Oilers Fire Jeff Truitt as Head Coach of the Springfield Falcons

Jonathan Willis
February 10 2009 09:23AM

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Some of you may have read my article yesterday, which made the case for a coaching change in Springfield. Today, the Oilers have announced that Jeff Truitt has been relieved of his duties and that he will be replaced by professional scout Rob Daum for the remainder of the season.

Truitt came to the organization after more than fifteen years of coaching experience in the WHL and AJHL; he served for one season as the assistant to Kelly Buchberger in Springfield. In May, I applauded the decision to give Truitt the job based on his experience as a junior coach – he seemed like an excellent candidate to develop young prospects. Steve Tambellini said the following about Truitt today:

The Oilers organization would like to thank Jeff for his commitment and effort. Jeff’s an outstanding individual who worked hard every day to improve his hockey club.

I’ve never read anything negative about Truitt as an individual; indeed, there have been a lot of positive things said about his time in the WHL and elsewhere. It’s unfortunate that things worked out this way, but given the Falcons’ struggles, it was the right choice to make.

Rob Daum has an extensive track record as a coach in the WHL, AHL and CIS. He spent three years as an assistant coach and three more as a head coach in the WHL. As a head coach, his WHL teams went a combined 95-79-12. Daum spent the next ten years as the head coach at the University of Alberta, with a phenomenal lifetime record of 345-79-32, before jumping to the AHL as the head coach of the Houston Aeros (Minnesota’s AHL affiliate). After an excellent 50-24-6 run in 2005-06, the Aeros struggled in 2006-07, going 27-43-10, for a combined record of 77-67-16.

Daum served as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers last season, but his contract was not renewed this year, allowing Kelly Buchberger to join the team as an assistant. Daum had spent this season as a professional scout with the Oilers.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 swany
February 10 2009, 09:24AM
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Maybe today you can suggest a coaching change for the Oilers, seems to work well

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#2 JRocks247
February 10 2009, 09:25AM
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Hopefully the Oilers organization is just getting in a little practice before they attempt it in the big league.

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#3 Zamboni Driver
February 10 2009, 09:26AM
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One definition of irony:

"an objectively or humorously sardonic utterance, disposition, quality, etc."

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#4 Jonathan Willis
February 10 2009, 09:29AM
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swany wrote:

Maybe today you can suggest a coaching change for the Oilers, seems to work well

I seem to recall that I already have.

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#5 Sean
February 10 2009, 09:30AM
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Good call! Hopefully the team can turn it around.

Can we please get some predictions for potential right handed centremen who are pk aces? ;)

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#6 MarcAndre Pooalot
February 10 2009, 09:30AM
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You HAVE to test the water before you jump right in...

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#7 OvenChicken8
February 10 2009, 09:36AM
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Great call yesterday JW.

It's nice to see Daum getting another chance to coach. He was money with the U of A and hopefully he continues his success with the Falcons.

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#8 oilerdago
February 10 2009, 09:38AM
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This is a good move. Nothing personal against Truitt, but he obviously could not manage the team in an effective way and needs to move to a different role.

I'm happiest for Rob Daum who I think will do a great job in Springfield (and wherever the AHL team is next year) for the Oilers. I'll bet they go on a win streak right now.

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#9 Boundz
February 10 2009, 09:38AM
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Good. Maybe this will turn the team around. Going to see them play in Toronto this weekend. Hopefully, I'll have some positive things to say.

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#10 Monday Guy
February 10 2009, 09:43AM
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"I’ve never read anything negative about -insert coaches name here- as an individual; indeed, there have been a lot of positive things said about his time in the -insert league name here- and elsewhere. It’s unfortunate that things worked out this way, but given the -insert club name here- struggles, it was the right choice to make."

nuf said

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#11 freeze
February 10 2009, 09:47AM
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SWEET! If this isn't grooming, I don't know what is.

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#12 I Am The Law
February 10 2009, 09:47AM
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Is this a potential "grooming" placement for Mr. Daum? Say, in case the wheels come completely off this year or next, and we, say, need a new coach, who, say knows the organization, and say, recently worked with our AHL prospects, etc., etc.?

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#13 Jonathan Willis
February 10 2009, 09:51AM
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I Am The Law wrote:

Is this a potential “grooming” placement for Mr. Daum?

It's just my opinion of course, but I have trouble picturing Daum as an NHL head coach in the near future. Remember, he was unceremoniously booted from his last post to make room for Kelly Buchberger. Matheson also hinted pretty strongly this summer that Daum was looking for a head coaching job somewhere or an assistant coaching job in the NHL, and only took the Oilers' offer when he didn't get one of those.

Still, if he does a good job down there, anything's possible; likely jumping to the NHL ala Geoff Ward - to the assistant coaching staff somewhere.

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#14 MarcAndre Pooalot
February 10 2009, 10:01AM
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Why do we need to groom somebody if there are good coaches available? Seems like we could have the pick of the litter these days...

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#15 APE
February 10 2009, 10:12AM
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MarcAndre Pooalot wrote:

Seems like we could have the pick of the litter these days…

And who would that be?

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#16 Jonathan Willis
February 10 2009, 10:16AM
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MarcAndre Pooalot wrote:

Why do we need to groom somebody if there are good coaches available?

I don't know - I'd say every coach still out there (Crawford, Quinn, Tortorella, Hartley, etc.) has some serious question marks around them.

Before Toronto snagged him, Ron Wilson would've been my pick. Now, based solely on ability, I'd hire Ted Nolan, but I'm not 100% convinced it's worth the possible power struggle.

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#17 Rob
February 10 2009, 10:16AM
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Jonathan - What is your assessment of the problems in the minor system? Is it just a case of the Oilers having drafted very poorly or is there something else? I read that Buchberger was not liked when he was there last year. He is credited for helping out a couple of players though. The other thing here is the Oil have at least brought in a coach who is not an Oiler from the 80's. They have done that before I know, the Bruins coach comes to mind, but the coach never got a sniff of the NHL unless/until some other organization recognized the talent.

It just seems odd that the whole Oiler organization is in a mess. Whose feet should that be laid at?

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#18 Wangtaco
February 10 2009, 10:19AM
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Glad to see Daum get a call; I think this is a very smart man, with a good track record, that the organization needs to hang on to. I don't know much about ol' Kelly B but I thought it was hilarious that he got the nod over Daum to be an assistant coach. Actually, replace hilarious with f-----g ridiculous. I'm sure Bucky is a nice dude...but come on.

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#19 MattL
February 10 2009, 10:23AM
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So does this mean Daum is slated as Bucky's assistant next year? Or do you think he'll leap-frog Bucky in the coaching depth chart? Oops, I mean, nothing is predetermined, they'll hire the right professional, with the best mix of hockey knowledge and experience coaching if and when the time comes...

ALSO, I can't imagine he would have taken the AHL job if there wasn't some promise of NHL work in the next couple of years...

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#20 Rob
February 10 2009, 10:26AM
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@ Jonathan Willis: In previous posts here I believe I recall references to people being hired on a 'who you bl...know basis'. I doubt Daum has enough NHL old boy connections to get on with anyone as an assistant who would be in a current position enabling them to make him an offer. He's looking more like Malcolm Milquetoast in the pic. Does he have the emotional juice to drive a pro team? We'll see. I'm glad he is being given the chance.

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#21 jdrevenge
February 10 2009, 10:27AM
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Didn't we have Claude Julien's rights a couple of years ago...? what a shame that would've been.

Slowly but surely I'm hopping on the short bus to fire mactavish town. Of all the guys you mentioned Willis I don't think any of them are viable. Even Nolan has some serious question marks.

This is a bit of an undiscovered forum. Coach scouting. Wonder what would be available from guys that have no experience coaching in the NHL... I wonder how you could measure a coachs ability other than win loss. As that seems a little bit circumstancial (personnel)

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#22 MarcAndre Pooalot
February 10 2009, 10:32AM
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APE wrote:

And who would that be?

I was thinking of Quinn, Tortorella...They have proven track records. We need to look outside of the boys on the bus. Get some fresh blood in here. It is like we are sitting on an airplane breathing recycled air for a long flight to the golf course.

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#23 Rick
February 10 2009, 10:42AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I don’t know - I’d say every coach still out there (Crawford, Quinn, Tortorella, Hartley, etc.) has some serious question marks around them. Before Toronto snagged him, Ron Wilson would’ve been my pick. Now, based solely on ability, I’d hire Ted Nolan, but I’m not 100% convinced it’s worth the possible power struggle.

If by some slim chance they could get him on a one or two year deal only I would love to see them bring in Tortorella.

This team has been so lethargic for such long stretches that I think they could use a guy that first and foremost makes it uncomfortable for the players when they slack. He does that in spades.

Once the work ethic is re-established as part of the culture and the complacency is driven out then bring in some new blood in a career coach. Maybe that guy is Daum, maybe not, but it gives the Oilers a year or so to see how he does with their guys down on the farm and assess if he has the goods to move up to the bigs.

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#24 Jonathan Willis
February 10 2009, 10:43AM
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Rob wrote:

Jonathan - What is your assessment of the problems in the minor system? ... It just seems odd that the whole Oiler organization is in a mess. Whose feet should that be laid at?

Why can't you have an easy question ;)

I think a ton of the problems in Springfield were due to coaching, especially considering the misuse of certain players.

Dubnyk's probably a top-15 AHL goaltender right now, so it isn't a problem in net. Kevin Prendergast bears some responsibility for not bringing in enough vets early on, but looking at how the vets have had their performances drop off (by an avg. of 30% as I noted yesterday) I'd suggest coaching was the big one. the use of Roy/Chorney in particular. We'll see how much was a personnel issue now - I'd suggest that if Daum's a decent coach he'll probably be able to get this team to go about .500 the rest of the way.

As for the Oilers organization as a whole, I'd say the blame lies squarely with the man who has been at the helf for nearly the last decade - Kevin Lowe.

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#25 CurtisS
February 10 2009, 10:48AM
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Like the big club.....about 30 games to late.

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#26 Chaz
February 10 2009, 10:54AM
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TSN is reporting that Visnovsky is out for the season. Ouch!

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#27 Colin
February 10 2009, 11:29AM
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Too little, too late, but good for Daum, always liked him.

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#28 Reggie
February 10 2009, 12:01PM
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I thought that Daum got totally shafted by being removed as an assistant coach and replaced by Bucky. Ya, Bucky was heart and soul, but very little experience. It made not sense to me to dismiss Daum and give him a scouting position.

I am sure he will do well in Springfield and help out the kids down there and certainly make better personnel decisions.

I would be shocked if Daum was on the fast path to be the Oilers head coach, but I hope he does well and forces the management to take notice.

I am thinking this should be a good thing for increasing the development of the kids down there. Kudos that they finally made the move.

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#29 Ender the Dragon
February 10 2009, 12:38PM
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MarcAndre Pooalot wrote:

I was thinking of Quinn, Tortorella . . . Get some fresh blood in here.

Faux pas: To inadvertently use the words 'Quinn' and 'fresh blood' in the same post.

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#30 Sing A Song For SingSing
February 10 2009, 01:06PM
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Truitt looks and sounds like an absolute bonehead haha.

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#31 Okanagan
February 12 2009, 03:06AM
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You obviously know nothing about the man. Why not think before you speak (type) next time?

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