I’ve known Steve Tambellini since he played junior hockey in Lethbridge. Before that, I knew his dad, Adolf, who was a brilliant centre, a key member of the Trail Smoke Eaters team that won Canada’s last “amateur” world hockey championship in 1961.
Adolf, like most of the other Smoke Eaters, was a good friend of mine I’ve liked Steve for years, too.
And I think I understand what he’s doing. As general manager of the Oilers, he’s simply cleaning out the old deadwood — if you can consider Fernando Pisani, Mike Comrie and Ryan Potulny.
And if you consider Ethan Moreau and Steve Staios as deadwood.
And if you consider Sheldon Souray as deadwood because it’s obvious the Oilers don’t want him back any more than he wants to be back. Almost as interesting as the fact that Souray isn’t wanted in Edmonton is the fact that he apparently isn’t wanted anyplace else, either — not at his price and with his attitude and his history of injury.
There’s no question that the Oilers have to rebuild from the ground up. Every ounce of the team’s promotional energy has gone into the selling of Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle and other young guns as the future of Edmonton in the NHL.
But there must be room for solid veterans. Pittsburgh grabbed Comrie.
Both Potulny (two-way contract) and Pisani (inexpensive one-way deal) were grabbed by the Chicago Blackhawks.
Now, I must be missing something. If those three guys — not expensive by today’s salary standards — can be seen as helpful to legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, why don’t they fit here?
Good teams need role players. Bad teams, including the Oilers, can always use reliable veterans — but Tambellini has turned his back on three in the last few weeks.
It will be interesting to see how many minutes those veterans spend on the ice in Chicago and Pittsburgh. Also, it will be interesting to see how often the Edmonton fans look around for solid veterans who can just do the job without making a fuss.
I think Tambellini’s plan is solid. But I think a couple of these solid holdover guys would help a lot more than they could possibly hurt. I think the Oilers will miss Comrie and Pisani and, yes, Potulny.
And I think they’ll miss the playoffs, too.