Dan Barnes, for my money the best media man in Edmonton, has an interesting article up today about Oilers G.M. Steve Tambellini. In it, Tambellini says that he has full responsibility to address all areas of the organization, to bring them to a point where they “are not good, but great.”

Tambellini hit on two points: first, that the players are working hard (“Our players have worked pretty hard”), but that there need to be changes, and second that the Oilers brain trust is even now evaluating which players will be a part of the organization next season.

“The first step is getting through this period as far as the assessment of people who truly want to be an Oiler and get to the next level. That involves an evaluation of character, skill, talent, courage, everything. As we go through this time between now and the trading deadline we’ll be clear as to what our options are. If we can make ourselves better (at the deadline) we’re going to do it.”

Those generic sounding quotes struck me as familiar; together they form two of the three pillars to the Steve Tambellini Talking to The Media Trinity (the third is injuries).

Tambellini’s been saying pretty much the same thing since he took the job. From November of 2008:

“We’re working hard.”

“That assessment is always one that is ongoing. We’re 21 games into the season. We went through extreme travel there for a few weeks. You’re always trying to get better every day. If there’s something out there that makes sense for our team to get better, we’ll consider it. But right now this is what we have and our job is to get better.”

Or we could look at Tambellini’s 2008-09 postmortem from last April:

“The job now is to think about how much of that can we get from what we have. We’ll make that assessment and if we don’t have internally, how do we acquire it?”

“It’s important that we take our time right now and that we review all aspects.”

The really critical failing of Barnes’ piece is that he implies that Tambellini has only recently been put in full control of the team, that if his moves going forward don’t fix the Oilers, then it will be time to start shifting the blame from Kevin Lowe to him. That’s dead wrong, because it’s exactly what the Oilers organization tried to peddle last year.

From Jason Gregor of Oilers Nation, last April:

The plan, as I was told today, was to bring in Tambellini and let him assess the team for the year. It is clear now, that this team was not as good as the organization thought they were and now it is up to Tambellini to start the renovations.

Tambellini will put his fingerprints on this team ranging from the coaching, to veterans moving out and which youngsters will be coming in. It would be unrealistic to expect massive trades and a complete purging of the team, but don’t be surprised to see at least one, if not two, significant player moves over the summer.

That line of thought was supported by Robin Brownlee in Metronews:

With Kevin Lowe stepping back from day-to-day dealings at the start of the season when he became president of hockey operations, it’ll be up to Steve Tambellini to orchestrate the changes that are bound to follow.

MacTavish stepping aside will throw the status of assistant coaches Charlie Huddy, Bill Moores and Kelly Buchberger into question.

Likewise, Tambellini will take a long look at his scouting staff, who are overseen by assistant GM Kevin Prendergast. Again, expect change.

As for player moves, well, that’s a whole other column, and I’ll take a look at that next weekend after some of the dust settles.

Suffice to say, after taking this season to assess a team and a hockey-operations staff that has been built by Lowe since he became GM in 2000, Tambellini will make his mark.

In short, when Steve Tambellini talks about assessing the players he has, it’s either a null statement or the mark of a fool; he’s been assessing what is essentially the same roster for a season and a half now. If he doesn’t know what he has after more than 130 games of failure by his organization, it’s just one more indication that he’s woefully unequipped to be the man in charge of an NHL franchise.

Still, perhaps the last quote Barnes mentions was enough to show that anyway. From the article:

“We’re extremely confident of where we’re going.”