NHL

Struggling Oilers fire GM Tambellini

Steve Tambellini
Steve Tambellini was in his fifth season as GM in Edmonton before his firing.
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EDMONTON, Alberta (AP)

Steve Tambellini is out as general manager of the Oilers, and he'll be replaced by former Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish.

Oilers President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe announced Monday that the team has fired Tambellini.

Tambellini was in his fifth season with Edmonton and was named the club's fourth general manager July 31 2008. The 54-year-old succeeded Lowe as Oilers' GM following Lowe's promotion.

Edmonton is the verge of missing the NHL playoffs for a seventh consecutive season. The Oilers currently stand 12th in the Western Conference with a 16-18-7 record, eight points behind eighth-place Detroit.

''Despite showing areas of improvement over the course of the season, the face of the matter is we are not where we want to be right now, nor where we should be,'' Lowe said at a news conference. ''And because careers are short and opportunities for achievement don't come along very often, we feel strongly that it is important that we make some changes right now.''

MacTavish coached the Oilers in 2006, leading the team to the Stanley Cup final, where it lost in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Also returning to the Oilers is former assistant GM Scott Howson, who was recently fired as GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Howson becomes the Oilers' senior vice president of hockey operations.

Tambellini has been in charge of rebuilding the Oilers around such young stars such as Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle and the club was expected to contend for a playoff spot this season.

Last year, Edmonton had the first overall draft pick and used it to take Nail Yakupov.

MacTavish has not been an NHL general manager before but Lowe said he has been preparing for the job, getting an MBA from Queen's University and working with the Oilers' scouts and hockey development staff.

''Most recently Craig played the lead role in landing highly coveted unrestricted free agent Justin Schultz,'' Lowe said.

Tagged: Oilers

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