Crossroads

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!

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    @ Brownlee

    That would be a step in the right direction, would it not? Puck actually out of the defensive zone.

    Although I think Struds would have some better strategies.

  • db7db7db7

    We need a coach with the tempo of Brett Lawrie. Maybe the tempo doesn’t need to come from the head coach. I wonder if Todd Nelson might be the best coach candidate. He could bring in Rocky Thompson to truely motivate the troops before the games in a Brett Lawriean way.

    Yeah I just said Brett Lawriean way!!!

    If that doesn’t work, the threat of Rocky kicking their ass should work.

      • Bucknuck

        We’ve all seen Strudwick fight! He’s a good knuckleduster, but I’ll bet Robin would give as good as he got, with some dirty street fighting tricks thrown in for good measure. You could sell tickets!

        Though you should note that what Robin wrote was a joke. It was intended to get a laugh or a happy snort in your morning coffee. It worked for me. I am sure that it probably made Mr. Strudwick laugh as well.

        That reminds me, do they have a recording of that Jason Strudwick laugh track anywhere. That was some of the funniest radio I ever heard.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Tambo: “There is no doubt Brent [Sutter] is a good coach.” Really? Based on what?

    Renney deserved at least another year. We’ll know this was a mistake when he’s behind the bench somewhere in the NHL shortly.

    My vote for new coach is Jason Strudwick – understands hockey better than current Oilers management. Go Struds!

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    This is something I hadn’t thought of but makes so much sense:

    “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 is so true. Look at team Canada at the worlds. Doesn’t matter how much skill you have, the players have to buy into a system and learn that system so its instictive. How is that possible with a new coach every year?

  • Oilers do not have a concept, their only consistent characteristic is that they are small.

    The Captain of this ship is lost.

    “Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin’ ship
    My senses have been stripped, my hands can’t feel to grip
    My toes too numb to step
    Wait only for my boot heels to be wanderin’
    I’m ready to go anywhere, I’m ready for to fade
    Into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way
    I promise to go under it”