For the second time in as many weeks, I have heard the GM of the Edmonton Oilers, Steve Tambellini say that he knows his team is better than the standings show. The Oilers are currently secure in 29th place out of 30 teams. My question is, how does he know? What could possibly give him that indication…?

After a pitiful performance against the Colorado Avalanche last Friday night where the Oilers lost 3-1 in an absolute disaster of a game no matter how you looked at it, Edmonton comes out and lays an egg against the Vancouver Canucks last night at Rexall Place.

I attended the Season Seat Holder Meet & Greet on Saturday afternoon after that craptacular game against the Av’s, and was hoping to get some insight from the Hotstove portion of the day where Patick LaForge and Steve Tambellini were going to speak. This is an event where the Oilers thank their fans by allowing them to get some photos with players, some food and beverages and listen to management address us the Oilers faithful. Allin-all a great event that is appreciated by this fan!

When Steve Tambellini took the stage, I was expecting a humble and somewhat apologetic speech from the Oilers GM. You know, something along the lines of… “We are trying our best and we are going to be better! I for one will do everything in my power to ensure this team is competitive from here on in, no matter what. Thank-you Fans, for sticking with us and please do not lose hope or faith.” What I got was another round of (and I paraphrase here) “We Know we’re better than the standings indicate.”  and more of…”Injuries have really hurt us, but we are not going to go after anything that would be deemed as a quick fix.” This is the same spiel he gave fans approx two weeks ago through a media avail.

His justification for this sentiment is that the Oilers have made huge strides in special teams play. The PP unit was 27th last year with a 14.5% success rate with the extra man. The PK was worse at 29th with a success rate of 77% for the year. So Far this year the Oilers have achieved  4th on the PP with a 20.8% and the PK has improved to 13th with a 82.6% success rate respectively. These are HUGE improvements. But they still do not explain to me why this team is any better than they are, second last in the league! Is it just me or are you only as good as the standings say you are?

No matter how you slice it, the Oilers are just plain bad again this year. And so far the only thing that I have seen happen from the GM’s perspective is, Corey Potter signing and Andy Sutton got a one year deal. Oh, and the deal last week for Ryan O’Mara that gave OKC some depth for their upcoming cup run. Which by the way, Tambellini was sure to mention. That felt a little like he was trying to sell me a little swamp land in Florida he owns.

Why does Tom Renney still have a job, if Tambellini believes that the Oilers are better than they have shown? How come the GM hasn’t gone out and got a new Coach that get the team to play the way Tambellini envisions it? Could it possibly be because the Oilers really aren’t that good after all? And in fact have sucked pretty badly? Is that the Coach’s fault? I would say that it partially is, when I see Belanger still logging minutes that should be anyone else’s, and Horcoff is a glorious -20 on the year and still getting first line minutes.

And another thing…if the Oilers truly believed that Ales Hemsky was a worthwhile player, you would think they might have attempted contract negotiations a little sooner than they did! And what about Ryan Smyth? Tambellini came out last week, and said that Ryan will not be traded (rented) at the deadline. So why hasn’t there been a deal signed? I haven’t heard anything that would make me believe that they are working on a deal for Smyth. I get he is not the concern now with the trade deadline looming on Monday the 27th. But, if he is going to stay, which seems to be the case, then why not get it out of the way? Smyth did say that he would’ve played in Calgary if Edmonton didn’t deal for him. I’m not suggesting that this will happen, but why not make him and the fans feel better by getting this done and having one less thing to worry about during this busy part of the season?

The last word I will have here, is this… I am a Sales Guy that tries not to lead my customers down a garden path too often, but there is a time and a place to “sell” a customer. In Tambellini’s case, now is not the time to “sell” me, now is the time to eat a little crow and be honest. You can tell when a customer is not “buying” your story by their body language and tone of voice. Well…if twitter, blogs, radio and tv media aren’t enough for Tambellini to take the temperature of the fan base in Edmonton, then at least give us the respect to know that we are smarter than what you are trying to “sell” us. One thing did really bug me about the Hotstove portion of the afternoon. I personally wrote a question that was a little less than cordial and relates to being “sold” this 29th place finish. I really didn’t like the fact that the only truly hard questions were directed at Patrick LaForge relating to ticket prices and how they’ve increased while the product has been less than good the last 5 years. I had to submit my question through the filter that is the Oilers web site and of course they didn’t read it. It bugs me that they try and filter the message to the fans on one hand and then tell us all how smart we are when it comes to our hockey knowledge. C’mon Oilers, please do a little better than that.

In the end, I’m sorry to say this Mr. Tambellini, but 29th place is 29th place no matter how you want to look at it or sell it to your customers. My only question is, when are you going to fix it?


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