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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#1 yawto
June 11 2012, 12:21PM
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Figures If Steve Tambellini doesn't work out then the Oilers might have MacT take over that job as well.

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#2 Oiler Al
June 11 2012, 12:26PM
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We now have back up for : President, G.M. and the coach. Now, how about some back up for talent on the ice.!

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Brownlee any truth to the rumour that Mac-T immediately demanded, upon his hiring, that Toby Peterson be signed as a player/coach and be handed the Captains C?

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#4 Ern Beckett
June 11 2012, 12:28PM
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MacT...future president, GM and coach.

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#5 A-Mc
June 11 2012, 02:20PM
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It would make me very happy to see Mr R. Krueger named as the Oilers new Head Coach.

I still have my fingers crossed!

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#6 knee deep in it
June 11 2012, 05:44PM
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one of the best leaders this province has had was Klein. Ralph was not a genius but got things done because he surrounded himself with men who were smarter than him.

If Tambo is doing this, then my respect for him has gone way up.

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#7 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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#8 Reg Dunlop
June 11 2012, 12:29PM
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A young emerging team matches well with an up and comming coach. Cooper might be a good fit. Krueger would be an even better choice as he has inside knowledge of how this group interacts, player strengths, how they might best repond to either a pat on the back vs a kick in the backside etc.

Ralph for coach!

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#9 roger
June 11 2012, 12:35PM
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never happy with mac-t getting fired that being said it was what probably needed to happen, good to see him back. always a great sound bite.

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#10 Woodguy
June 11 2012, 12:42PM
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Stauffer had MacTavish on his show last week and he (MacTavish) said he wouldn't keep Krueger, but clean out all the coaches associated with the 30,30,29 place finishes.

Wonder if that includes Bucky?

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#11 I'm a Scientist!
June 11 2012, 01:53PM
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Was there anyone in this position before? Seems like a no-brainer to make a position and add another hockey brain to the mix! The more the merrier!

I see this as a sign that we are hiring either Sutter or Krueger as we have now filled our Silver Fox quota and can fill the coaching position with somebody who is less silverfoxy...

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#13 Mark T
June 11 2012, 02:15PM
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MacT could run circles around Tambellini.

Always impressed by his wit in interviews...Tambellini not so much.

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#14 michael
June 11 2012, 06:11PM
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It seems the bird has come home to roost.I am deighted to have MacT back in the organization in a capacity that suits his background and experience. If Pro Scouting is an area of his then I think the team will reap the rewards of this hire sooner than later. Pro Scouting has been a sore spot. In playing a complimentary role to Stu McGregor the Oilers have in my opinion 2 of the most capable minds in all of hockey.

There is certainly many detractors out there in ON but I for one believe that Tambo has let bygones be bygones and should be given credit for this hire.

Wwelcome back MacT.

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#15 Westcoastoil
June 11 2012, 06:17PM
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This is great news. Adding another experienced, intelligent, positive individual is never a bad thing. His returning will influence and improve the product on the ice.

It's clear that the team has to succeed under the next head coach or heads will roll in mgmt, whether Mac-T was here or not. They will choose the coach they think gives them the best chance to start winning asap vs. hiring on the basis that they can take a risk because Plan B is upstairs. You'd like to hope the days of planning to fail are finally done.

Congrats to Mac-T - the fact that he missed the last 3 years of misery shows just how smart he is!!

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#16 oilersplumber
June 11 2012, 12:22PM
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Interesting theorem, is it that the newbie would be cheaper than a mainsteam candidate.....or.....levering Sutter........

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#17 mayorpoop
June 11 2012, 12:23PM
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time will tell.

i like his smarts. i think he his smart enough to realize that winning is the goal here.

we are lacking this knowledge.

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#18 Bob Cobb
June 11 2012, 12:33PM
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All this does is give an immediate replacement for Tambellini when that tool is finally let go, Lowe will stay on as President and MacT will be the GM. This will happen within 2 years and hopefully sooner. You need a GM that played the game and won, knows what it takes and knows properly how to evaluate players. The only reason Tambellini is still around is because he hasn't messed up the first overall picks and that was only because Stu MacGregor was in charge of scouting.

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#19 Lexi
June 11 2012, 12:39PM
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Robin,

I hope you are right with regards to Cooper, with MacT as backup. There is something very impressive about him. There's winning and then there is winning 28 games in a row in the second best league in the world. I watched game 4 of the Calder Cup on Saturday and there was nothing stylistically I noticed, but they just destroyed Toronto. It reminded me of the Esks in the 70s, there were just better. There is nothing about Norfolk's roster that says by far the best team in the AHL. If I was guessing who the next Baboock is, Cooper would be it.

I've got to think Yzerman does not want Cooper going to Washington, so hopefully he helps Cooper come here.

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#20 Reg Dunlop
June 11 2012, 12:54PM
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@Bob Cob

The top GMs in todays game are arguably Ken Holland and Lou Lamoriello. Neither were successful as pro players. I do agree with you though that a GM must be an astute talent evaluator. Even more important, he must surround himself with quality advisors, like Stu. I am hardly a Tambo apologist, just playing devils advocate.

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#22 Dman09
June 11 2012, 01:09PM
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Hey RB,

Do you there is a possibility this was part of the plan a few years ago with MacT left? Also wouldn't Tavish have a fair bit of info/input on a new coach specifically if they are considering one from the AHL? Everything to me seems a little too convenient and this has been in the works for a long time. Katz is a very smart buisnessman and it would not surprise me.

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#24 John Chambers
June 11 2012, 01:14PM
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The knock on Jon Cooper is that he doesn't have coaching experience at the major league level.

Well, there was never a more suitable mentor to help him handle the pressures of major league coaching. God I hope that's what the plan is.

This is a great hire.

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#25 book¡e
June 11 2012, 01:27PM
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So, just to be clear, from what I have read across the Oilogosphere today MacT is:

A. Being brought in as a potential replacement for the unhired coach (allowing the Oilers to make a more risky hire)

B. Being brought in as a replacement for Tambellini if the 'rebuild' faulters this year.

C. Being brought in as a replacement for Lowe who is interested in winding things down and having more free time.

Cool!

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So what happens new coach fails and then MacT fails?

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#27 madjam
June 11 2012, 01:30PM
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Back on the merry go round again . Tams and Lowe looking for people other than themselves to dump on . Continuous circus of upper management .

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#28 HallFever
June 11 2012, 01:33PM
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Welcome back MacT! Not sure if I would want him back as a coach but is great for the hockey ops. As everyone knows, smart man with a lot of NHL experience on and off the ice. Next GM for sure.

Question - Didn't Tambillini show MacT the door when he started? I'm hoping MacT returns the favor and takes on the GM duties.

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#29 vetinari
June 11 2012, 01:50PM
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MacT is an insurance policy for the Oilers and is a smart signing... if the team falters, with his coaching experience, you can plug him as a replacement coach (his first love) or with his business degree, you can plug him in as a replacement GM. And if you fully clean house, he can act in both capacities in either an interim or permanent basis. Win-win.

Also, his season with Vancouver's AHL affiliate shows that he can still be a viable option as a coach, and he now has had a full year of watching AHL prospects up close and personal. Tambi better tap into that information and knowledge base to swing some trades or make some signings on July 1st to plug a few of our holes.

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#30 BlacqueJacque
June 11 2012, 01:54PM
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They'd damn well better be talking to Tampa about Jon Cooper.

This latest move just goes to show the team needs an infusion of new blood at the upper reaches. Not an original thought to be found anywhere in the Oilers management group. I might just have to switch allegiance to Nashville if this keeps up another few years.

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#31 I'm a Scientist!
June 11 2012, 01:55PM
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also... Who do the Chicago Wolves have that we may be interested in? I see MacT recommending and pressuring for a few players that he used to coach (that tends to happen - Renney - Potter). Anyone?

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#32 Fresh Mess
June 11 2012, 02:32PM
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Hey Robin,

Have you ever heard of a GM in the NHL having TWO senior men in the Hockey ops department to report to? I haven't.

Therefore my guess is the Oilers will add the title of 'Executive Vice President' to Tambo as well as GM.

Flow chart will be: Lowe-> Tambo-> MacT-> Ricky O.

What do you think?

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#33 Fresh Mess
June 11 2012, 02:43PM
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BTW, ridiculous that a small business like the Oilers will have more than half a dozen people with 'VP' titles.

A hockey club should have only one president and the GM should be head of hockey ops.

also,

If Lowe is 'President of Hockey Ops' and MacT is 'Senior VP', then who is the plain old vanilla 'vice president'? My guess is Rick O. will get that title. LOL. ridiculous.

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#34 I am the Liquor
June 11 2012, 02:49PM
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Cooper is smart enough not to hitch his wagon to this three legged dog.

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#35 Dman09
June 11 2012, 02:53PM
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I see this as a pure CYA move, same as having a veteran Goalie like Danis in the minors.

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#36 book¡e
June 11 2012, 02:55PM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

BTW, ridiculous that a small business like the Oilers will have more than half a dozen people with 'VP' titles.

A hockey club should have only one president and the GM should be head of hockey ops.

also,

If Lowe is 'President of Hockey Ops' and MacT is 'Senior VP', then who is the plain old vanilla 'vice president'? My guess is Rick O. will get that title. LOL. ridiculous.

I know, all those VP's and not a single Viceroy - its simply terrible!

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#37 Quicksilver ballet
June 11 2012, 03:01PM
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The Oilers are developing into a strange parallel of that movie The Grey.

Is Daryl Katz, Kevin Lowe and his management team wandering aimlessly right into the wolves den?

Welcome MacT, back into the fray.

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#38 oiler86
June 11 2012, 04:15PM
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I don't see this as an insurance policy for Tambellinni if his new coach doesn't work out....if the new guy doesn't work out Tambo will be gone so why would he make a riskier coaching pick just because Mac T is waiting in the wings? Seems like a horrible idea.

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#39 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
June 11 2012, 05:27PM
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oiler86 wrote:

I don't see this as an insurance policy for Tambellinni if his new coach doesn't work out....if the new guy doesn't work out Tambo will be gone so why would he make a riskier coaching pick just because Mac T is waiting in the wings? Seems like a horrible idea.

pretty much par for the course.. no?

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#40 TwoSkidoos
June 11 2012, 05:29PM
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Good move to bring back a good hockey man.

I'm going to opine that MacT will be the head coach in two years. I will also opine that he will bring some class back to this joke of a management group.

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#41 PutzStew
June 11 2012, 05:46PM
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Let me lay it out this way.

On of your co-workers loses his job because he can't get it done. Management brings him back 3 years later and gives him a promotion. How in any way does this sound like a good business decision.

And that leads us to the Edmonton Oilers. Lowe and Tambi haven't been able to do there job (by icing a competitive team) so instead of addressing the issues on ice they hire another manager, who just happens to have been let go because he failed before (Yes losing the team in coaching is failing so is only making the play-offs what...twice).

You can Rule out Sutter and I'm thinking Kruger because I think both these guys are smart enough to avoid this gong show. Doubt Cooper, who is the biggest UFA right now will want anything to do with it. But hey, Marc Crawford is available so good luck.

Oh and just think how Hall, Eberle and RNH, or any one else that actually helps this team wins, is gonna feel about this circus in a couple years. Sure they'll want to stick around. Don't worry we'll still be able to watch Smyth, Hemsky and Horcoff in the Copper and Blue.

Yep another winner move but a last place team. Lowe should get a raise...which will be paid for by ticket price increases...be cause gosh darn it...he deserves it. Good Job Klowe.

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#42 PutzStew
June 11 2012, 05:49PM
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I'd put money that the Bring Ethan Morrow back next season. Seems like something this group would do.

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#43 nathan
June 11 2012, 05:50PM
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Q. Are youplan A B or C? A. Yes.

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#44 a lg dubl dubl
June 11 2012, 06:02PM
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I wonder if this would intice Gretzky to come be HC here, I still think givin the right line-up he'd be pretty damn good at it imo, unlike the team he had to work with in Phoenix.

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#45 Mitch
June 11 2012, 06:30PM
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Robin I think that MacT will be the future Head of hockey opps and GM of the Oilers. I like this hire, I like it alot. My question for MacT would be how do you fit a 5.5 cap hit into your lineup on a 3rd line center when you have 4 young superstar fwds? Something has to break this isn't taking a run at Horcoff this is just being a manager just like Smyth has to accept around 2m/yr. It's all about dollars and cents not the player and his value in the lineup if your not a superstar.

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#46 OutDoorRink
June 11 2012, 07:04PM
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See what Darryl is doing in LA tonight, and knowing that their philosophy is identical, I'm still going for the udder Sutter brudder.

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#48 Harlie
June 11 2012, 08:16PM
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were my ears deceiving me or did I hear MacT say during the presser that he was involved in the decision to can Renney? I thought that was pretty interesting considering he wasn't under our employ at the time.

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#49 Saytalk
June 11 2012, 08:24PM
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Does this franchise have any identity, philosophy, system or long-term strategy beyond the perpetuation of the old boys' club? Maybe I'm just jealous that I'm not the one sitting up in the press box every night, sipping whiskey and musing about when Dillon Simpson or David Musil or some other alum's offspring will lead the future defence core, all while the current Oilers get pushed around the ice and lose another close game to fall back to 29th place.

I think Katz, Lowe and MacT should star in the next Wiserhood commercial. They are the real society of uncompromising men.

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#50 Oilers4ever
June 11 2012, 08:30PM
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Krueger would be a disappointment in my eyes. His short resume as a interim HC for the Oilers sucks. Short term it may be, it still sucks. Reminds alot of when Burnett was the HC. Terrible coach. Cooper is the guy they should be going after. I would even prefer Crawford over Krueger. Will be interesting to see what happens. If they really want a coach before the draft then the clock is ticking.

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