To hear Edmonton Oilers’ president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe tell it, his team hasn’t talked to Brent Sutter about taking over from Tom Renney as head coach. Not a conversation. Not a word.

I’m not going to call Lowe a liar – or even a fibber — because I have no proof to contradict what he told reporters today at the Memorial Cup in Shawinigan when he was asked about Sutter and the vacancy behind his bench. Still, what Lowe said strikes me as odd, given the circumstances.

I suppose Sutter is technically still under contract with the Calgary Flames, even though he and the team announced they were parting ways shortly before Sutter took the gig as coach of Team Canada at the World Championships. In that context, discussing a new stint up Highway 2 would be a no-no.

Then again, you’d think with their parting of the ways public, the Flames would’ve granted Sutter permission to talk to other teams about finding new employment. It follows that Sutter might have discussed the Edmonton job with Lowe, who has known Sutter since their days as players and had a hand in seeing him appointed as Team Canada coach. Seems reasonable, no?

The Oilers, after all, extended the courtesy of talking with other teams to Renney after telling him he wouldn’t be offered a new contract last Thursday, even though he’s under contract until the end of June. That’s convention when you cut a guy loose. Renney told us today he’s already had contact with more than one NHL team.


Here, courtesy of the Edmonton Journal, is what Lowe told reporters today on the subject of Sutter.

"Brent’s obviously been a good coach and we’ve seen him recently,” Lowe said. "He’s an Albertan and he has lot, I don’t want to say ‘vested,’ in the Battle of Alberta, but he knows it well."

Asked if he thought Sutter would be interested in the job should the subject happen to arise at some point (it HASN’T BEEN DISCUSSED yet), Lowe said: "I don’t see why he wouldn’t want to coach the Edmonton Oilers. He’s a worthwhile candidate, no question."

Again, given the history between Lowe and Sutter, you’d think the subject might come up over dinner or maybe coffee at some point during the World Championships. And again, no.

"The sacredness of the World Championship and everything that needs to be (done), he didn’t need any distractions," said Lowe. "He had just come off the mutual decision, I guess, that he wasn’t going to continue to work with (Calgary) and he had a lot to do. He had a new coaching staff to get to know and he had a lot of players to get to know in a short time."


While it HASN’T BEEN DISCUSSED yet, I’m guessing Lowe, GM Steve Tambellini and Sutter will get around to that bit of business soon enough. Tambellini has said he hopes to have Sutter a new coach in place before the NHL Entry Draft, which takes place in Pittsburgh June 22-23.

Lowe is in Shawinigan to watch son Keegan play with the Edmonton Oil Kings. The Memorial Cup wraps up with the championship game on Sunday the 27th (the Oil Kings are a longshot to reach the final). After that, Lowe and Tambellini will attend the NHL combine, which starts next Monday in Toronto.

Given all the above, and allowing time for Lowe and Tambellini to compile a short-list of candidates, carry out their due diligence and conduct the requisite interview process, I’m guessing the soonest fans can expect the new coach to be unveiled is June 4-8.

My guess, assuming Lowe and Tambellini eventually get around to talking to Sutter about the job – it HASN’T BEEN DISCUSSED yet  – is there won’t be any surprises when the announcement does come.


Calgary Sun columnist Eric Francis spoke with Sutter today and asked him about his interest in the coaching situation in Edmonton. That conversation is here.

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

  • geoilersgist

    Hi Robin,

    I know Tambo has been extended, but am unsure of the term. Do you have that info? Ideally, no more than 2 years I hope. He really hasn’t done much to improve this team.

  • I don’t have the information from any official source.

    As Jim Matheson suggested in the Edmonton Journal today, a new coach will likely be looking for three years (even if Sutter is holding up four fingers). I can’t see the GM getting a shorter term than the coach he is going to hire.

  • Terry Jones had an interesting quote from Lowe in an article yesterday:

    Jones wrote:

    “About having the first pick in the draft he remained consistent: “If you are picking lower than No. 1 in the draft I think you can look at organizational needs but if you’re No. 1 you have to pick the guy who you think is going to be the best player 10 years down the road. We’ve told our scouts to come out of their meetings and come out and tell us who they think will be the best player in the next 10 years.” “

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    it looks inevitable at this point, so I say just get on with it.

    And it’s kinda laughable that Tambellini’s contract hasn’t been announced yet either. What a burn if he got canned. haha

    And how about PDP and his heroics?

  • I wouldn’t get too tied up with the organizational need reference — I know, I brought it up because it stuck with me when MacGregor said it.

    Unless the team is going to deviate from the BPA approach, and I can’t see that, organizational need will only come into play as a tie-breaker if two players at different positions are deemed too close to call.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Any idea if there is any relationship between RNH and Sutter given the player / owner dynamic on the Red Deer Rebels?

    I agree Sutter will be the guy. From the outset I was not crazy about it given the shootout debacle of last year. But who knows it may workout. LA seems to be wrapped up in Sutterpalooza.

    Finally, at the risk of retribution or censure I have to say it, Robin. Your most current Avitar looks a little like Jack Nicholson (just before he went postal with his nine iron on some dudes windshield). Kinda freaking me out a little. Crash through Wanye’s door with an axe and I am outta here …

  • Shaun Doe

    Hey Robin, just a quick question here. Near the beginning of the Renny Interview he mentions something costing 50$. I thought I heard a cell phone go off when he said it. Is that the going rate In the scrum for a social miscue?

  • Shaun Doe

    After reading and assessing this article, then reading it again, I assessed it … again.

    I have to say, none of it matters. I AM THE GM!!


    Remember? ME! The GM!


    */looks over left shoulder, then over right, goes back to typing … in a whisper/*

    it doesn’t matter what kevin thinks. what i say goes

    I drafted RNH! I drafter Hall! Me!

    Ohhhhhh Tambi-lambi……. about that coach

    Huh? Ummm… ok…. ummm Kevin, ummm.. I mean sir … I’ll be right there…

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Would the Oilers really be stupid enough to not even bring up the topic with Sutter?

    Nevermind, i answered my own question. I assume assessing the prior assessments and getting future assessments together rendered Oilers management unable to complete 2 tasks at the same time.. even though they were half way around the world at a hockey tourney… with a guy who might be able to coach their team… and they need a coach…

  • Wanyes bastard child

    why is that when any time i hear about anything to do with our hockey club recently, i hear it from Lowe? i’d really like to hear from the guy *actually making the decisions.

    *not certain WHO makes decsions around the oilers anymore. seems like Lowe rules both Katz and Dithers.

    • NewfoundlandOil

      I find this interesting too. Lots from Lowe lately on the state of the Oilers. Other than canning Renney, Tambo has been quiet and he looked sheepish doing that.

      I wonder how certain ST’s future is.

  • TwoSkidoos

    I’m getting the sense the Oilers aren’t sold on Yakupov.

    I was pretty confident that, based upon what Oil brass has been saying in interviews, they were going to take Yakupov.

    Maybe they DO have a plan, although formulated as they go, and maybe it’s going to be Galchenyuk? Big C, something we don’t have.

    DON’T DRAFT A FREGGIN DEFENSEMAN with your first pick.

  • Tony Montana

    I put zero stock in anything the Oilers say in public about the draft. It is all posturing. They don’t want to reveal who they will be drafting as it only serves to benifit the other teams by saying.

    That said, I think everyone knows that if they draft in the number 1 spot (meaning they don’t trade the pick) they will be picking Nail Yakapov.

    • TwoSkidoos

      I personally don’t think they have even done up a list rating the propects and where they will go, and I don’t expect them to until after the combine. Once the combine is finished I would think that all the scouting staff, KLowe and Tambo will get together and work on rating and placements of players based on all the data they have collected all year with everybody having input. Only then will they even have a clear idea of who they will pick 1st.

  • Tony Montana

    Lowe and Tamby are truly incredible! Yes I said incredible………they must all think that we are all fools and cannot begin to understand, what they are up to!

    They must thInk very highly of themselves and their approach to dealing with the media, and fans in general. I can’t wait someone in the organization that is straightforward and honest in their communication………..Sutter will help in this regard and will cover up the many mistakes and inaction by these two clowns.

    • D-Man

      No arguments about Lowe and Tambo… Renney was never ‘their guy’ after the end of the season.. The fact that they dragged the decision out for that long afterwards was a huge slap in the face of Tom Renney… We can all argue about the good and (really, really) bad decisions made by managers about asset movement, but I really find a hard time trying to justify how they handled this decision… A huge black eye on the organization (IMO).

      The one thing I don’t understand is how Sutter would be seen as a significant upgrade on Tom Renney… To me, you fire/replace one coach for another that is significantly better… Granted, Sutter has slightly more success than Renney in the regular season, but he also had better teams to coach. Sutter hasn’t experienced any recent playoff success with the Flames either… I can’t see how one could argue that he’d do a better job than Renney…

      IMO – I would have signed Renney to a two-year extension…

  • Reg Dunlop

    @ Tony Montana

    Do you really think oil mgmt has the guile to posture? Is it possible they have a hidden agenda, that maybe they assume Cbus wants to avoid Yak and take Murray so by feigning interest in Murray and intending to take Yak anyway they just might add Cbus’ 2nd rounder in order to flip 1st picks? Maybe, but thats giving them a lot of credit that has not been earned.

  • smiliegirl15

    In his article, Eric quotes Sutter as saying he wants a team with a long term plan. I think Edmonton is out in that respect. Tambellini doesn’t seem to be able to make a short term decision, never mind a long term plan!

    Is winning the Stanley Cup a long term plan? If that’s the case, all teams are in!