I understand the sentiment that prompted Tom Renney to step away from his role as the designated piñata for a sizeable segment of frustrated Edmonton Oilers fans and direct some criticism toward his players after Monday’s 3-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

It’s not the intent but the execution, to borrow the jargon that often appears on white boards around NHL dressing rooms, of Renney’s rant that might land him in trouble with his players – a group that, in the estimation of many fans, he has until now coddled to a fault by refusing to call-out more players and name names as his team lurches toward a third straight lottery pick.

For those who missed it, Renney said the following after watching the Oilers lose for 100th time in 151 games since he took over from bombastic Pat Quinn, who spoiled reporters by delivering similar heart-felt sentiments regularly during the 2009-10 season.

"It doesn’t take many for the wrong approach, the wrong attitude, the wrong give a shit to kind of make its way through your dressing room," Renney told assembled reporters. "It doesn’t take many guys at all.

"We have a few people who have to look in the mirror here because this is unacceptable. You’re the Edmonton Oilers, you’re a millionaire, you have an opportunity to play the game … Suck it up and play hockey."


While Renney’s players dutifully mouthed expected responses after a meeting and practice session Tuesday at Rexall Place, history tells me that some of them will have issues with the references he made to their level of professionalism and the amount of money they make.

Essentially, Renney told his players to stop acting like a bunch of entitled rich brats and get the focus back to trying to win hockey games, which is something the Oilers have done a pitiful job of for the better part of the last two seasons – I think 51 wins in 151 games can be characterized as such.

That said, referencing how much money players make sits mighty high on the list of things coaches can do to lose a player or a team, assuming they already don’t have one foot out the door. Doing so didn’t help Craig MacTavish coax any more effort out of disinterested, lazy Dustin Penner. It didn’t help Quinn squeeze one single extra drop of effort out of his team during an altogether forgettable 27-47-8 season.

Likewise, while I sympathize with the sentiments that prompted it, I can’t see Renney’s rant, as framed, serving him well for what remains of the season. A quick jolt of we’ll-show-you? Maybe. As for a benefit in the big picture and the long-term, which is something Renney has always stressed while playing piñata for those demanding results now, I don’t see it.

Of course, Renney is a coach without a contract for next season, so maybe we shouldn’t be thinking long-term. I can’t help but think a usually gifted communicator like Renney – and he has been that, despite questions about his ability as a tactician – would like a do-over on the uncharacteristic rant we heard Monday.

Reminded me of MacT just before he, well, you know . . .

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    Other than the acquisition of Peca and Pronger in the year after the lockout, please list the top 5 achievements of the Kevin Lowe regime.

    (Take as much time as needed, weeks and months if need be.)

  • Toro

    Get rid of Lowe , we all know he is the puppet master and anything Tambo does has to go threw Klowe first, Only reason Lowe aint GM is cause his relationship with some of the other GM’s around the league is soured

    • Puppet master?

      Catchy. Does Lowe have a say in hockey operations? Sure. I’m guessing his title is a giveaway on that. Do you think any GM in the league operates solely alone without consulting other hockey-ops people within their organizations? They don’t.

  • Reality Check to the head

    I hate it when millionaire players get mad when people point out how much money they make.

    I agree with Renney in the fact millionaires should feel privileged to be in the NHL. Maybe if one of these players was making $60-80,000 and shelling out 150-200 a game for a couple tickets and couple beers then they would empathize with the regular fan who has to sit through the kind of performance we have to watch.


    • Wanyes bastard child

      Amen. I’m about to make the 8hr drive to Edmonton for the battle of Alberta. And although im sure it will be a great time ….god I hope they win after I shell out $500 for the package. At least bring their game is all I ask.


  • Truth

    Barry Trotz is days away from being Marty McSorley’d behind the bench in Nashville. Maybe he says enough with that organization and will replace Renney.

    It is funny that the Oilers didn’t realize they had a good coach until he was gone. MacT was keeping the team afloat until it was absolutely picked apart and left hopeless. Time to find a new coach for the future. If the organization was to lose Lowe I wouldn’t have any hurt feelings either.

      • Fans didn’t run MacTavish anywhere.

        And as far as the “rally” that was organized, there were more reporters at Rexall Place to document it than there were people taking part in it. Thousands signed up for it on some Facebook page but only a handful actually showed up. It was stunningly weak.

        That’s a fact.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Either Tom appologized to the players this morning at practice, or this is as defiant as you’ll ever see a coach before he reaches the end here.

    Is Renney just giving the media what they wanted to hear last night or can he already see that bus coming. We won’t have to wait long to find out.

  • Spartacus

    It’s tough to tell what’s going on in the Oilers collective mind.

    If the intent was to tank last year and then this year after the playoffs were out of reach, then Renney is being set up as the fall guy.

    If the intent was to actually make a push for the playoffs this year, then Tambellini and even Lowe are every bit as responsible for where this team is now and should follow Renney out the door.

    But who knows what the hell Batman is thinking?

    • On a recent interview (Stauffer?) Lowe said the team knew playoffs were out of the picture in October. Any idea we may have had that the team was going for it was grossly misplaced. There was no intent to compete this year. None at all (IMO the worst thing that could have happened was that win streak we had at the beginning of the year).

      Which is at the root of the problem I think. This team has no organizational desire to compete. Sooner or later the players are going to clue in that the ask for them to win is a hollow sentiment. The young guys who still have some win left in them from their junior days haven’t been affected yet, but anyone here for more than a few years is probably sick of hearing repeated demands for performance far beyond what they are collectively capable of. I mean, if you’re Sam Gagner you look across and see half a dozen guys who shouldn’t be walking on that fancy Oilers rug in the locker room. What sort of motivation is that for a young athlete?

      The only recourse for the players (who still give a crap) is to try to play far beyond what’s possible for them on a nightly basis. That’s why they have moments of brilliance, but nothing more. They simply cannot play at 110% just to compete every night – it’s impossible and exhausting. So we see what we see. Everybody is mentally beat to hell, which manifests as frustration and “mailing it in”. And the older the athlete, the more it shows.

      Quite frankly this makes me sick. We’re squandering the careers of talented young athletes. All the good we’re witnessing is being tainted by a management team who has come to believe losing is OK and the path to winning. That’s B.S. in my book.

      I wouldn’t be half surprised to see “And BAM, Stanley Cup!” in big red letters on the white board in the Oilers main boardroom. Brutal.