MACTAVISH RETURNS: BET ON A NEWBIE?

Robin Brownlee
June 11 2012 12:17PM

I'm not the least bit surprised Craig MacTavish had found his way back to the Edmonton Oilers, even if it's as senior vice-president of hockey operations instead of behind the bench as coach, his first calling.

Given his long service here as a player and coach and his relationship with president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe and owner Daryl Katz, you could see it coming – Jim Matheson at the Edmonton Journal certainly did, dropping a not-so-subtle note that he'd read the tea leaves in Sunday's edition of Hockey World as he nailed the move bang-on.

My first thought with the news today – aside from wondering if MacT will be back in Kelowna to pick up the tab for our lunch date this week – is what it means to the Oilers coaching situation and Steve Tambellini's search for a replacement for Tom Renney.

With MacTavish back in the organizational fold, and essentially insurance as a coach, Tambellini now has a built-in Plan B regardless of who he hires as the next bench boss. That leads me to conclude, rightly or wrongly, that associate coach Ralph Krueger might have jumped to the front of the line as the leading candidate for the position.

It also follows, as least for me, that Tambellini might be a bit more bold when it comes to taking a chance on his hiring – might he now ask the Tampa Bay Lightning to talk to Norfolk coach Jon Cooper with MacTavish in the wings?

I think that's a question worth asking.

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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#51 mlcselli
June 11 2012, 09:51PM
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I guess Katz was right 3 years ago when he said MacTavish wasn't going anywhere.

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#52 KenL
June 11 2012, 10:42PM
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A team coached by a Sutter just won the Cup, while a Sutter who hasn't coached a Cup winner is available. I know a lot of Oil fans don't want Brent Sutter, but I think he's ideal because he has no Oiler ties, nor Canuck ties.

No accusation can be made of an "old boys" network if Brent Sutter was hired. Some might argued it was about time the Oiler management went outside the box.

I'm not fundamentally against McT's return, although somewhat confused over what his actual role is. Hopefully his time away from the organization has given him a fresh perspective and he sees value in bringing in Sutter or anyone coach with no past ties to the Oilers.

At the very least, I hope it means that Bucky, while a very geniune guy, doesn't deserve to keep his Asst Coaching gig, just because he was a former team-mate of the President and VP of Hockey Ops.

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#53 Reg Dunlop
June 11 2012, 10:47PM
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What KenL said

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#54 Gerald R. Ford
June 11 2012, 11:05PM
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In other news, Toby Petersen has been appointed V.P. in charge of getting MacT's calzones.

Seriously, this is a good day for the Oil. The collective hockey IQ of this organization just jumped about forty points. Don't want MacT anywhere near the bench, but I would have no problem with him being the next GM. Dude's mind is razor-sharp, he's an Oiler through and through, and he doesn't look like Bambi in the headlights when a camera is on him. Plus, he brings some of that old-school Oiler cockiness that would be a refreshing change to the bland good guy placidity that has permeated every level of this organization for far too long. No downsides to this decision. Seeing Tambo sweat a bit is worth the hire alone.

That said, slow start = FMNF!

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#55 fyvmrf
June 12 2012, 12:07AM
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Apparently someone above Tamby's paygrade has seen that he can't get it done. (Fourth coach in four seasons) MacT was burned out three seasons ago and needed to leave. Returning as a management person has a better feel to it.

I don't care how Tamby spins his crap but this move is as much about the future as it is about putting someone in the line of management who can see what the team's needs are and will in all likelihood get it done and soon.

It isn't that large a stretch to see MacT as the next Oiler GM.

As long as we don't see Reasoner coming back...Horcoff beatified...ech!

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#56 Tim S
June 12 2012, 12:14AM
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A few years ago when the Oilers had their rookie camp in Yellowknife I was at a meet and greet for team personal and Lowe made a comment to a group of us that he would eventually move further upstairs, MacT would take over as GM and Buchberger would take over as head coach. Said it as a joke but interesting with MacT back in the fold in Management.

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#59 Reg Dunlop
June 12 2012, 09:09AM
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How come the truism 'once an oiler always an oiler' doesn't apply to any of the former stars? Those fellows would need turn by turn navigation to find their way back to river city and would only return if global warming raised ocean levels submerging NYC and Jamaica under a kilometre of water.

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#60 nunyour
June 12 2012, 09:24AM
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good move ,im a Mact fan,one more great hockey mind in the fold,Sutter would be another.

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#61 David S
June 12 2012, 12:07PM
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What I don't get is why Kevin Lowe wasn't doing the intro during yesterday's presser. Doesn't MacT report directly to him now? It seemd like Tambellini was speaking on behalf of the org and I have to say it just felt damned weird.

Watching that presser I couldn't believe the contrast between Tambellini and MacT. It was like night and day. Confident, articulate smart guy versus... well you know what I'm talking about.

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