Well, here it is everybody; Decision day 2010. Today is when we the faithful followers of the Oiler cult get to see what our future begins to look like. It is the monday after the draft and the sweet smell of hope has already been soured by the turgid stank of reality. At 5PM EST tonight, the team must make a decision about qualifying offers to a host of RFA players, while the countdown to deal with the dead weight hanging around Tambo's neck is reaching a critical point. As I write this, it is barely more than 2 hours away from qualification time and not a thing has come from Oiler land. Daryl Sutter has made a decision today by placing Ales (3 million Dollar Man) Kotalik on waivers. Jim Vandermeer, a steady, veteran D-Man is also on waivers. The $2.3 Million cap hit is an overpay for him, but he's worth looking into if he comes back on re-entry and is certainly better than Jason (future coach of the Edmonton Oilers) Strudwick, particularly with just a year left on his deal. Hell, even last year's ditherer, Dale Tallon, has been active in cutting some more Panther related bad contracts. As usual though, all is quiet on the western front. Mr. Dithers appears to be dithering again. Are we surprised? Maybe...On the other hand, meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Tambo 3.0 has done some very surprising and impressive things in the last few months on the job, most notably acquiring a legitimate 4C option for the Oilers and their wretched PK, axed the onion toting coach in favour of a man whose two best attributes are teaching kids systems play and making sulky Czech wingers perform to the best of their abilities, and drafted Taylor Hall, which may or may not turn out to be the wise choice long term but sure looks good right now. Oh, and that whole killing of the training staff and culling the minor league caching team from the team was at least a signal that perhaps he actually has the ability to make a decision. Yet still nothing.
The list of players that need QOs is long and feature the former future faces of the franchise, Sam(wise) Gagner, and Andrew (tradebait) Cogliano, not to mention former first round picks Marc Pouliot and Gilbert Brule, Mr. versatility Ryan Potulny, Theo (Wreck 'em) Peckham and some other players that this team may or may not need down the road, like their two young goalies. These are not players that we want to let walk away for nothing, particularly Gagner and Cogliano, though if somebody threw an offer sheet in his direction, I would definitely take the 1st and 3rd it would give the team back in return. By the way, still nothing...
Suddenly I get the feeling that Tambo 2.0 is back, or perhaps he never really left. The dithering seems to be on pace for the usual lack of action. The talk all off-season has been about getting tougher, about change, renewal and optimism, yet the indecision on such an important day leads me to believe that the more things change, the more they actually stay the same. The desire for strength, toughness and character has to come from the top as well as from within as a fluid, organic process. Leadership is a funny thing, particularly when the supposed leaders are characterized by their inability to make the tough choices. Why is Ethan Moreau still around? Why hasn't one or two of the dead weight contracts been placed on waivers or simply bought out? Why is it that with less than two hours from a deadline that cost Dale Tallon his job in Chicago last year over a major RFA snafu, it looks like the Oilers are headed towards a similar fate?
D is for decision, it is also for Dithers...it is also for Dumb...
UPDATE: Qualifying offers came in, about 20 minutes before the deadline. Currently the Oilers have 38 contracts signed or waiting to be signed by RFA players. Another curious move is the decision to merely qualify Gagner, opening him up to the possibility of an offer sheet come July 1st.