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.


  • The Hall Way

    Great point J-dub. Makes perfect sense. Let Renney move on with his career if we don’t want him anymore. i am a little unsure on hiring Sutter as a replacement though….

  • I'm a Scientist!

    GASP! Could you imagine if Dan Bylsma was available? In the same world, I would be going through a honeymoon phase with Kate Upton while owning a large collection of Justin Biebers hair (bigger than Wanye’s collection!) Oh what a great dream!!!

    *snaps back to reality and looks at Sutter…*shudder*

  • JDP

    Im confused…….If he’s under contract for the remainder of the year….why is it that everyone is waiting on confirmation that he will coach? Isnt that a given?

  • Spydyr

    Renney stays, unless for some reason Renney himself doesn’t like the plans for the future and walks which I don’t see happening either. I also think that is why they haven’t made an announcement one way or the other yet. They already know they will be offering an extension so why rush it and just give the guy some time off. Its like when your at work and your thinking about quiting and then you take a holiday and all seems better. Same sort of scenario.

  • Old Soldier

    I am torn, there is a part of me that believes Renney hasn’t done anything tangible to warrant replacement, but in the same argument, what has he done tangibly to reward him with a new contract.

    As a side note, this weeks issue of The Hockey News had an article stating that it’s very possible if the Wings lose this series that Babcock migtht be let go. Their argument being that while it would be amicable, fresh voices are needed in the organization.

    If that is even remotely possible or feasible, do you see Babcock as a fit with the Oil?

        • Jay Gray

          You do realize there are more than two positions in the organization right? Could be a scouting president of hockey operations or assitant too you just never know but a guy with such a good history with Detroit I would be surprised if he wasn’t offered a position of some sort.

          • Jay Gray

            I wouldn’t be surprised if he was offered such a position…but I’d be very surprised if he took such an offer. To me, he seems like he’s got a lot of coaching left in him.

  • Lexi

    The way things have gone I see no reason to wait any longer than the end of April to get rid of Renney. He’s been a good soldier, but I see no evidence that he can elevate this team to playoff contention, and the inability to get 3rd and 4th liners like Belanger, Eager, Fraser etc. to perform is a huge concern. The easiest way to change a culture around a team is hiring a new coach (10 times more so than changing captains) and I think almost all of us could agree the culture needs to change around here.

    It seems safe to assume there will be at least 3 upgrade, experience candidates available in the next month plus guys like Cooper, Nelson, Eakins and even Kruger around so I think they can safely assume there will be an upgrade available. As hard as it is to believe with all the “negative nellys” around here, the Oilers will be one of the best job opportunities out there to anyone who wants to work with young skill and have a budget to upgrade support players.

    The one thing I think is thst getting Yakupov might complicate the coaching hiring, as they are now pretty much going to have to be a 2012 version of the 80s Oilers and so they should get a coach who has some offensive creativity (which is why my hope would be Vignault).