BEHIND THE BENCH: WHAT’S NEXT?

Robin Brownlee
May 18 2012 03:57PM

A day after the Edmonton Oilers tied the can to Tom Renney, I'm still convinced Brent Sutter is the leading candidate to replace him as head coach. Being the "leading candidate" doesn't, however, necessarily translate to Sutter being a slam-dunk.

I dubbed Sutter's appointment as head coach of Team Canada for the World Championships an audition for the Oiler job – timing and the fact Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini were and are involved with Canada's front office makes made that pretty obvious – and I still believe it was essentially that.

Lowe and Tambellini got a front-row seat at the WC and a close-up look at Sutter's style and substance, albeit a brief one. That, unless you are of the mind Sutter isn't being considered for the Edmonton job at all, is going to have an effect on the decision they make about Renney's successor.

Sutter and Lowe go back a long way. I've got no doubt Lowe holds Sutter in high regard as a competitor and a coach. While Sutter's latest gig might have served to reinforce the opinion of Sutter that Lowe and Tambellini had going into the tournament, there is a flipside.

With Canada's performance, capped by a 4-3 loss to Slovakia, far from overwhelming, I'm wondering if Lowe and Tambellini saw any warts or shortcomings in Sutter's approach – that's a fair question when Team Canada doesn't get into the medal round at any tournament.

If Lowe and Tambellini did come away from the WC tournament with questions or impressions they didn't have going in based on what they saw first-hand, that's not a bad thing. Getting more information never is. That's especially true with this hire. Tambellini and Lowe have to get it right.

AND . . .

So, what of associate coach Ralph Krueger and assistants Kelly Buchberger and Steve Smith? Convention has it that a new head coach gets to pick his staff, but I don't see all three being shown the door.

I actually see two of the three sticking around on the staff with the new coach, and my best guess is Buchberger and Smith will retain their positions when training camp begins under Sutter, or whoever gets the job. Some fans believe Krueger should get some consideration as a replacement for Renney, and I think he will. I know Krueger, who did some fill-in work running the bench when Renney was ailing, has some support in the room.

Allowing for that, the likeliest scenario is Krueger ends up back in Europe and Smith and Buchberger stay on, leaving the new head coach to fill one slot on the staff with a hand-picked assistant. Smith did solid work in his first year here. Buchberger has become something of a fixture as sort of a resident assistant and provides some continuity.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 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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#51 FastOil
May 18 2012, 08:29PM
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If he hands the Barons their buts I especially agree, if he's available. I like what I've read him say, seems like a coach for the current times in terms of handling players. And seems so far to be able to manage a team in the playoffs. We'll soon see.

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#52 FastOil
May 18 2012, 08:30PM
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butt not but

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#54 longbottom/P.Biglow
May 18 2012, 08:35PM
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@ dogtrain The similarities to Renney are amazing Both won at the WHL level, both won internationally, I think the only edge Sutter has over Renney is his passion and ability to hold the Players accountable while keeping their respect. One thing struck me at the WC was when they talked to Ward and Phaneuf and they saidhe had mellowed but was still a great coach from their point of view. That statement has a tinge of respect from former players.

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#55 Walter Sobchak
May 18 2012, 09:37PM
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I think Brownlee has mentioned before, unless the Oilers fix some of there glaring holes on this team I really don’t care what coach is hired!

How many more wins can a new coach get out of the current lineup plus one NHL ready draft pick?

What if this team regresses even a little? What happens if Hall or Eberle gets hurt?

Forget the coach! This team is in trouble with the current roster right now.

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#56 Shane near Red Deer
May 18 2012, 11:00PM
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Rick Tocchet- Head coach, and Perry Pearn- Assistant coach. Keep Smith and Bucky on. Get it done Tefflon Tambo.

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#57 Zamboni Driver
May 18 2012, 11:14PM
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Buchberger must be the original holder of the incriminating photographs that Horcoff obviously has.

Exactly what credentials does he have? Has he ever been an assistant for a team not in last or second last place?

Oh wait. Credentials.

"Knew Mark Messier."

Forgot.

That's really important.

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#58 BigE91
May 18 2012, 11:38PM
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Watching Tambellini orchestrate this rebuild is like watching a mechanic try and repair Robin's Biscane with a monkey wrench. You hope for the teams sake that it works while all the while knowing that the guy with the wrench in his hands has no idea what he is doing.

The suck till we're good blueprint has had mixed results through the league, Pittsburgh and Chicago being the good, the Islanders being the bad. It is unfortunate that a decent coach and guy like Renney gets the axe while a guy who seemingly got his management skills from the Charles Wang/Garth Snow school of business keeps his job by deflecting responsibility and procrastinating decisions.

As an Oilers fan it pains me to watch this incompetence go on and I really believe that this team isn't going reach the level of contender status while Tambellini is the GM. I hope I am wrong but not going to hold my breath.

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#59 Reg Dunlop
May 19 2012, 12:45AM
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A coach in Edmonton must do at least 1 thing; beat Calgary. Same thing in Calgary, beat Edmonton. Sutter went 14-4 against Renney the last 3 years. Renney deserves to be replaced and Sutter wouldn't be a horrible replacement. That said, I agree with @Shane near Red Deer. Rick Tocchet should be considered. Also,@Zamboni Driver has it right regarding Buchberger. Only the oil would employ him, both as a player and as an asst. coach. I don't see Renney getting another NHL head coaching stint just like MacT won't get one unless the oil hire him.

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#60 Bucknuck
May 19 2012, 01:44AM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

A coach in Edmonton must do at least 1 thing; beat Calgary. Same thing in Calgary, beat Edmonton. Sutter went 14-4 against Renney the last 3 years. Renney deserves to be replaced and Sutter wouldn't be a horrible replacement. That said, I agree with @Shane near Red Deer. Rick Tocchet should be considered. Also,@Zamboni Driver has it right regarding Buchberger. Only the oil would employ him, both as a player and as an asst. coach. I don't see Renney getting another NHL head coaching stint just like MacT won't get one unless the oil hire him.

None of us knows what Buchberger does or does not give to the organization. The players do, and so do the three coaches that had him as an assistant. If he's still around after all the culls it might just be because he is doing something right.

Bucky did a good job as head coach of the AHL squad and he did it with a poor cast of players.

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#62 Stocc
May 19 2012, 08:05AM
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@Sean17

What Lord of the Rings character does he look like? Gollum.

props to that

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#63 a lg dubl dubl
May 19 2012, 08:14AM
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Whats the status on AV? has he been re-signed with the Canucks? I'd rather have him coaching the Oilers over Sutter at least he can say he got the Canucks to 2 presidents trophies and 1 win away from winning the Stanley Cup.

The next coach should have won something in the NHL, Sutter...not so much imo.

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#64 revingev
May 19 2012, 09:06AM
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jr_christ;

I know you were probably joking about who is looking to be #1 at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. It is funny, cause a few injuries, a few more bad PR moves by the Oilers and we could be in the lottery next year. OR, we can finally pull this thing together and improve another 5-7 wins.

Projected 2013 Draft picks: 1)Nathan Mackinnon(Halifax) 2)Sean Monohan(Ottawa)

those 2 are the front runners while the following have no particular order...

3)Seth Jones(Portland) 4)Curtis Lazar(Edmonton) 5) Max Domi(London) 6) Hunter Shinkaruk(Medicine Hat) 7) Johnathan Drouin(Halifax) 8) Zachery Fucale(Halifax)

Max,Hunter and Johnathan are (too small to be a Oiler)according to Oil Country fans not the 'right fit'...lol

There are about 4 more guys who have been getting lots of notice last year and this

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#65 stealthwise
May 19 2012, 09:12AM
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The next coach should be Dallas Eakens.

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#66 Rama Lama
May 19 2012, 09:17AM
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RB......do you think Mac T will get any consideration? The guy is solid even though his defense all the time approach is boring as hell!

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#67 Bucknuck
May 19 2012, 10:59AM
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@Robin Brownlee

Thanks Robin. I wasn't including you when I said "none of us".

Bucky has always been a team first kind of guy, and I for one am glad he is there. Anyone who goes toe to toe with Probert and Grimson and takes one for the team is the kind of guy you like having on your side.

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#68 David S
May 19 2012, 12:23PM
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As long as we don't do something really off the board like hiring a rookie NHL coach, I really don't care too much. The real task at hand is getting rid of the obvious place holders and bringing in some legit options for the next coach to work with.

The next guy can can be fire and brimstone and inspirational as all hell but unless we make a serious effort to upgrade guys like Hordichuk, Eager, Barker, Belanger, and Khabby he is NOT going to get it done.

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#71 @Oilanderp
May 19 2012, 02:13PM
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Wayne: Hi Steve, I understand you have an opening for a head coaching position and I'd like to throw my hat into the ring.

Steve: Oh hi Wayne. Yes we are looking for a new head coach. What qualities do you possess that you feel would make you suitable to this position?

Wayne: I am Wayne Gretzky.

Steve: I see. We are looking for a coach that is suited to how this team has been built: speed and skill. Do you think your coaching style would be suited to a skill game?

Wayne: I am Wayne Gretzky.

Steve: Ok. There are a few individuals that we consider to be front-runners for this job. What do you bring to the table which would change our minds?

Wayne: I am Wayne Freakin Gretzky.

Steve: Ahh ok well I guess that about sums up the interview process. Congratulations on being the newest head coach of the Edmonton Oilers!

Wayne: Gretzky scores!

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#72 gcw_rocks
May 19 2012, 02:29PM
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Rick "the gambler" tochett? What the heck has he ever done to deserve the Oilers coaching role?

He was a disaster in TB and the coyotes sucked when he was there as well.

Combined with questionable character and I don't want that guy anywhere near the Oilers.

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#73 Teddy
May 19 2012, 07:02PM
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Ted Nolan

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#74 Chris.
May 19 2012, 07:43PM
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Ted Nolan only ever won one freaking playoff round as a head coach (with Hasek in net) and then went to war with Hasek and lost his job.

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#75 gradalac
May 19 2012, 08:53PM
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What are anyones thoughts on:

Jaques Martin. He had a lot of success with a fairly unimpressive roster. He is a good systems coach, something the oilers lack...

Or Paul Maurice, he had success in his first term as Hurricanes coach, they had a lot of youth on the team as well.

Scott Arniel, former standout in the AHL - he had a brutal roster in Columbus.

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#76 Jeff
May 19 2012, 09:40PM
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Even if we had Mike Babcock we still wouldn't be a playoff team next year.

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#77 Reg Dunlop
May 19 2012, 10:57PM
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@gcw rocks

If Rick Tocchet had a nickname it would be 'the Financier', not 'the Gambler'. He and a partner financed an illegal sports book,he was never accused of illegal gambling and gambling on NHL games has never been mentioned. For him to get a shot at a head coaching job after this indicates he must have something to offer, and if MacT deserved a 2nd chance as an ex-con,so does Rick.

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#78 Bucknuck
May 20 2012, 11:42AM
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gradalac wrote:

What are anyones thoughts on:

Jaques Martin. He had a lot of success with a fairly unimpressive roster. He is a good systems coach, something the oilers lack...

Or Paul Maurice, he had success in his first term as Hurricanes coach, they had a lot of youth on the team as well.

Scott Arniel, former standout in the AHL - he had a brutal roster in Columbus.

Jacques Martin is a fine coach during the regular season, and he had some success with some pretty thin rosters and some great ones. The years he missed were when he was coaching a sadsack Florida team. He was fired from Mtl and the team fared even worse without him this year. He should be given consideration.

Paul Maurice coached in parts of fifteen seasons and made the playoffs four times. no thanks.

Scott Arniel was a competent AHL coach, though his teams never really won anything, though they did make the playoffs four years in a row and one year went deep. If they were going to take a run at an inexperienced young coach I would prefer they go for Jon Cooper or Scott Nelson before Arniel.

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#79 Daryl
May 20 2012, 09:35PM
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Who cares who coaches this team, a team that finishes 30, 30, and 29th in 3 years has way more problems then the coach.

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