A couple of hours before the Oilers played their 78th game of a sixth straight season out of the playoffs, it’s not the optics you want.
These rubes don’t even know the rules!
The Oilers’ plan for Paajarvi to play out the season on a line with Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins backfired — big time.
The idea to get him a few more games of NHL money for being such a good soldier in accepting the demotion to the AHL and let him know he was still very much a big part of future plans, ended up leaving more egg on the face of the franchise.
Instead of collecting about $35,000 more than he would have during the season, Paajarvi ended up with about 6,000 frequent flier miles as he arrived in Edmonton from Oklahoma City, only to find out he had to turn around and go back to the farm.
The fans, of course, want Steve Tambellini to wear this one.
But if you want to hang the debacle on somebody, it isn’t the much-maligned general manager.
It actually falls on the lap of Ricky Olczyk, the assistant GM and director of hockey operations/legal affairs.
“We believed we had confirmation to recall Magnus as one of our four call-ups after the trade deadline,” said Tambellini in a statement.
“The league informed us (Friday) the only way he could be recalled was under an emergency recall basis.”
The whole deal involved NHL central registry and an apparent communication/interpretation problem, Tambellini told me after the first period of last night’s loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
“We wanted Paajarvi to come up and see some speed, playing with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle, before returning to Oak City for the playoffs. But when he arrived, they told us he could only stay here as an emergency recall.”
The confusion involved the Oilers doing a paper transaction to assign and recall Paajarvi after the trade deadline to make him eligible to play with the Oklahoma City Barons in the AHL playoffs.
That was post-deadline transaction No. 1.
Transaction No. 2: calling up Linus Omark.
Transaction No. 3: calling up Teemu Hartikainen.
Transaction No. 4: calling up Chris VandeVelde.
“It’s ludicrous,” said Kevin Lowe, president of hockey operations.
“The intent of the rule is to protect the AHL a bit from teams sending down six or eight players at the end of the season.
“All the general managers feel the same way — it’s a rule that needs to be changed.
“It wasn’t Tambellini at all. And I’d hate to see Ricky take a hit on this. He is impeccable when it comes to dealing with all of this.”
If this were three decades ago, and the Oilers were rolling along, winning Stanley Cups, Glen Sather would probably have climbed on a soap box and lambasted the league.
But when you’re at the bottom of the league, missing the playoffs every year and a myriad of mistakes have been made, the ridicule is going to come — and you’re going to have to wear it.
The Oilers organization might not deserve it, but they can’t help but look like a bunch of clowns to those who want to do a drive-by shooting.