SPARE THE ROD, POSSESSION AND THE POWER OF THE FROWN

One of the major changes we’re likely to see in Edmonton this fall is playing style. If the Oilers are seriously considering Brent Sutter (seen here in a rare moment of jocularity) as their next coach we can conclude management wants a change in direction: aggressive forecheck, dump and chase, a stern hand. Spare the rod and spoil the child.

LET’S GET STARTED!

A new coach–especially a guy like Brent Sutter–would be an interesting addition to the current Edmonton Oilers. Whereas Pat Quinn had specific old timey priorities–defensemen pass the puck up, one enforcer per line–coach Renney seemed more about teaching and letting the kids run within certain (TOI) limitationsand relying on veterans.

Sutter’s style–dump and chase, hard on the forecheck, turnovers are evil, WIN THE PUCK BATTLE, possession–may not match up with some of the current roster should the Oilers choose to go that way.

STYLE

Sutter’s coaching style has been described as "defensively responsible but high tempo" and "dull as dishwater" but the truth is that Sutter was (in NJ) successful in getting his teams into the post-season. The reason Edmonton would hire a coach like him is to make the playoffs, so the "style" may be less exciting but "results" are key.

WHO MIGHT STRUGGLE?

These are just guesses, Edmonton might hire someone else or maybe they do hire Sutter and it all works out.

  • Ales Hemsky: The best coach for 83 was MacT, who took an exceptional natural talent and asked him to learn some aspects of the game that required hard work. Ales Hemsky learned those lessons and has been playing against the tougher opposition for most of his career. However, he does turn the puck over in bad spots and is a pass first option. I can see player and coach having long meetings when things aren’t going well. Remember, when Brent Sutter arrived in Calgary there were rumors of heated discussions with Iginla and Phaneuf and Double Dion was sent away during his first Calgary season.
  • Devan Dubnyk: Sutter has been blessed with veteran goaltenders during his NHL career and Dubnyk is still working on becoming a starter. The second half stats heavily favor DD over NK, but Renney didn’t see it that way (ran Khabibulin out there even when he was bleeding) and the new coach may feel the same way.
  • Sam Gagner: Winning puck battles is something Sam Gagner can do, but he’s not 6.04 and 225 either. Sam Gagner and Tom Renney were in my estimation a subpar match and a guess might be that Gagner would be found wanting in some areas by coach Renney as well.

During Brent Sutter’s first season in Calgary, the club dealt Dion Phaneuf, Olli Jokinen, Brandon Prust and brought in Ian White, Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers and others. It was a very active transaction period for the Flames.I think there’s every chance something similar could happen in Edmonton.

WHO MIGHT FLOURISH?

Sutter got great mileage out of some unsung types in CGY, among them (I thought) Nigel Dawes who was drifting when he got him and then drifted after he let him go. Curtis Glencross would also be a player who flourished under Sutter, but I think we knew he was going to be pretty good the summer he left Edmonton.

  • Taylor Hall: I figure the new coach–whoever it is–will use Hall as a big minutes evens and PP option. Hall spent 15 minutes a night at evens and 3 minutes a night on the PP this past season. Sutter rode Iginla 17/3, I think we’ll see more of Hall this season.
  • Ben Eager: Should be more at home this season and of course let’s hope that Russian doesn’t flatten him right at the start. Eager would be a player whose skills probably match the Sutter style well. Eager’s speed should be a major asset for the aggressive forechecking game.
  • Teemu Hartikainen: Things are already trending well for the Finn, but his ability to win battles and go to the net have to be viewed as a positive for a coach like Sutter. This could be the year.
  • Chris VandeVelde: Call it a hunch, but Sutter likes experience and bigger men in the middle. VandeVelde is older for a prospect and may still have a small window of opportunity, especially with a new coach.
  • Theo Peckham: Sutter likes crust and his hiring might be a Godsend for a young player who perhaps lost his way a little this season. He might even end up as a forward; Peckham would be hell on the forecheck.
  • Alex Plante: Another tough defender, Plante has shown a willingness to drop the gloves over the past two seasons. That added dimension may be enough to get him into the NHL under a new coach.
  • Colten Teubert: Much as Plante, Teubert will toughen up the roster and make life miserable for opponents.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Edmonton’s new coach will arrive to exceptional top end talent, some disappointing veterans eager to turn things around and a surprisingly strong minor league system. A coach like Brent Sutter may overlook some players we believe are on the verge of full time employment in favor of men we’ve come to see as AHL lifers.

That’s the nature of a change in coaching staffs.

  • oldhippy

    @longbottom and reality

    There are some crappy things about being an Oil fan right now, but we don’t have to argue the relative merits of re-signing Jokinen as our #1 center.

    On the coaching front…I was not impressed with rumours of Sutter coming here to coach, but it does make sense. Tambellini has to get it right with this one. If this coach doesn’t reach the play-offs two years out, Tambellini, and possibly Lowe, would be done.

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    @ Old Hippy
    Although it may not be popular with some of the experts on here, I can see lowe taking over from Tambellinni at the end of next season.
    I personally believe the reason the Renney decision was so late coming was there was a power struggle at the top. Tambo wanted Renney and Lowe wanted Sutter. Katz will be the deciding vote…….lmao.

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    @ Lowtide I personally think the Center position will be fine, Gags is getting better each season at the small things like F/O%, Defensive awareness, even though it’s not showing up on the points. Defense: if you add say a Schultz, Smid and Schultz continueing thier consistency, and Whitney being better health wise, Petry continueing developement, Potter coming off a decent rookie season(only 9 games exp before this season) and rotating Sutton, Teubert, Plante thru out the season will be an improvement over last season. Saying the Peckham and Barker would be odd men out. Could they be part of a package to say someone like Montreal or Columbus who both seem to need depth on defense?

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    I think it is pretty funny that you call me a troll . Edmonton finishes 30th

    then 30th again and then 29th.

    I call them a bad team and you call that trolling. Very thin skin you have.

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    Can’t argue against the power of coaching when Dave Tippett and the Yotes are in the conference finals. He’s got a couple of nice pieces on D and a great captain in Doan. Sean Burke resurrected Mike Smith’s career and that attention to detail on the defensive side of the coin helped too. But there was nobody on this Yotes roster that you would have named a superstar on opening day. Now look where they are. Made the playoffs last year too.

    • DSF

      Tippet is a great coach but you have to give Maloney some credit.

      He abandoned his rebuild because Phoenix HAD to make the playoffs so he went out and found a bunch of players who represented great value because of their work ethic and character not because of their scoring stats.

      Great eye for talent but not one that will likely ever win a cup.

  • Spydyr

    Winning puck battles is something Sam Gagner can do…..Yes if the player he is battling with trips and falls down.If not you could count the battles won by Sam against the wall ,the whole year, on both hands.

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    @ Sammy
    My defination of trolling is to come onto a chat comment section saying things that delibrity incite a reaction. I as many other Oiler fans am well aware of the way the team finishes. I as a fan will also give credit due where credit is due, as in the Improvement in the P/K which was close to last the year before to come back to the Middle of the pack, the P/P which was close to last the year before to come back to third.
    defensively the Oilers finished 23rd, Offensively the Oilers finished tied for 18th. So yes it is easy to call them a bad team but there was improvement and there will be further improvement next season. By the way the Oilers finished top ten in Point Gainers for the season 7th I believe with a improvement of 12 points over the season before. I guess I am a glass half full kind of guy.

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    @longbottom

    Well I guess we want the same thing that is Oilers to win the Cup.

    I just think they have many problems, and the coach is the least of it.

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    @ Sammy
    You could have fooled me. You sound like a Calgary fan pretending to be an Oiler fan.
    We Oiler fans do realise what we need and what the final goal will be. But A lot of us do not dwell on the negitives, we are realistic and some of us think the Play-offs are a long shot. Will a coach help us get 10 more wins with a defined system, for sure look at what Hitchcock did in St Louis, so anything is possible. If I dwelt on the negitives of life I would be older and greyer than I am already………..lol.

  • Wax Man Riley

    Some of the bloggers may be surprised by this assessment. After watching the Memorial Cup game between the Sea Dogs and Oil Kings tonight, I believe the Sea Dogs could beat the current Oilers’ roster.

    The Sea Dogs don’t look like a junior hockey team. They have all the attributes necessary to be winners. Talent, balance, size, toughness, speed, quickness, tough on the puck, committed, strong forecheckers, terrific on faceoffs. The Oil Kings looked like a turnover machine tonight from the constant pressure provided by the Sea Dogs. Something we see far too frequently with the Oilers.

    Some of the bloggers on OilersNation have compared the Oilers to an AHL team. Other than three or four young players and very few vets, this may be close to the truth. No blame on the players; it is management who selected them and signed them to questionable contracts.

    As for the Oil Kings, let’s hope for a better performance in the next game, but I think they are in tough at this great tournament. They may be the third best team, but they haven’t played London yet.

    • John Chambers

      That’s like saying a really good CFL team could beat this past year’s edition of the Indianapolis Colts. Not on your life … In both cases neither the Sea Dogs or BC Lions would even put a point up on the board.

      And the Oil Kings are a bad team because they dominated the regular season and defeated an excellent team in the Portland Winter Hawks to earn their way into the Mem Cup? Now tell me the Rangers are a bad team because they can’t score.