SUN Hockey Pool

'Mac is our guy'

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

Oilers president Patrick LaForge dismissed outright speculation that head coach Craig MacTavish is going anywhere.

"Mac is our guy," said LaForge, responding to reports the Oilers' head coach, whose contract expires Saturday, could move elsewhere. "Our board has 100% endorsed us in doing our deal with him."

OPTION NOT AN OPTION

Edmonton had a one-year option on MacTavish that they could have renewed just before the trade deadline, but it didn't make sense to do so because a one-year deal, coupled with missing the playoffs, would have turned MacTavish into a lame duck for next season. Neither side wanted that.

"Mac is a pretty confident guy and conversations between he and Kevin (Lowe) were that he didn't want to be judged on what he did in the first half of the season," explained LaForge. "He wanted to be judged on what he hoped would be a great second half. And it worked out well."

It became clear during the playoffs that MacTavish, given the starting goalie he so desperately needed all year, was having a great second half. By then, it would have been ludicrous to open contract negotiations.

"We didn't bring it up during the playoffs because it's just inappropriate," said LaForge. "All of us know sports, and for those of us who don't, you don't want to be thinking about anything but the power play or the roster or things that need to be done that night.

"Proper etiquette was that we wait till the season ends and go from there."

Which is where they are now, with MacTavish's contract about to expire, and the Oilers preparing a long-term deal with a pretty decent raise.

"Everybody involved, the investors group, Kevin, MacT and myself said let's just wait and see how the season turns out," said LaForge. "As it turns out, Mr. Mac has trump."

THEORY DOESN'T MAKE SENSE

MacTavish is free to leave, but the theory that he might doesn't make any sense:

A. There aren't any openings right now, other than Boston, where Dave Lewis and Irishman Pat Quinn are the leading candidates and MacTavish would be forced to dredge up his history as a player.

B. His general manager and assistant coaches are close friends and former teammates, giving him job security and a work environment second to none in the NHL.

C. If he didn't leave before, during the lean years when everyone was calling for his head, why go now that the Oilers are on a level playing field and a Stanley Cup run gives him the benefit of the doubt in his market?

MINOR SOLUTION: Word out of the American Hockey League meetings is that the Oilers have arranged to send up to 10 players to Nashville's affiliate in Milwaukee.


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