Dobber’s THN column yesterday can be found here.
Laidlaw checking in here. Dobber has been gracious enough to give me a shot at the ramblings tonight so bear with me as I muddle through this first time. And send your hate-mail to @DobberHockey as he's still responsible for this.
Tragic news out of Boston. Sports and tragedy of this magnitude rarely cross paths so for a sports fanatic like myself this was something of a rude awakening. When was the last time something like this happened, Atlanta in '96? I was eight years old so that wasn't much of a memory for me. Needless to say I was badly affected by this news and I carry a heavy heart for the victims and their families.
For obvious reasons the Bruins-Senators game scheduled for Monday night was postponed as was tonight's Celtics-Pacers game.
The Oilers fired GM Steve Tambellini and replaced him with former head coach Craig MacTavish. Dobber gave you his take on the move but as a fan of the Oilers (though not a resident of Edmonton) I cannot resist providing you with my take.
The big thing for me is that despite how ineffectual Tambellini was in building a team around the youngsters in Edmonton there’s still no question that he put a solid core in place. You could certainly question if that makes him a good GM seeing as just about anyone can draft well with the sort of picks the Oilers have had in recent years but the never the less the core is in place and I take issue with anyone who argues that the Oilers “ruined” their youngsters by bringing them up in this losing environment. Some prospects cannot fail. It’s clear that Taylor Hall can’t. Jordan Eberle probably can’t. Even through his struggles it doesn’t seem like even Sam Gagner can. Hell even Magnus Paajarvi is showing signs. Timid Tambo and the Oilers simply wasted the cheap years of those players’ entry level deals by continuing to suck for the entirity of them. But again that’s wasting not ruining. Big distinction.
So MacTavish comes in promising bold, aggressive moves. I don’t know if it will bear good results or even better results but you can imagine the process will at least be different. Dobber speculated that Sam Gagner could be the first domino but would MacTavish dare to get bolder? It's probably too early to speculate but I can't help myself.
I really wonder whether or not MacTavish would have the stones to get rid of the old guard in Edmonton (the guys he once coached) like Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff and Ryan Smyth.
I also wonder if MacT and Lowe dip back into their old bag of tricks and pull out some more offer sheet magic. The UFA market this summer is barren but the RFA market is a goldmine. If I were MacT, I would start playing love games with the Blues and Jets the way that San Jose did with Chicago a few summers back when they made multiple offers at the Blackhawks' many free agents.
The Blues have Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, Patrick Berglund, Chris Stewart, Ian Cole, Chris Russell and Jake Allen all as RFAs. Acknowledging that no one has more cap space than the Blues do you could still conceive a world where multiple offer sheets eventually land the Oilers with a piece they need.
It's a similar story for the Jets with Blake Wheeler, Zach Bogosian, Bryan Little and Alex Burmistrov all RFAs this summer. Save for perhaps Little, Allen and Cole all of those RFAs would improve the Oilers team immediately without any redundancy. And those are just the RFAs from two teams. So like I said, offer sheet love games. I am simultaneously titillated by the possibilities and infuriated that such a small move in this clown car of a front office can incite such a reaction in me.
The Devils were blanked for the second straight game on Monday and the third time since Ilya Kovalchuk went down with a shoulder injury. Kovalchuk has not travelled with the team and at this point you have to wonder if the Devils