EDMONTON - There are some astute people in the hockey world who believe Steve Tambellini has arrived at ĎThe Momentí in his young career as an NHL general manager.
Those people believe this is his time to step out from the crowd and be bold.
And that what happens next will define him.
If you are looking at Tambellini defining himself as a GM, so far the definition hasnít been all that dynamic.
So far the perception of Tambellini has been the polar opposite to Brian Burke. Not that thatís a bad thing. But it is interesting because Tambellini worked as an assistant to Burke with the Vancouver Canucks.
Burke has bluster, swagger, confidence and a damn-the-torpedo belief he wears on his sleeve. Tambellini comes across as almost timid by comparison. He is soft spoken, quiet, cautious and keeps almost everything up his sleeve.
Burke has never met a camera and a microphone he didnít like. Tambellini will drive around the block or, on occasion (Dany Heatley) hide out for days, to avoid one.
Burke is a blast from the point. Tambellini is a tip-in.
In the end the definition comes from the deals you do (and on occasion donít do), the kind of team you build, where you finish in the standings, the number of playoff games you play and the number of Stanley Cups you win.
To this point, Tambellini hasnít defined himself.
His early trade deadline deals were duds (Patrick OíSullivan) but the deal last year to acquire Ryan Whitney (and claiming Ryan Jones off waivers) was a winner.
Tambellini hasnít exactly dazzled on free-agent frenzy day, the signing of Nikolai Khabibulin springing to mind at the moment. (Anybody out there want a 38-year-old Russian goalie looking at jail time with two years left at $3.75 million per year and an injured eye at the trade deadline?)
But on Tambellini cleaning up Kevin Loweís mess since the Oilers decided to blow everything up, and with the draft picks which turned into Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi and others on his watch, heís at least ahead on points.
Tambellini is also coming off a surprisingly effective closed door, no-coaches meeting with his hockey club.
So, on with the show this is it?
The thing about the idea of this being his moment is that thereís a pause button involved.
In many ways Tambellini is in the cat-bird seat when it comes to doing the big trade deadline deal because so many trades have already been made that heís been left with virtually the last two prominent players to peddle and he doesnít have to make the big deal with either Ales Hemsky or Dustin Penner. He can just say ďnot enoughĒ and walk away and come back and play his hand another day.
If the value just isnít there in return, he can take his swings at the draft or during the summer.
But it really could be there for him to do the kind of deals that could define a career. And this is not the place for a nervous person.
There were 10 teams in the West sitting between 75 and 65 points going into games Saturday, five in the playoffs and five out. And there are six teams in the East between 71 and 61 points, three in and three out.
Thatís 16 hockey teams in prime position to sacrifice some future for some now.
And remember, all these GMís have bosses. And these days playoff gates are worth millions. Donít think thereís not pressure there with some of the guys on the other end of the phone to acquire a player to make the difference between making or missing the playoffs.
There are general managers such as Dean Lombardi in Los Angeles who have a very obvious need and the assets to do something about it.
Hemsky and Penner become depreciating assets going forward into the final years of their contracts.
Realistically, logically, youíd think if you had decided that one or the other, or both, wonít fit comfortably into your long-term picture or are likely to try free agency, then thereís no time like the present to do the deal.
The average Edmonton hockey fan can debate the pros and cons of Penner and Hemsky on close to the same level as your average pro hockey scout. But what makes this such a fascinating study from the outside looking in is that there are no guarantees with most of the young prospects and/or draft choices who would be coming the other way.
Time for Steve Tambellini to have the guts of a burglar? Or not?