The Edmonton Oilers have named Steve Tambellini as their new general manager, moving Kevin Lowe into the role of President of Hockey Operations for Rexall sports.
Tambellini, 50, has been part of the Vancouver Canucks hockey operations staff for the past 17 seasons and was most recently the Assistant General Manager and Vice-President of Hockey Operations.
"In my estimation, and many people in hockey feel the same way, Steve's the strongest candidate in hockey at the executive level who wasn't a general manager," said the man Tambellini is replacing, Kevin Lowe. "It was a real easy choice."
Tambellini played 553 career NHL games between 1978-1979 and 1987-1988 with the New York Islanders, Colorado Rockies, New Jersey Devils, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.
Tambellini and Lowe have previously worked together as members of Team Canada's management team, helping lead Canada to success on the international stage.
"This is a management team," Tambellini told TSN. "We're going to work together as a group. I don't want Kevin Lowe going anywhere. He's one of the reasons that I came here. He'll be involved as much as he wants to be involved and I look forward to that."
As Director of Player Personnel, Tambellini helped put together the roster that won the gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah and he was also a member of the management team for Team Canada's gold medal triumph at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. He also served as the General Manager of Team Canada at the 2003 and 2005 IIHF World Hockey Championships, winning the gold medal in Finland in 2003 and silver in 2005.
Vancouver Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis today issued the following statement on behalf of the club regarding Steve Tambellini:
"On behalf of the entire Canucks organization we would like to thank Steve for his many contributions to our club as a player and manager over nearly 20 years. Since his days as a player and continuing through his time spent in our front office, Steve was a committed member of our team and community.
This is an opportunity that Steve could not pass up and we are in full support of his decision to advance his career. We wish him, his wife Denise and their entire family the best of luck in the future."
Despite being passed over twice for the general manager position in Vancouver, Tambellini had nothing bad to say about his former employers.
"I can't say enough good things about the people there that I spent a lot of time with."
Lowe has been Oilers GM since June 9, 2000, guiding the team to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final. The Oilers have missed the playoffs in the two seasons since, though there is a sense of optimism moving forward as the team has assembled a nucleus of young talent that should provide better results.
Tambellini is excited about what is in store for him in the City of Champions.
"It's going to be a competitive team and a puck possession team. It's going to be a team that has speed. I can't wait to see them in September."
The hiring of Tambellini also means that the frosty relations between Lowe and some of the general managers around the league, most notably the Ducks' Brian Burke and the Sabres Darcy Regier, will be smoothed out.
"It wasn't done for that (reason)," joked Lowe. "But perhaps it can open the door."
Kevin Prendergast, who has been the Oielrs' Vice-President of Hockey Operations, will move in as the new Assistant General Manager, and will continue to be responsible for overseeing both the team's pro and amateur scouting operations.