On The Renney Situation

Tom Renney’s in an uncomfortable spot right now. He’s under contract to the Oilers for the remainder of the year, but so far there’s been no public indication that he’s going to be back. Rumours are flying about other candidates – such as Brent Sutter, who will be coaching Canada’s World Championship team under Kevin Lowe. The smart money says that in this case, no news is bad news for Renney.

Despite what the smart money says, Renney’s in limbo right now. He may be back; he may not be back. The only certainty is uncertainty.

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Paul Holmgren, now the general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers, knows what it’s like to be on the chopping block as an NHL head coach. In the book Behind the Moves, he tells a story about coaching the Hartford Whalers for Jim Rutherford:

I was coaching for Jimmy [Rutherford] in Hartford. The lockout year [1994-95] was my first year under Jimmy. Going into next year, we traded [Chris] Pronger and got [Brendan] Shanahan and we started out not very good. Jimmy called me in and told me, ‘Things aren’t going very good. I’ll give you two weeks to get things straightened out; otherwise, I am going to have to make a change.’ He called me up to his office five or six days later. ‘We’re going to make a change.’ I said, ‘What happened to your two weeks?’ He said, ‘You know what, why don’t you go run practice and then come back up here and we’ll talk.’ So I go to run practice and I go back up, ‘Yeah, we’re going to make a change.’ … It just goes to show you that if you are thinking like that, he might as well just have fired me right then. Why give a guy two weeks? What are you going to do in two weeks? … If you are thinking about changing the coach, you are probably already too late.

(emphasis mine)

It’s been suggested that the Oilers are holding off on making a decision on Renney because they want to see if a candidate they liked a little better would become available in the off-season. Brent Sutter’s now out of Calgary. Vancouver and Pittsburgh are teetering on the brink of shocking upsets, and head coaches Alain Vigneault and Dan Bylsma are highly regarded; might they become available?

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If that’s the thought process, though, the Oilers might as well just fire Renney now. Once a team decides that their man isn’t the best man for the job because they’re making googly eyes at someone else, it’s already over. There’s a dissatisfaction with what they have.

That’s what Paul Holmgren notes above. Once Rutherford had decided that he would can Holmgren if things didn’t turn around pronto, he’d already made the toughest decision. He’d decided that firing the coach was an option he would be willing to exercise soon. If the Oilers have decided to let Renney go if circumstances work out, they’ve made the same decision.

If that’s the case, the kindest thing to do would be to let Renney know immediately so that he can start talking to people about what he’ll be doing next season.

  • I am in agreement that the Oil should have a wait and see attitude for next year’s coach staff. First, is that Kreuger is apparently not coming back. Second is that although renney did decently in some areas with the kids he did happen to act questionably during some games. His lineups kept being changed without some justifications(not including the injury factor here)and he couldnt get veterans to be better or consistent, his attitude for retributions and enforcement was never strong when the kids got railroaded during the year, and even some times the shootouts with player choices were of the WTF kind of thing.
    Now the Oil have another first over-all pick, the kids are growing up and yes the Oil need third and fourth line changes along with the defence as priority.
    Is Renney the right guy at this stage? I am neither for nor against right now, unless one heck of a coach is ready to come here under the right circumstances.

  • Sorry but its time . This team needs more accountability and a coach that will push them . Crawford ; Sutter even McT . No more than a 2 year deal whomever they hire but someone with some bite .

  • 15w40

    Not knowing all of the information makes it a little difficult to judge. If Renney is on board with the whole “let’s take a step back and reconvene in a couple weeks” approach then that’s totally fine. If he is just out there twisting in the wind, then that is totally not cool and not professional. Either state that he is your guy and re-up for another year or 2 years or whatever the term is or cut him loose. You reap what you sow and this outfit has had a couple of personnel doosies that don’t scream “we are a top notch outfit”. I am also mostly indifferent to the whole coaching situation next year. I think it should only be one more year for Renney & then re-evaluate – or not and go a different direction. With Krueger reportedly already on his way across the pond – then if you are going to make a change then clean house on the bench too – maybe look at retaining Smith. Buchberger can maybe get his kick at the can as a co-coach of the Barons and move Nelson up to mentor under the new head coach if he is interested in that. Let the new guy bring one of his own guys in. At any rate – pick a lane and hit the accelerator and get on with it.

  • 15w40

    “If he is just out there twisting in the wind, then that is totally not cool and not professional.”

    You do realize that you can plug Tambellini into that sentence and it makes more sense? Until the GM is extended coaches and assistants are all waiting in line for the chance to twist in the wind.

    • 15w40

      I’m just going on the implied based on Tambellini’s comments that he is “completely comfortable with his situation with the oilers going forward” I haven’t heard anything even remotely like that coming from Renney other than “yes I would like to be back”. You could insert the entire coaching staff’s names’ there as they are all up for renewal but have heard nothing. Krueger is apparently as good as gone. Either he can read the tea leaves better than the rest or he isn’t waiting around to find out what the management is thinking. KLowe isn’t blameless in this for sure. If the coaches are twisting in the wind – then he shouldn’t let the current GM handle things this way – it reflects poorly on the organization.

  • 15w40

    i would let everyone go on the oilers management..what has lowe ever done? He is there only because he was a long time oiler….what was he thinking with horcoff contract?…and tambellini? i think he has a drinking problem..ever notice his red cheeks????

  • BigE91

    Babcock, Bylsma, Vigneault doesn’t matter who it is, its going to take a miracle to get this team over the hump unless they address some serious player needs, specifically defensively.

    The sooner the Oilers announce Tambellini’s extension or relieve him of his duties the better it will be for Renney.

  • dawgbone98

    Sliderule, Belanger saw 50 less minutes on the PP in Edmonton this year than he saw in Phoenix last year, and 70 less than he saw on Washington/Minnesota the previous years.

    The Oilers weren’t doing anything that hadn’t been tried before with Belanger.

  • dawgbone98

    It’s possible to both keep Renney and hire a new coach too. Maybe Billy Moores or Sillinger are moving on and Renney returns to a player development role.