The Edmonton Oilers say they won’t rush the process of finding the best replacement for Craig MacTavish, but they aren’t wasting any time lining up the people they intend to look at for the job.
Somebody I trust out in Vancouver tells me that Oilers president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe and Marc Crawford, slumming these days as a colour analyst for CBC, got together for a chat Wednesday before the Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks opened their second-round series at GM Place.
And there’s also a report out of Vancouver, by Greg Douglas of the Vancouver Sun, that GM Steve Tambellini met with Pat Quinn on the Left Coast the same day, although I haven’t been able to confirm that.
On the heels of news the Oilers have already asked for permission from the New York Rangers to speak with Tom Renney, I’m guessing Lowe and Crow didn’t hook up to talk hair products or simply shoot the breeze.
While I can’t say if Tambellini was also in on the talks — he wasn’t spotted with Lowe and Crawford and he hasn’t yet sent me a copy of his off-season itinerary — I’d be surprised if both he and Lowe didn’t tag-team Crawford and Quinn.
I don’t know if Wednesday’s meetings were full-blown “interviews” or just a preliminary discussion, but it stands to reason Crawford, a former Jack Adams Award and Stanley Cup winner, and Quinn have the inside track.
Crawford has made it known he wants to get back behind the bench and he’s pitched publicly that he’d like to be considered for the job.
Ties that bind
I’ve made it clear I think Crow is an A-hole when it comes to dealing with reporters — which isn’t necessarily a negative on a coaching resume — but he’s known Tambellini a long time and is destined to be shortlisted, as are Renney and Quinn.
Crawford, Quinn and Renney all have long-standing relationships with Tambellini. Crawford was a teammate with the Canucks, Quinn was running the show in Vancouver when Tambellini got into management. Renney coached during Tambellini’s long tenure as assistant GM with the Canucks.
This trio aside, you can bet the Oilers will be keeping a close eye on what happens with Brent Sutter and the New Jersey Devils. Even if the Devils let Sutter out of the remainder of his contract, the Oilers will need permission from Lou Lamoriello to talk to him before July 1.
As for candidates from the assistant coaching ranks, I suspect the Oilers have already asked for permission to talk to San Jose’s Todd Richards, although I don’t know that for certain, and Nashville’s Brent Petersen. They’ll have to wait on Boston’s Geoff Ward.
While I’m at it
I had a brief chat with Todd Bertuzzi today. He’s a car guy, which scores points with me, and I ran into him out a custom car joint, the Little Lot, out in the west end near Winterburn Road and Highway 16A. His son is playing in a hockey tournament here.
Bertuzzi’s already got at least one sweet ride, a black Range Rover HSE rolling on custom wheels and low-profile meat, but what would you expect with a bankroll like his? Bert was eye-balling an old Ford ragtop and a super-charged Nova.
Unrestricted free agents (players who aren’t as old or as expensive as Jaromir Jagr) the Oilers should be looking at this summer: Manny Malhotra, Sammy Pahlsson, Taylor Pyatt, Mike Komisarek, Scott Clemmensen and Yann Danis.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.