Secrets at the top

Robin Brownlee
May 22 2009 10:34AM

topsecret

For crying out loud, Brownlee, get off your fat ass and tell us who the candidates are to be the next coach of the Edmonton Oilers. Give us something. Names. Times. Places. Anything, already.

I understand the sentiment because nothing drives me nuts like not being able to find out what I want to know. The only "news" I can offer is that the search for Craig MacTavish's successor, and details about that search, is being conducted strictly at the top. Even middle management isn't in on proceedings. I know, stop the presses. Thanks for nothing, Mr. Inside Guy.

I'm told the process is being handled strictly by president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe and GM Steve Tambellini. Obviously, owner Daryl Katz is being kept abreast of developments, but beyond those three, nobody's getting a sniff, including assistant GMs Kevin Prendergast and Rick Olczyk. The loop is Lowe, Tambellini and Katz.

Short of borrowing Wanye's van and staking out Lowe's place or rummaging through Tambellini's garbage -- old school investigative journalism techniques when bribes, blackmail and subtle cajoling doesn't work -- I'm not sure what or who to lean on next. It's a case of limit the loop and stop any leaks.

If there's been one significant shred of news -- not speculation -- in the past two weeks, I've missed it.

The name game

My understanding is Tambellini interviewed one candidate Monday before heading to pro scouting meetings in Banff Tuesday. My guess is it was San Jose assistant Todd Richards, but a guess is all it is because nobody outside the trio at the top even knows.

If it was Richards, he joins Marc Crawford, Tom Renney and Pat Quinn as people who've been interviewed. Rob Daum has also talked with Tambellini, but not specifically about the job opening.

TSN's Bob McKenzie started sniffing around when a rumour that Crawford had been offered the job began circulating this week, but outside of finding out that's not the case, even McKenzie came away with little else -- at least that he's willing to let us in on.

At this point, we don't even have a firm list of candidates. Will Tambellini interview eight candidates, nine, 10? Then, who gets shortlisted? Will Tambellini have someone in place before the draft? I think so, but I don't know so.

Big fat nothing

So locked down is the process that Joanne Ireland of The Journal and Derek Van Diest of The Sun took in an autograph session before the Capitals home-opener at Telus Field Thursday to squeeze Kyle Brodziak, Steve MacIntyre, Steve Staios and Zack Stortini, who were attending on behalf of the Oilers. They got nothing.

"I couldn't even guess," Brodziak said. "No one has heard anything."

The only item of note comes from The Journal's Jim Matheson, who says Richards might be out of the running because of the hire of Chuck Fletcher as the GM in Minnesota.

Matty writes: "With Chuck Fletcher, the Pittsburgh Penguins assistant general manager, reportedly getting the job as Minnesota Wild GM, Richards could be joining him.

"Richards, an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks, has been interviewed for the vacant Oilers' bench boss post. He is closely associated with Fletcher.

"Fletcher, son of long time NHL executive Cliff Fletcher, hired Richards to coach the Penguins Wilkes-Barre American Hockey League farm team where he was hugely successful for a couple of seasons."

I'm trying to track down Boston assistant coach Geoff Ward to see if or when he'll get an interview, but no luck yet. Likewise, I'm trying to find out the status of Charlie Huddy, Bill Moores and Kelly Buchberger -- specifically if any of them have been told they're free to pursue employment elsewhere -- but I haven't heard one word back.

On the air

Rod Phillips tells me he hasn't decided whether he'll be back for his 37th season as the radio voice of the Oilers or if he'll retire and hand the play-by-play duties over to Bob Stauffer.

I got a hold of The Skipper this week as he was hacking a golf ball all over the joint at Trickle Creek near Kimberley in B.C. as part of a road trip with Matheson and he says he won't make a call until he sits down and talks to management next week.

Like Tambellini, Phillips isn't giving anything up right now. He won't even say which way he's leaning. My guess is he'll be back for one more season.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
Avatar
#1 me
May 22 2009, 10:39AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I am pretty sure Matheson wrote a piece a few weeks ago that there was a 60-40 chance that Phillips would return.

I believe they are good buddies so your hunch or information is probably correct.

Avatar
#2 Colin
May 22 2009, 10:44AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Rod's got a good voice at anyrate, sometimes his mishandling of the names bothers me "an uh.......the sharks player strips pisani of the puck and moves it up the ice" but he's pretty good for the most part.

It be nice to see him for one final hurrah.

And thanks for the update Robin, pretty much what we expected(no news), but its nice to know.

Avatar
#3 Fiveandagame
May 22 2009, 10:52AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

No news means Marc Crawford is STILL not the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers. I for one take that as a positive.

Avatar
#4 Mikey
May 22 2009, 11:00AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I hope Tambellini gets this done soon so he can shift his focus to improving the team via the draft and trades at the draft.

Avatar
#5 jayoilfan
May 22 2009, 11:09AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I, for one, am just sitting back and taking it all in, not that there is much coming in at this point. I'll take it all in stride and heaven forebid I alter my lifestyle based on supposed rumours of what is happening to the Oilers.

One thing I have promised myself to not do this summer is make bold prediction to friends etc and try and figure out goals and assists for individual players this up coming season and who will/willnot be on the team come September. I know we all do it to some extent but I have been severely let down (I, probably like many others, consistently overestimate our beloved Oilers). So this summer I'll take it easy and just read the blogs and relax.

BTW, RB, loved your articles! thanks for the good reads this last year, keep it up.

Avatar
#6 yo
May 22 2009, 11:11AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Four teams are still playing and were are not one of them. All we can do is wait for something, anything to break so we can talk about it. This is hell. When is the draft anyway?

Avatar
#7 Mikey
May 22 2009, 11:17AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

yo wrote:

When is the draft anyway?

June 26.

Avatar
#8 Mark
May 22 2009, 11:35AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

did they not speak to Messier informally at the WHC this spring? I think the moose would be able to whip these guys into shape, draw in players interested in playing for him and give the Oilers a sorely needed shot of "winner mentality" in the dressing room.

Crawford is too much of a pussy, Quinn is a dinosaur who's style of hockey should be relegated to 1990 and the rest of the list simply doesn't have the star power to draw in top talent (the biggest hurdle for Edmonton IMHO)

Avatar
#9 Mark
May 22 2009, 11:36AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Fiveandagame wrote:

No news means Marc Crawford is STILL not the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers. I for one take that as a positive.

@ Fiveandagame: I'll second that

Avatar
#10 kingsblade
May 22 2009, 11:41AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Robin Brownlee:

Do they have anything to gain by all the secrecy? There must be some reason for it, but I'm having a hard time seeing any real advantage to be gained.

Avatar
#11 Hanson#4
May 22 2009, 12:10PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Any news on Brent Sutter ?

Avatar
#12 Jack Bauer
May 22 2009, 12:17PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Marc Crawford is scum. If that is really the best this organization can do, then theyre as worthless as he is.

Avatar
#13 Ducey
May 22 2009, 12:17PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ kingsblade:

Well we appear to know who has been interviewed, what more do you want?

You expect Tambellini to have a presser to say: "Yeah, I interviewed Quinn last week, I have not told him yet, but we were not impressed with the fact that he felt Tie Domi would be a good first line pickup or the fact that he dozed off after 15 minutes. We have not made any decisions but we thought we would just let you know how we are thinking" ?

I expect that they would like to talk to Sutter and maybe someone who is tied up in the playoffs still.

Once they announce who it is, they can have a presser and answer all the questions Robin might have.

I think they are handling it quite professionally actually.

Avatar
#14 roger
May 22 2009, 12:18PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

can someone bring me up to speed on why everyone hates marc crawford so much, all i read are negative comments but no facts to back them up, just curious thats all.

Avatar
#15 David S
May 22 2009, 12:22PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Mark wrote:

did they not speak to Messier informally at the WHC this spring?

Obviously he'd never be a head coach, but I could imagine him as a cracking assistant. Although I wonder if he'd ever accept an assistant's role, or a coaching job in the first place. Then there's the fact that even if he did accept the assistant job, he'd so badly overshadow the head coach that it probably wouldn't be workable anyways. Still, a shot of Messier's attitude is what this team sorely needs.

Avatar
#16 BigE57
May 22 2009, 12:24PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Mark: I would think bringing Messier in would be pretty good sign that nothing is changing and the old boys club isn't interested in moving forward. I have all the respect in the world for the Moose but his coaching experience is virtually nil.

Quinn on the other hand did a great job at the world juniors, and though I'm no Leafs fan he did keep them above water for a lot of years.

I for one would be happy to see Quinn get a shot with the Oilers I think he has a good presence with both young players and veterans and regardless of what anyone says the man knows the game.

Avatar
#17 Dennis
May 22 2009, 12:30PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Nothing to worry about here, folks.

Kevin Lowe is still part of the brain trust!

Avatar
#18 Chris
May 22 2009, 12:31PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Robin Brownlee:

Do you care to specualte about the cause and effect relationship between player personnel changes and how that alters the pecking order of the coaching candidates? For example: if Tambellini figures he can convince Jager to ditch the KHL and sign in Edmonton; would that give Renny an edge over the others? Do you get the sense that the length of this hiring process isn't just about waiting for all the potential candidates to become available for interview; Maybe they are waiting on some potential player/presonnel trades or aquisitions before making the final decision? Or is that just not how things are done?

I know Tambellini has been keeping his cards close to his chest... but... Like Kingsblade said; Why all the secerecy? Does your gut say something big is afoot?

Or should I just chill out and wait for the draft like everybody else?

Avatar
#19 Peter Pan
May 22 2009, 12:37PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Hanson#4 wrote:

Any news on Brent Sutter ?

Yes. He actually smiled today.

Avatar
#20 swany
May 22 2009, 01:22PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

With what we had left on the ice this year Toe Blake could coach this bunch and not make a diff. Robin have there been anything floating around about player changes, to me that's more important than who the coach will be. Great players make great coaches, haven't you heard? All the speculation around Vinny, Jagr, Gaborik what's the scope, I don't think it will matter for Tamby who he hires he will make the player changes with or without a coach in place.

Avatar
#21 humantorch
May 22 2009, 01:28PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Dennis wrote:

Nothing to worry about here, folks. Kevin Lowe is still part of the brain trust!

Hooray. We're dead.

Avatar
#22 Souby
May 22 2009, 01:44PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Mark wrote:

Fiveandagame wrote: No news means Marc Crawford is STILL not the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers. I for one take that as a positive. @ Fiveandagame: I’ll second that

I'll third that. Motion carried. Crawford denied......I hope. If we are lucky the CBC may have Crawford cover equestrian or swimming instead of hockey. I don't think I can take another season hearing him talk about Dwayne Roloffson! You would think he could have pronounced properly at least once.

Avatar
#23 Souby
May 22 2009, 01:47PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Peter Pan wrote:

Hanson#4 wrote: Any news on Brent Sutter ? Yes. He actually smiled today.

Yah, and hell froze over and pigs flew too!

Avatar
#24 Reggie
May 22 2009, 02:00PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ roger: Dear Roger,

Please listen to his commentary during a hockey game some time. He does not speak well, makes odd comments, comes across as mis-informed and the decided to put Ray Bourque in the shoot-out in Nagano instead of hockey God - Wayne Gretzky.

And last but not least, he was the coach during the Bertuzzi episode in Vancouver. He is not a classy guy in my opinion.

Does that help ?

Avatar
#25 Reggie
May 22 2009, 02:04PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

kingsblade wrote:

@ Robin Brownlee: Do they have anything to gain by all the secrecy? There must be some reason for it, but I’m having a hard time seeing any real advantage to be gained.

I think well run organizations like to keep their strategy and inside information - inside. It shows integrity and allows them to follow a path they want, not dictated because someone broke a story or spread a rumour.

I think you saw this with the hiring of Tambellini. There were no rumours and then bang, we had a hiring.

Yes, I know, we all love news and updates and knowing what's going on, but get used to this secrecy. It's a tight organization run by Katz.

Avatar
#26 Robin Brownlee
May 22 2009, 02:20PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Reggie: You're right. Tambellini doesn't owe us daily updates. It's just that loose lips are more fun for reporters and fans.

David S wrote:

Obviously he’d never be a head coach, but I could imagine him as a cracking assistant. Although I wonder if he’d ever accept an assistant’s role, or a coaching job in the first place.

Won't happen. Don't read too much into Mess being in Europe. He's looking to go the management route and his best chance is with the New York Rangers.

Mark wrote:

Quinn is a dinosaur who’s style of hockey should be relegated to 1990 and the rest of the list simply doesn’t have the star power to draw in top talent (the biggest hurdle for Edmonton IMHO)

It took a while to find a "no-clue" comment, but yours is it. Quinn isn't a dinosaur. What do you know about his philosophy and coaching style that suggests that? He's quite the opposite.

And coaches don't need "star power." What they need is a track record of success and of being somebody who knows the game and best utilizes players. What has Phoenix gained from Wayne Gretzky's "star power."

Avatar
#27 Reggie
May 22 2009, 02:36PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Robin Brownlee wrote:

@ Reggie: You’re right. Tambellini doesn’t owe us daily updates. It’s just that loose lips are more fun for reporters and fans.

Robin,

Maybe what the Oilers Org. owes us fans and reporters is not the information, but timely decisions ... this is taking way too long ! Hurry up and hire the coach damnit !!! I blame it on the success of Scott Arniel's Moose ... lol

Avatar
#28 Milli
May 22 2009, 02:47PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Are they coming to Golf in Golden? If they are, please tell them to stop at Race trac gas in Nicholson and check it out.

Avatar
#29 RossCreek
May 22 2009, 03:52PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Fan 960 in Calgary has just reported via TSN that the Flames have fired Mike Keenan. Let the Brent rumors fire up.

Avatar
#30 Jack Bauer
May 22 2009, 04:06PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Can you imagine MacT coaches Calgary?

Avatar
#31 swany
May 22 2009, 04:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Sutter in Calgary I would think that would be faily uncomfortable, just my 2 cents but no way I go to work for my brother knowing it's only a matter of time before he has to fire me, could make for some bad family dinners.

Avatar
#32 swany
May 22 2009, 04:09PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Jack Bauer wrote:

Can you imagine MacT coaches Calgary?

And they come back and kick our ass, that would be the knife in the back.

Avatar
#33 surshot
May 22 2009, 04:14PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Quinn is the guy i think and there is no use naming him tell after the playoffs are over to give him some time to relax. Before the media sinks there teeth into him.

We need some player rumors at least.

Avatar
#34 Robin Brownlee
May 22 2009, 04:15PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Jack Bauer wrote:

Can you imagine MacT coaches Calgary?

MacT ending up in Cowtown is not as much of a longshot as you might think. The way I see it, MacT is no worse than second (to Brent Sutter, assuming New Jersey lets him walk) in the running to take over from Keenan.

Avatar
#35 RossCreek
May 22 2009, 04:23PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Some unsubstantiated guesses: Brent Sutter, Tom Renney, Ryan McGill, Jacques Lemaire (Darryl does like defensive hockey).

Avatar
#36 Robin Brownlee
May 22 2009, 04:32PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

RossCreek wrote:

Some unsubstantiated guesses: Brent Sutter, Tom Renney, Ryan McGill, Jacques Lemaire (Darryl does like defensive hockey).

Jacques is 64. I've got a feeling he might walk away from hockey and relax.

My top three, as of today, for the Calgary job would be Sutter, MacTavish and Crawford. Please, make it Crawford.

Avatar
#37 RossCreek
May 22 2009, 04:45PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Pat Quinn would be another guess. Actually didn't mind Crawford in Colorado or Van, but I'm not too big of a fan now. Whoever can get the important W's is fine by me. Wouldn't mind seeing McGill involved in some capacity with the staff.

Avatar
#38 The Menace
May 22 2009, 04:47PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Milli wrote:

Are they coming to Golf in Golden? If they are, please tell them to stop at Race trac gas in Nicholson and check it out.

check out the gas station? I'm sure that will be top on the agenda. :)

Avatar
#39 RossCreek
May 22 2009, 04:51PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Keenan does have a Vancouver connection with Tambellini. And he won a Cup with Lowe in New York. Hmm?

Avatar
#40 RossCreek
May 22 2009, 04:59PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

IMO Brent doesn't have to worry about Darryl firing him because if it comes down to it, they'll both be leaving at the same time. If they have to fire Brent, thats not a good sign for Darryl.

Avatar
#41 David S
May 22 2009, 05:00PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

swany wrote:

And they come back and kick our ass, that would be the knife in the back.

Not so far fetched. MacT does pretty good with a team full of actual NHL'ers.

Avatar
#42 RossCreek
May 22 2009, 05:07PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Purely speculative, but the timing of the Keenan firing to me suggests that Darryl may know something about Brent's availability. Why now? Why not 2 or 3 weeks ago? Did someone better suddenly become available?

Avatar
#43 RossCreek
May 22 2009, 05:38PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

FYI, Eric Francis says Lemaire is likely the 1st call made and the perfect fit (wow, i just threw it out there), but that he may choose retirement. He figures Brent is a pipe dream, but says perhaps Duane Sutter is a candidate.

Avatar
#44 Death Metal Nightmare
May 22 2009, 05:51PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

best intro to an article - ever

Avatar
#45 Robin Brownlee
May 22 2009, 05:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

RossCreek wrote:

Lemaire is likely the 1st call made and the perfect fit (wow, i just threw it out there), but that he may choose retirement.

Who gives a squirt what you said -- you were just throwing it out there. But didn't I say something about Lemaire retiring? Well . . .

Avatar
#46 TDSM31
May 22 2009, 06:02PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I'm actually more eager to hear the news that they've fired Kevin Prendergast and Stu MacGregor than they've hired a new coach.

Avatar
#47 RossCreek
May 22 2009, 06:15PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Ah... ya Robin. Did I say you didn't. I was just conveying a 2nd media guy's opinion to support what you said. You sure are pissy today. One of the main reasons I come here is to read what you have to say. I'm not some Bozo sitting in the basement. Flame fan from Fort Sask workin in cowtown at the moment using my cel phone to write/view this crap! Just relaying what the Calgary media is saying/thinking. Sorry for offending (?) you. WTF?

Avatar
#48 Robin Brownlee
May 22 2009, 10:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ RossCreek: No worries. No offence taken. Just being, well, me.

Avatar
#49 Archaeologuy
May 22 2009, 11:03PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ RossCreek: @ Robin Brownlee: Group Hug?

Avatar
#50 RossCreek
May 22 2009, 11:24PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Lol. Anyways, I'm starting to wonder if perhaps there could be something to the Duane Sutter thoughts of Francis. He joined the Flames last summer as Director of Player Personnel after 11 seasons with the Panthers in various positions including coaching. He's someone that Darryl has admitted to leaning on with the Jokinen trade and he has now familiarized himself with the players in the organization. I know he hasn't had a lot of head coaching experience in the NHL, but he's someone that I could see getting a shot. With Keenan still being owed a mil ish next year, Duane could be a cheap option from within the organization, as opposed to looking for another big name, big money coach. Is he a viable option?

Comments are closed for this article.