Secrets at the top

topsecret

For crying out loud, Brownlee, get off your fat ass and tell us who the candidates are to be the next coach of the Edmonton Oilers. Give us something. Names. Times. Places. Anything, already.

I understand the sentiment because nothing drives me nuts like not being able to find out what I want to know. The only “news” I can offer is that the search for Craig MacTavish’s successor, and details about that search, is being conducted strictly at the top. Even middle management isn’t in on proceedings. I know, stop the presses. Thanks for nothing, Mr. Inside Guy.

I’m told the process is being handled strictly by president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe and GM Steve Tambellini. Obviously, owner Daryl Katz is being kept abreast of developments, but beyond those three, nobody’s getting a sniff, including assistant GMs Kevin Prendergast and Rick Olczyk. The loop is Lowe, Tambellini and Katz.

Short of borrowing Wanye’s van and staking out Lowe’s place or rummaging through Tambellini’s garbage — old school investigative journalism techniques when bribes, blackmail and subtle cajoling doesn’t work — I’m not sure what or who to lean on next. It’s a case of limit the loop and stop any leaks.

If there’s been one significant shred of news — not speculation — in the past two weeks, I’ve missed it.

The name game

My understanding is Tambellini interviewed one candidate Monday before heading to pro scouting meetings in Banff Tuesday. My guess is it was San Jose assistant Todd Richards, but a guess is all it is because nobody outside the trio at the top even knows.

If it was Richards, he joins Marc Crawford, Tom Renney and Pat Quinn as people who’ve been interviewed. Rob Daum has also talked with Tambellini, but not specifically about the job opening.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie started sniffing around when a rumour that Crawford had been offered the job began circulating this week, but outside of finding out that’s not the case, even McKenzie came away with little else — at least that he’s willing to let us in on.

At this point, we don’t even have a firm list of candidates. Will Tambellini interview eight candidates, nine, 10? Then, who gets shortlisted? Will Tambellini have someone in place before the draft? I think so, but I don’t know so.

Big fat nothing

So locked down is the process that Joanne Ireland of The Journal and Derek Van Diest of The Sun took in an autograph session before the Capitals home-opener at Telus Field Thursday to squeeze Kyle Brodziak, Steve MacIntyre, Steve Staios and Zack Stortini, who were attending on behalf of the Oilers. They got nothing.

“I couldn’t even guess,” Brodziak said. “No one has heard anything.”

The only item of note comes from The Journal’s Jim Matheson, who says Richards might be out of the running because of the hire of Chuck Fletcher as the GM in Minnesota.

Matty writes: “With Chuck Fletcher, the Pittsburgh Penguins assistant general manager, reportedly getting the job as Minnesota Wild GM, Richards could be joining him.

“Richards, an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks, has been interviewed for the vacant Oilers’ bench boss post. He is closely associated with Fletcher.

“Fletcher, son of long time NHL executive Cliff Fletcher, hired Richards to coach the Penguins Wilkes-Barre American Hockey League farm team where he was hugely successful for a couple of seasons.”

I’m trying to track down Boston assistant coach Geoff Ward to see if or when he’ll get an interview, but no luck yet. Likewise, I’m trying to find out the status of Charlie Huddy, Bill Moores and Kelly Buchberger — specifically if any of them have been told they’re free to pursue employment elsewhere — but I haven’t heard one word back.

On the air

Rod Phillips tells me he hasn’t decided whether he’ll be back for his 37th season as the radio voice of the Oilers or if he’ll retire and hand the play-by-play duties over to Bob Stauffer.

I got a hold of The Skipper this week as he was hacking a golf ball all over the joint at Trickle Creek near Kimberley in B.C. as part of a road trip with Matheson and he says he won’t make a call until he sits down and talks to management next week.

Like Tambellini, Phillips isn’t giving anything up right now. He won’t even say which way he’s leaning. My guess is he’ll be back for one more season.

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

  • kingsblade

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    kingsblade wrote:

    Why do you think that? Integrity? What does integrity have to do with it? There are plenty of outstanding organizations in professional sports who do not feel the need to keep discussion between three people on a coaching decision.
    I’m curious which teams do you know that hire their coach by more than a committee of three?

    It isn't that more people are involved in making the decision, but it is pretty common to solicit opinions both from outside and within wouldn't you say? Information can usually be had because usually the people making the hire aren't arrogant enough to believe they and they alone know enough about all candidates to make a decision. It is the apparent lock down on any information even within the organization that I find unusual, not that the decision is being made by three people, which I might even consider too many.

    I'm not even trying to say that it's wrong to be so secretive, I just want someone to tell me what they have to gain from it.

    It kind of feels like it's an NHL thing. NHL organizations seen to be way more concerned with keeping things quiet than NBA or NFL teams.

  • Homie

    kingsblade wrote:

    There are plenty of outstanding organizations in professional sports who do not feel the need to keep discussion between three people on a coaching decision.

    Such as? I know the Leafs like to have the world know what they are doing, but I hope you don't qualify them as an outstanding organization except in the area of making money. Who else?

  • kingsblade

    Homie wrote:

    kingsblade wrote:

    There are plenty of outstanding organizations in professional sports who do not feel the need to keep discussion between three people on a coaching decision.

    Such as? I know the Leafs like to have the world know what they are doing, but I hope you don’t qualify them as an outstanding organization except in the area of making money. Who else?

    What part of the statement of mine you quoted states anything about wanting the world to know anything? I mentioned conversations involving more than three people, not announcing your thought process.

    You can;t just read what someone says and then decide they mean something else that you'd rather argue against.

    Everyone responding to me on this thread has somehow decided that my question about the unusual secrecy means that I believe they should be making public announcements about the search. It's a bit of a leap don't you think?

    My question was pretty clear yet the only answers I get are people asking why I think the Oilers should make it public. Who said anything about making it public?

  • Travis Dakin

    kingsblade wrote:

    I’m not even trying to say that it’s wrong to be so secretive, I just want someone to tell me what they have to gain from it.

    Probably avoiding loose lips in the organization. Seems logical? There are a few teams looking for Coaches now. I would think it's like any business with competition.

  • kingsblade

    Travis Dakin wrote:

    kingsblade wrote:

    I’m not even trying to say that it’s wrong to be so secretive, I just want someone to tell me what they have to gain from it.
    Probably avoiding loose lips in the organization. Seems logical? There are a few teams looking for Coaches now. I would think it’s like any business with competition.

    I'm sure you're right, that this is their reasoning. I just cannot see how they benefit. I'm also not sure that competition plays into it. As was mentioned earlier, it's about fit mostly, so direct competition is a minimal factor.

  • alex t

    @ GSC:Personally nothing against Rod Phillips, I think hes been faboulous over his tenure, but I thought Bob stauffer did a fabulous job when Rod was ill. He,ll be a fine replacement because he puts energy into his play by play.

  • Robin Brownlee

    alex t wrote:

    @ GSC:Personally nothing against Rod Phillips, I think hes been faboulous over his tenure, but I thought Bob stauffer did a fabulous job when Rod was ill. He,ll be a fine replacement because he puts energy into his play by play.

    For me, it's a toss-up. I enjoy Rod's call of the game because unlike a lot of broadcasters today he doesn't feel the need to yell all the time — louder is better appears to be the style now — and I also like how he and Stauffer work off each other as a tandem.
    That said, I think Bob does terrific play-by-play and will only get better when it's his gig and he can make the broadcast his own.

    Rod has earned the right to call it quits when he sees fit. I'd like to hear one more season of Rod and then see Bob take over, but if Rod decides he's had enough, then that's fine, too, and it'll be a helluva blowout to celebrate a great career.

  • Robin Brownlee

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    kingsblade wrote:
    Why do you think that? Integrity? What does integrity have to do with it? There are plenty of outstanding organizations in professional sports who do not feel the need to keep discussion between three people on a coaching decision.
    I’m curious which teams do you know that hire their coach by more than a committee of three?

    That's fair enough, but while the hiring/interview process is usually handled by the GM and a trusted confident or two, there's usually at least discussion with other members of the front office — chat and names thrown around, if nothing else, between people in the organization who have a vested interest in who the new coach might be. There's zippo right now with this process.

    I know Matty mentioned Kevin Dineen in his piece today, but that's a case of him looking at a candidate who makes sense, bouncing the name off somebody in Buffalo and using the quote.
    The Don Jackson mention also rings of being a Matty trial balloon. He's a longshot but worth a mention — he's tougher on mascots than MacT, so that would be entertaining.

    As for Matty's mention of one of the assistants staying on, I've been told Buchberger will survive any purge and I've written it more than once in the past month. That could be as an organizational coach or a pro scout. When Matty says "take it to the bank" he knows, but it's not new. He's only confirming what I've said.

    While the above points have been characterized by Willis as the clearest picture of the coaching derby offered by anybody so far, I didn't read anything substantially new.

    I could take the name of Coach X, phone somebody with another team, ask "How would this guy be as coach of the Oilers?" Then, I could run the quote. That doesn't make Coach X a leading candidate.

  • yo

    Robin – Do you see any real benefit for the Oil to bring in Jagr or anyone who is Jagr-esque even? Based on Vancouver and Calgary's moves to bring in guys like Sundin and Jokinen/Burtuzzi and not seen the kind of consistent play from these guys they no doubt hoped for, why does anyone who matters think this will work for the Oil?

  • kingsblade

    yo wrote:

    That’s fair enough, but while the hiring/interview process is usually handled by the GM and a trusted confident or two, there’s usually at least discussion with other members of the front office — chat and names thrown around, if nothing else, between people in the organization who have a vested interest in who the new coach might be. There’s zippo right now with this process.

    Exactly.