Tambellini’s last face to face media conference took place in a NASCAR wind tunnel and his most recent phone conference featured the most chaotic bundle of cross-feeds, wild-feeds and subterfuge since World War Two.
This time the GM decided to do a one-on-one with Dan Tencer and seemed far less huffy than last time when a Nikolai Khabibulin question seems to have sent him into a tizzy.
I didn’t transcribe it verbatim, but did try to get the spirit of the thing. Apologies for any errors that change the overall point being made. Among the items of importance:
- Gilbert Brule: “He comes in with a chance to make the hockey club. Pat knows his play, when he played well for the Vancouver Giants. It’s a big year for Gilbert, he’s shown glimpses–he can score, he plays with a little bit of an edge–but he needs to show that he can be a consistent player to make the hockey team. I wasn’t displeased with his AHL season, but I think he could have been a lot better. I thought he played better when he came up to the NHL team.”
- Center overall: “We’ve got a lot of people who can play center, with Horcoff, Gagner, Cogliano and Brule. Patrick O’Sullivan who centered the top line at the World Championships for Team USA reminded us how well he played center. There’s options there, it’ll be interesting to see how Pat formulates this lineup and changes it around a little bit. People have been talking about how good Brule could be, Jacques could be, Pouliot never had a chance, well they’re going to get a chance and let’s see what they can do. I think Cogliano’s speed is NHL elite, he has struggled as far as his faceoff ability and Pouliot gives you a little extra size and the right handed draw also, and O’Sullivan can make the nifty pass and can shoot. He plays very well there (center).”
- Ladislav Smid: “He did step up (last season). People underestimate how big he is, he’s 6.03 close to 230 pounds and he plays hard. He’s a Euro defenseman who plays like a North American kid. I like that fact. The defense is the strength of our hockey club, and as Laddy gets better he forces you either to play him or to find a way to make sure he is playing more minutes, either through player movement or just making sure that as Pat said people who play well will earn their ice time.”
- On the blue: “That’s the strength of our hockey club. You can argue some areas of the hockey club, but that’s the strength of our hockey club.”
- On the AHL and Player Development: “To me, there’s no rush in bringing a player to the NHL. They’ll show you when they’re ready. The AHL is a tough hockey league, if you can’t be a dominant player there it’s hard to be a good player in the NHL.”
- Eberle: “I need him to feel like he’s physically able to handle NHL men pushing and playing hard against him every night. I’m in no rush with him, but if a player is ready to play it forces you to find a way.”
- Ryan Stone: “He’s a competitive game, success at the AHL level. The thing holding him back is leg strength, first step quickness. He’s smart and a character kid.”
- Rob Schremp: “He’s coming in with a new coaching staff and a clean slate. Tom is aware of his skill set and Pat has told everyone there’s no pre-determined opinion. I’ll let the coaches determine where he’s at, but it’s probably nice for a player in his spot to have a new set of eyes on him.”
Among the things I take away are a feeling that O’Sullivan might end up playing center and could be on any of the top 3 lines based on what they seem to be thinking. It seems more wide open for everyone based on this interview but I don’t think we should let our imaginations run too wild here: the veterans will play.
I like Tambellini. He’s not too smooth, seems to genuinely believe that keeping kids down on the farm until they’re ready is a better way and also sounds like a guy who’ll look for options when the coaching staff identifies a hole. What does it all mean?
A trade is coming. And right soon. Center incoming.