I’m not the least bit surprised Craig MacTavish had found his way back to the Edmonton Oilers, even if it’s as senior vice-president of hockey operations instead of behind the bench as coach, his first calling.

Given his long service here as a player and coach and his relationship with president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe and owner Daryl Katz, you could see it coming – Jim Matheson at the Edmonton Journal certainly did, dropping a not-so-subtle note that he’d read the tea leaves in Sunday’s edition of Hockey World as he nailed the move bang-on.

My first thought with the news today – aside from wondering if MacT will be back in Kelowna to pick up the tab for our lunch date this week – is what it means to the Oilers coaching situation and Steve Tambellini’s search for a replacement for Tom Renney.

With MacTavish back in the organizational fold, and essentially insurance as a coach, Tambellini now has a built-in Plan B regardless of who he hires as the next bench boss. That leads me to conclude, rightly or wrongly, that associate coach Ralph Krueger might have jumped to the front of the line as the leading candidate for the position.

It also follows, as least for me, that Tambellini might be a bit more bold when it comes to taking a chance on his hiring – might he now ask the Tampa Bay Lightning to talk to Norfolk coach Jon Cooper with MacTavish in the wings?

I think that’s a question worth asking.

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

  • Stauffer had MacTavish on his show last week and he (MacTavish) said he wouldn’t keep Krueger, but clean out all the coaches associated with the 30,30,29 place finishes.

    Wonder if that includes Bucky?

  • Lexi


    I hope you are right with regards to Cooper, with MacT as backup. There is something very impressive about him. There’s winning and then there is winning 28 games in a row in the second best league in the world. I watched game 4 of the Calder Cup on Saturday and there was nothing stylistically I noticed, but they just destroyed Toronto. It reminded me of the Esks in the 70s, there were just better. There is nothing about Norfolk’s roster that says by far the best team in the AHL. If I was guessing who the next Baboock is, Cooper would be it.

    I’ve got to think Yzerman does not want Cooper going to Washington, so hopefully he helps Cooper come here.

  • Bob Cobb

    All this does is give an immediate replacement for Tambellini when that tool is finally let go, Lowe will stay on as President and MacT will be the GM. This will happen within 2 years and hopefully sooner. You need a GM that played the game and won, knows what it takes and knows properly how to evaluate players. The only reason Tambellini is still around is because he hasn’t messed up the first overall picks and that was only because Stu MacGregor was in charge of scouting.

  • Reg Dunlop

    A young emerging team matches well with an up and comming coach. Cooper might be a good fit. Krueger would be an even better choice as he has inside knowledge of how this group interacts, player strengths, how they might best repond to either a pat on the back vs a kick in the backside etc.

    Ralph for coach!