Veteran Coaches

The hiring of Wayne Fleming continues a trend that we’ve seen with Steve Tambellini: a preference for veterans in the coaching position.

The hiring of people like Pat Quinn and Tom Renney might seem like a no-brainer decision in retrospect, but the route Steve Tambellini has taken differs sharply from the route Kevin Lowe took as a rookie general manager. Let’s start by looking at the coaching staff Kevin Lowe assembled:

  • Head Coach: Craig MacTavish
  • Assistant Coaches: Charlie Huddy, Bill Moores

This group of three featured a pair of relative new-comers in MacTavish and Huddy, with Bill Moores being the sole veteran coach. Moores had spent two seasons as an assistant with the Rangers in the mid-90’s but he’d had a long career in coaching before that, coaching everything from the University of Alberta Golden Bears to the WHL to a team in Japan. Charlie Huddy also had a couple of seasons with the Rangers under his belt, and prior to that had spent a year coaching an ECHL team.

Craig MacTavish had the longest NHL run of the three, with three years as an assistant coach before being granted the top job. Combined, the group had seven years of NHL coaching experience, none of it in the top job.

Steve Tambellini has gone in precisely the opposite direction with his coaching staff:

  • Head Coach: Pat Quinn
  • Associate Coach: Tom Renney
  • Assistant Coaches: Kelly Buchberger, Wayne Fleming

Pat Quinn alone has 19 years of experience has an NHL head coach – and in those 19 years, his teams have missed the playoffs only twice. He’s been to the Stanley Cup Finals on two occasions, although he’s never won, and has twice been the NHL’s Coach of the Year. He has won Olympic gold though, as Canada’s head coach in Salt Lake City.

Tom Renney has been an NHL head coach for parts of seven seasons, prior to which he had a nice run with Hockey Canada. Before that, he coached a very good Kamloops Blazers team. Under his watch, the New York Rangers have made the playoffs each of the past four seasons. He’s worked with Team Canada at the World Championships on a number of occasions, and coached the team to a gold medal in 2004.

I wrote quite a bit about Wayne Fleming the other day; he’s coached extensively in Europe and more experience as an NHL assistant than all of Kevin Lowe’s initial hires put together. Like Renney and Quinn he’s worked a lot with Hockey Canada, and most notably served as Quinn’s associate coach on the 2002 team.

Kelly Buchberger’s the sole exception to both the extensive experience and Hockey Canada thread that ties the rest of the coach hirings together. His time with the Oilers has featured a fairly rapid strong of promotions – he started as an AHL assistant in 2004-05, became the Oilers’ development coach when they closed down their farm team for a couple of seasons, and came back as the AHL head coach in 2007-08. Rob Daum was unceremoniously dumped to make room for him on the Oilers’ staff in 2008-09, and he was the sole survivor of a purge that claimed the jobs of the head coach, his fellow assistants, the goalie coach and the video coach. I was initially cool to the idea of keeping Buchberger, but as I detailed at the end of June I think he may complement the new hirings nicely.

Combined, this group brings 36 years of NHL coaching experience to the table, and in Quinn and Renney the Oilers have added 26 years of head coaching experience. Whatever mistakes Steve Tambellini has made this off-season, I find it very difficult to criticize the men he’s brought in to run his team.

  • Hippy

    @ Mike from Hardware:
    @ Jamie:

    You're right my mistake, the Detroit game was the game before the Anaheim game. The Oilers beat Colorado 4-2 in their final game to move 3 points ahead of the idle Canucks.jeanshorts wrote:

    As a matter of matter, Vancouver’s last game was against Anaheim a couple nights later, and at that point they were still in contention. If they had won that game they would have made it. A loss put the Oilers in via some mathematical algorithm.
    I was at that Vancouver game.
    Not that I want to take any credit, but, you’re welcome City Of Edmonton.

    @ smiliegirl15:

    On April 13th 2006 Vancouver lost what would be their SECOND last game of the season, unless NHL.com is incorrect, 5-3 to the San Jose Sharks. The Canucks won 2 of their last 8 games finishing (including their last 4-3 over Colorado in overtime) the season 3 points back of the final playoff spot. You can say the playoff spot was theirs to lose but it was just as much Edmonton's to win. Again I say you get no points for style, just getting in is all that matters.

    Basically the same scenario as this past season all the Oilers had to do was win games down the stretch to make the playoffs and we all know how that went down.

    Sorry Jeanshorts no mathematical algorithm here.

  • Hippy

    @ BigE57:

    I could have sworn it came down to that Anaheim game. Maybe it was that loss that officially put Vancouver out. But I thought that was their last game of the season.
    It's been 3 hazy, beer fueled years since then though, so clearly my memory is a little bunged up.
    Either way it came down to the wire. I don't think any of us were completely sure the Oilers were going to make it until game one of the Detroit series.

    What was the original point of all this?

    *wanders off into the street, mumbling to himself about birds and lasers*

  • Hippy

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    DeepOil wrote:
    even if we wanted senior citizen Jagr, he would have to clear waivers
    Only if they signed him after the season started.

    Plus the Oil would have to give cash to KHL Omsk to relieve Jagr from contractual obligations, too many what if factors….

  • Hippy

    Is there any truth to a Comrie back to Edmonton rumor? I hope not, where not that desperate for a third line center when Betts and Malhotra are still out there.

  • Hippy

    @ jeanshorts:

    Yes, a lot of beer has been swilled since those magical 2 months where the folks of Edmonton once again believed the impossible.

    Anywho, I wasn't trying to rip on you I just remeber those days well as I spent enough money on tickets and beer and more beer never realizing that we were in some kind of time warp and when we came out the whole damn hockey club would go in the crapper for 2??? years.

  • Hippy

    Mike from Hardware wrote:

    JFJ had a breakaway but fell down. That’s when I came to think he would never score a goal in the NHL.

    Well, I'll bet you're eating your words because indeed Mr. Jacques got ONE goal last year. To be fair though, I think that goal went in off the chair he was pushing. Hahaha.

  • Hippy

    I'm not sure if anyone knows or posted this but I read in the sun that Smackintyre has really improved his skating to the point of unrecognisable. That could only be good for a few more games and watching the behemoth paste flameouts ensued by working another one over in a scrap. Damn I can't wait

  • Hippy

    While I don't believe for a second that Comrie is ever coming back, nor do I think he is a good fit for this roster, does anyone else think that in some way it might help our image around the league if we could kiss and make up? Comrie seems to be popular with other players (and wives- ZING) and it hasn't helped our cause recruiting ever since that gong show.~ Plus maybe we could sign him and trade him for Perry. That would be awesome.~

  • Hippy

    BigE57 wrote:

    On April 13th 2006 Vancouver lost what would be their SECOND last game of the season, unless NHL.com is incorrect, 5-3 to the San Jose Sharks. The Canucks won 2 of their last 8 games finishing (including their last 4-3 over Colorado in overtime) the season 3 points back of the final playoff spot. You can say the playoff spot was theirs to lose but it was just as much Edmonton’s to win. Again I say you get no points for style, just getting in is all that matters.

    Yeah, it was definitely the same night as the Anaheim game, Vancouver was playing San Jose. I know because I was at that Oilers-Ducks game, and people kept updating each other with the Vancouver score. There was still half a game left after the Oilers won and we went to a bar to watch the end of the Nucks game. I think it was a Thursday, before … Easter? Some long weekend anyway, because Whyte Ave was a gong show and I got properly liquored up. Pandemonium when San Jose won the game, guaranteeing the Oilers were in. I wonder if the Sharks regreted that a few weeks later … heheh.

    I was at the Colorado game too! Still drunk off our playoff spot, I bought a half-price single for row 2, right beside the zamboni entrance, and got to watch around the goal judge all game. I just remember some Av firing a slapshot that missed the net and blasted off the glass right in front of me. I couldn't help but duck like an idiot.

    Ah, 06. How fondly I remember you.

  • Hippy

    So rumour is Quinn will only be here on gamedays for the most part and fly home to Vancouver for off days during the regular season. Guess this leaves Tom Renney as the day to day fulltime coach of the Oil.
    LOL…Is this another example that even coaches prefer not to live fulltime in our city Mr. Willis?

  • Hippy

    Quicksilver ballet wrote:

    So rumour is Quinn will only be here on gamedays for the most part and fly home to Vancouver for off days during the regular season. Guess this leaves Tom Renney as the day to day fulltime coach of the Oil.
    LOL…Is this another example that even coaches prefer not to live fulltime in our city Mr. Willis?

    You actually believe that? Between road trips, 3 games in 4 nights, general public relations availability, oh and the fact Quinn is like pushing 70, that rumor doesn't even make sense and if it were true I'm not sure that Quinn would be employed here very long.

    It makes sense that Renney would be running practices but really a head coach who only shows up for game day? Gimme a break.

  • Hippy

    Mike from Hardware wrote:

    I was there! We snuck down to seats behind the net during the second period. Conks stopped one that he wasn’t looking at, and JFJ had a breakaway but fell down. That’s when I came to think he would never score a goal in the NHL.

    Mike from Hardware… from Home Depot?

  • Hippy

    @ Quicksilver ballet:
    Rumor has it that Ekland is looking for a reliable source for an inside track on the rumor mill. Sounds like you've got an EXCELLENT handle on things; you guys should totally get together and educate the rest of us!