Ex-Oilers coach Craig MacTavish is a "fine man" who may have gotten the short end of the stick, says Mayor Stephen Mandel.
"I follow hockey, I'm a pretty avid fan like many people are, and the coach gets blamed for all kinds of things, and I'm not a believer the coach is always" to blame, Mandel said yesterday, just after being told by reporters that MacTavish had been relieved of his coaching duties.
"But it's easier to change one coach than 25 or 28 players or 12 basketball players or 50 football players."
He wished MacTavish and his family the best of luck.
"Craig is a fine man, in my opinion," Mandel said
"As a member of our community he was a valued asset. He participated in many, many events and really is someone we have valued a great deal."
The Oilers failed to make the playoffs for the third consecutive season, finishing 11th in the Western Conference standings. It's expected the Oilers will look outside of the organization for MacTavish's replacement.
Several groups had been formed on the social networking site Facebook demanding that MacTavish be fired.
The largest has more than 13,000 members, many posting responses to the news that MacTavish was gone.
"It's about time!" wrote member Ieesha Morgan.
"Now the search begins," another posted.
A young fan who tried capitalizing on the Facebook frenzy, Adam Risling, had his April 4 rally on MacTavish's ouster fall flat.
But yesterday, the 19-year-old said he was on "the right side of the fence."
"I said it's about time," said Risling, recounting his reaction to the news of the firing.
He said he credits Oiler management for their leadership and doesn't think fan pressure forced MacTavish out.
Risling said he thanks MacTavish for his efforts and years, but said another season at the Oilers' helm would've brought a sea of storming fans.
"He could've had a storm brewing, and I think he was aware of that," he said.
The Oilers' official message board was buzzing.
"So, what is going to be the reason why we don't make the playoffs next year?" asked one fan.
"He had more time than most to create a winner and fell far short," wrote another. "It's time for a change."
"MacT did a great job with what he had up until this year," read another message. "He was just here too long. I am now starting to get excited for next year."