TOM RENNEY: I'VE GOT QUESTIONS

Robin Brownlee
March 07 2012 01:49PM

Edmonton Oilers coach Tom Renney has a long resume that still includes a notation as holder of the all-time best winning percentage in the CHL, a .714 clip he compiled with the Kamloops Blazers on the way to two WHL titles and a Memorial Cup. Renney is smart. He's driven. He's honest.

All that said, and his credentials duly noted, I'm wondering about Renney's feel for the game and the personnel he's in charge of in his dressing room right now as the Oilers approach the final 16 games of a season that will see them finish as a lottery team for the third straight year.

Does Renney, 57, have a firm grasp of what it's going to take to move along the rebuild he and team management have been selling fans since he showed up in town as an assistant coach as part of the ill-conceived experiment that saw GM Steve Tambellini bring in Pat Quinn? Does Renney's philosophy fit the situation he's in?

Here and now, does Renney have a handle on how to develop his young players – Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle, to name just three -- in that dressing room, players who'll be the cornerstones of building the Oilers into contenders again?

Does what Renney perceive as best for the organization mesh with what's best for those players and vice-versa? Is Renney's approach, especially where it pertains to the use of personnel, in sync with Tambellini and Kevin Lowe, president of hockey operations? Are they on the same page?

I have questions . . .

THE WAY I SEE IT

-- The latest question I have about the deployment of personnel regards the use of Linus Omark against San Jose Tuesday, and I'm certainly not alone in that. What, pray tell, is the point of inserting Omark into the line-up if you're not going to use him in a situation where he can succeed?

I cannot, even stretching the limits of reason, conclude that sticking Omark with Eric Belanger and Lennart Petrell constitutes a reasonable chance to succeed. Even if Omark isn't in the plans, if he's been written off, why would the Oilers not give the kid a sniff in the top six and showcase him for the balance of the season? What's the downside?

-- With officials pocketing their whistles and power plays at a premium, why isn't Nugent-Hopkins hopping over the boards as the first option each and every single time the Oilers go on the man advantage? Bob Stauffer on 630 CHED was having a go at this on Oilers Now today, and it's a question a lot of people are asking.

I get it that Renney has been mindful, and should be, of sheltering Nugent-Hopkins, Hall and Eberle from unfavorable match-ups, and I've commented on it before, but I don't see that applying to power play situations now. Turn the kids loose, and find time for Omark in the PP mix, down the stretch.

-- I still haven't been able to get a handle on why Magnus Paajarvi was left to wither on the vine earlier this season. Jason Gregor and I have batted this around countless times on his show at TEAM 1260, as have many others, including perplexed readers here.

While the speedy winger didn't accomplish nearly enough offensively to force the issue before a long overdue assignment to Oklahoma City to knock off the rust, I remain puzzled. Likewise, why did Theo Peckham sit so long until getting back in Tuesday?

-- Does Renney hold veterans like Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff as accountable for mistakes and bad decisions as he does young players like Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle? It seems to me, if anything, the veterans should be more accountable. It looks to me, if ice time is the currency we go by, they have been far less accountable.

What's Renney's end-game? What's the plan?

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

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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 FastOil
March 08 2012, 05:42PM
Trash it!
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I believe management is floundering, their ideas about the game, which are old school and dodgy at best, are not panning out and it is unnerving them. They acquire players and the team gets worse against their better judgement. They don't know why and blame players, heart, the coach.

They don't seem to have a firm grasp on where they are going (other than "rebuilding"), a fixed timeline on when to do things, or a clear mandate on the ice, like how should they develop the players they already have.

Renney likely buys into a lot of the mythologies Lowe and Steve-O do because they hired him.

I haven't been on the get rid of them all bus until the Gilbert trade. Now I am afraid of what they might do to the team, and am convinced that Lowe, Steve-O and Renney need to be replaced, and a management team built that is current with what is going on in hockey now, and can formulate a clear plan on what is going to happen and when.

If I were Katz I wouldn't settle for less. We'll see if his business acumen carries over to sports/entertainment industry. He doesn't have long IMO to figure this out or his team might be seriously damaged by bad deals and coaching.

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#102 Team Hall
March 09 2012, 11:11AM
Trash it!
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I don't think it's an all or nothing situation either. Renney didn't get dumb overnight, he is a good NHL coach - see Rangers, NY. I remember MacT making some strange decisions too, but that guy took a team to the SCF. He wasn't all dumb either, it turned out.

The only reason to get a new coach is to give the players a jolt, not because Renney has somehow become inept.

Ditto for management. Lowe got us to the SCF, and not by fluke. He isn't as dumb as he's made out to be arount "the intranet".

Don't Panic.

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#103 nunyour
March 09 2012, 12:38PM
Trash it!
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Team Hall wrote:

I don't think it's an all or nothing situation either. Renney didn't get dumb overnight, he is a good NHL coach - see Rangers, NY. I remember MacT making some strange decisions too, but that guy took a team to the SCF. He wasn't all dumb either, it turned out.

The only reason to get a new coach is to give the players a jolt, not because Renney has somehow become inept.

Ditto for management. Lowe got us to the SCF, and not by fluke. He isn't as dumb as he's made out to be arount "the intranet".

Don't Panic.

if i remember correctly we just snuck into the play-offs and roloson was unbeatable,untill he got hurt,but that is a long time ago.

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