Oilers Hire Wayne Fleming As Assistant Coach

Jonathan Willis
August 25 2009 06:00PM

The Oilers have hired Wayne Fleming - last seen as the head coach of Avangard Omsk of the KHL (far right in the video above) - as an assistant to Pat Quinn.

Fleming, like virtually everyone who Steve Tambellini has hired since being named Oilers’ GM, has had extensive experience with Hockey Canada. Fleming served as the GM (and assistant coach) of Canada’s National Olympic Program from 1990-92. Under his watch, the Canadians won silver at the 1992 Olympics. The Canadian team featured (among others) former Dallas coach Dave Tippett, while current Oiler Nikolai Khabibulin was the third goaltender for the gold-medal winning Russians. Fleming also served as Team Canada’s head coach at the 2001 and 2002 World Championships (he coached Steve Staios at the latter event), and as an associate coach at the 2002 and 2006 Olympics and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.

Outside of his work with Hockey Canada, Fleming’s had an incredibly diverse career as a coach. He spent nine seasons as head coach of the University of Manitoba Bisons (he was an assistant coach and player before that) before joining Hockey Canada, and during those nine seasons he won two championships. After his time with the Bisons and his first stint with Hockey Canada, Fleming took a job coaching Leksands in the Swedish Elite League, a position he held for four seasons. He also coached in Switzerland and Germany before taking a job as an assistant to Islanders head coach Rick Bowness in 1997-98. He lasted two seasons, and worked with three head coaches: Bowness, Mike Milbury, and Bill Stewart. Oilers’ defenseman Jason Strudwick played some games for the 1997-98 team.

During his time with the Islanders, Fleming was responsible for coaching the powerplay. Over his two seasons with the team, the Islanders ranked 10th and 13th in the NHL in PP%; in overall scoring they ranked 16th and 22nd. It seems safe to say that Fleming got the job done. Fleming’s time on the Island ended with the promotion of Stewart to head coach; Stewart’s first move was to move Fleming into scouting.

After two years, Fleming was hired as an assistant coach to Bob Francis in Phoenix (future Bruins’ coach Mike Sullivan was on the roster) then. He left the Coyotes to work for Hockey Canada, before returning to the NHL. His next job was in Philadelphia, where he spent three seasons as an assistant to Ken Hitchcock (Hitchcock had previously worked with Fleming at the 2002 Olympics). During the NHL lockout, Fleming considered a position in Switzerland, and his agent talked a little bit about why HC Bern wanted to hire him:

"Wayne is a kind of hockey god overseas. He spent a lot of time in Europe. He is considered a teacher over there, not a yeller. They really like people like him."

After resigning in Philadelphia, Fleming joined Jim Playfair’s staff in Calgary in time for the 2006-07 season, and worked for both Playfair and Mike Keenan. He resigned his position in Calgary to make the jump to the KHL after being recruited by Jaromir Jagr.

Last year, Fleming was the head coach for Avangard Omsk, and things went badly. Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov died in October because of a heart condition, and ex-NHL’er John Grahame was released by the club because of alleged off-ice issues (Grahame denies the team’s allegations). In early January, Fleming was fired mid-game, but then asked to return; he stayed on until the end of the month before resigning.

All things considered, I’m a fan of this move: from everything I’ve read, Fleming brings in experience on special teams, he’s done a ton of video work (and with the Oilers video coach being shown the door, it’s a good bet he’ll be doing it again) and he’s worked extensively with younger players.  It's also worth noting that Fleming's departure from Phoenix, Philadelphia and Calgary was on his own terms - he wasn't fired but instead chose to move on.  He’ll be a nice addition to an already loaded coaching staff.

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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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#151 analbumcover
August 26 2009, 05:59PM
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@ Robin Brownlee: I completely agree that it's a double standard. What I was trying to say was that people that take pride in their work and are generally respected for their craft (yourself, JW, Stauffer, etc) should have professional courtesy & respect for one another. As I said in my first post last night, not that I totally disagreed with his statement, I would have hoped he could have been more tactful in his wording. I just thought he called JW out a little.

As far as professional criticism is concerned, maybe it's not possible in this blogging format, but I would hope there would be a less public way of going about it. I know in my line of work, I would do my best not to criticize a colleague publicly. When done in a public venue, it's generally not received nearly as well (as was clear in this case).

I should clarify what I meant with my "faceless blogger" comment. Any bozo with a computer can start a blog, or post a comment on a site like this (read:"-30-"). In this blogging format, there's no way to stop the douchebaggery that these "brave" faceless posters say.

In any case, we probably won't agree on alot of these issues, but that's the best part of this site.

Cheers, ABC

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#152 Travis Dakin
August 26 2009, 06:00PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

It’s the little guy taking on the big guy and it’s almost like sport — “Oooh, Brownlee is going to snap, now. I can’t wait for his reaction.”

In fairness to some of us, one of the treats of this site is seeing how well you stand up for yourself when some annonymous posters come on with their BS, and occasionally lay an epic beat down like you did on "-30-" yesterday. But that does not excuse the attacks.

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#153 Greg MC
August 26 2009, 06:01PM
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Everyone needs respect. Sometimes we can be quick to judge.

Lots of good stuff here at the 'Nation. Thanks Y'all.

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#154 oilitsinyoutogive
August 26 2009, 06:23PM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

Robin Brownlee wrote: It’s the little guy taking on the big guy and it’s almost like sport — “Oooh, Brownlee is going to snap, now. I can’t wait for his reaction.” In fairness to some of us, one of the treats of this site is seeing how well you stand up for yourself when some annonymous posters come on with their BS, and occasionally lay an epic beat down like you did on “-30-” yesterday. But that does not excuse the attacks.

Gotta say the best post last night was Brownlee telling the "you have no job" poster that he did in fact have 4 gigs on the go

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#155 ronaldo
August 26 2009, 06:50PM
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@ Robin I think a lot of it comes down to how you read the comments. Bob being more of a radio guy may (probably) not have realized how his comments would have been interpreted by us loonies. As you mentioned, you know Bob, and, I'm guessing, read the comments coming from the "Bob" you know- not meaning disrespect towards JW. Personally I do not know Bob (loved his show on 1260), and did read the comment as an opinion of content with an unnecesary slight against JW thrown in. IMO

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#156 Quicksilver ballet
August 26 2009, 07:12PM
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Our buddy Bum Stauffer knows the lay of the land here, he knows its late summer, he knows Brownlee's over the legal limit, holidays etc, yet he chose to critique Mr. Willis...Still feel this drive by fruiting was uncalled for.

..am i the only one who feels that Stauffer sounds "liquored up" all the time on broadcasts?

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#157 Robin Brownlee
August 26 2009, 07:24PM
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@ ronaldo: Fair enough. Saying you read it as an unneccessary slight is one thing. But if you didn't read the original comment by Stauffer and just judged by the response, you'd have thought it was an all-out, guns-blazing assault that started things. Not the case.

You know, people could at least consider the question Stauffer posed -- is there a variety and balance of opinion and insight when all the articles are being written by one person? -- before going off. Is the question that outrageous, especially when asked by somebody who doesn't know the arrangements individual writers have? I don't think so.

Allowing that the question is reasonable doesn't mean Willis doesn't work hard, that he doesn't put thought and effort into what he produces or that he doesn't do good work. Allowing that the question has some merit doesn't mean Willis has hatched a scheme to turn ON into JonathanWillis.com by writing two or three stories a day to hog the spotlight. But instead of saying, "Hey, I was wondering about why nobody else except Willis is writing, too, and where the hell is Brownlee or Gregor or whoever," you get what we had here.

Circle the wagons. Gang mentality. Call it what you will. It was an overreaction.

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#158 Death Metal Nightmare
August 26 2009, 07:35PM
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Edmonton fans always need an "Other" to project their inferiority complex at. its epic. last week it was Heatley's presser for your own managements mistakes to not foster a proper situation for Heatley to say yes. this week its Bob Stauffer hoping some of the writers "closer" to home with sources outside of google brought more to the table to a website.

dissing Stauffer is lame. hes easily one of the more well thought out hockey analysts out there regardless of his job position or who he knows.

time to grow out of the juvenile stage rabid idealism / herd mentality. thats for teens. in deformed societies its for adults.

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#159 Quicksilver ballet
August 26 2009, 07:41PM
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I have to say this last week here on ON there has definately been alot of passion in dem der blogs.

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#160 Archaeologuy
August 26 2009, 10:38PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Circle the wagons. Gang mentality. Call it what you will. It was an overreaction.

The biggest problem here Robin is that this isnt the first time that JW has been the victim of a drive-by from Bob Stauffer. I will admit, I feel like I am a member of Oilers Nation. I dont write articles, but still I feel like i am part of a community here. It gets my back up when someone comes in from the outside and starts takin swipes at another member of the Nation, especially when they are unwarranted. It IS a circling of the wagons, it IS a gang mentality.

Bob Stauffer is a veteran of the media business and knows how to say what he means exactly the way he means it. He could have said what he said any number of ways but chose to do it in a way that was condescending. His question becomes almost irrelevant because he posed it in such a way that made his point secondary to his tone.

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#161 Hocknee Fann
August 26 2009, 10:42PM
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This thread is turning into a soap opera!

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#162 Jonathan Willis
August 26 2009, 11:23PM
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So, the Oilers hired a new coach...

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#163 Archaeologuy
August 26 2009, 11:29PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

So, the Oilers hired a new coach…

I heard that somewhere. I guess he's a big deal in Europe, but you cant trust everything you read on the internet these days.

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#164 Hocknee Fann
August 26 2009, 11:47PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

So, the Oilers hired a new coach…

All the other crap being set aside - good article JW! Appreciate your hard work.

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#165 Jonathan Willis
August 26 2009, 11:51PM
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#166 Veteran Coaches - OilersNation.com
August 27 2009, 05:30AM
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[...] wrote quite a bit about Wayne Fleming the other day; he’s coached extensively in Europe and more experience as an NHL assistant than all of Kevin [...]

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#167 OilersinOntario
August 27 2009, 08:01AM
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I'm late to the party, but I wanted to state my support for JW.

I live in the hellish land that is Toronto Maple Leafs territory, so I rely on this website to keep in touch with my hockey nation. Its like living in a desert and not finding water - thank god the Oil are finally in Buffalo this year!

Anyways, I love the constant new content, and I disagree with Bob Stauffer's original post. I think his tone was unprofessional and rude, though its hard to tell in text. Then again, someone who is a professional should be aware of how a post can be interpreted.

In summary, keep up the posts JW. The more new content, the better. It doesn't all have to be statistical interpretation, because some of us don't live and die by numbers.

-Doug

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#168 rickithebear
August 27 2009, 11:02PM
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@ Bob Stauffer:

Bob I played sports all my life. Played for my country and trained like a bastard. I am a big believer in statistical analysis of sport. I have a great respect for Mr. willis because having played sport at a world class level, I recognize mr. Willis's importance to the advancment of game knowledge.

Bob! You however! I have had to endure your embarrasing performance as a play by play man for the oilers. I often wonder how a fat F*** like you got your role. But then it hit me. You Have Katz pulse too well. It comes from the main vein on his ..........

Take some shots at people who don't have a love for the game. Just like your pulse rubbing unathletic fat ass. JW has a passion I expect we would only see from you in front of the buffet table.

But that is my non pulse contected opinion. Slurp!

I asked if I should write from the high road and thought no. The S*** you wrote deserves this.

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#169 rickithebear
August 27 2009, 11:04PM
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But don't take offence bob it is just an opinion just like yours.

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#170 A.T. Husky
August 28 2009, 01:59AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

The biggest problem here Robin is that this isnt the first time that JW has been the victim of a drive-by from Bob Stauffer. I will admit, I feel like I am a member of Oilers Nation. I dont write articles, but still I feel like i am part of a community here. It gets my back up when someone comes in from the outside and starts takin swipes at another member of the Nation, especially when they are unwarranted. It IS a circling of the wagons, it IS a gang mentality. Bob Stauffer is a veteran of the media business and knows how to say what he means exactly the way he means it. He could have said what he said any number of ways but chose to do it in a way that was condescending. His question becomes almost irrelevant because he posed it in such a way that made his point secondary to his tone.

I agree that Stauffer (as a professional) either knew exactly what he was writing and what he meant by how he was writing it, or that what he actually felt (but not what he wanted to write) shone through his words accidentally (it happens). Either way, it was a straight up ad hominem - a personal attack.

He suggests that Willis' is lacking "a pulse for what is happening in Edmonton" (while Manitoban Jen Sharpe learns on the job) while belittling JW by suggesting he has "no direct access to anybody that matters in hockey circles" (which is a surprising comment from a journalist, considering the tradition of investigative journalism).

He then backpeddles, flip flops, and says, hey, but it's great if JW would blog less, it might be more relevant somehow. How is something "kind of" relevant? Individual pieces either have merit, or they don't.

Though I must admit there is a marked lack of defenders for Stauffer as opposed to JW, Stauffer isn't exactly on his home turf here at ON, either (is he? Or am I mistaken in some way?).

After the fallout, JW answered Stauffer's challenge in a direct reply, and Stauffer, instead of doing the same, preferred to play the victim to the crowd instead of manning up and facing the person his ad hominem was directed at.

Just pathetic.

If he didn't do anything wrong by way of his original comments, should he not have easily refuted any of the interpretations that were taken from his post?

He could easily say, "I didn't mean this," or "I didn't mean that." He's innocent until proven guilty but I don't think it's right to let Brownlee speak on his behalf when he should defend himself.

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#171 A.T. Husky
August 28 2009, 02:10AM
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Bob Stauffer wrote:

[...] You have a fine site here, unquestionably relevant; just felt you needed more than range of opinion in your writers on the front page. [...]

I didn't see this before. But this still doesn't explain the personal attacks; all this does is confirm that "Stauffer thinks ON is relevant. The end."

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