Lowered Expectations

You know, I wasn’t completely surprised when I heard that GM Steve Tambellini was re-signed by the club today. I mean, I was plenty upset like when you get your cheque garnished from unpaid back taxes, but I think I’d be lying to you if I tried telling that I didn’t believe it was going to happen.

Coach? We'll get one. Sooner or later. Photo courtesy oilers.nhl.com

Getting a one-year deal is somewhat reasonable.  Rebuild or not, this team hasn’t been fun to watch over the past…six years.  Or two, or three, or however many the current administration feels justified in owning up to.  Fact of the matter is that when this team spent to the cap in 2009-10, *that* wasn’t supposed to be a rebuild year.  If you spend almost every penny in your piggy bank on an ’86 Caprice with 380,000 miles on it and the radiator blows, you can’t say that it’s all for naught two-thirds of the way through your trip.

That’s exactly what this current administration did.

But – in all fairness, we’re at the basement once again, and if Kevin Lowe thinks that Tambellini is the guy to pull this team out of the ditch, I don’t see why he shouldn’t get one year to do it.  One year.

One.

Get this team into the playoffs.  Build us a contender.  Surely, surely, surely you can’t ask us to be any more patient than we already have been.  Right?  I mean, six years out, 2+ years of ‘rebuild’, we’ve been held hostage long enough.  You started this, now’s your chance to bring us out.

It’s a fairly short leash, but after preaching patience and rebuild, I think it’s a fair length deserved.  I’m pulling for you.  Really, I don’t want to gripe any more than I already have.  I want to use words like “savvy” and “impressive” to describe your tenure.  I’m unable to do so as of yet.

It also remains fuzzy whether we’re entering Phase II or III of the Oilers renovation. Job 1, if not Phase I for Tambellini was clearing away the detritus of the previous regime.

-John MacKinnnon, Edmonton Journal (06 JUN 2012)

Here’s one of my favourite quotes in the six years I’ve blogged about the Oilers.

…on Steve Tambellini being extended, this is, again, not a, come on, everybody knew this was coming.  Since February of 2010, the Edmonton Oilers have been in a rebuilding model -er, mode.  That means, there’s gonna be some – there’s gonna be some tough times, you gotta be able to stomach it. Now, do I expect the Oilers personally to come in 29th or 30th next year? No, I would-  I would hope there would be improvement, you know, somewhere between 22nd to 25th, I thought the team could finish 22nd to 30th this year.

Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now, (06 JUN 2012) (if you click the link, you can hear this snippet with 8:05 remaining of the ‘Chat’ category).  Emphasis mine.

See that?  With Stauffer saying that he hopes the Oilers would improve to somewhere ‘between 22nd and 25th’, Tambellini just got another reprieve.  If Stauffer doesn’t expect the Oilers to make the playoffs next year, why should I?  He is, after all, an employee of the club.

Oh well.  Maybe Tambellini will be held accountable in 2014.

Does anyone know what the hell is going on here?

Show of hands – is this club supposed to make the playoffs in 2013?  How about 2014?  What about after that?

If I ask Stauffer, David Staples, Curtis Stock and John MacKinnon that question, I’m likely to get four different answers, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear an “I don’t know”.

I’m not even sure the administration knows.

Does anyone else find it disheartening that the Stanley Cup hasn’t even been awarded in 2012, yet Bob Stauffer is predicting that the Oilers will still be a far cry from the playoffs next year?

IS MISSING THE PLAYOFFS AGAIN A GOOD ENOUGH IMPROVEMENT?

The 22nd overall team this year was Winnipeg, who finished with 84 points.  The 25th overall team was Anaheim, who finished with 80.  I realize that what Stauffer said isn’t written in stone, but I find it somewhat disheartening that an employee of the Oilers is all but relegating next season to be another whiff at the playoffs.

Let’s use this year’s point totals as an example.  The Ducks finished at 25th overall, 80 points.  That’s an ‘improvement’ of six points over Edmonton’s current season (74).  Statistically yes, that would be an improvement.

Three more victories (or six total points) – is that a big enough improvement for you?  I mean, the Oilers ‘improved’ twelve points this year over last year’s total.  With another shiny number one draft pick in tow, are you satisfied as a fan if this team improves by only six points next year and misses the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season?

So we’ve got Tambellini for at least two more years.  If media is passing on 2013 already, it would lead me to believe that Tambellini’s got at least one more than that.

If this team misses the playoffs again, they’ll completely be through Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi’s entry level deals.  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will have just one more year remaining on his ELC, and whomever they draft at first overall will have pissed through the first year of an entry level deal.

If you can defend a GM who has allowed this to happen on his watch, I’d love to hear how.

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