Summer of Steve: The Quinn Question

The Summer of Steve is now its second month and before we reach September, one of Tambellini’s biggest decisions will be figuring out the future of Pat Quinn.

Quinn was Tambellini’s hire. They worked together in Vancouver and Tambellini wanted a guy who could motivate, was a winner and would play an uptempo style. Quinn fit the bill, but only one year into a three-year deal, I don’t know if Quinn is the answer moving forward.

When you finish 30th you have to look at every element, and while Quinn was a great quote and always accessible, none of his players had a breakout year under his guidance, outside of Ryan Potulny. But even he faded horribly down the stretch.

I’ve been around the game long enough to know that when the team is losing, it’s natural to point fingers at others, so when some players quietly questioned the lack of defined roles, or disagreed with the system or grew tired of Quinn’s yelling I chalked it up to a losing atmosphere.

However, a month removed from the season those concerns are still lingering.

There is a clear disconnect between Quinn and his players. They didn’t like his system, or lack thereof, and how he delivered the message, and he didn’t think they were enough guys committed to playing his style.

The more people I talk to, and the more keyholes I listen at, it seems more likely that Quinn won’t be behind the bench next season. The big question is how will Tambellini go about this?

Will they give Quinn another role within the organization?

Will they let him step back and assume another role within the team?

Will Tambellini fire him?

Those are the options, because I can’t see Quinn retiring and walking away from the final two years of his deal, which is around $2 million.

The Summer of Steve is just starting to get interesting, and as we near June his decisions will only get bigger: Quinn, the draft, potential buyouts and possible free agents.

Court Date

Nikolai Khabibulin’s case is scheduled for a Trial Readiness Conference at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. This is essentially the last time the prosecuting attorney and the defendant/defense attorney talk to discuss a plea or set the case for a jury trial. A criminal case can have up to five appearances (arraignment, pre-trial conference, trial readiness conference, trial, sentencing) and each of these proceedings.

Who knows what Khabibulin will do, but if he pleads not guilty then that would mean a summer trial. And it is deathly hot in August in Phoenix, and many times the DUI cases go to tent city which is outside in 120F heat. Considering Khabibulin and his dehydration problems, that could make an uncomfortable afternoon.

Eberle experience

Ryan Smyth injured his ankle and is done for the remainder of the World Championships. Canada can’t add another player until after Wednesday’s game v. Switzerland and then they can add up to two players, and one of them has to be Jordan Eberle.

I haven’t watched a second of the action so far, mostly because watching Canada pound Latvia and company does nothing for me. But after Wednesday the games get better, and if Eberle suits up the games become much more interesting from an Oiler perspective.

I hope Eberle gets into a few games, just to see how he adapts to the speed and pace of the game. I won’t put too much into how he plays though, unless he gets put in offensive situations and gets some PP time. If he is going to play in Edmonton next season it will be as a top-six forward, so he’ll need to play those types of minutes and in those situations in order to flourish.

  • My understanding is that Eberle has to sit until the second round. When that starts, I look forward to seeing what he can do! Too bad for Smytty… always was, and always will be one of my favourite players. Not the most skilled, but if they granted admittance to the hall of fame based on garbage goals, he and Holmstrom would be at the front of the line.

    I greatly appreciated Quinn’s candidness in his post-game press conferences. He’s honest to a fault and seemed (at least to me) to be fair in his criticism, unlike MacT. After watching the Flames go through multiple coaches with no change on the ice, I’m skeptical of removing Quinn at this stage of the game. I simply don’t believe he’s the main problem on the team.

    Mind you, neither were Barrie, Sparky and Ken, but if you’re going to do random firings, I wouldn’t start with Quinn. My first targets would be buyouts of POS and Row-bert.

  • I dunno. To my mind Quinn was artfully stuck with a boatload of players who should never have seen the light of day in an NHL rink. On top of which he had no NHL goalie for most of the season. Luongo in the Olympics and Halak recently are testament to how important that position is.

    Tom Gilbert re-tooled his game for the better, Penner had what could be called a breakout season and Sam progressed under less than ideal conditions. This on a team built to finish 30th. I’d say Quinn did OK, all things considered.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more on your first point. How many players in the Oilers’ lineup at the end of the season were questionable NHL/borderline AHL players? Here’s what I see on the boxscore of our last game (against Anaheim):

      D – Arsene, Chorney, Johnson (maybe).

      I’d be happy if I never saw Arsene or Chorney on the big club again. Chorney in particular was god awful. I don’t consider Johnson to be a solid regular NHLer, given that he’s on his third team at a young age.

      F – Linglet, Moreau/Pisani/O’Sullivan, Potulny, Pouliot.

      The Oilers attempted to trade Moreau and Pisani at the deadline and nobody wanted them. That to me represents “borderline NHL players”. As for Potulny/Pouliot, I don’t think they’d make the NHL roster on a deep franchise like Pittsburgh, and O’Sullivan… bleh. Yuck.

      G – Dubnyk, Deslauriers. Both could easily be in the minors in a deep franchise.

      Ladies and gentlemen, YOURRRR EDMONNNTON OILERSSS! More than half of whose roster is made up of AHLers and NHLers clinging to the shattered remnants of their careers!

      Scotty Bowman himself couldn’t rescue that group.

    • Jason Gregor

      Penner scored 29 goals before, so I don’t know if I’d call this year a break out year. More a progression of maturing as a player. Proved that if he dedicates himself he can be a force.

      Quinn had nothing to do with Gilbert. Renney coaches all the defence.

      Not saying it was his fault, just saying that he and the players didn’t jive.

  • I sure hope to see Eberle suit up for Team Canada after the prelims. I can’t help but think that just a few minutes of ice time would be good for his motivation going into training camp.

    Now, can we please get this discussion back to what really matters: Who’s the better choice, Hall or Seguin?

    *sits back and waits for fireworks*

  • Oh, and P.S. Summer School was totally my favorite movie as a young lad growing up. Probably because it was in a pile of VHS recorded movies that I got from my cousin one summer. He recorded days of stuff from one of those giant satellite dishes and we had peasant vision and nothing else to watch. Life saver.

    That Courtney Thorne-Smith really got my adolescent motor running. Her and F4-24, which I think was the Playboy channel on those big ugly dishes.

    /end memories

  • Humble be damned…
    Gregor, compared to every year following the rookie season, Penner definitely had a break out year (took on a leadership role while many times being the best player on the team, which is something he had never done.. Quinn seemed to look to Penner to be that player imo)

  • Which prospect between Hall and Seguin plays with more of a chip on his shoulder? I would say Seguin based on what he did after being cut from world juniors.

    Also, have any scouts mention if they had seen Seguin paired with Eberle for any length of time during tryouts?

    • I’d say that Hall plays with more of a chip on his shoulder. The guy could win consecutive Memorial Cup MVPs and it wouldn’t be enough to make him the clear-cut favourite (and I do believe he has a strong competitive desire to go #1 in June).

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I gave you a reasonable answer to why I think Seguin plays to prove others wrong.

        When you make the blanket statements and forget about the subject, we’ll end up on some other tangent.

        I did not ask you whose better, lord knows that debate will never end. I asked about who you think plays with more of a chip on their shoulder and why you think so.

        Remember, this ain’t a whose better question…

  • Considering Quinn was hired to whip the supposedly slacker players with entitlement issues into shape(as blatantly stated in the season opening video), it’s not at all suprising if Quinn got off on the wrong foot with the roster from day one. The fact that this team isn’t built to play Quinn hockey anymore than it was to play Mact hockey only made things worse, and unsuprisingly resulted in the coach publicly calling the entire team stupid by mid season which undoubtbly didn’t help in the slightest(at least he didn’t single players out though).

    Quinn isn’t the problem though. Overrated and declining vets, an injury prone roster and maybe the worst balance of any team in the league are far worse issues than the coach. If the team continues to overpay average players, fixate on offensive defensemen who can’t play defense, and litter the roster with tiny players who get pushed around, then they could hire Scotty Bowman and still finish bottom 5.

  • Poo Czar

    I’d say Brule had a pretty solid comeback year (despite injury/illness), not sure how much of that can be attributed to Quinn.

    Hell, I just like the look of that giant, cranky old Irishman in them snazzy 3-pice suits back there attacking his gum and fuming at the incompetence laid before him. One of the more entertaining aspects of last season, really.

  • So Gregor, if Montreal beats Pittsburgh in game 7 are you still going to beat the drum saying that Crosby is better than Ovechkin? If Pitt loses too then maybe this Montreal team is better than advertised.

    Crosby has been pretty silent this series (which definitely wasn’t the case with Ovechkin in round 1)

      • BigE91

        Except that Ovechkin has still never won anything but individual accolades. IMO these pale in comparison to Crosby’s World Junior Gold, Olympic Gold and Stanley Cup ring.

        • This was the whole point of the discussion previously. Those are TEAM accomplishments. Just because you are part of a better TEAM doesn’t mean that you are a better individual player. Crosby vs. Ovechkin is a tough call to make with good arguments on either side. The whole thing started because Gregor said Crosby was “better” because his teams accomlished more. I took exception to that as a measure of individual talents as a player.

          Greorr then pointed out Washington’s collapse as another point in favour of Crosby because Ovechkin (who arguably had a much better team this year except in net) didn’t make it past the first round.

          If Crosby’s team follows the same fate much of the persuasiveness of that argument falls by the wayside. Even more so because Ovechkin had a very strong campaign against the Habs IMO and Crosby hasn’t done much this round.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          Their still too young to label one a winner and the other a loser, it was looking like this playoffs would have been another nail in that coffin though, but now with the Habs performance against the Pens, you might have to call this years playoffs a wash.

    • Chris.

      Crosby had two points in game 6… Oveckin’s production decreased as the series wore on. Don’t forget 4 or 5 of Ovechkin’s 9 points came against Carey Price. Do you think Price will start game 7?

      • Seriously? Up until now it has been a coin flip as to whether you’d be seeing Price or Halak in net. Now that Halak has stood on his head it is obvious who the starter is but it wasn’t always so.

        Look beyond points (where Ovechkin has the edge anyway). Look at shots, CORSI, offensive zone time on ice. Anyone who says Ovechkin played poorly in the first round wasn’t watching it.

        I’m not saying Crosby has played “poorly” mind you but I don’t think he’s done as well against the Habs as Ovie did.

        My only point was that I think that Montreal playing so well against Pitt generally and Crosby (and Malkin) specifically takes a bit of the wind out of the sails of the argument that Crosby is better because Washinton was bounced.

  • Poo Czar

    How does Tambellini go about moving Quinn out?

    Seems to me there is an open Assistant GM position.

    As for the rumblings that the players didn’t like the system/lack of system and how his message was being delivered, doesn’t this start to reflect the players more than the coach?

    They felt they needed a new coach last year as well, they got one. Now they aren’t happy with this one.

    At some point the players need to start realizing “it isn’t you, it’s me”.

    That said, I don’t think Quinn is a particularily good coach anyways so I won’t shed a tear if he moves up the ladder. It’s just a shame that this team has become the gong show it is.

    • Zamboni Driver

      The amazing part to me is the collection of never will-bes on this team would have the audacity to question ANYONE. They are lucky they’re not playing for Reg Dunlop in the bus leagues (and most of them should be…”Ladies and Gentlemen, your Las Vegas Icedogs!”

      As for Quinn, the reason I don’t think he’ll be back…other than $2 mil (good lord!), why would he want to? He looked disinterested and frustrated beyond belief. Why invest so much of your time, at his age for a team that is, AT BEST, three years away from anything….at which point he’ll be, what, 70?

      I think they’ll find a way to keep paying him $2 mil (did I say ‘good lord’ already?!), and give Renney the reins.

  • Poo Czar

    Kirstie Alley was smokin’ 80’s hot in Summer School. 1987, eh? Seems Kirstie Alley then and now is a decent comparable to our beloved Edmonton Oilers…

  • Poo Czar

    Pat Quinn is old and hasn’t changed with the times. He needs to be moved. The only time he has had any success in th NHL is when he has had a team of vets, not kids, that need to be taught the game. The worse thing for all these young players is an old timer like Quinn. Look at the up and coming teams they have young coaches that can relate to the players. And PLEASE don’t put Quinn into management, he trade all these young stars to Toronto for washed up has beens.

  • Dan the Man

    Quinn has made some strange decisions this year but unless he has given an indication that he wants a change I think you let him see what he can do with a healthy line up.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Keep Quinn….. not much will be expected from this bunch. We need Pat to provide the entertainment during the post gamers after another less than stellar on ice performance. Doesn’t make sense to fire Quinn and then have to spend more on a team that has little chance of success this coming season. We’re in for another season of watching the radical removal of a few more bodies.

    We need someone to distract the opposition from hammering away on the younger/smaller guys on this team…..a guy like Steve Downie or Daniel Carcillo to stir the pot, maybe even get suspended a few times.

  • Pajamah

    Honestly, if it were just Gregor, “Rubin”, and bingofuel commenting here, it would be enough

    the rest of you are just the delicious icing on an already delicious cake

    except, I’m not sure I’d want to lick any of you

  • Pajamah

    Well, this is now Gregor and Brownlee reporting on Quinn being on the outs…I see a pattern here…leads me to believe with my astute powers of observation that Quinn will not be coach. Of all the changes I expected, this was not one, but “expect the unexpected” (copyright Kevin Lowe 2006).
    Now, Gregor, a couple of questions I have for you my good man:
    1. How was it you came up with the nickname “The Human Rake” for Prongs?
    2. How did Robin become Rubin?
    Sorry if I missed the boat on those, just have always wondered.

    • Jason Gregor

      The Human Rake….Tall and slender and like a rake he seems to get all the pucks around him, and of course the gap in his teeth is similar to a rake.

      In his 15th season or so covering the Oilers, Brownlee gets to Toronto. When the reporters walk in they pick up their pass at the “media” entrance. Most teams know the reporters and the pass is waiting. Brownlee’s pass read Rueben Bronte, not even close to his real name.

  • Jason Gregor

    So, let me get this straight, Lupul becomes Pitkanen (whom we could use right about now) becomes Cole becomes O’Sully becomes “leading buyout candidate”. That friends, is what I call devaluation of an asset. Thanks K-Lowe/Tambo. Now, I’m sure they’ve won some deals too.

  • Pajamah

    I remember in minor hockey there was a coach that used to to run his practices by simply yelling “SKATE!!!!” while he watched his players circle the ice until they puked. I remember thinking I was so happy that guy wasn’t my Coach. Quinn kinda reminds me of that guy.

  • Pajamah

    Jason, is there a timeline in which we can expect to hear more on Quinn’s future? I know Tambo said after the season was over that he would talk to Quinn in a month or so. Does that mean any day now the news should be coming out?

  • Jason Gregor

    The disconnect you speak of last season was the players fault. Leadership was given. Orders were given to the players. A system was in place. The onus is on the players to implement the plan given to them. In football the play is drawn up and the players execute the play. In hockey the system is drawn up and its up to the players to plat within that system. The system is designed to use the strengths and weakness of all its players. In hockey like as in football if there are players who decide to do thier own thing then the system and or the play fails. The Oilers had several players who failed to play within the system that Quinn and his staff designed. The result. We pick nuber 1. Its the players fault. Penner is proof of that. MacT kept saying it and he was right. Penner could play better. Well did we think it was MacT’s fault that Penner was fat and lazy. He showed us this year how motivated he can be. His performance justs goes to show us who we should be holding accountable. Play the system. Work hard and the result will usually favor you. We live and we learn. I don’t blame my boss if I am fat and lazy and don’t do my work. Its my responsibility to go to work and do my job. I get paid. I gaurantee you its for a hell of alot less money than Patty O’ Sullivan, Sheldon Souray and Bulin. Just to name three. Quinn should have nothing to fear. The players on ther hand should.