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Craig MacTavish signs two-year deal with HC Lokomotiv of the KHL

Early this morning, it was announced on Twitter that senior vice-president of hockey operations, Craig MacTavish, has signed a two-year with HC Lokomotiv to become their new head coach.

During his tenure with the Oilers, Craig MacTavish has worn a lot of different hats. He’s been a player, head coach, GM, VP of Hockey Ops, and those are the jobs we know about. Who knows what kind of other gigs he’s done with this team? It’s actually incredible that he didn’t get his own burger, ya know? My point is that I never truly expected this day to come. Sure, when Ken Holland came aboard as GM, he mentioned that there would be changes in hockey ops but I never actually expected to see his name on the way out, ya know?

According to Darren Dreger, MacT was looking for a change and that led him to the KHL where he will be back behind the bench:

After spending nine seasons with the team as a player, Craig MacTavish coached in Edmonton from 2000 to 2009, bringing the Oilers three playoff appearances, including their run to the Stanley Cup final in 2006. After the 2008-09 season, MacT was fired/stepped down as head coach before returning to the team in 2012 as the senior vice-president of hockey operations. A year later, he was promoted to general manager, a post he held for two seasons before being demoted in favour of Peter Chiarelli in April of 2015. Now, the man we loved for ripping Harvey the Hound’s tongue out is off to the KHL.

In a statement on Lokomotiv’s website, team president, Yuri Yakovlev, released this statement (keep in mind I translated this from Russian):

For our club, it was extremely important that Craig shares a strategy based on the broad involvement of his own students. He is well aware of many young players from the Lokomotiv system and will help them make a new career step. At the same time, Craig is ready to work successfully with a hard cap, which Lokomotiv, as we know, never exceeds. I believe that our talks were held in a constructive manner and the new head coach, thanks to his vast experience and knowledge, with the support of the entire Lokomotiv club system, is able to take the team to a higher level.

In the same release, MacT revealed the thought process that led him to get back behind the bench:

I look forward to the start of my cooperation with Lokomotiv and personally Mr. Yakovlev. In the past few years, I have often been to Russia, watched KHL matches and was interested in coaching here. I hope the upcoming season will be exciting and successful for our team.

With Ken Holland now in charge and MacT already on the move, you have to wonder what other changes are in store for the Oilers management team. While I think everyone would agree that MacT was a valuable part of this organization for a very long time, it is encouraging to see that changes are already being made. What will be interesting to watch over these next few weeks and months is how many familiar faces will be leaving while new faces are coming in. For now, we will tip our caps to MacT and wish him well on his new adventures. Since this is the Edmonton Oilers we’re talking about, I can’t imagine it’ll be too long before we see him again.