Renney's dream situation

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:41 PM ET

EDMONTON - Tom Renney didn’t catch the plane.

He didn’t fly to Los Angeles to receive the congratulation from all the hockey people, to sit at the Edmonton Oilers table at the draft and to go up on stage when they make Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin the No. 1 pick.

No. He’s staying here. He’ll be at Rexall Place Friday with the fans.

And that says something about the new head coach of the Edmonton Oilers no matter what you think of the circumstances of the timing involved in his taking over for Pat Quinn behind the bench.

“I think maybe the best place for me is to be here and maybe participate in the draft party and be in front of the fans and describe, when I get an opportunity, where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.

“You can’t do that standing on the podium with your arm around the first pick. I think there’s a more important connection to make here.”

There was so much focus on the Pat Quinn end of what happened Tuesday that Renney didn’t get the usual coronation.

And that’s too bad.

But don’t feel too sorry for the 55-year-old who chooses to be at Rexall Place in Edmonton Friday because this couldn’t have possibly have worked out any better.

When you think about it, a twice-fired NHL coach couldn’t have possiblyended up in a better situation than Renney has ended up in here.

First of all, he’s taking over a 30th place team.

He can’t possibly finish any lower.

And what would the odds be on losing 530 man games due to injury again?

What would the likelihood be of another a flu epidemic running through the team?

And nobody in ownership or management is going to complain if the Oilers end up in the bottom five of the NHL again next year and are involved in the draft lottery and get another top pick in the draft.

Indeed that might even be part of the master plan, to force a lot of their young talent to develop for a year in Oklahoma City while the house cleaning of veterans with stupid contracts continues.

“We have to do everything we can do to win, but we can’t do it at the expense of the growth of an athlete and this team and this franchise,” was the quote from Renney at Tuesday’s press conference.

Whatever, it’s all upside.

This team is going to get better, a lot better, and should be in position to begin a run as a reach for the top team about the same time Daryl Katz hopes to have the Oilers moving into a new downtown arena.

Tom Renney has just stepped into one of the best coaching situations a coach could possibly wish to find and the real beauty of it is that Steve Tambellini can’t fire him.

After letting the veteran players throw Craig MacTavish under the bus and then making a mistake with Pat Quinn (how else do you read his decision to dump a coach after one year), Tambellini has left Renney safe for several seasons.

With three coaches in three years and making a mistake on his first big hire, Tambellini would look like a total incompetent and/or somebody you don’t want to go work for if he made another coaching change in an organization which only had eight head coaches in the first 30 seasons in the league.

If Quinn had been allowed another year and went and made the playoffs and won a round, then Tambellini making the succession move would have required guts. And then it wouldn’t have been anywhere as easy for Renney to take over.

Few coaches ever get the wiggle room that Renney is now going to get here.

Few coaches ever get the chance to actually coach like Renney is going to get in Edmonton.

“We have to see growth. We have to see development. We have to see opportunity. We have to see reason to come back as a hockey fan. As a constituent of the team you have to see growth. You can’t be all hat and no cattle.

“You have to deliver on that type of a comment and allow players to grow up in front of their fans.

“I’m going to hold people’s feet to the fire. I’m going to have a way we have to play. There will be fundamental parts of our game that have to be there as a player.

“The bottom line is we’re going to grow up in front of our fans’ eyes. I think we can control the pace of that to the point where this team can win a lot more games than it loses quickly, but it will stand the test of time and we have to recognize that.”

Give him credit for recognizing that such things need to be said to the fans, live and in person.

When it comes to this organization of late, it’s revolutionary. What a concept.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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