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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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….

  • 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?

  • 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*

  • 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).

  • Old Soldier

    I didnt “make it up”, just relating a story that I had just read. Sorry I also wanted to add that THN also had a very interesting article charting the 30 coaches on an x/y axis based on discipline, tactition, player friendly and motivator, and they then scored each coach on these and placed them on the graph accordingly.

    What is interesting, is that coaches who seem to be stronger in any particular characteristic and therefore more extreme in that one direction have poor championship records. While coaches who seem to have an equal balance of all four were tightly grouped as the most successful.

    Renney is the highest rated, therefore most extreme as a players coach. While Blysma, Trotz, Dineen, Vineault and a few others were rated the most balanced in all four aspects.

    While it may seem obvious that a successful coach would be well rounded, it is surprising how many “leaned” towards one particular characteristic.

    PS Sutter is rated as the Highest Disciplinarian, I have to say I am not sure that is what I want coaching the kids….maybe a bit down the road.

  • TwoSkidoos

    I have a feeling he’s probably already been told quietly he’s done. They most likely won’t make is public until they’ve got a clearer picture of who his replacements going to be.

    On a side note, has Tambo been given a new contract yet? Seems odd to me that he’s in the same boat, but no ones talking much about him. I thought back in February it came out that a new contract was done, and was going to be announced the next day, then nothing was said again.

  • jooks

    Typical of old ” Dithers”, probably afraid to make a decision . Whom ever they hire I hope its not Sutter.. Please. I think this is a time stall story, and the brass are waiting for the playoffs to end , as it may be someone still in the hunt.It may be that Dithers,[ Tambelini} himself might be in hot water, has he too sits without a contract. How would Babcock do as a GM?

  • jooks

    What if they have already told Renney he’s coming back? What if they said Tom your coming back don’t worry about it.. We’ll announce it after your vacation. I know it doesnt have the drama and intrigue we all so desire. But it is an “actual” possibility that nobody’s talking about.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    Why is no one talking about Nelson to replace him?

    Oh and this is so unfair for Renney. You give him one of the weakest defences in the league and some extremely inconsistent secondary scoring and no clear #1 Goalie and we had a better goal differential than Florida, exceptionally improved special teams and the kids progressed in a nice straight line.

    Now when the rebuild is transitioning from trade players for picks to trading picks for players we axe the coach.

    :c Poor Tom.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    Good read Jonathan- the way Oil management is handling Renney is bush leaque at best !Lowe and Tambelini absolutely deserve their toilet bowl finishes and more to come but do the fans that flip the bill ? I think not ! Time for some real Management here learning on the job is over. I’ll say it again the coaching is NOT the problem here.

  • Renney should be done as coach.

    He couldn’t seem to get the veterans to accept their roles.Belanger never has been much of a scorer yet he wanted and got PP time even after showing he was brutal.

    Eager brought in as a tough bottom six guy played like a finesse player.

    No accountability with veteran players.Peckham and Barker made mistake after mistake resulting in goals against that probably cost us a half dozen games .Yet until the last third of the season he kept throwing them out there.

    They need a coach who holds players accountable and they might pick up the ten wins they need to compete for a playoff position

  • Hi there.

    I’m Swiss following the Oilers and Oilersnation for years. Your Blog is awesome. Have a read on this even though it is written in German:


    In a nutshell: According to the newspaper, which is a reliable source, Ralph Krueger is definetely heading back to Europe, either as the Head Coach of Germany or taking over a Swiss Team in the Elite leauge.

    What does that mean for Renney?

    BTW: Tonight, the deciding and final playoff game between Berne and Zurich, where Domenico Pittis and Jeff Tambellini are playing, takes Place.

    Good on yah, Oilersnation.

  • I could understand the rationale for letting Renney go, but not if Lowe and Tambo get to keep their jobs. Let’s be honest, Renney was always only going to coach the transition years.

    They’ll offer him a scouting job with a snazzy-sounding executive title for 3 or 4 hundred grand a year, and an understanding that he has permission to talk to other teams at any time about coaching openings.

    The Oilers are not a classy organisation. You should see how they treat the little people in the admin offices. You are supposed to be so honoured to take a pay cut just for the cache of working for the Oilers. I’ve known of several quality people unceremoniously fired with no cause or notice. Look what they did to the training staff.

  • JW – no kidding. I like Nelson, but after looking at what Cooper has done, it would be hard to argue Nelson is a better candidate (if you are going for that ‘next great young coach’ move).

    Hire Cooper and see if Nelson would sign on as an assistant coach. Special teams perhaps?

  • Wow, if that story about Kruger is true, it is disappointing. Of all the Oilers’ assistants, he is the one I would like to see back. He did a great job with the powerplay and a nice job subbing for Renney.

    Best of luck Ralphy-boy!