I don’t think it’s going to take Craig MacTavish long to make some of the bold moves he talked about when he was unveiled as the new GM of the Edmonton Oilers, and I still believe one of those moves could come behind the bench.
My suggestion on May 12 that MacTavish might, or at least should, consider moving head coach Ralph Krueger back into an associate coaching role if he wants to take a run at one of the available or soon-to-be available coaches out there – Lindy Ruff, Dave Tippett and, now, Alain Vigneault – to improve the Oilers, drew a mixed response.
Dismissed by some when I wrote the piece, discussion and speculation arounf town about the possibility – and that’s all it is because I’ve made it clear nobody within the organization has given me the drop that such a plan is in the works – has picked up steadily since then.
Jason Gregor and discussed it last week and again this week on his show. I’ve heard the idea debated on TEAM 1260’s morning show and on the Jason Strudwick Show. TSN’s Ryan Rishaug has touched on it more than once on all three shows. Rishaug believes, as I do, that MacTavish has to at put in a call if he thinks he can land one of the coaching UFAs.
Rishaug, for the record, thinks Tippett would be the best fit here, even with Vigneault now available. I like Tippett, who I focused on in the original piece, but I consider Vigneault neck and neck with him. Both would be an upgrade.
Why wouldn’t, and why shouldn’t, MacTavish consider moving Krueger aside or out — if he feels the same way? Bold, no?
MORE THAN COACHING
After a carousel of coaches, including MacTavish, Pat Quinn, Tom Renney and Krueger during these seven years out of the playoffs, I get it why fans roll their eyes at the thought of another coaching change. "They’ve changed the coaches, Brownlee. Change the damn players."
I get that sentiment and I agree with it completely. Gregor and I, as well as others, have talked about this at length. You can’t just keep replacing the men behind the bench because Scotty Bowman couldn’t coach this group, as it stands now in terms of personnel, into the playoffs. That’s a fact.
MacTavish would be foolish – he’s not — to think he can bring in a new coach, snap his fingers and get a markedly better result than what we’ve already seen without changing the roster considerably. He has to (and I believe he will, beyond farting around with fourth-line forwards and third-pairing D-men).
That said, needed upgrades in player personnel and the fact that it’s been a turnstile behind the bench in recent seasons, shouldn’t prevent MacTavish from pursuing Tippett or Vigneault IF he sees one of them as a key component moving forward. If that’s the first move available to him and it makes sense, then pull the trigger. Make the move. Be bold.
I’d like to think MacTavish, as the new GM, has been given the green light to make changes as he sees fit, regardless of what moves were made before he agreed to take the job. I can’t imagine MacT took the position with conditions attached – you’re the boss, MacT, but you can’t hire a new coach and you can’t trade Ales Hemsky and you can’t . . .
Would moving Krueger aside or out for Tippett or Vigneault or pick-a-name turn this team around without addressing the holes on the roster? Absolutely not. Should MacTavish approach one of them if he believes this organization will be better for it? Absolutely. It’s as simple as that.
Don’t forget to play StreakCred the new playoff pool game from the Nation Network. You can win a trip for 2 to Oktoberfest in Germany among the awesome prizes up for grabs. Only $20 and a portion of the proceeds go to Edmonton Charities. Sign up here
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.