Crossroads

Jason Strudwick
May 18 2012 09:22AM

Today the Oilers finally announced that Tom Renney would not be returning as coach next year. Although I don't agree with the amount of time it took to make the decision, the outcome is the same for both Renney and the organization as if it had been done a day after the last game. Tom is now searching for a new spot to coach and the Oilers are looking for a new coach.

Tom Renney is a good coach and great person. I hope he gets a job somewhere in the NHL where the team is ready to compete and not developing. I never understood some of the abuse he took from fans and media alike here in Edmonton. The Oilers were not a playoff team the last two years. Let's face it, Scotty Bowman would not have done much better with the team Renney was given.

Whoever is chosen as the next coach will be the fourth in five seasons. Steve Tambellini inherited Mactavish and then hired Pat Quinn who was replaced after a year by Renney. After the next coach is hired, Sam Gagner will have had four different coaches in his first six years as a pro. There is no continuity and for an organization looking to get back to the top of the league this is a big issue.

A New Personality

Developing a team identity is nearly impossible when the coach is frequently changing. Having an identity is very important. Stability behind the bench allows the players to embrace a system and begin to play by reacting rather them thinking about where they should be on a given play. When players think too much on the ice they can freeze up and be that all important step behind.

It would seem that the L.A Kings run this spring with their new coach Darryl Sutter spits in the face of my theory. This is a different scenario. The Kings had been building up for a few years to get to this point and they felt a change in coaches after having Terry Murray for roughly three years would get them over the hump. Darryl Sutter is what I would call a closing coach. He is very good at motivating his teams to get that extra bit juice out of them. He has only slightly adjusted their style of play to a more aggressive forecheck. The blueprint for Kings hockey was there before he arrived, a heavier and cycling style of player and hockey. All the Kings players knew this.

Does the current roster of Oilers know its style or is it still searching? This is the biggest decision that Steve Tambellini will have to make during his time as GM of the Oilers. Finding the right coach will not be easy because he and Oiler fans should expect that the one he chooses should stay for a while. His choice for bench boss should not only believe in the type of team that Tambellini is building, but also be able to coach a style that fits with roster he is assembling.

With the current group of forwards, the Oilers will most likely have the most success with an aggressive uptempo forechecking style similar to how New Jersey plays. Hiring a coach like Guy Boucher of Tampa Bay would not be a great fit. He chooses a more defensive style that would not allow the Oilers skaters to fly.

The Oilers and Steve Tambellini are at a crossroads. Pieces of the puzzle for a successful team are starting to fall into place but without the right coach behind the bench for next season and beyond it could easily not got anywhere.

The Hat Trick...

Could Brett Lawrie of the Blue Jays make his helmet bounce right into the umpire again if he was given a hundred tries? I doubt it. The umps reaction was hilarious!

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Jason hosts the Jason Strudwick show from 9pm to 12am, weeknights on the team 1260. He is an instructor at Mount Carmel Hockey Academy and loves working with the kids. Having played over 650 games in the NHL, Jason has some great stories and unique takes on life in the NHL. He loves Slurpees and Blizzards. Dislikes baggy clothes and close talkers.
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#1 Robin Brownlee
May 18 2012, 09:59AM
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"My vote for new coach is Jason Strudwick - understands hockey better than current Oilers management. Go Struds!"

So, "off the glass and out" works as an offensive strategy for you?

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#2 RDS
May 18 2012, 12:16PM
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If OKC wins the Memorial Cup I will be thoroughly confused

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#3 Hoos
May 18 2012, 04:53PM
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Struds, defend the Oilers for me here if you dare. To me it seems like they are a classless organization that does not communicate with their employees, set expectations or have a solid vision and plan to execute that vision.

Would a classy organization treat Tom Renny, a man who endured some personal issues as well as health issues this season in such a manner? I don't think so.

Plus, their attempt at media manipulation through Tencer and Stauffer is assinine at best, burining guys on their way out of town: Ryan Smythe and now Tom Renney are a few examples.

As a fan of the Edmonton Oilers, I am not a fan of this management group, who does not seem either willing or able to make apt decisions, and the only thing that seems to be going in a good direction is their amature scouting department. Pro scouting, sucks. Coaching, sucks (aparently). Trades, suck. General decision making, sucks.

What a way to run a business. As far as I'm concerned, I'm glad that an honest, hardworking player such as yourself is no longer a part of such a poorly run, ridiculous business entity.

How would a team like Detroit or Nashville dealt with this situation? Do they stand by their players and employees or do they dump them off with seemingly little regard?

I'm absoutely sick of this franchise and they way it's being run. Steve Tambellini couldn't run a food truck effectively with the business acumen or even ENGLISH skills on display in recent weeks.

What an f-ing joke.

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Question is who is out there that has an uptempo style with NHL experience?

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#5 Robert
May 18 2012, 09:37AM
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Oilers do not have a concept, their only consistent characteristic is that they are small.

The Captain of this ship is lost.

"Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin’ ship My senses have been stripped, my hands can’t feel to grip My toes too numb to step Wait only for my boot heels to be wanderin’ I’m ready to go anywhere, I’m ready for to fade Into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way I promise to go under it"

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#6 RDS
May 18 2012, 09:41AM
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This is something I hadn't thought of but makes so much sense:

"Stability behind the bench allows the players to embrace a system and begin to play by reacting rather them thinking about where they should be on a given play. When players think too much on the ice they can freeze up and be that all important step behind"

It is so true. Look at team Canada at the worlds. Doesn't matter how much skill you have, the players have to buy into a system and learn that system so its instictive. How is that possible with a new coach every year?

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#7 Shane
May 18 2012, 11:16AM
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@Robin Brownlee

Careful what you say about the authors in the comment sections of their articles Robin, who knows what they could do?

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#8 Romanus
May 18 2012, 11:48AM
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@Rama Lama

nooooooooo

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#9 Raine
May 18 2012, 01:45PM
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Of course Strudwick backs Renney. Without Tom Renney Strudwick would have been out of a job in the NHL.

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#10 Bryant
May 19 2012, 07:01AM
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Wow so many of you are tight with Tom, and he's personally told you all that he was given the screw job by indesisive Tambo. Well since you all know him so well wish him luck on his next job, I doubt it's a head coaching job in the NHL. Maybe we can get a coach under a hundred years old with some fire?

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#11 Rama Lama
May 18 2012, 09:36AM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

Marc Crawford

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#12 Season Ticket
May 18 2012, 09:37AM
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I vote for MacT or Messier.

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#13 Archaeologuy
May 18 2012, 09:51AM
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Jason, does it bother you to see a young guy like Gagner go through so many coaches at such a young age?

I have a feeling that he will be starting next season on the 4th line for the 3rd season in a row.

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#14 Shane
May 18 2012, 09:57AM
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Robert, last name Zimmerman?

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#15 Cheap Seats
May 18 2012, 09:57AM
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Tambo: "There is no doubt Brent [Sutter] is a good coach." Really? Based on what?

Renney deserved at least another year. We'll know this was a mistake when he's behind the bench somewhere in the NHL shortly.

My vote for new coach is Jason Strudwick - understands hockey better than current Oilers management. Go Struds!

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#16 db7db7db7
May 18 2012, 10:00AM
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We need a coach with the tempo of Brett Lawrie. Maybe the tempo doesn't need to come from the head coach. I wonder if Todd Nelson might be the best coach candidate. He could bring in Rocky Thompson to truely motivate the troops before the games in a Brett Lawriean way.

Yeah I just said Brett Lawriean way!!!

If that doesn't work, the threat of Rocky kicking their ass should work.

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@ Brownlee

That would be a step in the right direction, would it not? Puck actually out of the defensive zone.

Although I think Struds would have some better strategies.

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#18 MB
May 18 2012, 10:04AM
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Maybe it's not the coach maybe its the players.

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#19 Cheap Seats
May 18 2012, 10:08AM
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Ruben: lighten up willya? Also, many good NHL coaches were mediocre NHL players. The way the played the game has little to do with how they coach. (The Sutters might be the exceptions.)

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#20 James Gronau
May 18 2012, 10:21AM
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When Renney was hired and the young talent rebuild started it was an excellent fit:

- teacher of the game for the young guys

- patience considering what is needed to bring the young stars along at a good pace

- fantastic communicator and not what most would call a difficult guy to play for

I don't believe its unreasonable 2-3 years from June 30, 2012, the end of his contract, Tom's approach and style was going to be replaced as rookies become vets and the accountability of in game mistakes requires no-nonsense philosophy ( e.g. Hitchcock). We may never know, but I wonder if publicly Tambilini protected Renney by using the travel over the last month to allow time for Tom to decide on a 1 year or 2 year offer. I think the the offer was on the table and turned down this week.

Coaches and GMs throughout sport get along very well, and seldom do they throw each other under the bus, if you do, Karma will bite you. The professionalism needed by the Oiler Exec's is to stand in front of the podium and take the bullets and look like the bad guy. With this in mind, the Oilers are now looking for that guy like Hitchcock a little sooner than planned. MacT is my choice.

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#21 madjam
May 18 2012, 10:29AM
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Can you imagine the Oilers being this bad under even Burke ? Shame on Oiler management ?

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#22 RyanCoke
May 18 2012, 11:11AM
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I have a great idea! How about we hire Charlie Sheen? #Winning

Or is that so 2010/11

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#23 Bucknuck
May 18 2012, 11:25AM
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Shane wrote:

Careful what you say about the authors in the comment sections of their articles Robin, who knows what they could do?

We've all seen Strudwick fight! He's a good knuckleduster, but I'll bet Robin would give as good as he got, with some dirty street fighting tricks thrown in for good measure. You could sell tickets!

Though you should note that what Robin wrote was a joke. It was intended to get a laugh or a happy snort in your morning coffee. It worked for me. I am sure that it probably made Mr. Strudwick laugh as well.

That reminds me, do they have a recording of that Jason Strudwick laugh track anywhere. That was some of the funniest radio I ever heard.

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#24 Henry
May 18 2012, 11:35AM
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Thanks Mr. Strudwick, a player's perspective on coaching changes is useful. In this situation do you advocate bringing in an up-and-coming coach from the minors or junior like Nelson or Cooper or is an experienced NHL coach preferable?

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#25 madjam
May 18 2012, 11:39AM
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If we are going into a second phase , what difference would a new coach make with current team ? Not much if any is my guess , no matter whom they get . Desperate attempt by GM to save his own patootie ? Cringe at the results everytime Tams thinks ?

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#26 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
May 18 2012, 11:41AM
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Steve = Jonah Hill...

http://youtu.be/SiYXr9dQc-I

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#27 The Beaker
May 18 2012, 11:51AM
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@MB

"Maybe it's not the coach maybe its the players."

Soooo management then?

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#28 Dman09
May 18 2012, 11:53AM
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I think one of the biggest things they need to find is a proved coach that has a history of winning. If OKC wins the memorial cup I would have to think Nelson would get a lot more consideration for the job. But above everything they need a guy that can win and expects a lot from his players.

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#29 Acumen
May 18 2012, 12:00PM
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The fact is that Renney's teams went to 30th and 29th place finishes. I do NOT put that on Renney, but accountability demands certain changes in those situations.

I like Renney. I think he is a smart man and a solid coach, and he really does seem like a great person. His demeanor is exactly what this team needed in this time, and I won't look back on him as the cause of the problems that plagued us.

That being said, if we are going to shift gears as Tambellini seemed to imply in the presser, the troops likely needed a new face/voice to make that a reality, rather than the same old, same old. I wonder if Tambellini can actually make the moves necessary to turn this into a reality, and if he can't this move was likely made a year too early. If he intends to put his money where his mouth is, awesome. The team will get an identity this summer, which it has lacked, realistically, since the run to the Cup. Get the horses, choose a system, and for the love of God get a quality coach with some sustain.

Jon Cooper or Bob Hartley please.

Cooper's particularly interesting. He has a Midas touch like very few things I've come across before. I'd consider him as a top candidate for Tambellini's job as a matter of fact. There's a little part of me that still hopes the axe is going to come down on him after the draft is finished.

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#30 Spartacus
May 18 2012, 12:39PM
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@ RDS @ DMan09

Maybe they'll be hosting the tournament soon?

Either that or somehow become Champions of the Dub, the Q or the OHL.

You're right, that would be confusing.

Best of luck on winning the Calder Cup, though.

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#31 Shane
May 18 2012, 12:56PM
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@Bucknuck

Yes good idea with the tickets. I too was just having a friendly ribbing at Reuben in regards to his iron fistedness in the comment sections of his articles(also a joke)

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#32 Racki
May 18 2012, 01:35PM
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Thank you for saying all this, Jason. It's honest, and truthful. I think Renney was a fine coach, but you can only do so much with the cards you're handed. I think the team's lack of success lies more on the shoulders of Steve Tambellini, but you can't fire yourself (and let's face it, he won't resign).

Until he fixes the glaring holes on this team (we need some cheap veteran, savvy players to compliment these skill guys, and some improvements on the backend including goaltending), there won't be a coach who can come in here and bring this team back to its glory years. The kids will get better and better, but they've never been the problem here.

Count me as one fan that was sad to see Renney go. I just want to point out that not all Oilers fans were wanting him gone!

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#33 Gitagrip
May 18 2012, 02:02PM
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I'm thinking maybe Hugh Lawrie would be a refreshing fit as coach.

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#34 Bucknuck
May 18 2012, 04:07PM
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Shane wrote:

Yes good idea with the tickets. I too was just having a friendly ribbing at Reuben in regards to his iron fistedness in the comment sections of his articles(also a joke)

I figured as much. Though he can't be too much of an iron fist if DSF is still posting here and aggravating folks with aplomb.

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#35 FastOil
May 18 2012, 09:11PM
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So, glaring at a camera makes someone tough? Strength to me comes from inside, and doesn't come from keyboard tough talk and threats, which don't have to be backed up.

Kind of like swarming. Cowardly. That is the domain of a bully. Humour not perceptible by the intended recipient isn't funny.

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#36 Krusher
May 18 2012, 10:26PM
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Say what you want, but Renney was absolutely hoodwinked. I would never run my business this way. Tambellini and others in the management team should bury their heads in the sand. They knew all along he wasn't the solution, so just tell the guy. Brutal. If Sutter, who hasn't won a thing gets hired, I think I might barf. All you hear in the media is that "He's respected"...... Tom Renney isn't? What a weak excuse among others to cover up your mistakes. Jagr, one of the all-time greats, loved playing for the guy among others. Just be honest from the start and at least make it look like you know what the $#%! you are doing. The message that they sent every single player in that dressing room is one of confusion, disorganization, and a lack of conviction.

It's time to put someone with a real set of cojones in charge of the ship to set the tone from the top. That's how you start creating an identity, and also putting accountability onto everyone else down the food chain.

With the first pick in the 2013 NHL draft, the Edmonton Oilers select...... a respected and smart GM. I can only dream.

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#37 Reg Dunlop
May 18 2012, 11:37PM
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@Krusher

I have to agree with most of what you said. No doubt there are organizational problems that need fixing, probably by replacing some of the suits with new suits. But Renney getting hoodwinked? I don't know about that. With the confusing way the oil are run, isn't it possible that Renney turned down a 1 year offer? At least I don't feel sorry for Tommy, he was making 10 times what most of us earn and his record of employment blows.

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#38 Saytalk
May 19 2012, 04:30AM
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The veterans need to be held accountable and the younger players need to learn how to play gritty hockey. To this end I would prefer it if the Oilers hired more of a rah-rah type coach who will toss equipment around the dressing room, mercilessly bench anyone who is slacking, and instill a culture of hard work and intensity throughout the club. The X's and O's strategist coaches won't work here when the players don't have the ravenous hunger to execute the game plan for 60 minutes.

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#39 nunyour
May 21 2012, 10:26AM
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i hope to god managment already know's what style of game they intend to play,this should have been the first decision they reached,then draft accordanly.

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#40 Marcus
May 24 2012, 07:45AM
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Thank you for your contribution in Södertälje SK!

Good luck with the radio station in Edmonton!

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#41 Christian
May 24 2012, 02:08PM
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It is a sad day to hear that you are not playing for SÖDERTÄLJE next season, We are going to miss you very much!! Thanks for everything, and good luck to you and your family!! Take care Jason.

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#42 Ante-
May 24 2012, 05:03PM
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Thanx for the time in Sodertalje SK! We gonna miss you. This year we gonna score...

Wish you all the best and once again. Thanx for great play!

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