After months of silence, former Oilers GM Steve Tambellini was heard from, after a fashion, late Wednesday night, when the Anaheim Ducks announced they had hired him as a part-time pro scout. Tambellini, 55, served as the Oilers GM from 2008 to 2013 when he was replaced last April by longtime Oilers player and head coach Craig MacTavish. Tambellini took the wheel of a franchise that had careened into the ditch under president Kevin Lowe and MacTavish as coach, then presided over the infamous ‘rebuild’ that saw them finish at or near the bottom of the NHL three years running, enabling them to draft Taylor Hall (2010), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011) and Nail Yakupov (2012) first-overall. On Tambellini’s watch, he also drafted top prospects Magnus Paajarvi (since traded), Anton Lander, Tyler Pitlick, Martin Marincin, Tyler Bunz, Oscar Klefbom and David Musil. The native of Trail, B.C., a former NHL winger in the 1980s, was less successful with his trades. He brought Ryan Smyth back to Edmonton from Los Angeles, signed free-agent goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, who performed well for the Oilers when he was healthy, which was intermittently. He also brought role players like Eric Belanger, Ben Eager, Andy Sutton, Patrick O’Sullivan, Ales Kotalik, and Jerred Smithson to Edmonton. The results have proven to be mixed to unsatisfactory. In Sutton’s case, the hulking defenceman added heft to the Oilers smallish defence, but suspensions for illegal hits took him out of the lineup too frequently. Ultimately, a knee injury foreshortened his career. A key part of Tambellini’s role, at least early on, was overseeing the moral equivalent of site clearance — ridding the club of disgruntled defenceman Sheldon Souray, buying out under-performing winger Robert Nilsson and trying, unsuccessfully, to trade Ales Hemsky. During Tambellini’s tenure, the Oilers fired four coaches and hired three others. After MacTavish resigned/was fired in 2009, Tambellini hired Pat Quinn, who lasted one season, 2009-10; Tom Renney, who was head man from 2010-2012; and finally Ralph Krueger, who had been Renney’s associate coach, and coached the 2012-13 season. Krueger was fired via Skype last spring by MacTavish. Ostensibly searching for an associate coach to support Krueger, MacTavish was profoundly impressed with Dallas Eakins, so he hired Eakins and thanked Krueger for his services. In his five seasons as GM, Tambellini also began the largely unseen but important work of rebuilding the club’s development system and remaking the Oilers dressing room culture. That involved, among other things, dismissing longtime support staff like Barrie Stafford, Ken Lowe and Lyle (Sparky) Kulchisky, all of whom remain beloved characters from the club’s 1980s glory years.
Steve Tambellini hired by Ducks to be part-time professional scout
Edmonton Journal | Nov 21