Lowe and Crow have a chat

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.

  • RossCreek

    It looks as though NYR forward Markus Naslund is set to announce his retirement. TSN's Darren Dreger reported this during the 2nd intermission of the oh-so-exciting Canada V. Norway game this morning.

    Looks like Slats caught a break. He's got some RFA's that were looking ripe for the picking (Brandon Dubinsky, Nikolai Zherdev, Ryan Callahan).

  • DonDon

    We should know about the Flames' coaching situation on Monday or Tuesday when Darryl Sutter gives his annual post-season wrap-up. It is not only Keenan that is on thin ice; Sutter has not managed this club very well over the past three seasons and it should be problematic for the owners as the fans are restless. Word is that Playfair is gone, which apparently is his own choice. Being part of the Flames isn't a lot of fun, for players and coaches alike, due to Darryl's sparkling personality. As for Brent Sutter, I can't see him coaching for brother Darryl. Besides, Duane and one of the twins are already working for Darryl. I believe Brent is smart and tough enough to handle the Oilers' coaching problems, but would he want it, given the mess? Now that Tambellini has had a full season to evaluate the pitiful Oilers, he is probably wondering why he took on the job. We fans may have our favourites for coach, but it isn't a desirable place to coach at this time, even for coaches looking for jobs.

  • Rice

    @ DonDon:
    I would imagine this team would be a treat for any GM. It is a bit of a mess which makes any success a good indication of how good they are as a GM. Also, The Oil aren't quite at rock bottom so there is still room to fall. I don't think that many GM's want to go to a team that is super successful, they didn't do anything to get them there and when the team takes a step backwards all of the blame falls directly on that GM's shoulders.

  • Milli

    As much as I hate Crow, I do think he is a good coach. I like the idea of accountability. If that means we become tougher and play for each other, wow, that'd be great.

  • Dennis

    I don't have fan buyer's remorse on the can being tied to MacT but there's something that's oh so wrong about Mac being out of work while Lowe continues to hawk his snake oil.

  • Hemmertime

    Next Coach of the Edmonton Oilers: Mike Keenan – sure he failed in Cowtown, but even I'd ask "How high" when that bastard says jump. Would be funny, still would be ahead of Crawford on my list. Though I'd only interview Crawford for the whole "forgot my wallet" trick after a Steak and Lobster dinner talk.

  • Robin Brownlee

    @ Hemmertime:
    We have the benefit of hindsight, but I was nervous right from pre-season about holes down the middle with Stoll and Reasoner gone. Face-offs and the PK were in the tank right from the first pre-season game.

    To be honest, Malhotra wasn't the first name that came to mind in September, but I think I was mentioning him by late October or November as a piece the Oilers could use.

  • Hemmertime

    @ Robin Brownlee:
    Ya, hes always in the top 10 in faceoffs, and the cost to get him back then would have been great. Now that they saw fit to use him first line it should boost his value. Though now we got the benefit of the chance at getting him off FA and having Brule to replace Nilsson. I was always hoping for Yelle in Sept.

  • duane

    @ Jack Bauer:
    I agree and also he has way too much baggage…….and still involved in a big lawsuit.He also had Joel Quenville as his asst coach when he had success in this league……

    Duane in Edmonton

    Scott Arniel or Rob Daum is the right man for the job

  • Westcoastoil

    Crawford is totally overrated as a coach. He managed to win one Cup which quite frankly is poor considering how stacked his Avs teams were and won a single playoff round with a very good Vancouver team (and mostly b/c St. Louis got the flu). It would be a very bad hire.

    Pyatt is big, slow doesn't really hit much with mediocre hands. He got 20 goals with a ton of prime playing time – think Penner, Isbister, Winchester, Kilger…

  • JS

    Just a thought but what about a coach like Ted Nolan?

    I am not sold on getting cast offs from Canuck island…

    It would be nice to see a comparison chart of the would be coaches stregnths/weaknesses, their styles and a brief description of what they would bring to the Oilers.