The Edmonton Oilers have started their climb back to respectability in the NHL. The old ownership group was very important to keeping the Oilers alive and in Edmonton, but their penny-pinching has cost the Oilers when it came to talent.
Some of the loss of talent can be blamed on ownership, some can be placed on GM Kevin Lowe—but also some can be blamed on the whole situation.
With his purchase of the Oilers getting approval on July 2, new owner Daryl Katz has stated that he wants to see the Oilers compete with the other teams. He has now made the first big move to bring the team back to their winning ways.
In a move to keep Oilers great Kevin Lowe in Edmonton, the Oilers have promoted Lowe and brought in a new GM. Steve Tambellini will take over the GM duties, while Kevin Lowe will be moved into the role of President in charge of hockey operations for Rexall Sports.
Kevin Lowe will always have his place in Edmonton Oilers history. He had a very storied career as a player, being a part of five Stanley Cups with the Oilers. That legacy was in jeopardy of being over shadowed by the moves he made as a general manager. Hopefully now he can step out of the limelight, and let Tambellini do some work at rebuilding this franchise that Lowe let slump.
This move is the right direction for the Oilers. There have been a lot of talented players that have come and gone in Lowe's time as GM. It's been questioned whether or not Lowe was able to get the best in return for that talent.
There is no question Lowe is a team player, and I'm sure he stayed inside of what the former owners asked of him, which can make it hard as a GM. But it was what was received in return for such players as Chris Pronger and Ryan Smyth that made people question if he could be the man to lead the Oilers out of the basement.
Edmonton is now are a mere shell of what they used to be—and I'm not taking about the Gretzky days. I'm not even talking about 10 years ago. Heck, I'm not even talking about five years ago. While there are a lot of positives for the Oilers to build upon, many fans wondered why Lowe was kept on as the GM, let alone given a multi-year extension.
In the 2005 free-agent frenzy, Kevin Lowe was not as lucky as some general managers. Lowe had to trade to bring in top talent. To his credit he brought in Chris Pronger, who ANY team would love to have. That team took the Oilers within one game of the Stanley Cup. Since then, Pronger has left, Ryan Smyth was traded, Mike Peca jumped ship, and Jason Smith was dealt.
Everything that was received in return was questioned, and rightfully so. The Oilers, as they stand now, have a young team with a lot of depth that may or may not make the franchise a winner again. Many Oilers fans werewondering if Kevin Lowe was the guy to do that.
There is no doubt that Kevin Lowe deserves to be with the Oilers. He is an Oiler. So something really bad would have had to happen for Kevin Lowe to be fired. His heart is with Edmonton, but maybe the GM job is not where he needs to be.
This move to keep Lowe in a high-profile position with the team keeps the Oiler legend in Edmonton, while bringing in fresh blood with a lot of contacts in the hockey world.
Steve Tambellini was a big part of the team that put together the Gold Medal-winning 2002 Canadian Olympic Hockey Team. He had a hand in the 2004 World Cup Gold Medal team, and served as the GM for the World Championship teams that won Gold in 2003 and silver in 2005. He has also been a vital part of the Vancouver Canucks management team, and now brings his experience to this position.
Kevin Lowe made some decent moves in the offseason to make the Oilers stronger. He now leaves Tambellini with a team that not only has some pieces to work with, but also has some young players that could be used as leverage to bring some new talent to town.
No one doubted the positive impact new owner Daryl Katz would have on the Edmonton Oilers. I don't know how many would have anticipated such a hugely positive step so soon.
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