Playoffs schmayoffs. Let's talk head coaches

Jason Gregor
May 08 2009 10:08AM

The second round of the playoffs is never as exciting as the first unless your city is still playing; the Coyotes ownership situation is intriguing to watch, but it’s on the verge of becoming a legal battle and until they get cameras in the court, it just won’t be that exciting.

So let’s talk some Oilers.

The latest name mentioned to replace Craig MacTavish was none other than the MOOSE. The boys on HNIC mentioned he will be in Switzerland and will chat with Tambellini and Lowe.

Curious what the response would be from Oiler fans if Messier got the job?

I sense only he or Gretzky could be acceptable options from the Old Boys Club. Any other ex-Oiler and the Oilers would be ripped mercilessly. Craig Simpson, Charlie Huddy, Kevin McClelland or Mark Lamb wouldn’t get the same response. I mention these four because they are currently coaching, or have recently.

For the record I don’t think Messier would be the right choice right now. Having your coach as the face of the franchise is not what this team needs, and Tambellini’s first hire can’t come from the OBC or people won’t believe it was his hire.

I honestly can’t get a read on who they are leaning towards. Some people within the organization don’t even know. Tambellini is keeping this top secret, which isn’t a bad thing.

Many will toss out names, just in case one of the names they use turns out to be the guy, so they can say I told you so. I still feel it will be someone with previous head coaching experience, but who exactly is a big guess, and the only name I’ve heard that doesn’t fit into that category is Scott Arniel.

Regardless of who Tambellini chooses, it should be an aggressive coach who will hold all of his players accountable, and preferably one with some creativity on a powerplay.

On a complete guy feel, I think with Renney and Laviolette being on TV. they won’t get hired here.

Contract talks on hold

I spoke to an agent of an RFA Oiler and he said he was told there would be no contract discussions until a new coach is named. I wonder if that holds true for UFAs like Roloson and Kotalik?

What it does mean is that the new coach will be named before free agency, and realistically by the end May or early June. It means the new coach will have to decide where guys like Smid, Grebeshkov, Brodziak, Reddox and Brule fit into his plans.

With Tambellini stating he wants his team to be more aggressive, you’d think the new coach would want Smid on his team for sure. Grebeshkov makes a lot of sense, but what about Brodziak?

I ran into him last week and he admitted he needs to be tougher. He mentioned he wants to be harder to play against, and seemed confident that it would happen. I believe he will be better next year.

In junior he made huge strides in his third season, and he repeated that in his third year in the AHL. Next year is his third in the NHL, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he took a big step next year. A big step for him won’t be necessarily mean becoming an 18-20 goal-scorer, but rather, becoming a more useful and reliable role player. He needs to realize that if he can be gritty, physical, hard-to-play against and strong in the dot he’ll be get his points. If he doesn’t he could find himself out of Edmonton.

His confidence, or lack thereof, has always been his biggest hurdle. You might not meet a more down-to-earth, polite NHL player than Brodziak, but if he wants to expand his role he will need to shed that persona when he gets on the ice. At 6’2” and 210 lbs he has the size to play gritty, and he has proven that he can handle himself if he needs to back up a gritty style.

Will the new coach give him that chance? I suspect he will, regardless of who the new coach is.

3-0 Comebacks

Only twice in NHL history has a team come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series. The Leafs did it in 1942 v. the Red Wings in the Cup Finals, while the Islanders did it in 1975 v. the Penguins.

The Calgary Hitmen are trying to become only the second WHL team to accomplish that feat. The Hitmen lost the first three, but have won two straight by scores of 6-2 and 6-1. In 1996 the Spokane Chiefs rallied to beat the Portland Winterhawks. The Chiefs did it in the first round.

The Chiefs went 50-18-4 that year, Mike Babcock was the coach and their most notable player was Jan Hrdina. They went on the WHL final before losing to the Brandon Wheatkings.

One of the most interesting parts of this year’s WHL final is that after game four in Kelowna on Wednesday, the teams shared a charter to Calgary for game five on Thursday. After the Hitmen won, both teams shared a charter back to Kelowna for game six. How much would it have sucked to be a member of the Rockets on both of those flights?

Game six is Saturday and game seven will go Monday. Not surprisingly, both teams will bus to Calgary for game seven.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 RossCreek
May 09 2009, 06:05AM
Trash it!
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cheers

Big Dave Semenko and I share the same take on Marc Habschied.

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#52 abdullah teh butcher
May 09 2009, 08:53AM
Trash it!
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cheers

What if Messier makes as good a coach as Lowe has been a GM? What then?

Then we have another OBC member who Katz is reluctant to get rid of.

It is interesting to read about Phoenix. When you have the local hockey sports reporter talking about how nepotism ruined the franchise, Barnett, Gretzky, etc. do we want to wallow for another dozen or twenty years on the bottom rung?

Lowe was a good defencemen. Greztky and Messier, great hockey players. That doesn't automatically make them great gms or coaches.

Messier's head is big enough, he doesn't need it to be inflated anymore with these rumors.

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#53 bengood
May 10 2009, 01:17PM
Trash it!
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trashes
Cheers
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cheers

I'm going to guess it is Smid who you were referring to - based solely on his reported unhappiness with how he was being used this year and the fact that it has been discussed a couple of times that grebs was/is (?) close to signing an extension..

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