Oilers hire Craig Ramsay as an assistant coach; Kelly Buchberger re-assigned

Jonathan Willis
June 10 2014 12:58PM

Dallas Eakins 11

After seemingly endless speculation, the Edmonton Oilers have made moves that change the face of their coaching staff.

The Oilers official Twitter account announced that Kelly Buchberger has been re-assigned internally and will not work as an assistant coach under Dallas Eakins next season. Replacing him is veteran NHL coach Craig Ramsay:

Additionally, TSN's Darren Dreger hints that Steve Smith may also be looking at a new role next season:

Ramsay

Craig Ramsay

Craig Ramsay's name has been frequently mentioned in the rumour mill - for example, in a mailbag feature on this site late last month, three different writers mentioned him - and for good reason. 

First, he brings an incredible wealth of experience to the organization. He's been an NHL head coach for three different teams, though he hasn't exactly been in an ideal situation in any of those places:

  • He was an interim head coach in Buffalo in 1986-87 (replacing Scotty Bowman, who he had worked under as an assistant) but wasn't retained in the role the following season.
  • His was an interim head coach in Philadelphia late in 1999-00 and took the team to the Conference Final, but was fired early the next year after a slow start. 
  • He was the head coach of the Atlanta Thrashers in 2010-11 but ended up getting replaced when the team was sold and moved to Winnipeg. 

To recap: he couldn't replace Scotty Bowman in his second year as a coach at any level, he got just 20-odd games after going three rounds the previous year, and his team got sold from under him. Oof.

Most of Ramsay's experience has come as either an assistant or associate coach, and he's been taught by some of the greats. He spent parts of four seasons playing for Bowman before joining his coaching staff. He's worked under Roger Neilson in Florida and Philadelphia (and played under him in the OHL), Jacques Martin in Ottawa, was an associate coach under John Tortorella on the 2004 Stanley Cup champion Lightning and worked for Claude Julien in Boston. Lots of very, very good coaches have had time for Ramsay in a key role on their staff. 

From this vantage point, he also looks like a very nice fit for Dallas Eakins. Both had close ties to Neilson, one of the true innovators in the game, and they actually spent two seasons together in the Panthers organization - Ramsay as an assistant and associate coach, Eakins as a player.

Very few candidates could have been considered a better fit for Eakins. Ramsay brings (a limited) personal history, a shared primary influencer, and an unimpeachable record of experience at the NHL level. 

Smith and Buchberger

Steve Smith

It isn't a surprise to see Buchberger land at another position in the Oilers organization. His frankly incredible track record of survival with the team shows that he's a person the decision-makers value. It was unseemly for him to survive so many head coaching changes, and moving him to less of a front-line role is probably a good thing. 

As for Smith, Eakins revealed on Oilers Now that Ramsay would be taking over some of his duties:

Craig will be on the bench, he’ll be running the defence just as he did in Boston. We’ll be handing the powerplay to him. Let’s remember that the powerplay is the repsonisbility of all the staff, and the players. Steve Smith is an excellent coach, we’re in discussion for a new role, which is something he’s going to have to consider.

The comments by Eakins are open-ended. They would not be inconsistent with Smith staying on staff and taking on a lesser role internally, but neither would they be inconsistent with Smith leaving the organization or taking on a different position with the team.

The bottom line here is that the Oilers' coaching staff improved on Tuesday, and given general manager Craig MacTavish's comments earlier this summer in support of the status quo it seems clear that Eakins asserted his authority in making this hire. Both of those are positives for the team. 

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
Avatar
#101 Benny Botts
June 11 2014, 08:07AM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers
Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Unsubstantiated? Can't speak to the blow part, but Hall's night club exploits are well known. Hall had to be threatened with harassment charges to leave my friends daughter alone last year at Union Hall. He's no saint, so lay off the hero worship. Yes I have seen his texts to prove it and no she did not give him her number. He asked her manager for it. She has since quit and had to change her number.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Care to revise your statement sir?

My question to you and everyone else beaking off about Hall and Eberles personal lives....Who Fu#&ing cares? To bring it up in a thread like this is idiotic, take that $h!t to HF boards.

Avatar
#102 Joy S. Lee
June 11 2014, 08:40AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
brad wrote:

"...was an associate coach under John Tortorella on the 2004 Stanley Cup champion Lightning and worked for Claude Julien in Boston. Lots of very, very good coaches have had time for Ramsay in a key role on their staff."

-

Noticed the typo above, might consider changing this... you listed Tortorella and then mentioned very good coaches.

Go OIL !!!

How many head coaches have won Stanley Cups? About one a year, and some are multiples. Add 'em all up and you'll end up with a pretty short list. Trash him and make fun of him all you want, but he won one, and has advanced in the playoff rounds at other times. That's a fact you'll neer be able to take away from this supposedly horrific coach.

And I'm not trying to argue for his coaching acumen - for which he must have some - but rather his results.

Avatar
#103 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
June 11 2014, 09:34AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
OilersDynasty wrote:

Nothing to do with the article, but we can say goodbye to Ekblad:

"Ekblad is this year's player most likely ready to step in and play in the NHL,'' Scott Luce, the Panthers director of scouting, told the Sun Sentinel last week. "He's physically mature and has got lots of mileage underneath him at the OHL level.''

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/florida-panthers/fl-florida-panthers-coach-0610-20140609,0,7972040.story

Could just be posturing to maximize return for trading the pick. Also, the same article lists the Oilers as one of 3 or 4 teams that have expressed an interest in trading up to get Ekblad. Also, the article quotes Talon as saying that he has received at least one "fair offer" for the pick.

Another recent article on OilersNation presented a chart that ranked the historic cost trading up for the first overall pick. It presented a case that this years first overall could be bought for the equivelant of a high first rounder and a second rounder.

Talon is on record as stating that his preference is to move the pick for assets that will improve his roster immediately....

Clearly the Oilers have the assets to make such a deal if they view Ekblad as superior to all other potential draftees.

Avatar
#104 Wax Man Riley
June 11 2014, 09:36AM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers
Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Unsubstantiated? Can't speak to the blow part, but Hall's night club exploits are well known. Hall had to be threatened with harassment charges to leave my friends daughter alone last year at Union Hall. He's no saint, so lay off the hero worship. Yes I have seen his texts to prove it and no she did not give him her number. He asked her manager for it. She has since quit and had to change her number.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Care to revise your statement sir?

See Benny Botts above.

Take that stuff to TMZ. And yes, unsubstantiated. It has nothing to do with hero worship and everything I do with "you have no idea what goes on in their personal lives."

Avatar
#105 Towersofdub
June 11 2014, 11:50AM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers
2004Z06 wrote:

Unsubstantiated? Can't speak to the blow part, but Hall's night club exploits are well known. Hall had to be threatened with harassment charges to leave my friends daughter alone last year at Union Hall. He's no saint, so lay off the hero worship. Yes I have seen his texts to prove it and no she did not give him her number. He asked her manager for it. She has since quit and had to change her number.

your friend's daughter must be some fine looking piece of meat. People are often skeptical when they're told 3rd of 4th hand information. I don't care if Taylor Hall is a decent person in his private life, but i'd certainly be more believing of this story if it was your friend's daughter posting it. It's also a bit of a surprise to read that someone who is in the top 10 in NHL scoring, with millions of $$ is so hung up on a random girl at Union Hall. Surely there are other trampy waitresses out there who would have been equally appealing to him. He is a professional hockey player, after all, not some greaseball rig pig. I don't know...it just seems unrealistic to me. Prove it, i suppose.

Avatar
#106 2004Z06
June 11 2014, 07:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

@Towersofdub

"Piece of meat"?

Stay classy!

Avatar
#107 SmythforMayor
June 21 2014, 04:04PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Class is

over-rated

Comments are closed for this article.