SBD/April 16, 2013/Franchises

Oilers Bring Back MacTavish, Howson To Front Office In Effort To Turn Club Around

Oilers tap MacTavish and Howson to lead player development effort
Oilers President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe yesterday introduced Craig MacTavish as GM in a change that had been "coming for a while as the Oilers failed to perform as a legitimate contender," according to a front-page piece by John MacKinnon of the EDMONTON JOURNAL. Also "on board as part of the 'new' leadership group" is former Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson, who will take over as Senior VP/Hockey Operations (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 4/16). In Edmonton, Terry Jones writes the hirings of MacTavish and Howson "certainly have the appearance of a predetermined move by owner Daryl Katz and/or Lowe." MacTavish said, "I don’t think we’re that far off. We’re going to have to make some changes but we are at the point of the cycle where we can expose ourselves to some risks." Jones writes right now "is the time for bold," and MacTavish "certainly sounds like he's seen enough and is determined enough to do what it takes." There was "zero confidence remaining" that fired GM Steve Tambellini "was the man to do that" (EDMONTON SUN, 4/16).

A SLICK SITUATION: USA TODAY's Kevin Allen writes Tambellini was fired "primarily because the team's rebuilding plan has not shown quick enough progress." MacTavish: "I'm an impatient guy. ... We have to do some bold things to move this team forward in rapid fashion." Despite drafting first overall for three straight years, the Oilers "likely will miss the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season" (USA TODAY, 4/16). The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek writes the "glory days may be just around the corner in Edmonton, given the number of blue-chip, high-end prospects all that losing delivered, but if that happens, it will be the holdovers from the old glory days" -- primarily Lowe and MacTavish -- who will "preside over the turnaround." Tambellini was an "ultraconservative, slow-go sort of a manager and probably didn’t read the tea leaves correctly." The patience had "clearly run out, from the fan base right to the upper reaches of the organization." What is happening in Edmonton "resembles the situation in Pittsburgh during the early 2000s" (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/16).

LOWE BLOW: ESPN.com's Scott Burnside wrote now that Lowe "has replaced one pal with another even older pal in MacTavish, has this team really taken a step anywhere but in a circle?" Burnside: "If you think the Oilers organizational chart looks like one of those in optical illusions where the stairs are both ascending and descending in a perpetual cycle, that's because it is." He asked, "What does Daryl Katz see when he looks at the circle dance being played out in the team's boardrooms?" (ESPN.com, 4/15). YAHOO SPORTS' Nicholas Cotsonika wrote Lowe has "left people wondering whether he had made another mistake, even though ... Tambellini’s firing was overdue and MacTavish generally told Oilers fans what they wanted to hear." But it is "fair to ask if MacTavish was really the best man for the job, if Lowe just went back to a familiar face after Tambellini came out of the Vancouver Canucks organization, if the Oilers shortchanged themselves by returning to the old boys’ network and reshuffling some of the same names" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/15).
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