According to Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, the Edmonton Oilers have removed Kevin Lowe as the club’s President of Hockey Operations.
Lowe, who spent a total of 15 seasons as a player with the Oilers, joined the club as an assistant coach in 1998 and served as the club’s general manager from 2000-2009 when he was promoted to President of Hockey Operations.
The Oilers are expected to announce the hiring of Peter Chiarelli at some point today.
Update from TSN’s Bob McKenzie:
We know there hasn’t been much success in Edmonton the past eight seasons now, but during the 1980s they were the team.
Back in 1984, the Oilers started their dynastic run by ending the New York Islanders’ dynasty beating them in five games. Now, 30 years later, they’re getting the band back together again on Oct. 10 to celebrate the first of what ultimately became five Stanley Cup titles in Edmonton.
As Derek van Diest of the Edmonton Sun shared, the idea to get everyone back together was Wayne Gretzky’s.
“I think everybody, which Wayne (Gretzky) alluded to, and him being the architect of getting this idea, wanted to see the guys and get together,” Oilers President and member of that ’84 team Kevin Lowe said. “We’ve never celebrated the team in any capacity, we did have the Heritage Classic in 2003, which was a bit of a celebration. This is a real fitting event and it looks like everybody is going to be here.”
By “everybody” Lowe means just about everyone involved with the Oilers’ success. Players, coaches, scouts, equipment staff, and executives will all be part of the celebration. We’ll see if former owner Peter Pocklington is welcome since he’s the guy who traded Gretzky and all.
That ’84 Oilers team was one of the most talented teams ever assembled. With Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, and Glenn Anderson along with coach Glen Sather they scored 446 goals that season, 86 more than the second-best scoring team, the Quebec Nordiques.
To talk about hiring a coach that’s still under contract is a NHL no-no. So full marks to Oilers president Kevin Lowe, who artfully discussed Brent Sutter’s interest in Edmonton’s head coaching gig — without really discussing Brent Sutter’s interest in Edmonton’s head coaching gig.
‘I don’t see why he wouldn’t want to coach the Oilers,” Lowe told Bill Beacon of the Canadian Press. “Brent’s been a good coach. We’ve seen him recently. He’s Albertan. He knows the Battle of Alberta well.”
Technically speaking, Sutter is still property of the Calgary Flames — even though Calgary GM Jay Feaster already conducted Sutter’s farewell cake-cutting ceremony. This means Sutter is still off-limits for discussion, even though all signs point to the Oilers being very interested in his services.
Lowe was Team Canada’s GM at the recently-concluded World Hockey Championships and chiefly responsible for selecting Sutter as head coach. Coincidentally, Team Canada was stockpiled with Oilers — Devan Dubnyk, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — as well as Everett defenseman Ryan Murray, a guy Edmonton has targeted with the No. 1 pick at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
That said, Lowe made it clear the topic of the Oilers gig didn’t come up at the Worlds.
“With the sacredness of the world championships and everything it means, [Sutter] didn’t need any distractions,” Lowe explained. “He’d just come from the Flames, making the mutual decision that he wasn’t going to continue to work with them, and he had a new coaching staff and team to learn in a short time.”
Lowe also said Edmonton will “ideally” have a coach in place before the June draft.
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke got to where he is by thinking in a bold way, but bigger ideas aren’t always easy to make universal.
Burke has been pushing a “bear hug” rule for quite some now, which essentially would allow a checking player to “hug” an opponent while hitting him along the boards to brace for the impact. The negative side, naturally, is that the attacking player would undoubtedly be engaging in a form of obstruction in the process.
Perhaps that negative side is too much of a gray area for GMs to stomach, because Burke told James Mirtle that it didn’t work out. In fact, he was customarily dramatic about it.
“Bear hug had no support – no chance,” Burke said. “I got dirt kicked in my face again.”
Such an emo description makes me imagine other general managers making spit takes when he brings up the idea, even if they probably just voted “Nay” while shrugging their shoulders. (Kevin Lowe would have been more difficult about it, but he’s not the Edmonton Oilers GM anymore.)
However general managers reacted, there’s a method to Burke’s madness. Hits from behind are among the most dangerous in the game, but you cannot make them universally illegal without putting a team’s defense at a profound disadvantage. Burke’s idea would allow defenders to defend against the glass without getting suspended (or hurting someone badly).
Again, though, the gray area comes in when they were “hugging” to help someone not get injured and when they were just trying to slow an opponent who gained some ground down low or in the zone.
Where do you stand on the rule, then? It might be quite some time if GMs ever approve of such a measure, but it doesn’t mean the hockey world cannot debate its merits in the mean time.
The Edmonton Oilers are shaping up to be in the running for the third straight No. 1 overall pick in the draft this season. With that kind of futility you’d expect that big changes would be on the way.
According to Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun, you’d be half right.
Jones reports that the Oilers will be extending GM Steve Tambellini’s deal to stay on as the architect of a team that’s currently 29th overall in the league.
Indeed, sometime between the all-star break and the trade deadline, it is expected Oilers’ owner Daryl Katz and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe will sit down and work out the arrangements of a new deal going forward.
When the deal gets announced, Jones says, all depends on when (or if) the Oilers go on another winning streak. If the team keeps losing, making an announcement that you’re keeping the guy that built a loser of a team around won’t go over too well.
What’s curious here, as Jonathan Willis of the Edmonton Journal points out, is that Tambellini is in the final year of his contract. If the team is stinking things up this bad, why keep him around any longer? General managers usually get a bit more rope to do things and Tambellini is in his fourth year with the team.
Four years and possibly three No. 1 picks? He’s either a terrible GM or a genius helping them fill up on young talent the hard way.
Related: What does future hold for coach Renney?