Firing Pat Quinn: Fumble-lia, Fumble-rooski

Robin Brownlee
June 22 2010 07:24PM

If Steve Tambellini was a member of the bomb squad with the Edmonton Police Service instead of the GM of the Edmonton Oilers, he'd be nothing more than smoking shreds of DNA by now.

While Boston GM Peter Chiarelli was busy convincing Florida boss Dale Tallon to drop his trousers in the Nathan Horton trade, Tambellini was no doubt preparing his dissertation to the media after deciding he'd seen enough of Pat Quinn as his coach.

That little ditty -- Tambellini's pitch that Quinn saw the bullet coming because handing Tom Renney the job was always in the plans and had been discussed -- blew up in Tambellini's face like a satchel of C4 once Quinn later had his say on a conference call with reporters.

By afternoon, it became pretty obvious Tambellini and Quinn weren't on the same page at all. That's no surprise. Neither, given recent history, is that Tambellini fumbled handling the announcement, given he long ago blew off most of his fingers.

All thumbs he is.

HAD TO GO

Now, before anybody accuses me of whining or suggests I think Quinn got a raw deal, I've got no issue with bumping him to pasture in the form of the "senior advisor" job he's been given. Quinn has a year left on his contract, and the 68-year-old Irishman might as well earn it bitching about "kids these days" instead of being paid out.

Given the team's dismal showing this season and rumblings Jason Gregor and I had heard and passed on here, it was time for Quinn to go. I didn't think it would play out like this when Quinn was hired in May 2009 -- I called him the right man for the job -- but it was clear after talking to players this off-season there wasn't a fit.

But, for the love of God and not getting blown to smithereens with every organizational move, get the story straight. Reporters aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer, but even dullards like us pick up on inconsistencies like we heard today.

Tambellini called today's move to Renney the right time for the team and for Quinn, and deemed it a matter of succession, albeit accelerated, that had been on the table since the Quinn-Renney tandem was hired.

Hmm. What happens if I cut this green wire? Snick.

I'VE GOT YOUR SUCCESSION RIGHT HERE

"I truly believe this was the right time for Pat and Tom," Tambellini told reporters. "We talked about a succession plan when we brought the two in... there had to be something in place going forward. That’s why Tom was named an associate coach, not an assistant."

Quinn, no doubt feeling he was left sucking the hind banana, didn't play along with what Tambellini was pitching.

"It's not my decision," he said. "I had been looking forward to coaching the team next year. A decision was made. They'll have a place for me to continue to help them make their changes, which I will move to.

"Is it a promotion? I'd say not. My career has been coaching and that's why I wanted to come back into the game with Edmonton last year. We went through some tough times, but I was looking forward to continuing to help to change the climate and continue to help this organization go back to respectability in the sense of winning. I'll continue to do that, but it's just going to be in a different capacity, obviously."

On the conference call, I asked Quinn about the succession plan, and if he expected to be moved aside after a season or two.

"About a succession plan, any good management group has a succession plan," he said. "I'm aware of the fact that there should be a plan in place.

"As far as whether or not they told Tom he was going to be the next head coach, I don't have any knowledge of that.

"All I said to Steve at the start was don't just play it as an interim coach, as far as I'm concerned, because you're going to waste the year, or two years. Two years is my contract.

"I felt that if you come in as an interim, that's what you get. If the organization recognizes that, and I mean the players, then it's tough to hold their feet to the fire when it really counts."

NOW WHAT?

As much as I respect Quinn, I'm guessing there was some fist-pumping among Oilers players when the news of his bump into the role of senior advisor -- duties yet to be determined -- spread. Did I hear a "Hell, yes" from the Czech Republic? I think so.

In the end, Tambellini made the right decision, like he did by sacking former assistant GM Kevin Prendergast -- Quinn's senior advisor role won't see him filling that position.

When you're 30th by a mile, selling an honest rebuild to fans and about to step to the stage in Los Angeles with the No. 1 pick in the Entry Draft, you'd better get things headed in the right direction. Moving Renney into Quinn's spot is a step toward getting it right. No argument there.

Substance trumps style, after all. That said, I can't get the image of Tambellini sitting down with Chiarelli in Tinseltown and trying to finesse something out of him not to draft Taylor Hall out of my head.

Shouldn't a handshake include fingers?

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show 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.
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#101 kevin
June 23 2010, 10:26AM
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Should there be any surprise that Oil brass are fumbling around with high profile decisions. Tambalini knew over a year ago that Souray wanted out. Now it likely he will start the season as an Oiler....why ? because he has no trade value. Tambalini was snoozing/assessing while Tallon scoped Bostons 15th pick.Now the coaching mess....and still, now two days before the draft with an obvious need for a centerman, a potential franchise centerman we are already in the papers talking how we can convert a winger. Folks, lets face it, Hall and Seguin are neck and neck, basically split votes among scouting. Would it not make sense in this case to draft in the area in need. Its proven we are unable to trade or sign a 1st line Center and when one is staring us down we appear to turn a blind eye. Halls style will not work playing with the big boys in the NHL. We can't risk potential injury down time on this important pick. Stop the nonesense and start making some sense.

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#102 David S
June 23 2010, 10:27AM
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Harlie wrote:

so Tambellini holds no culpability in hiring a guy to a 3 year term when it is perceived by some that after 1 year it is clear that the guy is unfit for the position?

I'm madder at Tambellini for doing a bad hiring than for Quinn riding us into the dirt. You also got to remember that our new Head Coach was here last year and he should share in the culpability of last year's crappiness. Instead, Tambellini and Renney come out smelling like roses while Quinn gets shuffled off. Optics are bad no matter how much of a homer you are.

OK look. I don't think it was Quinn who "rode us into the dirt".

It wasn't Quinn's fault we lost our #1 NHL goalie, #1 offensive player, #1 defenceman and had to play with our most expensive forward operating at 30% through most of the year.

It wasn't Quinn who decided we should use AHL goalies for the ENTIRE season.

It wasn't Quinn who didn't acquire cheap vets and FA's to fill obvious holes in the summer.

Thus it wasn't Quinn's fault we iced an AHL team for the better part of the year.

It wasn't Quinn's fault we held onto dubious players instead of ditching them when we had the chance (I'm looking at you POS).

Yeah sure. He didn't match lines because he likes to hold the entire team accountable (which only works with a team of actual NHL'ers).

And I bet he got pretty disheartened by spending the majority of the season teaching instead of coaching (his life's mission).

IMO, Quinn was dealt a crappy hand and a team whose mission this year was to grab 30th place and that coveted #1 pick. He's an ex player who hates to lose on a team whose goal this year was to lose. No wonder he was so pissed off. A pure coach would have understood this and sucked it up. It must have ground the old player's guts to not not be able to play the game to win.

Tambellini said it yesterday in the presser. It was imperative that the head coach and the GM were on the same page. Renney seems to get this. Quinn could not. Thus he was dismissed.

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#103 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
June 23 2010, 10:30AM
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Crackenbury wrote:

What will the Oilers do when they can't move Moreau? Buy him out? What a classless move by Fumbellini that will be. The Oilers "owe" Moreau one more year. He is their captain after all.

I mean they aren't supposed to be that good next year anyways, they might as well give him another shot at it.

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#104 Team Hall
June 23 2010, 10:37AM
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Well, Brownlee, congratulations, you called it again. I remember when you wrote that article about Quinn being on the way out a few months back, I thought, Brownlee is crazy. Of all the problems we have, the coach was not one. But lo and behold, here it is. Judging by Brownlee's excellent track record, I went ahead and made a friendly wager that the Oilers will draft Seguin. I hope this isn't Brownlee's one mistake per year.

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#105 JohnQPublic
June 23 2010, 10:45AM
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I can't see what the moaning is about. Quinn isn't the man for a rebuild, the hiring of both Quinn and Renney a year ago was hailed, Prendergast had to go, and the move to Oklahoma is a great move by the organization.

The lack of contracts for the the coaching staff and the removal of Daum all make sense given the recent changes.

Given that we're in full rebuild mode, this all makes sense.

But most of all, we should give Tambi credit for making the organization buy into a full blown rebuild. That's a big accomplishment.

Now we have to wait to see how the player moves turn out.

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#106 Quicksilver ballet
June 23 2010, 10:59AM
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Despite all of the dilly dallying by our fearless leader, if a few of these kids work out well Mr. Dithers is going to look like a genius.

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#107 Edmonton Sports
June 23 2010, 11:06AM
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How about Thumbellini?

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#108 Eddie Shore
June 23 2010, 11:10AM
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David S wrote:

OK look. I don't think it was Quinn who "rode us into the dirt".

It wasn't Quinn's fault we lost our #1 NHL goalie, #1 offensive player, #1 defenceman and had to play with our most expensive forward operating at 30% through most of the year.

It wasn't Quinn who decided we should use AHL goalies for the ENTIRE season.

It wasn't Quinn who didn't acquire cheap vets and FA's to fill obvious holes in the summer.

Thus it wasn't Quinn's fault we iced an AHL team for the better part of the year.

It wasn't Quinn's fault we held onto dubious players instead of ditching them when we had the chance (I'm looking at you POS).

Yeah sure. He didn't match lines because he likes to hold the entire team accountable (which only works with a team of actual NHL'ers).

And I bet he got pretty disheartened by spending the majority of the season teaching instead of coaching (his life's mission).

IMO, Quinn was dealt a crappy hand and a team whose mission this year was to grab 30th place and that coveted #1 pick. He's an ex player who hates to lose on a team whose goal this year was to lose. No wonder he was so pissed off. A pure coach would have understood this and sucked it up. It must have ground the old player's guts to not not be able to play the game to win.

Tambellini said it yesterday in the presser. It was imperative that the head coach and the GM were on the same page. Renney seems to get this. Quinn could not. Thus he was dismissed.

I agree with all of it except where you say that he didn't roll the lines. One of the biggest flaws in Quinn's coaching style was his refusal to not match lines but instead just keep rolling them out. It wasn't until the season was out of reach that he finally started to match our "checking" line against the other teams top line.

IS IT DRAFT DAY YET!?!?

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#109 David S
June 23 2010, 11:21AM
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@ Alaskan Pipeline

Thanks man. Correction applied.

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#110 JackBauer
June 23 2010, 11:32AM
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So I guess this is just more feul to the fire that Souray started in April huh. This organization is a mess.

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#111 common sense
June 23 2010, 12:28PM
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Tambo is amateur hour personified. Another brilliant KLO move.

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#112 Brodie
June 23 2010, 12:42PM
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Sending Quinn upstairs as an advisor was the best move for the organization. He can do for the Oilers what Scotty Bowman did for Chicago. The players seemed to have trouble relating to him. Besides you can't have a coach who could win first place in a Morty Seinfeld Look-a-like contest.

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#113 Senator Theo
June 23 2010, 01:16PM
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@David S

Are you Barry S's son?

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Tambo "you have to be able to communicate with your players no matter what, it isn't like it was before"

Hmmm, big hint to what the problem was between Quinn and the Oilers.

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Renney seems to be taking some very subtle shots at last years coaching issues?

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#116 dunciano
June 23 2010, 02:16PM
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Crackenbury wrote:

What will the Oilers do when they can't move Moreau? Buy him out? What a classless move by Fumbellini that will be. The Oilers "owe" Moreau one more year. He is their captain after all.

The Oilers paid this dude $2 million this past year! Not $15/hr. Not $50,000/year. $2 Mill!!

To play well, to give them grit and toughness, to be their captain. To help the kids etc.

He played poorly, wasn't gritty, never went to the tough areas. His leadership was crap, his attitude was worse. He 'owed' them $2 million worth of services.

Didn't give them that...

gotta get rid of guys like that it's not classless, it's smart

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#117 David S
June 23 2010, 02:16PM
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Senator Theo wrote:

Are you Barry S's son?

Heh heh.

Uhhh...yeah no.

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