February 02 2009 10:10PM
While there's plenty of sentiment out there, some of it well-founded, that Craig MacTavish should be fired forthwith by the Edmonton Oilers, it isn't going to happen. At least not right now.
Aside from having the Oilers in a tenuous playoff position at 25-21-3 and owner Darryl Katz and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe firmly in his corner, MacTavish got what was essentially a vote of confidence from GM Steve Tambellini today.
While votes of confidence often come just before the GM walks into his coach's office with a blindfold and a cigarette, I'd be willing to wager that's not the case when it comes to the embattled MacT.
That's not to say a case can't be made for a pink slip, because it can, but the reality of the situation, given the personalities and alliances involved, is that MacTavish isn't going anywhere, yet.
The boss says
Tambellini talked to assembled media at Millennium Place today, taking a variety of questions. Dave Mitchell of CTV cut to the chase when he asked Tambellini if a coaching change might "get this team going."
"We're right in the middle of a playoff hunt here," said Tambellini, eyeballing his bald inquisitor. "We're in fifth place a couple of days ago.
"This coaching staff is working hard. Craig is one of the top coaches in this business and we're right there. So, you're asking me a question when we're fighting for a playoff spot right now, like many teams.
"Our job is to get better from within first, not to look on the outside. If that happens, like I said, we look daily. If we can upgrade our hockey club, we will. If we can upgrade on the last day possible of the trade deadline, we will.
"The most important thing here is to maximize what we have here, be a good team every night. This coaching staff is doing a good job."
Tambellini was also queried about the possibility of making a deal to bolster the team, maybe shake things up, before the trade deadline.
"To look on the outside, to say there's always something greener on the other side to get better, that's an easy way," Tambellini said. "Every team is saying that.
"You have to get better from the inside. We have to get better as a group (and) individually. That's the only way you'll be able to sustain something... it's difficult. Teams are looking for energy players. Teams are looking for defencemen. They're looking for top-six forwards.
"It's difficult to move players. It's not the only way you get better. We have to look not only on the outside, we have to look from the inside out sometimes. How do we get better as a group?"
The bottom line
So, like it or not, that's Tambellini's take, as of today. In the end, while some Oilers fans might see things differently, the reality is Tambellini, along with Lowe and Katz, have the only votes that really matter. And those votes won't be cast until this season is done and the Oilers miss the playoffs, if they're cast at all.
MacT isn't going anywhere, yet.
-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.