Two better than one for GM

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

The idea is about as simple as a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup: why settle for one of your favourite things when can mix them both?

Why settle for one of the leading candidates to coach the Oilers when teaming up two of them might better satisfy the playoff hunger pains grumbling in Edmonton's empty stomach?

It was a simple plan, but selling it, thought general manager Steve Tambellini, was going to be the hard part.

Turns out it wasn't.

Pat Quinn is confident enough that he wasn't threatened or insulted when Tambellini proposed Tom Renney as an associate coach; and Renney is secure enough in his own skin that he was willing to turn down head coaching offers elsewhere to be an associate here.

And getting extra money in the coaching budget wasn't a problem; Daryl Katz, whose rookie season as owner resulted in a 13th-place finish and the end of the line for a coach who wasn't supposed to be going anywhere, is up for anything that will make his Oilers better.

Done deal.

"This is an extremely exciting day for our organization," said Tambellini, who's already made two of the toughest decisions a new general manager can make - firing a coach and hiring a replacement.

"When we left off last season there were some long faces and questions with the departure of a good man .

"But now is the first step in redoing what we think will guide this organization to a direction of better things.

"We have two people here that have the coaching brain power that can match any that we'll compete against."

Both of them are signed to three-year deals in a move that Tambellini believes will pay instant dividends.

"I didn't want to bring in a good coaching staff, I wanted a great one," he said.

"The success that I have seen with coaching staffs, whether it's the Olympics or World Cup or watching an Al Arbour, is there's so much brainpower and knowledge there. There's so much knowledge that if used in the right way it becomes very powerful."

It was midway through the selection process that Tambellini decided that two heads were better than one.

"When I started talking in detail to both of them I knew I wanted both, I just didn't know if both would come," he said, adding he thought he would probably have to choose between the two.

"But when I started speaking to them about the type of coaching staff I was looking for, the strength of the group rather than the strength of one, both became very interested.

"Both were aware of what I was trying to accomplish.

"I didn't know if I'd get both of them, but I'm grateful to both of them for accepting this challenge."

The chain of command is clear: Quinn is the head man. But he and Renney know each other well from their days in Vancouver (with Tambellini) and wouldn't be in this together if they didn't think it could work.

"When we look at both of these men we see extreme leadership, depth of expertise that many people in this game don't have," said Tambellini.

"And we see the poise of people who've been in high-pressure situations and have the ability to teach.

"The checklist is quite long with both of these gentlemen."

Bringing in someone who can take charge of the dressing room the second he walks in was key. In Quinn they have someone who commands instant respect, but isn't a bully. That's important in a room with nervous rookies and comfortable veterans.

"My goal was to have a very strong voice in the dressing room, a very strong position of leadership and communication," said Tambellini.

"Pat definitely matches all those qualities and Tom is right there with him. My goal was to bring that type of leadership into the room immediately.

"For this team, for this time, we need leadership now."


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