This Wheel’s On Fire

The problem is you develop a past. One minute you’re a child star and National Velvet is huge box office, the next minute you’re the next big thing and the minute after that you’re a leper and everyone hates you for what you did to Debbie Reynolds.

When the Edmonton Oilers hired Steve Tambellini, he had a little bit of the clumsy in him and his resume looked like a guy who had been passed over a bit too often. Nothing fatal, but there was a bit of the Robert Stanfield (American readers might recognize this fellow better) about him and of course we worry about the guy running the town team.

I think most fans were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and there was certainly a need for change after the tough seasons that followed G7 SCF in spring 2006.

Here are the major events that lend themselves to the story we see in front of us this evening:

  • July 31, 2008: Oilers sign Steve Tambellini to a 4-year contract, bump Kevin Lowe up the chain same day.
  • January 17, 2009: Oilers trade G Mathieu Garon to Pittsburgh for R Ryan Stone, G Dany Sabourin and a 4th round pick.
  • March 4, 2009: Oilers take part in a 3-way deal that sees them acquire Patrick O’Sullivan and Alex Kotalik. The club deals UFA-to-be Erik Cole and a 5th round pick to get it done.
  • April 15, 2009: Oilers fire Craig MacTavish.
  • May 26, 2009: Oilers hire head coach Pat Quinn and Tom Renney as Associate coach.
  • June 2009: Oilers spend all waking hours attempting to acquire Dany Heatley. Among the ones that got away? Curtis Glencross.
  • June 27, 2009: Oilers trade C Kyle Brodziak and a 6th rd pick (Darcy Kuemper) in the 2009 entry draft in exchange for a 4th rd pick (Kyle Bigos) and a 5th rd pick (Olivier Roy).
  • July 1, 2009: Oilers sign Nikolai Khabibulin.
  • March 1, 2010: Oilers trade D Denis Grebehkov to Nashville for a 2nd rd pick.
  • March 3, 2010: Oilers claim Ryan Jones off waivers from Nashville.
  • March 3, 2010: Oilers trade Lubo Visnovsky to Anaheim for D Ryan Whitney and a 6th round pick.
  • March 3, 2010: Oilers trade D Steve Staios to Calgary for D Aaron Johnson and a 3rd rd pick.
  • June 23, 2010: Oilers acquire C Colin Fraser from Chicago for a 6th rd pick.
  • June 26, 2010: Oilers trade C Riley Nash to Carolina for  a 2nd rd pick.
  • June 30, 2010: Oilers lose L Ethan Moreau to a waiver claim from Columbus.
  • June 30, 2010: Oilers trade Patrick O’Sullivan to Phoenix for D Jim Vandermeer.
  • June 30, 2010: Oilers buyout Robert Nilsson’s contract.
  • July 1, 2010: Oilers sign D Kurtis Foster.
  • July 2, 2010: Oilers sign D Jason Strudwick.
  • July 2, 2010: Oilers sign R Steve MacIntyre.
  • July 13, 2010: Oilers sign D Shawn Belle.
  • October 6, 2010: Oilers assign D Sheldon Souray to Hershey (AHL).

It’s a checkered record to be sure. Tambellini has done some good things (adding bullets for Stu MacGregor, as an example) but his player procurement is a major contributor to the mess that is the current team. Nikolai Khabibulin, Patrick O’Sullivan, Ryan Whitney, Colin Fraser, Jim Vandermeer, Jason Strudwick, Steve MacIntyre.

The Oilers implemented a long term plan less than one year ago. Oil Change V1.0 told us Darryl Katz was the first person in the organization to use the words “rebuild” and no one can question the work done by the scouting staff (it actually began before Tambellini arrived, so that fix was in place before him).

I mentioned over at ON not long ago that Steve Tambellini does in fact have a track record. I finished that post by saying:

  • So, when we’re talking about the horrible PK, we need to be very specific about the problem. The penalty kill is awful, but we can’t accuse Steve Tambellini of inertia. He did in fact attempt to address the issue, but the results have been poor. Sooner or later, he’s going to have to address the PK (and the blue) again or leave it for the next man in line.Tomorrow is promised to Taylor Hall and the other kids, but not to Steve Tambellini. It’s a harsh business.

It is more true today than it was yesterday. Today’s dull roar may grow into tomorrow’s scream.

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