When it comes to rebuilds, the Toronto 68-74 edition happened right in front of Canadians my age. Toronto won the Stanley in 1967 with all kinds of old men and then began the process of adding kids each season in order to turn over the roster.
The “textbook” rebuild–or build, I should say–happened in New York and was performed by Bill Torrey. Torrey learned a lot about the business in Oakland, as the Seals sent their first rounders to Montreal for second tier talent. Torrey has some quotes in the new book BEHIND THE MOVES (thanks, WG) and much of the book deals with teams trying to build up their rosters.
Every GM has the mandate to win a Cup, but you can’t just say it. You have to back it up with the steps that convince your owner, your fans, the media that, “yeah they are headed in the right direction.” Bill Torrey
That’s such an interesting quote. Steve Tambellini is about to get a contract extension, meaning that owner Darryl Katz and franchise pilot Kevin Lowe must feel he has shown enough in the position to earn two more years (more or less) to build on the drafts. Steve Tambellini has been on the job 42 months, and the major progress has been at the draft table.
That’s enough for Darryl Katz.
The fans are a mixed bag. One thing that always strikes me as interesting about Oiler nation is the amount of unrest seems to be related to how far you live from ground zero. Locals seem to have an endless supply of patience, distant fans seem ready to explode. One thing the two groups have in common: while some fall away from the day to day events of the team, very few (from what I’ve seen) flush following the team altogether.
The Oilers are a very famous team. Awesome 20+ years ago, it seems as though one of the results of the glory days is a fanbase that has had a lot of time to stare at the team. Owners, managers, coaches, players, scouts, hell if the zamboni guy did an interview we’d find something to complain about there too.
The Steve Tambellini extension should come this week or next, and with it another round of gasps and eye rolls. The truth is none of it matters. Mr. Katz has his building, the current cement pond is full or close to and the GM is making enough progress to retain his job.
The business is running smoothly based on the actions of the business. Signing the GM to an extension tells us that much. We’re going to hear a lot about defense in the next 5 months. A lot.
Tommy Gilbert might be back soon, that means it is all hands on deck for the blue. Toronto has a pretty good team these days, it’s likely a playoff group. Oilers should be able to win the game, but the warts of being a road team and a hot goalie in the big smoke could spell doom. I wonder how many interviews Gagner will have this afternoon.