a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

Welcome to Oil Acumen. All Oilers, all the time... Occasionally other stuff.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

11/03/13 (Don't) Hire Your Friends!

When Twitter's former CEO Evan Williams asked his advisor, Bill Campbell, what the worst thing he could do to screw up the company was, Campbell's answer was simple and to the point.

"Hire your friends!"

Business and friendship don't mix, which is something that you'd think Daryl Katz would have figured out after he made his first billion dollars. Unfortunately, the Edmonton Oilers have been nothing but a glorified bank machine/country club for long-time associates of the team.

The calls for an end to Kevin Lowe's reign are getting louder, and rightfully so. Rather than performing an exhaustive search for worthwhile candidates to fill out a winning management team, the Oilers have simply hired (or re-hired) former associates.

While it is perhaps a little unfair to judge Craig MacTavish's work too harshly at this point, it's almost impossible to make the case that he was the best man for the job given his total lack of experience managing a hockey team. This summer the Oilers were in a position to have some finishing touches added to the team, not to be a training ground for a rookie GM to cut his teeth. MacTavish was overzealous in his acquisition of Andrew Ference, and nearly doubly so with David Clarkson.

Rather than an experienced hand, upper management is just learning the nuances; and it shows.

Adding another voice may have helped if it wasn't Scott Howson. Howson spent five years as Assistant GM under Kevin Lowe before proceeding to run the Columbus Blue Jackets into the ground from 2007-2013. He's credited with building an almost-decent-team last season, but what actually happened was a team riding some unsustainable luck and hot goaltending, but were actually a terrible team that almost made the playoffs because of the shortened schedule.

Howson. Doesn't. Help.

And now we enter Mark Messier, who, despite being revered in this city, has been hired without actually having a job to do. He's going to be some kind of "consultant," which is all well and good except that he wasn't hired for his legendary consulting abilities - he was hired because he's a former Oilers great.

Until this team utilizes the best hockey minds available, and not just the ones with the most sentimental value, the Oilers will continue to lose. The makeup of the team is wrong. We knew it was wrong before this disaster started. We talked about the need for more actual NHL talent.

How was this not realized? See above.

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