Sometimes when people sit down to create music, everything clicks. Sometimes it does not. Oiler fans are on the home stretch of another viewing of Groundhog Day. Who should they blame? The management? The coach? The players?
FIRE THE COACH!
- Don’t fire the coach, he’s done well. In his one season as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers, Pat Quinn’s record was 27-55, ,329 winning percentage. Since Tom Renney took over from Mr. Quinn, coach Renney’s won-loss is 46-90, .338. We can argue about the rebuild, etc but there’s no way the won-loss record can be counted as a positive for Renney.
- Lots of kids have made the NHL in his two seasons. Oh hell that’s for sure, the Oilers buy rookies by the 6-pak every fall. I don’t think you can give Renney too much credit for RNH, Hall and Eberle but will give some credit for men like Jeff Petry and Devan Dubnyk. The Oilers are giving at-bats to these kids and trying to find out if they can play, and Renney has created situations for the kids where they can flourish (when possible). I’ll give a partial mark here.
- Renney hasn’t had the horses. True, that I’ll give you. This season they finally got a center who could win a faceoff and added some penalty killers, plus the PP was gifted with Ryan Nugent not-of-this-world for 35 games. However, the defense had some holes (major injury concerns for Whitney dating back to the summer, plus the big UFA signing on the blue had just experienced a buyout) and there were a lot of kids again opening night.
- Future: I don’t think he stays. I would vote for retaining Renney, because in fact there’s not enough talent here to expect a stronger result. I felt at the start of the season this team would finish 13th in the conference and 27th overall. Renney has them right on track.
THE GENERAL MANAGER’S OFFICE
- He sucks! Well, that certainly is a popular refrain on the internet, but one hopes we can parse that statement with a little more literacy.
- Blah blah blah. 30th. Okay, but let’s for a minute agree that the Oilers mission statement involved improvement this season and a push for the playoffs. You know, some of the summer moves were solid bets.
- Right. Ryan Smyth traded himself to the Oilers. That’s one, but the GM also acquired Eric Belanger and most of us thought he was pretty good. Right?
- Go to hell. Belanger is bad and that’s the GM’s fault! I’m just saying that if you thought it was horrible at the time then fill your hat. For me, I thought that deal was a positive. I also thought Eager would be an upgrade on Stortini and still believe that Hordichuk is better than MacIntyre. Plus Sutton and Potter worked out, at least to a certain extent.
- So you’re saying Tambellini’s off-season was a success? No, that’s not what I’m saying. Some of us were concerned about Cam Barker as the big off-season pickup. Ryan Whitney had injury concerns (remember when we wondered if he’d be ready for training camp?) and Barker didn’t appear to be a sure thing for the top 4D. I think we can be critical of that move, and considering the relative lack of depth it’s reasonable to suggest that an NHL team would have to consider it an error in judgement that cost the team dearly this season.
- What else? I’ve always been critical of the idea that a team needs an enforcer at all. Eager and Hordichuk mix it up but they also cost penalties. Edmonton’s PK has been very good for long stretches this season and is 12th overall, but I would prefer that the GM use those roster spots on 2-way wingers.
- Future: The word we get is that a contract extension is about to be signed, with 2 years being the favorite term mentioned. History tells us the GM gets a longer window of opportunity, so from that point of view 2 more years makes sense. I would argue that the coach has done a better job than the GM since 2010 fall.
One thing is certain: the Oilers are sending away a bunch of people every summer. First rounders, pet projects, guys who signed AHL contracts but got a cup of coffee–most losing teams have a long list of lost persons each year.
Have the Oilers flushed away useful players since Steve Tambellini arrived? Well, the club has waived goodbye to a few useful players like Mathieu Garon, Erik Cole, Kyle Brodziak, Lubomir Visnovsky and Dustin Penner in exchange for varying picks, prospects and talent.
I think one could argue that the club would have liked the Brodziak deal back based on how things have turned out and the Lubo trade netted Whitney but the big man has been hurt a lot. I think the players Edmonton sent away delivered on value for the most part, I’m not sure how many of the deals other NHL teams would like to reverse.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
- Tom Renney never had the horses and it may not matter.
- Steve Tambellini looks like a very lucky man.
- Glen Sather was a helluva horse trader.