Today the Oilers finally announced that Tom Renney would not be returning as coach next year. Although I don’t agree with the amount of time it took to make the decision, the outcome is the same for both Renney and the organization as if it had been done a day after the last game. Tom is now searching for a new spot to coach and the Oilers are looking for a new coach.
Tom Renney is a good coach and great person. I hope he gets a job somewhere in the NHL where the team is ready to compete and not developing. I never understood some of the abuse he took from fans and media alike here in Edmonton. The Oilers were not a playoff team the last two years. Let’s face it, Scotty Bowman would not have done much better with the team Renney was given.
Whoever is chosen as the next coach will be the fourth in five seasons. Steve Tambellini inherited Mactavish and then hired Pat Quinn who was replaced after a year by Renney. After the next coach is hired, Sam Gagner will have had four different coaches in his first six years as a pro. There is no continuity and for an organization looking to get back to the top of the league this is a big issue.
A New Personality
Developing a team identity is nearly impossible when the coach is frequently changing. Having an identity is very important. Stability behind the bench allows the players to embrace a system and begin to play by reacting rather them thinking about where they should be on a given play. When players think too much on the ice they can freeze up and be that all important step behind.
It would seem that the L.A Kings run this spring with their new coach Darryl Sutter spits in the face of my theory. This is a different scenario. The Kings had been building up for a few years to get to this point and they felt a change in coaches after having Terry Murray for roughly three years would get them over the hump. Darryl Sutter is what I would call a closing coach. He is very good at motivating his teams to get that extra bit juice out of them. He has only slightly adjusted their style of play to a more aggressive forecheck. The blueprint for Kings hockey was there before he arrived, a heavier and cycling style of player and hockey. All the Kings players knew this.
Does the current roster of Oilers know its style or is it still searching? This is the biggest decision that Steve Tambellini will have to make during his time as GM of the Oilers. Finding the right coach will not be easy because he and Oiler fans should expect that the one he chooses should stay for a while. His choice for bench boss should not only believe in the type of team that Tambellini is building, but also be able to coach a style that fits with roster he is assembling.
With the current group of forwards, the Oilers will most likely have the most success with an aggressive uptempo forechecking style similar to how New Jersey plays. Hiring a coach like Guy Boucher of Tampa Bay would not be a great fit. He chooses a more defensive style that would not allow the Oilers skaters to fly.
The Oilers and Steve Tambellini are at a crossroads. Pieces of the puzzle for a successful team are starting to fall into place but without the right coach behind the bench for next season and beyond it could easily not got anywhere.
The Hat Trick…
Could Brett Lawrie of the Blue Jays make his helmet bounce right into the umpire again if he was given a hundred tries? I doubt it. The umps reaction was hilarious!