I’ve been trying to write this for a few months now, but nothing rhymes. It isn’t an especially difficult subject, but the nuts and bolts are difficult. I’m going to have another lash this morning.
ELLIOTTE FRIEDMAN, A YEAR AGO
- Creative thinking: 4. I do think Steve Tambellini was allowed to make his own decisions, but by the end, Kevin Lowe (and MacTavish) clearly didn’t believe in them. The most interesting thing about Monday’s media conference was how different Lowe and MacTavish sounded. Lowe talked about past accomplishments, MacTavish looked towards the future — saying repeatedly how much the game has changed. There was criticism for going “same old, same old” in Edmonton, but MacTavish came across very differently. This could be a very interesting dynamic.
A year into the process, there’s a lot of negativity toward MacT’s first season. We’ll take a longer look during the RE series, but I wanted to discuss creative thinking, evaluation and action specifically.
STEVE TAMBELLINI’S BIG MOVE
In the summer of 2011, Steve Tambellini had two 1st overall picks in his back pocket and a lot of holes on the NHL team. The biggest need was probably (this is no surprise) defense, where the team had this depth chart:
- Ladislav Smid
- Tom Gilbert
- Ryan Whitney
- Theo Peckham (looked at that moment like a guy on the way to establishing himself as an NHL D)
- Jeff Petry (had played 35 games in 2010-11 and looked good)
- Taylor Chorney (was still trying to get it right)
- Cam Barker, who had recently been bought out by Minnesota. We looked at him right away and found him wanting in every area.
- Andy Sutton, who was a suitable addition for third pairing—and enforcer role—and perhaps insurance against Theo Peckham who wasn’t clearly established as that option.
I don’t think those moves are strong enough, and in my opinion they show a lack of creativity. Furthermore, I’d suggest that Steve Tambellini settled for a lesser option and lacked the aggressiveness required to adequately address a very specific and large area of need. I’m hopeful that the links show this isn’t hindsight, we saw this at the time, and the decision to hire Cam Barker had a direct impact on the team, coach Renney, Taylor Hall’s entry level success, and on it goes.
CRAIG MACTAVISH AND HIS BIG MOVE
This isn’t a direct comparison, Tambellini had been on the job for several years when he made the Barker move. However, Craig MacTavish took over in April, made some assessments, and went about the work of getting things done. I could choose any number of options, but have chosen Andrew Ference since it was an attempt to address the same issue a couple of years later. Here’s what I posted at the time:
- D Andrew Ference, 4 years times 3.25M. An overpay where he’ll play, Ference is ideally suited as a veteran pairing for Schultz the younger. He was 4th among Bruins in EV TOI (17:06) and fourth in PK TOI (2:13) and will probably play similar minutes with the Oilers. I think we should probably prepare for Ladislav Smid or Nick Schultz heading out of town (Ottawa or Philly is my guess) before training camp. The current LH depth chart is Smid, Ference, N Schultz, Anton Belov, Oscar Klefbom–suspect we’ll see a flip before fall.
The first season by Ference in Edmonton was not a good one, and that’s a very bad sign. In a season where young Martin Marincin played brilliantly after callup, you could reasonably argue that Ference was the least effective regular defenseman on the team:
Interesting that MacT’s Russian long shot performed well in this discipline, but his big money solution had a poor year. What’s more, unlike the Cam Barker deal (a one-year deal), Ference is signed for another three years at $3.25 million. Now, they can buy him out, and I’d suggest they’re at least a year away from contemplating it, but the fact remains that the MacT solution (Ference) was not successful AND it has a $9 million dollar kicker.
Steve Tambellini signed Cam Barker to a one-year, $2.25 million dollar deal and traded him away after 25 games. Craig MacTavish aimed higher, signing Andrew Ference to a four-year deal at $3.25 million per season.
Question for you: what signing was the poorer of the two? I would still argue the Barker acquisition, because it had no hope of success. The addition of Ference, although an older player, was an attempt to bring in a proven player, a veteran, an actual NHL player, to solve the problem.
I prefer that 10 times out of 10, even if it didn’t work out. Do you agree?
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. Gagner, Draft, Oil Kings, Ference versus Barker.
- Guy Flaming, Pipeline Show. Oil Kings, Brett Pollock, what’s happening with Mitchell Moroz?
- Kirk Luedeke, Red Line Report. 2014 draft, and the long and rich history of the Bruins v. Habs.
- Andrew Berkshire, Habs Eyes on the Prize. Montreal has been so smart this postseason, but with Doug Murray apparently back in the lineup, is Michel Therrien back to bringing the crazy?
10-1260 via text, @Lowetide_ on twitter. See you on the radio!