky to have him. That all applies to MacTavish as well, and both could’ve bailed a long time ago. I value their loyalty, character and work ethic, so important in any working group, and I believe Tambellini will bring that as well. As a GM we’ll see, but this is a good start. And with the good foundation Lowe has established, he should hit the ground running.

  10. mike w says:

    People (and media) in Vancouver apparently called him Tamby.

    Mind you, these are some same people that call Roberto Luongo Bobby Loo.

    I prefer Touch Tam’s Bellini.

  11. dstaples says:

    Three things . . .

    1. Nickname — “T-bell” does it for me.

    Short. Obvious. Modern. Kinda funny, with the link to Tinkerbell and Taco Bell.

    Oilers Nation thought up that one.

    And I am still pushing “Steve-apologists,” and let me just say this Tambellini has all the credentials to be the greatest GM in league history ;).

    2. As for Lowe’s decision making, I suspect he’s really going to focus on the Oil, no matter what is being said. But I have no idea, really.

    3. I am envious of Mr. Cosh for latching on to that Relic mug shot. As we get older, we all start to feel like Relic.

  12. boopronger says:

    On the ‘Nucks board someone called him the tambourine man. I kinda like it.

  13. oilerdiehard says:

    On the ‘Nucks board someone called him the tambourine man. I kinda like it.

    Yeah that one works.

    I noticed a number of posters on the Canucks board were calling him “Tambi”.

    I am not sure that is much better than Tambs.

  14. IceDragoon says:

    Good day.
    It’s day somewhere.

    Lain… Lowe isn’t stepping away from the hockey ops. He’s stepping away from the daily grind of kibitzing with a bunch of GMs. That’s now Tambellini’s gig. fwiw – I vote for T-bell.

    All potential acquisitions will be reviewed by the management team, which includes MacTavish, in case your old neuropathways misplaced that little nugget. This isn’t really a change in SOP. There’s just a few more bodies around the table.

    So, essentially, Scott Howson has been replaced by Tambellini, Prendergast and Olczyk, right? Plus, a position was created for Rob Daum. Tho, he may still choose to go elsewhere.


    Prendergast said Morey Gare will now be the head of pro scouting, based down east. Dave Semenko, Mike Abbamont and former Oilers assistant coach Rob Daum will round out the pro-scouting department. Daum, who looked into farm team jobs with Grand Rapids (Wings) and Wilkes-Barre (Penguins) before they went to other people, will have a multi-faceted role.

    “We want Rob to break down systems of other teams as to why they’re successful. He’s really good at that. Like we’d like to know why Dallas does such a good job checking the Sedins? Rob can concentrate on individual players on other teams and give us some input on how we might stop them,” said Prendergast. Daum will likely be heavily involved in scouting the teams in the Northwest division because they play the Flames, Canucks, Avalanche and Wild 24 times.

    Daum may still investigate the opening for a head coach in Dynamo Minsk in Belarus after former Nashville assistant coach Paul Gardner resigned for family reasons.

    I suspect we’ll see even more off-ice additions in due time.

    Oh, and… Is Tambellini another Italian/Canadian for our collection?


  15. Robert says:

    For every trade made in the NHL, there are hundreds of phone calls that don’t result in trades andonly one final decision.

    On minor stuff, decisions and footwork will be done by TamB. On bigger stuff, signing the ‘Ryan Smyth’s and trading the ‘Prongers’, TamB will bring Klow and KP the options, they will debate them and then come to a decision. As in any management situation its a discussion and compramise, but I would suspect that if there was ever a major disagreement, that Lowe would get his way, but with that said anytime a Boss overrules a manager it can lead to discontentment and a degredation of the relationship (run- sentence). So, in reality ALL management situations like this involve shared decision making and that is what we will see here.

    People are asking the wrong questions when they ask f this is KLowe’s tem or TamB’s team because the answer is YES, its it their team – both of them.

    Its just a different style than the “Hockey Genius” model where one individual gets all the credit.

    Anyone who thinks that a situation like this cannot last has never worked in upper management at a business. It can last, provided that everyone has the same general beleifs and values about the business. the interviews with Lowe and TamB seem to suggest that is why the two of them felt that this situation could work for them.

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