The Oilers Next Head Coach: Names Being Floated

Todd Richards

I’ve discussed the list of possibilities before, and I’ve repeatedly stated that I think the Oilers next head coach will be one of four people: New Jersey head coach Brent Sutter (in the unlikely event that he’s available), Manitoba Moose head coach Scott Arniel, Detroit assistant coach Paul MacLean, or Montreal assistant coach Don Lever. Still, that’s just my list, and I’ve certainly overlooked at least one name (more on that below). Let’s take a look at which names the print media is dropping.

Robert Tychowski doesn’t go so far as to list who he thinks will get the job, but based on Tambellini’s press conference he has some ideas:

The list of coaches out there who like tough, offensive-minded teams is long, from Bob Hartley to Pat Quinn to Marc Crawford, but Tambellini says he’s in no rush to name MacTavish’s successor.

Two of the candidates from that list make it over to the one that Jim Matheson offered up today. He tossed out a few additional names as well:

Perhaps New Jersey Devils coach Brent Sutter, or San Jose Sharks assistant coach Todd Richards.
Or Scott Arniel, the AHL coach of the year (Manitoba Moose).

After offering those names, though, Matheson turned back to the two candidates who have the most history with Steve Tambellini: Crawford and Quinn. Quinn’s comments are quite extensive, but Matheson mentions that Quinn may be a candidate for the G.M. job in Minnesota; if he is being seriously considered I doubt he’d jump at the Edmonton job (and for the record, I think the Wild could do much worse than Quinn in that position).

Crawford’s comments are much less equivocal:

“I’m interested in the job,” said Crawford, who saw the Oilers an awful lot this season doing colour commentary on late Hockey Night in Canada games. “But I’m not the only guy who knows Steve Tambellini. I’m sure he’ll take a strong look at a lot of candidates. Hopefully I get a chance to get in and let him know how I feel.
“It’s going to be a job that a lot of people covet. I don’t have pre- conceived notions. I know the people there will put two and two together. I know Steve will be very thorough,” said Crawford.

Matheson mentioned Todd Richards, a man whose name also appears in Dan Barnes excellent column today:

We wait for Tambellini to build a list of coaching candidates, whittle it down and choose a successor. I think he will be youngish, from outside the Oilers’ organization, he will favour aggressiveness and offence over defence, have particular acumen for plotting a potent power play and he will have professional head coaching experience though not necessarily at the NHL level. I think San Jose assistant coach Todd Richards will be just such a candidate in due course.

Richards was on my long list the other day; he failed to make the short list simply because he’s only had one season of NHL experience and two seasons as a head coach in the AHL so I thought he might not be seasoned enough to get serious consideration for an NHL job. Still, what he’s done in a short time is impressive, and also working in his favour is the fact that the Oilers organization has some familiarity with him; he was the coach of Wilkes-Barre Scranton in 2006-07, meaning that he had many current Oilers playing for him, including Gilbert, Brodziak, Nilsson and others. By all accounts he was an extremely professional AHL coach, and it may very well be that he’s on the Oilers’ short list.

Finally, Sun Media’s Ken Wiebe focused on Scott Arniel:

While most pundits assume that means either Pat Quinn (who gave Tambellini his first job with the Vancouver Canucks) or Marc Crawford (a former Stanley Cup winner who also coached the Canucks) would be the likely successor, don’t rule out Manitoba Moose head coach Scott Arniel to at least get an interview and possibly be a dark-horse candidate.

Arniel quite properly refused to discuss the possibility with Wiebe, as he’s still coaching the Manitoba Moose in the AHL playoffs, but his contract does expire at the end of this season, and he has expressed a desire to coach at the NHL level before. His players (unsurprisingly) sang his praises, with Jason Krog being the most effusive:

“There’s a lot of great things that he does. He’s great at preparing us, he’s good at adjusting and he’s good at recognizing guys strengths and weaknesses. And he’s a good motivator. He knows when to get on us and when to take it easy on us. All around, he’s pretty solid and he’s finally getting the recognition that he deserves.”

As good as some of the available ex-NHL coaches are (aside from the three mentioned above, Jacques Lemaire and Tom Renney come to mind), I think that Dan Barnes’ take on the profile of the successful candidate is probably accurate: a young coach who favours an up-tempo style and can coach special teams, who will have experience in the NHL and as a head coach, but quite probably not as an NHL head coach.

  • Hippy

    @ Archaeologuy:

    Yes, the Oilers desperately need another smallish, inconsistent forward with attitude concerns who doesn't play a gritty game and needs sheltered minutes.

    Rob Schremp is exactly the opposite of what the Oilers need.

  • Hippy

    Just read this on SI Truth and Rumors:
    "There's never been an opening in New York for Mark Messier to fill, never a job for him to step into, but there sure is one in Edmonton, where the Oilers are seeking a head coach, isn't there? Messier was burned a couple of years ago when his father, Doug, went public with the assertion that Mark would be the logical choice to succeed GM Glen Sather, even though Don Maloney was in place as the Rangers' assistant GM. No. 11 has since kept a respectful silence even while telling The Post this winter that he's ready, willing and able to join the Rangers organization in essentially any role he might be assigned. For the first time, he said that he thought he could coach in the NHL, though he was not lobbying for Tom Renney's job. Now there's Edmonton, where he is revered. Now there's Edmonton, where his bud Kevin Lowe likely will have much influence in hiring Craig MacTavish's successor even if Steve Tambellini is the GM conducting the job search. Now there's Edmonton, where his candidacy surely would receive public support."

    Haha, I'm sure Mess will receive boatloads of public support from Edmontonians

  • Hippy

    @ Jonathan Willis:
    obviously the Oilers have bigger things to worry about than how to fit Shremp into the lineup, but smallish and non-gritty doesnt matter in the least if points are produced. Especially if they kick start an anemic Powerplay.

    I disagree with many who claim Shremp played poorly in his 3 games here this past season. His ice time was cut each game and the only time he was a non-factor was against San Jose (the whole team was a non-factor that day). I personally thought he brought a spark to the line he played on. He even made a few good defensive plays! Ok, he isnt "mature" because he got upset that despite the fact he outplayed 90% of the team on 2 of his 3 nights he was let go in favour of Liam Reddox who was given 10 games on the 1st line. Whatever.

    I know you will point me to articles you wrote or crunch some numbers to tell me I'm wrong, but MacT did his best to make sure that kid didnt have a chance to play himself into the lineup. I'd be disgruntled too.

    He isnt going to be Sidney Crosby or the answer to the Oilers' prayers, but he would have been a better option than Marc Pouliot or Liam Reddox most nights.

  • Hippy

    @ Archaeologuy:
    Also, I'm sick of guys' efforts being touted as this great thing. Horc, Reddox, whomever, it doesnt matter how hard they try if they cant get the job done. I'll take the guy who scores 40 goals but looks like he couldnt give a crap.

  • Hippy

    @ Archaeologuy:

    I'm not going to crunch numbers. I just think it's ridiculous to imagine that a player who isn't even putting up points in the AHL is going to fix the Oilers' powerplay.

  • Hippy

    @ Archaeologuy:

    I'll take any of Cogliano, Nilsson, Gagner, Hemsky, Horcoff, Penner, Kotalik, O'Sullivan or for that matter Potulny over Schremp on the NHL powerplay (and they're all far better players at even strength too). Which four would you cut to make room for Schremp?

  • Hippy

    @ Jonathan Willis:
    Like I said. During this season he would have been a better option in some instances than Reddox or Pouliot. We didnt have Kotalik or O'Sullivan at the time, and for a stretch we didnt have Hemsky. I would have much rather seen Shremp up for 10 games in a row on the 1st line than Reddox. I'm not saying he deserves a full time gig, just the same chance that others got to be a 13th forward.
    And despite his lowered production in the AHL this season he still managed to get points in 2 of the games he played here, without even knowing the tendencies of his linemates.
    Shremp will at best be a complementary player in the NHL. Who was there to complement in Springfield?

  • Hippy

    Magicmeatbag wrote:

    Darryl fired himself at one point if i recall.
    I’d think if he was put in that position then the both of them would understand

    I don't think Brent would put him or his brother in that position. So I DON'T think Brent going to Calgary will ever happen.

  • Hippy

    It's quite funny being an oilers fan. Looking at the situation it blows my mind to see how long we had MacT as the oilers coach and how the pens made the finals last year and changed their coach early this season. Tambellini did the right thing letting MacT have a year now the real game begins. Depending on how the flyers do this post season if they release John Stevens from his coaching job would he be a candidate?

  • Hippy

    Whatever happens, i think we need a head coach prior to the NHL Draft. We need someone at the helm that the players look to prior to putting on the sweater as they get selected by the Oilers.

    The only thing that I do not want to see is another head coach from the "hay-day". I reminisce every now and then about those days, but I never will expect the oilers of today to be like the oilers of ten years ago now. The game has changed too much.

    Honestly, I would like to see someone like Mark Crawford behind the bench. Look at what Steve Tambellini done in Vancouver?

    On another subject. I think some interior maintenance is also in need of. Letters on your sweater used to mean something. they meant you led, you were a veteran (Not only by time, but also by skill and knowledge) – I guess what I am trying to say is I think Ethan Moreau is not the guy for the Captain's Chair. I think the likes of Sheldon Souray should be bestowed with that honor. I am prepared as a fan to Ethan another shot, but somebody has to read the riot act to him…show up or…ship out!

    Whatever the powers that be end up doing I hope in the direction of winning a Stanley Cup in a few years or at the least being considered a viable threat as opposed to a cinderella story. A good start – let Ales Hemsky play and make sure someone is there to support him. The goaltending situation is good, just don't play Roli all the time and for god's sake play every night like its game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. See you guys on the ice…

  • Hippy

    […] next season. AHL coaches are a hot commodity of late. Arniel’s name has circulated in the Edmonton Oilers head coach search, which indicates that others have taken notice of what he has done in his time in Winnipeg. This […]