SUN Hockey Pool

Q&A with Kevin Lowe

Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

Q Can you explain why you felt this deal was necessary?

"This is something that in terms of getting a contract with Ryan, had been something that we'd thought about for some time. We always thought we would get a deal done and really until recently - in our minds when we really stepped up - thought that maybe it's not so obvious and maybe it's not so easy.

"We had to be prepared to talk to teams. We weren't out there shopping him. But I think in a manager's world you have to be prepared in the sense that something like this could happen. We had an idea about the marketplace, but I really thought a deal would get done. It came down to the 11th hour when we realized financially it wasn't getting done.

Then we thought if it was not getting done now what gave us any guarantee or satisfaction that it would get done before the summer."

How concerned were you with the optics of the fans?

"I was very concerned. I thought about it for months. I've been on the job for six or seven years and this has been the most difficult one. It didn't start in the last day or last week, it really has been going since we signed all our players after a run in the final and started to anticipate future negotiations.

"Ryan has meant so much to this organization and he's represented the team on the ice and off the ice so well, and we have to factor those things. He was a big part of it, he was a big fan favourite and it made the decision even that much more difficult.

"We're not insensitive to our fans by any breath, but at the same time we have to make decisions that we think can bolster the team and make it eventually win. That's why we figured we'd make this decision to do this at this point and hope that our fans understand and our players in our locker-room understand."

Can you talk about the dollars that were talked about and how far you were apart?

"We reached out pretty significantly on all fronts. I can't say one thing specifically triggered the whole thing, but in the overall scheme of negotiations wondered where the Oilers played a part in all this and at what point do the Oilers and the city and, I guess, the province, play in the negotiations? And it seemed like we'd come to a bit of a dead end in that respect."

You didn't deliver a puck-moving defenceman, though you certainly tried. You didn't deliver a depth forward outside of Petr Nedved. Now you've lost Ryan Smyth. I'm sure a lot of fans have decided your performance as a general manager has been lacking. How do you see it? What happened? Why did you not deliver?

"It's not for lack of trying. You need to be in the right position to acquire things. We wanted to add a defenceman to bolster our group. But in terms of last year those things didn't happen until the trade deadline.

"As this season unfolded we hoped we could do something sooner that would help deliver more points and put us in a better position.

"We were more than prepared to do whatever we needed and move whatever assets we had to make another run at it. But we didn't get in that position and now our challenge of getting into the playoffs is much more difficult than it has been in a lot of years.

"We looked at a deal, analyzed deals and looked at what the price was. All general managers agreed that the price was pretty high this year. We just didn't feel it was in our best interest to pay those types of prices or there wasn't a player that would fit that we thought we would want to invest in to help the team."

How much do you know about the two young players coming back?

"Both players we liked a lot in their draft year. In fact one of them we tried to move up to get.

"Like all young players, there's no guarantees that they're going to turn out to be the players that everyone envisions them being.

"But they're both great players.

"One is a highly-skilled offensive guy and the other is a character with good hockey sense, good size, good speed, and I'm sure they'll both challenge for a job on the team next season."


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