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.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      I was about to say that as well. I dont hate MacT, I though he was a great player and he really turned his lie around after he got out of jail, and he made the most of his opportunity. MacT was a decent coach, I dint love what how he tried to peg players into certain roles and when it wasnt working leave them there and at some points I didnt agree with his dislike of some player /prospects but it is what it is. I am glad however he is going from the Oilers to do something different, I think its honestly best for him and the Oilers that there is some separation, because the Oilers Mgmt was in need of change and a fresh group of people to get this organisation turned around.

      Hope MacT makes the most of his opportunity in the KHL and I do believe it will be an adventure for him, its going to be something he hasnt done before overseas so I am sure he will enjoy it. Good Luck Craig

      • I dont think any posters really hate him , including me, but a lot of us hate that he was failing miserably, and just kept getting re assigned and/or promoted. Howson should be out the door right behind him. Booby Burgers has proven he is clueless as well, no need to wait, he can move on as well. Maybe Mac-T will get them all hired, that would be ironic.

          • Katz should also realize he hired the wrong guy, he is in over his head, fits right in with the OBC as far as stupid statements and head scratching answers etc. “There’s something in the water”
            Howson to AKS Petersburg, Booby Nicks to Jokerit, you can just have them, we don’t want anything back , including them, EVER.

          • HockeyYoda

            I agree, Howson has to go. For me, he’s top on my list. At least the rest of the OBC actually have some kind of legacy with the Oilers. All Howson has ever done is fail miserably at very NHL stop. He was horrible managing the Jackets yet he was brought in Edmonton like he was a steal of talent. I guess he is good at making friends with the right people.

        • Torgerson

          I have to agree – MacT was a great player and coach. He was a big part of the great memories I have of the 2006 run. He was loyal to the organization that resurrected his career after a terrible turn in his personal life. I think the classy thing to do with this news is to stick to the positives.

  • TKB2677

    My guess is Mac T was expecting K. Gretzky to be the GM which would have meant his job was safe because the management would have forced it. As soon as Holland was hired and heard he wanted to make changes, he started looking for jobs. Holland has been on the job for just over a week. He specifically said he was going to meet with all the scouting departments and hockey ops first before making any changes. Makes sense. Supposedly he was meeting all those people all this week.

    Any coincidence that barely a week after Holland was hired, out of no where Mac T takes a coaching job in Russia? I doubt it. Looks a hell of a lot better for your next job when they ask you about leaving the Oilers and you can tell them you wanted to make a change and see if you still had the coaching bug vs getting fired for incompetence.

    At the end of the day, I don’t care how they go, just go.

  • Axe

    A “Bold move” indeed …all kidding aside ..thanks for the 2006 cup run MacT and for everything u did (or tried to) for this team and all the best in your next job !! Time for a fresh start in this team’s hockey ops.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      But, but,… he wasn’t fired,… he technically could come back? just like he did before…..
      Howson, Bobby, Sutter, Green, Schultz,… all of them,…Lowe (even if he just sells hotdogs now) gone… hopefully.
      This is a great start though, I’m ecstatic. I think that Craig McT was one of the biggest issues with this team.
      I can’t ever forget that Sherwood Park Hometown Hockey interview. The team was at a low apex, possibly lower than ever. We had just hired Hitch & he didn’t have a figgen care in the world. He interviewed like an entitled, arrogant pr***… This team now is already better in my mind…. I love the line “don’t let the door hit you in your ass on the way out.” Love it.

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        If you want to talk about arrogance I think KLowe has MacT beat, the tier fans comment, the “we know winning” comment and his ranger cup pic defensive comment have him the front runner by a long shot…MacT at least has a little humility

        • Glencontrolurstik

          No humility on that Sunday in Sherwood Park,… by then, he had taken over for “6-Rings.”
          I do not disagree & am over the moon, this is a start.

          • Dallas Eakins Hair

            Were you able to get your Jersey off the ice, or did it end up in the trash with all the other Lamers jersey’s that were thrown on the ice after yet another first round exit?

  • The future never comes

    Actually I dont agree that he was a very valuable part of this organization for a long time. Actually I believe the opposite of this statement, he is part of the architecture of why we are where we are.

  • Darcy yaceyko

    I’m sure he knew it was coming. They let him leave on his own terms. Nobody walks away from a job like that to coach. Ken did the classy thing. I dont dislike Mac T but he was not qualified for this positions. He was a good coach. And I wondered why he wouldn’t go back to that position on the team. Now Ken has to tell Kevin and Wayne not to go over his head to Katz and stay away from hockey ops

    • Torgerson

      Agreed with all of that – they gave him a chance to leave on his own terms and save face. Ken Holland is a class act. Hopefully the other card-carrying members of the OBC can see the writing on the wall and find another job flipping burgers for Bobby Nicks or whatever it is they’re qualified for outside the Oilers org.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    If ever there were any doubts that Holland wasn’t being given “full autonomy,” then let MacT’s abrupt departure disprove them. And don’t get me wrong – MacT had to go, if only for the optics. Heck, we may find out in the coming days and weeks that Holland helped MacT find a job in the KHL. The Red Wings were essentially a Central Red Army alumni team, and I imagine Holland has numerous contacts over there.

    It’s sad it had to be this way. Leaving for a coaching job in Russia, of all places. It’s the wild west over there – kind of like the World Hockey Association, but with Soviet-era passenger planes and Soviet-era first aid equipment. I hope he that he’s safe and that his paycheques clear.

    I really hope he can come back to North America in some sort of hockey capacity (not here, but somewhere) – or for that matter, whatever he and his family have planned for life after hockey. But most of all, I hope the city and the fans can find a way to patch things up with him. We’ve been pretty tough on MacT (and Kevin Lowe) over the past several years, and while most of it was for perfectly justifiable reasons, there were a big number of knuckleheads in the fandom who chose to scapegoat them for everything short of climate change.

    We brag about our fandom being the most loyal, most knowledgeable and most passionate in the league, but the past few years have brought out the worst in many of us and I’m not sure we can chalk that up to passion or loyalty. Nobody-but-nobody is better at running players out of town on a rail than we are and I think there were many of us who got offended that we couldn’t do the same with the team’s senior executive.

    It’s been an uncomfortable decade for everyone, no doubt. The organization brought this upon itself, obviously, but I do wish this could have happened differently. I wish we could have acted differently, expressed ourselves differently, reacted differently. Hopefully this is the start of something new and different.

      • Glencontrolurstik

        It’s not called “Global Warming” anymore… The politically correct term now is “Climate Change”…
        You’ll rarely hear it called “Global Warming” anymore, just as we haven’t heard the “Green-house Effect” for years. The head-line above has a big part in changing the climate on this team. So I guess it is relevant?

    • RJ

      Show me a team that has had as little success as the Oilers have and the local fan base is loving and supportive.

      MacT got paid a lot of money to be in management, and he has to own the failure of the past 12 years.

      Blaming fans, instead of incompetent management, for the atmosphere in Edmonton is absurd.

    • Torgerson

      Agreed with most but I think there are “two tiers” of fans – just not in the way KLowe imagines. There are intelligent fans on OilersNation and Lowetide who understand that the management has been terminally incompetent for over a decade. Then there are knuckle draggers who run players out of town because they don’t recognize that they are being rushed to the NHL or played too far up the lineup. Perceptive fans can see that the problem is the management, not the players.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      I will say it does give a guy hope that maybe we will see some real change. IKatz and Holland helped nudge MacT out the door by way of putting in a word for him to get the KHL gig, so be it. This is a one step of mnay that need to be made to get the Oiler ship righted, so good on Holland and Katz to make it happen

  • Rick Stroppel

    This hockey coaching thing is just a FRONT for MacTavish. He has been sent by CSIS and the CIA to conduct counter-intelligence on the KGB. Also to gather dirt on Putin, who is a big hockey fan. GOD SPEED, MAC T! DO US PROUD!

  • TKB2677

    Howson is probably wandering around the office asking “who keeps leaving these job ads on my desk? The stick note says from a friend. K.H. I don’t have a friend with those initials.”

  • boil-in-the-oil

    Makes sense the next announcement will be… Kevin Lowe will be accompanying MacT in Russia. He is extremely valuable, because we all know Kevin knows how to win, he told us so. Sail on, sail on.

  • blobbo

    Nobody saw a move to the KHL coming.

    MacTavish became a poster boy for the old boys club and everything that was wrong. It doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s an intelligent man with a good hockey mind. Sure, he made mistakes but show me an exec who hasn’t.