Should A Mistake This Big Cost Someone Their Job?

These days in the NHL, there are all sorts of people making mistakes. Mistakes, that if the person claiming the mistake was made had their way, would likely cost the offender their job.

Take referee Stephane Auger for example. Alex Burrows was so upset and found Auger's actions so unacceptable, he felt real NHL punishment was warranted. To Burrows credit, he had a lot of people believing him. All of course except the NHL, who decided there wasn't enough proof to remove Auger from his role as an NHL referee; which would have likely been the only real option should he have been found guilty.

Others will contend that what Auger did (if he in fact did it) was something that likely often happens and that in the end doesn't affect a referees overall ability to be objective over the course of their career.

What does this have to do with the Edmonton Oilers?

I bring up Auger and Burrows only as an example as to the extremes that fans will side on an issue. Some find no other option but to fire Auger citing the credibility of the refs in the NHL from this day forward, while others think its so small that its silly to have gotten this much attention.

Right here at home, the Oilers might have a similar issue.

After it was announced today that Nikolai Khabibulin would undergo surgery that will likely put him out for the remainder of the season, one would have to say signing Khabibulin was not just a mistake, but one so big, it could theoretically set the Oilers back two to three years.

Others might suggest that the sky has not yet fallen.

What's your take?

Everyone knew signing Khabibulin was a risk. He was not much younger than Dwayne Roloson, who of course the Oilers weren't shy about suggesting was too old for a two year contract. Bulin has a history of injury, and even if none of that were a factor, has one Stanley Cup run that seems to have outweighed the less than stellar career numbers he has attached to his name in the NHL. At most, he's a better than average veteran goaltender.

As is, the Oilers sit 15th in the western conference. They're not just a bad team, they're a team that can't compete in a lot of cases and while it's hard or unfair to lay blame on two near rookie goaltenders in Deslauriers and Dubnyk, not having a number one goalie is a huge part of the problem.

The Oilers will now be without one for a while. Khabibulin's injury will remove him from action for at least 12 weeks. Not good news, but also not unexpected.

The problem is, they'll be paying him, and while they can use injury to delegate that money elsewhere this year should they choose to, have another three years of the same type of worry to look forward to. Should this be an ongoing issue, the Oilers have $15 million nad four years locked up in a goalie who while in and out of the lineup will cost Edmonton every penny of that deal whether Khabibulin chooses to retire or not.

When a mistake like this is made, what does an organization do? It's hardly a mistake one should overlook. To some, the error is so large, it warrants removing the man responsible even if that person has only had a small run in their current position.

Is it a mistake that can be compared to trading Roberto Luongo for Todd Bertuzzi? Probably not. But it's no small potatoes either.

If Tambellini is behind this move, it says a lot about what he finds is a priority for this club moving forward. It also says a lot about how he handles his business and begs the question; for an Oilers team that badly needs improvement, is the way in which Tambellini makes decisions, the best option for this franchise?

The Khabibulin signing was a quick, rash and impulse decision. The Oilers didn't think he was available. They were suprised by his interest and scooped him without clearly thinking it through, simply because they had the chance to land "the most proven goaltender in free agency". They were competing, (or least led to believe they were), got pulled in and bit hard.

As a result, do the Edmonton Oilers as an organazation allow Tambellini to make this kind of mistake again?

On the contrary, if Kevin Lowe was behind it, some will suggest the time is now clearly obvious that Lowe did more harm than good as a man pulling the strings for the Oilers franchise during his tenure. Something like this after a series of three years of poor decisions demonstrates that he should gracefully walk away from his role and allow someone with a better grasp on the salary cap, the state of the NHL, and control over their emotions to make decisions.

On the other side, some will argue that Khabibulin's injury, like any other before him, was as much luck (or unlucky in this case) as it was something predictable. That the Oilers signed the best option available to them and if given the chance should always make that kind of decision, even though this one didn't pan out as many had hoped.

What would you do? Are you of the mind that Tambellini can still be the right person for the job? His track record thus far isn't glowing. Is it a clean house before it gets any worse attitude in your eyes?

For me, I'm not certain, but if I were Daryl Katz, I can't imagine overlooking a mistake this big. A decision that the minute it was made, was questionable even if Khabibulin could have stayed healthy and considering the other options available to Edmonton at that time.

For this season, we know it doesn't matter. The Oilers will deal with the news as best they can. It could mean a lottery pick, so silver lining is there. For the final three years of Kahbibulin's deal?

That's possibly another story.


I agree with your article and Mr katz should evaluate management and hopefully revamp it too many bad contracts by Mr lowe and company have put this team back a few years.IMO they should promote MR quinn and let renney take over coaching,Mac T TOOK THE BLAME LAST YEAR AND HE WASNT THE ISSUE,things are easier from the fans view but dead weight must be moved to make a point!! and bring the kids up eberle,lander,petry etc.....let them play because obviously horc,captain penalty,gilberts contract got to their heads.I am a long time fan but when i see whats happening to this team i question my loyalty.

January 14, 2010 at 8:41 AM comment-delete

Giving a 4 year contract to a 35+ player in today's NHL is insane. Unfortunatley, I have yet to see the media confront Tambellini on this issue directly, because he has completely screwed over this franchise for years to come and he needs to be held accountable for it.

January 14, 2010 at 8:53 AM comment-delete

Normally, I would want to give someone time to establish themselves in a role before removing them from a position. I fear however, that Tambellini will never quite remove himself from Kevin Lowe decisions and that the only way to truly remove the same way of thinking is to remove ALL involved.

January 14, 2010 at 9:49 AM comment-delete

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