Edmonton Oilers coach Tom Renney has a long resume that still includes a notation as holder of the all-time best winning percentage in the CHL, a .714 clip he compiled with the Kamloops Blazers on the way to two WHL titles and a Memorial Cup. Renney is smart. He’s driven. He’s honest.
All that said, and his credentials duly noted, I’m wondering about Renney’s feel for the game and the personnel he’s in charge of in his dressing room right now as the Oilers approach the final 16 games of a season that will see them finish as a lottery team for the third straight year.
Does Renney, 57, have a firm grasp of what it’s going to take to move along the rebuild he and team management have been selling fans since he showed up in town as an assistant coach as part of the ill-conceived experiment that saw GM Steve Tambellini bring in Pat Quinn? Does Renney’s philosophy fit the situation he’s in?
Here and now, does Renney have a handle on how to develop his young players – Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle, to name just three — in that dressing room, players who’ll be the cornerstones of building the Oilers into contenders again?
Does what Renney perceive as best for the organization mesh with what’s best for those players and vice-versa? Is Renney’s approach, especially where it pertains to the use of personnel, in sync with Tambellini and Kevin Lowe, president of hockey operations? Are they on the same page?
I have questions . . .
THE WAY I SEE IT
— The latest question I have about the deployment of personnel regards the use of Linus Omark against San Jose Tuesday, and I’m certainly not alone in that. What, pray tell, is the point of inserting Omark into the line-up if you’re not going to use him in a situation where he can succeed?
I cannot, even stretching the limits of reason, conclude that sticking Omark with Eric Belanger and Lennart Petrell constitutes a reasonable chance to succeed. Even if Omark isn’t in the plans, if he’s been written off, why would the Oilers not give the kid a sniff in the top six and showcase him for the balance of the season? What’s the downside?
— With officials pocketing their whistles and power plays at a premium, why isn’t Nugent-Hopkins hopping over the boards as the first option each and every single time the Oilers go on the man advantage? Bob Stauffer on 630 CHED was having a go at this on Oilers Now today, and it’s a question a lot of people are asking.
I get it that Renney has been mindful, and should be, of sheltering Nugent-Hopkins, Hall and Eberle from unfavorable match-ups, and I’ve commented on it before, but I don’t see that applying to power play situations now. Turn the kids loose, and find time for Omark in the PP mix, down the stretch.
— I still haven’t been able to get a handle on why Magnus Paajarvi was left to wither on the vine earlier this season. Jason Gregor and I have batted this around countless times on his show at TEAM 1260, as have many others, including perplexed readers here.
While the speedy winger didn’t accomplish nearly enough offensively to force the issue before a long overdue assignment to Oklahoma City to knock off the rust, I remain puzzled. Likewise, why did Theo Peckham sit so long until getting back in Tuesday?
— Does Renney hold veterans like Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff as accountable for mistakes and bad decisions as he does young players like Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle? It seems to me, if anything, the veterans should be more accountable. It looks to me, if ice time is the currency we go by, they have been far less accountable.
What’s Renney’s end-game? What’s the plan?
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.