On The Renney Situation

Jonathan Willis
April 17 2012 10:44AM

Tom Renney’s in an uncomfortable spot right now. He’s under contract to the Oilers for the remainder of the year, but so far there’s been no public indication that he’s going to be back. Rumours are flying about other candidates – such as Brent Sutter, who will be coaching Canada’s World Championship team under Kevin Lowe. The smart money says that in this case, no news is bad news for Renney.

Despite what the smart money says, Renney’s in limbo right now. He may be back; he may not be back. The only certainty is uncertainty.

Paul Holmgren, now the general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers, knows what it’s like to be on the chopping block as an NHL head coach. In the book Behind the Moves, he tells a story about coaching the Hartford Whalers for Jim Rutherford:

I was coaching for Jimmy [Rutherford] in Hartford. The lockout year [1994-95] was my first year under Jimmy. Going into next year, we traded [Chris] Pronger and got [Brendan] Shanahan and we started out not very good. Jimmy called me in and told me, ‘Things aren’t going very good. I’ll give you two weeks to get things straightened out; otherwise, I am going to have to make a change.’ He called me up to his office five or six days later. ‘We’re going to make a change.’ I said, ‘What happened to your two weeks?’ He said, ‘You know what, why don’t you go run practice and then come back up here and we’ll talk.’ So I go to run practice and I go back up, ‘Yeah, we’re going to make a change.’ … It just goes to show you that if you are thinking like that, he might as well just have fired me right then. Why give a guy two weeks? What are you going to do in two weeks? … If you are thinking about changing the coach, you are probably already too late.

(emphasis mine)

It’s been suggested that the Oilers are holding off on making a decision on Renney because they want to see if a candidate they liked a little better would become available in the off-season. Brent Sutter’s now out of Calgary. Vancouver and Pittsburgh are teetering on the brink of shocking upsets, and head coaches Alain Vigneault and Dan Bylsma are highly regarded; might they become available?

If that’s the thought process, though, the Oilers might as well just fire Renney now. Once a team decides that their man isn’t the best man for the job because they’re making googly eyes at someone else, it’s already over. There’s a dissatisfaction with what they have.

That’s what Paul Holmgren notes above. Once Rutherford had decided that he would can Holmgren if things didn’t turn around pronto, he’d already made the toughest decision. He’d decided that firing the coach was an option he would be willing to exercise soon. If the Oilers have decided to let Renney go if circumstances work out, they’ve made the same decision.

If that’s the case, the kindest thing to do would be to let Renney know immediately so that he can start talking to people about what he’ll be doing next season.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#1 The Hall Way
April 17 2012, 10:58AM
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Great point J-dub. Makes perfect sense. Let Renney move on with his career if we don't want him anymore. i am a little unsure on hiring Sutter as a replacement though....

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#2 A-Mc
April 17 2012, 11:04AM
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AGREED JW.

Disrespect isn't tolerable in my books.

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#3 Spydyr
April 17 2012, 11:16AM
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Maybe Katz and Lowe are considering changing the GM then let the new guy pick his coaching staff......well one can dream can't they?

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#4 I'm a Scientist!
April 17 2012, 11:18AM
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GASP! Could you imagine if Dan Bylsma was available? In the same world, I would be going through a honeymoon phase with Kate Upton while owning a large collection of Justin Biebers hair (bigger than Wanye's collection!) Oh what a great dream!!!

*snaps back to reality and looks at Sutter...*shudder*

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#5 TwoSkidoos
April 17 2012, 11:40AM
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Todd Nelson, 'nuff said.

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#6 nathan
April 17 2012, 03:10PM
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IF Tambellini had a contract Renney might wonder why Steve is leaving him hanging. But he doesn't.

So what Renney must really be wondering is why Steve is left hanging.

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#7 JDP
April 17 2012, 11:17AM
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Im confused.......If he's under contract for the remainder of the year....why is it that everyone is waiting on confirmation that he will coach? Isnt that a given?

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#8 A-Mc
April 17 2012, 11:18AM
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JDP wrote:

Im confused.......If he's under contract for the remainder of the year....why is it that everyone is waiting on confirmation that he will coach? Isnt that a given?

The end of the hockey year/season. So after july 1st of this year, he's no longer under contract.

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#10 JDP
April 17 2012, 11:20AM
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so a one year contract is really 2 years then?

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#11 Dman09
April 17 2012, 11:20AM
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Renney stays, unless for some reason Renney himself doesn't like the plans for the future and walks which I don't see happening either. I also think that is why they haven't made an announcement one way or the other yet. They already know they will be offering an extension so why rush it and just give the guy some time off. Its like when your at work and your thinking about quiting and then you take a holiday and all seems better. Same sort of scenario.

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#12 Old Soldier
April 17 2012, 11:22AM
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I am torn, there is a part of me that believes Renney hasn't done anything tangible to warrant replacement, but in the same argument, what has he done tangibly to reward him with a new contract.

As a side note, this weeks issue of The Hockey News had an article stating that it's very possible if the Wings lose this series that Babcock migtht be let go. Their argument being that while it would be amicable, fresh voices are needed in the organization.

If that is even remotely possible or feasible, do you see Babcock as a fit with the Oil?

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#13 Dman09
April 17 2012, 11:23AM
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The only way a new coach makes this team a good playoff team is if he brings 4 forwards and defenseman and a goalie with him.

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#14 Lexi
April 17 2012, 11:23AM
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The way things have gone I see no reason to wait any longer than the end of April to get rid of Renney. He's been a good soldier, but I see no evidence that he can elevate this team to playoff contention, and the inability to get 3rd and 4th liners like Belanger, Eager, Fraser etc. to perform is a huge concern. The easiest way to change a culture around a team is hiring a new coach (10 times more so than changing captains) and I think almost all of us could agree the culture needs to change around here.

It seems safe to assume there will be at least 3 upgrade, experience candidates available in the next month plus guys like Cooper, Nelson, Eakins and even Kruger around so I think they can safely assume there will be an upgrade available. As hard as it is to believe with all the "negative nellys" around here, the Oilers will be one of the best job opportunities out there to anyone who wants to work with young skill and have a budget to upgrade support players.

The one thing I think is thst getting Yakupov might complicate the coaching hiring, as they are now pretty much going to have to be a 2012 version of the 80s Oilers and so they should get a coach who has some offensive creativity (which is why my hope would be Vignault).

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#15 JDP
April 17 2012, 11:24AM
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Oh okay...so its a per season contract as apposed to a per year contract. I get yah

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#16 Dman09
April 17 2012, 11:25AM
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Old Soldier wrote:

I am torn, there is a part of me that believes Renney hasn't done anything tangible to warrant replacement, but in the same argument, what has he done tangibly to reward him with a new contract.

As a side note, this weeks issue of The Hockey News had an article stating that it's very possible if the Wings lose this series that Babcock migtht be let go. Their argument being that while it would be amicable, fresh voices are needed in the organization.

If that is even remotely possible or feasible, do you see Babcock as a fit with the Oil?

If Babcock is done as coach he will be offered a management job with Detoit. I don't see him leaving the organization.

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#17 Darcy
April 17 2012, 11:30AM
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Babcock really !!??? Who make this stuff up , dream on oilers

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#18 Jay Gray
April 17 2012, 11:31AM
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Dman09 wrote:

If Babcock is done as coach he will be offered a management job with Detoit. I don't see him leaving the organization.

Where is Ken Holland going? If he's not the GM and he's not the Head Coach, what is he? If he's out as coach, he's out of Detroit, IMO.

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#19 Old Soldier
April 17 2012, 11:38AM
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I didnt "make it up", just relating a story that I had just read. Sorry I also wanted to add that THN also had a very interesting article charting the 30 coaches on an x/y axis based on discipline, tactition, player friendly and motivator, and they then scored each coach on these and placed them on the graph accordingly.

What is interesting, is that coaches who seem to be stronger in any particular characteristic and therefore more extreme in that one direction have poor championship records. While coaches who seem to have an equal balance of all four were tightly grouped as the most successful.

Renney is the highest rated, therefore most extreme as a players coach. While Blysma, Trotz, Dineen, Vineault and a few others were rated the most balanced in all four aspects.

While it may seem obvious that a successful coach would be well rounded, it is surprising how many "leaned" towards one particular characteristic.

PS Sutter is rated as the Highest Disciplinarian, I have to say I am not sure that is what I want coaching the kids....maybe a bit down the road.

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#20 Shifty203
April 17 2012, 11:42AM
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I have a feeling he's probably already been told quietly he's done. They most likely won't make is public until they've got a clearer picture of who his replacements going to be.

On a side note, has Tambo been given a new contract yet? Seems odd to me that he's in the same boat, but no ones talking much about him. I thought back in February it came out that a new contract was done, and was going to be announced the next day, then nothing was said again.

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#21 Dman09
April 17 2012, 11:44AM
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Jay Gray wrote:

Where is Ken Holland going? If he's not the GM and he's not the Head Coach, what is he? If he's out as coach, he's out of Detroit, IMO.

You do realize there are more than two positions in the organization right? Could be a scouting president of hockey operations or assitant too you just never know but a guy with such a good history with Detroit I would be surprised if he wasn't offered a position of some sort.

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#22 jooks
April 17 2012, 11:48AM
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Well Tambo does like to assess. For Renney's sake I hope he doesn't offer him a Coffee Crisp...

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#23 Jay Gray
April 17 2012, 11:51AM
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@Dman09

I wouldn't be surprised if he was offered such a position…but I'd be very surprised if he took such an offer. To me, he seems like he's got a lot of coaching left in him.

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#24 Oiler AL
April 17 2012, 11:55AM
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Typical of old " Dithers", probably afraid to make a decision . Whom ever they hire I hope its not Sutter.. Please. I think this is a time stall story, and the brass are waiting for the playoffs to end , as it may be someone still in the hunt.It may be that Dithers,[ Tambelini} himself might be in hot water, has he too sits without a contract. How would Babcock do as a GM?

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#25 admiralmark
April 17 2012, 11:56AM
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What if they have already told Renney he's coming back? What if they said Tom your coming back don't worry about it.. We'll announce it after your vacation. I know it doesnt have the drama and intrigue we all so desire. But it is an "actual" possibility that nobody's talking about.

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#26 Zen
April 17 2012, 11:58AM
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I'll take Brent Sutter if he can bring Brandon Sutter to Edmonton with a trade.

Otherwise if Alain Vigneault is available take him

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#27 Zen
April 17 2012, 12:06PM
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Trade Sam Gagner and ? for Brandon Sutter.

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#28 A-Mc
April 17 2012, 12:09PM
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Old Soldier wrote:

I am torn, there is a part of me that believes Renney hasn't done anything tangible to warrant replacement, but in the same argument, what has he done tangibly to reward him with a new contract.

As a side note, this weeks issue of The Hockey News had an article stating that it's very possible if the Wings lose this series that Babcock migtht be let go. Their argument being that while it would be amicable, fresh voices are needed in the organization.

If that is even remotely possible or feasible, do you see Babcock as a fit with the Oil?

Mike Babcock here in OIL TOWN!? I'd have a meltdown of awesomeness if that ever happened.

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#29 Time Travelling Sean
April 17 2012, 12:10PM
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Why is no one talking about Nelson to replace him?

Oh and this is so unfair for Renney. You give him one of the weakest defences in the league and some extremely inconsistent secondary scoring and no clear #1 Goalie and we had a better goal differential than Florida, exceptionally improved special teams and the kids progressed in a nice straight line.

Now when the rebuild is transitioning from trade players for picks to trading picks for players we axe the coach.

:c Poor Tom.

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#30 Kevin
April 17 2012, 12:12PM
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Good read Jonathan- the way Oil management is handling Renney is bush leaque at best !Lowe and Tambelini absolutely deserve their toilet bowl finishes and more to come but do the fans that flip the bill ? I think not ! Time for some real Management here learning on the job is over. I'll say it again the coaching is NOT the problem here.

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#32 RDS
April 17 2012, 12:30PM
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I love Buchberger's expression in the picture. Wonder what he was thinking just then...

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#33 Sliderule
April 17 2012, 12:35PM
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Renney should be done as coach.

He couldn't seem to get the veterans to accept their roles.Belanger never has been much of a scorer yet he wanted and got PP time even after showing he was brutal.

Eager brought in as a tough bottom six guy played like a finesse player.

No accountability with veteran players.Peckham and Barker made mistake after mistake resulting in goals against that probably cost us a half dozen games .Yet until the last third of the season he kept throwing them out there.

They need a coach who holds players accountable and they might pick up the ten wins they need to compete for a playoff position

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#34 Alex Mathis
April 17 2012, 12:51PM
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Hi there.

I'm Swiss following the Oilers and Oilersnation for years. Your Blog is awesome. Have a read on this even though it is written in German:

http://www.20min.ch/sport/eishockey/story/Wo-wird-Krueger-neuer-Cheftrainer--20836137

In a nutshell: According to the newspaper, which is a reliable source, Ralph Krueger is definetely heading back to Europe, either as the Head Coach of Germany or taking over a Swiss Team in the Elite leauge.

What does that mean for Renney?

BTW: Tonight, the deciding and final playoff game between Berne and Zurich, where Domenico Pittis and Jeff Tambellini are playing, takes Place.

Good on yah, Oilersnation.

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#35 jr_christ
April 17 2012, 12:55PM
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Eff sakes Willis...

You're the bomb buddy

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#37 Fresh Mess
April 17 2012, 01:25PM
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I could understand the rationale for letting Renney go, but not if Lowe and Tambo get to keep their jobs. Let's be honest, Renney was always only going to coach the transition years.

They'll offer him a scouting job with a snazzy-sounding executive title for 3 or 4 hundred grand a year, and an understanding that he has permission to talk to other teams at any time about coaching openings.

The Oilers are not a classy organisation. You should see how they treat the little people in the admin offices. You are supposed to be so honoured to take a pay cut just for the cache of working for the Oilers. I've known of several quality people unceremoniously fired with no cause or notice. Look what they did to the training staff.

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#38 gcw_rocks
April 17 2012, 01:38PM
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JW - no kidding. I like Nelson, but after looking at what Cooper has done, it would be hard to argue Nelson is a better candidate (if you are going for that 'next great young coach' move).

Hire Cooper and see if Nelson would sign on as an assistant coach. Special teams perhaps?

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#39 Alex Mathis
April 17 2012, 01:42PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

That's interesting. The article also says that Krueger's contract will not be renewed. Very interesting.

You' re right, Jonathan. Kruegers contract is not going to be renewed by the Oilers.

The article also says that Krueger aims to be running his own hockey team as a head coach and that surely won't be in Edmonton or the NHL.

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#40 gcw_rocks
April 17 2012, 01:43PM
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Wow, if that story about Kruger is true, it is disappointing. Of all the Oilers' assistants, he is the one I would like to see back. He did a great job with the powerplay and a nice job subbing for Renney.

Best of luck Ralphy-boy!

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#41 Jasmine
April 17 2012, 02:25PM
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No matter who becomes coach of the Oilers. That person will be criticized. Same thing with the GM.

If the GM isn't named Slats, the person will be criticized.

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#42 WhattaMike
April 17 2012, 03:10PM
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I am in agreement that the Oil should have a wait and see attitude for next year's coach staff. First, is that Kreuger is apparently not coming back. Second is that although renney did decently in some areas with the kids he did happen to act questionably during some games. His lineups kept being changed without some justifications(not including the injury factor here)and he couldnt get veterans to be better or consistent, his attitude for retributions and enforcement was never strong when the kids got railroaded during the year, and even some times the shootouts with player choices were of the WTF kind of thing. Now the Oil have another first over-all pick, the kids are growing up and yes the Oil need third and fourth line changes along with the defence as priority. Is Renney the right guy at this stage? I am neither for nor against right now, unless one heck of a coach is ready to come here under the right circumstances.

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#43 TwoSkidoos
April 17 2012, 03:38PM
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I mentioned Nelson earlier.

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#44 Hammers
April 17 2012, 04:16PM
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Sorry but its time . This team needs more accountability and a coach that will push them . Crawford ; Sutter even McT . No more than a 2 year deal whomever they hire but someone with some bite .

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#45 Thinker
April 17 2012, 04:33PM
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Good point. This is why fans turn on players every trade deadline when their contract is almost up.

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#46 15w40
April 17 2012, 04:48PM
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Not knowing all of the information makes it a little difficult to judge. If Renney is on board with the whole "let's take a step back and reconvene in a couple weeks" approach then that's totally fine. If he is just out there twisting in the wind, then that is totally not cool and not professional. Either state that he is your guy and re-up for another year or 2 years or whatever the term is or cut him loose. You reap what you sow and this outfit has had a couple of personnel doosies that don't scream "we are a top notch outfit". I am also mostly indifferent to the whole coaching situation next year. I think it should only be one more year for Renney & then re-evaluate - or not and go a different direction. With Krueger reportedly already on his way across the pond - then if you are going to make a change then clean house on the bench too - maybe look at retaining Smith. Buchberger can maybe get his kick at the can as a co-coach of the Barons and move Nelson up to mentor under the new head coach if he is interested in that. Let the new guy bring one of his own guys in. At any rate - pick a lane and hit the accelerator and get on with it.

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#47 nathan
April 17 2012, 04:59PM
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"If he is just out there twisting in the wind, then that is totally not cool and not professional."

You do realize that you can plug Tambellini into that sentence and it makes more sense? Until the GM is extended coaches and assistants are all waiting in line for the chance to twist in the wind.

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#48 raylap
April 17 2012, 05:54PM
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i would let everyone go on the oilers management..what has lowe ever done? He is there only because he was a long time oiler....what was he thinking with horcoff contract?...and tambellini? i think he has a drinking problem..ever notice his red cheeks????

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#49 15w40
April 17 2012, 06:29PM
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@nathan

I'm just going on the implied based on Tambellini's comments that he is "completely comfortable with his situation with the oilers going forward" I haven't heard anything even remotely like that coming from Renney other than "yes I would like to be back". You could insert the entire coaching staff's names' there as they are all up for renewal but have heard nothing. Krueger is apparently as good as gone. Either he can read the tea leaves better than the rest or he isn't waiting around to find out what the management is thinking. KLowe isn't blameless in this for sure. If the coaches are twisting in the wind - then he shouldn't let the current GM handle things this way - it reflects poorly on the organization.

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#50 DSF
April 17 2012, 07:00PM
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Could Tambellini be any worse at Human Relations?

Seriously.

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