Is Steve Tambellini going to make a call any time soon on who is going to coach the Edmonton Oilers next season? And if he does, will it work out any better than the last two times he hired a coach – inking Pat Quinn and then replacing him by promoting associate coach Tom Renney?

While we wait for Tambellini to decide on Renney, who has now had a couple of weeks to rest, recharge and come up with a plan moving forward – that is what the GM said he wanted – I was reminded of the Oilers current state of coaching limbo tonight when the St. Louis Blues polished off the fading San Jose Sharks in five games with a 3-1 win.

Specifically, I’m contemplating the job Ken Hitchcock has done with the Blues since taking over for the final 69 games this season and how the Oilers could have, and should have, put a call into him a couple of years ago when Hitch was sitting around twiddling his thumbs and collecting a salary after being relieved of his coaching duties by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

That’s a call the Oilers never made, it turns out, despite connections with Tambellini and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe through Team Canada and the fact Hitchcock is a homegrown coaching talent from right here in Edmonton. Oh, and there’s that Stanley Cup ring from 1999 . . .


I never understood at the time why the Oilers never rang up Hitch — my guess is Tambellini promised Renney first crack at the job as a condition of coming aboard as an associate in the event Quinn was, ahem, promoted to senior advisor or some other important hockey-ops position.

Was Hitchcock perceived as too old-school for a young and rebuilding Edmonton team? It probably didn’t help that Hitch was pushing 60 when the Oilers were looking to replace Quinn. Then again, Renney isn’t a whole bunch younger. Hmm.

In any case, after being taken out of mothballs in Columbus by St. Louis, Hitchcock guided the Blues to a record of 43-15-11, good enough for a points percentage of .703. Now, a first-round win over the Sharks. Given all his time in Columbus, it’s astounding Hitchcock boasts a career percentage of .595 as an NHL coach. Alas, water under the bridge. Too late to think about bringing Hitchcock home now.

So, will Renney get his job back? My sense is the answer is no, but that’s just the old gut talking. Nobody has told me that. What about Brent Sutter? He’s auditioning for the Oilers coaching Team Canada right now after parting ways with the Calgary Flames, isn’t he?

I’d think, given the timetable Tambellini loosely referenced in his season-ending availability with media, we should hear something on the coaching front this coming week. The right call? Let’s not expect too much.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Jodes

    I’m sure Tambellini is “assessing” possible coaches as we speak, and thats about it. Why change? Tambellini’s been in “assess” mode since he got here!

  • Jodes

    I like Hitch, he’s the Bill Belichick of the NHL. I am just not sure how much farther even Hitch could have coaxed the Oilers. And the Blues have a lot of talent for him to work with.

    The Blues and Oilers might be locking horns in the playoffs in the not-too-distant future.

  • Bucknuck

    You’d think after watching Dallas clobber the Oilers all those years with Hitchcock behind the bench they might have thought: “Hey he’s a pretty good coach”, but maybe they just couldn’t get over hating him for it. who knows. Glad he’s doing well with the Blues though. He’s a hell of a coach.

  • Slapshot

    Ever since Tambellini has come on board, the Oilers seem to wait forever to let their staff and players know whats going on.I think its time K lowe or Katz stepped in and told Dithers thats not the way this Oilers team will be run.Its very unprofessional to be treating people like this and shows a total lack of respect.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Whoever replaces Renney will inherit the basis of a dominant force for the next decade. I, for one, will remember TR’s contribution through the lean years while his successor gets the credit.Think Quenville or Scotty Bowman in Pitt.

  • I personally think Tambellini really doesn’t know what he’s doing and Renney’s going to take it up the tail pipe for him!

    I mean, how can you really properly judge a man’s ” performance” his “body of work” or “his plan” if you never gave him the right tools/players to succeed with???

    Anybody can see that a lot of the players on this team are transitional players, brought in to mostly fill roster spots till the time comes that the Oilers “organically” grown players can develop all while keeping the team close to a lottery spot as possible.

    It’s all part of Tambellini and K-Lowe’s plan at a re-build, what kind of a management team sets forth a plan to re-build then possible fires the coach for doing everything they ask of him without the proper resourses while asking him to develop the ultra elite talent that they have procured from sucking ass for so long?? It’s really baffling.

    Just for he record I’m not a huge Renney fan at all but let the kids grow with one coach, if he fails to get them where everyone thinks they should be in a couple of years then move on other wise they’ll be coach’s here every two years until the next re-build.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Hey Robin and all,

    What do you think about Dave Tippett? I’m not sure about his contract situation, but he seems to have done well with the youth in Phoenix. Maybe ST is cheering for the Hawks right now…

  • a lg dubl dubl

    @ Robin

    Thanks for the info, even with the wings getting the boot early in the playoffs this year I dont see Detriot canning Babcock anytime soon with 2 years left.

  • RexLibris

    A week or two ago I had heard on Stauffer’s show some mention of a health issue with Renney. This got me to thinking that perhaps this spring hiatus that Tambellini had asked Renney to take before coming back (he said something about it being an exhausting season and everyone needed to step away and recharge) might be for Renney to get himself healthy, or at least determine what the state of his health is.

    It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Tambellini kept the details of anything like that to himself rather than mention it in the press.

    I seem to rememeber the Eskimos released Don Matthews in a controversial move on the grounds that he wasn’t taking the directions of his doctors or some such thing. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    As for Sutter, I’m not a big fan, and certainly less so after watching a fair number of Flames games and reading the commentary and analysis of his coaching decisions with that team.

    How about Renney for two more years with the second year having him take on Todd Nelson as an associate? He might not be too fond of training his potential replacement, but he is a conssumate teacher and class act, so who knows.

  • RexLibris

    Couldn’t agree more with Robin’s comment about ST: ” The right call? Let’s not expect too much.” I feel sorry for Renney, but don’t believe he is the right coach for this club. Just like the problem of attracting good free agents, who would want to coach the Oilers under the present management?

    As for: “The Blues and Oilers might be locking horns in the playoffs in the not-too-distant future.” If only… The Oilers present roster is a long way from making the playoffs and locking horns with the big, bad, tough, and talented Blues would be a massacre, as it would with any other good NHL club. They would bury the Oils’ young stars as they would be totally unprotected against playoff preditors.

    The Oilers’ bottom six forwards of mostly veterans are probably the poorest in the league. Eager and Hordichuk? Horcoff and Smyth? Belanger? Painful to watch. As talented as Hemsky and Gagner are, they are soft to play against.

    As for the D, I actually believe they are improving and there is some talent in the pipeline. If Dithers can add a legitimate D, preferably a 2 or 3, there is some hope for the D’s future.

  • RexLibris

    Well if there is one thing Mr. Dithers does well, it’s dithering! I wrote a poem for him:

    There once was a man named Mr. Dithers
    While managing his team, it did whither
    He decided to lose so he could draft high
    And then he pretended he was a winner

    Ok so I am not a poet! But I do understand Mr. Dithers

  • RexLibris

    Because hey Renney should of done so much better with the juggernaut defence Tambellini assembled for him.

    I just want a coach that can bring out the untapped incredible talent that lies dormant in our outstanding defence ewe’ve assembled here.

    Scratch this past 2 comments. What i meant to say was Renney deserves a shot with an actual team that has enough talent to compete.. they are hypocrites to fire him now.

  • Not sure what to make of the Tambelini situation?
    He’s out of a deal as of July 1/12. If he is to be retained, why has the organization not made the move. I can’t see Tambelini making any moves on the coaching position if he’s not certain he has a gig himself. Maybe he’s also been asked to make a plan .[ ala. Renney ]. This is starting to look like grade school.
    Let’s not have Sutter behind the bench ..
    I am liking Tippet.

  • How is ST supposed to do anything or how is the organization supposed to tell ST of his situation when ST is out of the country.

    From what I heard didn’t Renney have an accident in the off-season. I beleive he hurt his knee or something. I though I heard he might need knee surgery or something like that.

  • If we go the re-tread route, I am kind of hoping Vineault becomes available.

    Otherwise, Jon Cooper all the way baby! After a convict, a ditherer, and a nice guy with a strange fixation on knuckledraggers, it would be nice to see the Oilers bring an over-acheiver into the management fold. Even nicer if they could find an overacheiver for the GM role to go with him.

  • You’ve now made two references to Tambellini being out of the country. Yes, I know. Anybody with a functioning brain stem knows.

    That doesn’t preclude the Oilers announcing he’ll be back or Tambellini announcing Renney will be back. You don’t need everybody in the same room to make a decision and announce what that decision is.

  • Milhouse Van Ched

    I’m with you Robin. I suspect that Renney’s days are numbered with the Oil. And if that truly is the case, Tambellini should show a little class and just announce that Tom won’t be back for the 2012/13 season, and that they are pursuing other coaching options.

    But I am not sure that hiring Brent Sutter is an upgrade from what we have today. They should wait and see if any other current NHL coaches are available/cut loose between now and the end of the playoffs.

  • What happens if there is a health issue that someone mentioned earlier in this thread. From what I recall, didn’t Renney have an accident by slipping on dock heading to a boat. I’m not sure but didn’t he hurt his knee or leg pretty bad in that incident.