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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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?

    • 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

  • D'oh-ilers

    His management record wasn’t stellar but he did an amazing job of getting players to buy in, work hard, and play for each other as a coach. I wish him nothing but luck and success with his future endeavors.

  • tkfisher

    Allowed him to save face. Leave on your own, or…. I don’t think people “choose” to go from cushy NHL Sr VP positions to coaching in the KHL by “choice”. Maybe i’m wrong, but I don’t see it.

  • Serious Gord

    Cue the hallelujahs!! Glad to see the back of him.

    Hopefully he’s the first of many to exit the organization. If he’s the only one little will have been achieved.

    Several have commented that Klowe is more arrogant than MacT. I’m told that the opposite is the case.

    And what I have found remarkable for some time now is that these clowns haven’t had the self-respect to have left years ago. To paraphrase someone – they are “bitter clingers”. So I will refrain from qualifying my joy be saying he was a good Oiler player. MacT and KLowe have burned up too much opportunity as management to deserve the that now.

  • Schmidt Head

    Q – What do you call a bus load of politicians going over a cliff?
    A – A good start.

    Q – What’s to be said about MacT leaving the Oilers’ front office?
    A – See above!

  • 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.

  • Kneedroptalbot

    Im still scratch my head and wonder, …..
    How Craig Mactavish went from Head Coach of the Chicago Wolves (AHL) to General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers????

  • Ben918

    Cool. Good for MacT. I think is good for the Oilers too. Despite what MacT did or didn’t do, the teams reputation has taken a hit the last… well decade and some. Management has squandered highly ranked prospects, insulted players, changed coaches more than players shave and ultimately are not well liked with Players and Agents around the league. Having Holland with the POHO title was a great idea for the team. A way to show that this is new management and the veteran GM needs to appeal to players more than maybe any other in franchise history. We need to trade terrible contracts and sign FAs. The latter requires a few to waive their NMCs which takes negotiation with agents that are right if they didn’t have a ton of respect for the Oilers during the Chiarelli era. Trusting Holland helps when the people know he is not influenced by management that was around during the craziness. MacT going helps the Oilers further distance themselves from the “boys club” that ran the team for the better part of the last two decades.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • FINALLY!!!

    Well I just tried posting a comment – then waited – then tried again – then waited – then tried again. If there is a triple post that shows up later I apologize 🙁

  • FINALLY!!!

    I was lucky enough to get tickets from a friend you score in OT Winner in 91.
    You battled back from that awful incident.
    You battled back from Cancer.
    You battled back when Harvey was being a jerk.
    You did an amazing job coaching that 06 cup run.
    And you did it all without a helmet! Thanks for memories and Best of Luck, Craig.

    As for the Oilers exec, I have to say they are now: визуально лучше

  • 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.