I often wonder what an Oilers fan would say to Daryl Katz, given a chance to sit down and have a coffee. I mean, aside from the “what the hell have you done!?!?!!” rage moment, what would we say? Mr. Katz isn’t about to lower himself to talk to the unwashed, everything about him suggests he’s not really interested in dialogue and exchange of ideas. In his own way, Daryl Katz is kind of a modern Elvis—you can walk to the gates of Graceland and peer inside—but he’s down in the jungle room and there’s no buzzer to push.
I think there’s some home truths that Mr. Katz could hear today from the fanbase that may benefit him in making his decision about how to proceed. Make no mistake, Saturday night losses to Calgary count thrice in the mind’s eye of Oilers Nation. Losing to THAT Calgary team in THAT way? Added to the histrionics? Well. If I had an opportunity to spend one hour with Daryl Katz, I’d tell him the following:
- Steve Tambellini is a nice man but a bad hire. He didn’t address jack diddly in the GM’s chair and Craig MacTavish can’t change time in one summer.
- Steve Tambellini is the ONLY man in the history of sports who felt building the defense last was a good idea. GM and Coach are paying for those sins today, it’s obvious.
- During the first few Oil Change episodes, Stu MacGregor says something like “guys, we can’t just draft forwards, we need some defensemen!” and later that summer the Oilers selected Martin Marincin. There is help on the way, but may not arrive in time to keep the Hall-Eberle group intact.
- The GAP in capable NHL defensemen can be traced directly to Steve Tambellini’s choice of Cam Barker as the big free agent signing in 2011 summer. The previous GM signed Sheldon Souray as his option, the following GM chose Andrew Ference, but the guy in the middle chose someone who had recently been bought out AND had no history of defensive success in the NHL.
- The play here isn’t firing MacTavish or really Eakins. The play here is allowing the GM to improve the defense over the summer—probably at the expense of Eberle or Yakupov or Perron or Schultz—and maybe that first round pick, too.
- There may come a time, now or in the future, when the front end of the current rebuild—Sam Gagner for sure, but possibly Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle—ask out. I don’t think there’s any real way to convince any of these kids the good times are just over the hill, so the center of the rebuild may at some point center on Nuge, Yakupov, Klefbom, Marincin, Nurse and this year’s first round pick. I’m not saying that will happen, only that it could. Sam Gagner has apparently asked/agreed to a deal, and you can see his point of view. How long until Taylor Hall feels the same way? I think four years of wandering in muck, which represents 25% of a career (or so), might be the outer marker for some of these young men. Can we blame them? I don’t think we can.
- I don’t see any value in replacing the GM or coach. There needs to be some change, enough to allow for a new power-play solution and something resembling structure defensively. I think additional defensemen with experience and another veteran center would help more than a new coach, and of course that list has to be front and center this summer.
- Oilers ownership needs to abandon the idea that the draft can offer immediate help. If Aaron Ekblad or Leon Draisaitl are drafted this summer, send them (and Darnell Nurse) back to junior. Solve today’s problems with today’s solutions.
Could I get that all in during a one-hour coffee chat? Probably not, I’d be asking to see the 1979 entry draft list compiled by Barry Fraser. I’m hopeful MacT keeps his job, he’s a good man who has done good things in the last twelve months. I also believe Dallas Eakins is going to be a fine NHL coach, and this season has been a learning experience. I suspect we’ll see new assistants shortly, likely summer but possibly before. Losing to THIS Calgary team like THAT cannot go unpunished. I believe that to be true.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
10 this morning, TSN 1260. A lot to get to and this will be a busy week.
- Scott Burnside, ESPN. We’ll talk Oilers, playoff races and Glen Sather staying on as GM in NYC.
- Travis Yost, Hockeybuzz. Ottawa’s bizarre season—one that began with such hope—is in the gutter.
- Mario Puig from Rotowire. NFL draft edges closer, DeSean Jackson cut? What the hell?
- Kirk Luedeke, Redline Report. Bruins, draft, Stanley.
10-1260 via text, @Lowetide_ on twitter. Lots of Oiler talk on the 40′s, please chime in on text and twitter!!!!