Playoffs schmayoffs. Let’s talk head coaches

The second round of the playoffs is never as exciting as the first unless your city is still playing; the Coyotes ownership situation is intriguing to watch, but it’s on the verge of becoming a legal battle and until they get cameras in the court, it just won’t be that exciting.

So let’s talk some Oilers.

The latest name mentioned to replace Craig MacTavish was none other than the MOOSE. The boys on HNIC mentioned he will be in Switzerland and will chat with Tambellini and Lowe.

Curious what the response would be from Oiler fans if Messier got the job?

I sense only he or Gretzky could be acceptable options from the Old Boys Club. Any other ex-Oiler and the Oilers would be ripped mercilessly. Craig Simpson, Charlie Huddy, Kevin McClelland or Mark Lamb wouldn’t get the same response. I mention these four because they are currently coaching, or have recently.

For the record I don’t think Messier would be the right choice right now. Having your coach as the face of the franchise is not what this team needs, and Tambellini’s first hire can’t come from the OBC or people won’t believe it was his hire.

I honestly can’t get a read on who they are leaning towards. Some people within the organization don’t even know. Tambellini is keeping this top secret, which isn’t a bad thing.

Many will toss out names, just in case one of the names they use turns out to be the guy, so they can say I told you so. I still feel it will be someone with previous head coaching experience, but who exactly is a big guess, and the only name I’ve heard that doesn’t fit into that category is Scott Arniel.

Regardless of who Tambellini chooses, it should be an aggressive coach who will hold all of his players accountable, and preferably one with some creativity on a powerplay.

On a complete guy feel, I think with Renney and Laviolette being on TV. they won’t get hired here.

Contract talks on hold

I spoke to an agent of an RFA Oiler and he said he was told there would be no contract discussions until a new coach is named. I wonder if that holds true for UFAs like Roloson and Kotalik?

What it does mean is that the new coach will be named before free agency, and realistically by the end May or early June. It means the new coach will have to decide where guys like Smid, Grebeshkov, Brodziak, Reddox and Brule fit into his plans.

With Tambellini stating he wants his team to be more aggressive, you’d think the new coach would want Smid on his team for sure. Grebeshkov makes a lot of sense, but what about Brodziak?

I ran into him last week and he admitted he needs to be tougher. He mentioned he wants to be harder to play against, and seemed confident that it would happen. I believe he will be better next year.

In junior he made huge strides in his third season, and he repeated that in his third year in the AHL. Next year is his third in the NHL, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he took a big step next year. A big step for him won’t be necessarily mean becoming an 18-20 goal-scorer, but rather, becoming a more useful and reliable role player. He needs to realize that if he can be gritty, physical, hard-to-play against and strong in the dot he’ll be get his points. If he doesn’t he could find himself out of Edmonton.

His confidence, or lack thereof, has always been his biggest hurdle. You might not meet a more down-to-earth, polite NHL player than Brodziak, but if he wants to expand his role he will need to shed that persona when he gets on the ice. At 6’2” and 210 lbs he has the size to play gritty, and he has proven that he can handle himself if he needs to back up a gritty style.

Will the new coach give him that chance? I suspect he will, regardless of who the new coach is.

3-0 Comebacks

Only twice in NHL history has a team come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series. The Leafs did it in 1942 v. the Red Wings in the Cup Finals, while the Islanders did it in 1975 v. the Penguins.

The Calgary Hitmen are trying to become only the second WHL team to accomplish that feat. The Hitmen lost the first three, but have won two straight by scores of 6-2 and 6-1. In 1996 the Spokane Chiefs rallied to beat the Portland Winterhawks. The Chiefs did it in the first round.

The Chiefs went 50-18-4 that year, Mike Babcock was the coach and their most notable player was Jan Hrdina. They went on the WHL final before losing to the Brandon Wheatkings.

One of the most interesting parts of this year’s WHL final is that after game four in Kelowna on Wednesday, the teams shared a charter to Calgary for game five on Thursday. After the Hitmen won, both teams shared a charter back to Kelowna for game six. How much would it have sucked to be a member of the Rockets on both of those flights?

Game six is Saturday and game seven will go Monday. Not surprisingly, both teams will bus to Calgary for game seven.

  • Reggie

    Keep the old boys club in Katz's corporate box. I feel the same way about Wayne or Mess. Wayne isn't a good enough coach, although I think the world of the man. Without any experience Messier doesn't deserve to be handed the reigns to this team. If they want to groom him as part of the management team ala Yzerman, sure, but let's not pretend he's something he is not. Likewise, adding Wayne to the management team wouldn't be bad, but we need a different type of head coach.

    Stick to the idea floated by Tambellini to begin with. Someone with experience and a proven track record.

  • RossCreek

    @ OB completely agree about Brody. Like I said, I'd take him on the Flames. He'll add some fire to his game. I'm sure of it. Another thing to think about with him. He could step in to Pisani's role as a 3rd line winger and play with Cogliano and take the faceoffs. Maybe the 2 of them with Moen? Bring back Reasoner as 4th line C? He could lighten the room up a bit and cheaply bring in leadership and character, especially if Pisani were gone.

  • Milli

    I'd like to see the moose thrown penner up against the wall after a poor shift!!! I do not think he is the right guy at this time, BUT, I wouldn't hate it!!!!! All he ever did was win!!!!

  • RossCreek

    Also, whats everybody think of a guy like Mikael Samuelsson? He's a UFA coming from the Detroit organization. Decent size (not to be mistaken with being physical), decent skill. Thoughts on him? I kinda like him for both Alberta teams.

  • TonyT wrote:

    @ Jason Gregor:
    Hey Jason, any word on bring Messier in as an assistant? I assume that would depend on who they hire as the head coach, as Renney’s been featured quite a bit this week on radio shows I think they would compliment each other quite well as strategist and motivator.

    I don't see Messier doing that. I still see him more in a management role, unless he gets a head coaching job. His personality doesn't strike me as an assistant coach. And with his personality that strong it would take one hell of a secure head coach to hire him, and not worry that he would take his job rather quickly.

    Archaeologuy wrote:

    And I dont believe that a coach is only as good as his players. A good coach can make a weaker talent pool competitive.

    For short period of time, but I can't recall many that maintain it. I don't know many successful head coaches who didn't have great players.

    TonyT wrote:

    I agree for example see: ‘96 Florida Panthers, ‘02 Carolina Hurricanes, ‘03 Anaheim Mighty Ducks, and ‘04 Calgary Flames.

    Those teams were average all year and got hot, similar to Oilers in 2006…so if you are saying it was great coaching, then you are saying MacTavish was great too. I doubt you think that.

  • Librarian Mike

    Milli wrote:

    All he ever did was win!!!!

    …up until he went to Vancouver and didn't see the playoffs again for the rest of his career. Hey, there's no question he was a phenomenal player but surely there must be a real coach out there.

  • The Pestival

    The Hitmen have had everything going for them since the 3rd period of game 3 (they lost that game but played almost the entire period in Kelowna's zone). Kelowna has screwed themselves in the last couple of games with lazy play, I've been lucky enough to have been at every Kelowna game these playoffs. Gotta say though the reffing in this series has been absolutely atrocious. I don't think I've ever seen more inconsistent refs. One game they let everything go, the next they call all the stupid stuff, they ignore checks from behind and there have been dozens of missed calls. Absolutely brutal. Huska is being way too much of a pussycat behind the bench, its time he got as angry as the fans.

  • TV

    TonyT wrote:

    A good coach can make a weaker talent pool competitive.
    I agree for example see: ‘96 Florida Panthers, ‘02 Carolina Hurricanes, ‘03 Anaheim Mighty Ducks, and ‘04 Calgary Flames. Also, I failed to include the ‘06 Edmonton Oilers because while they did overachieve for an eigth seed, to come in eigth with a lineup consisting of Chris Pronger, Ryan Smyth, Michael Peca, among others could be argued as underacheiving.

    I've been waiting 15yrs for someone to insinuate that Doug Maclean was a good Coach.

    Clearly, The End Of Days Is Nigh…!!!

    Underachieving with Ty Conklin, Mike Morrison & Jussi Markkanen as your Tenders..?

    They were lucky just to get to the 8th spot with that trifecta of terror manning the cages.

    x6

  • West Coast Oil

    Moose to assist Daum in Springfield.. great place to learn. Moose in a management role perhaps player development that I could see as well, Moose as a head coach please god no!!

  • TV

    The Yzerman project seems to be working quite well for the Red Wings & Hockey Canada, so I could see Mess filling the exact same type of role with the Oilers.

    While it's not very vogue in River City these days, keeping the tradition of the Crest is not such a bad thing.

    x6

  • TonyT

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    TonyT wrote:
    I agree for example see: ‘96 Florida Panthers, ‘02 Carolina Hurricanes, ‘03 Anaheim Mighty Ducks, and ‘04 Calgary Flames.
    Those teams were average all year and got hot, similar to Oilers in 2006…so if you are saying it was great coaching, then you are saying MacTavish was great too. I doubt you think that.

    I didn't use the Oilers '06 run as an example for the reason that they already had a pretty decent lineup. Do I think MacT is "great coach"? No, but he is a pretty good coach (if given the right parts for his systems). I don't think it's possible to fluke your way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Also, do I think Doug Maclean is a great coach? No, but according to the facts you can't deny that he got his team to overachieve just like Paul Maurice, Mike Babcock, and Darryl Sutter did in those instances.

  • Homie

    TonyT wrote:

    Also, I failed to include the ‘06 Edmonton Oilers because while they did overachieve for an eigth seed, to come in eigth with a lineup consisting of Chris Pronger, Ryan Smyth, Michael Peca, among others could be argued as underacheiving.

    As a poster above noted, until they got Roloson, the Oiler goaltending was abysmal or worse. They clearly outplayed many teams in the first half of the year only to get derailed by the Dream Team in net.

    MacT also got a lot out of Torres and Stoll that year when they haven't really come close to those numbers since then, although Stoll had a decent year this year. Peca hasn't scored more than 13 goals since 2003, so I'm not sure how he underachieved with 9 goals.

    Really, he took a team with a true star (Pronger), a 30 goal scorer (Smyth), a career backup (Roloson) and some overacheivers with, to this point, career years (Horcoff, Stoll, Torres, MAB, Pisani) to within one game of a Cup. I think that is called overachieving.

  • myteammytown

    Archaeologuy wrote:

    A good coach can make a weaker talent pool competitive.

    that may be the case in some instances, but the same could be said for a bad coach being propped up by a great team.

    a good coach with the right players can make a weaker talent pool competitive. A good coach with players who dont "fit" loses his job, weak talent pool or not

  • Big Dave Semenko

    How about instead of Mark Messier, Marc Habscheid? He has a lot of success in the junior ranks and has been an assistant in Boston. He was with the Oil during some Cup seasons so he has an insiders view of the tradition, but his stay was brief enough to not be considered one of the old boys club.

    As for Messier or Gretzky, this team needs them as players, not coaches. I'd hate to be the one who had to tell either of them that they were being fired for being ineffective as a coach of the organization that they helped build.

  • humantorch

    Dale wrote:

    @ Rick:
    You aren’t speaking for all fans. Your belief that they have to hire a coach that can be fired is ridiculous. Every team hires the coach they think will make them win. I don’t want a “Let’s hire this guy, because we can fire him easily”

    Every team except the Oilers when Lowe hired MacTavish based on a promise the two of them made to one another while they were still players, you mean?

  • abdullah teh butcher

    What if Messier makes as good a coach as Lowe has been a GM? What then?

    Then we have another OBC member who Katz is reluctant to get rid of.

    It is interesting to read about Phoenix. When you have the local hockey sports reporter talking about how nepotism ruined the franchise, Barnett, Gretzky, etc. do we want to wallow for another dozen or twenty years on the bottom rung?

    Lowe was a good defencemen. Greztky and Messier, great hockey players. That doesn't automatically make them great gms or coaches.

    Messier's head is big enough, he doesn't need it to be inflated anymore with these rumors.

  • bengood

    I'm going to guess it is Smid who you were referring to – based solely on his reported unhappiness with how he was being used this year and the fact that it has been discussed a couple of times that grebs was/is (?) close to signing an extension..