Tom Renney In A Box (Part 2)

In our final look at Tom Renney and his coaching tendencies while with the Rangers, we’ll examine how he handled the defense, the goaltending and rode his stars on the powerplay.

  1. How did he handle the blue in NYC? In his first full season with the Rangers, he relied on everyone pretty much equally at EVs and PK. Six men were between 2:49/game and 3:36/game when the NYR were a man short that season. He did rely on Rozsival, Tyutin and Poti on the PP. Each of the following seasons was very similar, although he was relying on Rozsival (and later Staal) more than the others. This isn’t Cito Gaston straight up but it’s pretty straight up. 
  2. How does that apply to the Oilers blueline? For the purposes of this conversation, we’re going to assume Sheldon Souray isn’t on the team in ’10-’11. I suspect he’ll rely on Tom Gilbert (Gibby had a great run after the trade deadline, going 2-10-12 in his final 7 games), Kurtis Foster (3:50 a game on the Bolts PP–easily the top PP option) and Ryan Whitney on the powerplay. They would represent the Rozsival, Tyutin, Poti trio above. 
  3. What about the PK? Whitney and Gilbert played a lot shorthanded last season, but I think Smid should be able to increase his minutes (only 1:51 a game last year). Add the other new hire (Vandermeer) and Strudwick`s return (2:33 a game last season shorthanded) and they should be able to reduce shorthanded minutes from the top pairing.
  4. Who is the key to the Oilers D in 09-10? Smid. He had a nice season playing softer opposition with Lubo, and will play tougher opponents this year. I’m encouraged by his possible partners (Foster, Vandermeer); Smid’s season with Staios (that was the "rip it around the boards season") didn’t use his speed or puck handling ability in any way. Renney will like his toughness and if he can stay healthy (buddy gets hit a lot) while establishing himself as a top 4 defenseman the Oilers will have an exceptional value contract.
  5. What about the goaltending? Renney was appointed head coach with 20 games left in the 2003-04 season. The team’s goaltending featured Mike Dunham (57gp, .896SP and this was his final season in a starting role); Jussi Markkanen (.913SP in 26GP before being dealt to the Oilers); veteran Jamie McLennan along with prospects Steve Valiquette and Jason LaBarbera. When the lockout ended, the Rangers had Kevin Weekes in the starting role and Henrik Lundqvist (an outstanding goalie in Sweden, his SEL SP’s had been eye-popping for three seasons by now) as the backup. An early season injury to Weekes meant the rookie ran with the job for awhile. Lundqvist at the time: "You always want to be the No. 1 goalie, but there’s so many games. I’m happy as long as we win. We’ve got a good start here, and so far we’re on the right track. Hopefully we can keep it up, and then we’ll see who’s playing better. I will work hard for it, though." 
  6. So we should look to Sweden? Well maybe. My point is we shouldn’t be surprised if the Oilers rip through goaltenders in the next two seasons. The Oilers should have no loyalty to any of the three goalies currently in the mix beyond giving them some starts in hopes they (the kids) play well enough to win the job outright. There’s no reason to believe the Oilers have the next Ranford or Joseph on the roster currently, and until one of the kids grabs the starting job the Oilers should be looking to upgrade. Sweden, Finland, Russia, NCAA, look under every rock.
  7. What about his powerplays? He ran his best players ragged. In 2005-06, Jagr was in the top 10 in the entire league in powerplay minutes per game, with Nylander and Straka also in the top 50. Renney’s button-down defensive style at EV strength meant special teams had elevated importance.
  8. How good were his powerplays? The season he took over the club finished 25th overall in PP %. In 05-06, the Rangers PP was 9th in percentage; the following season the club was 8th and in 07-08 it slipped to 22nd overall. In the season he was fired, the Rangers finished 29th overall in powerplay percentage.
  9. What the hell happened? Good players (in their prime) slipped away and were replaced by lesser players. From the Jagr-Straka-Nylander-Rucinsky era of the middle part of the decade until the 08-09 season (Gomez, Drury, Markus Naslund, Nik Zherdev) there was a downturn in roster quality.
  10. Well then we’re screwed! Not so. Even in a season where the Oilers were craptastic, the PP was just a little below average (18th overall). This team has offensive talent.
  11. Like who? Ales Hemsky. He finished in a tie for 17th among forwards in total PP points in 08-09. Sam Gagner had a wonderful year (5.74 points-per-60 5×4 in 09-10).
  12. So Renney will make the PP better? He should be able to help (MacT’s powerplays were awful) and there is a bunch of talent joining Hemsky (Gagner, Hall, MPS, Eberle, Gilbert, Foster).

In a very real way we’re returning to a more button down, hands-on style which will remind us of Craig MacTavish. I think Renney’s problem solving is superior and that the Oilers have much better talent coming through the system now. Its going to be an interesting winter.

  • The goaltending is certainly an issue.

    I don’t believe Khabi can be healthy as a #1.
    His highly questionable beginning to a highly questionable four year deal is an issue that is not going to go away (without a buyout).

    Currently, I can’t see a positive result in net this season save for DD possibly hitting his stride early and often and becoming our #1 (the right age for the rebuild).

    It’s been a long wait… and I actually think he can do it with a helpful, stabilizing veteran back-up.

    I’d like to see them walk away from JDD (or a 2-way deal in OKC?) and sign a veteran back-up the minute the Khabi situation resolves itself (whether by injury or the legal system).


  • Lowetide

    Nate: YES! I had Holmes in my roto league in Colorado’s first season. I remember watching him trying to close a game early in the season. The batter hit the ball so hard it passed the left fielder TWICE!

    He blew the save but got the W when someone tried to stretch a triple into a HR.

    God I hated him.

  • LT,

    Everyone knows the air is thinner in left field at Coors..

    Blake St. was great after a few pops..

    Denver’s a fantastic sports city for anyone looking to xcape for a boys weekend.

  • book¡e

    Hi LT – its like visiting someone in a new house. Everything is great (but secretly I hate the wallpaper).

    Nice comparison regarding MacT and Tom Renney. I would be ok with a slightly smarter version of MacT with a better power play. I hope it works out that way.

  • The thing I remember most about the Renney coached Rangers was how he used Jagr. I remember him jumping over the boards every time the puck was heading the other way. He didn’t line shift him so much as got him out there at every offensive opportunity. I think this is why Jagr likes him so much. He got all the attacking minutes and had someone else take the D zone draws.

  • Lowetide

    LT – I’m looking at his most used minutes and I remember the team having a pretty solid dgame. With this post are we saying he got more out of his dmen or more out of his forwards? Who ran the D on the bench?

  • db7db7db7

    Am I the only only one who wants to see the kids play together. Here what I want to see.Yes you might notice that I have Cogs listed as a winger. I think with his speed he could catch a nice break-out pass and blow by the D. Penner,Gagner,Hemsky Hall,Eberle,MPS Cogs,Horcoff,Brule Petiot,Fraser,Stortini/BigMac

    Gilbert,Whitney Souray/(replacement),Foster Smid,Vandermeer


    What do you think?

    • Original West Coast Oil

      I am quite surprised they didn’t resign Minard. If they are spending $500k on Giroux why not $300 on Minard as he is a pretty effective minor leaguer.
      I am also thinking that once one of the kids gets called up old JF Jacque will be sent down to the A as he is quality down there, just not in the bigs.

        • Original West Coast Oil

          true but which Oiler didn’t? I’m simply thinking out loud that if they want a winner in OKC they would sign several veteran top 6’ers.. Unless of course they figure Eberle, MPS and Omark will take those spots..

  • Original West Coast Oil

    From what I remember Tambellini stated the kids will start in the AHL and have a chance to learn properly, Hall of course being the exception.
    I would prefer to see Renney build a team with the group of (actual) players that Tamby has brought in and once they have the systems in place start bringing the kids in slowly 1 at a time.
    This way when they come up the coaching staff will know exactly how they want to use them and should work more effectively.

  • Rogue

    I think it would be a mistake to let Comrie go. He is a vet and does not play soft. He is not big but does not back down. If he was healthy last year he would of been number 2 in goals onthis team. 3rd line minutes and PP for Coms. And keep Cogs unless it is a stunner deal. Give him a shot under new coach. He may not fit, but why give up on him until later in season. Doubt if we make playoffs anyways.

  • m3sh

    Laraque back? Man that wouldn’t make much sense. Oilers have MacIntyre now, plus Stortini and Jacques, Strudwick etc.

    Jacques has some injury concerns but I still don’t see BG being a fit on this team.

  • Tracie

    Hey Lowetide!

    Awesome that you are writing on here now! I can’t get to your website b/c work blocks every blog site except Oilers nation so being able to read some of your masterpeices on here is awesome! thanks for coming aboard!

    I’m also interested in seeing what happens with Comrie, i would like to have him back as well! Also, have you heard anything about Rob Neidermayer? I here he’s interested in coming to the Oilers but the Oilers haven’t sent him an offer…why wouldn’t he be a perfect fit for our 3rd line center, veteran presence, PK player?? Any thoughts?

  • Dan the Man

    From Larry Brooks via David Staples:

    Veteran hockey writer Larry Brooks says Oilers offered $7 million over four years for Boogaard. Here’s the report from Brooks: “Boogaard’s four-year, $6.6 million contract seems wildly excessive and will challenge coach John Tortorella’s familiar assertion that paychecks don’t influence lineup decisions. It is a fact, however, that Edmonton actually offered Boogaard — who is going to Russia this summer to train with Pavel Datsyuk –$7 million over four years.

    • I wouldn’t say that Larry Brooks has a terrific track record with reliability. Take this with a grain of salt as I’m sure he has an agenda behind the scenes or an axe to grind.

      This report is contrary to what Rishaug had already reported and to Tambo’s other actions this free agent season, so I don’t see any reason to believe it’s true.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        The actual # isn’t that important, it’s the fact that they were even in the running for his services at that point that should put an end to the praise for fiscal responsibility.

        • If that’s true that he was still in the running at the point then I agree, but TSN reported Tambo got out when the numbers started to get ridiculous…whatever that means.

          At any rate, I’m glad the Oilers didn’t get him, and I’m glad he’s outside the western conference. That’s 2 big bonuses for this club.