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.

  • Archaeologuy

    As great a player and motivator as Mess was as a player I would NOT want him as the head coach of the Oil. The team has had 10 years of recent players turned coaches with almost no experience. I'm really hoping for a career coach that has been successful AND battled through adversity. I want a coach who has put his time in at the lower levels and excelled, someone who has proven he has the drive and the know-how to get it done. I DO NOT want the keys to the Lamborghini handed to the kid who just got his licence.

    My biggest fear is that if Mess or Gretzky was hired there would be no way of getting rid of them. I mean we just suffered through 8 years of the 3rd line Centre from the 80's, does that translate into 16 years for the 2nd line guy and 24 years for the 1st line guy?

  • Dale

    @ 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"

    That is a loser mentality.

    Also Gretzky has coached for a few years, and the Coyotes have shown some improvement. They haven't had much talent for years. As for Messier, at least he make the team play with emotion, and I'm guessing he must know a bit about coaching. I'm not saying they would automatically be winners, but when it comes to those two I wouldn't suggest they'd be automatic losers.

    The fact is, it really doesn't matter what the fans think. Tambellini will hire who HE thinks is the best man, not who he thinks the fans will like.

    Gregor, do you seriously think Brodziak can bring an edge to his game? If so, why?

  • Rick

    I think you underestimate the fan reaction even for Messier or Gretzky.

    The sense I get is that the fans want the Oilers to move on in a more clinical manner. Getting the best people based on qualifications and what they can bring to the team. Hiring either of those guys doesn't do that.

    The biggest complaint, maybe not initially but eventually, would be that a hiring of Messier or Gretzky would be hiring a coach that can't be fired. We already saw that play out with a guy that held a lesser role on the Oilers during the glory years, it would only be worse with either of the two greatest Oilers behind the bench.

    They need to hire a guy, that if he proves to be the wrong one for the job, they can cut him lose and move forward without any emotional investment.