Archive for November, 2008

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Funny. This is a very telling picture as to what I was thinking when this post came to mind. Who’s call is it? Let’s just say that Mark Spector’s article in Sportsnet was very accurate and an unnamed veteran has suggested that a coaching change might be the best route to take after trade possibilities are looked at.

With Kevin Lowe in the background, the hiring of Tambellini, an outsider, as the GM, that would lend credence to the fact that Katz is not looking to perpetuate an old boys club that has emphasis on anything other than winning. That being said, Katz has been on record as referring to Lowe and MacT as friends. You find it a lot in business that people surround themselves with people they trust, and friends fall in that category.

Let me ask you a question….does the team look a bit stale to you? It gives off the impression to me, and sometimes a change in leadership can infuse a freshness that can spark a team.

I listened intently to the media scrum on 630 ched archives (Third link down) with the interview of Steve Tambellini. Thus far in 2008-09 he seems to have been eerily silent. Not a lot of talk with Tambo, not a lot of moves, seemingly in the background more than Bush is to Obama.

In the scrum, I sense that Tambellini is very politically correct, and talks as if they are a management team that he is part of, not the leader of. I get the sense that he feels like the coach is doing a reasonable job and that the players are the guys that should be held accountable for what is going on. Either that or it is the company line that he has been instructed to profess.

Until I see a move that gives the sense that Tambellini is running the show, this is still Kevin Lowe’s team and if that is the case, the coach leaving is the last selection on the list of multiple choices.

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Coaching…motivation, a necessary evil?

Posted: November 27, 2008 in NHL, Oilers

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Al Arbour was a master motivator. Herb Brooks also falls into the category along with Scotty Bowman and I am certain quite a few others.

I have heard the school of thought that Craig MacTavish shouldn’t have to motivate millionaire hockey players, that their paycheque should be motivation enough. That being said, why are all the greatest coaches of all time considered great motivators?

In Ken Dryden’s book, The Game, he cited this about Bowman…”Scotty Bowman is not someone who is easy to like…. Abrupt, straightforward, without flair or charm, he seems cold and abrasive, sometimes obnoxious, controversial but never colorful. He is not Vince Lombardi, tough and gruff with a heart of gold. His players don’t sit and tell hateful-affectionate stories about him…. He is complex, confusing, misunderstood, unclear in every way but one. He is a brilliant coach, the best of his time.” Canadiens star Steve Shutt put it this way: “You hated him 364 days years, and on the 365th day you got your Stanley Cup ring.”

When I watched the Oilers last night, I saw some pretty good players. I saw some skill and some pretty good plays. I thought that the goalie was pretty good, especially in close.

There was one thing that I thought was entirely missing was the willingness to compete at the highest level. This was Craig MacTavish’s quote last night.

“It’s clear the will was there,” he said. “We’re a tight group right now. In particular at home. The will and the try and all of those things based on effort are there. It’s just a lack of execution in some pretty critical areas of the game offensively.”

It may be odd to some, but I have a differing opinion as to how the game looked. Not that the Oilers were dogging it. It wasn’t a brutal effort. But it would be easy for anyone who took the time to watch the first half of the TSN double header to see that the losing team (Detroit) would have hammered either of the teams that were on the Rexall ice.

The puck pursuit was very good, the effort on every play was at a high level. But then again, that is the difference between contenders and pretenders.

I have always been someone who could take or leave Craig MacTavish. He seems to be able to teach certain players and get the most out of them. Most players like to play for him. He seems to be accountable.

On the other hand, he can’t coach skill very well, he can’t motivate players, and maximize their potential. Skill players do not flourish under MacTavish, which is probably why Tim Sesito and Liam Reddox are up. Brule and Schremp do not fall under the prototypical MacTavish player.

With the Oilers property as it sits, I would have the following…

Penner Horcoff Hemsky

Nilsson Cogliano Gagner

Moreau Schremp Cole

Brule Brodziak Stortini(And if you aren’t happy with Stortini, move him and call up Potulny)

MacIntyre

Souray Gilbert

Visnovsky Grebeshkov

Staios Smid

Strudwick

Garon/Roloson (Move one….and I am not concerened which.)

Deslauriers

Set your line up with your best players and go to war. Motivate them and get them fired up…because I am certain Oiler fans are tired of mediocrity….and part, a good part is on MacTavish, like it or not. Motivating is part of the job, and if you can’t do it, there are others who can.

A game of chicken…

Posted: November 26, 2008 in Uncategorized

This isn’t Oiler related, but I wanted to talk about negotiations and how they work.  I was reading an article in Twincities.com that indicated that Wild GM Doug Risebrough had yet to communicate with Backstrom’s agent Don Baizley about a contract with Backstrom set to be an Unrestricted Free Agent on July 1.

In Sun Tzu’s Art of War, the art of listening is the key to a successful negotiation.  This episode is another example of poor negotiations.

If I were an NHL GM, which would of course be the dream job, I would have constant contact with the agents of my key players.  My goal would be to maintain my key core of players and then mix in complimentary players to be successful.  Why that doesn’t seem to work in Minnesota is a mystery to me with Gaborik almost a for sure exit and no contact with one of the best statistical goalies in the league.

There are 28 Unrestricted Free Agent goalies but 4-5 of them are legitimate starters for a team that wants to be a playoff contender.  A resurgent Khabibulin, Tim Thomas, Martin Biron, and Manny Legace.  If you want to sprinkle in guys that could be considered a potential starter, Dwayne Roloson, Manny Fernandez, and even Mathieu Garon might be on your list as someone you can sign on the cheap and let him run for a year or two.

Looking at the availables, none of them are more appealing than the guy you already have in house, so why would you not be talking with the agent a quarter of the way through the season?  I can’t see a back up plan (sorry for the pun) and for a team that seems to be fairly successful, they have a lot of question marks.

I think back to the Ryan Smyth negotiation, and I wonder if either Lowe or Meehan were thinking clearly and providing each other a clear understanding of position and negotiated in good faith for both parties.

Did they actually listen to each other?  Did the $100K mean that much to either party?  Was the offer of a no trade clause worth the $100K and should have been accepted?  Is Kevin Lowe such a hard line Megalomaniac that when he carves a line in the sand, no one should DARE try to get him off his position? (I tend to believe that Kevin Lowe is a “My way or the highway” sort of negotiator.

So GMs play chicken with Agents, Agents with GMs, and sometimes action or inaction changes the internal make of their team for years to come.  If this season doesn’t work out well for the Wild, they will certainly be falling a notch starting in 2009-10.

It’s been a while since I wrote…business travel and five kids really take it’s time.

A few quick hits….

The Maple Leafs will find that having Burke as their GM won’t be the insta-solution they are looking for.

Steen and Colaiacovo for Stempniak is a draw at best, and if Cola get’s healthy a Blues win.

Poor Ryan O’byrne….but you would think it was a playoff game the way he was treated by the fans. Alas poor Yorick. We have all made a bonehead move on the ice. I can even remember pushing one into my own net in Peewee. But nothing was more definitive than this one….

or more painful than this one…

Hopefully my time is easier and more blogs soon to come….