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Seeing as Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini has neglected to text me his list of head coaching candidates for comment and approval — Steve, where’s the trust? — I can only guess who he’s considering.

While it might not be stop-the-presses stuff, I see the list of candidates to take over from Craig MacTavish falling into two categories: the been-there-done-that group and the if-I-only-got-the-chance bunch.

The first group includes obvious names that have been tossed out countless times already. In my mind, the leaders in the established bench boss group are: Brent Sutter, Marc Crawford and Pat Quinn.

The second group, and the one I hope Tambellini takes a long, hard look at, is made up of Brent Petersen, Todd Richards, Geoff Ward, Rob Daum, and Scott Arniel.

The old guys

SUTTER: if the New Jersey Devils release him from his deal, he’d be the clear-cut favourite. It’s tough to argue with Sutter’s track record in the WHL and what’s he done in The Swamp. Question is, if the Devils let him go and don’t make him sit out a year, who says he doesn’t end up in Calgary?

CRAWFORD: Even if he calls the Oilers best player Alex Hemsky and thinks media guys are dough heads — until he’s out of coaching work and becomes one himself — he’s got a Stanley Cup ring, a Jack Adams Award and history with Tambellini dating back to their days as players in Vancouver.

QUINN: The big man is interested in getting back behind the bench in the NHL and, while he’s no spring chicken, there’s no question he’s got both the experience and credibility to take hold of a dressing room that was divided much of this season. Like Crow, he’s got history with Tambellini.

Outside the box

PETERSEN: If Petersen is ready to leave the comfort zone of Nashville and his relationship with Barry Trotz, he’s one of those long-time assistants — like a Paul MacLean or Todd McClellan — who could easily run his own show. Again, history with Tambellini.

RICHARDS: Had 98 wins in two seasons as an AHL head coach in Scranton after four years as an assistant in Milwaukee. Just one season as an NHL assistant with San Jose on his resume, but he’s thought of as an up-and-comer, and with good reason.

WARD: Critics point to his so-so record in some seasons in the Oilers farm system, but take a closer look at what he had to work with. After two seasons as an assistant to Claude Julien in Boston, he’s ready to move up. Has lots of experience as a head coach in the OHL and AHL and he’s very well thought of within the organization.

DAUM: After nothing but success with the Alberta Golden Bears, he went 50-24-0 with Houston in 2005/06, then was cut loose by Minnesota following the 2006-07 AHL season after a 27-43-0 campaign. How’d that happen?

Daum lost his top three scorers from the previous year, Kirby Law, Erik Westrum and Patrick O’Sullivan, during the off-season and then Minnesota took Josh Harding midway through the next. Daum deserves a Purple Heart, and an interview with Tambellini, after trying to clean up a mess not of his making in Springfield this season.

ARNIEL: Yes, he’s had a first-rate organization to work with in Manitoba, but his record at the AHL level has been outstanding. Has history with Tambellini. There’s nothing not to like about Arniel.

One more year?

It’s just fine with me if Rod Phillips returns for a 37th season as the Oilers radio play-by-play man.

Jim Matheson suggested that might be the case in The Journal this week, calling it “60-40” that he returns, and when Senior suggests something it’s usually because he knows it to be the case.

That’s especially true when it comes to Phillips because he and Rod have been running buddies on the road since the 1970s, when they tore it up big time before morphing into Stattler and Waldorf after bell-bottom pants went out of style.

In this particular case, Senior got the dope first-hand because he and Phillips just spent a week golfing on the road while driving down to The Skipper’s palatial estate in Buckeye, just outside Phoenix. Nothing like 30 straight hours of Frank Sinatra on the drive down.

I’d like to listen to another season of Phillips and Bob Stauffer. I find them a more dynamic tandem than Rod and Morley Scott, who didn’t bring anything to the mix resembling the analysis and eye for details Stauffer has. Rod has earned the right to go when he decides it’s time.

Coach’s corner

If Kelly Buchberger survives the purge of assistant coaches — I believe he will because of his relationship with owner Daryl Katz — bet the house he’ll be pulling for Ward.

Buchberger and Ward have been tight since they coached the forgettable, inept and overwhelmed Roadrunners.

And, while the Roadrunners were abysmal, I’ve got to admit I’ve never had more fun on the road than when Ward, Buchberger and Joe Paterson were behind the bench. There was one night in Houston and another in Rochester when… Enough said.

Eric Thurston has competition for the head coaching posting at the U of A with the Golden Bears.

Dean Clark, a former WHL and CHL coach of the year with the Calgary Hitmen, has applied. Clark has been out of hockey since being let go after the 2007/08 season.

Clark, a former Golden Bear, got caught up in the ownership change with the Blazers and was let go after a 27-41-0 season in Kamloops. With two 50-win seasons with Calgary, including a ridiculous .833 winning percentage (58-10-2) in 1999-2000, Clark belongs behind the bench.

If you ask me…

As Jason Gregor has already pointed out, it doesn’t matter who Tambellini hires behind the bench if the Oilers roster doesn’t change significantly. The second-coming of Toe Blake couldn’t make the roster, as it sits, a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

And, while I agree with Tambellini the Oilers need to get bigger and grittier, I’m also of the mind, as the old saying goes, that’s it’s not always the size of the dog in the fight but the fight in the dog that matters.

If I’m looking to move soft players, as opposed to just small guys, who have some cachet around the NHL, then my list of trade candidates includes Tom Gilbert, Dustin Penner, O’Sullivan and Andrew Cogliano.

I’m not saying changes begin and end with these four, but if Tambellini really is interested in shaping this team into a group that takes losing personally, I’m starting with them.

The complicating factor with Gilbert is a herniated disc in his back might do more than take him out of the mix as potential trade bait. If Gilbert and the Oilers medical staff don’t stay on top of things they could be looking at a repeat of the ordeal JF Jacques just went through.

I can live with another year of Dwayne Roloson, at, say, $2.5 million or so, in tandem with Jeff Deslauriers, but there’s zero chance I’m giving him two more years if I’m Tambellini. If Roloson coaxes a two-year stint out of another team, and he might, then Tambellini should target Scott Clemmensen.

— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

  • Robin Brownlee

    @ Tyler:
    Good question. Perhaps they're stating the chain of decision-making as they go. There seems to have been a conscious effort on the Oilers part to back Lowe off the front line once things started to go, well, badly. That would be, what, Christmas?

    Neither one has been all that accessible to us this season. I can tell you Lowe has been less willing to return calls or be scrummed at the rink in the last couple of years than he was in his first six or seven.

  • Travis Dakin

    Archaeologuy wrote:

    Cole was a point per game in Carolina and O’Sullivan was shifted all over the top 2 lines and played well below his potential. Winner: Carolina.

    Cole is a UFA at the end of this season and more than likely probably would be going back to Carolina anyway. No chance he was staying and for that I am glad. Turning a UFA who was leaving anyway to a young offensive player with a huge upside who is signed for two more years (read: useable asset) is a win for the Oilers. I don't care how many points Cole has in Carolina since the trade, he wasn't going to get them here.

  • Archaeologuy

    @ Travis Dakin:
    Cole was pissed at the situation when he got traded, he was more than open to being here long term when he first got here. Sure, he wasnt producing here, he was completely mis-used in his time here under a lame-duck coach who lost the team.
    We got O'Sullivan for a few more years, but I'm not sold on him any more than I am on Penner. He failed to impress (IMO) in his time here. I hope I will be taking my foot out of my mouth later, but O'Sullivan appears to be another smallish offensive talent that didnt deliver on his promise. Exactly the opposite of what Tambi thinks the team needs. (another reason to doubt it was completely his idea to get him)
    19 games is hardly enough for me to say he will never deliver, but Carolina is in the Playoffs and faring relatively well and the Oilers are out of it. Carolina acquired a top line player who will likely re-sign with the team and the Oilers got a question mark in return. They win.

  • Archaeologuy

    @ Archaeologuy:
    I'm not even saying O'Sullivan and his contract are terrible, just that all things considered Carolina benifits more from the trade than the Oilers. Even if the Oilers were better off after the move than before.

  • Ogden Brother

    Archaeologuy wrote:

    @ Archaeologuy:
    I’m not even saying O’Sullivan and his contract are terrible, just that all things considered Carolina benifits more from the trade than the Oilers. Even if the Oilers were better off after the move than before.

    Wow, that was probably the biggest haul ever brought in for a UFA and you are complaining about the deal.

  • Archaeologuy

    @ Ogden Brother:
    Somehow I doubt Patrick O'Sullivan was the biggest haul EVER brought in for a departing UFA.

    But seriously people, try to follow me. I'm not complaining about the deal. The original premise was that the Oilers won all their trades this year. I argued against it. O'Sullivan is better than nothing. But, it is practically undeniable that Cole performed better for the Hurricanes than Patty-O performed for the Oilers. So who won the trade? They got the better player and he produced!

    And doesnt anyone else feel like they played a shell game with the Carolina Hurricanes and lost all their money as well as their watch? They took the Cup, Pitkanen, Cole, and all we got out of it was a 3rd year smallish forward.

  • Ogden Brother

    Archaeologuy wrote:

    @ Ogden Brother:
    Somehow I doubt Patrick O’Sullivan was the biggest haul EVER brought in for a departing UFA.
    But seriously people, try to follow me. I’m not complaining about the deal. The original premise was that the Oilers won all their trades this year. I argued against it. O’Sullivan is better than nothing. But, it is practically undeniable that Cole performed better for the Hurricanes than Patty-O performed for the Oilers. So who won the trade? They got the better player and he produced!
    And doesnt anyone else feel like they played a shell game with the Carolina Hurricanes and lost all their money as well as their watch? They took the Cup, Pitkanen, Cole, and all we got out of it was a 3rd year smallish forward.

    Winners and losers aren't dictated by the first 20 games, post trade.

    It might not be the best haul… but it's got to be close. Most trades return late 1st/plugs/prospects bordering on busts.

    Considering Antro returned a 2nd rounder (and he had far better #'s then Cole) a late first was realistically the expected return for Cole.. would you swap O'sullivan for the 27th overall?

  • Archaeologuy

    Ogden Brother wrote:

    Winners and losers aren’t dictated by the first 20 games, post trade.

    I get that, I guess it depends on how O'Sullivan plays into the future of the Oilers? Is he a legit shot to be in the top 6 next or is Tambi planning on making all sorts of changes? He hasnt scored 25 goals in the NHL and he's largely an unknown quantity. He's probably be a lot easier to move (from an Oiler perspective) in a summer trade than Cogliano.

    would I trade O'Sullivan for the 27th pick overall? Depends on the draft year. I would certainly include him on any trade that helped the Oilers move up from 10.

    Again though, I agree that at the deadline it was better to make the move than stand pat, but I firmly believe the Canes "won" the trade. If Cole re-signs there then its cemented. With Canadian teams like the Oilers the long term matters a whole lot more than making the playoffs for one year. But the Canes need the playoffs in order to entice season ticket holders.

  • Ogden Brother

    Archaeologuy wrote:

    Ogden Brother wrote:
    Winners and losers aren’t dictated by the first 20 games, post trade.
    I get that, I guess it depends on how O’Sullivan plays into the future of the Oilers? Is he a legit shot to be in the top 6 next or is Tambi planning on making all sorts of changes? He hasnt scored 25 goals in the NHL and he’s largely an unknown quantity. He’s probably be a lot easier to move (from an Oiler perspective) in a summer trade than Cogliano.
    would I trade O’Sullivan for the 27th pick overall? Depends on the draft year. I would certainly include him on any trade that helped the Oilers move up from 10.
    Again though, I agree that at the deadline it was better to make the move than stand pat, but I firmly believe the Canes “won” the trade. If Cole re-signs there then its cemented. With Canadian teams like the Oilers the long term matters a whole lot more than making the playoffs for one year. But the Canes need the playoffs in order to entice season ticket holders.

    You're an interesting fellow.

  • Travis Dakin

    @ Archaeologuy:
    The Canes having Cole next year has nothing to do with the trade. The Oilers got a good player with upside signed to a reasonable contract for two years to use as trade bait. Or he may turn out to be very good. You aren't sold on him after 19 games and I wasn't sold on Cole after 60 games. He was never going to bring it here and he was never going to re sign and he would never be worth the money he would command. So, 19 more games of Cole for O'Sullivan is a hands down win for the Oilers. Face it, The Oilers would have been out faster than the blues even if he did score an extra point or two to get them in. And Besides, Cole proved he can't play unless he is in the safety of the Southwest division.

  • Archaeologuy

    @ Travis Dakin:
    You're having problems picking up what I'm putting down, so I'll try again.

    The trade was good for the Oilers. It was better for the Canes. Canes win. NO ONE IS SAYING IT WAS A BAD TRADE FOR THE OILERS! But we lost the better player.

    Cole isnt better because he's playing in the SW. He's better because his game suits Carolina's system and personnel. He was stuck playing with a struggling Gagner and for a coach without a discernable system. Over there he plays on a playoff bound team with Staal as his centre. Dont be ridiculous. You think that he magically played better because of the Time Zone in the SW?

  • RossCreek

    The whole "SouthLEAST" concept is played out. The Northwest sure was good this year, eh? New coach in E-town, new GM & coach in Minny & Colorado. SouthLEAST… how 2004.

    Archaeologuy wrote:

    And Besides, Cole proved he can’t play unless he is in the safety of the Southwest division.

    Southwest? Seriously?

  • RossCreek

    Should be:

    Travis Dakin wrote:

    And Besides, Cole proved he can’t play unless he is in the safety of the Southwest division.

    Southwest? Seriously?

    @ Archaeologuy:
    But I see you put a SW as well

    ??

  • Archaeologuy

    RossCreek wrote:

    @ Archaeologuy:
    But I see you put a SW as well
    ??

    DAMN! Stupid Geography! What is Carolina doing over there anyway? I left it beside Detroit, clearly a western team.

    *checks map again…*

    DOUBLE DAMN!

  • Travis Dakin

    @ Archaeologuy:
    No man, That Eric Cole that is doing well in Carolina is not the one that left here. Never would have been. The Oilers got rid of 19 games of nothing for two years of something. That's why it is a win. I didn't say you said it was a bad deal. The man was useless here.

  • Robin Brownlee

    UPDATE
    Might be some news in the next day or two, probably Monday, on the status of the assistant coackes.
    The coaches had meetings with Tambellini scheduled for Thursday and today. Bill Moores was at the rink yesterday.

  • Archaeologuy

    @ Jack "FMNF" Bauer:
    Exactly. I dont recall O'Sullivan having any 4 point nights.

    Maybe the trade was more of a win and bigger win, but I would have liked to see Cole play under a different coach. This was a terrible year to be a first year Oiler and pending UFA.

  • Jack "FMNF" Bauer

    @ Archaeologuy:

    Imnot sure if your agreeing with me or not. But the point that Cole had 4 point nights playing against garbage teams catn be disregarded and put under "well he plays in the southeast so its not that impressive"

  • Ogden Brother

    Jack "FMNF" Bauer wrote:

    @ Archaeologuy:
    Imnot sure if your agreeing with me or not. But the point that Cole had 4 point nights playing against garbage teams catn be disregarded and put under “well he plays in the southeast so its not that impressive”

    Hardly, he put up for points (all assists by the way) against what was equivalent to AHL competition. Check out the the world hockey championships….. solid players putting up big points against Hungry really isn't that impressive.

  • Archaeologuy

    @ Ogden Brother:
    give me a break. Bauer is bang on. But if trashing Cole's accomplishments makes you feel better then go on pretending like assists arent points in the NHL.

  • Ogden Brother

    @ Archaeologuy:

    You're missing the point. The whole debate is you wanting to delcair a winner/loser based off of 17 games (which you say you understand can't be done yet still chose to ignore)

    The proof of "the win" is his 17 points in 17 games, yet you refuse to acknoledge that 4 points vs the NYI should carry less wieght then 4 points vs the Sharks.

    I like Cole, wish we could have kept him… but to try and declair a winner after 17 games is rediculous… and as mentioned a signed player with top 6 numbers for a pending UFA is incredible value. Whomever pulled that trade off should be applauded.