Kevin Dineen as Oilers Head Coach?

Jonathan Willis
May 24 2009 11:28AM

dineen

Jim Matheson takes a surprising amount of flack around the blogosphere, but the fact of the matter is that he’s connected, intelligent, and been around the Edmonton Oilers for a long time. His latest article is a must-read and gives us our clearest look yet into the search for a new head coach. 

The first paragraph that jumped out at me was this one:

Should he go with a fresh new face such as Kevin Dineen or Scott Arniel -- both on the Oilers' short list -- but have an older right-hand man to help him learn the NHL coaching ropes?

Scott Arniel is an obvious choice, and it’s good to hear that he’s on the short list (if for no other reason than because I keep mentioning his name), but as far as I can tell this is the first time Kevin Dineen’s name has come up in connection with the job. I mentioned him in my list of possibilities back in April, and he’s been rumoured as a possible NHL coach for a few years.

On the surface, Dineen seems a solid candidate; he’s had a very good track record in the AHL (and survived when his team changed it’s NHL allegiance from Anaheim to Buffalo). His solid upward trajectory deviated a bit in the summer of 2006, when as a rookie head coach he was arrested, and eventually convicted of, “driving to endanger”. What made this error in judgement particularly troubling was that teammate Steve Chiasson was killed while driving drunk; Dineen identified the body, told Chiasson’s wife, and gave the eulogy at his funeral.

"You would think," Dineen said, "after what I’ve been through, that I’d be a guy who should know better."

Still, Dineen is a first-rate coach, and while it’s obviously not right to condone his actions, I don’t think he should be written off because of them. An anonymous NHL executive told Matheson that Dineen would be an “ideal” fit for the Oilers, and I think he’s definitely a strong contender. His previous experience with Dustin Penner and Ladislav Smid (which Matheson points out) is also an asset.

There’s more to Matheson’s piece, though:

Here's somebody else who is on the Oilers' radar screen as a head coach: former defenceman Don Jackson, who was an assistant coach with Quebec Nordiques, Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins. Jackson, 52, just won the German League title with the Berlin Polar Bears. He's paid his coaching dues.

Don Jackson is a bit off the beaten track; so far off that I didn’t even mention him in my otherwise extensive list of possibilities (linked above). He has had some success in the ECHL and IHL and went over to Germany during the lockout, where he’s been very successful. He won two Stanley Cups with the Oilers and has a long track record as an NHL assistant coach. If he were to get the job it will have been via a route less travelled, and it would certainly be an outside of the box selection.

Matheson also shines some light on the likely future for MacTavish’s assistants:

Take this to the bank: One of Craig MacTavish's assistant coaches will remain on staff when the new head man is hired. The Oilers are not about to pay Charlie Huddy, Kelly Buchberger and Billy Moores for another year without them having to work for their paycheques. At least one of them will also likely find a job as an Oilers pro scout next year if Rob Daum gets the AHL farm team job. And Pete Peeters, the only Oilers assistant coach whose contract is running out, would be best served staying on to coach young goalies Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk. There's no sense bringing in somebody new who hasn't built a relationship with either kid.

It’s been hinted before (by one or both of Brownlee/Gregor, I’m sorry that I don’t remember which) that Kelly Buchberger is likely to remain on staff as an assistant coach, so it seems sensible to say that he’s probably the guy who would remain on staff. Daum was assigned as a pro scout last season to make way for Buchberger, and it seems that one of Huddy/Moores will see something similar happen this year, and based on Matheson’s comments it seems both will be with the team in some capacity.

As for Pete Peeters, I’m not entirely sure I agree with Matheson; maybe it is the quality of the players he has been dealing with, but most of the Oilers’ goaltenders during his tenure – with Roloson being the sole exception – have proved disappointing; Ty Conklin only reached his potential elsewhere, while the progress of both Deslauriers and Dubnyk has not been as quick as anticipated. Again, I’m hesitant to hang this on Peeters, but I do think it’s fair to say that he hasn’t had an unqualified success during his time with the team, despite two very high draft picks being invested in goaltending prospects. At this point it’s possible that a change in approach might be beneficial. There’s also the question of Garon’s collapse; while the final responsibility lies with the player, his performance this season didn’t reflect well on the coaching staff.

Finally, a bit on Brent Sutter:

Brent Sutter's name has predictably come up as Calgary coach if he decides not to return to New Jersey for the third year of his contract because he wants to stay in Alberta, but sources say the Flames owners want GM Darryl Sutter to step back behind the bench.

It’s probably fair to say that Darryl Sutter’s greatest successes have been behind the bench, and with two coaches already dismissed during his tenure as GM it wouldn’t be surprising to see the owners pushing him into the role. It would be nice if that was the case, because if he’s available Brent Sutter would seem to be the best candidate for the Oilers’ job.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, 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 Sandra Blood
May 24 2009, 12:13PM
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Finally seeing the Light on Peters hey Willis, As for Dineen, I see him as a MacT clone in more ways than one. Not a good choice for the Oilers. Go with what you know and bring in Quinn. and thats not Kevin I am talking about.

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#2 Moe
May 24 2009, 12:31PM
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His solid upward trajectory deviated a bit in the summer of 2006, when as a rookie head coach he was arrested, and eventually convicted of, “driving to endanger”. ------

The Oilers really love wreckless drivers as coaches don't they. MacT, then Dineen. Maybe this will open the door for Mark Bell and Danny Heatley to join the organization.

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#3 Moe
May 24 2009, 12:36PM
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I'd like to see Huddy back in some capacity, but Moores and Peters I'd rather not see back. And it was Browlee that mentioned Bucky coming back because of a close relationship with Katz. That Robin fellow is as sharp as a muffin.

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#4 Archaeologuy
May 24 2009, 12:38PM
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@ Moe: I'd take Heatley any day of the week. I'd let him wave the starting flag at the Edmonton Indy. Heck, he can drive the pace car for all i care.

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#5 Sandra Blood
May 24 2009, 01:10PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Moe: I’d take Heatley any day of the week. I’d let him wave the starting flag at the Edmonton Indy. Heck, he can drive the pace car for all i care.

Peoples lives don't natter as long as you get a goal hey. 1 MacT was enough.

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#6 B.C.B.
May 24 2009, 01:46PM
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I am with Moe, on this one: Huddy is the only coach that deserves to return. The Oilers blueline, has been solid, and often has exceeded expectations during his tenure.

My wish list, including both the NHL and AHL teams and current Coaches- Oilers Head coach: New guy 1 (AHL coach) Associate Coach (forwards): New Guy 2 (Veteran Assistant coach) Assistant Coach (Dmen): Huddy Assistant Coach: new Guy 3 goalie Coach: New Guy 4

AHL Head Coach: Daum Associate Coach: Buchberger or Mark Lamb Assistant Coach: David Bell Goalie Coach: New Guy 5 (this is a creation of this coaching job)

Others: Billy Moore: Professional Video Scout Peeters: Release Gary Flemming: Release or reassigned to Minor League scout (in America) Buchberger: see above or NHL scout

I know that is a lot of turn over, but I think it is necessary since both teams where so bad. I think Buchberger was rushed to the NHL and needs to learn systems better, since I can honestly see him being the NHL coach of the future. The AHL team needs a Goalie coach, and the Oilers need a better one (yes JW is right as usual). Moores should be given a job that he would be useful at and wouldn't involve much travel, so he can retire when his contract expires (he has always been a good solider for the Oilers).

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#7 Archaeologuy
May 24 2009, 02:33PM
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Sandra Blood wrote:

Peoples lives don’t natter as long as you get a goal hey. 1 MacT was enough.

Come on. Even the Snider family forgave Heatley. Of course lives matter, but if you looked into anyone's past deep enough I'm sure you could find some debaucherous incidents.

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#8 Librarian Mike
May 24 2009, 03:00PM
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It never fails to make me shake my head in shame to hear people scream vengeance for criminals until...

"Oh, he's a star defenceman? Well, he's a good kid who made a mistake."

For the record, drinking and driving is not a mistake. It's a choice.

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#9 Moe
May 24 2009, 03:14PM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

It never fails to make me shake my head in shame to hear people scream vengeance for criminals until… “Oh, he’s a star defenceman? Well, he’s a good kid who made a mistake.” For the record, drinking and driving is not a mistake. It’s a choice.

IMO anything that happens while under the influence is a choice. The second you chose to drink, you chose to make unconditioned choices along the way. Not to take this topic too much off of the subject, but there's obviously too many people who still haven't learned the importance of responsible drinking/ responsible driving. A hockey player should not be devoid or responsibility, and the consequences should be indiscriminate.

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#10 Archaeologuy
May 24 2009, 04:04PM
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@ Moe: I agree with that. But most people who are caught drinking and driving arent told that they can no longer work in their chosen profession. Hockey players are no exception. No one is saying they shouldnt be punished, but when is the punishment over?

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#11 Ogden Brother
May 24 2009, 04:17PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Moe: I agree with that. But most people who are caught drinking and driving arent told that they can no longer work in their chosen profession. Hockey players are no exception. No one is saying they shouldnt be punished, but when is the punishment over?

Bingo, the question is: Is the punishment adaquate? Or in otherwords, people should be voicing their disaproval at the legal system (or society as a whole I guess).

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#12 SLURVE
May 24 2009, 05:06PM
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I am surprised that Paul Maclean's name has not been mentioned at all in Jim or your discussion. A very successful four year tenure with Detriot's Babcock as well as coaching together while they were with the Ducks. Paul was a successful scorer with the Jets and as a assist. coach and 1 Stanley cup (and numerous finals).

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#13 Librarian Mike
May 24 2009, 05:16PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

people should be voicing their disaproval at the legal system

...and at the team in question. The big elephant in the room is that if it's a good player/coach the team plays the "we're helping him through this difficult time" card, which is code for "screw that family that got killed. We're on the hook for another 3 years with this guy".

Sigh...sorry for going off about this. I've just seen too many lives ruined by impaired drivers.

Anyway, on topic, I wonder if anyone in the coaching staff really deserves to have job security after the last couple of seasons.

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#14 Lofty
May 24 2009, 06:19PM
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First let me say that I think MacT was a good coach that was saddled with an inferior roster last season.

Second, I think he is a top notch person and someone that I respect.

Now after that I would like to remind people of where the oilers picked him up from. MacT was convicted of vehicular homicide and Slats went and signed him as he was walking out of the pen.

From there he went on to help the oil win 3 stanley cups and coach them to a conference championship.

Everyone makes mistakes, some cost more than others. If he is the best option to get the oilers on the right track and he has served his time then I am all for it.

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#15 DonDon
May 24 2009, 06:26PM
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Further to the talk in Calgary about coaches, there was an interesting article in the Calgary Herald this past week on the Kennan firing. Robyn Regehr is quoted as stating that Keenan was behind the times as a coach, his best before date being the late 1990s. If this is the case, where does this put Pat Quinn? Best before date early 1990s? Further to the story, apparently Brent Sutter indicated his disinterest in coaching the Flames with his brother as GM. He also stated that he was still an employee of the Devils. If the Oilers have problems, so do the Flames. Best that they don't retain Darryl Sutter as GM and appoint him coach. Like Kevin Lowe, he is the architect of a lousy franchise.

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#16 Jonathan Willis
May 24 2009, 06:51PM
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SLURVE wrote:

I am surprised that Paul Maclean’s name has not been mentioned at all in Jim or your discussion. A very successful four year tenure with Detriot’s Babcock as well as coaching together while they were with the Ducks. Paul was a successful scorer with the Jets and as a assist. coach and 1 Stanley cup (and numerous finals).

I've mentioned MacLean repeatedly (he was on my initial shortlist) but I haven't heard anything solid about him in connection with the Oilers' job.

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#17 RossCreek
May 24 2009, 06:52PM
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@ DonDon How can you say he runs a lousy franchise? Look at where they were before he came in as a franchise compared to now. No question they are in a way better position BECAUSE of him. He's gone out and made the big deadline deal that everyone hopes their team makes. He brought in young, energetic forwards last summer to help bring more speed to the team. He has the core signed long term. He has a winning record. He has brought an identity to the Flames, something they lacked before him. Is he perfect? No. Is he the architect of a lousy franchise? No.

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#18 KSC10032
May 24 2009, 07:52PM
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Well, Dineen waqs the guy who interested me most from the start.

The fact that he retained the job in Portland through an affiliate switch says a lot -- IMO.

As a player, he was a beauty, much more offense-minded than MacTavish. His father -- Bill Dineen -- was an exceptional WHA/NHL coach as well.

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#19 Ogden Brother
May 24 2009, 07:58PM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: people should be voicing their disaproval at the legal system …and at the team in question. The big elephant in the room is that if it’s a good player/coach the team plays the “we’re helping him through this difficult time” card, which is code for “screw that family that got killed. We’re on the hook for another 3 years with this guy”. Sigh…sorry for going off about this. I’ve just seen too many lives ruined by impaired drivers. Anyway, on topic, I wonder if anyone in the coaching staff really deserves to have job security after the last couple of seasons.

That's the whole point we are getting at, the legal system dictates that they have paid their debts to society, it's not the teams/leagues job to highten the punishment. The beef is with the slack legal system.

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#20 Ender the Dragon
May 24 2009, 07:59PM
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When I read Matheson's paragraph on Peeters, I shook my head, so I was glad when I read your comments and saw that we're on the same page. Peeters is too many generations removed from JDD and Dubnyk, and I'm not convinced that he 'gets' them any better than anyone else. They are young, strong, and adaptable and they'll play just as well or better under someone new as long as the guy has half an idea what he's talking about. Sorry, Pete, but it's time.

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#21 Jonathan Willis
May 24 2009, 09:03PM
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KSC10032 wrote:

The fact that he retained the job in Portland through an affiliate switch says a lot — IMO.

Yeah, that's a very strong vote of confidence in his ability.

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#22 yo
May 24 2009, 09:07PM
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My only hope is that Tambelini will have the elbow room to make his own choice and the old Oiler guard stay the hell out of the decision-making process. If I were in Tambellini's spot I would want to stake my success or failure on what would ultimately be my choice even with other wise council I would want my own guy in there coaching the team.

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#23 kingsblade
May 24 2009, 09:22PM
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@ Librarian Mike: @ Moe: @ Sandra Blood: You guys know that Heatley wasn't drunk right?

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#24 Librarian Mike
May 24 2009, 10:05PM
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@ kingsblade:

I do. I wasn't referring to him, but more to guys like Bouwmeester, Ramage, Chiasson, etc.

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#25 Sandra Blood
May 25 2009, 12:20AM
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kingsblade wrote:

@ Librarian Mike: @ Moe: @ Sandra Blood: You guys know that Heatley wasn’t drunk right?

He did have a few drinks, he did admit it, Some people are a cheap drunk.

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#26 DonDon
May 25 2009, 12:49AM
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RossCreek. There are strong negative feelings in Calgary about Darryl Sutter's Flames getting knocked out of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the past four years. The team is at the absolute top of the salary cap. If you recall, they played with 15 skaters for about the last five games of the season because of injuries and the salary cap limitation (not Keenan's fault). Because of the cap problem, fans have blamed Sutter for missing first place in the NW Division and the chance to play St. Louis in the first round. The Flames are locked into long-term contracts for players that are starting to show deficiencies and with the cap declining, Sutter is stuck in cap pergatory (like Tambellini). Besides, there isn't much security for head coaches working for Sutter so it is unlikely the cream of the crop will be anxious to work for the Flames. As for Flames' identity, it is linked to its GM, not the team, and some fans have described the GM as lacking in class. The notice of Keenan's firing was sent to the media via email late Friday afternoon of a long weekend. The blame was placed on the coach, naturally.

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#27 RossCreek
May 25 2009, 06:13AM
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@ DonDon The email wasn't sent out on a long weekend. The guys on the Fan speculated that the info leaked so the Flames sent the email out ahead of schedule. Obviously Darryl was headed to watch the Memorial Cup this past weekend. I've been in Calgary most of May and have not heard a lot of people calling for Sutter's head (there have been some, but nowhere near a majority). A year from now that may change. Dion is young and was injured half the year and the coach kept playing him big minutes. Kipper played too many games and the team was piss poor defensivly compared to the past. I would've been fine either way as far as Keenan goes, but I don't feel like Sutter should go yet. The team has been competitive under his reign and they've showed a willingness to make the moves necessary to win (although they have yet to do so, there is only 1 winner at the end of the season). The timing and quality of players injured is what factored in to the cap fiasco.

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#28 Racki
May 25 2009, 09:41AM
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People like to name Brent Sutter as a good candidate for head coach. But I have to ask you why? Why would he be any better with this team than MacTavish was? He coaches the same sort of hard defensive first strategy. Let's look somewhere else. Arniel is a great suggestion, as is Quinn despite his age, I'd even go for Dineen. But I'll take a pass on Brent Sutter. You had me right up until the closing paragraph. :P

I'd also really like to see the entire coaching staff cleaned up (with replacements chosen by our new head coach, possibly) with exception of possibly Charlie Huddy as he has seemed to get the most out of our defence. Hard to say though how much of that is because of him.

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#29 TDSM31
May 25 2009, 03:58PM
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B.C.B. wrote:

I am with Moe, on this one: Huddy is the only coach that deserves to return. The Oilers blueline, has been solid, and often has exceeded expectations during his tenure. My wish list, including both the NHL and AHL teams and current Coaches- Oilers Head coach: New guy 1 (AHL coach) Associate Coach (forwards): New Guy 2 (Veteran Assistant coach) Assistant Coach (Dmen): Huddy Assistant Coach: new Guy 3 goalie Coach: New Guy 4 AHL Head Coach: Daum Associate Coach: Buchberger or Mark Lamb Assistant Coach: David Bell Goalie Coach: New Guy 5 (this is a creation of this coaching job) Others: Billy Moore: Professional Video Scout Peeters: Release Gary Flemming: Release or reassigned to Minor League scout (in America) Buchberger: see above or NHL scout I know that is a lot of turn over, but I think it is necessary since both teams where so bad. I think Buchberger was rushed to the NHL and needs to learn systems better, since I can honestly see him being the NHL coach of the future. The AHL team needs a Goalie coach, and the Oilers need a better one (yes JW is right as usual). Moores should be given a job that he would be useful at and wouldn’t involve much travel, so he can retire when his contract expires (he has always been a good solider for the Oilers).

Didn't Huddy run the PK?

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#30 kingsblade
May 25 2009, 09:53PM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

@ kingsblade: I do. I wasn’t referring to him, but more to guys like Bouwmeester, Ramage, Chiasson, etc.

Fair enough.

Sandra Blood wrote:

kingsblade wrote: @ Librarian Mike: @ Moe: @ Sandra Blood: You guys know that Heatley wasn’t drunk right? He did have a few drinks, he did admit it, Some people are a cheap drunk.

His blood alcohol was so low it didn't even register. In other words it was less than .015 or something. The legal limit was .08.

He was not drunk. He was driving waaaay too fast, but he was not drunk.

Criticize him for being reckless all you want but it is very unfair to label him a drunk driver.

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